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Bible study guide- Corinthians to John

1 Corinthians 8:1–3

Bible study guide
Corinthians to John
Bible study guide

Love Builds Up

November 18, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:1–3
Topic: Life of the Mind

Principle for Bible Reading

Is knowledge good or bad? 1 Corinthians 8:1–3 says that knowledge can lead to pride or to love, so how do we know which our knowledge is? Pastor John unfolds the life of the mind in this new lab.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:43)

The Progression of Pride (00:43–03:26)

1.      Knowledge leads to pride. (1 Corinthians 8:1)
2.      Pride leads to lovelessness.
3.      Lovelessness leads to destruction (hurting others).

To Know or Not to Know (03:26–07:03)

What kind of knowledge is good? And what kind is destructive?

1.      There is a knowledge that is good (“as he ought to know”).
2.      Knowledge that puffs up is an imaginary knowledge (“if anyone imagines that he knows something”).
3.      If your knowing is not serving others it’s not true knowing.
4.      To know as you ought is to love God. You don’t know anything unless your knowing is resulting in love for God.
5.      Therefore, true knowledge loves and serves people (1 Corinthians 8:1) and treasures God (1 Corinthians 8:3).

Known by God (07:03–08:46)

1.      Whoever loves God—that is, has a knowledge producing love—has been known by God. They have been chosen by God (cf. Amos 3:2).
2.      God’s election totally undermines our propensity toward pride in our knowledge. God is under and behind all of our knowing.

Summary (08:46–10:42)

1.      Election ⇒
2.      Humility ⇒
3.      True Knowledge ⇒
4.      Love for God and Love for People ⇒
5.      Building Up of Others ⇒
6.      Others Love God and People

Study Questions

1.      Based on 1 Corinthians 8:1–3, is knowledge good or bad? How do you know whether your knowledge is good or bad?


2.      What is the imaginary knowledge in 1 Corinthians 8:2?


3.      Why might Paul say, “he is known by God, and not, “he knows God”? What does it mean to be known by God?

Recents Labs from John Piper

1.      “The Spirit in You Is Life” on Romans 8:9
2.      “You Are Not Your Own” on Romans 8:12–13
3.      “The Spirit Lives in You” on Romans 8:12–13

Related Resources

•      The Danger in Our Daily Devotions (article)
•      What Does It Mean to Love the Lord With All Your Mind? (interview)
•      Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride (sermon by Francis Chan)

1 Corinthians 15:9–10, Part 1

Grace Redeems the Worst Pasts

October 15, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:9–10, 1 Timothy 1:13–16, and Galatians 1:15–16
Topic: The Grace of God

Principle for Bible Reading

God’s grace rescued one of the worst sinners in history, a man who by his own admission was a persecutor, blasphemer, and murderer. Paul’s story gives every sinner hope. In this lab, John Piper defines grace and explains how it meets us in the midst of our brokenness and rebellion.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:41)

The Least of the Apostles (01:41–04:31)

1.      Paul calls himself the least of the apostles and unworthy to be called an apostle. (1 Corinthians 15:9)
2.      Paul sees God’s grace in his past, and in his future. (1 Corinthians 15:9–10)
3.      One question is whether Paul is suggesting grace intervened and made Paul an apostle, or that the grace of God was working all along to make Paul who he is.

What Is Grace? (04:31–06:25)

1.      We ordinarily think of grace as the disposition of God to treat us better than we deserve.
2.      God’s grace is not so much an activity with power as it is a state of his heart and a way of his being.
3.      For instance, God’s grace is his disposition to choose and save his people, even though they are sinners and do not deserve it. (Romans 11:5–6)
4.      God’s grace is the origin of every blessing we receive.

God’s Perfect Patience (06:25–11:51)

1.      Grace is also power that changes things in our lives. (1 Corinthians 15:9–10)
2.      Is grace in 1 Corinthians 15:10 about Paul being the “least of the apostles” or just about him being an apostle?
3.      Paul was set apart to be an apostle long before he was called, even before he was born. (Galatians 1:15)
4.      God allowed Paul to become the kind of sinner he was so that he could display his perfect patience. (1 Timothy 1:13–16)
5.      This means God’s grace is not above any sinner in your life, however awful they have sinned against God or others.

Summary: God’s Grace-Filled Wisdom (11:51–13:10)

The grace of God did not make Paul the least of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:9). The grace of God and the wisdom of God allowed him to commit the sins he did because it would make him a more useful minister of the gospel.

Study Questions

1.      Looking at 1 Corinthians 15:9–10 and Romans 11:5–6 (and any other relevant texts that come to mind), how would you define the grace of God towards you?


2.      If Paul was set apart as an apostle before he was born (Galatians 1:15), why would God wait to save him? Write down your answer, and then refer to 1 Timothy 1:13–16.


3.      In 1 Corinthians 15:9–10, is Paul saying grace simply made him an apostle, or that it made him the least of the apostles? Why?

Related Resources

•      Put Yourself in the Path of God’s Grace (article)
•      Have I Exhausted God’s Patience with My Sin? (interview)
•      “Grace to You” and “Grace with You” (sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:10)

1 Corinthians 15:9–10, Part 2

Grace Empowers the Best Work

October 20, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:9–10
Topic: The Grace of God

Principle for Bible Reading

For many, the message of grace means the end of all effort. But the Bible will not let us settle for that kind of Christian life. In this lab, John Piper connects key texts to inspire real, consistent, passionate effort to live like Jesus today. The grace that saves us also empowers change in us.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:45)

Grace Does Not Fail (01:45–04:09)

1.      “I am what I am” looks at grace’s impact on Paul’s life looking back into the past. (1 Corinthians 15:9)
2.      Why was God’s grace toward Paul not in vain? Because he became a worker for the sake of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
3.      Grace does not replace work in the Christian life, but empowers it.

Grace Does Not Replace Effort (04:09–06:12)

1.      None of our works contribute with Christ’s work to the forgiveness of our sins or the providing of our righteousness.
2.      Once we have been justified, grace not only takes the place of works (for our justification), but also produces work (for our sanctification). (1 Corinthians 15:10)
3.      Grace does not replace our effort, but empowers our effort.
4.      If you are dominated by grace, you will overflow with real efforts to live for God.

Grace Works Within Me (06:12–11:12)

1.      We might construe Paul’s words here to mean that grace starts the work and we finish it. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
2.      Paul resolves that issue by clarifying that even his effort is not his own, but the grace of God in and through him. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
3.      In Galatians 3:2–5, Paul corrects the same wrong way of thinking. We don’t pick up in sanctification where God left off in justification. It is all by grace.
4.      The grace of God is so decisive and powerful in the good work I am doing that it is fitting to say I am not doing it.
5.      The same dynamic between God’s grace and our effort is shown again in Philippians 2:12–13.
6.      Therefore, all the glory from justification and sanctification belongs to the God of grace.

Study Questions

1.      Why was God’s grace toward Paul not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:10)? What would it mean for his grace to be in vain toward someone?


2.      If Paul was relying on God’s grace (1 Corinthians 15:10), why did he work harder than anyone? Based on 1 Corinthians 15:9–10, how does God’s grace relate to our effort in the Christian life?


3.      Read Galatians 3:2–5 and Philippians 2:12–13. How do these other texts from Paul help us understand 1 Corinthians 15:9–10?

Related Resources

•      Three Ways Our Deeds Relate to Our Salvation (article)
•      Does Justification-Centered Sanctification Lead to Antinomianism? (interview)
•      “I Act the Miracle” (sermon on Philippians 2:12–13)

1 Corinthians 15:9–10, Part 3

Grace Supplies Strength for Today

October 22, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:9–10
Topic: The Grace of God

Principle for Bible Reading

If grace empowers us to live like Christ, how do we access that grace day after day? What does it mean to live in the strength and grace that God supplies? In this lab, John Piper continues to unpack a life marked and sustained by faith in God’s future grace, where God’s power meets our needs for his glory moment by moment.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–03:02)

In 1 Corinthians 15:9–10, Paul says that he worked harder than anyone, and he says that the grace of God accomplished any work he had done. How do we work hard in a way that relies entirely on grace?

We Died, and We Live Again (03:02–04:47)

1.      Paul uses the same “not I, but grace” language in Galatians 2:20.
2.      There is a sense in which Paul died when he became a Christian, but there’s also a way in which he still lives. (Galatians 2:20)
3.      According to Paul, the old unbelieving me no longer lives, but the new believing me lives through faith.
4.      Grace works in us and through us by faith, by us believing something about God. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Jesus Lives in You (04:47–06:24)

1.      We live because Jesus Christ lives through us by faith. (Galatians 2:20)
2.      Paul also talks about Jesus living inside of us in Ephesians 3:17.
3.      The way Paul prays in Ephesians 3:14–17 suggests that Christ can live in greater or lesser ways in the Christian heart.

Models of Faith in Future Grace (06:24–09:56)

1.      As Paul worked, he trusted the grace of God to come and work in him and through him, so that grace would get all the credit for whatever he accomplished. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
2.      We trust grace to come and help us in whatever situation we face. That is what faith is. (Hebrews 11:1)
3.      For example, Abraham was willing to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice because he trusted that God would fulfill his promise. (Hebrews 11:17–19)
4.      For example, Moses was mistreated in Egypt because he trusted in the promise of a future reward for his faithfulness. (Hebrews 11:24–26)
5.      Note. (1 Corinthians 15:9)

The Strength that God Supplies (09:56–13:52)

1.      The same pattern appears in 1 Peter 4:11.
2.      God’s grace supplies the strength whenever we serve, so that we can give God all the glory for any service or ministry we perform.
3.      The Giver gets the glory. (1 Peter 4:11)
4.      Grace provides the promise for us to believe, and then works in and through our faith to supply the strength we need to live for God.

Study Questions

1.      Paul says that he worked hard, but that it was not him in the end, but the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:9–10). What does that mean? How do Paul’s work and God’s grace relate to each other? Look at Galatians 2:20 and Ephesians 3:14–17 for help in filling out your answer.


2.      Read through Hebrews 11:17–26. How do Abraham and Moses live out the faith you see in 1 Corinthians 15:9–10?


3.      Now, read 1 Peter 4:11. In what ways is it similar to 1 Corinthians 15:9–10? What is the main point of what Peter is saying in 1 Peter 4:11?

Related Resources

•      How to Find Strength in the Strength of God (article)
•      The 8 Steps of Christian Obedience (interview)
•      “The Glory of God in the Good Resolves of His People” (sermon on 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12)

2 Corinthians 4:4–6

The Light of the Gospel of the Glory of Christ

March 12, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:4–6
Topic: Salvation

Principle for Bible Reading

What happened when you were saved? While Satan did everything he could to blind you to the beauty of Jesus Christ, God broke through in marvelous light, and you saw, and you believed. In this lab, John Piper highlights critical parallels between two key verses to explain the miracle of conversion.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:14)

Blindness: The Nature of Satan’s Work (01:14–02:56)

1.      Satan is focused on keeping unbelievers from seeing the light of Christ’s glory. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
2.      This light streams through facts about Jesus and the gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
3.      Satan focuses on blinding people to Jesus Christ because we—God’s messengers—are proclaiming him (2 Corinthians 4:5). He’s not as concerned with the facts (the knowledge) of the gospel, but about hiding people from the light streaming from the gospel.

Sight: The Nature of God’s Work (02:56–06:48)

1.      “Light” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 corresponds with “light” in 2 Corinthians 4:6.
2.      The blindness in 2 Corinthians 4:4 is like the darkness that was on the earth before God created light. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
3.      “Gospel” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 corresponds with “knowledge” in 2 Corinthians 4:6. The gospel is a series of facts that anyone can know. Knowledge, though is not enough to save anyone. But anyone can know the gospel.
4.      “Glory” in 4:4 corresponds with “glory” in 4:6. The glory in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and 4:6 is not two glories, but one. It is the glory of God, which is made visible in the face of Jesus Christ.

How Shall We See? (06:48–09:50)

1.      God shines light on Jesus through the gospel.
2.      The light reveals God’s glory in Jesus Christ to our hearts and minds.
3.      When we see God’s glory in Christ, we believe.

And if you do not see Jesus Christ as beautiful or glorious? Pay close attention to those who proclaim not themselves, but Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5). Listen to them. And because only God brings this kind of sight, pray.

Study Questions

1.      From 2 Corinthians 4:4–6, define the nature of Satan’s work in the world, as well as the nature of God’s.


2.      Look at 2 Corinthians 4:4 and 2 Corinthians 4:6. Identify and explain all the parallels between the two verses.


3.      Is the “glory” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 a different glory than the “glory” in 2 Corinthians 4:6? Or are they the same glory?


4.      If someone does not see Jesus Christ as glorious, how would you counsel them? Based on 2 Corinthians 4:4–6, how might they seek out the gift of sight?

Related Resources

•      The Glory of God As the Ground of Faith (1976 article)
•      How Do I Know I’m Saved? (interview)
•      Why Do Christians Preach and Sing? (sermon)

2 Corinthians 8:1–2

An Abundance of Joy

June 9, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:1–2
Topic: Giving

Principle for Bible Reading

We take some words in the Christian vocabulary for granted. 2 Corinthians 8:1–2 and 2 Corinthians 8:8 offer a definition of love that you may not have considered. By paying close attention to Paul’s grammar, we find keys to loving people more truly and effectively. We also learn what’s behind the kind of generosity that pleases God.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:40)

Observations (00:40–03:07)

1.      Paul is trying to inspire generosity by sharing the example of the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:1).
2.      Affliction and poverty didn’t cease when the Macedonians came to faith (2 Corinthians 8:2).
3.      Surprisingly, these afflicted believers were overflowing with joy (2 Corinthians 8:2).
4.      Their abundance of joy and extreme poverty produced generosity (2 Corinthians 8:2).
5.      Paul called this kind of generosity, “love” (2 Corinthians 8:8).

Defining Love (03:07–05:27)

Love (2 Corinthians 8:8) is the overflow of joy (2 Corinthians 8:2) in the grace of God (2 Corinthians 8:1) that meets the needs of others (2 Corinthians 8:2).

