We are continuing our conversation on John Piper’s book, Spectacular Sins and their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. Our discussion moves to chapter 5, The Pride of Babel and the Praise of Christ. This week, Missy has provided the following questions for discussion. You can see others’ responses over at Lisa’s site.
1) What were the primary motivations of the people who endeavored to build the Tower of Babel?
Gen. 11:4, “…make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed…” Piper describes these as the “love of praise (so you crave to make a name for yourself) and the love of security (so you build a city and don’t take the risks of filling the earth). (p. 67)
2) Why did God consider is a sin to live in a city?
Settling together, refusing to disperse, was in disobedience to the Lord’s command to “fill the earth” in Gen. 9:1.
3) Of the five ways that Christ’s glory is magnified by the spectacular sin of the Tower of Babel (pp 69-72) which one resonates with you the most, and why?
The “danger of human uniformity” is one I had not considered. Piper asserts that a “global, monolithic anti-Christian state would have the power to wipe out all Christians” and that Christians are thereby guarded by the diversity and languages and cultures, humans being “far too evil to be allowed to unite in one language or one government.” (p. 70) Also, this diversity will serve to magnify Christ’s power and glory to make disciples in every language. “His power is all the more glorious because it breaks into so many different languages and peoples and brings salvation.” (p. 72) Glory to His name!
4) Can you provide an example of the way that the Gospel of Christ takes root in literally thousands of different cultures, despite language barriers, social mores, existing religious practices, etc.? What does this say about the “uniqueness” of Christianity?
I have friends planting a church in New England, others seeking to carry the gospel and train national believers in Puerto Rico, and just yesterday I attended a training session to learn to share the gospel as I counsel women in a crisis pregnancy situation. In each circumstance, the gospel is relevant and powerful because it speaks to the universal human condition: our depravity and desperation before a holy God. The gospel is unique because it alone offers life and hope, forgiveness and redemption. It is the power of Christ!
5) How are you also guilty of sin in the ways the Tower of Babel builders were? Where do you seek comfort apart from the Lord?
Sadly, yes. I love praise and I love security. Sometimes I seek security in the praise and approval of others, looking for comfort by being in control. I too refuse to disperse, preferring the safety and security of the familiar.
6) My husband often says that at the root of every sin is pride (and I have yet to be able to prove him wrong). Was this true in the case of these people? How can you confront and rebuke your own pride?
Pride is ultimately self-serving self-preoccupation that rebels against the authority of the Lord. The Lord is near to the humble, but the proud He knows from afar! Combating pride begins with acknowledging my desperation, agreeing with God about the wickedness of my pride. It is easy to attempt to justify, rationalize, blame or minimize the sin of my pride. However, the Bible is clear: the Lord hates pride and sets Himself against the proud. The Bible also says that those who humble themselves before Him, He will exalt. I must humble myself before Him, realizing who He is and who I am in comparison. Nothing overwhelms me with the knowledge of my sin and arrogance like a fresh vision of God’s holiness and glory. As I allow my self will to be shattered and surrender to the authority of the Lord, I can rejoice in the love and mercy He pours out on the contrite.
Next week: The Sale of Joseph and the Son of God