Future Grace - Battling Unbelief - Lesson 4

Is It Biblical? (Part 2)

[Since] God did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, [surely] he will freely give us all things. (Romans 8:32)

John Piper
Future Grace - Battling Unbelief
Lesson 4
Watching Now
Is It Biblical? (Part 2)

Is It Biblical? (Part 2)

Faith is the Great Worker

Faith is future oriented, it trusts in future grace

The role of the Holy Spirit in enabling obedience

The role of gratitude in motivating obedience

We battle against sin by battling against unbelief

  • God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. One aim of this course is to show that living by faith in future grace is the way of life that unites these passions.

  • We are justified by faith alone, but that faith never remains alone. Therefore, justifying faith is always and inevitably accompanied by good works.

  • Grace is the ever-arriving, moment by moment enablement to act in reliance on God. God doesn't promise us comfort or everything we want, but everything we need to do what God wants us to do.

  • [Since] God did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, [surely] he will freely give us all things. (Romans 8:32) The motivating power of a life of obedience is faith in future grace.

  • In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5), if the key to doing the harder thing is faith in future grace (believing it with all your heart), then the key to doing the easy thing is also faith in future grace. A legalist tends to attack a command directly with the intention of doing it. A faith-based person prays that God will change them so they will become a person who loves as an overflow of who they are.

  • Bible texts that are illustrations of how hope, faith, confidence, satisfaction in future grace liberates love. The main battle to be fought in the quest for love is the battle to trust God for future grace.

  • Sins that get in the way of holiness.

  • Learn to pray about the spiritual condition of our heart not just about our possessions or circumstances.

  • If you yield to a life driven by lustful passion, you act like you don't know God. Knowing God deeply so that God is your treasure, is a good strategy for overcoming lust. The evidence of being born of God is that you make war on sin.

  • The definition that Dr. Piper uses for bitterness is, "Holding a grudge or savoring the thought of getting even with no true desire for the salvation and reconciliation of the offending person." He defines impatience as, "Murmuring against Providence when we are forced to walk the path of obedience in an unplanned place or an unplanned pace."

God is infinitely committed and passionate to preserving and displaying his glory in all that he does from creation to redemption. In this commitment we see his zeal and love and satisfaction in his glory.

The main question that Dr. Piper attempts to answer in this class is, "Why does practical holiness (love), inevitably accompany justifying faith?"

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.


Future Grace - Battling Unbelief

Dr. John Piper


Is It Biblical? (Part 2)

Lesson Transcript


The following message was recorded at an event hosted by Desiring God. More information about desiring God events, conferences and resources is available at W WW dot desiring God dot org. So then, what is the function of bygone grace or past grace? Answer It puts solid ground under our faith in future grace because somebody could be really troubled with my emphasis on the future. Faith in the future, they say. Aren't you? Aren't you belittling Christ? Aren't you making light of the cross when you constantly stress that the power of the faith that transforms is a future oriented faith in grace that's coming to you? Doesn't that treat the cross as small or insignificant or. So let me try to explain how the past grace demonstrated at the cross and the future grace that is arriving to me moment by moment. Relate to each other. So I'm arguing that solid ground under faith in future grace is in the past. Romans 832 He who did not there's past tense, did not spare his own son, but another past his delivered him up for us all. And now notice the logical shift. How will he not also with him, freely give us all things. Now, that's a rhetorical question. Whenever you have a rhetorical question in the Bible that doesn't have an answer after it, you've got to supply the answer. And when you supply the answer, you can turn the rhetorical question into a statement. Right. So what would the statement be? The statement would be surely, since God did not spare his own son, but delivered him for us all, he will most certainly give us all things with him. That's the logic there. The logic of heaven because he died in the past. Because Christ died in the past.


