I intended to put a lot more time into this post then I have. I was also hoping for some dialog with others pre-writing to get my thoughts stirring, but neither of those two things happened, and I promised you readers I’d get something up, so here goes (how’s that for a lame preface)
Last week, I suggested listening to this sermon, Did Christ Die For Us or for God?, by John Piper. It was one of the foundational sermons in my early faith development and something I had not really gone back to reflect on in several years. Listening to it this past couple weeks I found I could still quote much of it verbatim, which gives you an idea of how much I’ve listened to it. So, for those who have and haven’t here is an ever so brief summary.
SPOILER ALERT: The answer to the sermon title is “for God.”
- Secular Mindset: Man is at the center of the universe vs. Biblical Mindset: God is the most absolute reality.
- “Is the basic riddle of the universe how to preserve man’s rights and solve his problems (say, the problem of suffering)?” “How shall God be known in the fullness of his personhood and glory?”
- Jesus Christ was a sacrifice of atonement to show God’s righteousness, “because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed.” (Romans 3:25)
- “All sin is a preference for the fleeting pleasures of the world over the everlasting joy of God’s fellowship.”
- “God would be unrighteous if he passed over sins as though the value of his glory were nothing.”
- But, how can self-exaltation be an act of love? “God’s self-exaltation is loving, because it preserves for us and offers to us the only all-satisfying Object of desire in the universe – the all-glorious, all-righteous God.”
(quotes pulled from this transcript)
That is an ever so brief summary. Now let me breakdown a couple things that I think have really had an impact on me.
First of all, I really resonated with Piper’s explanation of mindsets, because I don’t think it has to assume you believe in the Bible (the catch 22 of many apologetic arguments). If a creator exist, then it would be fair to argue The Creator has the ultimate rights in the universe, not the creation. That does not, for me, have the terrible implications some people see in believing in God (that of an angry supreme being eager to wreck havoc on the earth for no reason). I think it simply settled in my mind that, if I believe in a Creator (which I do), then that creator should be considered in your worldview (rather bland explanation).
Two, and I think this is the main thing I’d like to get at, I think Christ’s death and sacrifice make sense as a “vindication of God’s righteousness.” The explanation used in the sermon is that say someone tried to assassinate the president, was stopped at the last second, apologized, and where then let go, scot free. What would that say about how much we value our president? God would not be a righteous God if there was not some sort of payment for the wrong doing we humans have done (and continue to do, myself included). See, God was already being a loving God by forgiving wrongdoings (like King David), but, unless there was some form of payment (like a sentence served in the above example), God would be unjust. Thus, Christ life and death was an act to vindicate God’s righteousness.
Now what does that all mean for me? Even after writing it, I’m not totally sure. I didn’t find in revisiting the sermon and the theological points or anything else, that I was uncomfortable with the theology or points put forward. Maybe there are things that should make me uncomfortable, maybe not. I do think my above two paragraph sound a lot more evangelistic and typical “gospel presentation” then I intended.
The reason for doing this though was to allow for dialog. So please, take a minute after reading to lend your insight as well. Push back if you have a thought. Lend an encouraging or corrective word if you have it. Add further insight you came across. I can’t find the second sermon tape, but I’ll do my best to talk about the next topic next week: Christian Hedonism. Peace.