Confirmation from 2 Corinthians 9:7–8 (05:27–07:04)

1.      God loves a cheerful (or joyful) giver. Giving that pleases God is the overflow of joy (2 Corinthians 9:7).
2.      Our giving relies on God making grace abound to us (2 Corinthians 9:8).
3.      Grace leads to joy, and joy produces generosity (2 Corinthians 9:7–8).

Study Questions

1.      What is surprising about the Macedonians’ generosity?


2.      Looking only at 2 Corinthians 8:1–2 and 2 Corinthians 8:8, how would you define love?


3.      What themes do you see in 2 Corinthians 8:1–2 and 2 Corinthians 9:7–8? How do those themes relate to one another?

Related Resources

•      Four Questions to Keep Close to Your Wallet (article)
•      What Are Your Thoughts on Preparing for the Future Financially? (interview)
•      Love: the Labor of Christian Hedonism (sermon on 2 Corinthians 8:1–2)

Galatians 6:12–15, Part 1

Law-Keeping Cannot Save You

August 27, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Galatians 6:12–15
Topic: Justification

Principle for Bible Reading

People by nature want to boast in their own abilities, efforts, and achievements. Therefore, the cross of Christ is an offense to everyone. In this lab, John Piper looks at why we resist the message of the cross, as well as what the good news of the gospel says to our self-righteousness.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:38)

Law-Keepers Love to Boast (01:38–05:46)

1.      Those who are pushing for circumcision and law-keeping in Galatia want to boast in what they’ve done. (Galatians 6:12)
2.      Therefore, they are trying to convince others to do the same to validate and commend what they themselves have done. (Galatians 6:12)
3.      The reason they’re requiring circumcision is not because they have successfully or perfectly fulfilled the law themselves. (Galatians 6:13)
4.      No, their motive is to boast in themselves by others’ circumcision. (Galatians 6:13)

Law-Keepers Lose Christ (05:46–10:36)

1.      One reason these false teachers are requiring circumcision is to avoid persecution (Galatians 6:12). What is it about the cross that would cause persecution?
2.      If you want to try and contribute to your salvation, Christ is of no advantage to you (Galatians 5:1). It is all Christ or no Christ.
3.      If law-keeping will be any part of the ground of your salvation, it will be perfect law-keeping. (Galatians 5:10)
4.      The cross strips us of the ability to boast in any part of our being made right with God. (Galatians 5:11)
5.      We are persecuted over the cross, because people want to boast in their effort and achievements.

Summary (10:36–11:36)

Study Questions

1.      Describe the false teachers in Galatians 6:12–13. What is their message? What is their motivation?


2.      Read Galatians 5:1–11. How do these verses in the previous chapter help you understand the situation in Galatians 6:12–15?


3.      Paul says the law-keepers do not want to be persecuted for the cross. Why are Christians persecuted for the cross of Christ?

Related Resources

•      Boasting in Man Is Doubly Excluded (article)
•      Can My Good Works Outweigh My Bad? (interview)
•      Justification by Faith Is the End of Boasting (sermon on Romans 3:27–31)

Galatians 6:12–15, Part 2

Crucified to the World

September 1, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Galatians 6:12–15, Galatians 5:6, 1 Corinthians 7:19, and Romans 13:8–10
Topic: Regeneration / New Birth

Principle for Bible Reading

What does it mean for us to die to the world or for the world to die to us (Galatians 6:14)? In this lab, John Piper explains what happens when we belong to Jesus. What kind of new creation are we, and what does that mean for our lives? Piper pulls in several texts to answer difficult questions.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–06:11)

1.      How does someone die to the world?
2.      What does it mean for the world to die to me?
3.      How does our new creation relate to our death?

Dead to the World (06:11–08:14)

1.      How does someone die to the world? (Galatians 6:14)
2.      We have been crucified with Christ. (Galatians 2:20)
3.      This union happens through faith. When we believe in Jesus, his death counts as ours. (Galatians 2:20)

The World Died to Me (08:14–09:30)

1.      What does it mean for the world to die to me? (Galatians 6:14)
2.      When we die to the world, we are no longer enslaved by the world because it’s lost its power to destroy you.
3.      Knowing the world has died to me means knowing that you are free from the world’s influence and rule.

Made New Through Death (09:30–11:17)

1.      How does our new creation relate to our death? (Galatians 6:15)
2.      I died, but Christ still lives in me (Galatians 2:20). This means we’re still alive somehow.
3.      Now, I love in the flesh (bodily), but now I live by faith. (Galatians 2:20)
4.      The new creation reality in my life is me living by faith. (Galatians 2:20; 6:15)

Confirmation in the New Testament (11:17–14:31)

1.      Galatians 5:6 confirms this by replacing “new creation” with “faith working through love” when talking about circumcision and uncircumcision.
2.      1 Corinthians 7:19 also confirms this with similar language, this time using “keeping the commandments of God” instead of “new creation.”
3.      Romans 13:8–10 ties together Galatians 5:6 and 1 Corinthians 7:19, “love is the fulfilling of the whole law.”

Summary of Galatians 6:12–15 (14:31–16:13)

Study Questions

1.      What does it mean for us to die to the world in Galatians 6:14? Review Galatians 2:20 for help. What does it mean for the world to die to us (Galatians 6:14)?


2.      Based on Galatians 6:12–15, how do we become a new creation after dying? Again, look at Galatians 2:20 for help.


3.      Read Galatians 5:6, 1 Corinthians 7:19, and Romans 13:8–10. What do you learn about how Paul thinks about us being a “new creation”?

Related Resources

•      The Incalculable Wonder of Being a Christian (article)
•      What Does It Mean to Be Dead to the World? (interview)
•      Christ Crucified, Our Boast (sermon on Galatians 6:11–18)

Philippians 1:20–23

To Die Is Gain

December 18, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Philippians 1:20–23
Topic: Christian Hedonism

Principle for Bible Reading

John Piper says this passage has been one of the most pivotal for him and his ministry. These four verses hold profound and precious truths about life and about death. In this lab, Piper shows why Christ is most magnified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Outline

Introduction (00:00–00:30)

The Passion of Paul’s Life (00:30–03:08)

1      Paul has a passion in life (“eager expectation and hope”). (Philippians 1:20)
2.      That passion—or longing—has two components: 1: that he not be ashamed (of Christ) and 2. that Christ would be honored in Paul, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:20)
3.      Therefore, Paul would be happy if in everything he did in his body (whether in life or in death) Christ was made to look great.

The Prize of Paul’s Death (03:08–05:09)

1.      There is a parallel in Philippians 1:20 and 1:21. “To live” corresponds back with “by life,” and “to die” corresponds with “by death.”
2.      We need to ask how Christ could be honored in our death. It is easier to see how we make him look great in life, but maybe harder to make the connection in death.
3.      Christ is honored in our dying when we experience death as gain. That is the argument of the word “For” in Philippians 1:21.

Implications for Christian Hedonism (05:09–08:04)

1.      Death is gain because death means more of Christ. And more of Christ is gain because he is better than anything this life can give you. (Philippians 1:21)
2.      Therefore, Christ is most magnified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Study Questions

1.      Explain the “For” at the beginning of Philippians 1:21. How does what comes after the “For” explain or ground what comes before?


2.      Based on these verses, how does Paul honor Christ in his life? In his death?


3.      What does it mean that death is gain? Look specifically at Philippians 1:22–23.

Related Resources

•      It Is Great Gain to Die (article)
•      Facing Death Faithfully (interview)
•      Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain (sermon)

Philippians 2:3–8, Part 1

Holy God Became Like Us

December 22, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Philippians 2:3–8 and Romans 8:3
Topics: Pride & Humility, The Birth of Christ

Why did Jesus take on flesh and go to the cross? To take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). But not only that. He also went before us as a spectacular picture of humble service and obedience. He lived and died, in every way, for the sake of others. In this lab, John Piper calls us to do the same by looking again at the wonder and mystery of Christmas.

Principle for Bible Reading

The most important idea in a passage is not always the main point of a passage. Sometimes the biblical authors use massive realities (God, sin, the cross, etc.) to support lesser, more practical realities (our forgiveness, obedience, love, etc.). Seeing the relationship between immeasurable theological truths and our lives is critical and glorious.

Study Questions

1.      Look at Philippians 2:3–4, and explain the lifestyle Paul is describing in your own words. What kind of person lives like this?


2.      List all the ways Jesus models humility for us from Philippians 2:3–8.


3.      Explain how Paul relates the description of Jesus in Philippians 2:5–8 with the commands in Philippians 2:3–4. What’s the relationship between those two sets of verses?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–03:10)

Live Your Life for Others (03:10–06:08)

•      Philippians 2:3–4 offers the practical goal of this text.
•      Be a person for others. Live for others and not yourself. (Philippians 2:3–4)
•      Paul enables or inspires that kind of lifestyle by describing Christmas. (Philippians 2:5–8)
•      We live for others by looking to Christ’s love for us.

He Humbled Himself (06:08–08:30)

•      Jesus was in the form of God. (Philippians 2:6)
•      His mind was not set on keeping his power and glory. (Philippians 2:6)
•      Instead, he emptied himself. (Philippians 2:7)
•      He took the form of a servant focused on others. (Philippians 2:7)
•      He became a man, a real human being. (Philippians 2:7, Romans 8:3)
•      As a man, he humbled himself and obeyed his Father. (Philippians 2:8)
•      His obedience led him to death, and the worst kind of death imaginable. (Philippians 2:8)

Jesus Suffered for Your Love (08:30–09:17)

•      Jesus humbled himself so that we would not live out of rivalry or conceit. (Philippians 2:3)
•      He did it so that we would count others more significant than ourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
•      He did it so that we would wake up thinking of others’ needs and interests, and not just our own. (Philippians 2:4)

Related Resources

•      The Shy Virtue of Christmas (article)
•      Our Theology Is Meant to Flatten Us (interview)
•      “The Mind of Christ: Looking Out for the Interests of Others” (sermon on Philippians 2)

Philippians 2:3–8, Part 2

Lower Yourself in Love Like Jesus

December 24, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Philippians 2:3–3:11
Topics: Pride & Humility, The Birth of Christ

The key to enduring suffering in service to others is putting on the humility of Christ. But how do we become humble people? In this lab, John Piper walks us through the birth and death of Jesus, showing us how to unite ourselves to him and to walk in love after his example. The end of all our humble service is everlasting joy.

Principle for Bible Reading

One question we should be asking when slow down over a passage in the Bible is whether a particular author uses a word in this verse(s) somewhere else in their writing. Sometimes he will use the same word in close proximity, as in Philippians 2:3–6. Often, we learn a great deal by seeing how they use that word in other places.

Study Questions

1.      Explain the exchange being made in Philippians 2:3. Practically, what role does humility play in that transition?


2.      What word occurs in Philippians 2:3 and Philippians 2:6? What is Paul communicating to us by using the same word in those two places?


3.      Now read Philippians 2:9–11. Do you see anything new about the humility of Jesus Christ in these verses? What does that mean for our humility and service now?

Related Resources

•      How to Fight the Sin of Pride (article)
•      The Power to Conquer Selfishness (interview)
•      “A Big God for Little People: Seven Christmas Eve Meditations” (sermon on John 13:1–20)

Philippians 4:19–20

God Will Supply Your Every Need

May 19, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:11, Philippians 4:19–20, Mark 10:43–45, and Acts 17:24–25
Topic: The Glory of God
Series: The Uniqueness of God

Principle for Bible Reading

God exalts himself by serving us, not by having us serve him, and that sets him apart from all the gods. In this lab, John Piper shows why we should never think we have served God as though he needed anything. He ends by asking if we can serve God at all.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:00)

God Needs Nothing (Acts 17:24–25) (01:00–03:47)

1.      God is never served by us in a way that suggests he needed us. (Acts 17:25)
2.      God exalts himself by being above having needs.
3.      God is fundamentally giver, not need-er. Everything we need comes from him, and nothing he needs comes from us. He is infinitely resourceful. (Acts 17:24–25)

He Came Not to Be Served (Mark 10:43–45) (03:47–05:47)

1.      The Son of Man came from heaven not to be served. (Mark 10:45)
2.      No, the Son of Man came to serve us, specifically to give his life to pay our debt. (Mark 10:45)
3.      Therefore, beware that you never serve Jesus as though he needed anything. He didn’t come to fulfill his need with you, but to meet all your need with his death.

My God Will Supply (Philippians 4:19–20) (05:47–07:21)

1.      God promises to supply our every need—not our every whim (Philippians 4:19).
2.      Everything we have is a gift from God. We do not receive anything we need apart from the sovereign grace of God. (1 Corinthians 4:7)
3.      Philippians 4:20 ends with worship to the God who provides for us. God serves us to exalt himself and his mercy.

Can We Serve God? (1 Peter 4:11) (07:21–10:42)

1.      We know it is right to serve God, because it’s commanded throughout Scripture We have learned, though, that we need to have our idea of what it means to serve God utterly transformed.
2.      Every time you put forward effort to serve God—whatever you do in the name of Christ—your effort is being supplied by God.
3.      That transaction should be a conscious one. We pray for the strength of God (God serving us) in order to live for his glory (us serving God).
4.      Waiting for God to work for us involves activity. This kind of waiting requires all kinds of serving, but all of it in the strength and grace that God supplies, so that he receives all of the glory.

Study Questions

1.      What do we learn about God in Acts 17:24–25? What implications does that have for our relationship with him?


2.      Read Mark 10:43–45. Why did Jesus come to earth? How might our serving him undermine that great purpose?


3.      If it’s wrong to serve God as though he needed us, how should we serve God? Read 1 Peter 4:11, and explain how we serve God in a way that honors him.

