A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

John Piper’s Works Righteousness “Gospel” (Part 2) — He Misuses the Law of God

We continue now in this series in which it is our intent to expose John Piper as a teacher of a false gospel of works righteousness. Yep. There it is. If you are a John Piper fan, please stay with us and hear us out. John Piper has caused tremendous suffering to victims of abuse. Not only through his teaching of no divorce for any reason ever and no remarriage as long as one’s ex-spouse is living. That is bad enough. But through his teaching of what is really a very Roman Catholic “gospel” of justification by works. His permanence view of marriage is actually simply an outgrowth of this deeper underlying error. Piper needs to be called to accounts on this matter. His influence upon Christians has been huge, thus his accountability is huge.

Where to begin? This is always a difficult question to answer when dealing with Piper’s teachings. Piper is not clear. If you have read him and come away thinking “I don’t really understand what he is saying, but then, I am just an Ent and he is a master Hobbit,” the problem is probably not with you. Piper writes in riddles. He uses ambiguity. He loves to coin new phrases, leaving a precise definition hanging. That may be fine if you are writing a novel. But there is no room for novelty when it comes to the gospel and the Word of God.

In Piper’s book, What Jesus Demands from the World (2006), he sets out 50 “demands” that he claims Jesus has made upon “the world.” Right at the start, Piper knows his choice of words is going to be upsetting/confusing/troubling to people. Yet he chooses those two words anyway: “demands” and “world.” This is what John Piper does. It is his coinage. To manufacture new and novel terms, especially ones that carry a kind of “shock effect” and ambiguity. Like the Athenian philosophers Paul encountered, Piper is always looking to present us with something “new.” And so we have it here: “demands” and “world.” And, once again something that is common with Piper, in his Introduction he gives us his “preemptive strike” caveat to justify his choice of these terms, thus supposedly eliminating our ability to object to their use throughout the book:

A few words about the title What Jesus Demands from the World. I am aware that the word demands is jarring to many modern ears. It feels harsh, severe, strict, stark, austere, abrasive.

. . . The other word in the title that sounds provocative is “world”— What Jesus Demands from the World. Two objections arise. One is: Did he make demands on the whole world? The other is: Dare he make demands on the whole world? One may ask, did Jesus give all these demands to the world, or did he give them only to his disciples? Is this an ethic for the world or just for the followers of Jesus? The answer is: The demands he gave only to his disciples are also meant for the world because he demands all people everywhere to become his disciples.

What Jesus Demands from the World, Crossway, 2006, pp, 24, 26. (Kindle Edition: Good News Publishers; Kindle Locations 282-319) 

What we have here then is Piper’s habitual disregard for the proper application of the Law and of the Gospel. It permeates his entire book and you will find it as a thread in most all of his other works. Piper bunches believers and non-believers into one big lump. He treats them all in one monolithic category: the world. And he then applies the Law to all of them. Jesus DEMANDS from the WORLD.  All through this book, you will find yourself asking a very pertinent question of Piper: “Who are you talking to? Christians or non-Christians? Children of God or rebels against Him?” Most of the time you won’t be able to answer that question because Piper applies the Law indiscriminately to the saved and unsaved alike. This is why we maintain that his “gospel” is a false one of works righteousness, and anyone who follows him is going to be brought into the bondage that Paul warns us against in Galatians.

Paul makes it very plain in Romans, in Galatians, and in other passages in his letters, that the Law of God was given for a specific purpose. It was given to kill, to condemn, and to curse! It was given so that sinners would see their sin increased as they attempted to meet the Law’s demands, finding out that the law is the very power of sin. Here is an excellent explanation of this very thing from Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians:

This is the principal purpose of the Law and its most valuable contribution. As long as a person is not a murderer, adulterer, thief, he would swear that he is righteous. How is God going to humble such a person except by the Law? The Law is the hammer of death, the thunder of hell, and the lightning of God’s wrath to bring down the proud and shameless hypocrites. When the Law was instituted on Mount Sinai it was accompanied by lightning, by storms, by the sound of trumpets, to tear to pieces that monster called self-righteousness. As long as a person thinks he is right he is going to be incomprehensibly proud and presumptuous. He is going to hate God, despise His grace and mercy, and ignore the promises in Christ. The Gospel of the free forgiveness of sins through Christ will never appeal to the self-righteous. This monster of self-righteousness, this stiff-necked beast, needs a big axe. And that is what the Law is, a big axe.

