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??)
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…
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!
P.S. Feel free to use the button code above as a Quick Link in your Sidebar!
1. From Page 13 – Christians in the West are weakened by wimpy worldviews. Any wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians.
2. It served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtain the sin-conquering gift of God’s grace. The powers of evil have no authority on their own. All things must go through God’s sovereign hands. By following their evil intent, they set up their own doom.
3. Evil is anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ. It has already changed my thinking. I can see the hand of God in all things. I love that he knew and knows about all the things that have happened and will happen, and that it is all for one purpose. I used to always wonder why bad things happened, why God allowed them to happen, reading this book has helped me see so clearly how scripture shows God’s plan all along. It has made reading the scriptures so much richer.
4. Oh my goodness so many! That God is love and it’s left at that! Nothing else about his character is spoken about. We’re not going to talk about sin here. The bible is instructional but not the infallible word of God. That’s just a few. I can’t wait to see what others put down.
5. First of all I love that quote! That is what this book has done for me. It has helped me to know that times are coming of great tribulation to God’s people! I am so encouraged to know that I am in God’s Mighty Hand, and they he has a GREAT plan! I am share later on the last part of this question. I have to think about it!
Bless you ladies for doing this club! I can’t wait to see what others wrote!
1. “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 come to pass. This truth is the steel God offers to put in the spine of His people as they face the worst calamities.” These two sentences neatly wrap up what the sovereignty of God means. He is in control of all, and He gives us the grace to face whatever happens.
2. He banished evil forever by using it against itself. He used our greatest fear and enemy to glorify His son. It’s actually sort of ironic, but in a mind blowing kind of way.
3. No matter what my circumstance, I can take full comfort and hope in the fact that God is using all things for my good and His glory. I don’t have to see the big picture right now, because He does.
4. The first thing that comes to mind is prosperity gospel, but I think the fact that many of our pastors are feeding congregations milk from the pulpit. It’s not that what they are saying is not Biblical or true, it’s just watered down as to not offend any particular demographic. We need meat from our pulpits. We need men of God willing to put it out there with no thought to who they might offend if they preach on abortion, or adultery or dressing modestly. The full character of God is not preached, rather a watered down version is being presented. God is only love and forgiveness and the fact that He is also jealous, holy and just seems to get lost in the translation.
I am really looking forward to reading what everyone else has to say!!
1.These truths are made of steel. I know that a tire iron cannot caress a bruised heart but if your car is rolling over on you & about to crush you, a cold, steel perpendicular tire iron might save your life (p.16-17)
2.(a)Served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtain the sin conquering gift of God's grace.(b)through the death of Christ and the salvation bought with His blood at the hands of evil, evil will be ultimately conquered and sentenced to eternal death.
3.(a)Evil is anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ. (b)When I read this the first time, I kept thinking "All things work together for the Glory…."(c) I know that everything is part of God's plan, however, I also believe that the "Calamity" we may soon face will be one of such magnitude it will shake us to the very core of our belief. I feel an urgency to arm myself and those around me with the truth so that we won't be one of the "coddled people" Piper speaks of on page 16.
4.That God is Love, and not about salvation, Satan, or Hell. To be tolerant and basically entertaining rather than Bible believing, truth telling, fire preaching, "in your face", servants of God…..at all times, not just once a week or when we are in the mood.
5.During so many times in my life, I have lived and breathed by Psalms 46. The entire chapter. The first was as a 16 yr old girl, terrified, on the floor with my younger sister trying to dial 911, as my then undiagnosed mentally ill mother, shot a gun into the darkness of the living room thinking someone was trying to hurt her. "The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress" came to me in the darkness that night. In the 17 years since that horrible night, I have quoted, even prayed that chapter many times. I know that to God be the glory for bringing us through those times, and continuing to bring us through.
