(The following is the next entry in a 31-day blog journey through John Piper’s, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for a Radical Ministry [Broadman and Holman, 2002.]
When our people cast fear to the wind and spend themselves and risk their lives and fortune in the cause of God’s truth, and in love for other people, then God is revealed for who he really is: infinitely valuable and satisfying—so much so that His people don’t need the fleeting pleasures of sin in order to be content…. What I want to argue is that the most powerful and painful acts of radical obedience, beginning with remorse for sin, must be motivated by an awakened taste for pleasure in God, and that the preaching that kindles this must constantly portray God as supremely and everlastingly satisfying (120-121).
The only true sorrow for not having holiness comes from a love for holiness, not just from a fear of the consequences of not having it. Or a more precise way to say it is this: true remorse over not having holiness is remorse over not enjoying God and living by the impulses of that joy (123).
We must taste the pleasure of knowing God before we will experience the God-honoring pain of remorse for sin (124).
The reality of the eternal wrath of God upon the sinful souls of the unredeemed cannot be the lone motivation for faithful Gospel preaching. It must be one motivation, but not the only motivation. We are not simply calling people to avoid hell. Instead, we are calling people to enjoy the glory of God rather than the fleeting pleasures of sin. We are exhorting people to embrace an all-satisfying God rather than be satisfied with a life lived apart from their Creator.
Neither heaven nor hell motivates people to holiness if the detour away from wrath and the road to bliss do not offer a God greater than anything this world has to offer. When we see how much God there is to have, how wondrous he is, and how little this world offers in comparison to him, we can be brought to our knees for not having seeing this glorious sight sooner that we have finally seen it. That is, when I see that our God is all-sufficient in peace and power, I repent for any anxiety in an earthly trial.
I am eager to proclaim and all-satisfying God on this Sunday. I hope so people will hear a great picture of the glory of the Wonderful Counselor who is the Mighty God. My prayer is that the story of the God who gave himself to us the first Christmas might bring many people to turn from sin to God.