"I Love Jesus Christ"

The following is from the June 29 Desiring God Blog

(Author: John Piper)

“Lord, you know that I love you.” John 21:15
In the fall of 1968, James Morgan, my professor of theology at Fuller Seminary, who died of stomach cancer the next year, looked me in the eye during a heated debate after class and said, “John, I love Jesus Christ!”

I have never forgotten that testimony. It was one of the most powerful words ever spoken to me.

When was the last time you ever said to anyone—your spouse, your child, your friend, your colleague—“I love Jesus Christ”? May I urge you to do that? What if 10,000 Christians in Minneapolis (or pick your town) said to someone today with eye-to-eye earnestness, “I love Jesus Christ”? This would be a tidal wave of truth and power.

Why would this be so significant? The reason is not because saying you love Jesus makes him true. The reason is that when we are not saying we love him we create the atmosphere one would expect if he is not true. Or to put it positively, when believers are saying with humble joy, “I love Jesus Christ,” they are creating the atmosphere one would expect if Jesus is true.

The function of a testimony about our love for Jesus is not to prove that he is true, but to remove the unhelpful impression that he is not true and not loved.

Let your love be spoken today. Think on what he has done for you. If you were discussing with a neighbor your uncle Joe who gave you one of his kidneys and died a few weeks later because his remaining kidney failed, you would say with tears of joy, “I love my uncle Joe. O how I love uncle Joe.”

May I testify simply today: I love Jesus Christ.



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Holy Headship!

We need a definition for this elusive and yet essential biblical doctrine. Try this one on for size:

"Headship is a man's glorifying of Christ by embracing the primary responsibility of loving, sacrificial leadership that cultivates, protects, and teaches the family and church."



Edible Edwards

I'm not an expert, but certainly one of the greatest theologians, philosophers, and God-lovers in the history of the church is Jonathan Edwards. However, if you've read him, you may agree with me that an additional brain would be helpful in digesting his genius.

Though the reading of his works is more than worth the effort and something I wouldn't want to discourage, there are some helpful works from thinkers greater than I who present Edwards in a more digestible and therefore perhaps enjoyable way:

1. God's Passion for His Glory, by John Piper
2. Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards's "Religious Affections", by Sam Storms
3. A God Entranced Vision of All Things; The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, Piper, Taylor, eds.

Enjoy! - I dare you!

My Favorite Band

When Anger Is A Mirror

We’ve all had times of being angry. Sometimes the anger rises high in a torrent of rage. Sometimes it is slow-burning; a deep, but hot fire that remains unquenched. So, what’s going on inside when we’re angry?

See what you think about this – anger occurs when something we love is lost, trampled, or diminished. Anger starts with harm to something we love. If we don’t care about the Tampa Bay Devil Rays it won’t bother us much when they lose. O, but when the Red Sox go down, that is painful.

In the same way, hearing about a thievery in a city far away may give you pause, but coming home and finding the house swept clean will cause an explosion of anger. Why? Because you are, obviously, much more in love with your stuff than you are the stuff far away.

Anger starts with harm to something we love. And the intensity of our anger will depend on the measure of our passion for the thing harmed. Break my lamp, no big deal. Hurt my kid, and I’m (rightfully) upset.

Now we can see why some anger is good (righteous) while some isn’t. You love your spouse, and you should be angry if someone tries to harm them. It is good and right to have a high love for your spouse. Jesus’ anger is the ultimate example (John 2.13-17). He was enraged by those who trampled His Father’s glory in the misuse of the temple. Jesus loved the right thing in the right way (the glory of God above all else) and had rightful rage at its demeaning.

It is here that I see the wickedness of my own heart. I can be outraged at someone’s driving or a comment made about me – and it shows me what I love. I love my ego way too much. Moreover, I can see God’s glory and Word trampled in the hearts of people and culture and not care in the least. This shows a lack of love both for God and His glory and a lack of love for others. I love what I shouldn't, don't love what I should, and love many things improperly.

So have a look in the mirror of your anger. What makes you mad? The answer will show you what you love most. Is your consuming passion the glory of God and the welfare of others? Or do you, like me, have a love affair with self and sin?

May God transform our hearts to love the right things in the right way – culminating in a passionate love for God Himself.


Justification By Faith For Marriage

Marriage conversations often resemble a battlefield better than an embrace. The guns are on automatic while each side recounts the great evils the other has committed. No doubt, the shots ring true as each side has sinned against the other grievously. The pain is real; the sin obvious. Each side plants their flag and declares, “I’m not moving until you…(fill in the blank).” In other words, “I’ll change when he changes.” Of course, in this situation, change rarely occurs, except change for the worse.

