Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Beauty of Christ

John Piper is one of my favorite preachers.  I have read and incorporated many of his sermons into Sunday School lessons I have taught.

John Piper is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org.  He was the founding pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis for 33 years and is an author of more of 50 books.   He recently spoke at the Speaker Panel in Atlanta.

I have been listening to these profound messages on Podcast.

One of his sermons was on "The Beauty of Christ" based on 2 Corinthians 4: 4-6, and he made an interesting statement.

"The greatest gift of God is the gift of the beauty of God Himself in Jesus Christ."

Piper had my attention!
Based on the title of my blog, you will know that I espouse to the belief that it is Christ within us that makes us truly beautiful - BEAUTY WITHOUT WITHIN!
So I was intrigued with this whole line of thought.

 What does that mean?
"The greatest gift of God is the gift of the beauty of God Himself in Jesus Christ."

Piper went on to add,
"The greatest gift of God is the gift of the beauty of God Himself in Jesus Christ, to satisfy my soul forever."

Forever?  How can this truth make a forever difference in my life?

1)  The root of my saving faith is SEEING the beauty of Christ.  I must see His satisfying beauty.

What is this beauty?

It is the "illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, the Messiah, Who is the image and likeness of God." (Amplified v.4)

The Gospel is the "Good News" and the Good News is the Glory of Christ.

It is the beauty of Christ because He is the image of the radiance of God.
2)  Before one is saved they are blind to the beauty because they are blind to God.  We aren't just rebellious and stubborn. 

We are blind!  No sight!  Can't see a thing kind of blind!

Verse 4 tells us that the "god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving" so that we can't see the Light.  We can't see the Gospel.  We can't see the Good News.  We can't see the beauty of Christ.

Satan has blinded us to the beauty of Christ because we have joined him in darkness.  Remember Adam & Eve?

Jesus explained it like this in John 3: 19-20:

"And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."

Okay, so one day I decide that I'm tired of living in the darkness and I am just going to sing "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus," "walk down the aisle," say a prayer and make it all better?

Hold on, there's more.

3)  We can't decide to see the beauty of Christ without God shining His revealing Light of the beauty of Christ into our heart.  It is a GIFT!

My conversion was a miracle of God's gift of spiritual sight.
Look at this in 2 Cor. 4:6:

"For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the ONE who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
Piper likened this to an art student being shown a painting that he absolutely hated.  There was nothing appealing about the colors, the composition, the style of the painting.  Nothing!  And yet, the professor insisted that the student love it.  How can the student love something he hates?  Is it enough for him to "decide" that he is going to love it?  Will he ever truly see the beauty of the painting just because he decides he will?
Of course, the answer is a resounding "NO!"

But, isn't that how we try to convert someone?  Make a decision?  The act of free will?  Make up your mind that you want to be saved?  Decide you will love God?

And yet, the scripture is so plain that only God can reveal the Light, the Gospel, the Good News, the beauty of Christ in ones heart.

He reveals Himself to those who did not make a mental decision to seek Him.  God does all the calling, choosing and literally dragging of people to Him.  That is a mystery and seeming paradox.

Nobody decides to save themselves by choosing God.  God alone is in control of salvation and to whom and when it comes.

 God is absolutely sovereign over His creation.

 Verse 7 completes this teaching like this:

"But we have this treasure (Jesus Christ) in earthen vessels (us), that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves."
Christianity is built on the truth that God has acted in the form of man, Jesus Christ.

And, He is the beauty for our everlasting enjoyment.

It is God's revealing Himself to us that we are able to even desire to see Christ's beauty as a reflection of God's image.

No man is capable of this.

That is why Christians sing and rejoice and herald, then sing, rejoice and herald again and again.

I will close with this statement by John Piper:

"The objects of the miracle become the agents of the miracle."

We don't know who God is revealing Himself to, so we must continue being the agents of the miracle of His gift to us.
 
I pray you know
The greatest gift of God is the gift of the beauty of God Himself in Jesus Christ, to satisfy your soul forever.
Linking with Imparting Grace
Tell His Story 

6 comments:

  1. Hi Elizabeth! I'm visiting today from Suzie's Live Free Thursday! Beautiful post and very thought provoking! I see that you are in Shreveport! I'm in south Louisiana! Good to "meet" you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like John Piper too. Wonderful post!

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is positively beautiful in the words, and the pictures you shared. I will have to read it again. I love that He chose me and I love that verse from 2 Corinthians. I especially like that it is here because I was trying to remember just Tuesday where that verse was. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Excellent! And thanks for the reminder that I can turn to podcasts (as well as audiobooks) for something to occupy my mind while quilting.

    ReplyDelete
  5. John Piper:"The objects of the miracle become the agents of the miracle."
    Love how he puts this. Stopping in from Suzie's #livefree linkup. Thanks for the inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Greetings Elizabeth! You have a beautiful site. I loved your reflections on being beautiful in Christ. I live just up the road from you in West Monroe. My friend Ellen pointed me your way. Nice to meet you!

    ReplyDelete

I do love reading your comments, so please share your thoughts with me.