Q&A with John Piper and other leaders at Bethlehem Baptist church

John Piper

Had a great time watching to John Piper tonight on youtube: The relationship between dad and daughter, what he would say to the Pope, evolution, birth control, what happens to infants that die, genocide in the OT, Halloween (www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuNmrD0yljg) , capital punishment, liking the doctrine of election, the truthfulness of Christianity (the argument from the “subjective authenticity of the writers” is one I have not heard before but like), pastors conducting marriage ceremonies for unbelievers, weather Christians should take antidepressants, do miracles happen today (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgs38_x1XJg) etc.

On the last one Piper recognises that miracles are happing around the world today, especially in cutting edge missional settings but says that the miracles of Jesus were supposed to set him apart as unique and point to his Deity. His disciples had a power too but as it moves out from Jesus to them and to others it lessens.

“Just because people don’t get healed when they walk though our shadow doesn’t mean we should feel like failures…I don’t think that God ordained that the same intensity and clustering of power for supernatural intervention was intended to be normative for the whole church. It can break out any time he please in order to demonstrate his power and so revival has often brought that kind of demonstration but I think already you see in the NT evidences that on the periphery out here it is beginning to be less. Take a little wine for your stomach  Timothy because you’ve got stomach problems…Paul himself suffering many things like lashes and stoning, …[Miracles] are happening, they can happen, …but they were meant to signify Jesus and the Apostles as unique”.

This is in contrast to Bill Johnson who says that Jesus set the stands for us to follow. It also seems at odds with Jesus’ statement in John 14:11-14

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (ESV)

Now surely the works Jesus did includes his miracles (in fact the NIV translates “works” as miracles in this passage) and these are to increase rather than diminish among those with faith. I do not think that the Paul’s advice to Timothy to take a little wine for is tummy (1 Tim 5:23) and the fact that he left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Tim 4:20) are to be taken as an acceptance of an inevitable decline in the miraculous working of God through his people. I don’t think that the NT represents Jesus and his disciples as the high water mark for the works that God is to do in the earth with God’s power gradually ebbing away through history. Signs and wonders were not there to authenticate the Bible as Gods word but the gospel as God’s message of salvation. The bible does not replace signs and wonders, rather it testifies to them as continuing in people like Philip who preached the gospel.

Anyway, here are some more Q&A’s from an mp3 I’ve just listened to where John Piper and other leaders from his church answer questions:

Q:Why have Q&A times?

A: Tradition, Transparency, feedback

Q: It is possible to know for certain that Christ rose from the dead?

A: Not historically. That gives you percentages. But as you encounter Jesus you know him and trust him with a certainty. It may come and go but it’s there.

Q: Is my sister saved if she continues unrepentantly to engage in sinful relationships?

A: She has no legitimate claim on assurance of salvation.

Q: According to Romans 7 the command “Do not covet” can actually produce coveting in me. How does that effect how the Christian reads the dos and don’t of the NT? Ie can the command to love God with all your heart mind soul and strength actually produce in us the opposite effect?

A: Only if we are a dead legalist without faith. If we approach the commands with faith in the grace of God, it will have a good effect. We have died to the law, to belong to another, Jesus, to bear fruit to God. The function of commands is different for the believer now in the New covenant. We belong to a person not a code. Live for the person and we will bear fruit.

Q: How can we continue to develop a relational culture?

A: They have a large groups of elders whose main responsibility is pastoral care

small groups! An elder talked about helping a family whose child was about to die. On leaving the hospital he bumped into their small group leader who had come to visit. So it’s a partnership between elders and small group.

Q: I’ve been praying for years for my dad who’s 91 to be saved. That’s a good and Godly thing to ask for but he’s not saved yet. What did Jesus mean when he said “whatever you ask for in prayer you will receive if you have faith”?

A : Piper – Short answer I don’t know for sure. “If you have faith” may mean a gift of faith. The faith of certainty. My father experienced that twice in his life. This verse is not saying “every time you don’t get an answer to a righteous prayer it’s your fault”. George Muller prayed 52 years and the person he prayed for got saved after George died. Paul in Romans 10 prays that the Jews be saved but in Chapter 11 he thinks that by some means he might save some. C S Lewis wrote and essay on the answered question of petitionary prayer, like in the garden of Gethsemane. How does “believe and you will get it” relate to Jesus’ prayer in the garden?

Got onto N.T Wright a bit too. Again very thought provoking comments on evolution http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFTmZ9PFMx8&feature=related, women in ministry, heaven and hell. Oh and even found some video of J I Packer. There are some great Godly people around and much to learn from them.

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