Seeing and Savoring the Supremacy of Jesus Christ Above All Things

Passion 2012 | Atlanta

When Paul looked his own funeral in the face, he said, “My eager expectation and hope is that now as always Christ might be magnified in my body whether by life or by death. I want my Lord Jesus to be magnified in my body at my funeral.”

And in 1 Corinthians 10:31 he said, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I want God to look great and glorious by the way I eat and drink.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19 he said, “You’re not your own, you were bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your bodies which are Gods.” So he wanted all of these 45,000 bodies to make Christ look glorious, to look magnificent.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your father who is in heaven.” He wanted us to lead lives that would make God look glorious.

God said in Isaiah 43:7, “Bring my sons from afar, my daughters from the ends of the earth. Everyone whom I created for my glory.”

And in Colossians 1:16, Paul said, “All things were created through and for Jesus Christ,” whether invisible or visible, thrones, dominions, powers, authorities. All things were made through him and for him. He’s the head of all things. First born from the dead, that in him he might be in everything preeminent.

Seeing and Savoring

So it’s clear, seems to me from those verses that God intends, Jesus intends for your life to bring him glory. He means for you to do everything you do, if you eat or drink, all that you feel, all that you think, all that you act to make him look great. I think it’s fair to say from that and dozens of other verses in the Bible that all human beings are created to put God’s infinite value on display. That’s why you exist.

Now, I want that to happen in your life for all the decades that God may give you. And to that end I have one point to make and I’ll state it and then I will unpack it or clarify it in four steps.

So here’s the main point of this message. Seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ frees you from the slavery of sin for the sacrifices of love. That’s number one way of saying it.

Here’s a second way to say it. Being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus frees you from the bondage of sin for the suffering of love.

Here’s a third way to say it. Faith in Jesus Christ frees you from the slavery of sin for the sacrifices of love.

The Invisible Becomes Visible

Now, pointing out that you can say it those three ways assumes that seeing and savoring Jesus, being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, and trusting Jesus are equivalent realities. Seeing and savoring, being satisfied and believing are the same thing in the Bible.

“Seeing and savoring, being satisfied and believing are the same thing in the Bible.”

Now, I’m going to come back, I’ll come back in a moment and give you Bible verses to support that. But first let me try to state why that main point fulfills the purpose of your living for the glory of God.

When you see and savor, savor the supremacy of Jesus, when you are satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus, and when you trust Jesus you clearly, in your soul, are making much of Jesus, treasuring Jesus. But that’s invisible, nobody can see your soul except God. And God sees it and he loves it.

God loves it when you in your soul are seeing him, savoring him, being satisfied in him, trusting him, nobody else can see that. And God did not come into the world in Jesus, or create the world in order to be glorified invisibly. Therefore, the main point doesn’t just say seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus, being satisfied in all that God is for us in Jesus, believing in Jesus.

It says, what that does when that happens, you outwardly are set free from the slavery of sins which people can start to see. And you are set free for the sacrifices of love which people can see. So the root of your salvation glorifies God privately, and the fruit of your salvation glorifies God publicly. And if that statement is true, that main point is true, you then fulfill your reason for existing. That’s where we’re going.

So back to fact that I gave it three statements and said that they’re equivalent, seeing and savoring Jesus, being satisfied in all that God is for us in Jesus, and trusting Jesus are equivalent realities. So what I’m going to do is try to unpack the main point in four steps. Step one, What is seeing and savoring, being satisfied and trusting? Step two, What is the supremacy of Christ? Step three, What is freedom from slavery to sin? And step four, What is freedom for the sacrifices of love and how do those last two flow from the first two? That’s the outline of where we’re going.

1. What Is Seeing and Savoring?

So step number one, why are seeing and savoring, being satisfied and trusting equivalent realities? Louie said two shocking things Monday night. He said, for example, “Before you trusted Christ you weren’t un-churched, you were dead. You didn’t need to be churched, you needed to be raised from the dead,” he said that, and I agree.

Here’s the second shocking thing that he said. He said, “Some of you made a decision for Jesus when you were little. Signed a card and walked an aisle.” And then he said, “And the enemy is still on track with you to kill and to destroy and your funeral is still in motion.” And I agree with that. That many sign cards, walk aisles, and make decisions who are not converted, they’re not born again, they’re saved, they’re not Christian. They’re not having saving faith.