Accordingly, the proper use and function of the Law is to threaten until the conscience is scared stiff. The awful spectacle at Mount Sinai portrayed the proper use of the Law. When the children of Israel came out of Egypt a feeling of singular holiness possessed them. They boasted: “We are the people of God. All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” (Ex. 19: 8) This feeling of holiness was heightened when Moses ordered them to wash their clothes, to refrain from their wives, and to prepare themselves all around. The third day came and Moses led the people out of their tents to the foot of the mountain into the presence of the Lord. What happened? When the children of Israel saw the whole mountain burning and smoking, the black clouds rent by fierce lightning flashing up and down in the inky darkness, when they heard the sound of the trumpet blowing louder and longer, shattered by the roll of thunder, they were so frightened that they begged Moses: “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Ex. 20: 19.) I ask you, what good did their scrubbing, their snow-white clothes, and their continence do them? No good at all. Not a single one could stand in the presence of the glorious Lord. Stricken by the terror of God, they fled back into their tents, as if the devil were after them. The Law is meant to produce the same effect today which it produced at Mount Sinai long ago. I want to encourage all who fear God, especially those who intend to become ministers of the Gospel, to learn from the Apostle the proper use of the Law.

I fear that after our time the right handling of the Law will become a lost art. Even now, although we continually explain the separate functions of the Law and the Gospel, we have those among us who do not understand how the Law should be used. What will it be like when we are dead and gone? We want it understood that we do not reject the Law as our opponents claim. On the contrary, we uphold the Law. We say the Law is good if it is used for the purposes for which it was designed, to check civil transgression, and to magnify spiritual transgressions. The Law is also a light like the Gospel. But instead of revealing the grace of God, righteousness, and life, the Law brings sin, death, and the wrath of God to light. This is the business of the Law, and here the business of the Law ends, and should go no further.

Luther, Martin (2012-12-17). Commentary on Galatians (Kindle Locations 1749-1773). Kindle Edition.

Now, while the moral law of God (the 10 commandments) does indeed have value for the Christian, showing us God’s will and reminding us of our need to put to death the deeds of our fallen flesh, the Christian is not under the law’s condemnation any longer. Christ became a curse for us, nailing the record of debt incurred by our sins to the cross. The gospel is now the basis of our relationship to God, through the perfect and finished righteousness of Jesus Christ which is ours through faith alone. Piper however continues to bring the Law upon Christ’s people. He lumps us all together with “the world” and then starts ticking off these 50 “demands” that Jesus makes. Piper brings Christ’s people into bondage.

This matter of the proper use of the Law and the Gospel is vital. The two must never be confounded. You see the difference in the opening chapter of John’s Gospel:

Joh 1:16-17 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

See the difference? The Law came through Moses to effect its purpose in showing us our sin and pointing us to our great need for Christ. But the gospel of Christ announces grace and truth (“truth” here means “fulfillment” of that to which the Law and Prophets pointed). You have the same distinction taught in Hebrews:

Heb 12:18-24 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Listen to Luther one more time as he explains very clearly how vital it is to properly apply the Law and the Gospel:

The business of the Gospel, on the other hand, is to quicken, to comfort, to raise the fallen. The Gospel carries the news that God for Christ’s sake is merciful to the most unworthy sinners, if they will only believe that Christ by His death has delivered them from sin and everlasting death unto grace, forgiveness, and everlasting life. By keeping in mind the difference between the Law and the Gospel we let each perform its special task. Of this difference between the Law and the Gospel nothing can be discovered in the writings of the monks or scholastics, nor for that matter in the writings of the ancient fathers. Augustine understood the difference somewhat. Jerome and others knew nothing of it. The silence in the Church concerning the difference between the Law and the Gospel has resulted in untold harm. Unless a sharp distinction is maintained between the purpose and function of the Law and the Gospel, the Christian doctrine cannot be kept free from error.