1. “The Great Commission is not child’s play. It is costly. Very costly.” (p. 13) The things in my life that cost a lot, I am more likely to cherish. They are the things that I give the most care. Yet, honestly, I take the privilege of sharing the good news of the gospel for granted. It doesn’t cost me much to share. Maybe a little pride or some of my time but not much else. If I could really take to heart that it was and still is COSTLY to give me the good news to share, I would treasure it more, show it to others more and be much more willing to act.
2. He says that it actually accomplished the overcoming of evil. His visual that Evil actually committed suicide is strong. Satan was at his most evil in triumph as Jesus hung from the cross. But that very act of putting Jesus on the cross was what would defeat Satan and death forever. Evil destroyed itself (for eternity) when it murdered Jesus. I find the words hard to create, but the imagery of this thought captures and enraptures me.
3. Evil is defined as “anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ.” I dichotomize my thinking too much. I tend to think “Death was defeated on the cross,” “God was glorified in the Jesus’ death and resurrection because that sacrifice defeated my (and everyone else’s) sin,” and “Satan manipulated to get Jesus crucified.” I rarely think that last phrase in conjunction with the first two. However, that is exactly what this book is calling us to do. It calls us to join together Satan’s evil manipulation and the glorification of the Father through the circumstances and consequences of the action. I’m finding that difficult to truly wed those thoughts in my head, even when I can see the soundness in the theology. As I learn to wed those together, hopefully I will begin to be able to answer the “why” questions with a definitive “for the glory of God” answer. I’ll admit, I’m not there yet!
4. I just see a generation (or two or three) of church leaders who are timid to speak strongly against behaviors and call sin, sin. There is a sense of “everyone really will be okay in the end” even when the message they say they believe is Jesus is the only way to heaven. We have lost a sense of accountability to one another that will help strengthen us against dangers in times to come. There is, in my own experience (so maybe not generally), less emphasis on bringing your Bible to church and reading the passages for yourself. We allow someone else to read to us, not necessarily noting the words or tone of the written passage ourself. This will so inadequately prepare us to have the Word in our own hearts for the day of trouble to come. (Psalm 119:10-11; John 14:21,30-31; 1 Peter 4:12-19)
5. I can see times that God has clearly delivered me from things that were intended as evil, yet I don’t feel that those things can be discussed in a public forum. I can say that the reassurance that “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4) is a tremendous source of comfort during those types of trials.
1.There were so many, but these few struck me the most forcefully:
“God did not just overcome evil at the cross. He made evil serve the overcoming of evil. He made evil commit suicide in doing its worst evil…. In the death of Christ, the powers of darkness did their best to destroy the glory of the Son of God. This is the apex of evil. But instead they found themselves quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by God.
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 come to pass.”
2.I picked this part as one of my favorite quotes from the introduction. I see irony; Satan wanted to defeat God by discrediting and killing His Son. However, the events marched on and Satan fulfilled the prophesies recorded in Isaiah and even in Genesis, that a son of Eve would crush his (Satan’s) head and in Isaiah 53: 5 “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” So evil committed suicide by participating in the completion of God’s plan.
3.“Evil is anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ.”
I had to read this several times. As just discussed in the second question, the King of evil, Satan, achieved the culminating act of allowing the Son of God to fully reveal His glory and to die for our sins; to be the ultimate sin-atoning sacrifice. I am working to keep this truth in the forefront of my mind when I witness evil around me. I cling to the truth that God has the complete view; beginning to end, and I have a puzzle-piece view. I continue to ask God why, but I am now including in my prayer, “You are all knowing; You have the complete view. Your thoughts are not my thoughts and Your ways are not my ways. Please help my unbelief.”
4.So the teachings I think of are not lies per se. What pops to mind is “God is Love,” and “God does not allow trouble to strike you beyond what you can endure.” The statements are true, but the interpretation is incomplete. We look at these statements with a view that God doesn’t allow sin or evil things to happen. That they happen anyway seems to be rationalized as being “outside” of God’s influence and will. Doesn’t that really limit God? On the other hand, if that is not true and evil is in God’s will and under God’s influence, what do events like the Holocaust say about God? I can see why the Jews that were in prison camps put God on trial. This is why I am here; to learn how to reconcile this dichotomy.
