Treasuring Christ Together

Posted: September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

christ centredComing back to work after an extend period of time off leads you to reflect and evaluate things like the purpose and direction of your ministry. And as I said this past Sunday, I am so thankful that I serve a church who’s leadership is deeply committed to Christ-centred preaching,  teaching the gospel to all ages as well as cultivating genuine transformation in and through our life groups. To be sure, this is not easy. Building a ministry around these things requires a certain amount of commitment and discipline from people. But then again, who ever said it would be easy?

We talked about this during our opening devotional at our elders meeting last night as we continued our study through John Piper’s book Desiring God. What does it really mean to believe? What does genuine saving faith look like? Is it just agreeing with a certain set of facts about who Jesus is? Or does it also involve our affections and desires?

“Saving faith is the confidence that if you sell all you have and forsake all sinful pleasures, the hidden treasure of holy joy will satisfy your deepest desires. Saving faith is the heartfelt conviction not only that Christ is reliable, but also that He is desirable. It is the confidence that He will come through with His promises and that what He promises is more to be desired than all the world.” – John Piper, Desiring God

Recently Dr. Piper stepped down from his position as a pastor after faithfully serving at one church for over 30 years! What did he say in his final message? What did he want to leave his congregation with before moving on? Here is a bit of what The Christian Post had to say…

In his last message as pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church, John Piper condemned prosperity preachers for enticing worshippers into a faith that’s not real Christianity.

“If you entice people with wealth, … ease, health, chipper, bouncy, light-hearted, playful, superficial banter in your worship service posing as joy in Christ, you will attract people, oh yeah, you can grow a huge church that way. But Christ will not be seen in his glory and the Christian life will not be seen as the calvary road that it is,” said Piper on Sunday.

After 32 years of preaching at Bethlehem in Minneapolis, Piper handed the baton to Jason Meyer, who will be installed on Jan. 20.

While Sunday’s sermon was not likely Piper’s final message, it was his last on an official level as pastor for Preaching and Vision. In his last official message, Piper wanted to convey to the congregation “what the world needs from the church.”

What it needs, he preached, is “our indomitable, invincible joy in the midst of suffering and sorrow.”

He wasn’t speaking of a “chipper” or “bouncy” joy that he sees in many church services but true rejoicing in the face of suffering and sorrow.

“I turn with dismay from church services that are treated like radio talk shows where everything sounds chipper and frisky and high-spirited and chattering and designed evidently to make people feel light-hearted and playful and bouncy,” he said. “I say, don’t you know there are people dying of cancer in this room? Don’t you know some are barely making it financially? … And you’re going to create an atmosphere that’s bouncy …? I just don’t get it. It’s not who we are.”

Of course, the world does need to see happy Christians but that happiness has to be a “Christ-bought, God-wrought happiness in pain,” Piper stressed. “Otherwise, what we offer them isn’t anything they don’t already have. They know how to be happy in good times.”

To give you a taste of the passion that is behind this, here is a short but powerful video…

“It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:20-21 (ESV)


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