True Saving Faith

So the question is, what then is saving faith? There’s no doubt in this room still after all this truth laden conference people still resisting, still haven’t yielded, haven’t waved the white flag of surrender to King Jesus. There are still many. So you need to hear, what is it, this thing called saving faith that you’re supposed to have in order to be saved, sins forgiven, eternal life. What is it?

And I have now said that there are three things that are equivalent, seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus, being satisfied in all that God is for you in Jesus, and trusting Jesus. Which means, I believe the meaning of trust is that. Saving faith is being satisfied in all that God is for you in Jesus. Saving faith is seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus. That’s what it is. Now, why do I think that? I’ll give you three verses.

Being Satisfied Is Believing

Number one, John 6:35 goes like this, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who believes in me shall never hunger. And he who comes to me shall never thirst.” Now, notice the parallel. Believing, you never thirst, coming, you’ll never hunger.

Those parallel statements are meant to interpret each other. Coming is a geographical metaphor. My soul doesn’t cross any ground is a metaphor. My soul comes, it comes, there’s the fountain, there’s the bread. I’m coming, I’m drinking. Why? There is my satisfaction, there’s my treasure, there’s my all. I’m coming to you for that.

And then the second one down here is believing. I’m believing that. So I take Jesus to mean believing and coming are the same. The bread and the water are both images of Jesus. And a good definition of faith on the basis of John 6:35 would be, believing in Jesus is a soul coming to Jesus to be satisfied in all that he is. That’s my definition of faith on basis of John 6:35. This is not a decision. When you are satisfied having drunk water, that satisfaction is a gift.

Whoever Receives

Second text, John 1:12: “He came to his own and his own did not receive him. But, to as many as received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become the children of God.”

Now, what’s with the comma, what’s this second phrase doing in relation to the first phrase? To as many as received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become the children of God. It’s mutually interpreting, receiving Jesus and believing in Jesus are the same, which tells me a lot about what believing is.

What does it mean to receive him? It means you see what he is, you want it, and you take it. It means you receive him for all that he is. He’s your treasure, he’s your Lord, he’s your savior, he’s your friend, he’s you God. You receive, you take it, you embrace, you say, “Yes, yes, yes, that is what I need.” That’s believing.

Come for Reward

So now we’ve got two verses that point to the fact that seeing and savoring Jesus and being satisfied in all that God is for us in Jesus are what faith is. Here’s one more. Hebrews 11:6: “Whoever comes to God, without faith it is impossible to please God, and whoever comes to God must believe,” and this is two things, “that he is, and that he’s the rewarder of those who seek him.”

So think about that second one. The only way to please God is by faith, believing. And then he unpacks what he means by believing. You move toward God, you come toward God. And you come towards one that in your heart you’re saying, “He is, he is, you exist.”

And the heart is also saying another thing. The believing heart is saying, “You’re my reward. You are the rewarder of my life. You’re the treasure of my life.” You don’t come to God to give. It’s blasphemy for me to come to God to give. He doesn’t need you at all. He’s the giver. The giver gets the glory. Don’t rob him, stay needy. So faith is a very childlike, dependent, needy, hungry, thirsty, desperate, bankrupt response to glory.

So now I’m finished with defending the equivalency of those three statements in my main point. Seeing and savoring the supremacy in Jesus, being satisfied in all that God is for us in Jesus, and trusting Jesus are equivalent realities.

The Threat

Now, that is striking and threatening. It means that coming to faith in Jesus requires a resurrection from the dead. Because you don’t by nature see and savor him. You don’t by nature feel a profound satisfaction in all that God is for you, and you don’t by nature trust him which means do those two things. You’re dead. And in order to come to him then, and I believe you need to raised from the dead.

Seeing Christ as glorious, valuable, and precious. Savoring him above all things and being satisfied with him is a gift. Blind people don’t decide to see. Jesus says, “See,” and they see. Sickened people don’t decide to savor. What is sickening them? Bored people don’t decide to be satisfied with what is boring them, which is why some of you are not yet saved. You can’t make yourself saved.

Freedom Wrecked

This is very threatening to people, even Christians, because of what it seems to say about freedom. A lot of talk about freedom in this conference and I’m going to talk a lot about it. What is it? I mean, did you just wreck it? I thought I had free will. I thought I could just decide whether to be the devil’s or God’s. Be a sinner or be a saint.

