Prayer, Meditation and Fasting - Lesson 3

The Role of the Word in Communion with God

The presence of God is a mediated presence and the primary material of the mediation is the Word. Dr. Piper lists ten reasons to meditate and pray over biblical truth.

John Piper
Prayer, Meditation and Fasting
Lesson 3
Watching Now
The Role of the Word in Communion with God

1. Biblical Truth Saves

2. Biblical Truth Frees from Satan

3. Biblical Truth Imparts Grace and Peace

4. Biblical Truth Sanctifies

5. Biblical Truth Serves Love

6. Biblical Truth Protects from Error

7. Biblical Truth Is the Hope of Heaven

8. Biblical Truth Will be Resisted by Some

9. Biblical Truth, Rightly Handled, Is Approved by God

10. Biblical Truth: Continue to Grow in It!

  • Fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the foundation and the source of our life in God.
  • God wakens and sustains our faith through his Word.

  • The presence of God is a mediated presence and the primary material of the mediation is the Word. Dr. Piper lists ten reasons to meditate and pray over biblical truth.
  • The purpose of prayer is communion with God, not to get things from him.  Whatever we pray for with the intent of glorifying God is worship. If we pray with wrong motives, it's idolatry. (1 Cor 10:13, James 4:1-5) Spontaneity is enhanced by discipline.
  • The essence of fasting is hunger for God. Bread magnifies Christ in two ways: by being eaten with gratitude for his goodness, and by being forfeited out of hunger for God himself. When we eat, we taste the emblem of our heavenly food – the Bread of Life. And when we fast we say, “I love the Reality above the emblem.” In the heart of the saint both eating and fasting are worship. Both magnify Christ. Both send the heart – grateful and yearning – to the Giver. Each has its appointed place and each has its danger. The danger of eating is that we fall in love with the gift; the danger of fasting is that we belittle the gift and glory in our will-power.

Prayer, meditation and fasting can help us learn to walk in communion with the living God. We can live a supernatural life that is empowered, led and filled with the Spirit.

We are thankful for John Piper's willingness to share these lectures with us. Copyright 2014 by Desiring God Ministries. Used with Permission. For more information, please visit www.DesiringGod.org.


Prayer, Meditation and Fasting 
Dr. John Piper 
The Role of the Word in Communion with God 
Lesson Transcript


The following message is by Pastor John Piper. More information from Desiring God Ministries is available at W WW dot desiring God dot org. What's left to do is to focus in now more specifically on the word. So I'm going to reverse the order of the outline a little bit. I think I have prayer before the word and turn it around. The role of the word more specifically in communion with God and the role of prayer more specifically. So it's really more of the same, only getting down to the brass tacks of particular texts, and then we'll shift over to fasting toward the latter part. I was thinking as I thought about this story from were these illustrations from Patton. I know we have missionaries in the room. We have pastors of the room, we have aspiring pastors in the room. And I presume most of you would be God centered laypeople who care about bringing Christ and God to bear on your vocation and your family and your leisure. But I really do want to be a seedbed for missions at Bethlehem. And so I don't mind making laypeople uncomfortable in seeming to elevate missions and putting the rest of us in lower category. If it sounds like that, tough, because I'm willing to take that risk in order to be ascending church and mobilizing church. Jesus said, Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers if that makes people who don't get sent out feel second class, so be it. You know, let's live happily as second class citizens. If we're not on the mission field, if that's what it is, I doubt that that's the right conclusion to draw. But if you tend to draw it, draw it and live with it, humble yourself.


Be glad that there are first class frontline. Lay down your life. Leave America kind of people in the world. That's okay. Don't whine about being here. So I do hope that what happens in these sessions is that people will learn how to know God so intimately and commune with him so personally and feed themselves so consistently and pray back to God so effectually that when they're cut off from this church, which feels life giving to a lot of people on Sunday morning when they can't do that anymore, and for two, three, four or five years they're on their own before they can get a taste of it again. They survive and they thrive because God's there. So patented that, you know, back when Patent lived in, he lived about 130 years ago. I think he died in 1907, but he flourished earlier than that. He lived to be an old man. He went to what today is Vanuatu called the New Hebrides. Back in those days, that's about as far away as you can get. Not quite. And you can go on to Australia and India, but Vanuatu in the South Seas is a long way away. And of course he went by boat and didn't come back for years. It wasn't any easy flight home and so. He's one of those types that didn't have the choice. So he's he gets there and within two years, his wife dies. His new wife. Been married a year and she had just had a baby. And then he holds the baby while the baby does. Because what chance is there for the baby right now? Mommy's breast feed and he lives in a malaria infested part of this island called Tanna. And he buries her with his bare hands, ends Earth, and he stands there and he's oh, he's the only Christian.


He's the only white man on the island. Very. His wife. And he said I would have gone insane had it not been for the promises of Jesus. So something had happened to him. He served for ten years in Glasgow as a city missionary, learned how to love people, learn how to lay down his life for city folks at home. And then God called him. He heard the missionary challenge, waved in that little Scottish reformed denomination, and nobody was volunteering and tears streaming down his face. He said, I can't believe nobody's volunteering board on my life here in Glasgow for these poor people. And he's raised up hundreds of them to come to these Bible studies. And this is easy compared to T.A., So come on. Somebody's got to go. And nobody volunteered. So he just steps up and says, I'll go. So they interview him and and gets married. A year later he's gone. And a year after that, his wife dies. Maybe even less than a year. Can't quite remember. And then his son dies. Well, he continues on. He marries again and he serves in the islands there until he's only 72. And God, today, today, 80% of the people in the New Hebrides, Vanuatu, are Presbyterian. 80%. Now, there's a lot of nominalism, just like there is a lot of other mission fields that have been around long enough to grow up, get old and die. You know, I went to Cameroon thinking that witness Bible Translators was a front line missionary organization. You know what? Little translators. Yes. I'm going to go there again in April to beef up the spirits, hopefully, of the little folks there. You know what? Wycliffe is in Cameroon. It's a church renewal movement. Just been there 100 years.