Luther, Martin (2012-12-17). Commentary on Galatians (Kindle Locations 1773-1780).

John Piper does not merely violate these principles sometimes. His normal pattern is to violate them. The entire book, What Jesus Demands from the World is pure Law, and Piper applies it indiscriminately to all human beings, including believers. Thus, he has mixed Law and Gospel and thereby he has mixed faith and works. He would bring us back into bondage of the Law, but we will not go there! Jesus Christ has set us free, and we will stand firm in that freedom. Want to join us?

* * *

In part 3 of this series, we will be comparing Piper’s words about justification with Reformed and Lutheran confessions of faith. Piper will be found once again failing the test, as you will see.

(Go to Part 1 of this series)
(Go to Part 3 of this series) 

 

 

49 Comments

  1. Don Johnson

    I appreciate what you are doing and think you are correct in general. But I think you are getting one aspect incorrect and it is one that many evangelicals get incorrect.

    Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
    Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

    It is the RECORD OF DEBT (of failing to keep the Law/Torah) that is nailed to the cross in Paul’s words, not the Law/Torah itself.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Don – Yes, Colossians 2, the record of debt. Thank you. I will make that correction in this article. We want to be precise in our terms, lest we give the idea that the Law has been somehow destroyed. It is the condemnation of the Law, the demand of the Law in regard to our sin that Christ dealt with, as He was nailed to the cross.

  2. In comments [here and here] on the previous post in this series, Barbara pointed out how few times the word “demand” is used in the Bible, as well as the fact that almost every time the “demand” was being made from an ungodly source.

    I’ve thought about that a bit more.

    At least as used in modern English, it seems to me that the word “demand” is always used from a position of weakness…of someone who is not in the position of authority, but who seeks to exert usurped authority.

    Kidnappers and terrorists make demands. Lacking authority, they seek to usurp authority by threatening the lives of innocent people to manipulate those in authority into giving them what they “demand.”

    Spoiled children make demands. Lacking authority, they seek to usurp authority from unsuspecting parents by threatening to make an embarassing scene or faking an illness in order to manipulate parents into giving them what they “demand.”

    Abusive spouses make demands. Lacking authority, they seek to usurp authority by threatening violence or manipulating emotions in order to manipulate others into giving them what they “demand.”

    God doesn’t demand. He doesn’t need to demand. He is already in the position of supreme authority. God tells us what is required of us for salvation, then allows us to make the choice.

    • Well said, Joe. 🙂

      • Just playing off the thoughts you started rolling, Barbara! 🙂

        Thanks!

  3. I am aware that the word demands is jarring to many modern ears.

    Is he suggesting here that such language as he will use was normal at other times in history? And if it was, why? Because I can think of a fairly large swath of time when there was no clear distinction made between the church visible and invisible; believers inwardly and conformers to the system, often by force*; secular authority and Christ’s authority…

    We are seeing a sort of resurgence of the kind of thinking that gave rise to and/or enabled this situation in the past among the Evangelical community today. What will be the outcome of this? Time will tell.

    Dare he make demands on the whole world?

    I don’t get this one, frankly. Dare? Really?

    The demands he gave only to his disciples are also meant for the world because he demands all people everywhere to become his disciples.

    Where is the new birth?

    *There was the distinction in that the inward believers were often brutally persecuted by the conformers to the system, but the system sought to capture all and align them with itself via external/outward means. As long as the outward form was kept, all was fine. It was when something like inward convictions against the system came into play that trouble ensued.

  4. Carmen S.

    In Oct. 2011 John Piper spoke at Samuel Zwemer Theological Seminary in Bonn, Germany.[link] At the 23:00 mark in his video presentation “Feel Christ” he instructed the students, “Step Two: The implications to your people. If you persuade them that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied with Him they will HAVE to devote their life to pursuing that satisfaction. It’s a world-changing thing when a person is persuaded that they not only may, but MUST, pursue their greatest and longest happiness.”