He provided a foundation that makes God's commitment to all who are in him for the future. Absolutely certain. Omnipotent grace is on my side forever because of the past work of Jesus. If I'm united to Christ, I may have complete certainty that everything God is. He is for me from now until eternity, because of the past work. And the logic is called an hour for Shiori. Right. I don't know if I can explain what an hour for she argument is. It's. It's from the greater to the lesser. If this happened, surely that will happen. And here is this the astonishing thing God's providing me with everything I need in the future is a piece of cake. If he gave me his side to death. In other words, I remember Dan Fuller used to draw on the. I think they had still green boards, not whiteboards back then. He drew a big mountain and then a long hill. And. And he had a train. The train was my life. And it was just loaded down with sand. And there was no way it could get to heaven. And there's this huge mountain of God's wrath. And my seeing it in my little train and the cross, the work of of God in bearing my wrath in Christ and providing my righteousness in Christ and covering my sin in Christ pulled me to the top of the biggest obstacle between me and heaven. And then he drew he drew the train going down on this side and said, You just hop on it to heaven when you're on this side of the cross. And that's the logic of this verse. If he did the absolutely hardest thing imaginable, namely, take the second person of the Trinity, bring that person into human flesh, a point that that person would be slandered and spit upon and beaten and crowned with thorns and have nails driven through his hands and die the most ignominious and the most painful death for sinners like me.


It's a piece of cake to get me to heaven after that. That's the logic. And therefore, when I say that faith in future grace is resting on a massive foundation. That's the way your mind must work. When you look to the future and you start to wonder, how can I count on the arrival of future grace to provide all that I need to do? God's will you do? You do. Turn around and look back. You said there's the risen Christ crucified. And you. You rehearse the logic of this verse. I think that's probably my favorite verse in all the Bible. You see the same logic in five nine, much more than having now been justified by his blood past. Having been justified by his blood. We shall be saved. You see that much more right there. That's Will he not? That's the same logic. You get this logic into your brain and into your heart. You will be able to slay the devil very effectively, hour by hour. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death, the unbelievable death of his son. Much more. There it is again. Having been reconciled. Shall we be saved? It's a done deal. Those whom he justified, he glorified. Which is why all that talk about you must be holy in order to be saved in the last day. Doesn't keep us awake at night with anxieties about, Oh, am I going to be holy tomorrow? No, you won't. Unless this is true. God keeps you. You don't keep yourself. Skip that last text. What now? If that's what Grace is, and that's how it's future oriented and that's how it's dependent on the past. What is it? What is faith? And in this book, Future Grace, this is the definition that I operated with.


Faith is a being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus. Not just in a Santa truths past pastor future, but heartfelt, valuing and treasuring of all that God promises to be for us in Jesus. Maybe just one text to underline that point. John 635 Jesus said to them, I'm the bread of life. He who comes to me me bread shall not hunger. And he who believes no notice. The parallel come is parallel to believe this is a spatial metaphor and this is the real word. This is the real thing that's happening in that metaphor. He who comes to me shall not hunger and he who believes shall never thirst. So I take that parallel to mean that in in Jesus understanding here and in John's understanding, believing is a coming to Jesus to eat bread that takes away hunger and thirst. That's my definition of faith on that verse. What is believing? What is believing? Believing is spiritually, not physically, is not something you walk to coming, embracing. I use words like embrace coming to Jesus such that you find him a hunger, satisfy her and a thirst quencher. And of course, we're talking about soul, hunger and soul thirst. So my definition of faith, it's not the only one. It's just, I think, a very important one for learning how to kill sin with it is a being satisfied with all that God is or promises to be for us in Jesus. And there's so many other verses to that effect. But maybe just look at John 737 staying with John on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes there's the parallel again come to me.


