Thursday, March 02, 2006

John Piper on perseverance and the doctrines of grace

I know I have been simply throwing a lot of quotations up lately, and I hope that is acceptable to my readers. I promise to have more original and controversial remarks coming in the next few days. Every once in a while it is good to take a break from critiquing things and show people what you love and what is on your mind. And if you quote people saying the things you agree with, the folks who disagree with you tend not to get as upset.



I want to recommend to you John Piper's discussion of the doctrines of grace, and the seventh lecture (part 1) in particular. I believe the Lord will use his conclusion of the exposition of these doctrines as a great source of encouragement for you. He begins the lecture finishing his discussion of perseverance, and then moves into why he loves that glorious flower we all call TULIP. You can find all the lectures here.I transcribed a couple of paragraphs of the lecture for your reading enjoyment.



Oh how many Christians in America treat their eternal life as if it’s, “I’m going to heaven; I can just live like everybody else.” And the Bible says, “Grab it! Grab it! Hold on to it! Reach out for it!” . . . There’s so much coasting in American Christianity. “Take hold of eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession among many witnesses.”. . . To stay a believer is a fight, if you don’t have a fight in your life, you are in terrible spiritual condition. If you are not fighting the fight of faith, you are drifting backward . . . because all of the current of the stream of this culture and of your own remaining corruption and of the Devil is backwards towards destruction. Christianity in this fallen age will always be a stroke. . . .


[The doctrines of grace] function as a kind of antidote to what I regard as a culture that is drowning in banality, cuteness, and cleverness, with television being the main purveyor, not of sex and violence—I almost want to say, “who cares about sex and violence? The Bible’s full of it. You know what the Bible’s not full of—not a verse? Triviality. Not a verse. Find it. Find one joke. The Bible is a deadly serious book. Lots of sex, and lots of violence, but no cuteness in the Bible. No silliness. No trifling. No banality. It is all blood-earnestness. . . . And America is exactly the opposite. . . .


What I find is that there are doctrines that function in an amazing antidotal way against the barrage of silliness in the world and make me serious about life. I hope not morose. [There’s a] huge difference between morose, glum, negative, sour and serious joy. Huge difference! And everybody knows it who’s stood at the graveside of a saint, and sung a song of joy with tears. Everybody knows the difference.



When I hear Piper talk like this, I wonder why his worship looks the way it does. I believe it communicates all the things he is speaking against here. It strikes as a "total disconnect."

14 Comments:

Anonymous Joel said...

"perseverence"?

3/02/2006 02:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Joel said...

"a kind of anecdotote"?

3/02/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Dude. How embarrassing.

I think the second one may be a browser problem.

3/02/2006 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Joel said...

I think you want "antidote"

It isn't my browser. I was listening to Schumann

3/02/2006 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Dude. I am such a moron.

3/02/2006 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Bob M said...

Maybe there's something to his views on worship? Just a suggestion. I know I am skating on thin ice, but it is something to think about. Do you think he has not thought of all the things you have? Write him a letter. He may just answer.

3/03/2006 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

I may write him a letter. That's a really good suggestion, Bob. I really admire him, and appreciate his teaching on so many issues. Right now, I am listening to his "Gravity and Gladness on Sunday morning" series. I like quite a bit of what he says, but he has not spoken "practically" yet. I do not want to strive here, or be disrespectful towards a man I greatly admire and appreciate. Yet I unfortunately find some of his teaching so dangerous here.

Of course, he can't be right . . .

3/03/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Bob M said...

Ryan,
I have the series and have been to the seminar twice. He does deal with musical styles, but not in as great of depth as you may desire. I do want to say that I have benefitted greatly from many of the conversations I have read here, as well as Joel's site. However, I do miss the Fundamentalaria (sp?) spoofs.

3/03/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Thanks, Bob.

3/03/2006 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Fundamentally Reformed said...

Great quotes!

I think Piper's message on perseverance needs to be trumpeted from all Bible loving churches. We have accepted a false teaching concerning eternal security today in even our best churches. Eternal security is the "get-out-of-jail(Hell)-free" card we give to any and all who make "decisions/professions" for Christ. We are exempting ourselves perilously from the stern warnings Scripture gives us to persevere. Check out this post, entitled "Once Saved, Always Saved?!?!" for more of my thoughts if you are interested.