5.I am fortunate that no evil has really prevailed in my life directly, but world events trouble me. I am thinking about the holocaust, apartheid, genocide in the middle east and in Croatia, persecution of Christians in China and other places, and the erosion of the Christian faith in the West. I don’t have answers; I grieve and wonder what I can do; what is my role and purpose in all this?
1. God is weightless in our lives…His sovereignty is secondary (at best) to his sensitivity. What is missing is the Bible. I mean the whole Bible. . .and all of it under the massive hand of God. . .Knowing great things about God will make us ready not to collapse under cataclysmic conflict and personal catastrophe.
2. He made evil commit suicide in doing its worse evil. While evil was trying to destroy God, it really succeeded only in destroying itself.
3. It brings to mind the words of Joseph to his brothers “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” Not to mention Romans 8:28. God’s hand is on everything. Even that which we deem evil.
4. The prosperity gospel. The idea that God wants our comfort and happiness in this world. Cheap grace.
The world has made God in its image. And even though I may disagree with it, just the inundation that is constantly out there makes it hard for it not to seep in.
5. In my younger years, I was easily frightened by world events and evil that manifest itself in the world. After going through an inductive study of Daniel, that changed my whole view. Fortunately, that was shortly before 9/11. Although I was obviously disturbed by the events of that day, I had a complete peace that it was all under His Sovereign control.
Wow, these are great questions. I look forward to everyone else’s answers! And I discovered that I will be reading it and then re-reading it when you post the questions!
1. I liked when Piper said, “It seems to me that Christians in the West are being coddled. We suffer little in the name of Christ. Therefore, we read the Bible not with a desperate hunger for the evidences of God’s triumph in pain, but with a view to improving our private pleasures.” I will just say that I love this quote because it has been true in my own life…Piper is right.
2. That statement is very deep… I understand it, but I can’t explain it in words. I will just say that statement was pretty powerful. I don’t think I have ever thought of the cross like that before…
3. Evil is defined by Piper as everything and anything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ… I think after reading this book, it just helps to remind me that God can use everything, even evil for his absolute good purposes… It is just way over my head, but I am starting to see things in a different light spiritually speaking.
4.OK, this is a hard one, but this has been something I feel God has been revealing to me for awhile. I think “some” have made salvation to easy, just say a prayer and you are going to heaven, and you can just go on with you life pretty much as normal. That is what I thought for the longest time, but about 6 years ago the idea of what I think it termed “lordship salvation” was presented to me. We can’t just say we are Christians, we have to show it by the way we live, not perfectly, but by denying ourselves and taking up our crosses daily. I am still fleshing this one out…
5. At this time, nothing is coming to me…
I couldn’t get the button to work… I am the only one? Thanks
1.Two sentences? Are you serious? But I have 80% of it underlined! Ok. “Evil is anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ.” How often have I allowed things in my life that are not necessarily in conflict with Scripture, but yet hinder my ability to give the fullest display possible of His glory in my life?
2. At the point when Satan felt He had finally achieved victory (the death of Christ), He actually brought to pass God’s sovereign plan of redemption through Christ. Without that death, we would be lost… with it, we all have the hope of glory, Christ in us! How cool is that?
3. (See my quote from above) My Father can use ANYTHING to achieve His purposes and His glory. He is in the business of redeeming, and He redeems even my mistakes and failures. How thankful I am that He is sovereign over ALL of it, and doesn’t just allow it, but uses it for my good and His glory!
4. We don’t truly understand “fear of the Lord”. He is a personal God, yes… but He is so much more than that — and we NEED Him to be! I think one of the teachings facing our culture today is the one that teaches that Jesus can be your SAvior, and you can make Him Lord at a later date. I think that’s false. If He is not your Lord, then you really don’t know Him. He has to have pre-eminence in ALL things. Also… the prosperity gospels, health, wealth, etc. There is great disillusionment in churches that practice those teachings, because God doesn’t always bring only good to our lives. Often He has things to teach us through trials. We need to grasp that He is Lord of the good AND the bad.
