Monday, September 17, 2007

"Two Ways to Go After God"

John Piper, from the Desiring God podcast on September 3:
There are two ways to go after God. If you want to be with God—if you want standing with God, acceptance with God, pleasing God—you can go about it two ways. You can become a slave and work for God, or you can become a child and live enjoyably in his house. A slave tries his best to perform in such a way that he might win a standing with a master. A child rests in the incomparably wonderful truth that his name is in the will that his father wrote before he had a chance to win anything from the father. Slaves are always uncertain. They're never quite sure that they've done enough to please the master. Children don't even think of it that way. They're already in the house.
When I first listened to this message, I thought, "Wow, that's great stuff." Then I weighed his words against all the NT language that clearly describes believers as both sons and slaves to God. I wondered whether Piper has set up a false dichotomy.

But within the context of Galatians 4-5, I think this is not only a theologically accurate statement, but also a soteriologically essential one. I think most of us would agree that Paul is not here contradicting other statements about our slave relationship to Christ. Piper seems to be getting to the narrower parameters of Paul's point—not that we are free from responsibility to serve God, but that we are incapable of serving him in such a way that we can earn anything from him. Rather, what we possess in Christ, we possess by grace—by his free, unmerited declaration that we are his sons and his heirs.

3 comments:

Chris Anderson said...

Today's entry at www.sfpulpit.com addresses what it means to be a slave of Christ. It's an abridgment of a sermon by John MacArthur. FWIW.

(Sorry. I never get blogger links right.)

G-Knee said...

Love it, this went totally along with the ladies class I'm taking on Wednesday night. Janet Aucoin was telling us how she asks her kids "why do I love you?"...and then they give all these answers like, "because I obeyed today" or "because I was nice to my sister/brother today" or "because I did something nice for you without being asked" And then Janet says, "No, I love you, because I do" Then she asks them when she would stop loving them. And they'll say a whole bunch of answers and then say something like "well what if we murder someone?!" and Janet tells them, "well, that would make me really sad and I would be disappointed, but you know what, I'd still love you, and I'd come and visit you every week." It just means that nothing you do or don't do can change my love. Then she explains what that means for their relationship with her in relation to why they obey.

Okay, maybe it doesn't directly apply, but I was just excited about it.

kevin said...

Right Ben--I'm glad you came around.