It is deeply true that our spouses are often undeserving of us treating them well. The thing is, for the Christian, it’s irrelevant. What do I mean?

One of the most precious truths in the world is that of justification by faith. We are declared by God Almighty to be “Righteous! Justified! Perfect in His sight!” by faith in Jesus Christ. How can this be? Through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven and His perfection is accounted to us. We are perfectly righteous in Him. As 2 Corinthians 5.21 proclaims, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Here’s the fabulous realization: In Christ God treats us as if we are perfect – even though we aren’t. What does this mean for marriage?


In Ephesians 5 husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loves the church. A husband is to cherish and cultivate his wife as he does his own body. Likewise, a wife is to told to submit to and respect her husband as Christ does the church. These are high callings!

And what about when your husband seems incredibly unrespectable? What about the times when a wife seems unlovable? What then? It is here that justification by faith works its power. We are called to treat our spouse in accordance with how God has treated us and not what they deserve. After all, God has not treated us as we deserve, but as Christ deserves.

When the Christian couple puts the grace of justification by faith into practice in their marriage, everything begins to change. The wife is loved, served, and cherished unconditionally because of God’s grace to the husband. The husband is supported and honored unconditionally because of God’s grace to the wife. God willing, peace, intimacy, and joy begin to sprout in the marriage, and, most importantly, the gospel is glorified.

May the grace of justification by faith transform our marriages, and may our marriages reflect the grace of God to the glory of God.



You really ought to visit Sovereign Grace Ministries and listen to the (free) sermons from their recent "New Attitude" Conference. This is meaty stuff for the Christian life. I thought C. J. Mahaney's Discern Your Heart was particularly good. Check it out here.


Sunday Afternoon

I'm enjoying the day with the man (and his family) who was my kandre (pigeon for "brother") in Kenya and the best man in my wedding. His name is Barak, and he is the "1,000 Wells Project Manager" at Blood: Water Mission. BWM was founded by Jars of Clay and advocates water and HIV AIDS relief in Africa. Check out their website and Barak's blog. Barak is a world-minded Christian with a deep passion for community development and Christian service. It's really good to see him.


Creation Declares the Glory of God

Here's a fun change of pace that's no less theological. My two-year-old son's favorite doctrine at the moment is the glory of God as seen in Great White Sharks and people crazy enough to swim with them. Enjoy!

Important Differences Between Calvinism and Armenianism

One of my favorite theological works is John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. J.I. Packer's introduction to the book is alone worth the price of admission, and as he says, Owen's treatise itself has yet to be successfully answered (rebutted).

Packer's intro includes a paragraph that succinctly details the differences between Calvinism and Armenianism. The differences are substantial and ought to be considered by thinkers of both perspectives. Packer writes,
The difference between [the two perspectives] is not primarily one of emphasis, but of content. One proclaims a God who saves; the other speaks of a God who enables man to save himself. One view presents the three great acts of the Holy Trinity for the recovering of lost mankind - election by the Father, redemption by the Son, calling by the Spirit - as directed towards the same persons, and as securing their salvation infallibly. The other view gives each act a different reference (the objects of redemption being all mankind, of calling, those who hear the gospel, and of election, those hearers who respond), and denies that any man's salvation is secured by any of them. The two theologies thus conceive the plan of salvation in quite different terms. One makes salvation depend on the word of God, the other on a work of man; one regards faith as part of God's gift of salvation, the other as man's own contribution to salvation; one gives all the glory of saving believers to God, the other divides the praise between God, who, so to speak, built the machinery of salvation, and man, who by believing operated it. (page 4)

The Lord's Prayer and Women in Office

This is a response to Bert den Boggende’s article, “The Lord’s Prayer and Women in Office” as printed in the last issue of The Banner.

Den Boggende’s first point is that textual exegesis, though “interesting”, misses the Reformed practice of “starting with a major biblical theme.” I will assume he means to speak against “isegesis” – the practice overemphasizing one or two texts over and against the message of Scripture as a whole. But I do hope we Reformers have not forgotten that it is textual exegesis that alerts us to biblical themes! Establishing biblical themes without textual exegesis leads to the power of personal opinion and, if left unchecked, heresy (though I certainly do NOT mean to assert that Den Boggende is a heretic!).

Den Boggende also asserts that the love found in the Kingdom of God means that women should be elders. I stand in full support of love in the Kingdom...but there could be another conclusion. For instance, if God’s Word says that only men should be elders because of certain gender and role distinctions (and in my mind 1 Timothy 2.12-15 is clear on that point), then would it not be loving for us to adhere to what God has commanded for His church? And also loving therefore to argue for such obedience?