5. Not evil, per se… but the Lord allowed tragedy to strike my family. When my daughter was 4 she suffered third degree burns over 90% of her body. The Lord brought us through that terrible time and in response to our questions, He gently responded, “You don’t always get to know the “why”… You only need to trust Me.” It was a time of incredible spiritual growth for me. As I learned to lean my full weight upon Him, our relationship took on a new dimension. He taught me so many things… about who He is, and about myself. Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” He made it clear to me that He had plans for Jasmine. They might not be my plans for her. If He chose to take her from me, then He would sustain me through the grief, and He would give her an incredible hope and future — at home with HIM. Either way, she would not be harmed, and her best interests would be looked after, because His will for her flows from His heart. What a difficult period of our lives – and yet such a fruitful one that I would never EVER exchange for an easier set of circumstances. Wow. It’s not easy going back to that place. It’s still rewarding though. She’s my Ebenezar.
I’m supposed to be here. And I really plan to be here. Remember when I mentioned that I couldn’t find my book? Well, I completely tore apart my room this weekend looking for it…nothing. This morning, I showed my kids the picture on this post and asked if they had seen it. THEY ALL KNEW WHERE IT WAS!!! Unfortunately, it’s in the car…which my husband took ’cause his doesn’t run…sigh. I’ll catch up and be back! I promise!
be back next week!
1. I liked, “This truth is the steel God offers to put in the spine of his people as they face the worst calamities.” I think many of us aren’t prepared for the horrors that Piper predicts are on the horizon, but how about things you think will never happen to you such as losing a child, being diagnosed w/ cancer, etc.?
2. Evil played a part in the plan, but not the part it desired.
3. evil is defined as anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ. i can think in the midst of calamity, “I can choose to help glorify God” thru this.
4. This was scary…I think we have been coddled, and it’s very easy for us to pick up our toys and go play somewhere else if we get our feelings hurt by fellow believers. Imagine if we’re being persecuted by non-believers!
5. I need more reflection time on this one! It’s a good one…Deedra, incredible story of God’s protection. He had you in the palm of His Hand.
It’s so hard to choose just a couple of lines! But this really stood out to me: “Precisely in putting Christ to death, they put His glory on display – the very glory that they aimed to destroy. The apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ.” I chose this particular quote b/c it was such a vivid picture to me of God’s amazing sovereignty. We are going through a difficult time in our church right now, and it is an encouragement to remember that God uses even evil to achieve His most perfect and holy purposes, and to put His glory on display!
2. The most spectacular sin ever committed served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtained the sin-conquering gift of God’s grace! I love it!!!!! Christ conquered death and evil on the cross, thus putting it to death forever – finally and completely. This is how I interpreted the “He made evil commit suicide”. Their evil of murdering Christ actually accomplished ultimate and final victory over all evil, sin and death! Amazing!!!
3. Evil is anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ. Piper’s discussion of evil and the fact that no evil, no matter how great can ever thwart the purposes of God is a tremendous encouragement to me! I am in the midst of calamity right now, and I still have my joy! The suffering is not in vain – it is quietly accomplishing God’s grand, wonderful and perfect purposes. I count it all joy (James 1) that He sees fit to use even evil to shape me into the likeness of His Son. It’s not always easy (in fact, it’s RARELY easy!), but the rewards far outweigh the momentary afflictions. (2 Cor. 4:17)
4. There are soooo many “wimpy worldviews” being pushed today, even in Evangelical churches. For me personally, when I began to study the sovereignty of God after a time in a church where it was not taught, my worldview immediately changed. I can face any catastrophe with confidence knowing that my loving Father hand-crafted each and every trial for my good and His glory. So my short answer would be there is a lack of teaching on the Sovereignty of God, and therefore theologies such as election are skimped on as well. There are so many “wimpy” teachings out there though!