Now concerning Piper's thoughts on seriousness and an apparent contradiction by his worship style. I disagree. I grew up in IFB/IFBx churches and I really understood and wholeheartedly embraced the fundamentalist position on music. Yet I came to reevaluate many of my positions, and I realized how much of my thoughts concerning music were read into the text or were drawn from cultural assumptions rather than being drawn directly from Scripture.

Anyway....I do not agree that all contemporary Christian music is created equal. Neither are worship services. The worship services at Bethlehem are far more serious and sober than the average Evangelical worship service for sure. Every aspect of the service is intentional and thoughtfully directed toward furthering coorporate worship. The songs are tastefully done in a way to lift one's heart and soul to Christ in joyful praise. We often sing hymns. And telltale to me, is that the participation and enthusiasm for worship does not die down when we shift to a hymn. Hands are raised and hearts sing meaningful praise to the most theologically astute hymns (which by the way are the only ones we sing by and large).

As far as the music selection goes, we sing many songs which are not sung widely in CCM circles. These songs are the best of the best in presenting a clear scriptural message. I would put the average modern worship song we sing at Bethlehem up against the vast majority of songs like "Showers of Blessings" or "Softly and Tenderly". I have blogged about some of my favorites, "Before the Cross of Christ I Stand", "In Christ Alone", "Knowing You". Bethlehem uses its conferences to promote these kinds of songs and this glad and grave worship style.

Like Bob M said, do not just assume that because someone's conclusions differ from yours that they have not studied the issue out and come to hold a thoughtful and reasoned position. There is very little actually said in Scripture in regard to the music issue. Many of the practices uniformly rejected by traditional fundamentalists are expressly modeled and warranted in Scripture--raising hands, clapping, shouting, loud songs, dancing, etc. Many object that "beat"-y music caters to our flesh. So does mint cookies-n-cream ice cream for me. Where does Scripture call me to mistrust any "taste" of my flesh. Sure I must avoid sin and be aware of fleshly weaknesses, but because the physical body likes music does not mean it is sinful. Where does Scripture intimate that moving to music, or music having a beat is sinful or lustful?

Just my 2 bits here, sorry.

Bob Hayton
Rom. 15:5-7

3/03/2006 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Bob, I appreciate your stopping by and your "2 bits."

Let me just say that I am pretty far from the "normal" fundamentalist in worship perspectives. I hate the song "Showers of Blessings." "Softly and Tenderly" would barely make my list (and would have no problem never singing it again).

I agree that many fundamentalists are not serious with their worship. This is tragic. I am familiar with many of Piper's teaching about worship (and I have great agreement with much of it), and am listening to his lectures on this topic to gain refresh my memory and prepare for some future posts. I would say that I am sure there are many elements with which I would agree at his church. Nevertheless I have been to services there where I could not worship with the congregation. I am not a big fan of what Jonathan Edwards called the "passions," and believe that P&W attempts to stir those kinds of feelings up.

I am not really interested in getting into a debate with you over this here at this point. I am considering writing more on this in a couple days, and, if you like, feel free to swing by and interact then.

3/03/2006 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Fundamentally Reformed said...

Thanks for the reply. I'll be checking in off and on.

God Bless,

Bob Hayton
Rom. 15:5-7

3/05/2006 09:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt LaPine said...

Ryan, thanks for the article. I hope you don't mind but I'm linking to it on SharperIron with a response. I'd also appreciate your input. God Bless,
Matt LaPine

3/07/2006 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

After listening to Piper's "Gravity and Gladness on Sunday Morning," I agreed with nearly everything he said (at one point he muses that drama may be acceptable worship, which is nonsense), particularly the "theory" he advocates. I even agreed with what he said in his final lecture on the dangers and advantages of using "fine and folk" in worship. I just think he is missing a crucial category: popular. There is no more folk culture. P&W is certainly not folk culture. Hymns, I am tempted to say, are folk culture. Bach, Brahams, and Handel are fine culture. P&W is manufactured popular culture, no more "organic" and rudimentary than the Oscars or "American Idol."