    Now compare that with what John Piper spoke at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Oct. 2012. [link]
    “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied with Him. In our series on the Thirty-Year Theological Trademarks of Bethlehem we focus on Christian Hedonism. And let’s be clear from the outset that Bethlehem has not been built around a slogan or a label. The term “Christian Hedonism” is not in any of this church’s official documents. It’s not in our constitution or our church covenant, or our Elder Affirmation of Faith or Values booklet, or our Ten Dimensions of Church Life. It’s catchy, it’s controversial, it’s not in the Bible and you don’t need to like it just because I do. So the point of this message is not at all to push a label or a slogan. The point is to talk about the massive and pervasive biblical truth that some of us love to call Christian Hedonism.”

    It often has been said, “A text without a context is a pretext,” meaning a preacher will be inclined to infuse a text with his own biases if he does not allow the context to direct him to authorial intent.

  5. The entire book, What Jesus Demands from the World is pure Law, and Piper applies it indiscriminately to all human beings, including believers.

    And making you doubt your salvation is the inevitable outcome of this kind of thing. All Law and no Gospel is the perfect recipe for that, because the Law is designed to get you to see you’re not saved in the first place. It can make believers “hallucinate” the same thing if it’s never balanced with the Gospel.

    In my most cynical moments, I wonder if this isn’t a deliberate tactic to sell more books. Piper and others make their readers feel like they’re lost. At the same time, they set themselves up as the only ones with the solutions to that lost feeling. So you buy another of their books to try and find the solution. In that book they give you a little bit of comfort, then slam on more of the lost feeling and continue to set themselves up as the ones with the solution. So you buy another book hoping you’ll find it in that one. And thus the cycle repeats itself, until your brain is tied up in a knot and you have no idea whether you’re saved or not, yet you find yourself compelled to keep coming back for more despite the torture, because they’ve convinced you that to do anything else is not to take your faith seriously (thus revealing you weren’t really saved in the first place). I really, really hope that’s not what’s going on here.

    • They make God like a carrot on a stick. You keep straining and straining after Him hoping and needing to reach Him somehow, but He’s always kept just out of reach.

    • Sharp thinking, Hester. 🙂

  6. Carmen S.

    The Justification Debate: A Primer ( Christianity Today, July 23, 2009) [link]

    Under the heading “The Gospel” Piper writes: “The heart of the gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead. What makes this good news is that Christ’s death accomplished a perfect righteousness before God and suffered a perfect condemnation from God both of which are counted as ours through faith alone, so that we have eternal life with God in the new heavens and the new earth.”

    Two paragraphs down, under the heading “Future Justification” Piper writes, “Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with Him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation.”

    [ACFJ ed’s note, 7 Feb 2014. The article at Christianity Today is Tom Wax’s compilation of published statements by John Piper and N.T. Wright. To our knowledge, Wax has accurately quoted Piper’s own words. It would be easy to check because all the quotes Wax gives are from Piper’s book Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright.]

    • Piper teaches a double justification, and one of those justifications is a justification by according to works: our works, not the finished work of Christ.

      Piper would no doubt deny this charge, and try to show that he teaches only the orthodox doctrine of justifiction by faith alone in the finished work of Christ. But he doesn’t. This quote you’ve shown here, Carmen, shows that Piper confounds and confuses faith and works. And from my reading of Piper, he does this repeatedly; it’s not just a once off. Jeff C’s next post will give a lot more examples of this.

      • and one of those justifications is a justification by works

        According to, not by. (Yes, I know….eye roll.)

      • You’re right, BIT. I shall emend my earlier comment.

      • And I just found out I can put a strikethrough to a word in an already-published comment, and it shows up on the front of the blog. And at the back of the blog you can even see the date the strikethrough was added! Cool!

      • Oh neat. 🙂

      • Piper teaches a double justification, and one of those justifications is a justification according to works: our works, not the finished work of Christ.

        On the Desiring God site we find this:

        Obedience, evidencing inner renewal from God, is necessary for final salvation.

        God justifies us on the first genuine act of saving faith, but in doing so he has a view to all subsequent acts of faith contained, as it were, like a seed in that first act.

        Nevertheless, we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith.

