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Quotes by John Piper


At the all-important pivot of human history, the worst sin ever committed served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtain the sin-conquering gift of God’s grace. God did not just overcome evil at the cross. He made evil commit suicide in doing its worst evil.


Education about God precedes and serves exultation in God. Learning truth precedes loving truth. Right reflection on God precedes right affection for God. Seeing the glory of Christ precedes savoring the glory of Christ. Good theology is the foundation of great doxology. Knowledge is utterly crucial. But it is not an end in itself. It serves faith and love. And if it doesn’t, it only puffs up, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:1. Where education does not produce heartfelt exultation in God, it degenerates into proud intellectualism. And where exultation is not sustained and shaped by solid Biblical education, it degenerates into proud emotionalism. God means to be known and loved. Seen and savored. Pondered and praised.

  1. There is no such thing as a “same-sex” marriage. God has designed marriage as a covenanted union between a man and a woman for life. To attend this false marriage would be to lie.
  2. This union is not being joined in heaven. It is not humans, but God who joins a couple together (Mk. 10:19). Marriage is made in heaven. And since God does not join these individuals together, to give the impression He does is an offense to heaven.
  3. Blessing this event is hateful because it confirms a lifestyle that leads people to hell – 1 Corinthians 6:19-21. To celebrate this lifestyle is to celebrate the destruction of a soul – and that is hateful. It is sin to join others in celebrating sin.
  4. This ceremony will defile the drama of Christ and the church. God designed marriage to display His covenant to His bride, the church. “Same-sex marriage” defiles and defaces the most beautiful act in the world.

At the heart of what it means to be a Christian is to receive a new identity. In Jesus, we do not lose our true selves, but we become our true selves, only in Him.


Christian selfhood is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves. It’s defined in terms of what God does to us and the relationship He creates with us and the destiny He appoints for us. God made us who we are so we could make known who He is. Our identity is for the sake of making known His identity.


Are you awake and free from the false messages of American merchandising? Or has the omnipresent economic lie deceived you so that the only sin you can imagine in relation to money is stealing?


Christ died to save us from hell but not to save us from the cross. He died so that we could be glorified, but not to keep us from being crucified. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily." For the Christian the cross of Christ is not merely a past place of substitution. It is also a present place of daily execution.


The cross is not a mere event in history; it’s a way of life! Take up your cross DAILY, Jesus said!


Nature teaches us that every believer should be a soul-winner. [As Andrew Murray said,] “It is an essential part of the new nature. We see it in every child who loves to tell of his happiness and to bring others to share his joys. Missions is the automatic outflow and overflow of love for Christ. We delight to enlarge our joy in Him by extending it to others. As Lottie Moon said, “Surely there can be no greater joy than that of saving souls.”


The church was [Paul’s] joy (1 Thes. 2:19-20) because in their joy in Christ his joy in Christ was greater. More of Christ’s mercy was magnified in multiplied converts of the cross. So when Paul chose suffering in the cause of world evangelization and said that his aim was to “gain Christ,” he meant that his own personal enjoyment of fellowship with Christ would be eternally greater because of the great assembly of the redeemed enjoying Christ with him.


Our parents (Adam and Eve) fell for it, and in them we have all fallen for it. It is now part of our nature. We take the mirror of God’s image which was intended to reflect His glory in the world, turn our backs to the light, and fall in love with the contours of our own dark shadow, trying desperately to convince ourselves (with technological advances, or management skills or athletic prowess or academic achievements or sexual exploits or counter cultural hair styles) that the dark shadow of the image on the ground in front of us is really glorious and satisfying. In our proud love affair with ourselves we pour contempt, whether we know it or not, on the worth of God’s glory.


If you are afraid of hospitality – that you don’t have much personal strength or personal wealth – good. Then you won’t intimidate anybody. You will depend all the more on God’s grace. You will look all the more to the work of Christ and not your own work. And what a blessing people will get in your simple home or little apartment.


The key to Christian living is a thirst and hunger for God. And one of the main reasons people do not understand or experience the sovereignty of grace and the way it works through the awakening of sovereign joy is that their hunger and thirst for God is too small.


