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Monday, July 23, 2012

Future Grace

?As many of you know Ive been working my way through Future Grace by John Piper. It has 31 chapters and is written as a devotional book. However Ive decided to take a little more time with this book and work through it and try and absorb the wisdom that is in this book. The more I get into this book the more I see what Pipers focus is. Piper keeps drawing me back to trusting in God. He calls for me to trust not only what God has done, but to trust what God will do. He applies this principle as a way to fight and battle sin.

In Chapter 5 Piper starts to applies faith in future grace against pride. In Jeremiah 9:23-24 we see an interesting link between boasting and pride. In Jeremiah 9:23-24 we read.
23 Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."
Here we see several things that pull our eyes away from God and onto ourselves. When we boast in wisdom, might, or riches our gaze is taken off of the savior and put onto ourselves. These things lure our eyes off of God and cause us to take pride in things that we thing we have achieved. Yet boasting is not always wrong. We are told to boast that we know and understand God.
In boasting about wisdom, might, and riches we are really boasting in our self-sufficiency. We are opposing ourselves to God and in essence telling him that he is not needed. We are telling God that we have all we have. If we have wisdom, might, and riches do we not have all that is needed? What need do we have for God is we are self-sufficient?
Luke 12:15-20 offers another view on this. Here we read
15 And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 16 And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' 18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'
This passage clearly tells us that our life is more than the things we have. Our life is mush more than our wisdom, might, and riches. What good does it do then to boast in things that have nothing to do with us? What good does it do for us to boast in things that we have received as gifts from God? I think that is why 1 Corinthians 4:7 says:
7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Perhaps we possess wisdom, might, and riches. What grounds do we have for boasting in these things? None. They are gifts. They are gifts of grace given to us. That is why we are to boast in the way that is not wrong. That is why we are told to boast in the Lord.
Yet we can fall into a trap of boasting in the knowledge of God is sinful. We can boast that we know more than others. We can boast in our theology and wisdom. This is wrong. Knowledge can become a source of pride when we think that we have gained this knowledge on our own. Proper boasting in God will kill pride. It will kill pride because we will boast in the riches of what God has given us. We will boast that it is God that has given in abundance. We will boast that it is God that has given all things.
But what is the connection with future grace? Why do we need to look toward what God will do for us to be able to fight pride? We need to look forward to all that God will keep giving. We need to know that the Lord delights in those that rely on him.
Faith and pride are opposed to each other. They cannot and do not get along. When pride is present there is no need to trust in God. When we are living by faith there is no room for pride. When we turn from God to things of this world we are proud people who turn to things of this world to satisfy our needs. This is simply unbelief in the promises of God. If we really believed God we would turn to him and not other things to have our needs met.
Pride is the root cause for our unbelief. Pride is turning from God to find satisfaction in ourselves. Every time I turn from God I am assuming that I dont need him. When I turn from God to sin I am leaving God behind and telling him that I dont need him to meet my needs. I am telling God that I can meet them better than he can. This is unbelief in one of its purest forms.
Self-pity is another area that has pride at its root. Self-pity is nothing more than a proud person that suffers. Self-pity comes from a wounded ego. It seems from proud person that feels they have not gotten the attention they deserve. Anxiety is the future version of pride. While self-pity looks backwards, anxiety looks forward. Anxiety is nothing more than not trusting God to provide.
In true Piper fashion we are brought to the solution of our problem of pride. We are called to find joy in God. We are called to humble ourselves before God BY casting our cares on him. We are to trust God to provide. We are to look to the future grace that God will bring to us. We are to be satisfied that we know God and then he knows us. It is only when we are satisfied in God that pride will go away. It is only when we see God as better and more fulfilling than sin will we ever make progress. The fight is once again a fight to see. It is a fight to have our eyes opened. It is fight to know and understand the greatness of God.
This is a battle that is much larger than most. This is a battle that goes to the very core of who we are. What is it that we delight in? What do we find pleasure in? What do we spend our time and talent on? Oh how humbling it is to peak into my heart and see how little I am actually satisfied with God. I see how little I actually delight in him. I see how little I treasure and cherish the God of all creation.
This is a problem that can only be fixed by grace. It can only be fixed by trusting in future grace. My heart can only be melted with the warmth of the sun that will rise in the morning. It is God and God alone that can change me. And when I am changed, there is no grounds for boasting. The only thing to boast of is grace.

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