Book Review: Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ

As I was writing the last book review, I realized two things: 1) there is a better alternative to Warren’s book on Christmas, and 2) I recently read it again in preparation for a message on the death and resurrection of Christ.

Short Read

John Piper does a wonderful job of pointing us to the one who saves us. In Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, Piper brings up his favorite topic: Jesus, God’s glory, and our joy in Him. He again begs the question, “What would happen if we treasured Christ above all?” In simply 13 short chapters, he tells us of Christ’s glory in His death, resurrection, and ascension. We can see, with much Biblical evidence, that Christ is glorious and worthy of all honor and praise as He is God, and He is reigning in heaven now.

Haven’t we heard this before?

Yes, this has been a constant reminder to us from people like Piper, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, et cetera. But have we really changed? We all need to constantly be reminded of how wonderful Christ is and how worthy of our praise He is. Atmosphere is going through year-long sermon series titled What If? that addresses this issue: What if we actually lived like we treasured Christ? Piper challenges us on this, and this instruction should not be missed.

Teach us to pray

I won’t say that everything in this book is great, but I am hard-pressed to find anything off after three readings of it. Perhaps the greatest portion is the prayer after each chapter. As this was written for anyone (Christian or not) Piper included prayers that could be read and prayer for reflection on the text. There are no promises before or after the prayers, they simply serve to remind the reader who is being written about. They serve as a great encouragement, and this book would be great for any believer or un-believer to read through and study the Bible with.

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Job: a book of poems

If you haven’t read it by now, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of John Piper’s book: Job.

Piper’s poetry is so deep and moving that you barely need the illustrations that go along with it. However, Christopher Koelle’s fantastic artistry is a great addition to the wonder of this book. Everything is combined so elegantly that you won’t want to stop reading.

So what’s it about?

It is the story of Job with some creative liberties taken. Piper gives names to sons, daughters, and his wife, and shows with great and colorful words that won’t let you leave. It is broken into four parts, each concluding with a section on how Job’s suffering is ten out on Christ, and how our hope must be in him. I mentioned one of these great passages on Monday.

In addition to the craftily woven words is a section in the back where Piper explains ten aspects of God’s sovereignty. The book is worth having just for this section. It is always wonderful to see where God has His hand working; Job helps us see just that. For those suffering, for those in need, we all need to know the truth of God’s sovereignty in all of life.

Longing For Home

I have traveled most of my life; mostly to Sweden where half of my extended family resides, but since the Winter of 2007 I have been to St. Louis, China, Chicago, Vermont (twice), Michigan, Maryland, and Canada. In addition to this, I have had many opportunities to bring people to Boston Logan Airport and I drive about 40 minutes to get to school twice a week.

With all of this travelling, driving and flying, one thing has become more and more clear to me: I love being home. Take a trip down to Boston (just over a two hour drive one way): by the time I have made it to the airport and am headed home, I can only think of one thing: rest. It isn’t that I am necessarily tired, it is just that I reach that point where I think, “I wish I could just stop right here, and not go any farther.” But what I always realize shortly after is that it would be infinitely stupid to just stop where I am and not go home.

As with Christ

This should be our attitude in life. As we progress in our faith in Christ, it becomes easy to say, “I’ve gone far enough, Jesus will be happy with where I am, and I don’t need to keep running for Him.” And it is even easier to say that being in Christ is not worth the fight.

At times it seems that it isn’t worth it to suffer the mild persecution that we face in the States, deal with money and budgets in a Gospel centered way, or answer the questions that are hurled our way by nay-sayers. It doesn’t seem worth it to watch as millions suffer a devastating earthquake like the one down in Haiti. It doesn’t seem worth it to try to respond without marring the name of Christ.

But it is

Having eternity with Christ and being considered His follower on earth is infinitely worth everything. His glory is worth the suffering, it is worth not fully knowing the answers to the questions, it is worth death. Knowing Christ is worth saying, against all who would disagree, God is omnipotent and benevolent in all His ways. It is hard to know and explain, but Christ is perfect in all His ways. We must trust in Him for all our trials, and rest in the future glory that we will share in.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…

Philippians 3.7-9

He became like us

Couples who have been married for a while usually begin to look very much alike. I can’t help but compare this to Christ and his Church. We are told that “the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5.31,32). So Christ became like us once that we might continually become like him.