The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night… For when these replace an appetite for God Himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.


The power of all temptation is the prospect that it will make me happier. No one sins out of a sense of duty when what they really want is to do right.


When there is a famine of the word of God in the land the spiritual nutrients that enable the eye to spot sin as sin is gone. And the spiritual protein that gives strength the moral muscle of the soul to do what is right is missing. The spiritual eye becomes diseased through malnutrition, and the clear lines between sin and righteousness begin to blur. The moral muscle of the will atrophies, and weakens, and the result is that the beckoning of the world wins because there is no strength to stand against it. When the ministry of the word goes wrong, many are caused to stumble.


The Bible-oriented preacher wants the congregation to know that his words, if they have any abiding worth, are in accord with God’s words. He wants this to be obvious to them. That is part of his humility and his authority. Therefore, he constantly tries to show the people that his ideas are coming from the Bible. He is hesitant to go too far toward points that are not demonstrable from the Bible.


Even when preaching the Word of God does not soften and save and heal, it is not necessarily ineffective. This preaching of the Word may be doing God’s terrible work of judgment. It may be hardening people, and making their ears so dull that they will never want to hear again. There is a judgment in this world – not just in the world to come (Romans 1:24) – and oh, how we should flee from it…. Take heed how you hear! Don’t be cavalier in the hearing of God’s Word week after week. If it is not softening and saving and healing and bearing fruit, it is probably hardening and blinding and dulling (see 2 Corinthians 2:16).


It horribly skews the meaning of the cross when contemporary prophets of self-esteem say that the cross is a witness to my infinite worth… The biblical perspective is that the cross in a witness to the infinite worth of God’s glory, and a witness to the immensity of the sin of my pride.


Do you feel more loved when God makes much of you or do you feel more loved when God at the cost of His Son allows you to make much of Him?


According to the spirit of this age, the ultimate sin is no longer the failure to honor and thank God but the failure to esteem oneself. Self-abasement, not God-abasement, is the evil. And the cry of deliverance is not “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me?” but “O worthy man that I am, would that I could only see it better!”


All experiences of suffering in the path of Christian obedience, whether from persecution or sickness or accident, have this in common: They all threaten our faith in the goodness of God and tempt us to leave the path of obedience. Therefore, every triumph of faith and all perseverance in obedience are testimonies to the goodness of God and the preciousness of Christ – whether the enemy is sickness, Satan, sin or sabotage. Therefore, all suffering, of every kind, that we endure in the path of our Christian calling is a suffering “with Christ” and “for Christ.” With Him in the sense that the suffering comes to us as we are walking with Him by faith, and in the sense that it is endured in the strength that He supplies through His sympathizing high-priestly ministry (Hebrews 4:15). For Him in the sense that the suffering tests and proves our allegiance to His goodness and power, and in the sense that it reveals His worth as an all-sufficient compensation and prize.


When we claim to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and then willfully choose to unite ourselves with an unbeliever in the most intimate personal union on earth we profane the holiness of God. We act as though our emotional drive for human intimacy is more important than affirming the preciousness of God’s holiness and nearness.


Every Christian who struggles with depression struggles to keep their hope clear. There is nothing wrong with the object of their hope – Jesus Christ is not defective in any way whatsoever. But the view from the struggling Christian’s heart of their objective hope could be obscured by disease and pain, the pressures of life, and by Satanic fiery darts shot against them… All discouragement and depression is related to the obscuring of our hope, and we need to get those clouds out of the way and fight like crazy to see clearly how precious Christ is.


Not to care about truth is not to care about God. To love God passionately is to love truth passionately. Being God-centered in life means being truth-driven in ministry. What is not true is not of God. What is false is anti-God. Indifference to the truth is indifference to the mind of God. Pretense is rebellion against reality and what makes reality is God. Our concern with truth is simply an echo of our concern with God.