Grown up, flourished, spread, died. That's a little bit overstatement. But Gary talked to Gary Stewart about the spiritual condition of the of the of the Cameroon Baptist Convention. And you'll you'll find out good night. We usually think of, you know, third world churches. They're the cutting edge churches. They're just sans wonders and great things are happening. It's not true. There's a lot of third world churches that are old enough to have gotten tired of Jesus just like we do. And so we want to give you the key to show you the key to this man's longevity. Just some quotes from his autobiography. I commend it to you. We usually have it in a bookstore. Without that abiding consciousness. Of the presence and power of my dear Lord and Savior. Nothing else in all the world would have preserved me from losing my reason and perishing miserably. She's just been through a great crisis here. And notice what he focuses on the the abiding consciousness of the presence and power of my dear Lord and Savior Jesus. Presence. Power abiding consciousness. That's what this seminar is supposed to be about. In his words, low. I am with you all the way, even to the end. End of the world became to me so real that it would not have startled me to behold him as Stephen did, gazing down upon the scene. I felt his supporting power. It is the sober truth and it comes back to me sweetly after 20 years that I had my nearest and dearest glimpses of the face and smiles of my blessed Lord in those dread moments when Musket Club or Spear was being leveled at my life. Oh, the bliss of living and enduring. Seeing him who is invisible.


I put in a footnote here and you can't read. This is probably too small, but when it says muskets and clubs and spears were being leveled at his life, the muskets had been given to these nay folk by. Very evil white traitors who got them into all kinds of trouble and made missionary life very hard. But trying to get rich off these folks. He said My constant custom was in order to prevent war to run right in between the contending parties. My faith enabled me to grasp and realize the promise. Lo, I'm with you always. In Jesus, I felt invulnerable and immortal so long as I was doing his work. And I can truly say that these were the moments when I felt my savior to be most truly and sensibly present, inspiring and empowering me. He was a crazy man. At times he would. He read stories of what he did in putting himself between two warring divisions. It was amazing. One more quote. The situation here is that after about four years there, he's been driven off the island. And, you know, it's not easy to know when to flee and when to stay. Our missionaries are facing this more and more these days, when to flee, when to stay. Paul did both. Sometimes he fled. He ran out of Thessalonica and headed off down to the boat. Well, he's in Damascus. They let him out of the what? Through the wall, down in a basket. And he escaped. Other times he walks right into a mob and they have to grab him and pull him away as a. Paul, this is crazy. Don't do this. And so how do you decide when to stay in a crisis where your life is in jeopardy and when to go? And there's no rule that I don't have any rule because, say, know, I got three little points here.


Do these three points get fulfilled that I'll stay in these? It's there's just a sense, I guess for some people, this is the time to risk your life. And another time you say, no, this is not the time to risk your life to that degree. And so I think we need to be very patient with people who stay and risk their lives and their children's lives and not criticize them. That's very biblical. And be patient and understanding with those who don't because there's a time for that. So here he is now he's he's being driven off the island. He's been taken by Knight, by a chief who promises to get him safely through the warring factions to a port where the boat is to show up in a day or two. And he doesn't know whether he can trust this chief or not. And the chief says to hide in a tree. Who knows? Maybe they're setting it up just to burn the tree and sacrifice him or whatever. He has no choice. So here he is now. He's in this tree. Being entirely at the mercy of such doubtful and vacillating friends. I, though perplexed, felt it best to obey. I climbed into the tree and was left there alone in the bush. The hours I spent there live all before me, as if it were. But yesterday is probably written 20 years later. I heard the frequent discharging of muskets and the yells of the savages. Yet I sat there among the branches as safe in the arms of Jesus. Never in all my sorrows did my Lord draw nearer to me and speak more soothingly in my soul than when the moonlight flickered among these chestnut leaves and the night air played on my throbbing brow as I told all my heart to Jesus alone, yet not alone.


If it be to the glory of my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree. To feel again. My savior, spiritual presence. To enjoy his consoling fellowship. If thus thrown back upon your own soul alone, all alone in the midnight in the bush. In the very embrace of death itself. Have you a friend that will not fail you then? She turns it out to an exhortation to us in his own autobiography, When you are thrown back upon your own soul alone, all alone in the midnight in the bush. In the very embrace of death itself. Have you a friend that will not fail you then? Everybody should ask that question right now. You know, in that way, or do you lean on Sunday morning so heavily, you lean on small groups so heavily. It's not wrong. It is not wrong. We are called to exhort one another every day as long as it is called day. Small groups are right. Worship on Sunday morning is right, Families are right, but they are not God. God is God and He is to be your personal, intimate friend. Such that when all church is stripped away, all family is stripped away, all small group is stripped away. You know, this is going to happen to most of you, even though you don't become a missionary. You know where it's going to happen in the hospital room with tubes coming out of your nose at 3:00 in the morning and nobody's there anymore. And you wonder if you're choking to death. That's what it's going to happen. It'll happen to everybody in this room. You're going to be absolutely alone. On the brink of death. For most, it'll probably be in the hospital or at home.


Those last hours will be pretty. Death is seldom pretty in all of satanic forces will rise against you to cause you to doubt the goodness of God at that moment. So life right now is it feels very much to me. At 55, I'm preparing for that hour. I want to make good of it. I want to die. Well, I don't want to make shipwreck. I don't want to bring reproach upon the Lord. It's relatively easy to be a Christian. You know, at a moment like this, the sun is shining. It was bitter cold. And look around everybody sitting there and we've got the word of God in front of us. There's relative health in our bodies. We can see, we can hear there's food and juice and coffee and oh, my, this is easy. The hour is coming when you'll be facing some crisis. And I just ask you, John Payton, do you have a friend that will not fail you then? He had a friend. He's there. Come to me or you who? Labor and a heavy lady. And I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for my meek and lonely and hard. And you'll find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden. Light. And I'll never leave you. I'll never forsake you. I'll be with you till the end of the age. So that's my. My motive and goal in this class. Now, here's what I want to do next. Or comment or question about pattern or anything I've just said. Okay. I want to turn now a little different, I think, from the order you have in that little tiny outline at the end of the syllabus to to talk about biblical truth and meditation on the Bible and ten reasons to to do it.