Related Resources

•      What Does It Mean to Serve God? (article)
•      The Transforming Power of Christ’s Glory (interview)
•      Why God Cannot Be Served But Loves to Serve (sermon on Acts 17)

2 Thessalonians 1:11–12

New Year’s Resolutions

December 30, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12
Topic: Sanctification & Growth

Principle for Bible Reading

At the beginning of another year, people will make new resolutions. But should Christians make these New Years commitments? In this lab, John Piper shows that resolutions can be deeply Christian and grace-filled.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:29)

What Does It Mean to Be Worthy? (01:29–03:42)

1.      Whenever Paul prays in Scripture he is asking God to do whatever comes next. (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
2.      The same idea (living worthy of the calling) shows up in 1 Thessalonians 2:12 and Ephesians 4:1. Paul is asking that God cause them to walk in a way that is worthy.
3.      Being worthy of a call that originates in “grace” (2 Thessalonians 1:12) cannot mean you have deserved it.
4.      No, walking worthy means walking in a way that testifies to the worth of the calling.

Resolve to Be Worthy (03:42–07:41)

1.      A resolve (at least here) is a desire for God to do something in and through us.
2.      It is your resolve and your work, but it is done by “faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)—that is, in reliance upon God.
3.      The result of this kind of resolve and this kind of work is that Jesus is glorified, because Jesus purchased the “power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11) for our resolves. (2 Thessalonians 1:12)
4.      Jesus will be glorified when his power is shown as your resolves become good works, and you will be glorified (“and you in him”).

Resolutions for the Christian Life (07:41–11:29)

•      The Grace of God in Jesus ⇒
•      Blood-Bought Power ⇒
•      (Moving Through) Our Faith ⇒
•      God Fulfills Our Resolutions ⇒
•      Blood-Bought Power ⇒
•      The Glory of God (or Christ) ⇒
•      And Our Glory (in Him)

So, how do you make resolutions?

1.      By God’s grace.
2.      Through faith in God’s power.
3.      For God’s glory.

Study Questions

1.      How would you define a resolve or resolution? After developing your own definition, read 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12. Based on these verses, how might Paul define a Christian resolve or resolution? What pieces need to be there?


2.      What does it mean to be made worthy of God’s calling? Look at 1 Thessalonians 2:12 and Ephesians 4:1 for help.


3.      Why is Jesus glorified when we make resolutions in the way Paul describes? What about these resolves and these good works makes him look great?

New Years Articles from Desiring God

1.      New Year, New Adjective: “Christ-Exalting
2.      Seven Resolutions to Pursue Love in 2015
3.      Trading One Dramatic Resolution for 10,000 Little Ones
4.      10 Resolutions for Mental Health

Related Resources

•      Are You Worthy of Jesus? (article)
•      A Little Theology of Resolutions (interview)
•      Are You Worthy of Jesus? (sermon)

2 Thessalonians 2:9–12

They Refused to Love the Truth

April 7, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:9–12
Topic: Assurance of Salvation

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible is clear that people are perishing in rebellion against God. One of the most important questions we can ask is why people perish, and how we can avoid that fate. In this lab, John Piper looks at the relationship between what we believe and what we love in determining our eternal destiny.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:48)

Why Do People Perish? (01:48–03:05)

By loving the truth—not just by believing the truth—we are saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)

1.      The Thessalonians refused to love the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
2.      Because they did not love the truth, God brings judgment against them. His judgment is belief in false things. (2 Thessalonians 2:11)
3.      They did not even believe in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:12)
4.      They took pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:12)

Belief and Love (03:05–05:30)

1.      In 2 Thessalonians 2:12, Paul draws a contrast between not believing in the truth and a pleasure in unrighteousness (“but”). He does not diagnose their lack of faith as a lack of facts, but as a broken love for unrighteousness.
2.      People love the darkness rather than light, and therefore do not come to the light (the truth). (John 3:19)
3.      The deepest problem in the world is that fallen human beings do not love truth. We love what will serve our fallen appetites.

Application (05:30–08:16)

1.      Therefore, we can’t only focus on facts in our ministry. We need to also pray and work against ours and others’ love for sin.
2.      As long as our hearts are still in a love affair with sin, we’ll find every reason to deny the truth.
3.      The same principles in exist in 1 Corinthians 13:6: “Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but in truth.”
4.      Therefore, go deep in your soul and find the real obstacles to belief. They are always deeper than facts. They are, at their root, a love for darkness.

Study Questions

1.      In 2 Thessalonians 2:10, Paul mentions those who are perishing. Based on the immediate context, why are they perishing?


2.      Explain the “but” in 2 Thessalonians 2:12. What two things is Paul contrasting?


3.      How might 2 Thessalonians 2:9–12 affect how you minister to your own heart and to others? What, if anything, would you do differently?

Related Resources

•      Should We Tell Children to Love Jesus? (article)
•      Is My Lack of Joy Sinful? (interview)
•      What Must Happen Before the Day of the Lord? (sermon on 2 Thessalonians 2:9–12)

2 Timothy 2:8–13

Saved by Grace, But Not Without War

February 16, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:8–13
Topic: Perseverance of the Saints

Nobody who has been saved by Jesus will ever lose their salvation. That truth has wrongly led many to relax and live passively. There’s a war still being waged for your soul, and you must fight to make it to glory. In this lab, John Piper teaches us how to love each other until the end.

Principle for Bible Reading

Theological truth is often deeper and more complex than we are willing to make it. The doctrine of unconditional election is a mysterious and wonderful truth, but it is not simple. Instead of relying on theological systems or answers, we need to do our best to take every word in the Bible seriously and strive to see how they all might work together.

Study Questions

1.      When Paul says he would do anything, “that they may also obtain salvation” (2 Timothy 2:10), what does he mean? Is this salvation conversion (initial salvation) or glorification (final salvation)? How would you argue for your answer from 2 Timothy 2:8–13?


2.      Read Romans 8:30–37. How do the promises in these eight verses help you understand the dynamics in 2 Timothy 2:8?


3.      After seeing the role Paul plays in these believers’ perseverance, what should we do for one another in the church? Use Hebrews 3:13–14 in your answer.

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:40)

Saved Today or on the Last Day? (02:40–05:17)

•      When Paul says, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they may also obtain salvation,” what does he mean? (2 Timothy 2:10)
•      Is he saying he serves the elect in order that they might come to salvation (conversion) or is it in order that they might obtain final salvation?
•      I think it is the latter because of 2 Timothy 2:12–13, where Paul describes how God will respond to us on the last day. “If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us.”

The War Still Being Fought for You (05:17–07:38)

•      Between justification and glorification in God’s act of saving his people, nobody drops out. (Romans 8:30)
•      Even though nobody drops out, does anything absolutely have to happen between justification and glorification for a person to be glorified?
•      Yes, because Christ Jesus continues to intercede for you right now (Romans 8:34). He prays because there’s a war still being waged for your soul (Romans 8:33–34).
•      For example, Jesus prayed for Peter’s perseverance when Satan demanded to have him. (Luke 22:32)
•      A war must be fought in heaven and on earth to get us to final glorification.

Paul’s Role in Perseverance (07:38–09:18)

•      Paul plays a part as a minister of the word in these believers’ final glorification. (2 Timothy 2:10)
•      Jesus is praying for them, and he is also sending messengers like Paul to teach, encourage, and exhort them to keep them from ever denying God. (2 Timothy 2:8)
•      Even though Paul was in prison, he continued to do everything he could for the elect, including writing to them in letters. (2 Timothy 2:9)

Our Role in Perseverance (09:18–11:06)

•      What then should we do for each other in this war?
•      We must exhort one another every day against the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)
•      Our endurance to the end is the evidence that we have truly known Christ and been saved by him. (Hebrews 3:14)
•      Nobody loses their salvation, but means are necessary to get the elect to their place in glory.

Related Resources

•      Will You Be a Believer Tomorrow Morning? (article)
•      Can a Born-Again Christian Lose Salvation? (interview)
•      “The Elect Are Kept by the Power of God” (message on the perseverance of the saints)

2 Timothy 2:11–13

If We Are Faithless, He Remains Faithful?

January 26, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:11–13
Topic: The Glory of God

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful.” In this lab, John Piper asks whether this popular phrase was written to be a comfort or warning. He believes that many misunderstand these words because they have taken them out of context and made them something they do not say.

Principle for Bible Reading

Some popular verses in the Bible are often misquoted or misused. People will wield the words of the Bible wrongly because they have ripped them from their context in Scripture. The words are made to fit or serve some other purpose than their original meaning. Read the context carefully to confirm that favorite verse means what you think it means.

Study Questions

1.      Why would Paul say that 2 Timothy 2:11–13 is “trustworthy”? What does that say (or not say) about the rest of his letter?


2.      What structure, if any, do you see in the saying in 2 Timothy 2:11–13? How do the four lines of the saying seem to relate to one another, and what would that suggest about the meaning of the first half 2 Timothy 2:13?


3.      If the beginning of 2 Timothy 2:13 is a warning after all, why would it be good news that God will not deny himself? What makes the faithfulness of God to himself good news for a believer?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–03:03)
1. Beware of Bible slogans without context.
2. Glad expectancy of God-centeredness pays off.

A Trustworthy Saying (03:03–05:17)

•      “The saying is trustworthy” (2 Timothy 2:11) does not mean some things are reliable and others are not.
•      Paul is saying that there are common phrases in the church that are trustworthy and others are not. Paul advocates for the truthfulness and reliability of this saying.
•      The verses say that the saying is trustworthy because God is faithful (“for”). (2 Timothy 2:11)

If We Die, We Will Live (05:17–07:06)

•      Paul introduces a positive pair of statements in 2 Timothy 2:11–12.
•      If we die with Christ through faith, we’re going to live with him forever. (2 Timothy 2:11)
•      Paul goes further to say that if we endure in faith with him, we will not only live with him, but reign with him. (2 Timothy 2:12)

If We Are Faithless (07:06–09:14)

•      If we deny him—we deny that he is to be preferred over the things we want in this life—he also will deny us. (2 Timothy 2:11)
•      What will he deny us? He will deny us the privilege of being with him, of reigning with him.
•      Another way to say the same thing is to say that if we do not have faith in him, he remains totally committed to himself and his glory. (2 Timothy 2:13)

Beware of Bible Slogans (09:14–10:14)
• Beware of Bible slogans without context.
• People often wrongly quote 2 Timothy 2:13 to suggest that God is faithful to save us when we are faithless. Paul is saying the opposite.
• This quote, ripped out of its context, has given lots of people false assurance.

God’s Faithfulness to God (10:14–12:00)

•      God is radically committed to God. He’s radically God-centered and God-exalting. (2 Timothy 2:13)
•      Why is that good news? Because he is completely and utterly faithful to himself and to his promises.
•      If you die with him through faith (2 Timothy 2:11) and endure with him through faith (2 Timothy 2:12), he will faithfully fulfill every promise to you.

Related Resources

•      Advice for Another Year of Bible Reading (article)
•      6 Tips If You Find the Bible Hard to Read (interview)
•      “He Cannot Deny Himself” (message on 2 Timothy 2:8–19)

2 Timothy 2:24–26, Part 1

God May Grant Repentance

March 17, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:24–26
Topic: Repentance

Principle for Bible Reading

There is war happening for your soul. On one side, Satan is scheming to enslave you to sin and blind you to the beauty of God. But God, by his power, is able to lead you to faith, repentance, and freedom. How is the war won? John Piper looks at several key verses in this lab.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:29)

Repentance as Transformation (01:29–04:54)

1.      Unrepentant people lack the knowledge of the truth, are captured by the devil, and have lost their senses. (2 Timothy 2:25–26)
2.      God alone grants repentance. When it comes, it comes from him. (2 Timothy 2:25)
3.      Repentance is a deep inner change in a person—change of mind, of heart, and of soul—that leads to a knowledge of the truth.
4.      Knowledge alone is not enough. Unbelieving and unrepentant people—even demons—can know a lot of true things about God.
5.      True knowledge of God sees Jesus as beautiful, compelling, and infinitely valuable.
6.      The kind of knowledge that leads to freedom and a right, vibrant relationship with God is grounded in repentance.

Salvation as Sight (04:54–08:32)

1.      Coming to their senses (2 Timothy 2:26) corresponds with repentance (2 Timothy 2:25).
2.      Repentance is a change of heart, in which we reacquire our ability to think and feel rightly.
3.      Escaping from the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:26) corresponds with coming to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25).
4.      The devil does not snare us by binding our hands against our will. When we’re under his power, we hate the right and love the wrong. No, the devil ensnares us through deception. He holds us in captivity by blinding us.

The Gift of God (08:32–10:51)

1.      Our Condition: We were snared by Satan, and were blinded by him. ⇒
2.      Our Repentance: God gives repentance, and restores our senses. ⇒
3.      Our Knowledge: Repentance leads to a knowledge that treasures Christ. ⇒
4.      Our Freedom: We are now free from the captivity to do the devil’s will, and free now to do the will of God.

Study Questions

1.      Based on 2 Timothy 2:25–26, how would you describe yourself before God granted you repentance? What language does Paul give to describe our condition?


2.      Is there true knowledge of God that does not spring from repentance? Can you think of examples in the Bible?


3.      How does the devil ensnare people? And how does God defeat their bondage to the devil?

Related Resources

•      God Desires All to Be Saved, and Grants Repentance to Some (1976 article)
•      Is Election Divine Favoritism? (interview)
•      My Prayer to God Is That They Might Be Saved (sermon)

2 Timothy 2:24–26, Part 2

God’s Agents of Repentance

March 19, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:24–26
Topic: Evangelism

Principle for Bible Reading

God makes the objects of the miracle of repentance agents of the miracle of repentance. In Part 1 of this two-part series, John Piper established that it is God who decisively brings repentance for any sinner. Now, he asks what role, if any, we have in bringing about that repentance for others.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Review (00:00–03:10)

1.      Only God gives repentance—a deep heart/mind/soul change. (2 Timothy 2:25)
2.      This repentance leads to a true knowledge of the truth, beyond the knowledge of Satan and of unbelievers. (2 Timothy 2:25)
3.      By this repentance (and the true knowledge it brings), we escape the snare of the devil, which is his deception. (2 Timothy 2:24–26)

Traits of the Agents of Repentance (03:10–07:50)

1.      When God grants repentance, it leads to a knowledge of the truth. But where did that truth come from? The Lord’s servant. Repentance is always a response to truth (2 Timothy 2:24–25). Therefore, we must speak the truth.
2.      We must speak with clarity and competence. (2 Timothy 2:24–25)
3.      We must speak with love. The Lord’s servant is not quarrelsome—not easily angered (2 Timothy 2:24). The Lord’s servant patiently expects and endures evil (2 Timothy 2:24). The Lord’s servant is gentle, even when correcting someone (2 Timothy 2:24).

