Sunday, July 23, 2006

Piper at the gates of Coleraine

We heard John Piper preach at New Horizon Conference in Northern Ireland last night and again at a church service in Coleraine this morning. And what a joy it was to hear preaching that was
  • Pastoral
  • Applied
  • Passionate
  • Rigorously bibline
  • Calvinistic
  • Doctrinal
That is, preaching that spoke not only to the mind but fed the heart with Christ.

Speaking at New Horizon on the difficult issue of suffering (under a general heading of 'sorrowful yet rejoicing' from 2 Cor 6:10), Piper kicked off with looking at the question 'why does such a world as this exist?' (with all it's tragedies and heartaches).

In answering he didn't hold back from robustly defending the sovereignty of God (even over evil and tragedy) - a controversial move when preaching to a relatively broad congregation. However Piper made his case clearly, biblically and with the tear-stained eyes of a pastor who has known suffering personally. I for one felt he managed to powerfully and joyfully present the (sometimes) hard truth of God's sovereignty in suffering without being cold or glib.

His basic overall answer was that the messy world we live in is worth it because of the glory of God revealed in redemption as a result, and gave examples of suffering christians in his home church who had come to see and rejoice in this fact amidst their sorrow and pain.

This morning he was in even more familiar 'Piper-esque' territory than the night before - preaching on the relationship between God's total passionate commitment to his own glory and self-exaltation, and his love. We think God is loving because we imagine he 'makes much of me' whereas Piper's basic definition is that 'God is loving because he frees us to make much of him'. (Think about it for a while and if you're not sure, add a comment/question).

Good healthy stuff.

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