John Piper: Don't Sell the Gospel!

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Only in Christ is there satisfaction, and only in Christ is there justification.

Two things show if someone is selling the Gospel, and two things should be preached in order to avoid it: Only in Christ is there satisfaction, and only in Christ is there justification.

Listen to Piper’s message to this year’s graduating class at The Bethlehem Institute (20 min.).

What Are the Signs of a Gospel Peddler?

  1. Craves earthly pleasure
  2. Dreads earthly pain

What Does a Gospel Peddler Preach?

  1. Human prosperity is the gift of salvation. This appeals to the desire for earthly pleasure and replaces God’s worth with money.
  2. Human obedience is the price of justification. This appeals to the desire for earthly achievement and replaces God’s grace with morality.

Paul Did not Peddle the Gospel.

Paul renounced the pursuit of money as the goal of ministry and so received fewer physical pleasures. And he renounced the pursuit of morality as the way to be justified and so he received more physical persecution.

He preached Christ and let the chips fall where they would, whether he received money or beatings.

We, too, should not be in the ministry in order to make money or avoid trouble. Regardless of the consequence, let us preach Jesus as the only satisfying treasure and the only sufficient obedience.

What Should We Preach?

1. All the money in the world cannot replace Jesus as our treasure.

Remember Lot’s Wife.

Luke 17:26-33

vs. 31-32: On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife.

Do not try to hold onto this world when there is a choice between Christ and things.

Remember the Rich Young Ruler.

Luke 18:18-23

v. 22: When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus tells him he lacks one thing and then tell him to do three things: sell, give and follow.

The one thing he lacks is Christ himself. Christ is all he should hold onto. And when he takes hold of the one thing he lacks, the three things he must do will follow. When he opens his hand to grab hold of Jesus, his earthly riches will fall out of his clutches and land on the poor. Then he will be a follower of Christ.

2. All the obedience in the world cannot replace Jesus as our righteousness.

Remember the Obedient Servant.

Luke 17:7-10

v. 10: So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

When we have done everything we are supposed to, we should still acknowledge that it won’t suffice. We are still unworthy.

Remember the Obedient Pharisee.

Luke 18:9-14

v. 11: The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

The Pharisee acknowledges that his obedience is from God. But it still doesn’t justify him. No amount of obedience in us, then — even God-worked obedience — is sufficient to save us.

We need Jesus above all for satisfaction and justification.

Our own money, even if it filled the earth, would not satisfy us. Our own obedience, even if it were perfect and God given, would not justify us. Therefore, we have every motivation to say with Paul, “We are not peddlers of God’s Word.”

Peddlers are driven by greed for money and fear of pain. But let us preach Christ as the all-satisfying treasure and God-satisfying obedience.  

John Piper John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God's call to enter the ministry. For 6 years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren. (By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: DesiringGod.org)

More from John Piper or visit John at http://www.desiringgod.org

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