I’m a little late to the party. The Spectacular Sins Book Club party, that is, hosted by my good friend Lisa The Preacher’s Wife and her good friend Missy of It’s Almost Naptime! I say I’m late because this is technically the third week but Lisa and Missy are kind enough to let me crash the fun and, let me tell you, I’m so glad I did.
In fact, it’s not too late for you to crash in as well. What we’re doing is reading one chapter a week of John Piper’s book Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ
and discussing over at Lisa’s site. A whole chapter may sound intimidating but let me assure you that they are short. The whole book, an introduction plus eight chapters, is only a little over one hundred pages long. You do the math. I won’t say it’s easy reading but it’s not long reading! 🙂
Need more convincing? Go here and read the entire introduction and I dare you to not be intrigued. Here’s just a small excerpt to whet your appetite:
The coddled Western world will sooner or later give way to great affliction. And when it does, whose vision of God will hold? Where are Christians being prepared for great global sorrows? Where is the Christian mind and soul being prepared for the horrors to come? Christians in the West are weakened by wimpy worldviews. And wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians. God is weightless in our lives. He is not terrifyingly magnificent. His sovereignty is secondary (at best) to his sensitivity.
In the first chapter, Piper outlines the impulses that gave rise to the writing of the book:
1. Why does God tell us about his sovereignty over sin?
2. Why does God not restrain sin more often?
3. How can we have faith and joy during the severity of the last days?
4. How is Christ glorified in a world of sin?
Deep stuff. Heavy stuff. The deep, heavy stuff of deep, heavy theology, the likes of which many of us haven’t given much thought. In chapter 2, the meat of the discussion for this week, Piper makes the statement that “the main point of this book is not information for your heads, but application to your lives.” Understanding God’s sovereignty is not merely an intellectual exercise meant for seminaries and pastors; it is intended to make a real and profound difference in the lives of everyday, ordinary believers. Like you and like me.
So, get a copy and jump in the deep end of the pool! I think, like me, you’ll be glad you did.
Okay, enough campaigning. Down to business. Lisa has posted a few questions to prompt interaction and discussion which I’ll post and answer here…
1. I loved your quotes so much from the first session I’m going to ask you to share your favorite from this chapter!
“Paul’s antidote for wimpy Christians is weighty doctrine. In Paul’s mind, the most massive truths are meant for producing radical lives of obedience. That’s why I say the main point of this books is not information for your head, but application to your life. There is truth. Weighty truth like the kind Paul unveiled for Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:9. But the aim is love and justice and purity and compassion and courage. All to the end that Christ might be known and treasured as infinitely beautiful and immeasurably valuable. Great biblical truths are fuel in the fire of the God-centered soul.” (p. 36)
2. Re-read Colossians 1:15-16. Piper makes special mention that of all the things Paul could list that were made by, through, and for Christ, that he specifically mentions evil powers. In answering why Paul did this, Piper pulls an example from 2 Timothy 1:8 to show how he used weighty doctrine to address Timothy’s practical issues of anxiety and fear that threatened the effect of his ministry. Considering Paul thought the ‘heavy’ things of God would help Timothy deal with everyday matters, how does knowing God created beings that He knew would turn from good to evil translate to your everyday life? (Use paragraphs 2 and 3 of page 36 to help form your thoughts.)
It grants perspective. It builds faith. If I am convinced that all things–ALL things–work together according to the will and purpose of a sovereign God, even evil things and hurtful things and tragic things, then I can trust Him. I can rejoice in trials, knowing that the difficulty comes with the ultimate purpose of my good and God’s glory. As I quoted above, the truth of God’s sovereignty is meant to make a difference in my life; love and justice and purity and compassion and courage, as Piper enumerated. I need not fear. I need not worry. He has poured out His grace on my behalf, before the ages began!
3. Five summary statements are given on p. 37 as to why God wants us to know the truth of Christ’s sovereignty over ‘rulers and authorities’ and the way they are involved in the most spectacular sins of the universe. Which one is most meaningful to you? Does it comfort you? Give you courage against the evil that we know has been disarmed by Christ?
The danger of “high sounding heresies” is certainly relevant to our current culture. Piper’s reminder that the truth of God’s sovereignty will protect us from philosophies that do not cherish the supremacy of Christ prompts me to delve ever deeper into the truths of this little book! And for this truth to make me valiant even when I feel small and vulnerable–yes, it grants me courage! Increase my faith, Lord!
4. Okay, this question is more of an assignment. Look at the previous commenter’s answers and respond to one of her(his?) insights. If you are the first commenter, you can refer to this original post. Let’s get some discussion going! 🙂
A Stone Gatherer posted the following in her comment: “We look to give glory to God in the big things so people can see who I trust is in, but never in the mundane! Hummm… All aspects of our life should bring Him glory!” This is a constant struggle for me–remembering that everything I do, the big, the little, all are opportunities to give Him glory. I so often succumb to the lie that He is only glorified in the dramatic or the obvious. Sometimes it is more difficult to give Him glory as I put on the hundredth load of laundry for the day (okay, the week). May all I do be done in His name and for His glory!
Head over to Lisa’s and see what others have to say!