Category Archives: Ask Pastor John

Why I Tweet | by John Piper

I see two kinds of response to social Internet media like blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and others.

One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.

The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.

Together with the team at Desiring God, I lean toward response #2. “Lean” is different from “leap.” We are aware that the medium tends to shape the message. This has been true, more or less, with every new medium that has come along—speech, drawing, handwriting, print, books, magazines, newspapers, tracts, 16mm home movies, flannel-graph, Cinerama, movies, Gospel Blimps, TV, radio, cassette tapes, 8-Tracks, blackboards, whiteboards, overhead projection, PowerPoint, skits, drama, banners, CDs, MP3s, sky-writing, video, texting, blogging, tweeting, Mina-Bird-training, etc.

Dangers, dangers everywhere. Yes. But it seems to us that aggressive efforts to saturate a media with the supremacy of God, the truth of Scripture, the glory of Christ, the joy of the gospel, the insanity of sin, and the radical nature of Christian living is a good choice for some Christians. Not all. Everyone should abstain from some of these media. For example, we don’t have a television.

That’s my general disposition toward media.

Now what about Twitter? I find Twitter to be a kind of taunt: “Okay, truth-lover, see what you can do with 140 characters! You say your mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things! Well, this is one of those ‘all things.’ Can you magnify Christ with this thimble-full of letters?”

To which I respond:

The sovereign Lord of the earth and sky
Puts camels through a needle’s eye.
And if his wisdom see it mete,
He will put worlds inside a tweet.

So I am not inclined to tweet that at 10AM the cat pulled the curtains down. But it might remind me that the Lion of Judah will roll up the heavens like a garment, and blow out the sun like a candle, because he just turned the light on. That tweet might distract someone from pornography and make them look up.

I’ve been tweeting anonymously for a month mainly to test its spiritual and family effects on me. In spite of all the dangers, it seems like a risk worth taking. “All things were created through Christ and for Christ” (Colossians 1:16). The world does not know it, but that is why Twitter exists and that’s why I Tweet.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. | www.desiringGod.org

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Should we teach that good works come with saving faith?

By John Piper

I don’t think that question will ever be settled at the experiential level. You may settle it in a group with some sentences that are biblically grounded, but the reason it won’t be settled experientially is because human beings are wired to be legalists. We are wired to trust in what we do as the ground of our assurance.

Now along comes a gospel preacher who says, “Christ died for your sins and he provided a righteousness, so that all of your guilt can be taken away and all the righteousness that God requires of you can be provided totally by another. And this forgiveness and righteousness is received totally by faith alone.” Then he follows it up in a subsequent message, saying, “The faith that justifies justifies by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone. It will always be accompanied by graces like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”

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How can I explain God's love to a suffering child?

My guess is that children, maybe even more than adults, are able to understand that God’s final deliverance will make up for all the pain of the present. They may not be able to grasp with great sophistication the fact that this very moment God’s love is being manifested in and through suffering. But a child can surely understand that someday, just as he promises you, God is going to take it away. We may not know why, but he is going to take it away and he is going to reward you in a way that will make all of your suffering seem as though it was not suffering. And he is going to give you everything you need for ever and ever—millions and millions of years—and you are going to be as happy as you can possibly be.

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Is it possible to not worship Jesus and still be moral?

If we don’t value God for who he really is, then our behavior, which is intended to be the outgrowth of our valuing of God, is going to reflect that skewed understanding of God.

The very essence of morality is not the deed we’re doing—for example, not stealing, or helping somebody change a tire on a bitter cold winter night. The essence of the morality there is not the deed. The essence of it is the mindset out of which the deed is growing. It is the deed together with the mindset. If the mindset has roots in a flawed perception of God, then the God that is being reflected through the deed is going to be a flawed God. He is going to be a flawed reflection.

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