He who believes in me, as the Scripture says from his innermost being, shall flow rivers of living water. So believing is a coming in such a way that you have drunk and are over flowing. I'm going to skip the rest of those texts and go to this question. What's the role of the Holy Spirit in enabling obedience? Now, if grace is power and grace is future and faith is being satisfied in it, so where's the Holy Spirit? I've had people listen to my effort to explain the way faith severs the root of sin and be mystified as to how the Holy Spirit is working. Because the Holy Spirit, according to Galatians 522, is the one who bears the fruit of love. So I've said, and Paul says, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. As I've said, faith produces love. This is the fruit. Spirit produces the fruit of love. And I look at Galatians five six, same book verses earlier in Christ Jesus. Neither circumcision nor on circumcision means anything but faith, faith, faith, working through love. So faith produces love and the spirit produces love. So how does that work? And I think the key is given in Galatians also chapter three, verse five Does he who provides you with the spirit and works miracles among you do it that is, do this supplying providing in miracle working? Does he do that by works? Answer Of course no. Or by hearing with faith. So now you've got the spirit acting. So we have this text accounted for and you got faith present. And so you got that text accounted for. And they're brought together here. And the way it describes it is that the spirit provides power or God provides the spirit through or by hearing, I'm going to say promises or the gospel with faith.


So the gospel is preached and the spirit arrives in and through the faith that the word is awakening. In fact, it's indistinguishable as to whether the spirit of the word is awakening faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Faith is opened and enabled by the Holy Spirit. Does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles by the Spirit? Do it by works. No, he does it When you hear the gospel promises of God with faith. Faith is the channel through which the spirit bores itself. You don't create the channel. He creates the channel and he flows through it while he creates it. Now, here's the question that I think is very, very crucial to ask Why does the Spirit unite himself to faith as a way of bringing about works of love? That is, why doesn't the Holy Spirit just make you a loving person without restricting his method to always doing it through your faith in Jesus and his promises? Why does he just touch you being God and cause you to be a humble person? Cause you be a loving, kind, generous, patient person? Why is he always blinding himself to hearing promises with faith so that wherever faith isn't, he isn't producing love. And wherever faith is, he is producing love. Why does the Holy Spirit link himself so firmly to my faith? Seems like, Come on, Holy Spirit, your God, You just kind of bump around and cause love everywhere. You don't have to just do it where there's faith. And the reason I think, is in the fundamental mission of the spirit given in John 16, where Jesus says, He will glorify me, that's why I've sent him. He will glorify me, Jesus said.


So the fundamental mission of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus look indispensable and really good as His job. So if he's going to produce the fruit of love, he has to do it in a way that makes Jesus look really indispensable and really good. And therefore God ordains that He always do it in and through faith in Jesus, faith in promises. You want to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to be overflowing in love to people. You shouldn't just get on your knees and say, Come, Holy Spirit, come feel me, Come make me a loving person. Come do your mighty fruit bearing work. Amen. And get up and go and try to do it. That's not the way to do it. That everything that you said is right and good. And you should do that. But you know, now from the Bible, the Holy Spirit is saying, I produce love through your dependance on Jesus promises. Therefore, when you pray for my fullness, when you want to release my power and you open your Bible and memorize Matthew 625 to 34 and believe it as you walk to work, and I will mightily work through that faith liberating you from anxiety and producing all the love that freedom from anxiety produces. In other words, you're involved in this work of the Holy Spirit, and the way you're involved is by fixing your mind's eye on the promises the blood bought. Yes, the blood by promises of Christ, which are absolutely sure for you. You lay hold on them. And the Holy Spirit is there and working. The experience of the Holy Spirit is the experience of on doubting faith in the promises of God, liberating you from the lives of sin that all come from greed and fear.