These are just bullets. I'm going to go through them fairly quickly. But basically, I want to show you I want to underline something that came out last night, namely that the presence of God is a mediated presence, and the primary material of the mediation is the word. Not a tree, not crystals, not a glass ball, not a science. Not a moment of wordless prayer. Not nature. These things are all around us today. Almost everybody is is pursuing God in some way today. And they're pursuing him through all kinds of means other than his revealed word in history, in Jesus and in the Bible written. I'm arguing that the Bible, the revealed inspired Word of God, is the place and the instrument and the material media story all. Way God gets to us and manifests himself powerfully, truly in us with us. So I want to linger over this truth for a minute and just talk about ten reasons to meditate and pray over Biblical truth, ten things that truth does that enhance communion with God. One Biblical truth saves. Take heed yourself to your doctrine. Hold to that. Four By doing so, you will save yourself and your hearers by holding fast to your doctrine. Biblical Truth doctrine saves preachers and their hearers. If preachers drift away from the truth, they and their people won't be saved. We are saved. That is, God comes to us and rescues us. This is the foundation of communion. We talk about communion with God. Having a friend that will not fail. You think? Oh, that's precious. But don't bother me with doctrine. You got to you've got to get that dichotomy out of your head. Biblical doctrine about the cross, about the nature of this friend, about his deity, about his incarnation, about his virgin birth, about his miracles, about his atoning sacrifice, about his triumph and resurrection over death, about his intercession for us in heaven, about his pouring out the Holy Spirit, about His communing with us in our hearts by the Spirit.


These are doctrines that are taught in the Bible, that are the very foundation of getting in a tree late at night and experiencing a friend who has a character that is such that he won't leave us. And you plead his character, you plead his blood, you plead his miracle working authority over demons. You you know him because you've gotten to know him in the Bible. Biblical truth saves biblical truth free from Satan. Satan is a great enemy of communion with God. How do you defeat him? You shall know the truth. The truth will make you free. Free from sin. Free from Satan. The one offensive weapon that we have, according to Fusion six is the sort of the spirit, the word of God. And when Satan shoots those fiery darts at us, we hold up the defensive weapon of the shield of faith. But what do you what do you trust in? You ever thought about that? Here come these fiery darts at you. Doubts and lustful thoughts and greedy thoughts. And I had I had one this morning that lodged in my head. I would call it self pity thoughts. Went downstairs to get a glass of juice back up to work on this, and I emptied the juice thing big. It's a grapefruit juice. Through these clear things you can't squash. We usually squash over plastic, put in a recycle bin. So it's just a squash. So I. I was putting the whole thing under there and Noel said, I think you should just put that outside and it's it'll fill up the whole bucket. And a fiery dart. Flew right out of Satan's bow and landed here. Said, I'm doing a good thing. Don't tell me how to put away the trash.


I didn't say this. I did not say this. I felt this. Where that comes from? Well, it comes from me, but it gets triggered in me. But that's what fire darts are now. I. I put it. It. I she took it out of my hair. And walked outside with it. I was walked back upstairs my and say a word, and I sat down up there and for about 5 minutes preached to myself. I took the shield of faith and I preach to myself and I said, okay, biblically, this is doctrine. I said, Biblically, my role in this family is Jesus. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved. So she's the church. I'm Christ. Hmm. Hmm. Now, does Christ get in a huff of self-pity? And walk away from his bride. Walk away. Okay. That's why he won't talk to me. You don't appreciate that. I'm putting it at least in the bin, you know, not leaving it on the counter where you leave it. Those are the wheels to start to turn right. But eight reasons why she shouldn't talk to me this way. And she didn't talk to me in a bad way. So I'm preaching to myself up there and. And the Lord, the grace. What I'm illustrating is that the shield of faith that you hold up against this very dark is faith in something. It's in word. It's word. So the Sword of the Spirit, interestingly, in the Shield of Faith, are almost like one weapon You can with this truth got here. Bible says, I'm Christ in this situation crisis and doesn't behave like that. So back off. I want to be what I'm supposed to be in this marriage and the shield of faith. Is you trusting a promise? I'll be with you.


I'll take care of you. You humble yourself and and be rid of that self-pity. So when are you interested in the end of the story? Okay, I'll just skip that and I'll come back to it at the end. That's the way a lot of speakers keep people there for the whole service. I don't think Noel had a clue that I was feeling this. Maybe she did. Maybe she did. I don't know. So when I came back down, ready to leave, I sat down to just pray and I did the fight verse and then prayed for towels. Agreed for Noel, everybody. And. And then I gave. Tell them to kiss on the cheek. And she always turns away from me. I said, Don't you turn away from me. I'm guessing you. I kissed her again and I said, You know, mommy doesn't turn away when I kiss. Why? I said, What's this? And I went round the other side. I kissed her mouth and she said, And then what did? Okay. That was my reconciliation. If I need to say something, I'll say it later. Biblical truth imparts grace and peace. May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord. See that we want grace. We want peace with God. We want to know Him so deeply, so personally, that we experience His grace and we taste his peace. Hour by hour. How does it happen? In the knowledge of God, grace and peace multiplied in the knowledge of God? So don't sell yourself short thinking, emotional affection or sweet experiences of God are one thing, and studying doctrine is another thing. Don't let yourself fall for that. So many churches make that mistake. So many people do to force biblical truths, sanctifies, sanctify them in the truth.