Can we pray for justice, and yet love our enemy at the same time? The answer is yes…We will magnify the mercy of God by praying for our enemies to be saved and reconciled to God. At the personal level we will be willing to suffer for their everlasting good, and we will give them food and drink. We will put away malicious hatred and private vengeance. But at the public level we will also magnify the justice of God by praying and working for justice to be done on earth, if necessary through wise and measured force from God-ordained authority.


Boasting is the outward form of the inner condition of pride.


I was born into a believing family through no merit of my own at all. I was given a mind to think and a heart to feel through no merit of my own at all. I was brought into the hearing of the gospel through no merit of my own at all. My rebellion was subdued, my hardness removed, my blindness overcome, and my deadness awakened through no merit of my own at all. Thus I became a believer in Christ through no merit of my own at all. And so I am an heir of God with Christ through no merit of my own at all. Now when I put forward effort to please the Lord who bought me, this is to me no merit at all, because… it is not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Cor. 15:10)… God is working in me that which is pleasing in His sight. (Heb. 13:21)… He fulfills every resolve for good by His power. (2 Thes. 1:11) And therefore there is no ground for boasting in myself, but only in God’s mighty grace. Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:31)


The sufficiency of Scripture means that we don’t need any more special revelation. We don’t need any more inspired, inerrant words. In the Bible God has given us, we have the perfect standard for judging all other knowledge. All other knowledge stands under the judgment of the Bible even when it serves the Bible.


God is not jealous like an insecure employer who fears that his employees might get lured away by a better salary elsewhere. God’s jealousy is not the reflex of weakness or fear. Instead God is jealous like a powerful and merciful king who takes a peasant girl from a life of shame, forgives her, marries her, and gives her not the chores of a slave, but the privileges of a wife – a queen. His jealousy does not rise from fear or weakness but from a holy indignation at having His honor and power and mercy scorned by the faithlessness of a fickle spouse.


The jealousy of God for your undivided love and devotion will always have the last say. Whatever lures your affections away from God with deceptive attraction will come back to strip you bare and cut you in pieces (Eze. 16:38-40). It is a horrifying thing to use your God-given life to commit adultery against the Almighty. But for those of you who have been truly united to Christ and who keep your vows to forsake all others and cleave only to Him and live for His honor – for you the jealousy of God is a great comfort and a great hope. Since God is infinitely jealous for the honor of His name, anything and anybody who threatens the good of His faithful wife will be opposed with divine omnipotence.


The challenge before us then is not merely to do what God says because He is God, but to desire what God says because He is good. The challenge is not merely to pursue righteousness, but to prefer righteousness. The challenge is to get up in the morning and prayerfully meditate on the Scriptures until we experience joy and peace in believing “the precious and very great promises” of God (Rom. 15:13; 2 Peter 1:4). With this joy set before us the commandments of God will not be burdensome (1 John 5:3) and the compensation of sin will appear too brief and too shallow to lure us.


Sin gets its power by persuading me to believe that I will be happier if I follow it. The power of all temptation is the prospect that it will make me happier.


God’s first great design in all our trouble is that we might let go of self-confidence. When we do that, there is a temporary sense of falling. But by faith in God’s mercy, we land, infinitely more secure, in the arms of our Father, who is utterly in control at the brink of life and death.


A cry for help from the heart of a childlike believer is sweet praise in the ears of God. Nothing exalts Him more than the collapse of self-reliance which issues in passionate prayer for help. “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Ps. 50:15). Prayer is the translation into a thousand different words of a single sentence: “Apart from me [Christ] you can do nothing” (John 15:5).


Brothers and sisters, we must be more earnest in seeking God in worship. We must be less flippant and less frivolous and thoughtless and casual and disrespectful as we approach the chamber of God in the assembly of the faithful. Have you ever thought through the implications of Jeremiah 29:13 where God says, "You will seek me and find me; when you seek me WITH ALL YOUR HEART." There is only one reason to come to this service – to seek and find GOD! And the Lord God says to you straight from his Word every Sunday, "You will find me when you seek me with ALL YOUR HEART!"


For many, Christianity has become the grinding out of general doctrinal laws from collections of biblical facts. But childlike wonder and awe have died. The scenery and poetry and music of the majesty of God have dried up like a forgotten peach at the back of the refrigerator.


