I made a discovery last year when I was studying Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because everyone that comes to him must believe that he exists and that rewards those who earnestly seek him”
I concluded that there were two elements that made Christian faith real: 1) believing in God and 2) believing that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
When I discoverered that faith involves believing and relentlessly pursuing a reward, it mezmorized me. The idea that our seeking a reward for ourselves from God was actually not only glorifying to God but unconditionally central to Christian faith (without which it is impossible to please God) is one of the most freeing truths I have found in scripture. It led me to go deeper, and seek the connections of faith and reward, and how they are intertwined.
I did a series on it over the summer. We talked about Christian self-denial, which I explained as giving up something good now for something infinitely better in the future. We talked about sacrifice. And we ended there.
My spiritual nose sensed there was something more, something deeper– but I couldn’t figure it out. Eventually, as ministry goes, we moved on to different subjects. I thought my teaching on faith and its relation to reward was complete.
And then I started reading John Piper’s The Purifying Power of Living by Faith in Future Grace. And it baffled me.
It’s like I was walking along in a forest, and found an old, gnarled off-shoot path in the forest, dark and unpromising but a path nonetheless. I explored it, but potholes and low hanging branches prevented me from going in too deep.
So I went back to the main path, only to find expert forest explorer and tour guide John Piper with his long, cutting machette and his hemp hat, saying, “Wait! Come back! I’ve found gold!”
And he takes down the path I had previously abandoned and points out beauties and I had imagined but had never seen with my own eyes. He talks about how the plants and trees and birds and butterflies all live together in harmony. He recites the names of the trees as if they were old friends. He winks at the blue jay as it whistles by. And at the end of the path there is a river, with gold sparkling in the current. And then he stops and says, “Enjoy. I must find another.”
That is what Future Grace has been to me so far. So I commend it to you.