Did you just wreck that? Yes, I wrecked that. That’s wrecked. Conversion, conversion, faith, being saved, new birth, it’s a gift of seeing. You don’t see him as beautiful, that’s why you love him. It’s a gift of savoring. You taste, and it’s just not pleasing so you go watch TV. You don’t have yet the gift of being satisfied.

So then, what becomes of freedom? A little lesson in historical theology. St. Augustine, born AD 354 was the most influential Christian probably in the history of the world after the Apostle Paul. Even more than Calvin, Luther, all the Popes, he was more. Then, over here, his arch opponent was Pelagius, a bishop of British descent who was living in Rome. And Augustine was a North African who lived in what is to Algeria in Hippo. And these two were diametrically opposed to each other on the issue of freedom and the issue of human bondage to sin.

Augustine Versus Pelagius

Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin, that is, he said, “We are not so dead and so blind, and in such bondage to corruption and sin that we can’t, on our own, decide to be good or to be believing.”

Augustine said, and I’m totally with Augustine, and I think it’s biblical and I’ll point to a verse in a minute. Augustine said, “No, no, no. We, ever since Adam and Eve, are dead.” That is, we are so corrupt in our hearts, so bent towards sin, so in love with ourselves and our worldly pleasures, we cannot believe. It is morally impossible for one who is in love with the darkness to walk into the light. What is needed is a resurrection, an awakening.

So picture it like this. What is freedom for Pelagius and Augustine? For Pelagius freedom is, I don’t know what this word is, the thing that goes tick tock in a metro dome, whatever that is, that little stick up there. This is sin, and this is the devil, and this is unbelief over here. And this is God, and this is righteousness, and faith over here.

For Pelagius freedom is being poised right here, and containing in yourself the ultimate capacity to determine, I could go this way, or I could go this way. That is freedom. And that’s what a lot of you think freedom is. That’s not what the Bible thinks freedom is. In fact, such a thing doesn’t exist today in the universe, anywhere, not even in heaven.

Well, what is it then? What is freedom if it’s not being poised sweetly, and delicately between good and evil, evil out of yourself to produce goodness or godliness. What is it then?

Cursed from Birth

Since we are all dead, we are locked down over here when we’re born. That’s the doctrine of original sin. We inherited our guilt and our corruption from Adam. And we are bent coming out of the womb, you don’t have to be taught to be bad. So here we are locked down, hating, good, loving ourselves, exulting our pride. And we need to be set free. We need an awaking. We need a resurrection.

And God, the Holy Spirit, causes us to be born again. What is that? That means, opening your eyes to see this as supremely valuable. And when you see that as supremely valuable you don’t go here.

God doesn’t raise people from the dead in the new birth to go poised, neutral, I will now whether I will be godly or whether I will satanic. Whether I’m believing or be unbelieving. That’s not what the new birth is. The new birth says, “There.” Now, you are Gods and you are believing. Your eyes are open and you now see him so valuable that you are enslaved to him.

Let me read a verses. This is Romans 6:17: “Thanks be to God.” Now notice who’s getting the thank you. That’s very important. It’s not thank you to me. Thanks be to God that you who once were slaves of sin, that’s where we start. You don’t start here, you start here. Once you were slaves of sin, thanks be to God that, though you were slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart. Having been set free from sin and having become slaves of righteousness. There are only two kinds of people in the world biblically, slaves of sin and saves of righteousness.

True Freedom

So what is freedom? Freedom is being so in love with Christ that you do exactly what you want to do and it accords with his will. Freedom is doing what you want to do and not regretting it in a thousand years. Freedom is seeing and savoring the supremacy of Christ so intensely that you are his totally — that’s freedom. The more satisfied you are in Jesus, the more free you are. The more you see him, the more free you are. The more you savor him, the more free you are. The more you trust him, the more free you are.

“Freedom is doing what you want to do and not regretting it in a thousand years.”

Freedom is not suspension between good and evil. Containing within sovereign self the wherewithal to be this or to be this, that is not freedom and nobody lives there. Freedom is to be so mastered by God that we become rational suddenly. We become free to know him, love him, delight in him, be satisfied in him, that’s freedom. There is a struggle.

I love this. Augustine said, “The struggle between choices, the struggle of choice, good or evil, is a necessary, temporary evil until the day dawn when discernment and delight become one.”