5. I am just coming out of a time spent in the “valley” where I let evil take a foothold in my life. The evil of despair, discouragement and despondence took root after allowing my circumstances to cloud my vision of God’s purposes. I was like Peter on the sea, looking at all the waves of the storm, rather than at Christ, and I was sinking rapidly. I’m so thankful to be able to say that He has shown me my sin, I’ve repented of it, and now by His grace, though I’m still in the middle of the storm, my eyes are fixed steadfastly on Him. The climb back up to the mountaintop is fantastic!!!!
FYI: I got the button to work…Thanks…
I am SO incredibly excited to read through all your posts. I have some thoughts to share that I’ll try to get posted tomorrow.
Today, I’ve been with 6 boys at the movies and the mall. We had a blast but it didn’t do much for my clarity of thought.
Keep all this wonderfulness coming!! :))
Great stuff here! Though I already have about four or five (okay, maybe slightly more than that) books currently in my holding pattern, I may just have to get a copy of this one and join y’all!
(Sorry if this posts more than once, but this is my third try.)
1. “Evil is anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ.” I keep coming back to this one. I think “the fullest display” is what tugs at my spirit…am I compromising in order not to be offensive?
2. *The worst sin was used to accomplish God’s greatest…His glorious grace.
**By committing its worst evil and not winning, the delusion that evil could be triumphant was destroyed.
3. *Evil is defined as anything and everything that opposes the fullest display of the glory of Christ.
**It strengthens my belief that God is in charge no matter how things appear.
4. *The prosperity gospel quickly comes to mind.
Okay, I found my book and I’m back!
1. “If we are to endure and bear and believe and hope, we need to see the spectacular sins of history the way God sees them.”
I like this one, because most of the other things I highlighted scared me to death! This one brought me hope. God’s view of things is always positive, because He sees the end.
2. God’s glory was revealed best by the very thing that tried to hide it the most. By killing Jesus, man was redeemed and allowed back into fellowship with God…something that had been denied him since the original sin in the garden of Eden. If Christ had not been killed, then we would still be separated from God…which is what Satan wanted in the first place.
3. “Evil is anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ.” I will probably still have a huge case of the “whys?” when bad things happen. I’ve known and understood for years that God is glorified in these things, and that they can serve His purpose, but my head will still wonder why it has to be this way. Why do people need to go through this stuff to see who God is? One day, when I get to heaven, I figure I’ll see the bigger picture, and instead of “Why?”, I’ll just say, “Oh…now I get it.” But that day is not today. :)
4. The whole “name it and claim it” movement never made any sense to me, but I know people who have believed it. I also know people who preach a “formula”, and if everyone would follow that formula, their lives would be perfect. I believe in the “Others may, you cannot” philosophy, because that’s what I see in my own life. Trying to follow other’s plans has never brought me to their lifestyle. No matter how sincerely I try to “follow the rules”, I am still in my same situation. I think there are some people that God will allow to prosper, and some people that God wants to always be dependent on Him. I am now beginning to believe that that is not a bad place to be, and I am trying to embrace it rather than fight it.
5.I can’t really think of anything that fits this one off of the top of my head. If God reveals one to me, I’ll come back and share it.
It’s time to get on with my day, so I’m not going to take the time to go back and fix typos, or other mistakes in this thing…please forgive whatever ones you find! :)
I sincerely hoped to get back to post something this week but I also had a jr. high boy sleepover Sunday night into Monday and a house full of high school girls Monday afternoon/evening… Next time I’ll do better! Here’s my only thoughts about the intro (in case anyone is still reading comments:
1 Timothy 4:3-4 refer to a time when people will want to have their ears tickled instead of hearing hard truth. We certainly cannot doubt what Piper wrote about our country. This is a time when celebrities call people who oppose gay marriage un-American and say they will turn their back to an evangelical preacher at an inauguration… among other things, of course.