        These statements are found under the Perseverance of the Saints section here:

        http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-we-believe-about-the-five-points-of-calvinism

        Notice first that what God is looking at when He’s looking at your faith it is not your response to His Son and His work, but your own works “contained like a seed in that first act” in order to “finally” justify you. So from the beginning God is looking at your life to see what your salvation status is. While it is true that saved people will continue in the faith forever, it is improper to say this is necessary for salvation. The Confessions state it is a result of justification, not a requirement for it.

        I suddenly have this almost irresistible desire to ask what he thinks the definition of “is” is….

      • our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith.

        Of all Piper’s various ways of articulating his doctrine that our works are linked to our justification, this is the most dangerous I have read so far. “Contingent upon” is starkly legalistic: it’s the language of lawyers and logicians. No fuzzy edges there. It give me the chills.

      • Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t this also contradict Piper?

        For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Cor. 3:9-15)

        It sounds like belief is all that matters here, and the works only have to do with rewards, not salvation.

        @ BIT:

        God justifies us on the first genuine act of saving faith, but in doing so he has a view to all subsequent acts of faith contained, as it were, like a seed in that first act.

        So it really is all by works. Faith is being defined here not as the belief itself, but all the works that spring from from that belief over the course of the person’s post-belief life. And, an even scarier connection I just made – no wonder Piper gets all hot and bothered about people “wasting their lives.” Given his statement above, it might actually put their salvation in jeopardy! (I should have known there was a way to make Don’t Waste Your Life even more painful to read than it already was.)

        Remind me again how what seems like almost every Calvinist in America got sucked into this guy???

      • Spot on, Hester.
        and we wonder the same as you: how did almost every Calvinist in America get sucked into this guy??? Or, if they have disquiet about his theology, why aren’t they speaking out?

        I often think that victims of abuse are the canary in the coal mine. We are most sensitive to the impure air of wrong doctrine in the church because we have been burned by so much toxic treatment from abusers — and their allies, witting or unwitting, in leadership — that we are the first to wave the flag and cry DANGER! WRONG DOCTRINE! ABERANT TEACHING!

      • And it’s not just Calvinists who are into Piper, by the way. Lots of others are too.

    • He makes it sound like you can be saved but not saved yet. Also, sometimes people don’t get a chance to have a “validating transformation.” Deathbed conversions, the thief on the cross, etc. all come to mind. I’d like to know what Piper thinks about infant salvation after reading this.

      This is just weird.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        It seems one of their teachings (Piper & Co.) is that you will not be saved until the end. Like we work up to that point, just crossing our fingers and hoping, but won’t know for definite if we have “made the grade”, until we are at the end. It’s a long hard fight. Just so confusing. It seems you can never nail them down on what they actually believe. They become like melted butter, slipping through your fingers, everytime you ask the question, “what did you just say?” or “do you have Scriptures?” or “what does that mean, precisely?”.

      • Jeff Crippen

        IAM – Yes, exactly. Now of course we all know that Piper would deny this. But we know what crazy-making is, and we have come to trust our own perceptions and ability to read and interpret words! Piper does teach a final justification based on works. This is a false gospel and it hurts people. All of his studied ambiguity and equivocation might work with human beings, but it isn’t going to work with the Lord. There are OTHER ways of saying what the Bible says regarding genuine faith always producing good works, and a “faith” that does not do so, but continues to walk in unrighteousness, is not genuine faith. The Bible is very clear on this. Piper is not. Piper, if he were consistent, would take the next step in his body of doctrine and add purgatory.

      • The belief that

        . . . you will not be saved until the end. Like we work up to that point, just crossing our fingers and hoping, but won’t know for definite if we have “made the grade”, until we are at the end.

        is central to the following religions: Roman Catholicism and Islam. (unless you are a Muslim male and die in the Jihad, which means you get automatic entrance to Paradise and 70 dark eyed virgins to service you for the rest of eternity. . . )

  7. G. F. Mom

    I sure appreciate the explanation of the law vs. grace. I really like how Luther put it. I know it says in James that faith without works is dead. True faith produces the fruit of good works and desire to live the way God wants. As well as a desire to be cleansed of sin and prevented from future sins that would bring painful consequences. But as I understand it, our works aren’t counted as having any merit for salvation, only the perfect life of Christ merits us. But good works are just evidence we are His and we love Him. Am I right?