Sent to Open the Eyes of the Blind (07:50–10:49)

1.      Yes, God is sovereign in the granting of repentance. (2 Timothy 2:25)
2.      But, we should never conclude that we do not have to do anything to bring others to faith and repentance. The Bible clearly says that the Lord’s servant—you and me—are essential for God’s saving work. (2 Timothy 2:26)
3.      God makes the objects of the miracle of repentance agents of the miracle of repentance. (Acts 26:18)

Study Questions

1.      Who is “the Lord’s servant” in 2 Timothy 2:24? List all the qualities Paul gives for the Lord’s servant in that verse.


2.      If the repentance that God brings leads to a knowledge of the truth, what is that truth, and where does it come from?


3.      Look again at 2 Timothy 2:24–26. If God sovereignly, decisively grants repentance, why do we have to do anything?

Related Resources

•      Give the Blessing of Rebuke (article)
•      Robust Theology Fuels Ambitious Evangelism (interview)
•      How Shall People Be Saved? Part 1 and Part 2 (sermons)

2 Timothy 3:14–17

Breathed Out By God

July 22, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:14–17
Topic: The Bible

Principle for Bible Reading

When we find lists in the Bible, we should ask how the items in the list relate to one another. In 2 Timothy 3:14–17, Paul says Scripture is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training. Pastor John tries to identify, explain, and differentiate each reason for continuing in the Word.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:14)

Reasons to Continue in the Word (02:14–05:52)

1.      You know the character of those who shared the truth with you (2 Timothy 3:14), Lois and Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5).
2.      Scripture is able to make you wise for salvation through faith (2 Timothy 3:15).
3.      Scripture is breathed out by God. These words are his words (2 Timothy 3:16).
4.      Scripture is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training (2 Timothy 3:16).
5.      The righteousness that Scripture produces reveals itself in good works (2 Timothy 3:17).

Summary (05:52–10:16)

The Inspired Bible ⇒
Life-Changing Teaching or Wisdom ⇒
Faith in Jesus Christ ⇒
Good Works ⇒
Salvation ⇒
Continue in the Truth

Study Questions

1.      How many reasons do you see for continuing to love and live the Bible in 2 Timothy 3:14–17? What are they?


2.      Look at the list in 2 Timothy 3:16. Are they four different benefits or four ways of saying the same thing? If different, how would you define each?


3.      How do good works relate to faith and salvation in 2 Timothy 3:14–17?

Related Resources

•      Primer on Reading the Bible (article)
•      Should I Read My Bible Daily? (interview)
•      All Scripture Is Breathed Out By God, Continue In It (sermon on 2 Timothy 3:14–17)

Hebrews 2:14–15

Why Christmas?

December 23, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Colossians 2:13–15 and Hebrews 2:14–15
Topic: The Birth of Christ

Principle for Bible Reading

God wrote the Christmas story, and yet we don’t often stop to ask why he wrote it the way he did. In this lab, John Piper uncovers four reasons for Christmas from these two verses.

John Piper wrote an article to accompany this lab called, “Christmas Happened Because It Was Fitting.” There he expounds more on the implications of Hebrews 2:14–15 on your celebration of the birth of Christ.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:31)

Reasons for Christmas (00:31–05:20)

1.      Since we are human, God became a human in Jesus. (Hebrews 2:14)
2.      Jesus could not die unless he became a man. (Hebrews 2:14)
3.      Jesus came to destroy the devil, the one with the power of death. (Hebrews 2:14)
4.      Jesus came to deliver us from the slavery we have because we’re afraid to die. (Hebrews 2:15)

How Jesus Destroys the Devil (05:20–09:11)

1.      The word “destroy” clearly does not mean to put the devil out of existence. He’s still alive today. No, Jesus broke the back of Satan’s power. (Hebrews 2:14)
2.      Satan has the power of death because he makes it a doorway to hell and not heaven. He condemns us by the record of our sins.
3.      Jesus canceled the record of our debt. This disarms Satan, because Satan is the great accuser. (Colossians 2:14)
4.      Jesus destroyed Satan by removing the weapon that is the record of our debt. Now we are free from condemnation, and therefore from death.

Study Questions

1.      There are at least four reasons in Hebrews 2:14–15 that Christmas happened the way it did. Identify as many as you can.


2.      Look at Colossians 2:13–15. How does that help you understand what it means for Jesus to “destroy” the devil (Hebrews 2:14)?


3.      What are the implications of what you’ve learned for how you celebrate Christmas this year?

Christmas Content from Desiring God

1.      “Hope for the Hurting This Christmas (Video)” (a poem from John Piper)
2.      “Glory to God in the Lowest” (Ask Pastor John episode)
3.      “Christmas Is the Greatest Mystery” (6-minute video)
4.      “When God Gives You an Overcrowded Christmas” (article)

Related Resources

•      Christmas Happened Because It Is Fitting (article)
•      Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? (interview)
•      Christmas as the End of History (sermon)

Hebrews 3:12–14, Part 1

Take Care, Brothers

March 3, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Hebrews 3:12–14
Topic: Perseverance of the Saints

Principle for Bible Reading

It is very important to study the tenses of verbs, especially in this case when they are in an if/then conditional statement. When you come across an if/then statement, restate the condition and study the implications. For instance, can someone who has truly been saved fall away from the faith? John Piper answers in this lab.

Outline

Introduction (00:00–00:26)

Can True Believers Fall Away? (00:26–06:34)

1.      Paul’s warning makes it sound like believers (“brothers”) can fall away from God (3:12). This is a potential problem for eternal security (or perseverance of the saints).
2.      All those who are faithful to the end prove that they have been in Christ (“have come”), and only they can be in Christ (“if”).
3.      You can say the same thing the opposite way: All those who are not faithful to the end prove that they have not come to share in Christ.
4.      Therefore, true believers cannot fall away, so Paul calls them, “brothers,” because he’s giving them the benefit of the doubt and speaking to a crowd, not because he believes they are all true believers.
5.      If anyone falls away from the living God, they are not falling away from Christ, because they have proven that they were never truly in him. No, they are falling away from some other experience.

Hold Fast to the End (06:34–07:11)

1.      Therefore, brothers who are genuinely in Christ cannot be lost.
2.      If we hold fast to Christ to the end, we prove we have been in Christ.
3.      And if we don’t, we prove that we have not (ever) come to share in Christ.

Study Questions

1.      Why is Hebrews 3:12 a potential problem for our belief in eternal security (or the perseverance of the saints)?


2.      Restate the if/then statement in Hebrews 3:14 in your own words.


3.      Why would Paul call them “brothers” if true believers cannot fall away? Are there reasons he would use that term other than to say that they were all true believers?

Related Resources

•      Will You Be a Believer Tomorrow Morning? (article)
•      Can a Born-Again Christian Lose Salvation? (interview)
•      Consider How to Stir Up One Another to Love (sermon on Hebrews 3:12–14)

Hebrews 3:12–14, Part 2

Exhort One Another Every Day

March 5, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Hebrews 3:12–14
Topic: Small Groups

Principle for Bible Reading

God has appointed other believers as one of the primary means of our perseverance. In this lab, John Piper explains how sin wages war against our souls, and how God equips us with weapons for the battle. We will see that this fight is not one we should fight alone.

Outline

Introduction/Review (00:00–02:20)

1.      Can true believers (“brothers”) fall away from the living God after having shared in Christ? The author of the Hebrews suggests yes, but then says no. (Hebrews 3:12–14)
2.      If we persevere in faith, we have come to share in Christ. If we do not hold fast until then, we prove we never did share in Christ. (Hebrews 3:12–14)
3.      Now, we need to ask how we are to help each other persevere until the end and thus prove that we have been found in Christ. (Hebrews 3:13)

The Hardness of the Human Heart (02:20–04:29)

1.      Hardness in our hearts produces unbelief and evil in us. (Hebrews 3:12–13)
2.      How do we become hardened? We believe lies that sin says to our heart. (Hebrews 3:13)
3.      What lies does sin feed us? Sin says God is not trustworthy. It says that the sin’s promises are more desirable and reliable than God’s. (Hebrews 3:12–14)

Defeat Sin’s Deceit Together (04:29–06:24)

How are we to help each other persevere to the end and prove that we have a share in Christ? We should counter sin’s deceit by speaking things that are true about God and evil to one another. We remind one another that God’s all-satisfying promises are better than the suicidal promises of sin. Eternal security is a community project.

Study Questions

1.      What does the “for” at the beginning of Hebrews 3:14 mean? How do verses 13 and 14 relate to one another?


2.      Looking at Hebrews 3:13, what specifically causes an evil, unbelieving heart?


3.      Based on these verses, how are we to help each other persevere to the end and prove that we have been found in Christ?

Related Resources

•      Praying for Your Straying Soul (article)
•      Why Eternal Security Needs Community (interview)
•      Eternal Security Is a Community Project (sermon on Hebrews 3:12–14)

Hebrews 10:32–35

A Better and Abiding Possession

April 21, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Hebrews 10:32–35
Topic: Suffering

Principle for Bible Reading

The gospel shines most brightly when Christians rejoice in the midst of really painful, even unjust suffering. In this lab, John Piper looks at Hebrews 10 to understand how we cultivate the kind of joy that can endure anything and that frees us to love and serve radically.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:45)

Suffering for the Sake of Christ (00:45–04:08)

1.      To be “enlightened” (Hebrews 10:32) probably means to be converted (see 2 Corinthians 4:6).
2.      It was not easy for these believers to become Christians (“you endured a hard struggle with sufferings”). (Hebrews 10:32)
3.      Some Christians suffered, and others suffered by serving the sufferers (Hebrews 10:33). They were threatened and mistreated because they identified with persecuted Christians.
4.      One of the ways these Christians suffered was that their possessions were plundered while they went to help their brothers and sisters in Christ (Hebrews 10:34). Amazingly, they responded with joy.

Unexplainable Joy in Jesus (04:08–04:58)

1.      The “since” in the middle of Hebrews 10:34 explains the psychological dynamic under this unexplainable joy in suffering Christians.
2.      These Christians knew they had a better and abiding possession than their earthly possessions.
3.      The possession they have with Christ that is qualitatively better and temporally longer, infinitely longer.

Confidence and Compassion (04:58–07:15)

1.      Therefore, because you have a better and abiding possession, hold your confidence fast until the end, knowing it will be greatly rewarded beyond your imagination.
2.      If you want to be a compassionate person, you need confidence in a reward greater than any possession you have in this life.
3.      If you are indifferent toward your future reward, your joy will be small (Hebrews 10:34) and, therefore, you will not have compassion on others.

Study Questions

1.      Look at Hebrews 10:32–33. Why are these people being mistreated?


2.      Explain the “since” in Hebrews 10:34. How does what follows the “since” explain what comes before it?


3.      Based on Hebrews 10:34–35, explain how our future, eternal reward relates to our compassion toward others today.

Related Resources

•      You Can’t Arrest the Gospel (article)
•      Vision for the Local Church in Exile (interview)
•      The Plundering of Your Property and the Power of Hope (sermon on Hebrews 10:32–36)

Hebrews 11:24–26

The Fleeting Pleasures of Sin

April 9, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Hebrews 11:24–26
Topic: Killing Sin

Principle for Bible Reading

Hebrews 11 calls us to look to God’s people who have gone before us to learn how to walk by faith. In this lab, John Piper highlights the life of Moses, who preferred the reward he had with God more than all the riches of Egypt.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:35)

An Unexplainable Exchange (00:35–03:33)

1.      Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter” (privilege and power). (Hebrews 11:24)
2.      Moses chose not “to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” (Hebrews 11:25)
3.      Moses turned down “the treasures of Egypt.” (Hebrews 11:26)

1.      Instead, Moses chose “to be mistreated with the people of God.” (Hebrews 11:24)
2.      Instead, Moses “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth”—better. (Hebrews 11:26)

A Greater Reward (03:33–06:56)

1.      Moses rejected power, wealth, and pleasure “by faith.” (Hebrews 11:24)
2.      What is faith? “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” (Hebrews 11:1)
3.      Faith also seeks a reward from God (Hebrews 11:6). This appears in our passage, “looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:26)
4.      Faith conquers our desire for privilege and fame (Hebrews 11:24); it conquers our craving for sinful delights (Hebrews 11:25); and it conquers our need for money (Hebrews 11:26).

The Reproach of Christ (06:56–08:34)

Wherever in the world someone suffers to embrace God’s people and to flee from sin, looking to the reward that Christ purchased, he is suffering with and for Christ. (Hebrews 11:26)

Study Questions

1.      Read Hebrews 11:24–26. Name everything in those three verses that Moses rejects or forgoes because of his faith.


2.      What does it mean that Moses refused, chose, and considered “by faith”? How does faith overcome these particular temptations?


3.      How might you explain “the reproach of Christ” in Hebrews 11:26? How did Moses experience the reproach of Christ long before Christ was even born?

Related Resources

•      How Dead People Do Battle with Sin (article)
•      What Does It Mean to ‘Kill Sin by the Spirit’? (interview)
•      Liberated for Love by Looking to the Reward (sermon on Hebrews 11:23–28)

Hebrews 13:5–6

God Will Never Forsake You

November 10, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Hebrews 13:5–6 and Joshua 1:9
Topic: Money

The love of money—a craving for money as the source of our security—is an epidemic in our world, and maybe especially in our nation. So how do we kill the craving within us? In this lab, John Piper models what it means to fight temptation with the promises of God.

Principle for Bible Reading

Some of the most difficult texts in the Bible are God’s commands us for us to feel (or not feel) certain things—joy, love, anger, contentment, and more. Fortunately, the Bible does not give us commands to feel without truths to awaken those feelings. Study the promises God has given us, and pray that he would cause your heart to feel in accordance with those great truths.

Study Questions

1.      The commands in Hebrews 13:5 are commands to feel (or not feel) certain things. How do you approach commands to feel in the Bible? What does it mean, practically speaking, to obey those commands?