So that's why the spirit works through faith in future grace. And now this very controversial question in regards to living by faith in future grace, what's the role of gratitude in the motivation of obedience? Let me just preface where this come from. I've read I could name favorite theologians that you and I have probably who have said the dominant motivation of the Christian life is gratitude. The motivating power of a life of obedience is gratitude. And nothing that I have said up till now says that where am I going? What am I Just totally I mean, here I am trying to build a structure of motivation that has spiritual power, that conquers seeing and produces love. And I don't even mention the word gratitude for an hour and 45 minutes. So what's wrong with me? So I began in that little trailer down there in Burnsville, Georgia, to see whether or not I could make sweeping statements because they're very risky. When you have your favorite theologians who are living saying the opposite of what you say. Nowhere in the Bible is gratitude connected explicitly with obedience as a motivation. That's a sweeping statement, if there ever was one. So if you know an exception to that, email me, read to me. Write on a piece of paper. I know. I know one where people often go and I think there's an answer for it. Christian obedience is called the work of faith, never the work of gratitude. We find expressions like live by faith and walk by faith, but never expression like live by gratitude. Walk by gratitude. We find the expression faith working through love, but not gratitude working through love. We read that the goal of our instruction is love from a good heart and a good conscience and sincere faith, but not from sincere gratitude.


We read that faith without works is dead. Not gratitude Without works is dead. And when Jesus deals with the disciples hesitancy to seek the kingdom first because they were worried about food and clothing, he did not say, Oh, men of little gratitude. He said, Oh, men of little faith. Faith in future grace, not gratitude, is the source of radical risk taking. Kingdom seeking obedience. That's an overstatement. If I rewrote that paragraph, I wouldn't say it. That. Absolutely. Let me see if I can say it the way I might say it. If I were to write it again, I picture gratitude and faith as two absolutely indispensable acts of the soul. If you have no gratitude, you're not saved. If you have no faith, you're not saved. And I see them in my soul having a conversation with each other, talking about their assigned roles from God in my life. They each have a role to play. And gratitude is standing on the waterfall, where the future cascades over the present of my life and gathers in the reservoir of history. And he's looking back. He always is looking back. And he's singing his heart out over what he sees of God's accumulated history of grace, both in redemptive history recorded in the Bible with the cross standing at the center, and in my little 59 year history of all God's blessings. And he's looking out over the past of my life and the past of history. And he just said, God is great. God is faithful, O glorious God. I thank you for all that you have done for me. That's that's gratitude speech. And Faith is listening to him. And that that is very important, that grace. Hear that faith, Hear that. And gratitude turns to faith and says, Do you see that? You hear me? Now do your job.


And faith is is looking to the future. You do your job. And faith says on the basis of the cross. He did not spare his own son on the basis of 53 years of knowing God who has never let me down one hour of my life. I will now embrace with complete certainty the promises of God from my future. So you can see I do not belittle gratitude. And this not gratitude is an overstatement. Gratitude has a function in informing faith. What it can bank on and celebrating past. I don't want to be too picky here. I hear people pray. I thank you for what you're going to do this afternoon. I don't think there's any sentence in the Bible like that. It's not it's not a sin to pray like that. I think it's much more biblical to say, I totally trust you for all the good you're going to do this afternoon. If you want to project yourself forward and express gratitude already for what's going to happen, it's kind of a time machine going on here. But in the Bible, gratitude is massively, gloriously happy with what God has done for us in the past, and we ought to sing it and celebrate it like crazy. What I'm concerned about is this notion that you look to the past. Notice how much good God has done for you. And then as you turn to the future, it is in faith, in future grace that becomes the energy of your life. It's a payback mentality. If he's done so much for me now, what can I do for him? That's what I fear about the gratitude ethic. And I know that that the people who have the best way of thinking about gratitude, they don't mean that.