3/07/2006 11:11:00 PM  

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Immoderate: John Piper on perseverance and the doctrines of grace

Thursday, March 02, 2006

John Piper on perseverance and the doctrines of grace

I know I have been simply throwing a lot of quotations up lately, and I hope that is acceptable to my readers. I promise to have more original and controversial remarks coming in the next few days. Every once in a while it is good to take a break from critiquing things and show people what you love and what is on your mind. And if you quote people saying the things you agree with, the folks who disagree with you tend not to get as upset.



I want to recommend to you John Piper's discussion of the doctrines of grace, and the seventh lecture (part 1) in particular. I believe the Lord will use his conclusion of the exposition of these doctrines as a great source of encouragement for you. He begins the lecture finishing his discussion of perseverance, and then moves into why he loves that glorious flower we all call TULIP. You can find all the lectures here.I transcribed a couple of paragraphs of the lecture for your reading enjoyment.



Oh how many Christians in America treat their eternal life as if it’s, “I’m going to heaven; I can just live like everybody else.” And the Bible says, “Grab it! Grab it! Hold on to it! Reach out for it!” . . . There’s so much coasting in American Christianity. “Take hold of eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession among many witnesses.”. . . To stay a believer is a fight, if you don’t have a fight in your life, you are in terrible spiritual condition. If you are not fighting the fight of faith, you are drifting backward . . . because all of the current of the stream of this culture and of your own remaining corruption and of the Devil is backwards towards destruction. Christianity in this fallen age will always be a stroke. . . .


[The doctrines of grace] function as a kind of antidote to what I regard as a culture that is drowning in banality, cuteness, and cleverness, with television being the main purveyor, not of sex and violence—I almost want to say, “who cares about sex and violence? The Bible’s full of it. You know what the Bible’s not full of—not a verse? Triviality. Not a verse. Find it. Find one joke. The Bible is a deadly serious book. Lots of sex, and lots of violence, but no cuteness in the Bible. No silliness. No trifling. No banality. It is all blood-earnestness. . . . And America is exactly the opposite. . . .


What I find is that there are doctrines that function in an amazing antidotal way against the barrage of silliness in the world and make me serious about life. I hope not morose. [There’s a] huge difference between morose, glum, negative, sour and serious joy. Huge difference! And everybody knows it who’s stood at the graveside of a saint, and sung a song of joy with tears. Everybody knows the difference.



When I hear Piper talk like this, I wonder why his worship looks the way it does. I believe it communicates all the things he is speaking against here. It strikes as a "total disconnect."

14 Comments:

Anonymous Joel said...

"perseverence"?

3/02/2006 02:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Joel said...

"a kind of anecdotote"?

3/02/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Dude. How embarrassing.

I think the second one may be a browser problem.

3/02/2006 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Joel said...

I think you want "antidote"

It isn't my browser. I was listening to Schumann

3/02/2006 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Dude. I am such a moron.

3/02/2006 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Bob M said...

Maybe there's something to his views on worship? Just a suggestion. I know I am skating on thin ice, but it is something to think about. Do you think he has not thought of all the things you have? Write him a letter. He may just answer.

3/03/2006 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

I may write him a letter. That's a really good suggestion, Bob. I really admire him, and appreciate his teaching on so many issues. Right now, I am listening to his "Gravity and Gladness on Sunday morning" series. I like quite a bit of what he says, but he has not spoken "practically" yet. I do not want to strive here, or be disrespectful towards a man I greatly admire and appreciate. Yet I unfortunately find some of his teaching so dangerous here.

Of course, he can't be right . . .

3/03/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Bob M said...

Ryan,
I have the series and have been to the seminar twice. He does deal with musical styles, but not in as great of depth as you may desire. I do want to say that I have benefitted greatly from many of the conversations I have read here, as well as Joel's site. However, I do miss the Fundamentalaria (sp?) spoofs.

3/03/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Thanks, Bob.

3/03/2006 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Fundamentally Reformed said...

Great quotes!

I think Piper's message on perseverance needs to be trumpeted from all Bible loving churches. We have accepted a false teaching concerning eternal security today in even our best churches. Eternal security is the "get-out-of-jail(Hell)-free" card we give to any and all who make "decisions/professions" for Christ. We are exempting ourselves perilously from the stern warnings Scripture gives us to persevere. Check out this post, entitled "Once Saved, Always Saved?!?!" for more of my thoughts if you are interested.