2.      The author of Hebrews quotes God’s promise to Joshua in Joshua 1:5. Why would he be comfortable applying a specific promise to an Old Testament believer to his readers (or to us today)?


3.      Identify each of the essential points in the argument of Hebrews 13:5–6 (John identifies six). Then place the points in logical order, and explain how they relate to one another.

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:07)

How Do We Obey Commands to Feel? (01:07–02:57)

•      How do we obey commands to feel (or not to feel)? It seems like we have so little control over our feelings.
•      We’re commanded to flee love for money (a feeling), and put on contentment (a feeling) with what we have. (Hebrews 13:5–6)
•      The “love of money” is not just a commitment, but deep desire and longing—a craving for money as a means of security. (Hebrews 13:5)

One Promise from God (02:57–04:53)

•      How does God expect us to obey commands to feel? (Hebrews 13:5–6)
•      “For” in Hebrews 13:5 gives us the basis for feeling how we ought to feel.
•      If the Bible gives reasons for why we should not be discontent, we should not give up until those reasons feel real and effective to us.
•      Hebrews 13:5 quotes Joshua 1:5 to help us feel content, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
•      The author of Hebrews applies Joshua 1:5 because of texts like 2 Corinthians 1:20 and Romans 8:32.

Preach to Yourself (04:53–06:48)

•      From Joshua 1:9, the author turns to something we can confidently say. (Hebrews 13:6)
•      Why does he use “say” instead of “believe” or “trust”? (Hebrews 13:6)
•      He expects us to preach to ourselves, because believing can be so elusive.

The Path to Change (06:48–10:39)

•      God promises his presence.
•      So I say, “The Lord is my helper.”
•      Therefore, man cannot ruin me.
•      Therefore, I will not fear.
•      And thus I am freed from my craving for money as the source of my security.
•      Therefore, I am content.

Related Resources

•      How to Find Strength in the Strength of God (article)
•      Jesus’s Aggressive, Relentless, Surgical Love (interview)
•      “Jesus Christ is the Same Yesterday and Today and Forever” (sermon on Hebrews 13:5–9)

James 5:19–20, Part 1

Bringing Back a Wandering Believer

November 26, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: James 5:19–20 and Galatians 2:14
Topic: Loving Others

Some of the most heartbreaking moments in a Christian’s life are watching other believers wander away from the truth. In this lab, John Piper tackles a couple verses that help us understand a Christian’s identity and give us great hope in pursuing a wandering brother or sister in Christ.

Principle for Bible Reading

The way James uses “brother” and “sinner” in James 5:19–20 might trip up some readers. It seems to contradict our basic understanding of what it means to be a Christian. When you face problems like this, search the immediate context carefully, then search the book in the Bible and the Bible as a whole for relevant words or phrases.

Study Questions

1.      Look throughout James for other instances of the phrase “my brothers”. What do they say about them, and about his feelings for them?


2.      If James is speaking about a genuine believer, why would he call them a sinner in James 5:20? Is that an appropriate way to talk about saved people?


3.      Why would bringing someone back from their wandering cover a multitude of sin? What is it about that exchange that could cover sins?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:45)

Brother or Unbeliever? (01:45–04:30)

•      “My brothers” appears eight times in James (James 5:19). Even though James is not writing to a particular church, he treats his readers as family.
•      Do we have an orientation that wherever Christians are, they are family to us?
•      If you see a professing believer wandering, earnestly pursue them like you would pursue a brother. (James 5:19)
•      How they respond to your earnest, brotherly pursuit will prove whether they are a brother or not.

The Ways People Wander (04:30–07:56)

•      This person is wandering “from the truth.” (James 5:19)
•      You can wander from the truth by believing something false or by not believing something true (doctrine).
•      Or you can wander from the truth by living in a way that’s contrary to the truth they believe or profess. (Galatians 2:14)
•      Human beings are used by God to keep his people. People bring back sinners (“someone”). (James 5:19)
•      This should make the returning sinner grateful, and should encourage those pursuing the wandering sinners. (James 5:19)

Sinner or Saint? (07:56–10:29)

•      Are you uncomfortable with James’s use of “sinner” in James 5:20? Is it ever appropriate to call a “brother” a “sinner”?
•      Paul calls himself the “chief of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
•      Clearly, here in James 5:19–20, “sinner” (5:20) is the “him” in 5:19, who is the “anyone” in 5:19.
•      Therefore, it seems appropriate to still describe true believers as sinners.
•      That being said, since Paul almost always calls us saints, and not sinners, we ought to allow “saint” to be our primary identity. Our sinning is not our most fundamental identity anymore.

What’s at Stake? (10:29–12:25)

•      What’s at stake in bringing a sinner back from his sinning? Eternal life and death.
•      How does bringing him back from his wandering cover a multitude of sins?
•      If you bring him back from wandering from the truth, you bring him back into the truth of the gospel. And only there are all of our sins covered.

Related Resources

•      Give the Blessing of Rebuke (article)
•      Don’t Neglect the Work of Speck Removing (interview)
•      “Preserving the Covenant Community In Spite of Sickness and Sin” (sermon on James 5:16–20)

James 5:19–20, Part 2

Five Truths About Eternal Security

December 1, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: James 5:19–20
Topic: Perseverance of the Saints

If we’re called to bring believers back from their wandering, does that mean true believers can lose their faith? In this lab, John Piper deals with the security of every believer, and draws in lots of texts to explain how God keeps his children from falling away. He summarizes this important doctrine with five critical truths.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you come to a verse in the Bible that seems to contradict other verses in the Bible, work hard to understand the verse in question in its context. Then, step back and look again at the verses in the rest of Scripture that seem to contradict what you’re reading. Work hard to find an explanation that allows every verse (in its context) to be true.

Study Questions

1.      James 5:19–20 seems to suggest that believers can wander away from the faith. How would you answer that question in a way that does justice to these two verses?


2.      Read 1 Corinthians 15:1–2, Colossians 1:21–23, and Matthew 10:22. What do these texts contribute to our understanding of eternal security?


3.      Now, read Philippians 1:6 and 1 Corinthians 1:8–9. What do we learn in these verses about God’s relationship with believers?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:19)

Eternal Security Is a Community Project (01:19–04:22)

•      God uses human beings to bring back human beings from their wandering. (James 5:20)
•      Human beings save souls from death and cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:20)
•      This means Christian community is unbelievably important.
•      God uses people to save people the way a lumberjack uses an axe to cut down trees.

Five Truths (04:45–11:44)

•      We are justified by grace alone through faith alone apart from works. (Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 3:28)
•      Those who are justified will certainly be glorified. (Romans 8:30)
•      But no one will be glorified or finally saved who does not continue in the faith. (1 Corinthians 15:1–2; Colossians 1:21–23; Matthew 10:22)
•      God himself will keep his children from finally falling away. (Philippians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 1:8–9)
•      God keeps his children by means of his children. (Hebrews 3:13–14)

Related Resources

•      Will You Be a Believer Tomorrow Morning? (article)
•      Can a Born-Again Christian Lose Salvation? (interview)
•      “The Doctrine of Perseverance: The Earnest Pursuit of Assurance” (sermon on Hebrews 5:11–6:12)

1 Peter 1:1–2, Part 1

A Letter to Exiles

September 3, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:1–2
Topic: Persecution & Martyrdom

Principle for Bible Reading

Peter wrote a letter to Christians facing massive opposition and even persecution for their faith. These believers refused to join in the world’s rebellion against God, and they were mocked and rejected for it. In this lab, John Piper begins a new series through this hope-filled letter to exiles.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:51)

An Eyewitness of Jesus Christ (00:51–04:00)

1.      Peter was one of the twelve apostles appointed by Jesus (Text 1:1), and an eyewitness of Jesus’s life and ministry (1 Peter 5:1).
2.      When we read 1 Peter, we are listening to a man who saw Jesus, talked to him, and watched him die.
3.      Peter was commissioned by Jesus to shepherd and feed the flock. (Text 1:1)
4.      An apostle is an authorized spokesperson to speak on behalf of someone else with that person’s authority.

A Messenger of King Jesus (04:00–05:43)

1.      Jesus Christ is not like other dead teachers. He is risen and living today. (1 Peter 3:21–22)
2.      We know that this Jesus will one day reveal his glory. (1 Peter 4:13)
3.      He will reveal his glory by returning himself and appearing to all. (1 Peter 5:4)

Exiles (05:43–12:43)

1.      This letter is written to a group of churches in modern day Turkey. (1 Peter 1:1)
2.      Is the “dispersion” (1 Peter 1:1) the Jewish people dispersed outside of Palestine, or is it the dispersion of Christians outside of heaven (exiles in the world)? This question determines to whom Peter is writing.
3.      We know Peter’s readers lived like Gentiles (1 Peter 4:3–4). Those verses are not describing Jewish life in a synagogue. It appears Peter is speaking to Christians exiled from heaven, and not Jews exiled from Palestine.
4.      Elsewhere, Christians are called “strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)
5.      Likewise, Paul says “our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20–21)
6.      Therefore, we are primarily citizens of heaven, and only secondarily citizens of the country we live in on this earth.

Study Questions

1.      Before you begin reading Peter’s letter, list the things you know about him from other places in the Bible (maybe especially from the Gospels). Don’t write down every verse, but try and list the highlights of his life and ministry.


2.      Read 1 Peter in one sitting, and bullet point what you learn about the Jesus Christ mentioned in 1 Peter 1:1.


3.      Who might “the exiles of the dispersion” be? Can you think of a couple possibilities? Read 1 Peter 4:3–4, Hebrews 11:13, and Philippians 3:20–21. Do those texts help clarify for you who Peter is writing to in 1 Peter?

Related Resources

•      Taking the Swagger Out of Christian Cultural Influence (article)
•      Pilgrims and Patriots (interview)
•      The Hope of Exiles on the Earth (sermon on Hebrews 11:13–22)

1 Peter 1:1–2, Part 2

Known by God Before You Were Born

September 8, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:1–2, Genesis 4:1, Amos 3:1–2, 1 Corinthians 8:3, and Genesis 18:19
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism

Principle for Bible Reading

When did God know you would be his adopted son or daughter? Peter says that our election is “according to the foreknowledge of God.” In this lab, John Piper asks what it means for God to foreknow us, and then explores the relationship between our election and God’s foreknowledge.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:01)

What Kind of Elect Exiles? (01:01–03:23)

We’re looking at three prepositional phrases (according to, in, and for), all modifying “elect exiles” in 1 Peter 1:1–2.

God Foreknew Christ (03:23–06:19)

1.      What does it mean that we are elected “according to the foreknowledge of God” (1 Peter 1:2)?
2.      Christ was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20), and then “made manifest” when he came to earth.
3.      So how can God foreknow an eternal person like the Son? We need to study how the Bible uses the word for “know” or “foreknow.”

How Does God “Know” Me? (06:19–09:35)

1.      Adam “knew” his wife (Genesis 4:1), meaning he had sex with her. To know is to know uniquely, intimately, and within a covenant.
2.      God “knew” Abraham (Genesis 18:19), meaning he chose him among all the nations. He set his love and favor uniquely on him.
3.      God only “knew” Israel (Amos 3:1–2). Surely, God knew of all the peoples of the earth, so this must mean God has taken special, close, committed, intimate, personal interest in Israel.
4.      Anyone who loves God has been “known” by God (1 Corinthians 8:3). Knowing is something that God does beforehand that brings about their faith and love.

Election and Foreknowledge (09:35–12:06)

1.      In eternity, the Father set his knowing and committed favor on the Son. (1 Peter 1:20)
2.      So in a similar way, God has set his unique, intimate, committed, loving favor on us as Christians (“according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”). (1 Peter 1:2)
3.      But election cannot equal foreknowledge, because Peter says that our election is according to foreknowledge. (1 Peter 1:1–2)
4.      No, our current status as elect exiles is rooted in eternity in God’s foreknowledge. Election is a present realization of what God foreknew before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1:1–2)

Study Questions

1.      There are three prepositional phrases in 1 Peter 1:2. What word or idea are they modifying or explaining? What is according to the foreknowledge of God, and so on?


2.      Read Genesis 4:1, Genesis 18:19, Amos 3:1–2, and 1 Corinthians 8:3. How does that help you understand what it means for God to know or foreknow someone?


3.      Peter says our election is “according to the foreknowledge of God.” What, if any, is the difference between our election and God’s foreknowledge of us?

Related Resources

•      Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist” (article)
•      Is It Sin to Dislike Divine Election? (interview)
•      Foreknown, Predestined, Conformed to Christ (sermon on Romans 8:28–30)

1 Peter 1:1–2, Part 3

Bought with Blood for Obedience

September 10, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:1–2 and 1 Peter 1:18–19
Topic: Pursuit of Holiness

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible stabilizes us in the storms of life by reminding us who we are. In this lab, John Piper highlights our unfathomable relationship to God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—all in the very first words of Peter’s letter. God has ransomed us, set us apart from the world, and made us new.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–03:22)

In the Sanctification of the Spirit (03:23–05:09)

1.      What makes us exiles in the world? What sets us apart? (1 Peter 1:1–2)

2.      We are exiles by the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification (1 Peter 1:14–15).

3.      Holiness is nonconformity to the former way of life. Therefore, what the Spirit works in us through sanctification sets us apart from the world.

For Sprinkling with His Blood? (05:09–08:36)

1.      What does it mean that we are exiles “for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2)?
2.      The blood of Christ is mentioned again 1 Peter 1:18–19. The blood in these verses does not rescue us from guilt or wrath, but from ways.
3.      Therefore, we are ransomed with blood for obedience (“from futile ways”). (1 Peter 1:18)
4.      So “the sprinkling with his blood” in 1 Peter 1:2, at least in the mind of Peter, probably means we are being bought or ransomed “for obedience to Jesus Christ.”

