John Piper’s T4G 2012 Message

Glory, Majesty, Dominion, and Authority Keep Us Safe for Everlasting Joy: Reflections on God’s Keeping Power through 32 Years of Ministry

(Audio of this message can be found HERE. Video of this message can be found HERE.)

Jude 1:24-25

This message has two parts.

This first part I want draw you in amazement that I am still a Christian and hope you will be amazed that you are still a Christian.

The second part is how that came about.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24, 25)

Part 1

I complete this year 60 years of being a Christian, 32 years of pastoral ministry, 44 years of marriage, and 40 years of being a father.

I am amazed that I have lasted this long. To help you understand this I want to read an excerpt from my journal in 1986 when I was 40 years old and been at the church for 6 years.

Am I under attack? Should I turn to a different ministry. I do not want to do a building program. Can I even do it? The last two years has left me feeling very empty. The vision the church wants is so unattractive to me. O Lord have mercy on me I am so discouraged. I do not doubt your power and the weakness is in me. Have mercy on me.

That was 26 years ago. We built that building and 2 other ones and I hated each project. There were worse days than that and I am simply amazed that I have persevered them.

If my faith in Jesus and eagerness for his word and ministry and marriage commitment were dependent on me I would have been done long ago. I have no doubt about that at all.

Therefore, I am amazed that I am still a Christian and in the ministry. I think I might be close to what Jude felt…To him who is able to keep ME. I think Jude was amazed at the keeping of God and that is what it took to keep me.

This is the way doxologies work. First they say something about God and then they ascribe attributes about God. The attributes you ascribe account for the thing you are excited about.

For example:

To him who adopts dirty children into his family I ascribe love and compassion and mercy.

Do you see how it works?

In this Doxology God did 3 things:

1. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling

2. To present you blameless before the presence of his glory

3. To present you…before the presence of his glory with great joy

Do you know the degree of power it took to keep you alive? How do you measure what it took to keep you going?

Is it like pounds of pressure? Like kilowatts? How do we get to where Jude is in amazement?

Once I had no spiritual life and then God the Spirit acted and my spirit came to being.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6)

If the Holy Spirit left you totally alone, then you would not be a Christian and there would be no life in you.

This life we are talking about is about being united to the Spirit. There is not autonomous life in me. So God did that and kept me for the last 60 years and if he does not keep it up I will not be a Christian.

This is why I said if the decisive cause must come from me it will never come because it is not there in me. It is there because Christ created it in me. I bring nothing decisive in creation or keep it. No more than the universe created or kept itself.

Jude is amazed at this an that he will be kept till glory, but how are you going to measure this so that you can join him in that amazement?

I can think of two ways:

1. Think about the fact that we cannot do it and God alone does.

The difference between nothing and something is infinite.

If you were asked by God to create a being from nothing you would say I can’t but he does it with a word. This difference is infinite. It’s big. It’s the difference between us and God.

2. The second way is to just read it in the text.

It takes:

“glory, majesty, dominion, and authority”

It takes just about all he got. Any amount he brings is infinitely more than you bring.

Part 2

How does he do this?

How does he keep me from ship wrecking my faith?

How does he keep me when I show no evidence to trust the gospel to save my neighbor let alone a terrorist?

How does he keep me when the crown jewel of the new heaven is cut from me by Jezebel?

How does he keep me when I think I might not be a Christian?

How does he keep me when my fuel tank for death defying missions is empty?

See Jude 1:

“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1)

Those he calls he keeps. If he called you it is done. You are kept. This is what we see in Romans 8. There are no dropouts. There is certainty that you will be kept by God.

Jude must address some false teachers and there are teachers who pervert the grace of God to sensuality.

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:4, 5)

There are professing Christians who crave sensuality not the God of grace. Christians love the God of grace and do not prostitute God.

In 22-23 we see the keeping of God is done in the community of faith.

But I want to talk about 20-21.

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 1:20, 21)

Whoa! Keep yourself? There goes my message or many not.

1 Corinthians 15:10 or Philippians 2:12-13

Or as Jude says to keep yourself because God is keeping yourself. Verse one says the love God called you and will keep you, so keep yourself in the love of God.

Keep is the main verb and we do that three ways:

1. Faith – Build your faith and get stronger in faith

2. Prayer – Praying in the Holy Spirit

3. Waiting – Then you wait and trust he will come.

Trust that he will keep his commitment to keep you, pray he will keep you, and wait to see him answer that prayer.

I suppose my most common prayer over the years is to lead me not into temptation and keep me.

When that is happening God is keeping me. If you are crying out HELP then God is keeping you!

“Preserve me O God for in you I take refuge.”

How did God keep me? How did this happen?

My praying and trusting and waiting does not take any glory away from him.

My praying is a gift, my faith is a gift. I keep myself by being kept. I keep myself by doing doing keeping things. And that takes effort by faith in the spirit.

What is glorious about God’s keeping? His power and authority.

You do not need to figure it out but you need to see and believe that he has the power to do it and the authority to do it.

What makes you think you are going to be a Christian tomorrow? Only by his keeping power and authority.

When he does this stirring in you he is keeping the new covenant.

I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. (Jeremiah 32:40)

That is the terms of the new covenant.

We know that the new covenant was bought by the blood of Jesus. When he shed his blood he purchased everything their new birth and their keeping and their glorification. Keeping power and authority is coming and flowing through the blood of Jesus Christ.

I do all my keeping activities through Jesus Christ. Do not underestimate the power of the gospel to keep you.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121:3-8)

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Filed under 9 Marks, God, Jude, Pastoral Ministry, Sermons, T4G 2012

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