Thy word is truth. So sanctification is becoming more holy and that happens through communion with God. It happens for communion with God and it happens through truth. Fifth Biblical truth serves love. It is my prayer that your love may about more and more with knowledge and all discernment. So love abounds with knowledge and all discernment. If you just have feelings called love and you don't have that feeling informed with knowledge, it won't be loving, probably because you won't even know what love is you love is. Some things are not other things. Sixth, Biblical truth protects from error. May you all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unity of the faith and knowledge so that we may no longer be carried to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Knowledge of the Son of God. So that. You won't be carried about by every wind of doctrine. One of the great problems with maintaining communion with God is that we're so easily swept this way and that way about views of God or views of the church or views of ethics or views of the Bible. We just blown around because we have so little root. That's in the knowledge of the Son of God. And then we're carried to and fro by every wind of doctrine and fear, carried to and fro. Then you won't have an abiding, strong, deep, settled communion with him. It'll always be up for grabs. Seven. Biblical truth is the hope of heaven. Now I know in part, then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. In other words, our full experience of biblical truth will come in heaven when we know, even as we are known.


So we don't have it fully here. It's going to be our experience in heaven. So the more we can have here, the more of heavenly life and heavenly communion I think we will have. And that's why we have the Bible, so that all that we are appointed to have in this age, which isn't everything, many things are kept for the Lord and are not ours to know. We can have if will study it and meditate on it. Eight. Biblical truth will be resisted by some, so get yourself ready for this. The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings. So it's not if you if you love the truth and you want to gather people into a small group or something, you shouldn't be stunned when somebody simply rolls their eyes at the teaching of the truth and says, Well, I don't think that's true. And then goes out and finds a teacher that will suit those itching ears, even though if it stands plain in the Bible. Biblical truth rightly handled, is approved by God, rightly handling it is. Do your best to present yourselves to God as one approved a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. When you rightly handle the word of truth, then you're approved as a workman. There's a way to handle the truth wrongly. There's a way to handle it rightly. One of the reasons we have TBI at best for him and put such a premium on studying the Word of God is because of texts like this that shows you can mishandled the Bible. Second, Peter talks about those who distort it to their own destruction.


So we need to work at helping each other handle the Bible faithfully. So just an exhortation here. Second, Peter 318 grow in the grace in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It's commanded to all Christians that we grow, that we grow in grace, and that we grow in knowledge. In a second. Peter And what did you actually read? The beginning disgraces multiplied in this knowledge. These are these are two separate tracks. You go that direction to get go and grace in that direction to grow in knowledge. Grace growing in grace is through growing in knowledge. And it works the other way too. As you become a more gracious and obedient person, more things open to you in the Bible. It's been one of the great pleasures of my life to be a pastor, because one of the benefits of being a pastor is that I have to minister to people with the Word of God. I don't have I don't have the right to just treat the Bible as something for me. I have to always be thinking, I'm going to preach this. I'm going to teach this. I'm going to share this in staff devotions or some is going to call me with a hard phone call and I've got to have word. Eddie. It's an incredible privilege. That's an awesome gift to me because for this reason, God loves to open his word for those who mean to use his word graciously. There's a special illumination, I believe, granted for anyone, any one of you whose heart is set on reading the Bible for your own soul and the soul of the person you'll be working with today. Because God loves it when his word doesn't just land on you and stop.


He loves it when his words are going to reverberate through you, So he's more likely to give you light on that word if you're bent on sharing it, than if you are bent on keeping it. So there's an awesome privilege of illumination or of opening the Bible for those who have the the bent or the heart or the calling and the demand in their lives to share. So I have found myself. I used to study the Bible a lot more, you know, before 20 years ago for myself and writing out things, trying to figure out problems and not hit walls and able to get breakthroughs and understanding. And I still hit walls and don't get breakthroughs in every point. But the experience so often now is I hit a wall while I'm studying for a sermon or a class or something, and I'm saying, I don't get this. I don't understand how these two versus fit together or how this argument flows. This word fits together with that word, or how this text here fits together. That text back there. I'm just, Lord, this is not making sense. Then you pause and you just lead. You turn it into a moment of communion with God. This moment of misunderstanding and my fallibility and my finite just becomes a moment of intense communion of I've got to have help here. You're the only hope. I've read the commentaries, I've struggled, I've wrestled, I've read the Greek. I'm not getting this. Come and help me. And the number of times that I thought about another text that fits with another text and another, and then comes back here and suddenly the paradigm just goes. Oh, and you get it. At least you get enough of it to hand it to another person with usefulness.


It's like those somebody gave me a track the other day that had about five optical illusions in it. And they say, are these lines parallel? And they look like they go long, long because of the little things that are drawn in between them. It just they just can't be pearly and they own they're parallel. Or do these steps go up or do they go down? Well, they're going up and you just kind of blink and now they're going down. It's this paradigm. What are we going to call it? Shifts. That's what happens with the Bible. Lots of times you look in and you're looking you're looking at these steps are just going up and they're not supposed to go up because they go down in three chapters earlier. And you can't for the life, you see how they're going down. And then the Holy Spirit says, Did you notice the parallel three verses later? And did you notice that that word is used this way over here? Did you notice that this is our natural observations, But once you see them click, Oh, I see how they're going down. I think the Lord likes to do that for for people. Who are in need of sharing the word. Okay. Now, those are the ten reasons to meditate. Now we're shifting over to a few texts where the word is made, the means of communion with God here. To see on to drive home that the word is the material of the instrument of communion with God. So first verse. John one one, two, three. What was from the beginning what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes. What we have looked at and touched with our hands concerning the word of life.


And the life was manifested. And we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the father and was manifested to us. What we have seen and heard, we proclaim to you so that. U2 may have fellowship with us. And indeed, our fellowship that you have with us is with the father and with the son, Jesus. So the aim of this letter that he's writing is the beginning of first June. The aim of this letter is so that these people will have fellowship. With them as they are now having it with the father and the son. So you have John here and you have the people here and you have the father and the son here. And the goal is to get them all into fellowship with that, not just John and the people having fellowship with each other and not just John and the father and the son having fellowship with each other, but the people having fellowship with John as John and the father and the son have fellowship with each other. So I want you to have fellowship with us. Yes. I love the horizontal dimension of this reality. But then I'm going to add and indeed, our fellowship that you now share with us is with the father. With the son. So I want you to come into a communion with us. Now, what is the means to that? That's why I circled So that. How does that come about today? How does it come about? And what he stresses is I, John. And I'm an apostle. I saw. I looked upon and touched with my hands. The word of life. Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And life was manifested. And now I'm testifying. I'm proclaiming that eternal life, he was life, the word of life.


