Monday, March 14, 2016

How a Deep Theology Leads to Deep Worship

This is from a talk John Piper gave at his 2015 pastor's conference.  Without getting technical he was talking about a book arguing against the New Perspective on Paul (a new view of justification) and how it impacted him.  It is a great example of how deep theology leads to deep worship.

[Paul’s] depiction of humanity’s condition required a much more rigorous dependence on divine grace than did Judaism’s. . . . It is no caricature of Judaism to say, with Sanders, that it lacked a doctrine of the “essential sinfulness” of humankind; no Jew would regard that claim as an insult. For Paul, on the other hand, it is precisely the “essential sinfulness” of humankind that requires a salvation based on grace alone, apart from [all] human “works.” (34)
I recall pausing, as I read, and asking myself, “Do I know my condition? Do I know what he means by my essential sinfulness. Do I have a grasp of what it is about me that requires the death of the God-man for me to be saved? Do I have any suitable notion of my own evil?” This is somehow proportionate to what it cost to save me?
That’s where this conference came from. And just to complete the illustration. Therefore, the old perspective on Paul, clarified and heralded in the Reformation, is not fundamentally mistaken. Yes, there is grace in Judaism — atonement, repentance, forgiveness — but no this did not rule out for them the mingling of good works with grace as the basis of a right standing with God. One thing rules that out: we are so sinful, we can’t contribute any good works to the basis of God’s acceptance of us. There are no good works anywhere in unregenerate humanity, there never have been, ever since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. That’s how bad it is. I defend that statement shortly.
And at that point last summer, I felt a weight both personally and doctrinally. Doctrinally, it became clear that, if I didn’t see the true nature and depth and power and extent of sin not only would I distort the doctrine of justification, but I would distort almost everything: what happened when Christ died for sin? What happens in conversion — new birth and faith and repentance? How do sanctification and perseverance in faith and holiness come about? What will heaven be like? Will I be safe from sinning there?
And personally, I felt: Do I know the nature of my own sin? Do have a proper sense of the power and depth and evil of what I am dealing with in what Paul calls “indwelling sin” in believers? Do I have a kind of love to Christ and thankfulness for grace that corresponds to the horrors of what I was rescued from and to the price the most beautiful and innocent person paid for that rescue?

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