Psalm 16:5

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

God's Warth is Coming... Are You Ready?

You had better listen to the words of Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter, but he that does the will of my father in heaven.” If ye by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live. If you live after the flesh, you’ll die! The cross does not give us a minor shift or two with regard to a few of our ethical and religious values. The cross radically disrupts the very center and citadel of your life from self to Christ. And if the cross has not done that, YOU’RE NOT A CHRISTIAN! My Friend face it, young rogue, you’re not a Christian until the cross has radically disrupted the very center and citadel of your life! And brought you from a life of commitment to serve self…What are the focal points of the reign of your self? If you’ve gone to the cross in union with Christ, it’s been shattered!"
- Al Martin

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gratitude for the Cross - Can it be Idolatry?

(I realize some people struggle with getting posts out on a regular basis. I struggle with figuring out how to post everything I want to - and one way is multiple posts a day as I have the time... So this is post three for today.)

John Piper offers some interesting, thought provoking, and convicting insights into biblical gratitude in the wonderful book, God Is the Gospel.

He shows that biblical gratitude does not end on the gift, but rather the Giver. The gifts of God have one focus - God himself. If our gratefulness ends with a focus on the gifts we receive, it is idolatry because we are more thankful for the gifts than we are the ultimate gift of the gospel - God himself.

"What then do we learn here about the gospel? It was the gospel that purchased and promised all our answers to prayer. What we learn is that the aim of the gospel is not to mainly give us God's gifts, but to give us God. All his gifts are good. But in and through them all, the aim is to see more of God's glory and to savor more of his infinitely beautiful moral perfections displayed in the gospel."

"[I]t is possible to feel truly thankful to someone for a gift and not love the giver."

"Jonathan Edwards saw to the bottom of this problem as he studied the hearts of people in the first Great Awakening. He helps us beware of how the gospel can bring forth thanks that has no moral worth.
"True gratitude or thankfulness to God for his kindness to us, arises from a foundation laid before, of love to God for what he is in himself; whereas natural gratitude has no such antecedent foundation. The gracious stirrings of grateful affection to God, for kindness received, always are from a stock of love already in the heart, established in the first place on other grounds, viz. God's own excellency."
So, why the title of this blog post? Because of one of the applications of the above the Piper brings to the table.

"It is amazing that this same idolatry is sometimes even true when people thank God for sending Christ to die for them. Perhaps you have heard people say how thankful we should be for the death of Christ because it shows how much value God puts on us. In other words, they are thankful for the cross as an echo of our worth. What is the foundation of this gratitude?

"Jonathan Edwards calls it the gratitude of hypocrites. Why? Because 'they first rejoice, and are elevated with the fact that they are made much of by God; and then on that ground, [God] seems in a sort lovely to them....They are pleased in the highest degree, in hearing how much God and Christ make of them. So that their joy is really a joy in themselves, and not in God.'"

John Piper, God Is the Gospel, pgs. 135-137

I could go on with more quoting, but you really should just get the book and read it for yourself to get the breadth of Piper's point. It really get's you think about many things though. For example, why are we so grateful for salvation? Is it mostly because we are saved from hell, or mostly because we may now know God? Yes, we should be grateful for deliverance from the pains of death, but the end of that deliverance is not merely heaven. It is to know God and glorify Him forever. It is to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ.

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