Spectacular Sins Book Club – Chapter 1

Hello my Spectacular Sistahs! (I could say Spectacular Sinning Sistahs, but, nah!) I am so excited to dive into Chapter One with you!

If I didn’t know any better, I would say Lisa gave me the hard chapter on purpose. Oh my skull. I have prayed for wisdom because I sorely needed it.

I must say however, how much this book excites me, because of the topic of God’s sovereignty. I spent twenty-five years with my behind in a church pew every Sunday, never once hearing the phrase “God is sovereign”. Perhaps you are like me in that respect.

But I was just (tearfully) explaining to my husband, knowing that God is sovereign over all: the good, the bad, the joy, and the pain, is, for me, the source of the abundant life that Christ came to give. Knowing the One who loves me and sent his Son to die for me is in complete control of every. thing. has been my peace that passeth all understanding, even and especially when I am in the valley of the shadow of death. I knew the Lord before – but now I adore him, trust him, and find my joy in him. All because of an understanding of His sovereignty.

It is my prayer that every one of you will come to love the idea of and embrace the power of God’s sovereignty as we work through this book! (This very book that the Father ordained before the creation of the earth for us to now study together!!)

Alrighty, let’s go. Remember to post your answers in the comments, but please go ahead and post them on your blog as well.

1. We’ll start with an easy one. What are the four reasons that John Piper gives for writing the book? Which do you look most forward to hearing Piper answer?

Here comes the hard part. I hope you read the footnote on page 24. If you are like me, you read it several times, then out loud, then needed to discuss it with someone. We’re loving the Lord with all our minds! Answer these as best you can (it’s okay if you are fuzzy – we’re only in chapter one):

2. What is God’s role in sin:

a. Does he allow you to sin?

b. Does he cause you to sin?

c. Does he allow temptation to come before you?

d. What resources does he give you to resist it? (quote scripture if possible.)

3. Are God’s purposes sometimes accomplished through the sinful actions of man? Aside from the Crucifixion, can you think of another biblical example?

4. Piper states that his primary goal is to magnify Christ. What are some ways that a Christian might do that, even under intense suffering? What are some ways that we might do that, during our day-to-day frustrations and disappointments? Have you personally witnessed any examples of either?

5. On page 29 he writes, “We are pushing our way through a blood-spattered life that makes us feel connected to the world yet disconnected at the same time. We are here but not here. Love binds us to the tragic earth, and love binds us to the treasure in heaven.” What thoughts does this provoke in you?

Can’t wait to read your replies!

Blessings,

Missy


Spectacular Sins Book Club Introductory Session


TUESDAY UPDATE: WOW! You girls have no idea how much I am loving your responses. Your thoughts on ‘Wimpy Doctrine’ in Question 4 really have me brewing on how should be as alert to the absence of truth as we are to outright lies.

Obviously these questions require some thought and some comments are still trickling in. I’ll leave the this post open until Thursday and then do some type of wrap up at that time. So far I see 18 of you but roll call said 40+. We’re waiting, girls!! (And boys??)

Sound Good?

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Welcome!

I am SO excited to finally begin our Spectacular Sins Book Club! I’ve shared with you on several occasions that the author, John Piper, is among my favorite theologians. Spectacular Sins has done for me in the area of God’s Sovereignty the same that Desiring God did with the concept of Christian Hedonism. His writing is heady, but girls, if you’re gonna go deeper you gotta think deeper.


So here’s how this thing will work:

Each Monday there will be a post here from either myself or Missy covering the chapter for that week. When I say cover, I mean we will post questions to help internalize the material and give you the opportunity to share insights. A scholar I’m not but if you have a really deep question that I can’t answer, then expect a visit from The Preacher. He’s really smart. (And good looking. Can’t forget that part.) Missy can probably answer her own questions because she’s just awesome like that.

Please number your responses with the corresponding question and post your answers in the comments. At this point, Missy and I feel the best conversation will take place if all our remarks are in one place. If you are inspired to write your own post, by all means feel free to place your link in the comments but please know that for the sake of time and clarity that she and I will be responding on this post only. Also, please try to keep your answers concise so everyone will be able to read all the replies.

I think that covers the details for now so, without further delay, here are my thoughts and some questions for you from The Introduction of Spectacular Sins…

Introduction

1. Let’s ease into this. I’m a huge quote girl so tell us, what is your favorite quote from the Introduction? What about it resonated with you? (Try to keep the quote to two sentences. I only say that because I find myself quoting entire paragraphs!)

2. Piper opens the book by describing the most spectacular sin ever committed – that of the murder of Jesus Christ. What does he say the commission of this sin actually accomplished? (p.12, paragraph 2) How do you interpret the phrase, “He made evil commit suicide in doing its worse evil”?

3. How is evil defined? (p.12, paragraph 3) How does the understanding that “the apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ” impact your thinking? How will you allow this truth to shape your thinking when you are tempted to ask ‘why’ in the midst of calamity?