    I was never very familiar with Piper although years ago our old church gave out his books for free in one of the small group study Sunday classes. I took it home and probably skimmed it some but thankfully it didn’t catch my interest. I think I didn’t understand what he was trying to say.

    I think I agree with what Hester said when he is feeling cynical but I also think the devil is responsible. Maybe Piper didn’t necessarily intend to conspire that that would happen at first but the devil did beguile him and exploited him to confuse so many people.

    • But as I understand it, our works aren’t counted as having any merit for salvation,

      Piper holds that there is such a thing as a non meritorious work. Works that are “the obedience of faith” are non meritorious. That is why he will vehemently deny that salvation is by works and instead says “final” justification is “according to” works. What he won’t deny but rather insists on is that “final” justification is contingent (his word) on works and that works are necessary (his word) for “final” salvation.

      • G. F. Mom

        Hmm, I think I’m lost. I thought we were justified once for all. What is he talking about being justified and saved more than once? Am I missing something? I think we can agree that our works have no merit for justification. I think I was simply pointing out that sometimes people say they are Christians but use people, are bossy, or abuse, are unthankful, etc., and just don’t show evidence of faith by their works. I think the people that claim they are Christians and continue in sin just aren’t Christians. They are deceived or deceivers. But like the thief on the cross I believe that they will be saved if they trust Jesus alone for their salvation. But I do have an inclination of getting perturbed when works aren’t explained because too many so-called Christians are deceived/deceiving professing faith with seemingly no conscience or Holy Spirit leading them to maturity.

      • G F Mom, I think you have a pretty good grasp of this. I don’t think you are lost, but I can understand if you feel bamboozled and confused by Piper’s notions. He has that effect on me too, and I can only read him in short doses because there is so much mess and wrongness in his teaching, and all the more disturbing when he mixes in some orthodox truth, which he does quite often… But as we know error and truth mixed together = error. That’s why the Bible especially the OT has so many warnings about mixing things that should not be mixed. The whole clean and unclean paradigm was a kind of metaphor for that.

        sometimes people say they are Christians but use people, are bossy, or abuse, are unthankful, etc., and just don’t show evidence of faith by their works. I think the people that claim they are Christians and continue in sin just aren’t Christians. They are deceived or deceivers.

        You are quite right. That is what’s called easy-believism, cheap grace, and silly notions about ‘carnal Christians’. It can also be associated with the notion of baptismal regeneration, where the idea is that everyone who is baptised is regenerate so you can’t call any baptized person an unbeliever. — which means you can’t put them out of the church.

        Cheap grace is the opposite (and just as dangerous) end of the pendulum to the legalistic works-righteousness that Piper teaches. Both extremes are wrong. Both extremes are conducive to wolves multiplying in the pulpits and abusers multiplying in the pews. I think you are right to be perturbed about so-called Christians who are professing faith with seemingly no conscience or Holy Spirit leading them to maturity. As Jeff C said in another comment in this thread, their ‘faith’ is no faith at all.

      • G. F. Mom

        WOW, Barb, I didn’t realize the meaning of teaching in the OT about not mixing things such as cloth, etc. Thanks for telling me. I never understood the principle behind that.

      • I thought we were justified once for all. What is he talking about being justified and saved more than once?

        Yeah, it’s tricky. I’m not sure if he holds there are two occurrences of justification or that there is one justification but it is not until the end of time, and that there are two grounds on which that justification is determined: faith in Christ’s work, plus our (non-meritorious) works. Or else that it’s two phases of justification…I’m not sure how he would categorize it. He does use the term “final justification” and “final salvation” and we are told that this “final” justification is according to and contingent upon works, and works are therefore necessary for it.

        The issue is not whether works will follow justification, but that he teaches they are necessary for it.