That’s the reason I wanted the second coming yesterday. Dying would do the same thing. And that’s God’s business, both of them. But what will happen when you die if you’re a Christian is no longer will you have to ever struggle. Do you realize there will no struggle in heaven to obey? Nobody in heaven will be poised here, or here, or here, here, we will be all the way slaves of righteousness and the freest people in the universe because we will be doing exactly what we love to do and it will happen to be God’s will. This is freedom.

All of that, step one, to unpack my point. So let me state the point again. Seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ frees you from the slavery to sin and for the sacrifices of love. Or, being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus frees you from bondage to sin for the suffering of love. Or trusting Jesus frees you from the bondage of sin and for the sacrifices of love. All we’ve done so far is talk about why these first three are equivalent and what they are, and what saving faith is and what it implies for freedom.

2. The Supremacy of Christ

And now we shift. Step number two, they do get shorter. Step number two is the supremacy of Jesus Christ, all that God is for us in Jesus, Jesus Christ. Even though seeing and savoring and being satisfied by and trusting the supremacy of Jesus is a gift, it’s a miraculous work in my soul, in the taste buds of my soul, nevertheless, when my eyes open I see something out there.

So what I want to do in the next few minutes is put as many brush strokes on the canvas of the supremacy of Christ as I can. I want you to, if God would be pleased, and so Holy Spirit would you come now and grant that across this room you would grant eyes to see what I’m going to objectively portray.

  • The supremacy of his deity, equal with God the Father in all his attributes — the radiance of his glory and the exact imprint of his nature, infinite, boundless in all his excellencies;

  • the supremacy of his eternality that makes the mind of man explode with the unsearchable thought that Christ never had a beginning, but simply always was; sheer, absolute reality while all the universe is fragile, contingent, like a shadow by comparison to his all-defining, ever-existing substance;

  • the supremacy of his never-changing constancy in all his virtues and all his character and all his commitments — the same yesterday, today, and forever;

  • the supremacy of his knowledge that makes the Library of Congress look like a matchbox, and all the information on the Internet look like a little 1940s farmers’ almanac, and quantum physics — and everything Stephen Hawking ever dreamed — seem like a first-grade reader;

  • the supremacy of his wisdom that has never been perplexed by any complication and can never be counseled the wisest of men;

  • the supremacy of his authority over heaven and earth and hell, without whose permission no man and no demon can move one inch, who changes times and seasons, removes kings and sets up kings; does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; so none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”;

  • the supremacy of his providence without which not a single bird falls to the ground in the furthest reaches of the Amazon forest, or a single hair of any head turns black or white;

  • the supremacy of his word that moment by moment upholds the universe and holds in being all the molecules and atoms and subatomic world we have never yet dreamed of;

  • the supremacy of his power to walk on water, cleanse lepers and heal the lame, open the eyes of the blind, cause the deaf to hear and storms to cease and the dead to rise, with a single word, or even a thought;

  • the supremacy of his purity never to sin, or to have one millisecond of a bad attitude or an evil, lustful thought;

  • the supremacy of his trustworthiness never to break his word or let one promise fall to the ground;

  • the supremacy of his justice to render in due time all moral accounts in the universe settled either on the cross or in hell;

  • the supremacy of his patience to endure our dullness for decade after decade; and to hold back his final judgment on this land and on the world, that many might repent;

  • the supremacy of his sovereign, servant obedience to keep his Father’s commandments perfectly and then embrace the excruciating pain of the cross willingly;

  • the supremacy of his meekness and lowliness and tenderness that will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick;

  • the supremacy of his wrath that will one day explode against this world with such fierceness that people will call out for the rocks and the mountains to crush them rather than face the wrath of the Lamb;

  • the supremacy of his grace that gives life to spiritually dead rebels and wakens faith in hell-bound haters of God, and justifies the ungodly with his own righteousness;

  • the supremacy of his love that willingly dies for us even while we were sinners and frees us for the ever-increasing joy in making much of him forever;

  • the supremacy of his own inexhaustible gladness in the fellowship of the Trinity, the infinite power and energy that gave rise to all the universe and will one day be the inheritance of every struggling saint.

Sovereign Over It All

If God would grant your eyes to see those supremacies of Jesus, you would have seen the outskirts of his supremacy. We could mention his sovereignty, his invisibility, his dignity, his simplicity, his complexity, his resoluteness, his calmness, his depth, his courage, and all of them, infinitely admirable, and worthy of praise.