The revolt against hedonism has killed the spirit of worship in many churches. When you have the notion that high moral acts must be free from self-interest, then worship, which is one of the highest moral acts a human can perform, has to be conceived simply as duty. And when worship is reduced to a duty it ceases to exist. One of the great enemies of worship in our church is our own misguided virtue. We have the vague notion that seeking our own pleasure is sin and therefore virtue itself imprisons the longings of our hearts and smothers the spirit of worship. For what is worship if it is not our joyful feasting upon the banquet of God’s glory?


God is not content to leave all people under His wrath. Nor can he simply sweep sin under the rug of the universe. Therefore His love and His justice conspire to make a way for sinners to be saved and God’s justice to be vindicated. The answer is the death of Jesus Christ.


The Bible says Judas delivered Him over (Mark 3:19), and Pilate delivered Him over (Mark 15:15), and Herod and the Jewish people and the Gentiles delivered Him over (Acts 4:27-28), and we delivered Him over (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24). It even says Jesus delivered Himself over (John 10:17; 19:30). But Paul said the ultimate thing (in Romans 8:32a). In and behind and beneath and through all these human deliverings, God was delivering His Son to death. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.”  In Judas and Pilate and Herod and Jewish crowds and Gentile soldiers and our sin and Jesus’ lamblike submission, God delivered over His Son (for our salvation). Nothing greater has ever happened.


The gruesome death of the all-glorious, innocent, loving Son of God for my sin is the most radical indictment of my hopeless condition imaginable. The crucifixion of Jesus is the open display of my hellish nature.


The purpose of Jesus’ death was to glorify the Father. To be willing as the Son of God to suffer the loss of so much glory Himself in order to repair the injury done to God’s glory by our sin showed how infinitely valuable the glory of God is. To be sure, the death of Christ also shows God’s love for us. But we are not at the center.


God “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). This “all things” includes the fall of sparrows (Matthew 10:29), the rolling of dice (Proverbs 16:33), the slaughter of his people (Psalm 44:11), the decisions of kings (Proverbs 21:1), the failing of sight (Exodus 4:11), the sickness of children (2 Samuel 12:15), the loss and gain of money (1 Samuel 2:7), the suffering of saints (1 Peter 4:19), the completion of travel plans (James 4:15), the persecution of Christians (Hebrews 12:4-7), the repentance of souls (2 Timothy 2:25), the gift of faith (Philippians 1:29), the pursuit of holiness (Philippians 3:12-13), the growth of believers (Hebrews 6:3), the giving of life and the taking in death (1 Samuel 2:6) and the crucifixion of his Son (Acts 4:27-28).


Out of all the armor God gives us to fight Satan, only one piece is used for killing – the sword. It is called the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). So when Paul says, “Kill sin by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:13), I take that to mean, Depend on the Spirit, especially His sword. What is the sword of the Spirit? It’s the Word of God (Eph. 6:17). Here’s where faith comes in… The Word of God cuts through the fog of Satan’s lies and shows me where true and lasting happiness is to be found. And so the Word helps me stop trusting in the potential of sin to make me happy, and instead entices me to trust in God’s promise of joy (Psm. 16:11).


There is a world of difference between the silence of apathy and the silence of passion!


When God stands as witness to the covenant promises of a marriage it becomes more than a merely human agreement. God is not a passive bystander at a wedding ceremony. In effect he says, I have seen this, I confirm it and I record it in heaven. And I bestow upon this covenant by My presence and My purpose the dignity of being an image of My own covenant with My wife, the church.


The mere mention of the word carries a huge weight of sorrow and loss and tragedy and disappointment and anger and regret and guilt. Few things are more painful than divorce. It cuts to the depths of personhood unlike any other relational gash. It is emotionally more heart-wrenching than the death of a spouse. Death is usually a clean pain. Divorce is usually unclean pain. In other words, the enormous loss of a spouse in death is compounded in divorce by the ugliness of sin and the moral outrage at being so wronged.