  8. Carmen S.

    …These are just some of the conditions that the New Testament says we must meet in order to be saved in the fullest and final sense. We must believe in Jesus and receive him and turn from our sins and obey him and humble ourselves like little children and love him more than we love our families, our possessions, and our life. This is what it means to be converted to Christ. This alone is the way of life everlasting. Desiring God, pages 69-70.

    Tell that to the Philippian jailer, Piper.

  9. Carmen S.

    According to John Piper, I’m lost. I don’t follow his commands. I do not feel joy when reading his books or hearing him preach. I have no interest in becoming a Christian Hedonist. I’m not interested in something that is new, fresh, catchy, controversial, or radical. The Bible is very balanced……Piper is not balanced. That’s a red flag.

    Luke 11:45-46
    One of the lawyers answered Him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” And He said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”

  10. bluesinaminor

    If you buy into Piper’s version of justification, any sensible person would put off their conversion for as long as possible – make it as close to death as you can, so that you limit the risk of messing up the good works that have to follow. And it makes salvation a stressful issue – will I be able to keep it up? will I make the grade? One of the great blessings of Christ’s work is that it is once for all. its done. I don’t have to stress it any more. How can one be, using Piper’s terms, a ‘Christian Hedonist’ – enjoying God – if I’m constantly stressing whether I’m doing it right? He shoots himself in the foot.

    • You know what, Blues, I think Piper is not constantly stressing like that. He seems to be pretty happy most of the time he teaches, not withstanding all the pathos and ‘compassionate’ brow furrowing he displays. If he had experienced real abuse in his life, I think his house of cards theology would fall down in a heap. But he hasn’t, so the house of cards holds him up.

      • bluesinaminor

        I’m with you Barb. i don’t think he feels this way, either. But I get the distinct impression he enjoys making the rest of us feel this way. He has experienced real abuse in his life – from the giving end, not the receiving end. I’ve just read Jeff’s sermon ‘The Abuser Wants You to Make Much of Him’ and it is an excellent description of Piper.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Blues- This Scripture comes to mind:

        Matthew 23:4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

    • How can one be, using Piper’s terms, a ‘Christian Hedonist’ – enjoying God – if I’m constantly stressing whether I’m doing it right?

      There is a quote he cites from his journal where Christian Hedonism sounds more like a type of self torture than enjoying God. I think Jeff or Barbara has it.

      • Jeff Crippen

        BIT – And this is why we are taking Piper to task on this blog. I sound like a broken record, but I will say it again. Piper’s permanence view of marriage and divorce and remarriage (NO, you cannot!) is a direct product of his false faith plus works “gospel.” His Christian Hedonism is actually Christian Asceticism – severe treatment of the body, etc. He is putting people into spiritual bondage, in particular abuse victims, because he believes that such severe treatment is redemptive. The Apostle Paul addressed this:

        Col 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– (21) “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22) (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? (23) These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

  11. thepersistentwidow

    The great problem is that the professing church does not know that the Reformation was about contending for the Gospel. They don’t realize what the Gospel is let alone how to discern if it has been corrupted by works. They are lacking basic doctrinal knowledge to realize that Piper is promoting a false gospel. Much to the shame of the pastors and teachers, the sheep have zeal without knowledge. Doctrine has been replaced by subjective feelings in many churches.

    All of the issues we discuss here were decided during the Reformation, which is that the Gospel is the finished work of Christ independent of our personal virtues, goodness or piety. When we deem these additional items as necessary for salvation, we are effectively Roman Catholics.

    Satan was unable to stop Christ from atoning for our sins at the cross, his head was crushed there, but he continues to propagate heresies that distort the doctrine of justification so that people will trust in their worthless good works rather than that which Christ has accomplished for us. When examining a teacher’s theology, first see how the doctrine of justification is approached. It is the touchstone of all true and false doctrine. A false gospel will add works, leave one questioning their salvation, make them fear that hell is eminent, and away from Christ-exactly as Piper does. Not good news but bad.

    Therefore we shouldn’t be surprised that heretics would come to peddle their doctrine of works to the church in hopes to lead the weakest astray-he has been doing that since the beginning. The big question is how is it that the confessional churches have bought this heresy wholesale, allowing it to be peddled in their seminary bookstores, preached from pulpits, and from the celebrity speaker circuit on seminary campuses. But as for us at ACFJ we will have none of it and will rejoice in the Good News that Christ died for us and because of that, we belong to him.