Enjoyed reading everyone’s comments! Looking forward to next time…Jeanette
Sorry to be late…. and I didn’t number, hope that is okay….
1.Quote – Pg 12 – “The apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ. The glory of grace.”
I am blown away by this quote. And also by the message of this book – I’m so desperate to read these words and to grasp God’s plan and to understand just a tiny fraction of God’s plan for this fallen world.
I work in a world of “Why God?” I work with abused and neglected children. This week I sat in a courtroom and heard testimony of how a parent brutalized a child – for years. I helped a sobbing young girl bag up all her belongings in plastic bags and move to her fourth foster home. I wrote a grant pleading for more funding so we can continue the work that matters to the children. And I often look up and ask “why so much pain? why do the innocent have to suffer so much? why does evil walk around unchecked?” Then I remember God is sovereign and I don’t have to understand, I just have to continue this walk of faith on the road the Lord has placed me on.
As for the wimpy Christians – I believe that we, in the West, are ill-equipped for true trials. We want God to be a wish-granter and we want to hear the message of God’s love and his wonderful grace, but we don’t want to hear that the world may hate us (John 15:18) as it hated Him. We have to know that life on this earth is full of tough times. God does love us, but His ways are not our ways. We don’t get to understand why He does all that He does and why, in His sovereignty He allows evil to happen. He is God. Just as God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14 “I AM Who I AM.”
He is the GREAT I AM.
How will we walk through the trials to come? And they will come – 1 Peter 4:12 – “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
On a side note – thank you ladies! This book is ministering to my heart. This is a message that I desperately needed to hear.
To God be the glory!
I am a little late… my book just came today, but I can’t wait to dive into it. Hopefully I will be able to post later dealing with the questions.
belatedly getting on board….
1. What is your favorite quote from the Introduction?
My favorite quote is “In the death of Christ, the powers of darkness did their best to destroy the glory of the Son of God. But instead they found themselves quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by God. Precisely in putting Christ to death, they put his glory on display – the very glory that they aimed to destroy.”
What about it resonated with you?
The statement clearly demonstrates God’s power, even over evil, and shows that, despite the strength of the enemy, God will prevail.
2. What does he say the commission of this sin actually accomplished?
Piper said that sin “showed the greatest glory of Christ” and “obtained the sin-conquering gift of God’s grace,” just what it was trying to destroy.
How do you interpret the phrase, “He made evil commit suicide in doing its worse evil”?
Evil defeated itself, while it was trying to do its worst damage to God.
3. How is evil defined?
Piper defines evil as “anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ.”
A pretty scary thought, because I often do and think things that are “opposed to the fullest display of Christ’s glory.” Not by intent, but through laziness, carelessness, lack of dedication, lack of discipline, etc., etc., etc. I don’t like to think of myself as evil. A sinner, yes, but evil? Is that mincing words? By this definition, I am evil and I surely don’t like the sound of that.
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?
It reinforces for me the concept that God is all-powerful. And I know it’s not about me, but I still struggle with the idea that, as God acts in every situation to reveal His glory, that will not necessarily bring me the comfort, healing, and other things I desire.
4. 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 lies?
Maybe it makes me a Pollyanna, but I don’t like to think about affliction. I know that, without a doubt, God has told us to prepare for it, but that doesn’t mean I gotta like it, does it? So, yeah, I guess that makes me wimpy.
I suppose our reliance on self is one teaching that can’t totally prepare us for catastrophe. I was raised by parents who didn’t allow me to make decisions for myself, so I grew up with very little concept of self-worth. I struggled for years to develop confidence in myself and my abilities. The balance between a healthy self-concept and total reliance on God is a hard one to maintain. But, although I believe God expects us to work and do what we can, I know that only reliance on Him will get us through the trials even of today’s life, much less what may be to come.