And I proclaim it proclaim to you so that you may enjoy this fellowship. So my argument here is this book is written as a proclamation and revelation of Christ who is life as a means of becoming, or in order that these people might enjoy fellowship with them and with the father, with the son. So if you say, how does fellowship with God and with his people come about? Answer Through the proclamation of Christ, the Word of life. The word is the means by which fellowship comes about. Now this text at the end of of the same book first, John, that was one one, two, three. This is now 592 13. This is a very mysterious text. I don't think I fully understand this text, but nevertheless, I thought it should be included so that you could see the mysteries and maybe pursue them more fruitfully even than I'm able to. So let's read it. If we receive the testimony of men, it's very important that we receive the testimony of men. Here's a here's a a testimony if there. We have seen and testified is very important so that this wonderful supernatural fellowship can come about. So if you receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater. So what's that? What is that? Because we want that. Well, I don't want to hear. I heard John. I want to hear God. That would be communion with God big time if we heard the testimony of God greater than the testimony of. Yeah. What is it? The testimony of God is greater for the testimony of God. Is this that he has testified concerning his son? There's this perplexing way to talk. Is that. Is this. Is that a definition coming there? I think exactly.


I think it's a clarification that the testimony of God is concerning his son. So we have a clarification, if not a definition. The testimony of God is a testimony concerning his son. So God has something to say about Jesus, his son, the one who believes in the Son of God. Has the testimony in himself. The testimony of God you have in yourself if you believe in the Son of God. So what is. Well, what do you mean? I have it. Duly. If I have it, I should not have it shared with me. The one who does not believe God has made him a liar because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning his son. What is this testimony? You did win and how did God do that? Member Now it's greater than the testimony of a man. Is not identical. It may be in the testimony of a man or through the testimony of a man, but it's not the same as the testimony of the man per say. It's greater. First 11. And the testimony is this you get another chance. He said that once already the testimony of God is this. And then he said, it's about his son. He's saying it again. The testimony is this. That God has given us eternal life. And this life is in his son. That's the testimony of God. What? The testimony of God is. There's the definition. It right there as the testimony of God. The testimony of God is God has given us eternal life and the life is in his son. That's what I think it means. But this is very opaque to me. You know, I think John is the hardest writer in the New Testament to understand.


And it's written in the simplest form of all. Everybody tells people. Regina read the Gospel of John for your New Believer. Simple. And they're right at one level. At one level, John, is very simple. I mean, these are these are just little this this reads almost like a third grade primer. This is this and this is this. And this is this. And this is this. But how it all fits together is so. Here's what I think this means. I think he means when he says the testimony of God is this, that God has given us eternal life and this life is in his son. Is that the testimony of God is the life? Is the life of God in us, He and his son. It's the quickening. Life. So here comes the. Here comes the testimony of man John proclaiming to us the word of life. Jesus. The word enters our ears into our brain. What happens? What happens spiritually? Either we come to life in that word by believing it, and it becomes our all in all. And we're born again. And we know him or it doesn't. And people are left unbelieving and unsaved. Well, if you got saved, if you're a believer, it says you have the testimony. He who believes the son has the testimony. Why? Because the testimony is the life that came to you that enabled you to believe. What God does different than what John can do when he speaks. God doesn't just add more words. You say, Okay. John says, Believe Jesus and God says, That's true. So we've got two testimonies here. And I got a I got to do something with. I don't think that's the picture. The picture is John says. John Piper says or John Apostle says, Believe Jesus.


Jesus is God. Jesus dies for your sins. No, Jesus, He's infinitely valuable. You can escape. Hell, you can go to heaven, You can have peace with God. Know this, trust this. And what does God do? When I say that does God. God gives life. God makes a life through his son. God causes in a mysterious way that that word lands on me and causes life. You are born again by the living abiding word. You come to life. Some people come to life and some don't. Why? Why is it when the gospel is preached, some people say, Yes, that is exactly what I need. That is true. That is. I asked him. I will embrace that I in my life for that. I live for that. Why do some people respond that way and others who say, huh, that's just foolish stumbling block to Jews, foolishness to the Gentiles, But to those who are called it is the power of God and the wisdom of God, which that call is the testimony of God, powerfully saying, We're. Live. And as you come to life and you're not a dead soul anymore, as you live, you see, you taste, taste and see. And the word of the apostle now becomes truth and life to you. That's my effort anyway, to come to terms with what he's doing here. Let's read the rest of it. He who has the son has life. That life is in the sun. You have the sun have. There's a big word, right? He who has the sun, that is if you've received the slack. He came to his own in his own received him notch. But to as many as received him to them. He gave power to come. The children of God to those who are born not of the flesh, nor the will of man, nor of the will the flesh, but of God born of God's another way, as a calling and testimony to be born of God is to receive the sun.


And in the sun you have life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life. You reject the Son. You don't have life. The life is in the son. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. And how does that work out? How does your assurance follow from this? I'm writing this letter. I'm reading these things were written so that in this room right now, people who believe in the son can know that you have eternal life now, because if you believe that is an evidence that you are alive and God as testified by your life, that you are his. You have the son. And one of the reason our assurance is weak is because we don't understand how we got to be a believer. We think we just did that. And if you think you just did that, you know what? You're going to answer to God when he says, Why are you here at the judgment? You said, Well, because I chose to believe, say, why didn't others choose? And you'll say. Uh. I was. Smarter was more insightful. I was more humble than they were. You get a point right here. He's looking like that. That's not the right answer. The answer is because you got in in a way that I don't understand and for reasons I cannot comprehend. And your incredible grace, you testified to my heart and caused it to live in the sun. Your testimony was life to me. It was my eternal life. You imparted life to my soul. That's why I believed. You called me effectually out of the grave of blindness, gave me eyes to see in year to year.