Bought with Blood (08:36–11:22)

1.      Does all of this mean, that we are on our own as exiles to try and obey?
2.      No, Peter wants you to see that you are not alone in your pursuit of holiness, because Jesus purchased you for obedience. He bought you with his blood (“for sprinkling with his blood”). (1 Peter 1:2)
3.      This letter is written to help believers weather persecution by remembering who they are with God. (1 Peter 1:1–2)

Study Questions

1.      1 Peter 1:1 calls us “exiles.” What makes us exiles in the world? What sets us apart?


2.      What might “for sprinkling with his blood” mean? Where else would you look in the Bible to help you understand how Peter is using that phrase?


3.      With all of this talk of obedience in 1 Peter 1:2, has Peter neglected the work of Christ and the grace of God? Why or why not?

Related Resources

•      Live Homeless, Homesick, and Free (article)
•      Vision for the Local Church in Exile (interview)
•      How Aliens Keep the Identity of Their Homeland (sermon on 1 Peter 1:1–2)

1 Peter 1:3–5, Part 1

Born Again to a Living Hope

September 15, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3–5
Topic: Regeneration / New Birth

Principle for Bible Reading

According to the Bible, every believer in Jesus Christ is born a second time by the Spirit. In this lab, John Piper looks at this beautiful and spectacular mystery, asking what it means and how it happens. He also draws out the implications of serious study of the Bible for our worship.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:56)

Theology Exists for Worship (00:56–03:35)

The Father of Jesus Christ (03:35–05:32)

Born Again by the Spirit (05:32–10:21)

The Awakening Word of God (10:21–13:42)

Study Questions

1.      Why does Peter start a paragraph (in 1 Peter 1:3) about God’s mercy, the new birth, our eternal inheritance, and unshakeable joy in suffering with, “Blessed be God”? What does this mean for our personal Bible study?


2.      What does it mean to be “born again”? Read 1 John 5:1. How do those other verses help you understand what Peter means here?


3.      If someone asked you how they can be born again, what would you say? After giving your answer, look at 1 Peter 1:23–25 to help fill out your explanation.

Related Resources

•      Your Hope Is As Alive As Jesus (article)
•      Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same Deity?
•      God’s Great Mercy and Our New Birth (sermon on 1 Peter 1:3–4)

1 Peter 1:3–5, Part 2

God’s Power Will Guard You

September 17, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3–5
Topic: Hope

Principle for Bible Reading

God is guarding an infinitely valuable inheritance for you in heaven, and guarding you through faith to make sure you receive it. In this lab, John Piper pulls parts several implications from the new birth, explaining the new hope we have, and the sovereign hands that hold us.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–02:36)

Our Hope Is Alive (02:36–05:20)

1.      The difference between people who have been born again and those who have not is hope (faith in the future tense). (1 Peter 1:3)
2.      This hope drives us and colors everything we do.
3.      It is called a “living” hope because we have just been born (and now are finally alive). (1 Peter 1:3)
4.      Another reason it might be called a living hope is that it happens through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (once dead, not living). (1 Peter 1:3)

Our Inheritance Is Great (05:20–07:03)

1.      Our inheritance is an objective, outside of us hope in the future. (1 Peter 1:4)
2.      God himself is keeping our infinitely valuable inheritance in heaven. (1 Peter 1:4)
3.      Therefore, no one and nothing can ruin it, defile it, diminish it, or take it away (1 Peter 1:3). It is perfectly secure.

Our God Is Faithful (07:03–10:17)

1.      Our inheritance is being kept, and we are being kept. (1 Peter 1:4–5)
2.      This is important because we might be preserved for heaven and there was nothing there that we want, and we might fail to get there because our faith failed. God prevents both (1 Peter 1:4–5).
3.      God guards us a Father (1 Peter 1:3). Therefore, the inheritance we receive is his inheritance passed down to us as children.
4.      Summary: God’s Mercy → New Birth → Living Hope → Kept by God → Worship

Study Questions

1.      What might it mean that we have a “living” hope (1 Peter 1:3)? How would you argue for your interpretation from the immediate context in 1 Peter 1?


2.      Write down everything you learn about our eternal inheritance in 1 Peter 1:3–5.


3.      What does it mean for God to “guard” us in 1 Peter 1:5 (from what and/or for what)?

Related Resources

•      Biopsy Blows and the Helmet of Hope (article)
•      Hope in Heaven Changes Today (interview)
•      A Living Hope Through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (sermon on 1 Peter 1:3–9)

1 Peter 1:6–9, Part 1

God Gives Us Joy in Grief

September 29, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:6–9
Topic: Joy

Principle for Bible Reading

What role do trials play in the Christian life? In this lab, John Piper explains a hard, but beautiful truth. God writes hardship and suffering into every believer’s story for the sake of their faith. He wants to secure and deepen our joy in himself, and so he carries us through various trials.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:56)

The Call to Rejoice (01:56–04:00)

1.      “In this you rejoice …” (1 Peter 1:6). “This” refers to the salvation and inheritance described in 1 Peter 1:3–5.
2.      By saying that they do rejoice, Peter’s words very likely created what they called for, meaning some were liberated to rejoice in their suffering by Peter’s letter. (1 Peter 1:6)

Grief in the Christian Life (04:00–07:02)

1.      “A little while” (1 Peter 1:6) is Peter’s description of a person’s whole life.
2.      Why would trials be necessary for a Christian (1 Peter 1:6)? Who determines that it is necessary? God (1 Peter 4:19).
3.      Joy and trials are simultaneous in Peter’s mind. (1 Peter 1:6, 2 Corinthians 6:10)
4.      The trials (the types of suffering) that come will be of various kinds. (1 Peter 1:6)

Reasons for Rejoicing (07:02–05:20)

1.      The reason trials come in order to prove our faith genuine, and result in praise, glory, and honor. (1 Peter 1:7)
2.      The genuineness of our faith is more precious even than gold (1 Peter 1:6). And if gold is of less value and is tested by fire, how much more will our faith be tested to prove its greater worth.
3.      Whose “praise and glory and honor” (1 Peter 1:7)? Surely, it is the believer’s (1 Peter 5:4). His word for shepherds applies to all.
4.      Your faith will result in glory. If you persevere, you will be glorified. (1 Peter 1:7, Romans 8:18)

Study Questions

1.      1 Peter 1:6 begins with, “In this you rejoice …” What does “this” refer to? Summarize it in your own words.


2.      What do you learn about suffering in the Christian life in 1 Peter 1:6–7? How many things can you list from these two verses?


3.      Whose “praise and glory and honor” is Peter referring to? Does 1 Peter 5:4 and Romans 8:18

Related Resources

•      There Is a Way to Be Happy, Even in Sadness (article)
•      Truths You Will Need When Cancer Hits (interview)
•      Joy Through the Fiery Test of Genuine Faith (sermon on 1 Peter 1:6–7)

1 Peter 1:6–9, Part 2

Love by Faith, Not by Sight

October 1, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:6–9, 1 John 5:1, Romans 5:2, and 2 Corinthians 3:18
Topic: Joy

Principle for Bible Reading

Do you love Jesus? A genuine affection for and devotion to Jesus is an unmistakable miracle made possible only by God’s work. In this lab, John Piper looks at the affect of the new birth on our heart’s response to Christ. He also asks how the promise of God’s glory in the future affects our lives today.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–02:17)

Obstacles to Joy (02:17–03:55)

1.      The obstacle to joy in 1 Peter 1:8 is that Peter’s readers have not seen Jesus, and did not watch him suffer on the cross. (1 Peter 1:8)
2.      Peter actually saw Christ suffer with his own eyes. (1 Peter 5:1)
3.      His readers did not see Jesus, and they have no present sight or vision of him now. (1 Peter 1:8)

A Supernatural Joy (03:55–06:03)

1.      A genuine love for Jesus is a miracle worked by God in the new birth. (1 Peter 1:3, 8)
2.      When God gave us a living hope, one of the things we now hope for is to see Jesus. That is what it means to love him. (1 Peter 1:8)
3.      If you believe in the Lord Jesus, you have been born of God, meaning you’ve experienced a supernatural miracle. (1 John 5:1, 1 Peter 1:8)

A Glorified Joy (06:03–10:05)

1.      What does it mean that the joy in 1 Peter 1:8 is “glorified”?
2.      Our rejoicing happens through hope for the future glory of God. As we focus on the glory to come, that glory has an effect on our joy. (Romans 5:2)
3.      We grow from one degree of glory to another by beholding the Lord, by looking to him in love and with joy. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
4.      The hope of future glory streams back into our joy today. (1 Peter 1:8)
5.      Filled with hope, we are now experiencing our salvation and the glory-filled joy it brings. (1 Peter 1:8–9)

Study Questions

1.      What is the obstacle to joy in Jesus in 1 Peter 1:8–9? Why is it an obstacle?


2.      Why might Peter’s statement of their love and joy in 1 Peter 1:8 be encouraging to his readers?


3.      What might it mean that our joy is “glorified” (1 Peter 1:8)? Try and give an answer yourself, and then look at Romans 5:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 for possible help.

Related Resources

•      In God We Joy (article)
•      Joy in God: To Be Waited for or Pursued? (interview)
•      True Christianity: Inexpressible Joy in the Invisible Christ (sermon on 1 Peter 1:8–9)

1 Peter 1:10–12

The Immeasurable Value of Grace

October 6, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:10–12
Topic: The Grace of God

Principle for Bible Reading

We will never be able to estimate the value of the grace God has shown us as sinners. In this lab, John Piper highlights the preciousness of our salvation by looking at three groups of people in the Bible: prophets, preachers, and angels. Each saw the grace Jesus brings, and each responded in their own way.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:00)

The Prophets (02:00–05:50)

1.      The prophets felt intense interest and desire for the grace that was coming. (1 Peter 1:10)
2.      They knew the Messiah would suffer, but that glories would come after. (1 Peter 1:11)
3.      And they knew that they were serving people later in history through their ministry. (1 Peter 1:12)
4.      Therefore, we are heirs of all the hopes of the Old Testament.
5.      This should intensify our desire to see and understand how the Old Testament anticipates Jesus.

The Preachers and Angels (05:50–07:58)

1.      Peter moves from the prophets to Spirit-filled preachers of the gospel. (1 Peter 1:12)
2.      The emphasis in 1 Peter 1:12 is to highlight even further the preciousness of the salvation foretold in the Old Testament, and now preached in the gospel.
3.      The gospel we are now hearing is the culmination of all the prophets’ ministry.
4.      And Peter doesn’t stop with prophets and preachers, but draws in angels, as well. Even the angels desire to see what we see in the gospel. (1 Peter 1:12)

The Angels (07:58–10:05)

1.      The prophets ached to see and experience the grace we have received. (1 Peter 1:10)
2.      The Holy Spirit confirms through the gospel that this grace has arrived with Jesus. (1 Peter 1:12)
3.      Even the angels watch and are stunned by the story of God’s redeeming grace. (1 Peter 1:12)
4.      The point of this paragraph is to make God’s grace so intensely desirable that we would set our hope fully on it. (1 Peter 1:13)

Study Questions

1.      Based on 1 Peter 1:10–12, what do we learn about the role of the prophets in our life and salvation? How does this change or inform how we read the Old Testament?


2.      What is it precisely about the “good news” (1 Peter 1:12) that fulfills the prophets’ prediction of “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories”?


3.      Reading 1 Peter 1:10–13, why does Peter draw in the prophets, the preachers, and the angels in here at this point in his letter?

Related Resources

•      Grace Gone Wild (article)
•      How Do I Know I’m Saved? (interview)
•      What the Prophets Sought and Angels Desired (sermon on 1 Peter 1:10–12)

1 Peter 1:13–16, Part 1

Think Hard for the Sake of Your Heart

October 8, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:13–16
Topic: Hope

Principle for Bible Reading

Hope is a human emotion, and the Bible commands us to have it. So how do we pursue it if we do not feel it? In this lab, John Piper explains how God has wired the relationship between the mind and the heart. Scripture tells us that biblical thinking serves passionate hoping.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:47)

Set your Hope on Grace (01:47–05:23)

1.      The main command in 1 Peter 1:13 is to “set your hope fully …”
2.      1 Peter 1:13 begins with “Therefore …” So what is grounding these believers’ hope?
3.      Their hope rests on their new birth in the past, their glorious inheritance in the future, and the tested genuineness of their faith. (1 Peter 1:3–7)

Be Ready to Give a Reason (05:23–06:55)

1.      Our hope in Jesus has reasons. (1 Peter 3:15)
2.      That doesn’t mean that the reasons have to be complicated or intellectually impressive. Peter gives us plenty of reasons for our hope in 1 Peter.
3.      The call in 1 Peter 3:15 is to be ready to give an answer, not necessarily the best or most compelling answer. Just know some reasons for your hope in Jesus.

Prepare Your Minds for Action (06:55–11:26)

1.      Peter adds two participles to the command to hope: “… preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded.” (1 Peter 1:13)
2.      As we hope in Jesus, we are called to think actively or energetically (“prepare your minds for action”). (1 Peter 1:13)
3.      And as we hope in Jesus, we are called to think clearly (“being sober-minded”), and not like someone who is drunk. (1 Peter 1:13)
4.      With a clear and active mind, set your hope fully on grace.
5.      God has wired our minds to serve our emotions, our convictions to serve our hope. Therefore, think hard for the sake of your heart.

Study Questions

1.      Name the different commands in 1 Peter 1:13. Which command is the primary one?


2.      Explain the “Therefore” at the beginning of 1 Peter 1:13. How does what comes before serve what comes after?


3.      Define what it means to “prepare our minds for action” or to “be sober-minded.” How do those activities relate to hope in Peter’s mind, and what does that mean for the Christian life?

Related Resources

•      Your Hope Is As Alive As Jesus (article)
•      Hope in Heaven Changes Today (interview)
•      Girding the Mind to Guard Your Hope (sermon on 1 Peter 1:13)

1 Peter 1:13–16, Part 2

Put Away Ignorant Passions

October 13, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:13–16
Topic: Pursuit of Holiness

Principle for Bible Reading

All of us have remaining sin still inside of us making war against our souls. In this lab, John Piper looks at strategies for bringing our hearts and lives further and further into conformity to God and his word. We need to see the relationship between what we know, what we feel, and how we live.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–01:58)

Recap: Think Hard for the Sake of Your Heart (01:58–05:45)

Replace Ignorance with Knowledge (05:45–08:27)

1.      Peter says “children” (1 Peter 1:14) at least in part because we have been born again. (1 Peter 1:3)
2.      Before we were born again, we were ignorant (1 Peter 1:14), and our desires deceived us because they were based on ignorance, and not on truth. (Ephesians 4:22)
3.      The answer to our former ignorance is to prepare our minds for action and replace ignorance with knowledge, with reasons for real hope. (1 Peter 1:13)
4.      Our new knowledge produces new passions leading to new behavior.