Now concerning Piper's thoughts on seriousness and an apparent contradiction by his worship style. I disagree. I grew up in IFB/IFBx churches and I really understood and wholeheartedly embraced the fundamentalist position on music. Yet I came to reevaluate many of my positions, and I realized how much of my thoughts concerning music were read into the text or were drawn from cultural assumptions rather than being drawn directly from Scripture.

Anyway....I do not agree that all contemporary Christian music is created equal. Neither are worship services. The worship services at Bethlehem are far more serious and sober than the average Evangelical worship service for sure. Every aspect of the service is intentional and thoughtfully directed toward furthering coorporate worship. The songs are tastefully done in a way to lift one's heart and soul to Christ in joyful praise. We often sing hymns. And telltale to me, is that the participation and enthusiasm for worship does not die down when we shift to a hymn. Hands are raised and hearts sing meaningful praise to the most theologically astute hymns (which by the way are the only ones we sing by and large).

As far as the music selection goes, we sing many songs which are not sung widely in CCM circles. These songs are the best of the best in presenting a clear scriptural message. I would put the average modern worship song we sing at Bethlehem up against the vast majority of songs like "Showers of Blessings" or "Softly and Tenderly". I have blogged about some of my favorites, "Before the Cross of Christ I Stand", "In Christ Alone", "Knowing You". Bethlehem uses its conferences to promote these kinds of songs and this glad and grave worship style.

Like Bob M said, do not just assume that because someone's conclusions differ from yours that they have not studied the issue out and come to hold a thoughtful and reasoned position. There is very little actually said in Scripture in regard to the music issue. Many of the practices uniformly rejected by traditional fundamentalists are expressly modeled and warranted in Scripture--raising hands, clapping, shouting, loud songs, dancing, etc. Many object that "beat"-y music caters to our flesh. So does mint cookies-n-cream ice cream for me. Where does Scripture call me to mistrust any "taste" of my flesh. Sure I must avoid sin and be aware of fleshly weaknesses, but because the physical body likes music does not mean it is sinful. Where does Scripture intimate that moving to music, or music having a beat is sinful or lustful?

Just my 2 bits here, sorry.

Bob Hayton
Rom. 15:5-7

3/03/2006 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

Bob, I appreciate your stopping by and your "2 bits."

Let me just say that I am pretty far from the "normal" fundamentalist in worship perspectives. I hate the song "Showers of Blessings." "Softly and Tenderly" would barely make my list (and would have no problem never singing it again).

I agree that many fundamentalists are not serious with their worship. This is tragic. I am familiar with many of Piper's teaching about worship (and I have great agreement with much of it), and am listening to his lectures on this topic to gain refresh my memory and prepare for some future posts. I would say that I am sure there are many elements with which I would agree at his church. Nevertheless I have been to services there where I could not worship with the congregation. I am not a big fan of what Jonathan Edwards called the "passions," and believe that P&W attempts to stir those kinds of feelings up.

I am not really interested in getting into a debate with you over this here at this point. I am considering writing more on this in a couple days, and, if you like, feel free to swing by and interact then.

3/03/2006 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Fundamentally Reformed said...

Thanks for the reply. I'll be checking in off and on.

God Bless,

Bob Hayton
Rom. 15:5-7

3/05/2006 09:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt LaPine said...

Ryan, thanks for the article. I hope you don't mind but I'm linking to it on SharperIron with a response. I'd also appreciate your input. God Bless,
Matt LaPine

3/07/2006 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Ryan Martin said...

After listening to Piper's "Gravity and Gladness on Sunday Morning," I agreed with nearly everything he said (at one point he muses that drama may be acceptable worship, which is nonsense), particularly the "theory" he advocates. I even agreed with what he said in his final lecture on the dangers and advantages of using "fine and folk" in worship. I just think he is missing a crucial category: popular. There is no more folk culture. P&W is certainly not folk culture. Hymns, I am tempted to say, are folk culture. Bach, Brahams, and Handel are fine culture. P&W is manufactured popular culture, no more "organic" and rudimentary than the Oscars or "American Idol."

3/07/2006 11:11:00 PM  

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