What makes divorce and remarriage so horrific in God’s eyes is not merely that it involves covenant-breaking to the spouse, but that it involves misrepresenting Christ and His covenant. Christ will never leave His wife. Ever. There may be times of painful distance and tragic backsliding on our part. But Christ keeps His covenant forever. Marriage is a display of that! That is the ultimate thing we can say about it. It puts the glory of Christ’s covenant-keeping love on display.


If the most ultimate meaning of marriage is to represent the unbreakable covenant-love between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33), then no human being has a right to break a marriage covenant. When the impossible day comes that Christ breaks His vow, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), then, on that day, a human being may break his marriage covenant. This explains why Jesus does not settle for the divorce provision of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (Mark 10:3-9), but says, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9). In other words, since God is the One who decisively makes every marriage, only God has the right to break a marriage. And He does it by death. Which is why the traditional and biblical marriage vows have one and only one limitation: “till death do us part,” or, “as long as we both shall live.”


Marriage is a human relationship ordained and instituted by God (Malachi 2:14-16). His original design was one man and one woman united by covenant and sexual union for life (Genesis 2:23-4). The relationship was a mystery in that it set forth symbolically in physical form the relationship between himself and his people (Eph. 5:21-33; Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:14-23; Ezekiel 16; Jeremiah 3:20).


Divorce is painful. It is emotionally more wrenching than the death of a spouse. It is often long years in coming and long years in the settlement and in the adjustment. The upheaval of life is immeasurable. The sense of failure and guilt and fear torture the soul. Like the psalmist, night after night a spouse falls asleep with tears. Work performance is hindered. People draw near or withdraw with uncertain feelings. Loneliness can be overwhelming. A sense of devastated future can be all consuming. Courtroom controversy compounds the personal misery.


If you ask a typical evangelical Christian today what the fatherhood of God means to them, they would probably almost all say, “It means that He loves me, that He will take care of me and guide me and forgive me and take me home to live with Him forever some day.” And this would be true – wonderfully true! … But is it not striking that the most famous of all biblical commands relating to child and father is surely the fifth commandment, Exodus 20:12, "Honor your father and your mother;" and yet very few people today would say that the fatherhood of God implies to them that God is to be honored and revered and venerated and held in sacred respect.


The happiest and holiest children in the world are the children whose fathers succeed in winning both their tender affection and their reverential and loving fear. And they are the children who will come to understand most easily the mystery of the fatherhood of God.


The aim of God in creating and redeeming us is the delight He Himself enjoys in seeing His creatures delight in Him. As Edwards said, “[The] glorifying of God is nothing but rejoicing in the manifestations of Him.” In other words, the purpose of the knowledge of God is the enjoyment of God because “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him.”


God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the ultimately loving act. And the reason is easy to see. The one and only Reality in the universe that can fully and eternally satisfy the human heart is the glory of God – the beauty of all that God is for us in Jesus. Therefore God would not be loving unless he upholds and displays and magnifies that glory for our everlasting enjoyment


God’s own glory is uppermost in His own affections. In everything He does, His purpose is to preserve and display that glory. To say His glory is uppermost in His own affections means that He puts a greater value on it than on anything else. He delights in His glory above all things… God’s overwhelming passion is to exalt the value of His glory. To that end He seeks to display it, to oppose those who belittle it, and to vindicate it from all contempt.


Interest is to magnify the fullness of His glory by spilling over in mercy to us. Therefore the pursuit of our interest and our happiness is never above God, but always in God. God’s greatest interest is to glorify the wealth of His grace by making sinners happy in Him.


If you don’t see the greatness of God then all the things that money can buy become very exciting. If you can’t see the sun you will be impressed with a street light. If you’ve never felt thunder and lightning you’ll be impressed with fireworks. And if you turn your back on the greatness and majesty of God you’ll fall in love with a world of shadows and short-lived pleasures.


The person who thinks the money he makes is meant mainly to increase his comforts on earth is a fool, Jesus says. Wise people know that all their money belongs to God and should be used to show that God, and not money, is their treasure, their comfort, their joy, and their security.