But I think a lot of lay people labor under the notion, what if it's gratitude that's supposed to make me a kind person to day at work? Then how does that work? How does that really work? The temptation to say, God has done so much for me, what can I do for him is very great, but it is very dangerous for these three reasons. I would just like to disabuse you of all use of gratitude in this way. We can never pay God back. Not one penny's worth because every move we make in love in holiness is a move that God himself supplies. So if you say I look back, I'm so thankful that you died for my sin, Lord Jesus. And now I will. Ingratitude. Recompense. Payback. And I will die then. I will not commit adultery. Every step you take that is presumed to be payback isn't payback. If you believe First Corinthians 1510. It is not I, but the grace of God enabling me. So I'm going deeper into debt with every step I take. Here's the good news. You must remain a debtor to grace forever. There will be no amortization schedule set up now or in heaven by which you make payments to reimburse God for grace. And the first reason is it can't be done because every good deed you do, you do by grace and thus incur another debt. Isn't that wonderful? What shall I render to the Lord for all of his benefits to me? Some 60, some 112 days. I forgot the song. So I know this one. 16, I think verse 12. Holler out if you know that. What shall I render to the Lord for all of His benefits to me? One 1612. Thank you very much.


What's the answer? What shall I render to the Lord for all of His benefits to me? Answer I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord just to get any better. It's like, okay, you've filled my cup a thousand times. What can I do to make some kind of appropriate response? Answer? I'll lift up my cup and call on the name of the Lord. You can take that in two ways. One, It's a toast. I don't think so. I have no problem with that. But the reason is because the next phrase is I will call. It's not like I will toast you. I will say to God, but rather you filled in a million times. I want to show that you've not run out at all. Here's another opportunity. And he calls upon the Lord. You want to make God? You want to make God's day. Hold up an empty cup. The second reason why that's so dangerous, too, and we're coming down the homestretch here, why that's so dangerous to try to do a payback way of life if we could succeed in paying God back for all he does for us or for any of it. To that degree, it would nullify Grace and turn it into a business transaction. Grace is free or it's not Grace. Grace does not establish an amortization schedule of obedience payments. And the third reason why we can't live like that. Mustn't live like that. Thinking of obedience as empowered by gratitude tends to direct our attention backward to bygone grace rather than forward to future grace. And in this way, the debtors ethic tends to divert us from the wealth of grace yet to be known and distracts us from the very power of obedience we need, namely future grace.


You can't run your car on gratitude for yesterday's gas. There's got to be fresh grace every day and you've got to depend on it. And depending on it is what liberates you for love. I have two more overheads for this section. Therefore, our passion for holiness involves a fight for faith in future grace. I don't need to say much about this. I wrote the book When I Don't Desire God. How to Fight for Joy. To answer this because it's the biggest challenge of my life. A passion for holiness involves a fight for faith in future grace. We battle against sin by battling against unbelief. Tomorrow night, I will preach a sermon and one of the texts will be on Hebrews three. Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief leading you to fall away from the living God. Exhort one another every day as long as it is called today. That's the battle. Exhort one another every day lest there be a heart of unbelief. Unbelief is always clamoring at the elect, at the regenerate, its clamoring at us and we show that we are elect not by coasting in misunderstood eternal security, but in fighting with the power of God given security. That's why I say it involves a fight. Fight the good fight of faith. Paul, I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. Paul describing his own calling. Not that we lord it over your faith. We are workers with you for your joy. It takes work in the last text to look at tonight convinced of this Philippians 125. I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith.


That's why Paul remains on planet Earth. That's why I'm a pastor. That's why you should be in a small group with other people so that you could exhort one another every day lest there be a new and evil heart of unbelief. What people say to me at appropriate times is God's appointed means of keeping me in the faith. If I start to play fast and loose with the means of grace and say, I don't need exhortation, I don't need worship, I don't need Bible reading, I don't need prayer, I don't need fasting or need any of these things, I'm a goner. I will go to hell. The means of grace are given so that my regenerate condition will show itself through their vigilant means. Thank you for listening to this message from Desiring God, the Ministry of John Piper, Pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Feel free to make copies of this message for 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 WW w dot desiring God dot org where you'll find hundreds of sermons, articles, radio broadcasts and more all available at no charge. Our online bookstore carries all of Pastor John's books, audio and video resources, and you can also stay up to date on what's new at Desiring God again. Our website is w WW dot desiring God dawg. 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.