10/02/2007

Desiring God

This is the next site on my list of links.

Back in 1992, during a four month stay in Washington DC, I was handed a book by a dear older brother in the fellowship I was attending. It was called Desiring God. At that time I had never heard of John Piper, but this was one of those books that changed my life.

While I must admit I struggled with the term "Christian Hedonist" (and I still wonder if people are put off the from examining the truth of the doctrine, by the title given to it), I was immediately gripped by the "revision" of the Westminster Shorter Catechism - "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."

Yes, God is to feared, honoured, worshipped and obeyed, but He is to be enjoyed. The book did for me what it was meant to do - it radically increased my desire for God. It is right to enjoy God - to seek pleasure in Him. I thank God that, even though I still fall, I can say that the Lord is more satisfying than anything sin can offer; there is greater pleasure in Him than in all the passing pleasures of sin. One of my favourite quotes from Future Grace (which I read later) - "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him" - is so true. "My soul finds rest in God alone" (Ps 62v1)!

I brought the book home with me and lent it to a couple of people - one was outraged by it and the other didn't read it! But after a few years John Piper's ministry became more widely known here in the UK and I found more books, and the hunger for God grew in me. So I am indebted to John Piper's ministry for drawing me to pursue God Himself in all His sufficiency. And also for encouraging me to explore Jonathan Edwards for myself.

There are many excellent articles, interviews and sermons on this website. They also now have a blog! There are some very good posts and links there, not least the links to all the audios for the recent pastor's conference! For free!!


RC Sproul

I was very excited to discover that RC Sproul gave three messages at the conference - the Holiness of God, the Holiness of Christ, and Holiness and Justice.

In my "biographical" post I mentioned my early introduction to reformed theology at Leeds Reformed Baptist Church, and the many books that I had been encouraged to read by the friend who led me to the Lord. One of those books was The Holiness of God by Sproul. This is another one of those life-changing books. It should be on the reading list of every believer. If you have led someone to the Lord, then they must read this book within the first few months of discipleship. As well as showing me just how awesome God is - how worthy of adoration, worship, awe and fear - it showed me a key thing that has helped form the rest of my theology.

He says at the end: "How can we love a holy God? The simplest answer I can give to this vital question is that we can't. Loving a holy God is beyond our moral power. The only kind of God we can love by our sinful nature is an unholy god, an idol made by our own hands. Unless we are born of the Spirit of God, unless God sheds his holy love into our hearts, unless He stoops in His grace to change our hearts, we will not love Him. He is the One who takes the initiative to restore our souls. Without Him we can do nothing of righteousness. Without Him we would be doomed to everlasting alienation from His holiness. We can only love Him because He first loved us. To love a holy God requires grace, grace strong enough to pierce our hardened hearts and awaken our moribund souls."

Piper enabled me to see how totally glorious God is, the supreme goal of our pursuit, the ultimate source of delight for my soul. Sproul helped my to realise that before I could ever pursue God as He really is, I needed God to break in with irresistible grace to my soul. He breathed life into me who was dead, and with a new heart, I can indeed see God as He is and love Him. What amazing grace we have received that He has saved us, and drawn us to Himself! What an awesome privilege that He is our God!!

"Thus says the Lord, 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness in all the earth, for in these I delight,' says the Lord." (Jer 9v23-24)

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