But does not the Old Testament promise that God will prosper the faithful? Indeed! God increases our yield so that by giving we can prove that our yield is not our God. God does not prosper a man’s business so that man can move from a Buick to a BMW. God prospers a business so that hundreds of unreached peoples can be reached with the gospel. He prospers a business so that 20 percent of the world’s population can move a step back from the precipice of starvation.


Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts… It’s the disposition to follow a husband’s authority, and an inclination to yield to his leadership. It is an attitude that says, “I delight for you to take the initiative in our family. I am glad when you take responsibility for things and lead with love. I don’t flourish in the relationship when you are passive and I have to make sure the family works.”


Here are six things [submission] is not, based on 1 Peter 3:1-6:

1. Submission does not mean agreeing with everything your husband says.

2. Submission does not mean leaving your brains or your will at the wedding altar.

3. Submission does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband.

4. Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ.

5. Submission does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength primarily though her husband.

6. Submission does not mean that a wife is to act out of fear.


When Ephesians 5:22 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord,” the word as does not mean that Christ and the husband are the same. Christ is supreme; the husband is not. Her allegiance is first to Christ, not first to her husband. The analogy only works if the woman submits to Christ absolutely, not to the husband absolutely. Then she will be in a position to submit to the husband without committing treason or idolatry.


I do not elevate the time or mode of baptism to a primary doctrine.


The visible people of God are no longer formed through the natural birth but through new birth and its expression through faith in Christ. With the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus and the apostles, the emphasis now is that the spiritual status of our parents does not determine our membership in the covenant community. The beneficiaries of the blessings of Abraham are those who have the faith of Abraham. These are the ones who belong to the covenant community.


John’s baptism…was a radical act of individual commitment to belong to the true people of God, based on personal confession and repentance… This is one of the main reasons that I do not believe in baptizing infants, who cannot make this personal commitment or confession or repentance. John’s baptism was an assault on the very assumptions that give rise to much infant baptism.


In…the New Testament, and indeed in all the first two centuries of the Christian era until A.D. 200 when Tertullian mentions infant baptism for the first time in any historical document…all baptism was the baptism of believers, not infants. And the reason was that baptism was the sign of belonging to the new people of God who are constituted not by birth or ethnic identity, but by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.


Most American evangelicals are familiar with what Billy Graham does at the end of his preaching, calling people to walk to the front. Sometimes these are called “invitations.” Sometimes “altar calls.” When you look for something like this in the Bible there is no clear example… If you ask what the decisive, public way of taking a Christian stand was in the New Testament, the answer is, baptism. The message Peter gave in Acts 2 ended with the words, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38). Our renewed conviction is that we need to regularly offer baptism as the decisive public way for people to respond publicly to the gospel.


Without extended, concentrated prayer, the ministry of the Word withers. And when the ministry of the Word declines, faith (Rom. 10:17; Gal. 3:2, 5) and holiness (John 17:17) decline. Activity may continue, but life and power and fruitfulness fade away. Therefore, whatever opposes prayer opposes the whole work of ministry.


We change because we have seen a superior beauty and worth and excellence. If you look into the face of Christ and then look into Sports Illustrated or Glamour and are not moved by the superior beauty and worth and excellence and desirability of Christ, then you are still hard and blind and futile in your thinking. You need to cry out, “Open my eyes to see wonderful things out of your Word!” And your life will show it. Where your treasure is – your desire, your delight, your beauty – there will your heart be also – and your evenings and your Saturdays and your money. We are changed by seeing the glory of God in the Word of God.


There are things to see in the Word of God that our eyes can only see through the lens of tears.


The mentality behind the fruit of the Spirit is the mentality of faith depending upon grace. People who bear the fruit of the Spirit know they are worthy only of condemnation. They know that the only pay they can earn is the wrath of God. Therefore, they have turned away from self-reliance and look only to mercy in Christ who “loved us and gave Himself for us” (Gal. 2:20). They do not expect anyone to be their debtor because of their worth. Any satisfaction will be a free gift of grace. They bank on the mercy of God and entrust themselves to his Spirit for help. And out of that mentality of faith depending on grace grows not “works” but “fruit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…


[Leadership is] knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.