5. Share a time when evil prevailed in your own life.
I am usually not a fearful person. There is almost nothing that makes me really afraid. However a few years ago, I rented a cabin in a state park for a week’s vacation. It was an absolutely wonderful week, except for one night when total fear seized me. I had a literal weapon, I had my Bible, I had God, but nevertheless I was terrified. I prayed and prayed for God to give me courage and reassurance and I guess eventually He did, because I finally was able to sleep, but it was a horrible dark spot in an otherwise great time. I have no explanation for it other than evil’s presence.
Enjoyed reading everyone else’s answers. Thanks, ladies, for what looks to be a good study.
Okay, this is kind of lame, but I made a video response to the questions. I look completely crazy, and I am pretty sure I rambled way too much, sorry.
OK, I’m finally getting around to posting my answers. Chapter One is next.
1. “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.”
2.Evil effectively destroyed itself – backfired, if you will – by trying to degrade his glory to the highest possible degree. Instead, it magnified His glory to the highest possible degree.
3. This concept – that God will ALWAYS win in the end, that Satan’s worst ended up being God’s best – has greatly impacted me in recent years. In that sense, I no longer ask why in the midst of calamity, because even though I might be in agony, I believe God will use every situation for His ultimate glory.
4. I’m sure we could name many, but one that stands out to me is the idea that God desires our happiness above our holiness (to use another Piper-ism). I believe God desires us to be joyful in Him and satisfied as with the richest of foods. But He does not promise or owe us a Disney life.
5. I wish I could go into specifics on this one, because God has allowed agonizing evil in my life that He has worked for both my good and His glory in such degrees that I can hardly stand up when I think about it. But for now, the story must remain private, as it is not just my own. Suffice it to say, YES, I have beheld his power. I say with the Psalmist, “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
1.My favorite quote from the Intro is:
“People who don’t like Christians are all around us. Only a strange providence keeps our churches from being bombed”.
It’s a scary truth that maybe I don’t want to look at, to see. I glimpse that hatred in the world. I want to believe that I am comfortably safe to practice my faith in my country, and I take for granted that freedom. I need to see that there are lots of other people in this world without that freedom. I need to fight for Christ in my world, where I live.
This quote kind of scared me too, and deep down I believe it’s true. I think I try to look away but when I really choose to look, I see that Satan is crafty. I see that for all the religious freedom many say we have, many of those same people are quick to condemn my Christian beliefs and choices.
2. This sin, the murder of Christ, really accomplished God’s purposes. It served to show the greatest glory of Christ and served to obtain God’s grace. Evil, “satan”, committed what satan thought was the ultimate destruction of God’s son but by doing that ultimate sin, evil was ultimately destroyed through this death and the shedding of our Lord’s blood.
3. This definition of evil has given me the knowledge and understanding that God prevails. God turns evil to ultimate good. I need to present my mind with this truth whenever I encounter those circumstances when I say, “why?”. I cling to this belief. I must embrace it.
4. The prosperity gospel was the first thought that came to my mind, but I figured this would probably be a common response. So I want to also throw out there something that I think may often be said. The idea that we’re all “good”. People don’t want to be called on their sinful nature. This belief that “oh that’s not really a sin”. The truth of the matter, sad to say, we’re pretty ugly inside in light of what God created us to be. I think that when we get to that point when we are persecuted, we might see things more clearly in ourselves that is not so “good”.
5. Nothing comes to mind in terms of evil that had prevailed in my life. But I’m so grateful that this book has come into my life because I want to be strong, and prepared when that time may come.
1. Evil is anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ. That’s the meaning of evil.
2. “He made evil commit suicide.” Suicide is trading in life for death. The greatest sin attempted to trade in life for death, but accomplished the reverse instead: traded in death for life!
4. Popular false teachings: that Christians aren’t supposed to suffer. I still fall into that occasionally–why, oh why, isn’t God protecting me? It takes the form of self-pity. I want to reject that lie and understand instead that suffering ALWAYS has purpose because God knows what he is allowing.
Hello All…I just discovered that you are reading this book together. I would love to join you. I’ll be a bit behind but I am looking forwad to the discussions.