What can I say? It was all Grace. All of you. I know this is very controversial. I know that raises all kinds of problems for some. And I'm not here. I have another whole similar called to Calvinism and sovereignty of God's had a whole weekend so just watch for when it comes and and we'll wrestle more deeply with that. But here's my here's the reason for bringing this text in here. How does the testimony of man. The Word of God written now, and the testimony of God relate to each other. And I think it's the relationship between Jesus saying, Lazarus, come forth. Now, those are words. You can write them down on a page. Lazarus Come forth. You can, you can, you can say. Lazarus Direct, direct address. Com Verb force. Maybe an adverb of direction, you know, like a stuff. That's the word of man coming out of Jesus mouth a little different because Jesus is gone. But take the analogy, pulled in the same thing in the Apostles when they raised the dead. And the testimony of God is in and through that word. Lazarus stood up and walked. So that's what the call of God is in first Corinthians 123 and 24. Greeks seek wisdom. Do you seek signs? They stumble over the stumbling stone and they they count the cross folly. But to those who are call it the cross is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This call, this testimony, this new birth gives life. So if you want to has living fellowship with God, you must experience the testimony of God in the testimony of the word. And so we'll be talking about how you pray. How do you pray? In view of that reality, no questions or comments.


That means this. Yeah. Okay. The question is, what's the relationship between the word of God written the Bible in its entirety, Genesis to Revelation and the eternal word. Word of God, the Son of God and this testimony of God and I. What? How you say it is, I suppose, delicate and complex. I want to say very, very strongly those words written on that page to the degree that they are an accurate rendition of what the inspired apostles and prophets wrote is the very Word of God written. Now, that doesn't mean that they don't need to be animated and empowered by the Holy Spirit when we read them because Jesus was God and he spoke words and some of them were absolutely effectual in quickening faith or bringing healing or death, and others landed on the Pharisees with it did not. It didn't change them. And it's because there's a will in Jesus. It says in Matthew 1125 to 27, and no one knows the son except the father. And no one knows the father except the son and anyone to whom the son chooses to reveal him. So he can be calling with his words, which are the very word of God. And sometimes those words become effectual in causing knowledge to happen to you, has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom. To those outside, everything is in parables and and to others. It's not effectual. So the the the fact that this is the very word of God does not mean that it doesn't need animation by the work of God, the Spirit of God. And you could call that the effectual word of God or I mean, there are different names you could put on that power or that work or that testimony or that call.


But I don't want to get into a neo orthodox or liberal position where we say some of the Bible is the Word of God and some of it's not, or where I say this is the word of man, that becomes the word of God when the Holy Spirit lands on it. I think that's a dangerous position as well. See, Christ, you can think the word. Houston lawyer Tiffany Christ. Well, you want to let the context guide you at that point. I mean, sometimes word of life would mean one thing, and sometimes word of life would mean another thing. And sometimes Christ might be a reference to more than just the historical person, or the law might have one meaning in one. I just think let's just be contextually sensitive as to what the author is saying. Here's another illustration of how the word is the material in the instrument of our communion with an enjoyment of God. This is so simple, and yet I didn't see it for a long time. A few years ago I was crossing the bridge in the city like a ton of bricks. This bridge out here is a place of discovery for me. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his great mercy, has caused us to be born again, to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled, and will not fade away reserved in heaven for you who are protected by the power of God through faith for salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. I stopped there and asked, What in the world is all that? What? What have we just read? We've read truth.


Lots of truth. Objective statements. God is blessed. He has mercy. His mercy caused us to be born again. We have a living hope. This hope comes through the resurrection of Jesus. So Jesus has risen from the dead. We have an inheritance. This heritage is of a certain kind. Is. Is imperishable and undefiled. And it's not going to fade away. In fact, it's not going to fade away. It's kept in heaven for you. And by the way, you are kept for it. It's kept for you. And you are protected by the power of God. So God is powerful. He uses his power to keep his own, to protect them and hold them for heaven. That happens through faith. The salvation is going to be revealed eventually in the last time. I could preach for ten weeks on those verses. Easy. There is so much doctrine there. No. Here's the point in this You greatly rejoice. Where does your joy come from? You're not a happy Christian. There's something to be said here about that situation. Where does our joy come from? It says it comes from knowing these truths that I just spoke out of my mouth and wrote down in the first five verses of my letter, Peter says. And notice the situation in which this joy happens because this is not an easy place to rejoice. You greatly rejoice, even though now, for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials so that the proof of your faith being more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor the revelation of Jesus Christ. So the point here is that our joy in the midst of fiery trials threatened to burn everything away and are meant to burn up the dross and leave only the proof the proved faith.


Because this proved faith, this genuine faith is more precious than gold. And gold is perishable. This isn't and perishable gold is tested by fire. How much more is your faith going to be tested by fire? When you lose gold by testing it by fire might be consumed. Your face is not going to be consumed. It's so valuable. It's going to be tested by fire. And the goal is that it may be found result in praise and glory in honor of the revelation of Jesus, in that you rejoice in that situation, you rejoice in this doctrine. He's the Lord. He's the Father. He is God. He's merciful. You've been born again. You have a living hope. He is raised from the dead. Your hope comes through that resurrection. You have an inheritance. It's imperishable, it's undefiled. It's not going to fade away. It's kept. God's love can let any Martha rust destroy it. You are being kept and protected by the power of God. Nothing can pluck you out of God's hand. Faith is the instrument. There's a salvation coming that's going to be rescuing you from every possible fire. Someday it's going to be revealed in the last time you got to know those things. If you're going to rejoice in the midst of the fire. So my job is to teach those things, to proclaim those things, to get you ready to walk through the fire, to help you through the fire. And then verse eight talks about the nature of our communion with the living Christ. And though you have not seen him, I love it when when the apostles who did see him put themselves in the skin of those of us who are in the category. But we didn't get to see him.