[Spiritual leadership is] knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.


Servanthood does not nullify leadership; it defines it. Jesus does not cease to be the Lion of Judah when He becomes the lamblike servant of the church.


As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.


Deliverance from Satan’s oppressing, darkening, and deceiving work in the life of the Christian comes most often by the power of truth, and only rarely by exorcism.


There is a hearing that barely gets started and the Word is gone before you get out the door. There is a hearing that lasts until there is a hard time in life, and then one turns from God to other messages. There is a hearing that flourishes until the riches and pleasures of this life choke it off. And there is a hearing that defeats the devil, endures trial, scorns riches and bears fruit unto eternal life [see Luke 8:4-18].


What can you do Saturday evening and Sunday morning and on the way to church [to prepare]… for hearing the Word of God preached?

1. Pray that God would give you [a] good and honest heart (Eze. 36:26; Jer. 24:7).

2. Meditate on the Word of God. Read portions of your Bible with a view to stirring up hunger for God.

3. Purify your mind by turning away from worldly entertainment (Jas. 1:21).

4. Trust in the truth that you already have (Jer. 17:7-8).

5. Get a good night’s rest on Saturday night.

6. Forebear one another [before the service] without grumbling and criticism.

7. Come in a spirit of meek teachability (Jas. 1:21).

8. Be still as you enter the room and focus your mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God (Psm. 46:10).

9. When the worship service begins, think earnestly about what is sung and prayed and preached (1 Cor. 14:20; 2 Tim. 2:7).

10. Desire the truth of God’s Word more than you desire riches or food (Psm. 19:10-11; Pr. 2:3-5).


It astonishes me how many Christians watch the same banal, empty, silly, trivial, titillating, suggestive, immodest TV shows that most unbelievers watch – and then wonder why their spiritual lives are weak and their worship experience is shallow with no intensity. If you really want to hear the Word of God the way He means to be heard in truth and joy and power, turn off the television on Saturday night and read something true and great and beautiful and pure and honorable and excellent and worthy of praise (see Philippians 4:8). Then watch your heart unshrivel and begin to hunger for the Word of God.


The root that nourishes fruitful hearing is the root of faith. Hearing begets faith and faith begets better hearing. Trusting in the truth you already have is the best way to prepare yourself to receive more. So when you pray and meditate and turn off the TV, consciously fix your heart on the promises of God and trust him Saturday night and Sunday morning.


Without sufficient sleep, we are not alert; our minds are dull, our emotions are flat and unenergetic, our proneness to depression is higher, and our fuses are short. “Take heed how you hear” means get a good night’s rest before you hear the Word of God.


Saturday night’s and Sunday morning’s grumbling and controversy and quarreling can ruin a worship service for a family. My suggestion is this: When there is something you are angry about or some conflict that you genuinely think needs to be talked about, forebear, and put if off till later on Sunday after worship. Don’t dive in Saturday night or Sunday morning (Psalm 106:25).


Let us not be deceived by outward appearances. Satan “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). He keeps his deadliest diseases most sanitary. He clothes his captains in religious garments and houses his weapons in temples. Legalism is a more dangerous disease than alcoholism because it doesn’t look like one. Alcoholism makes men fail; legalism helps them succeed in the world. Alcoholism makes men depend on the bottle; legalism makes them self-sufficient, depending on no one. Alcoholism destroys moral resolve; legalism gives it strength. Alcoholics don’t feel welcome in the church; legalists love to hear their morality extolled in church.


Legalism is more subtle and more pervasive and, in the end, more destructive [than alcoholism]. Satan clothes himself as an angel of light and makes the very commandments of God his base of operations. And the human heart is so inveterately proud and unsubmissive that it often uses religion and morality to express its rebellion.


Waiting for the Lord in a season of darkness should not be a time of inactivity. We should do what we can do. And doing is often God’s appointed remedy for despair.


Out of the freedom from worry that God’s generosity provides comes an impulse toward simplicity rather than accumulation.