He is supreme in every admirable way over everything:

  • over galaxies and endless reaches of space,

  • over the earth from the top of Mount Everest 29,000 feet up, to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean 36,000 feet down into the Mariana Trench;

  • he is supreme over all plants and animals, from the peaceful Blue Whale to the microscopic killer viruses,

  • over all weather and movements of the earth: hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, earthquakes, avalanches, floods, snow, rain, sleet,

  • over all chemical processes that heal and destroy: cancer, AIDS, malaria, flu, and all the workings of antibiotics and a thousand healing medicines;

  • he is supreme over all countries and all governments and all armies,

  • over Al Qaeda and all terrorists and kidnappings and suicide bombings and beheadings,

  • over bin Ladin and al-Zarqawi,

  • over all nuclear threats from Iran or Russia or North Korea;

  • he is supreme over all politics and elections,

  • over all media and news and entertainment and sports and leisure,

  • and over all education and universities and scholarship and science and research,

  • and over all business and finance and industry and manufacturing and transportation,

  • and over all the internet and information systems.

As Abraham Kuyper said, “There’s not a square inch on planet earth where Jesus Christ doesn’t say, mine.”

And he rules that little inch everywhere in the universe. Oh, that God almighty would grant you to see and savor the supremacy of Jesus. That he would grant you to be satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus. That he would grant you simply to trust Jesus.

3. Freedom from the Slavery of Sin

Now, that’s the end of step two. We have two more steps to take in five minutes, we can do this. Step number three is seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ frees from sin. Second Corinthians 3:18: “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to the next.”

Do you see what that says? That’s a Bible verse, not a Piper verse. Beholding, seeing, savoring the glory of the Lord, Lord, supreme, glorious, seeing that you changed. All my life is devoted to just seeing. If I could just see.

That verse says, “If I could just see with the eyes of my heart, I would be changed.” One of the ways it works is this, little hearts, little souls give little lust big power. Big hearts give little lust little power because they look little.

“When you see the magnitude of Christ, temptation looks like the stupid suicidal insane little monster it is.”

When you see the magnitude of your treasure, your soul swells to get around it and you mark pornography as a powerless thrill. That’s the way it works. You don’t, you don’t just fight with saying, “Say no, say no, say no.” That doesn’t work. You got to see. Your heart has to get bigger and bigger and bigger so that this little temptation looks like the stupid suicidal insane little monster it is.

So that’s step number three, that if you see and savor the supremacy of Jesus Christ, you will be progressively freed from the bondages and the slavery of sin.

4. Freed to Love

There’s one last step to take. And you will be freed to the sacrifices of love. Hebrews 10:34, the church had been persecuted, some of the Christians had been thrown into jail. The question was, “Will we now risk our lives to visit our brothers and sisters in jail?” Okay. This is really relevant to the hand outside, where you’re going shortly. It’s really relevant for freeing others by being freed yourself.

That’s the connection here. So what is that frees you to take risks with your lives, embrace suffering, embrace sacrifices for the sake of others. And I’ll read you the verse, make a comment, and we’ll be done. “You had compassion on those in prison,” make your application, “you had compassion on those in prison and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property.”

Where did that come from? I want to be like that, and you want to be like that. I want to be kind of person who when I say I’m going to the prison even if it implicates me in their faith so that I experience the same thing they’re experiencing, I’m going anyway. And when your house trashed behind you, you sing, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever.” I’m going to the prison and I’m singing all the way.

Inheritance Awaits

So, now, where did that come from? Where did that come from? And the last phrase of the verse tells you exactly where it came from. “Since you yourselves knew you had a better possession and an abiding one.”

How did you get to be like that? You looked up to Jesus. You looked at your inheritance. You looked at heaven. You looked at an eternity of everlasting and ever increasing joy and you said, “That’s enough. I don’t need it now. I’ve got it there. I’m going here now.” That’s how sacrifices are freed by being satisfied in Jesus.

So I close. Louie, years ago, fifteen years ago began Passion 268, Isaiah 26:8, “Your name and your renown are the desire of our souls.” And he contacted me, and I read that verse, and we talked. And I said, “You don’t have to twist my arm to be a part of that.” Your name, your supreme name, your renown, your supreme renown is the desire, not decision. It takes a miracle for a desire to be born for a supernatural reality that you can’t see.

So I close with this benediction. May God almighty make the supremacy of the name of Jesus, and the supremacy of the renown of Jesus be your sight, be your savor. Be your satisfaction. Be your desire. And be your trust.