- Friday, September 19, 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ by John Piper (Crossway).
The Times Are Changing: When the Bruised Heart Needs a Tire Iron
Jesus Christ, who was in the beginning with God, and was God (John 1:1), created the universe. He did this as God the Father's equal and as his agent. "All things were made through him" (John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2). And he did it to display his glory. "By him all things were created . . . and for him" (Col. 1:16). By him and for him. All things were created by Christ and for Christ. The Son of God, who has become a human being—the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth—in perfect concert with his Father, created the universe for the display of his all-satisfying glory.
Not only that, he holds it all together with total authority. "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3). How this massive power—to create and uphold the universe—is wielded to display the glory of Christ is the great issue of our time, and of all time.
The Greatest Display of the Glory of Christ
The apex of the glory of Christ is the glory of his grace—treating people infinitely better than they deserve—giving himself for the everlasting joy of the worst of sinners who will have him as their highest Treasure. And the apex of this grace is the murder of the God-man outside Jerusalem around AD 33. The death of Jesus Christ was murder. It was the most spectacular sin ever committed.
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 serve the overcoming of evil. He made evil commit suicide in doing its worst evil.
Evil is anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ. That's the meaning of evil. In the death of Christ, the powers of darkness did their best to destroy the glory of the Son of God. This is the apex of evil. But instead they found themselves quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by God. Precisely in putting Christ to death, they put his glory on display—the very glory that they aimed to destroy. The apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ. The glory of grace.
To See the World Differently
When you see this, and feel the force of it, the way you look at the world changes. I am writing this book because I think the days that are coming will demand from the followers of Christ this change in the way we look at the world. It seems to me that
Christians in the West are being coddled. We suffer little in the name of Christ. Therefore, we read the Bible not with a desperate hunger for evidences of God's triumph in pain, but with a view to improving our private pleasures.
Therefore, we read the Bible selectively. We pick a text here and there to fit our felt needs. This is like a doctor who forgets how to write prescriptions for the best antibiotics because everybody seems healthy, and he has spent the last decades tweaking good health with hip-hop exercise videos, unaware that pestilence is at the door. It's like the soldier who forgets how to use his weapons because the times seem peaceful, and he has spent the last decades doing relief work and teaching the children how to play games.
The Times Are Changing
But the times are changing. For seventy million baby boomers, for example, life has changed. It seems very short now. What used to be a fond nostalgia for the sixties has turned into an ache that the beloved decade is now so far away that its main meaning is: we are dying. Different ages get the message in different ways.
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