Ultimate Goal

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.

Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Ps 97:1). “Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (Ps 67:3-4).

But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can’t commend what you don’t cherish. Missionaries will never call out, “Let the nations be glad!” who cannot say from the heart, “I rejoice in the Lord…I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High” (Ps 104:34, 9:2). Missions begins and ends in worship.”

–John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions.

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Who killed Jesus?

In his book, The Cross of Christ, John Stott writes:

The answer which we have so far given to the question “Why did Christ die?” has sought to reflect the way in which the Gospel writers tell their story. They point to the chain of responsibility (from Judas to the priests, from the priests to Pilate, from Pilate to the soldiers), and they at least hint that the greed, envy and fear which prompted their behavior also prompt ours. Yet this is not the complete account which the Evangelists give. I have omitted one further and vital piece of evidence that they supply. It is this: that although Jesus was brought to his death by human sins, he did not die as a martyr. On the contrary, he went to the cross voluntarily, even deliberately. From the beginning of his public ministry he consecrated himself to this destiny.

It is essential to keep together these two complementary ways of looking at the cross. On the human level, Judas gave him up to the priests, who gave him up to Pilate, who gave him up to the soldiers, who crucified him. But on the divine level, the Father gave him up, and he gave himself up, to die for us. As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both, “I did it, my sins sent him there,” and “He did it, his love took him there.” The apostle Peter brought the two truths together in his remarkable statement on the Day of Pentecost, both that “this man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” and that”you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” Peter thus attributed Jesus’ death simultaneously to the plan of God and to the wickedness of men. For the cross which, as we have particularly considered in this chapter, is an exposure of human evil, is at the same time a revelation of the divine purpose to overcome the human evil thus exposed.

I come back at the end of this chapter to the question with which I began it: why did Jesus Christ die? My first answer was that he did not die; he was killed. Now, however, I have to balance this answer with its opposite. He was not killed; he died, giving himself up voluntarily to do his Father’s will.

John Stott also quotes Canon Peter Green:

Only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in its grace.

Their Waste is our Glory

By every human standard of reckoning, the cross was a waste – the waste of a young life, a prophet’s influence, a leader’s potential. We know the secret of its meaning and achievement only from God’s own statements. Similarly, the Christian’s guided life may appear as a waste – as with Paul, spending years in prison because he followed God’s guidance to Jerusalem, whereas he might otherwise have been evangelizing Europe the whole time. Nor does God always tell us the why and wherefore of the frustrations and losses which are part and parcel of the guided life.

J. I. Packer, Knowing God, Ch. 20.

This has major implications for the Christian.  This turns upside down many of our [worldly] ideas of success, achievements, and values.  Even in the church, success is often defined the same way the world defines it.  Jesus’ name just happens to be attached to it.

When performed in humble obedience to God, the most wasteful work in the eyes of man, may very well be the most glorious work in the eyes of God.

A Prayer by Augustine

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You, and desire nothing but You.
Let me hate myself and love You.
Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You.
Let me think of nothing except You.
Let me die to myself and live in You.
Let me accept whatever happens as from You.
Let me banish self and follow You, and ever desire to follow You.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You,
That I may deserve to be defended by You.
Let me fear for myself.
Let me fear You, and let me be among those who are chosen by You.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You.
Let me cling to nothing save only to You,
And let me be poor because of You.
Look upon me, that I may love You.
Call me that I may see You, and for ever enjoy You.

Augustine

Praying this tonight.  It’s You I want.


How He Finds Us

Matt Chandler, Excerpt from Sermon: Ephesians – Rooted and Grounded

“A friend of mine named Doak Taylor said that in the middle of the night, at three in the morning, he woke, and a shot of fear ran through his body. He heard his 1½ year-old daughter screaming in the other room. He got up and full speed ran and turned on the light in her room, and she had taken off her diaper and she had gone to the bathroom and not the kind that’s easy to clean up. She had taken it and covered herself in it. It was on the walls and all over the bed and had a made a mess literally of the room. He did what any man would do; he turned off the lights and said, “Honey. . .” No, I’m just kidding. He said, “This is how God works in human beings.” He said he never thought about the smell, although it was really bad. He never thought how disgusting it was. He just saw his little girl covered in it and crying. He said he ran and picked her up and held her against his naked chest. Ran to the bathroom and turned on the bath water. Held his hand under it and held his daughter until the temperature was just right. He then laid her down and with a sponge wiped every bit of it off her, every crack, every crease in the neck, in the ears, in the hair. He washed every bit of her. He grabbed warm towel and wrapped her and kissed her face and walked her in to her mother. He laid her down next to her mother and he went a bucket and a sponge and went into the room. He pulled the sheets off the bed and threw them in the washer. He grabbed the sponge and wiped down the crib and the walls. He grabbed a new blanket and put it down  and then Febreezed the mess out of the room. He then walked into his bedroom and scooped his daughter up and began to kiss her face as he walked her back to her room. He set her down on the changing table, opened up the blanket and put a diaper on extra tight. He put some clean pajamas on her, wrapped her in the blanket again and then stood next to her crib rocking her back and forth and singing to her as he kissed her head. When she had finally fallen asleep, he laid her down in her crib and he said he was walking back to his room it hit him. “I just went into my living room and got on my knees and wept and wept and wept. For this is the state that my sweet God found me in, and this is what He’s doing in me. Never angry about the mess, never harsh in word or action, just washing in the water of the Word, cleaning and loving.” This is the God of the Bible. This is what He longs to do in you and me.”

Praying From the Heart

I came across this quote from Justin Taylor’s blog:

God looks not at the elegancy of your prayers, to see how neat they are;
nor yet at the geometry of your prayers, to see how long they are;
nor yet at the arithmetic of your prayers, to see how many they are;
nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your prayers;
but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are.

– Thomas Brooks (Works 2:256)