You saw him? We didn't see him. And there was a generation that they were writing to who were like us. They didn't see him. They had to get it all secondhand, all of it second hand through writings and testimonies. And we have those writings and testimonies. So though you have not seen him, you love him. This is our side of the communion. And though you do not see him now, you believe in him. So you love him and you believe in him and you greatly rejoice. So this joy here is the same as this joy here. Greatly rejoice, greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. Obtaining is the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. And it was rooted here, this salvation ready to be revealed in the last time you're going to obtain the salvation of your souls. So the joy that we have, though, we don't see him and we would wish that we could see him and we will see him, which is what Paul said does gain. Nevertheless, now we walk by faith and not by sight. And our joy comes from knowing truth. That's the point that I'm making. Question or comment on this text or anything I've said so far. Oh, yeah, sure. Good, good, good, good. Here's the question. Just repeat it for the tape and the rest of you. That text highlighted God keeps us. Protects us through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed. The treasure is kept in heaven. We're kept on earth. How does that security, that assurance that relate to the diagram or the mental picture of life as a river flowing down to hell and heaven's at the headwaters and we're in the water swimming. And if we stop swimming, we go backwards into destruction.


How does that possibility relate to that assurance? Good question. Well, it changes the way you think about internal security. From automatic to dynamic, the automatic view of internal security says. I made a profession of faith one time and received Jesus into my life and therefore I'm secure. Period. It doesn't matter whether I swim or not. That's an automatic view, which is scary, I think. I don't think that's biblical. I think the biblical view is I have been born of God. Same thing. I made a decision. I trusted Christ. I received him in my life. I was made a new creature. And now I serve in the spirit, not in the letter. The spirit gives life. I'm a new person. The Holy Spirit is in me. Christ is in me. And God has promised those whom He justified will be glorified. He, who began a good work in you, will complete it until the day of Christ. No one can pluck them out of my father's hands. The father is greater than all I in. The father are one in many other checks on perseverance and assurance. But the difference is that the way we are kept is a dynamic way. God enabling us to swim. So if I. If you're asking too hard, do I keep that possibility in mind that I can go over that waterfall and still have assurance? The answer is this I believe in God's promise to keep me swimming. That work. See, my security lies not in an act that I performed in the past in a kind of an automatic way. My security lies in a God who, because of that past act and present reality in my life, has made some promises to his own. I will keep you.


I will not let you fall. I won't let you stumble. You're mine. You the apple of my eye. I will keep you. Now my security enables me to say if I a pastor sighs and forsake the faith, I will go to hell. And to say that is not going to happen because God will keep me from doing. Please. Can you say both those things? Are they contradictory? If I a pastor sighs. If I forsake the faith. If I make shipwreck of this and throw it all away and trample on the cross of Jesus and die, I'm going to go to hell. I don't care how many years I've lived and preached. And then next breath. Well, aren't you afraid then? Aren't you? I mean, don't. As you look into the future, you lose assurance and you lose hope and become fragile and wonder whether you're going to make it. My answer is no. Because God has promised to keep me. You began a good work, and you will continue to keep it until the day of Christ. My hope is in the present covenant keeping work of Almighty God by His Holy Spirit in my life. You see, the difference is this makes my engagement in my security dynamic and active because I am. I have a hand in this. The way God works in and through me. This is what this whole seminars about is by the word and by prayer. So if I throw away the means of grace, call the word, throw away the means of grace called prayer. Throw away the means of grace called worship. Throw away the means of grace called small group one Another Exhortations. Throw away the means of grace called getting a good night's rest and eating right and so on.


So that I don't whatever get depressed because my electrolytes are functioning. Then I'm saying. I don't trust you anymore. I don't need you anymore. You're not the one who kissed me. I won't look to you. I won't go to your word. And that is a growing possible evidence. I've never been born of God. Never been more that I don't think anybody can lose the salvation they preached on this down at Moody a couple of days ago. Christian Believers. Yeah, you can't you can't have the full or kind of assurance that you ought to have if you don't know these things. And really, you know, instead of speaking for like black and white here, we should probably speak on a continuum. The more you know, the more assurance you can fully and rightly enjoy. Not like here's a group that knows that here's good for doesn't that's not the case. Everybody there's all different degrees of knowing. And so those who know least will either concoct a false kind of assurance to handle their tormented conscience or they will struggle with lack of assurance all their lives. So you can solve this by correcting the false view of assurance and increasing their knowledge. And you're talking original is not just a heady knowledge, but a full of love knowledge so that they come to a deep, settled confidence in having been chosen by God, loved by God wholly. I told you I use apt tech as I get ready to walk into the pulpit app to admit, you know, that you can't do anything. Pray for help, Trust a promise Act and then think When I get to that trust, one of the texts I go to often is Colossians three. I'm not sure I think it's 12 or 13 where it says so as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion.


Now, just ponder this from Paul writes to you, Christian. And he expects you to hear that as a wonderful blessing of God on your life to be called that way. He says. So as those who have been chosen, wholly beloved, put on a heart of compassion. So here I am sitting there in front pew and I hear Paul say John Piper, as one who is chosen by God wholly and loved. Go preach compassionately. Now that see, the challenge I'm facing is can I preach again? Can I preach with compassion? Can I preach with love? Can I preach with truth and approach with conviction? Or is my mind just going to check out and go off towards worldly things and and lose all fervor and lose all conviction and lose all hope and and just make a shipwreck out of the ministry and the marriage and the faith or not. How am I gonna swim? And the answer is, I hear him say, I chose you. You are set apart from me wholly. So I think he means you're mine. You set apart and I love you. Sometimes we put the little beloved on the front and it just kind of waters it down. Beloved, at some point, I hope he spoke his religious language, which is to say loved. Leave the be off, loved, chosen, wholly loved. And I just say to myself, and I do I do one of those little John Newton tricks. I pretend that as I'm sitting there in the pew, that God almighty stoop and down through that 60 foot high ceiling. And speaking to me very personally, I call you to preach at your job here. I put you here. The Holy Spirit has put you here. You are mine.