Value God in All You Do (08:27–10:54)

1.      Ignorance has been replaced with knowledge, and deceitful passions have been replaced with new passions. (1 Peter 1:13–14)
2.      That knowledge and those passions lead to “holy conduct.” (1 Peter 1:15)
3.      God’s holiness is always acting in accord with his own infinite value. (1 Peter 1:15)
4.      We are called to be holy, and we do that by showing the infinite value of God in all our conduct.

Summary (10:54–13:55)

1.      New Knowledge—Replace your former ignorance with truth about God and the grace that is coming to you. (Head) →
2.      New Hope and New Passions (Heart) →
3.      New Conduct—Bring all of your life into conformity with your new knowledge and passions, making God look valuable in all you do. (Hands)

Study Questions

1.      What is wrong with the passions Peter describes in 1 Peter 1:14? You can refer to Ephesians 4:22 for help.


2.      In 1 Peter 1:13–16, what is the relationship between knowledge (head) and passions/affections (heart) and conduct (hands)? How do we bring our lives into conformity with God and his word?


3.      What does it mean for God to be holy? How would you describe that to a new believer or nonbeliever? What texts might you draw in for support?

Related Resources

•      The Distance Between Head and Heart (article)
•      The Passions That Prevent Adultery (interview)
•      The Lust of Ignorance and the Life of Holiness (sermon on 1 Peter 1:14–16)

1 Peter 1:17–19

Fear Treating God as Trash

October 27, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:17–19
Topic: Pursuit of Holiness

Principle for Bible Reading

Do you fear God? The Bible seems to be confusing about fear. In some places, God calls us to live in fear. Elsewhere, he says he’s delivered us from fear. In this lab, John Piper focuses on 1 Peter 1:17–19, but pulls in lots of verses to help us understand what it means for us to fear God.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:27)

God Calls Us to Fear (02:27–04:03)

1.      Peter says very clearly to these Christians, “Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1 Peter 1:17). But isn’t the Christian free from fear in Christ?
2.      The truly Christian life will be motivated in some way by fear.
3.      The fear comes from knowing that God will judge everyone impartially according to their own works. (1 Peter 1:17)

God Rescues Us from Fear (04:03–06:28)

1.      The command to fear in 1 Peter 1:17, though, comes between two glorious statements that should take away fear for believers.
2.      The God who judges impartially is a Father to us (1 Peter 1:17). And everything so far in 1 Peter has said that this Father treats us with great mercy and secures us forever.
3.      Then, in 1 Peter 1:18–19, Peter says that these believers were ransomed with the blood of Christ, meaning they no longer had to fear.

God Will Judge All (06:28–11:39)

1.      What does it mean for God to judge impartially each according to his works? (1 Peter 1:17)
2.      Fear unbelief, and let that fear drive you to faith. (Romans 11:20)
3.      Work out your salvation with fear, for God is working in you. (Philippians 2:12–13)
4.      All will stand before the judgment seat, and therefore we all should fear. (2 Corinthians 5:10–11)
5.      In Romans 2:6–7, rendering to each according to his needs means giving those who have some good works (giving evidence for their faith) with eternal life.
6.      When Jesus returns, he will repay each according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)
7.      Paul warned professing believers that those who continued in sin would be excluded from the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
8.      We are called to pursue the holiness “without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

The Fear of God (11:39–15:51)

1.      Fear ever treating the ransom God paid for you as trash.
2.      If cozying up with the sins for which Jesus died is tempting to you, run with all your might in the other direction. Do not let yourself be found in bed with the very things that cost the Son his life.
3.      Illustration #1: A daughter ransomed by her father.
4.      Illustration #2: A child playing with a big dog.

Study Questions

1.      What is the main point of 1 Peter 1:17–19 (look for the main verb)? Why might that command seem strange in light of the immediate context in these three verses?


2.      Read Philippians 2:12–13, 2 Corinthians 5:10–11, Romans 2:6–7, and Hebrews 12:14. How do these other passages help us understand what Peter means in 1 Peter 1:17–19?


3.      Based on these verses, and any others that come to mind, how would you explain what it means for a believer to fear God? Can you think of any illustrations you might use?

Related Resources

•      Will America Be Judged? (article)
•      What Does It Mean for the Christian to Fear God? (interview)
•      “A Sojourn on Earth in Confident Fear” (sermon on 1 Peter 1:17–19)

1 Peter 1:20–21

Jesus Christ, the Beginning and the End

October 29, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:20–21 and Hebrews 1:1–2
Topic: The Person of Christ

Lots of people identify Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But do they live in way that also says he is their greatest Treasure? In this lab, John Piper uncovers a couple of precious truths about our infinitely valuable Jesus. There are at least two paths in these verses to grow our love for and hope in him.

Principle for Bible Reading

Peter wants us to find hope by highlighting the immeasurable value of Jesus Christ. Focus on each thing Peter notes about Christ, and try to explain in your own words why they highlight Jesus’s beauty or value.

Study Questions

1.      What things does Peter highlight about Jesus in 1 Peter 1:20–21? In what ways do those things cause us to live in fear of God (1 Peter 1:17)?


2.      Read Hebrews 1:1–2, 1 Corinthians 10:11, and 1 Peter 4:7, 17. How do these verses help us understand “the last times” in 1 Peter 1:20?


3.      Who is doing the work in 1 Peter 1:20? What is he doing, and who is he doing it for? Does this reveal anything new for you about him?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–03:13)

Forever Known by God (03:13–05:23)

•      Jesus was known by God in eternity past. (1 Peter 1:20)
•      God did not look around on the earth for someone to save his people.
•      Jesus was brought into the world precisely because he had always existed and been known by God (1 Peter 1:20). God chose him for that.
•      Knowing that Jesus existed in eternity past and was always God’s chosen Savior for the world should elevate his value in our hearts.

Made Known in History (05:23–08:10)

•      Jesus was known before the foundation of the world, and then brought into the world in the last times. (1 Peter 1:20)
•      When Jesus entered the world, he began the last days (“the last times”).
•      The coming of the Son marks the beginning of the last days. (Hebrews 1:1–2; see also Hebrews 9:26)
•      Something decisively changed when Jesus entered the world. He introduced a new era or age in history. (1 Corinthians 10:11)
•      The end times, when God will judge all people, began when Jesus came. (1 Peter 4:7, 17)
•      The manifestation of this Jesus in history has inaugurated the end of history, again elevating his infinite worth.

He Came for Your Hope (08:10–10:31)
• Jesus came into the world for the sake of those who hope in God. (1 Peter 1:21)
• God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory so that we would believe in God. (1 Peter 1:21)
• God is working through Christ to make himself our treasure, the object of our faith and hope.
• Everything Peter says about Jesus in these two verses should cause us to live in fear of making Jesus look inconsequential or worthless.

Related Resources

•      I Love Jesus Christ (article)
•      Don Carson on the Incarnation (interview)
•      “Christ Appeared That We Might Hope in God” (sermon on 1 Peter 1:20–21)

1 Peter 1:22–25, Part 1

How God Purifies Our Souls from Sin

November 3, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:22–25, Acts 15:8–9, and 1 Peter 4:17
Topic: Faith

How does the faith in Jesus by which we were saved relate to the new life in Jesus for which we were saved? How do we pursue purity by grace, and not just our own resolve or discipline? In this lab, John Piper tackles a difficult question about obedience, pulling apart the various things that happen when we’re born again.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you come to a difficult question in a text, look for help first in the immediate context, then in the book in which you’re studying, and then lastly to other places in Scripture. Search other places within the book or more widely in Scripture for the same words or phrases.

Study Questions

1.      Explain the relationship in Peter’s mind between purity, obedience, and love explained in 1 Peter 1:22. Use your own words, and for the sake of this exercise, limit yourselves to this verse.


2.      What does “obedience to the truth” mean in 1 Peter 1:22? What reasons would you give for your explanation?


3.      Read Galatians 5:6, 1 Timothy 1:5, Acts 15:8–9, and 1 Peter 4:17. Explain how each might help us understand what Peter means in 1 Peter 1:22.

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:30)

Obedience to the Truth (02:30–05:17)

•      The love in 1 Peter 1:22 comes from a purified heart. (1 Peter 1:20)
•      The question for those who want love, then, is how we are purified.
•      The answer in 1 Peter 1:22 is through obedience to the truth.
•      Is that obedience obedience to the law (1 Peter 1:22)? Or is Peter talking about another obedience?
•      No, “obedience to the truth” (1 Peter 1:22) is faith and hope in the gospel.

Five Reasons for Faith in the Gospel (05:17–09:58)

1      Love is the overflow of obedience to the truth (not itself obedience to the truth). (1 Peter 1:22, Galatians 5:6, 1 Timothy 1:5)
2      The new birth is another way of talking about the purification of our souls, and the new birth happens through believing the good news. (1 Peter 1:23–25)
3      People “who do not obey the gospel” in 1 Peter 4:17 are people who do not trust in the gospel.
4      Faith unites us to Christ, and faith has a sanctifying and cleansing effect. (Acts 15:8–9)
5      In the verse before (1 Peter 1:21), Peter talks about our faith and hope being in God, and then immediately says, “Having purified our souls …”

Let Your Faith Overflow in Love (09:58–11:29)

•      My conclusion is “obedience to the truth” means faith and hope in the gospel. (1 Peter 1:22)
•      Our souls are purified through faith by our union with Christ (counted as perfectly pure) and we are purified through this faith because it produces brotherly love.
•      Let your faith and hope overflow in love for others.

Related Resources

•      Cherishing Truth for the Sake of Love (article)
•      The Key to Christian Obedience (interview)
•      “Command of God: the Obedience of Faith” (sermon on Romans 16:25–27)

1 Peter 1:22–25, Part 2

We Cannot Love Without Hope

November 5, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:22–25 and 1 Peter 1:3
Topics: Loving Others, Regeneration / New Birth

Where do we find the strength and attitude we need to truly love the people in our lives? In this lab, John Piper looks at two different verses in 1 Peter that describe our new birth, and the effects it has on our earthly relationships. True love only proceeds from genuine hope, which only comes from the word of God.

Principle for Bible Reading

Sometimes the Bible talks about the same thing in different ways. To our limited minds, it often feels like a contradiction, but when we slow down, we see that it’s possible for both texts to be true, even though they’re saying different things.

Study Questions

1.      In 1 Peter 1:22–23, what is the relationship between our new birth and our love for one another? What other texts in 1 Peter might help explain this dynamic?


2.      In 1 Peter 1:3, Peter grounds the new birth one way, and in 1 Peter 1:23, he grounds it another way. Why might he explain this reality in two different ways like he does?


3.      Practically, why does love proceed from our new birth? What is it about the truth of the gospel and the reality of the new birth that makes us more loving people?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:54)

The Beginning of the New Birth (00:54–03:50)

•      There’s a strong connection between our love for one another and our new birth. (1 Peter 1:22–23). Loves comes about by being born again.
•      In 1 Peter 1:3, Peter grounds the new birth in history, in the resurrection of Christ.
•      In 1 Peter 1:23, Peter grounds the new birth in the living and abiding word of God—the gospel that has been preached to you.

Born Again and Invincible (03:50–06:46)

•      Are the differences in speaking about the new birth in 1 Peter 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:23 really all that different?
•      In 1 Peter 1:3, Peter says we are born again to a “living” hope.
•      In 1 Peter 1:23, he says we were born again of an imperishable seed. Peter wants us to know that we are imperishable, or that our hope is living.
•      Peter cites Isaiah 40:6–8 to underline the invincible power of the word of God in our lines.

The Seed of Hope (06:46–09:34)

•      I do not know if the “seed” is the Holy Spirit or the word (1 Peter 1:23). In either case, Peter is making the same point.
•      If we are born again by this imperishable word of God, we ourselves will never perish. (1 Peter 1:22)
•      True love for one another flows out of a living and invincible hope in God, born in us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ explained in the gospel.
•      Those born again in Jesus should be the freest of all people, and therefore should love others best.

Related Resources

•      The Value of Knowing How God Saved You (article)
•      Hope in Eternal Purity, Aim at Daily Purity (interview)
•      “Born Again Through the Living and Abiding Word” (sermon on 1 Peter 1:13–15)

1 Peter 2:1–3, Part 1

Spiritual Growth Is Not Optional

November 12, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:1–3 and 1 Peter 1:5
Topic: Sanctification & Growth

God is not done with his work when we first believe and are saved. He intends day by day to make us into what we already are in Christ. Spiritual growth is not optional or marginal in the Christian life. Every person that truly believes in Christ is increasingly transformed into his likeness.

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible uses hundreds and hundreds of metaphors to help us understand the Christian life. In these verses, Peter talks about “spiritual milk” (1 Peter 2:2). When you come across a word picture like this, press on it to see all that the author wants you to see about the truth being depicted.

Study Questions

1.      Explain the “So” (or “Therefore”) at the beginning of 1 Peter 2:1. How does this first verse of chapter two build on the last verses of chapter one?


2.      Explain Peter’s milk metaphor in 1 Peter 2:1–3. What is the milk? And what role does it play in the Christian life?


3.      Looking at 1 Peter 1:5, 9; 2:2, explain how Peter is using the word “salvation.” What seems different about the way he is using it, and how would you explain how it fits with other places in the Bible that talk about our salvation?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:48)

Become What You Are (02:48–04:19)

•      You are new, and you have an unshakeable hope. (1 Peter 1:22–25)
•      Therefore, you should obey (“put away”). (1 Peter 2:1)
•      Because you are already new in Christ, be about becoming what you are.

