Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Together For The Gospel 2010: Session #6

John Piper

Did Jesus Preach the Same Gospel Paul Preached?

Full manuscript

Many people think that the gospel that Jesus preached is different from the gospel that Paul preached. When we talk about justification by faith, are we moving away from what Jesus taught in favor of what Paul taught?
“If you don’t have imputation, you don’t have Sola Fide (justification by faith alone). If you don’t have Sola Fide, you don’t have the gospel.”
–R.C. Sproul (from yesterday's session)
Jesus did preached the gospel of justification by faith alone through the imputation of His righteousness. Jesus did preach the same gospel that Paul preached. That’s the thesis of this message.

If you faithfully interpret the deeds and message of Jesus as He is in the four gospels, you will be in more accord with who Jesus really is and what He really did than all the critical scholars of history. Where you meet and fellowship with the living Christ more than anywhere else is in the gospels. If you linger with him there, He won’t be a stranger to you. And you’ll be able to meet Him when you die.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14
Every single verse of the gospels is meant to be read in the shadow of the cross and what Jesus accomplished there. Luke shows us that Jesus identifies Himself with the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 who makes many to be counted as righteous (Luke 22:37, Isaiah 53:11-12).

Luke 18:9-14 is about justification because Jesus concludes by saying that one man leaves the temple justified and the other doesn’t. So the point is how one gets justified and how one doesn’t get justified. He doesn’t teach us everything about justification here. But He does teach us a lot. Three things He teaches us about the Pharisee:

1) His righteousness is moral – The Pharisee lists out his moral qualifications. He isn’t an extortioner, he isn’t unjust, he’s not an adulterer. He doesn’t break the law. And that’s what he trusts in.

2) His righteousness is religious – The Pharisee fasts and tithes. These are spiritual disciplines. This is what he trusts in.

3) He believes that this moral uprightness and religious devotion is a gift from God – The Pharisee thanks God for his moral uprightness and religious devotion. He acknowledges that God has given him grace to walk uprightly.

The issue here isn’t whether or not the man is a legalist. He’s not trusting in himself to make himself righteous. That’s what legalism is. He’s trusting in himself that he is righteous because God has made him righteous.

His mistake is not that He is trusting in self-produced righteousness. His mistake is that he is trusting in God-produced righteousness. And this parable shows us that this is the wrong basis for justification. He’s looking at the wrong basis. He’s looking at the wrong person. He’s looking at himself and what God has made him as the ground of his acceptance with God. He’s trusting in imparted righteousness.
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.'
Luke 17:10
When Jesus speaks in this verse, it’s as though He had the Pharisee of Luke 18 in view. It’s not a question of whether or not the Pharisee has done all of his moral and religious deeds of righteousness. Even if he has done them all, he’s still an unworthy servant, like the servants of Luke 17:10.

The tax collector went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee. Why? What did he do? He looked away from anything in myself, unlike the Pharisee. He knew that if he looked within himself, he had no foundation to stand on. He had nothing to commend himself to God. And he probably recognizes that, like the servants of Luke 17:10, even if he had done everything he was supposed to he would have nothing within himself to commend himself to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
In putting our faith in Christ, we are counted righteous in Him. We are joined to Him and we are seen as perfect because of His life of perfect obedience.

Are there clues in Luke that Jesus thinks along these lines of our being counted righteous in Him?

When the rich young ruler came to Jesus in Luke 18, Jesus acknowledges that he has done everything that he was said he did just like the unworthy servants of Luke 17:10. That’s not the issue here, whether he’s telling the truth or not. But he still lacks one thing. How does 1) selling everything he has, 2) giving everything to the poor, 3) coming to follow me amount to one thing? It sounds like 3. What Jesus is trying to say is that his attachment to his possessions needs to be replaced with an attachment to Jesus. If this man would be perfect, he needs Jesus. He can only have everything He needs to be right with God if He has Jesus. Those three things amount to one thing: embracing Jesus as His everything. That's the one thing.

Seven implications:

1) Jesus taught the doctrine of justification by faith on the basis of an imputed righteousness, not an inherent righteousness (which the Pharisee had). “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and depends on faith” (Philippians 3:8-9).

2) No matter how moral you are, religious you are, righteous you are and whether God has worked that in you or you have worked it in you, don’t trust in it. Trust in Christ alone, in His work on the cross, His blood and righteousness.

3) Take heart in your struggle with indwelling sin and remember that your standing as an adopted child of God is not based in yourself but in Christ alone. When Satan accuses us of how we’ve never done anything perfectly, what are you going to do? How will you endure being a fallen human being before God? Only because of Christ’s righteousness.

4) Don’t forget that all moral transformation that pleases God is the fruit and not the root of justification. Not even a belief in the sovereignty of God can enable us to escape from lovelessness. The fruit of love only grows from the root of justification by faith. It will never grow from a root of trusting in ourselves that we are righteous. The only fruit that will grow from that root is contempt for others.

5) Never forget that all your good attitudes, good intentions, and good deeds will serve at the judgment not as the ground of your acceptance but only as the public fruit and evidence and confirmation that you were born again and that you had faith in Christ who alone is your righteousness. You can only please God with an action that flows from the confidence that He is already totally on our side because of Jesus’ obedience.

6) The gospel of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us is universally, globally needed and should be spoken to every person of every people group in the planet. The first father of all human beings, Adam, failed and we all failed in him. The second father of all human beings, Jesus Christ, never failed, never for a moment. And He did that for the nations. Every people group, Buddhist, Muslim, Animist, Hindu, they all have the same problem. They’ve failed in Adam. And they need the second father, Jesus, to be the ground of their acceptance with God.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
Romans 5:18-19
7) Give Christ all His glory in the work of salvation and not just half of it. The main purpose of the universe is that Jesus be glorified and that the grace of God be glorified through the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus did two things on the cross. He bore the punishment I deserve. He removed my sin. That’s only one thing. The other thing He did was that He was the righteous One who perfectly fulfilled all righteousness. And His obedience becomes mine by imputation when by faith I’m united with Him. He bore my sin AND He became my righteousness. And if you strip the latter away, the cross is sliced in half. His glory is cut in half. We don’t want to stand before Him on the last day and hear Him say, “I did so much more…”

Therefore, knowing that Jesus preached the same gospel as Paul, let’s say with Paul:
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…
Philippians 3:8-9


Rob Lombardi said...

Hey Chris, are you taking notes?! :)

pilgriminconflict said...

Why, how did you guess? =)