I do think we could use some more textual exegesis when we are found trying to use Galatians 3.28 as evidence for the discussion of whether women should be elders or not (see post below). I'm not sure this text has much to do with authority in the local church, but rather has everything to do with our standing before God in Christ. Paul insists here that we are equally welcome in God’s sight through Christ, despite any human distinction.

And this equality is the central point of the conversation. Den Boggende insists that, because there is equality in the Kingdom of God, all offices should be open to women. I hear this in his thinking: “to be equal in value is to be identical in role.” Hmm. With such argumentation, could we not also say, “We should not have any ruling pastors at all. After all, we are equal in Christ!” Well, I don’t think so. Of course, we are equal in Christ and each believer has great worth and value in God’s sight. But equality can include role distinctions. For instance, as a pastor I share equal standing before God with any of my parishioners who trust in Jesus. And yet God has given me some authority in the church. Equal value with role distinction is a major biblical theme!

Consider this: Who is more “God,” the Father or the Son? The answer? They are equal in essence and value – both fully God. And yet 1 Corinthians 11.3 reads, “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (ESV) What we see here is that equality with the distinctions of headship and submission are found in the infinite perfection of the Trinity. For another example, who is more “human”, a husband or a wife? Neither! They are equal in value and worth! And yet Ephesians 5.23-24 insists, “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (ESV) This headship and submission (O, how this important word needs to be carefully defined! But I do not have time here.)

This is the powerful truth: God, in both the Trinity and the gospel (Christ and the church) is glorified as we live out our role distinctions within our equality!

I, with Bert den Boggende, am also praying for our families, churches, Synod, and denomination. And I am praying that God’s name will be hallowed as we honor the truth of His Word despite the demands of our culture and that His Kingdom will come as we obey those commands. But the Lord’s Prayer does not assert women as elders. It may, in fact demand the opposite. And so we plead to God for wisdom in handling His Word, and courage to obey it. For to Him be the glory, both now and forever.


Does Equality Negate Authority?

A favorite verse for many is Galatians 3.28 which reads, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

I love this verse as well. It proclaims the absolute equality in value and worth before the Father that each believer owns in Jesus Christ. Christ’s righteousness is perfect, and if you are in Him, your standing before God cannot be improved upon! The law is fulfilled in Him! And this is deep reality is for anyone who believes, apart from any human distinction of race, economics, culture, or gender. Therefore we are to have a deep unity and oneness in Jesus.

What a glorious truth! But many want to use it as the guiding text for church leadership. So...what does this text say about church leadership? Well, it certainly has implications like, 1) the gospel is for everyone. And that 2) leaders should never be self-righteous or haughty about their position, but should glorify the perfection of Christ for all who believe.

And now for our big question. Many believe that this text opens the office of elder (and therefore pastor) to women. According to such thinking, the equality in Christ described by Galatians 3 negates role and authority distinctions in church leadership. So then, does Galatians 3.28 negate authority? Does equality negate authority?

Well, let's ask this: who is more valuable, a pastor or lay person? According to Gal. 3.28, neither is more valuable. In Christ we each have perfect righteousness. We are equal. And yet Hebrews 13:17 reads, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Pastor and layperson, though equal in Christ, have different roles and differing authority. Evidently there can and should be equality with distinction - equality and authority.

But here’s the kicker on the issue:

Who is more “God,” the Father or the Son? The answer? They are equal in essence and value – both fully God. And yet 1 Corinthians 11.3 reads, “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

This is amazing - what we see here is that equality with the distinctions of headship and submission are found in the infinite perfection of the Trinity. The Father is the “head” of the Son and the Son joyfully submits to the Father. The Father has authority, and the Son submits to Him.

The Son, equally God, joyfully submits to the Father. He has done so from eternity past (Revelation 13.8), His incarnation (John 14.28), and will for eternity future (1 Corinthians 15.28).

This of course means that equality does not negate authority. As Jesus Christ exemplifies, it is not a dishonor to submit to headship. It is a glory. Equality does not negate authority. It enhances it.

Galatians 3.28, though affirming our equality in Christ, is not prescriptive of church leadership. We have the Apostle's thoughts on the matter in 1 Timothy 2-3 and other places. We ought to follow Scripture's teaching and both affirm and celebrate our differences within our equality. To the glory of God...


The Glory of God in Central PA

Hello to all!

Thanks for taking the time to visit the site.

I had a fabulous time in Williamsport, Pennsylvania last weekend speaking on the theme of the Glory of God and its implications for life. The people were great and I am thankful to God for all He did in us.

Hopefully this blog can help continue that conversation - so tell me your thoughts, ask questions, and join in the discussion!

And as always, may God be glorified!