Sunday, November 13, 2011

I don't really mind driving; in fact often I kind of enjoy it.  This weekend I had to drive for 5 and 1/2 hours, which gave me the perfect opportunity to think and pray and sing and to listen to some good sermons.  One in particular by John Piper I found relevant to my life, and part of it very relevant to this blog.
Here is a transcription of part of the sermon from (emphasis added).  You can listen to the whole sermon here if you like, or get it on iTunes.

Verses 26–30 (John10):
 But you do not believe, because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

Notice three things. First, when the Father gives his sheep into the omnipotent hand of the Son, they are still in the Father’s hand. Verse 29: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Even though the Father has put them into the Son’s hand, they are in the Father’s hand. What does this imply?
Second, notice that Jesus explains this with the words of verse 30: “I and the Father are one.” His final answer about his identity is way beyond messiahship. It is oneness with God the Father.

And third, notice that Jesus takes us to this answer by showing how this oneness serves our salvation—our eternal safety and joy. The Father and I are one. No one can take you from me because I am stronger than all. And no one can take you from my Father, because my Father is stronger than all. When you are in my hand, you are in his hand, and when you are in his hand, you are in my hand. Our omnipotence, and our unity are your safety, your salvation.
Now there is a lesson here, and I want to drive it home. Jesus takes us to the heights of doctrinal truth about himself. He is one with the Father. “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh” (John 1:1, 14). But he does it by showing us the immediate implication for our lives: No one can snatch you from my hand. Or the Father’s hand. Which are one hand. In other words, doctrine, theology, biblical propositions (like “I and the Father are one”) are always related to their implications for human life. Don’t be afraid of doctrine. Just be afraid of disconnected doctrine. Doctrine that doesn’t make a difference for life and eternity.

So Jesus’ answer to the question in verse 24 is yes. “I am the Messiah and infinitely more. And all of this is infinitely relevant for your eternal safety.”

First of all, this whole quotation is profound.  It helped me understand this passage like never before.  Not only that, but this observation, which I have highlighted in bold, is crucial.  No, we are not to be afraid of doctrine.  Doctrine is what helps us know God better.  It helps us worship him more truly.  But I think this observation of the way that Jesus teaches is beautiful.  He teaches us doctrine by simultaneously showing us its relevance to our life in him.  Oh, that we might learn to do so half as eloquently!

On this blog I often talk about theology and doctrine.  I hope you, as reader, will keep me accountable to this principle.    Have a wonderful week!

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