I've set you apart for myself. I chose you. You didn't choose me. And I love you. You get up there, do it. I'll be with you. That's how I fight. That's how I fight. When my when my soul sitting on that front pew begins to waver. And I say and I fake the whole thing. A fake. I mean, these are arrows that come. Am I real or I just like the applause of men. This whole 20 year thing here is a charade. What do you do? You just do the negative thing. Get out of my head. You should do that. I just. I speak to thoughts a lot of times. Get out of my head. Thought I do it with lustful thoughts and greedy thoughts. I do it with advertisements for stuff I don't need. I do it with all kinds of love to get out of my head. That's not enough. You got to say that in the name of Jesus, be God thought. Then what do you do? You know, you send seven, you send a demon out of your head and leave it empty. How many coming back? Seven. This is why a lot of guys, I don't know how it is with girls. I won't talk to girls much about their lustful thoughts, but a lot of guys I talk to. This is why a lot of guys fail. They only do half of it. Get out of here. Don't think that they stop. Comes back. Two of them come back. Stop! Get out of here. They go away. Three of them come back and they just don't get it. You've got to put something else in there. You've got to stock that magic nation with another beauty. Another desire. Another passion.


Another satisfaction. So it comes and I say, All right, I'm just giving you one text. I use lots of different other ones, and usually I try to get them right off my front burner. I the one this morning I got from X's night team, which I brought you on Eagle's wings to myself. Exodus 19 four. I brought you out on Eagles Wings to my self. To me, he said to the people of Israel, Well, I'm in Christ. If he says it is your life, how much more does he say it to his own children in Christ? I brought you on eagle's wings to myself. Jump back to myself, not to just some task, to minister to myself. So you are holy, You are chosen, you are loved. So this whole course is to try to help you handle the word like that for maintaining communion. With God. Very good question about how the threat of the threats of the Bible. There are many function in our lives to keep us swimming and yet not destroy our assurance. Okay, we have two things to do. One is to talk about prayer more in a more focused way. And then to talk about fasting. We spent a lot of time on the word and its function in in mediating the presence of God and the experience of God. And now we want to talk more about our response, our part, our talking, not just God's talking toward us, saying, I chose you, you're holy, I love you. You should hear God in that. But now what do we do? What do we say back? What is prayer? Westminster Shorter Catechism. Question 98. There's a great story behind this. Some of you remembered. I've told you before, we're moody.


Dale Moody 150 years ago or whenever came to Scotland, and he was asked as part of his crusade to go to a day school where there were a chapel full of hundreds of little boys and girls, I forget what age, grade, school age. And he said, I talk to you today about prayer. What is prayer? He asks the question rhetorically. What is prayer? About a thousand hands wound up. He. He now say he called on one little boy and the little boy by memory said prayer is an offering up of our desires and to God for things agreeable to his will in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies. And sat down and Moody was so stunned. He said, Thank God, son, that you were born in Scotland. Meaning a place where they believe in the catechism. They don't know how you're doing. I, i, I edited a catechism one time and have been hit and miss and using it with my own children because they know our hectic lives. It's not easy, but I really commend it to you and I hope I do better with Tabatha. Little five year old coming along to teach answers to questions, prayers, one of them. And of course there that's question 98 and it's not the end. So let me just take a few of these pieces. I think that's a very good definition of prayer, an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, insightful acknowledgment of His mercies. So you've got expression of desires. You've got, according to his will, you got in the name of Jesus. You've got proper role of confession, of sin.


You've got gratitude for mercies. Maybe if there's anything missing there, it might be praise. But we'll come to that. So let's just give some biblical examples of some of those desires for God himself expressed. Nevertheless, I'm continually with you. This is a prayer. You know, you learn how to pray from the Psalms. The Psalms are mainly prayers. Not always, and not every Psalm is all one and all the other or all the other. This one is prayer. This is talking to God. Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You have taken hold of my right hand, your counsel. You will guide me and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you And beside you I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail. But God. It's interesting, isn't it? It shifts to third person here. The Psalms do that a lot, so you shouldn't salt people too quickly. If you hear them do that in prayer, it might be a it might be owing to thoughtlessness, but it might not be. I don't think it's thoughtlessness here that he shifts from you. You, you you you you, you you to God is God is the strength of my heart in my portion forever. So here he says to God, besides you desire nothing on earth. I want you. And that surely should be right at the center of our praying. Offering up of our desires unto God, not only for things, but in those things. For God knows. Linger over that for a minute with another text. This issue of things. What do you. You pray for. Let's go to James and skip some things here. Here's a good cautionary text on James 4125 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? It is not the source of your pleasures that wage war in your members you lust and do not have.


So you commit murder your envious and cannot obtain. So you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. So whose prayer you do not have? Because you do not ask. But he qualifies that further to you. Ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives. You ask wrongly so that. So what's wrong here is is wrong. So that you may spend it on your pleasures. What's what's he really mean there? Is it wrong to ask for anything that would be pleasant? Is he saying that? Well, I don't think we'd ask very much then, because hardly anybody asks for pain. Thank you for listening to this message. By John Piper, Pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Feel free to make copies of this message to give to others, but please do not charge for those copies or alter the content in any way without permission. We invite you to visit desiring God online at w WW dot desiring God dot org. There you'll find hundreds of sermons, articles, radio broadcasts and much more all available to you at no charge. Our online store carries all of Pastor John's books, audio and video resources. You can also stay up to date on what's new at Desiring God. Again, our website is w WW dot desiring God dot org. Or call us toll free at 1888346 4700. Our mailing address is desiring God. 2601 East Franklin Avenue. Minneapolis, Minnesota. 55406. Desiring God exists to help you make God your treasure because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.