    • G. F. Mom

      A false gospel will add works, leave one questioning their salvation, make them fear that hell is eminent

      Mormons (LDS) do this also. They believe they are saved by grace “after all they can do” – 2 Nephi 25:23, Book of Mormon. But their group has already been exposed all over the internet. I’m an ex-Mormon and still have close relatives deeply rooted in it. That’s why I am so drawn to learning how/when to contend for the faith because, as one who was born and raised into legalistic culture, if I don’t stand firm, I can always succumb to all the various types out there. My older brother that led me to faith in Christ alone soon after led me to Patriarchal bondage under my husband who sure didn’t mind! Sorry for the little rant. But yes, I’m drawn to this blog because I find it supports important truths. And as long as Christ’s work is extolled often enough then it seems a fairly safe place to learn about abuse. What I like too is that the comments encourage Berean-ism. 🙂

  12. Carmen S.

    “If we have deep-seated fears that God does not really love us ( as many Christians have), we can only go so far in growing nearer to God. There will come a point at which we will fear to trust Him any further because we cannot be sure of His love. When we look at ourselves, or our own faith, or our own circumstances we will never be free from those lurking fears. Satan will see to that.

    But if we lift up our eyes and look on the cross we find the final persuasion that God is gracious towards us. The reason we lack assurance of His grace is because we fail to focus on that spot where He has revealed it.”

    Sinclair Ferguson

    • G. F. Mom

      Excellent quote, Carmen S. You reminded me of a scripture reference that helped me. I guess it was Colossians 1: 23, on how we are not to move from the hope of the gospel. Also in Acts 13: 43 the believers were urged to continue in the grace of God. So long as we keep our focus on His work on the cross we will be grounded. Excellent reminder!

    • But if we lift up our eyes and look on the cross we find the final persuasion that God is gracious towards us. The reason we lack assurance of His grace is because we fail to focus on that spot where He has revealed it.

      Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.

      • I am reminded of Diane Langberg’s talk on survivors of sexual abuse. How, as adults, they can fully understand God’s love for all who believe in Him — but not for themselves. Victims will believe in God’s promises for everyone else, but they can’t bring it to themselves because they are so deeply rooted in the belief that they are untouchable & permanently unclean, in a way.
        Abuse has a way of doing that to a person’s soul, which is why these legalistic teachers like Piper are so dreadful.
        Jesus did not break bruised reeds. Piper will back a dump truck right over a woman and her children who have already been beaten into the dirt.

      • Exactly, Katy. So many Christian teachers and Christian counselors are like that. They don’t understand how abuse impacts the inmost depths of one’s soul, how it can confound and mess up our psycho-biological-spiritual wiring, and because they don’t understand they are inevitably going to back the dump truck over victims. And then they blame us victims for having the wrong attitude when we complain about their advice. 😦 If only they would listen to us: we would be more than happy to educate them so that they don’t hurt any more victims. I for one would be overjoyed if they’d ask us for feedback!

  13. “to begin? This is always a difficult question to answer when dealing with Piper’s teachings. Piper is not clear. If you have read him and come away thinking “I don’t really understand what he is saying, but then, I am just an Ent and he is a master Hobbit,” the problem is probably not with you. Piper writes in riddles. He uses ambiguity. He loves to coin new phrases, leaving a precise definition hanging. That may be fine if you are writing a novel. But there is no room for novelty when it comes to the gospel and the Word of God.

    YES! Oh Thank you! So few have the nerve to say this. I have been trying to point this out to so many young men who hang on his every word. I have often encouraged them to strip away the flowery verbosity, overuse of adjectives and adverbs and the arm waving passion/tears to see what you are left with. Nothing. He talks in riddles and has some very provocative sound bites. And yes, you are right about “definitions”.

    But he is quite adept at getting folks started down the wrong road.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Right on, Lydia!! Thank you.

    • Piper is quite adept at getting folks started down the wrong road.

      Yes. That’s a good way of putting it.

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