GC: Jesus died to give us God.

[These are my notes/thoughts from John Piper’s pre-conference talk at The Gospel Coalition Conference 6.22.12]

I love me some Johnny P.  Here was his thesis for his talk:

The Gospel is the great work of God by which He destroys every obstacle to your joy in His glory, and in which He displays the glory that gives us the greatness of God and our happiness.

That’s a mouthful.  Here’s my translation:

Jesus died and rose again: (1) to destroy the obstacles that stand between us and true joy and (2) to give us the thing that will actually make us happiest: Himself.

First, He destroys the obstacles.  No matter what it feels like, the greatest enemies to our joy aren’t singleness or suffering or failure.  Here are seven things in our lives that – apart from Christ – keep us from the joy we were designed to experience:

  1. The wrath of God. Eek. The biggest obstacle to our joy is that the object and answer to all our needs is really angry with us.  The Gospel fixes that because Jesus takes on the wrath; it’s all poured out on Him on the Cross.
  2. Alienation. I was once far off; alienated and cast out.  But in Jesus, I have been reconciled; I have been brought near to God once again.
  3. Real guilt and real sin. I need someone who can redeem me from the real guilt and the real sin that have made me ashamed in the deepest parts of my soul.  That’s what Jesus did for me the in Gospel. He redeemed me. He brought me home.
  4. Unrighteousness. Scripture says no one is righteous, but in the Gospel, we get credit for Jesus’ spiritual resume.
  5. Death. I’m so tired of death.  Less than a week after Father’s Day, I am feeling fatigued by all that death takes from us.  That’s why it is great news to me that in Christ, death has lost its sting.
  6. Spiritual death. One of the greatest obstacles to our joy is our stupid distorted taste buds that love the taste of things that will never satisfy.  We are spiritually dead and therefore we have no ability to value the key to the fountain of joy.
  7. Satan. Before the intervention of Christ, we were Satan’s followers – following him into a life devoid of the deepest joy.  But on the Cross, Satan lost. Neat.
Here’s the thing: the ultimate goal of the Gospel isn’t to remove these things.

It’s not good enough to just be forgiven.  Removing God’s wrath is not the ultimate goal of the Gospel.  Resurrection from the dead is not the ultimate goal of the Gospel.  Satan’s destruction is not the ultimate goal of the Gospel.

Look, I want to feel free of shame.  I want to go to Heaven.  I want to fight sin because I know that sin is bad for me and ruins my life.  I want to be a good woman; God-willing a good wife, a good mom.

But it is a dreadful and terrifying error to think that those things are the ultimate goal of the Gospel.  Jesus didn’t die just so that we could be good or go to Heaven. He overcame all those obstacles so that we can get the real prize; so that we can finally get God.

The goal of the Gospel: getting God.

Jesus died, and He removed all those obstacles, so that we can finally get God.  We can finally be really and fully happy in Him.  And when we pursue out joy in Him we will show the world the truth about Jesus: that He is valuable.  Pursuing happiness in Christ is the key to displaying God most clearly to the world.  It really does glorify God for you to pursue your own joy.

One of the last things Piper said in his talk was that the life of a Christian is not an easy one, but it is a happy one.  Why wouldn’t it be?  All the obstacles have been removed and now we can wrap our arms around Jesus: the greatest treasure in the world.  Christians have reason to be the happiest of all the beings in the universe.

After the session, a friend turned to me with eyes bright with tears and reminded me that at some point we began to confuse an easy life for a happy one.  At some point, I began to believe the obstacles to my joy are those things that make my life uncomfortable instead of the things that challenge my access and enjoyment of God.

When I sin, I repent fast and fervently, but mostly because I want to get rid of the feelings of shame that stalk me in those moments.  I’m not sure it’s because I cannot bear the way my sin diminishes my ability to see my deepest treasure: my God.

I long to have the foundation of my joy be the Gospel – not because it sets me free to feel forgiven and free, but because it sets me free to use my forgivness and freedom to enjoy my sweet Savior.

3 thoughts on “GC: Jesus died to give us God.

  1. I hope you don’t mind, but I use several quotes from your blog as encouragement to myself and others in my life. Thank you so very much for allowing God to use your ability to communicate honesty and truth.

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