Reflect on this truth…

…that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not made anything that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God…

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… And from this fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known… He was in the form of God, but did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father… All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation… For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

For us…

Christ came for us, lived with us, died for us, that God might be glorified. At Christmas and through the whole year, we must remember this truth. Solo Deo Gloria.

Advent: Great News Comes

I wanted to share some great things from the blog world about Advent, these have been some of the best posts recently regarding the four weeks of celebration preparing for Christmas. Let us not forget that it is for Christ we celebrate:

I would encourage you to look at these great posts on this season as well. Both Authors have done far better than I could hope to do!

The Resurgence has been posting a series by Elliot Grudem called: Learning to Advent. So far, posts include:

Lastly, Noel Piper has posted on:

The Nature of Forgiveness

Yesterday we looked at our need for forgiveness, but what does that look like in the life of a believer? To forgive is to not only accept an apology for a transgression counted against oneself, but to also count it as though it had never been done.

How can this be?

This parable begins with Peter asking Jesus how often he is required to forgive his brother (presumably for a repeated offence). This is the wrong question. This question is asked in the “do I have to…” sense (“Do I have to forgive him if he does the same thing seven times?”). Jesus tells Him what forgiveness of the Father is like (“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to…”). The debt that the first servant owed was so great that we can (and should) compare it to the debt owed by our sin. But praise God! He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5.21).

Righteously Forgiving

As believers we should be eager to show the same love and forgiveness that the Father shows through Jesus. The Spirit enables this forgiveness, and it should be the joyful outpouring of a forgiven soul. So instead of grudgingly forgiving someone, when they sin against us (and, more importantly, God) we should look at how He forgave us and act in the same way towards others.

And if they do it again…

Being human means that we stumble in many ways (James 3.2); we are going to sin even after being forgiven. Some Christians don’t forgive others because they don’t want to get hurt. But God forgives even though he knows we’re going to keep sinning. Consider the woman caught in adultery. To her, Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8.11) Do you think she stopped sinning? I doubt it. but Jesus forgave her even though he knew her heart. In the same way, when we forgive, we are to encourage the offender to “sin no more” but remind them that there will be forgiveness and grace waiting for them when they fail again.

Why not keep sinning?

If I can be forgiven by God over and over again, and if the Church has to forgive me every time, why not keep sinning so that they have all the more opportunity to forgive me?

Besides the fact that this contradicts Jesus’ command to sin no more, Paul speaks against this type of thinking in Romans 6.1-14. The point of his message is that continuous sinning contradicts the profession of faith in Christ; it crucifies him all over again, this time, not for our benefit.

Let us remember how we are forgiven and learn what it means to not only live in light of it, but give mercy as we have received mercy.

Little Children

Have you ever noticed what happens when little kids get something new? Take, for instance, this kid in my neighborhood yesterday. I went for a quick walk and while on my way home this kid, no older than 7 or 8, came out of his house with a toy in his hand. He saw me and decided I needed to know about his new stuff.

“Hey,” he said, “I have the Scooby-doo mystery movies one and two!”. I said, “Cool”, and as I continued to walk (and as his mom was putting him in the car) he continued, “Yeah, and it’s so funny when Scooby says go!” Now, I have no idea what this kid meant by that, he’s a really little guy, but what struck me was his joy.

Our Joy

What if we had the mindset of this little child? Let me rephrase that: we should have the mindset of this child. What does that look like? It looks like the father in Luke 15 whom, after receiving back his lost son, rejoices and calls everyone else to rejoice as well because his son “was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”

If we have been rescued from sin and death; if we have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb; if we, as former enemies of God, are saved and many his ambassadors; where is our joy? Why aren’t we, like this little boy, rejoicing over the gift that we have received and telling everyone we come in contact with? Where is the joy in our salvation?

Make Psalm 51.12 your prayer:

Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.