Search for Gold Beneath Biblical Tensions


We listen to the ones we love.

For Christians, our greatest and highest love is the triune God, which means that above all other voices, we want to hear the words of God — that’s why we love the Bible.

Our human minds love to make simple sense of things, but our love for God’s word often leads us outside of the artificial security of simplicity. With the comforting confidence that God’s word is true everywhere in the Bible, we can hold up texts that might appear at first to be at odds — what we’ll find is not a contradiction, but a deeper root that feeds both truths.

Letting all of the Bible speak allows us to dig beneath seeming tensions and make discoveries more glorious and rich and helpful than if we were to just throw up our hands or assume contradiction. First Peter 3:9 offers us one such opportunity to dig deeper.

In this short video, John Piper shows why Peter’s exhortation to “bless . . . that you may obtain a blessing” does not contradict justification — in which we receive all of the blessings of God — by faith alone. The new birth, spiritual re-creation, happens all by faith, and that new spiritual life shows itself in new paths of holiness, such as our blessing others. The fruits of our new birth aren’t what cause us to be born again, but they show that we have, in fact, been born again.

This may not be a tension that we can quickly resolve over our morning coffee. It takes effort to simultaneously hold up biblical texts that don’t easily fit together — but it is an effort that we’re eager to spend in order to understand the words of the God we love.

Look at the Book is John Piper’s latest effort to help teach people to read the Bible for themselves. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher.

As part of this initiative, Desiring God is putting on regional events focused on certain passages of Scripture. This is Part 6 in a series on 1 Peter called “Hoping, Singing, and Loving in the Refiner’s Fire.” More parts will be released in the coming weeks.