4. I was stopped cold when I read, “The coddled Western world will sooner or later give way to great affliction. And when it does, whose vision of God will hold? And also, “Christians in the West are weakened by wimpy worldviews. And wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians.” (p. 13 paragraph 4). Continuing along that line of thought, what false teachings do you recognize as being popular but unable to prepare us for catastrophe? In what ways have you discovered you’ve been influenced by those those lies?

5. Piper states that the purpose of Spectacular Sins is not “to meet felt needs, but to awaken needs that will soon be felt, and then to save your faith and strengthen your courage when evil prevails.” (p. 16) If you feel compelled, share a time when evil prevailed in your own life. Refer back to Question Two and give God praise if He has revealed how that evil served His glory. Also feel free to note any relevant Scripture God used for your healing. I know this will be a difficult exercise for many. Please know we will be so tender with your responses and will pray with you if you are in a place of suffering.

The Introduction concludes with one of my favorite thoughts: “There will be much to endure. Without a way of seeing the world that can deal with massive evil and unremitting pain under the supremacy of Christ, we will collapse in self-pity or rage.”

Perhaps the chief complaint of the wayward believer or scoffing pagan is that God allows unjust calamity. My own conclusion is that, while we are designed to long for Heaven, we mistakenly expect to find it here. Think about that. We want eternal life. Freedom from sickness or sadness or pain. We desire an absence of evil. We want all that Jesus Christ offers to those who persevere through this present age. If we were given all these things on earth now, the Person on whom we place our hope would have no value. This earth stands in quickly deteriorating contrast for what is to come. Every heartbreak, every disillusionment, every catastrophe reminds me to lift my head, for my redemption draws nigh (Luke 21:28). God help us if this is all there is! Why hope for a Savior if the things for which we long can be provided by a president or friend or child? No, there is more and if Christ is not raised and if He has not prepared a better place, we are indeed to be pitied above all (wo)men.

And though we groan, let us not be found pitiful. Though we are pressed, let us not be crushed or destroyed because we were not prepared for suffering. These thoughts and many more are why I felt it important to introduce this book to you and for us to work through it together so that hopefully we will develop that ‘spine of steel’ we need to overcome.

So hang in here with us. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Okay, it’s your turn!


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‘Spectacular Sins’ Book Club Info and Roll Call


The Holidays have come and gone and as promised, it’s time to get started on our Spectacular Sins Book Club!

Before I give the particulars, I have to tell you I am so excited to co-host this little exploit with my dear friend Missy at It’s Almost Naptime. I appreciate her insight, her love for God’s Word, and her flat out funniness. I hope together we can facilitate a meaningful discussion on this all important topic of God’s sovereignty over every last detail of our lives.

I don’t want to jump ahead but I must share with you a paragraph from the Introduction to flavor of our considerations of this book. While speaking of the ‘Success of Sin in the Providence of God’ (p. 17) the author, John Piper, says:

“My aim is to show that sin and evil, no matter how spectacular, never nullify the decisive, Christ-exalting purposes of God. No, my aim is more than that. These spectacular sins do not just fail to nullify God’s purpose to glorify Christ, they succeed, by God’s unfathomable providence, in making his gracious purpose to come to pass. This truth is the steel God offers to put into the spine of his people as they face the worst calamities. There will be tenderness in due time. But if the back of our faith is broken because we think God is evil or absent, who will welcome Him when He comes with caresses?” {final emphasis mine}

Above all things, we must be thoroughly persuaded God is guarding his glory and our souls even when it feels like He’s killing us – or allowing us to be killed. That truth is indeed the bedrock of how we process every evil that comes against us. If we are the display of God’s glory, then we have the power to choose to whom we’ll ascribe it. Will we allow it to be squelched by the darkness that so desperately wants to snuff it out or will we magnify it in the brilliance that is Christ?

Okay, I’m not going to get started but that’s just a tiny taste of the awesomeness in this book! Moving on, here’s how we are going to proceed:

1. The Book Club will begin on Monday, January 19th and will continue each Monday until we are done.

2. You can still order a copy of the book in my left sidebar. Have the Introduction read by the time we meet on January 19th. Don’t skip it! It’s as rich as the chapters!

3. Missy and I will be alternating as hosts of the discussion. This blog will be home base so there won’t be any confusion about where to go and when. We will be doing some video, maybe some live chat. When we figure it out you’ll be the first to know.

4. There are still other details to be worked out but I’ll have those ready come time for the Intro. In the meantime if you have any questions, please ask them in the comments.

ONE LAST THING!

Let’s do a Roll Call. If you are planning to participate, please leave a comment with your name and state. This will give us a basic idea of the size group and help us determine how to style the discussion (i.e. in comments only or asking you to write your own post, etc.) Most importantly, I want to know your sweet names so we can build some community!

Okay, so that’s it for now. Yay! Let’s do this!

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