When I think of heroes of the faith, John Piper comes to mind. As much as he credits C.S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards for shaping who he is, I credit him for shaping a significant portion of my theology. Specifically, the glory and sovereignty of God in all things, especially salvation.
I first encountered Dr. Piper in 2003. I read his book, The Dangerous Duty of Delight, and it marked a significant turning point in my faith. The idea that our joy is maximized in glorifying Him caused me to seek Him more and just gaze at His beauty. From there, I began to understand the theocentricity of God in a way that I had never thought about and thus led to increased praise and awe.
“God’s goal at every stage of creation and salvation is to magnify his glory.”
The Dangerous Duty of Delight, p. 17
My first live encounter with Dr. Piper came on October 17, 2008 at the Desiring God Regional Conference here in Austin, Texas. The theme of the conference was Job: When The Righteous Suffer.
Reading John Piper is good! Hearing John Piper speak is great! But seeing John Piper preach live is a blessing! He’s vocally animated, physically expressive, sincere, humorous, passionate, empathetic, and transparent.
“Some of you have suffered. Some of you are suffering. And some of you will suffer. It is inevitable. You will suffer at some point in your life!” – John Piper
In two sessions, Dr. Piper gave a very intense overview of the book of Job that blessed me immensely. The major points he drew out of the text were:
- Job’s character and true treasure (1:5).
- God sovereignly allows measures of suffering through the “hands” of Satan. (1:8-12, 2:2-6)
- Theology spoken at the wrong time does more damage than good. (Job’s friends).
- God uses suffering as a means of sanctification to purge sedimentary sin. (Job 36:6-15)
- God desires to be paramount in the hearts of His people and all that happens is a means to that end.
- God’s sovereignty is not mingled with evil, but goodness in the lives of those who are His.
One of the most profound statements Dr. Piper said as he drew this idea from God’s rebuke of Job’s questioning Him was:
God is doing 10,000 things in your life right now, but He only let’s you see 1 or 2 or 3.
This was particularly edifying for me because it sets my soul at rest when worries of numerous unknowns begin to cloud my clarity of His lovingkindness toward me. I must constantly believe there is an all loving and a God glorifying purpose in all things, including magnificent suffering or confusion. Either Romans 8:28 is a verse I can rest assured in or God has reneged on glorifying His Son. Let the former be true! It is also very humbling as it points to His infinite wisdom and might.
Can we see God’s affliction as a measure of grace?
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.. (Philippians 1:29a)
Father, thank you for your servant and my brother, John Piper!
To hear or watch all conference sessions including Q & A, go here: Job : When The Righteous Suffer
To understand the inspiration behind this conference, go here: JOB