The Pure Spiritual Milk (04:19–06:56)

•      When you are born again, do what newborns do. Long for (spiritual) milk. (1 Peter 2:1)
•      Peter is not speaking only to new believers, but to all believers. (1 Peter 2:1)
•      The “spiritual milk” in 1 Peter 2:2 is the word of God, that is the gospel. (1 Peter 1:23–25)
•      The same word that brought us to life sustains us each day.
•      A newborn person tastes the goodness of the Lord in this milk. (Psalm 34:8)

The End of the Christian Life (06:56–11:06)

•      The one who tastes this spiritual milk grows up into salvation. (1 Peter 2:2)
•      Salvation, for Peter, is mainly a future reality. (1 Peter 1:5, 9)
•      We are saved now, but we are growing all the time unto a full and final salvation. (1 Peter 2:2)
•      The Christian life is not mechanical or automatic. It’s an organic and dynamic process.
•      Don’t ever think that growing through the word of God is optional or marginal in the Christian life. Spiritual growth is absolutely necessary for every believer.

Related Resources

•      Knowledge Doesn’t Mean Maturity (article)
•      Fear, Anxiety, and Growth in Godliness (interview)
•      “His Commandments Are Not Burdensome” (sermon on 1 John 4:20–5:5)

1 Peter 2:1–3, Part 2

A Remedy for Envy

November 17, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:1–3
Topic: Killing Sin

The new birth produces love in every true believer in Jesus Christ, and it also weans us off our old sinful desires, like envy. But we have to be able to spot these deadly desires within us. In this lab, John Piper zeros in on several common iniquities, and explains how we wield the word of God against them.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you come across a list in the Bible, stop and examine it. Why did the author include the things he did? Why not include other things? Try and define each item in the list, and look for similarities, differences, and connections between them.

Study Questions

1.      Look at the lists of sins in 1 Peter 2:1. Why might Peter have included the sins he did and not others in this case?


2.      If we’re going to battle these specific sins, we need to be able to identify them. Take each of the sins and try to define them in your own words.


3.      What weapons does 1 Peter 2:1–3 give us for fighting these specific sins? Try to explain practically how the truths Peter highlights wean us off of these sinful desires.

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:42)

The Fruit of the New Birth (02:42–05:33)

•      What effect does it have on our lives that we have been born again by the living and abiding word? (1 Peter 2:1–3)
•      We already learned that love proceeds from our new birth. (1 Peter 1:22)
•      “So” (Therefore) in 1 Peter 2:1 says that the new birth also purifies us from malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.
•      This is what it means to “grow up into salvation”—we love more, and are less consumed with wickedness—and that happens as we satisfy ourselves with the spiritual milk of the word of God. (1 Peter 2:2)

Investigating Iniquity (05:33–12:37)

•      Slander is the only one that’s an action.
•      Malice is a disposition of the heart to want to hurt people. It’s a summary of the other evils we commit against others.
•      Deceit is a desire that other people believe what is not true.
•      Hypocrisy is a species of deceit that conceals things about ourselves.
•      Envy and slander go together in this list. Envy overflows at its worst in slander. (1 Peter 1:20)
•      When we’re filled with spiritual milk, we become content with who we are in Christ. The desires for hypocrisy and deceit fade away. (1 Peter 2:1–3)
•      The remedy for envy comes from knowing and tasting the goodness and kindness of the Lord (1 Peter 2:3). His mercy and his kindness will make envy seem utterly inappropriate.

Related Resources

•      Envy Hunts in a Pack (article)
•      Battling Envy (interview)
•      “Battling the Unbelief of Envy” (sermon on Psalm 37:1–7)

1 Peter 2:4–8, Part 1

Come to the Man Rejected by Men

November 19, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:4–8 and Matthew 21:42
Topic: The Death of Christ

Those who follow Jesus should expect to be rejected by the world around them. But their rejection will not be the last word. In this lab, John Piper traces a new word picture from Peter and several Old Testament quotations to show why all who come to Christ and embrace rejection with him will also receive eternal life and glory.

Principle for Bible Reading

The authors of the New Testament often quote the Old Testament. In each case, we need to ask questions about why the author went to this particular Old Testament verse or verses to explain or defend their point. What led them here?

Study Questions

1.      What change do you notice between Peter’s argument in 1 Peter 2:1–3 and 1 Peter 2:4–8? Why might Peter shift so suddenly?


2.      Read Matthew 21:33–44. How does this parable inform how Peter uses the Old Testament in 1 Peter 2:4–8?


3.      Based on 1 Peter 1, why would Peter turn to this image when writing to these believers? What is it about them that might welcome this particular metaphor?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–04:30)

In 1 Peter 2:1–3, Peter uses the image of an infant being sustained with milk. In 1 Peter 2:4–8, he abruptly changes metaphors to architecture, building a house with stones.

The Cornerstone of the Old Testament (04:30–07:49)

•      Peter read his Old Testament on the look out for stone imagery. (1 Peter 2:6–8)
•      In 1 Peter 2:6–8, Peter quotes from Isaiah 28:16 (1 Peter 2:6), Psalm 118:22 (1 Peter 2:7), and Isaiah 8:14 (1 Peter 2:8).
•      Peter likely looked for stone imagery in the Old Testament, because Jesus quoted in Matthew 21:42 (the parable of the tenants).
•      Peter likely looked for stone imagery in the Old Testament, because Jesus quoted Psalm 118 in Matthew 21:42 (the parable of the tenants). Peter learned from Jesus that the rejected “stone” is Jesus.

Rejected with Christ (07:49–10:28)

•      Peter is writing to embattled sojourners and exiles. (1 Peter 2:11)
•      Peter calls Christians to live in a way that puts them out of step with the world, which will eventually lead to rejection. (1 Peter 4:3–4)
•      Peter knew he was asking people to follow Jesus in a life of rejection so they might also enjoy a life of glorification.
•      That’s why he uses the rejected stone imagery. He wants us to see that our rejection is like Christ’s, that it’s authored by God and will lead to glory.

Building a Spiritual House (10:28–15:27)

•      Peter pleads with all to come to Christ, the rejected one. (1 Peter 2:4)
•      As you come to Christ, participate in the life of the rejected stone (“as living stones”). (1 Peter 2:5)
•      God is fitting us together as living stones into a place of worship. (1 Peter 2:5)
•      First, we are together a spiritual house of worship. Then, we are together a priesthood who makes sacrifices to God. (1 Peter 2:5)
•      The sacrifices we make here are sacrifices of obedience, putting away the desires and passions of the flesh. (1 Peter 2:1)
•      C—obedience is not adequate to a God who expects perfection, but our lives are made acceptable to God through Christ. Christ’s rejection on our behalf covers all the inadequacies of our acts of obedience.

Related Resources

•      Rejected by Men, Even Our Friends (article)
•      Do My Sufferings Complete Christ’s? (interview)
•      “Why God Laid a Stone of Stumbling” (sermon on 1 Peter 2:4–8)

1 Peter 2:4–8, Part 2

They Were Destined to Disobey God

November 24, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:4–8, Matthew 21:42, and Acts 4:27–28
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism

God predestined some, in his infinite mercy, to hear the gospel and believe. And he predestined others, in unspeakable mystery, to disobey and reject the good news. In this lab, John Piper leads us carefully word by word into one of the most difficult verses and truths in all the Bible, ending with nine summary thoughts.

Principle for Bible Reading

Many of the truths in Scripture are deeper and weightier than we can completely comprehend. As we approach verses like these, we need to do so carefully and humbly, pleading with God to show us as much as he wants us to see and to keep us from pride, presumption, and error.

Study Questions

1.      Peter lays out two kinds of responses (two kinds of people) to Jesus in 1 Peter 2:4–8. Note as much as you can from these five verses about the two kinds of responses/people.


2.      1 Peter 2:8 is one of the heaviest verses in all the Bible. How would you understand it, and then how would you explain it to someone?


3.      Read Matthew 21:42 and Acts 4:27–28. How do these passages effect how you read 1 Peter 2:6–8?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:50)

Two Responses to Jesus Christ (01:50–05:03)

•      Peter draws out two kinds of responses to the living stone Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:6–8)
•      The first kind of person believes the word, and receives honor. (1 Peter 2:6)
•      The second kind of person rejects the word and stumbles in unbelief toward destruction. (1 Peter 2:7–8)
•      It looks like believers are being rejected (they are in this world) (1 Peter 2:4), but they will receive honor with Christ in glory. (1 Peter 2:7)

Predestined to Disobey (05:03–10:25)

•      To “disobey” the word is to refuse it or not believe in it. (1 Peter 2:8)
•      They were predestined by God not to believe in the good news. (1 Peter 2:8)
•      Piper’s translation of 1 Peter 2:8: “They stumble, disobeying the word, unto which they were appoint.”
•      Some say the “stumbling” that was predestined is the punishment, and not the disobedience. In that scenario, God would not be responsible for their lack of faith, but for rightly punishing their lack of faith.
•      The problem is that stumbling here is the disobedience itself. (1 Peter 2:8)
•      Jesus had already said that God planned for some to reject the cornerstone. (Matthew 21:42)
•      Again, we see that God predestined some to do sin, including killing the Son of God. (Acts 4:27–28)

Summary Thoughts on Predestination (10:25–13:15)

•      This is the other side of the coin in Peter’s calling the Christians “elect exiles” (1 Peter 1:1).
•      The mystery is how God rules over sinners without sinning, not that he does. (Acts 4:27–28)
•      God can and does will the sinful unbelief of those who reject Christ. Yet …
•      There are no personas who want to be saved and are prevented against their will.
•      Every person who perishes willfully rejects the knowledge of God.
•      There are no persons who are not morally responsible for their unbelief.
•      There are no persons whose judgment will be unjust.
•      All of us were hopelessly sinful, and none of us deserves to be delivered.
•      Take heart, embattled exiles, none of your adversaries can thwart God’s plans.

Related Resources

•      Five Reasons to Embrace Unconditional Election (article)
•      Ten Reasons to Revel in Being Chosen (article)
•      Do We Have Free Will to Choose Christ? (interview)
•      “Why God Laid a Stone of Stumbling” (sermon on 1 Peter 2:4–8)

1 Peter 2:9–10, Part 1

God Treasures You, But Not Because of You

December 3, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9–10 and Deuteronomy 7:6–8
Topic: The Nature of the Church

When a person becomes a Christian, they take on an entirely different identity, the pinnacle of which is being God’s prized possession. In this lab, John Piper looks at two of the most explicit and most profound verses on Christian identity. What we learn should humble and inspire every believer.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you get a list of metaphors like we do in 1 Peter 2:9, stop and examine each item in the list. Ask questions to understand why the list was compiled like it was. Why did the author include the word pictures that he did? Why did he include these, and not others? What significance do the adjectives play in the list?

Study Questions

1.      Take each of the metaphors in 1 Peter 2:9–10, and explain in your own words how each explains a Christian’s identity. Why does Peter include these particular metaphors?


2.      What does the phrase “chosen race” specifically say about race and ethnicity? How should it shape or reshape our understanding of these distinctions?


3.      If you learn that you’ve been chosen by God, what affect should that have on you emotionally and psychologically? What might God want you to feel when you realize you’ve been chosen by him?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:44)

A Precious Truth for Persecuted People (01:44–05:02)

•      These verses offer one of the most profound and dense descriptions of the church’s identity. (1 Peter 2:9–10)
•      Remember that Peter is writing to a suffering and persecuted minority. (1 Peter 1:1)
•      1 Peter 2:7–8 talked about those who rejected Christ and stumble in their disobedience.
•      1 Peter 2:9–10 turns to talk about those who receive Christ and make him the cornerstone of their life and hope.

Chosen by God (05:02–08:20)

•      You are chosen. (1 Peter 2:9)
•      This choosing is not owing to anything in you. (Deuteronomy 7:6–8)
•      By quoting this passage, Peter is saying that the Israelite distinctives are now enjoyed by all who believe in Jesus.
•      Why does the Lord love you? Because he love you. (Deuteronomy 7:7–8)
•      Therefore, election should be a humbling doctrine (not a prideful one).

Set Apart by God (08:20–12:14)

•      You are a chosen race. How do you become a new race?
•      We became a new race by being born again according to God’s mercy. (1 Peter 1:3)
•      There are only two races in the world: the first born (naturally) and the born again. (1 Peter 2:9)
•      Our ethnicities are precious distinctions, but they are not the essential identity of any Christian anymore.
•      We are a royal priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices, and we belong to the household of the King. (1 Peter 2:5, 9)
•      “Holy” (holy nation) communicates the holiness of our status with God. (1 Peter 2:9)
•      Finally, we are God’s own prized possession. (1 Peter 2:9)

Summary (12:14–14:05)

Related Resources

•      Ten Reasons to Revel in Being Chosen (article)
•      Is Election Divine Favoritism? (interview)
•      “Christian Identity and Christian Destiny” (sermon on 1 Peter 2:9–10)

1 Peter 2:9–10, Part 2

Why You Exist in the World

December 8, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9–10, Isaiah 43:20–21, and Ephesians 1:4–6
Topic: Christian Hedonism

Can you explain why you exist in the world? When God created you, and then saved you and made you new, why did he do it? The Bible gives us unbelievable clarity. In this lab, John Piper explains the purpose of your life. We exist not to call attention to ourselves, but to God and his glory.

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible is filled with purpose clauses (“that”, “so that”, or “in order that”) that are wonderfully helpful in understand an author’s argument. They explain reasons for all kinds of things, especially in this case for why God works the ways he does and for why you exist.

Study Questions

1.      How does 1 Peter 2:9–10 explain the purpose of your life? Put it into your own words.


2.      Read Isaiah 43:20–21, Isaiah 60:21, Jeremiah 23:11, and Ephesians 1:4–6. What do you learn about God’s purposes in the world and in you?


3.      Isn’t God vain or selfish to bring us into being or save us for his own glory? How would you answer someone who raised that objection?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:32)

Why You Exist (01:32–04:47)

•      1 Peter 2:9 explains why we’ve been chosen. Everything good that is given to us in the gospel was given to us for a reason.
•      Our reason for being as a believer is to proclaim God’s glory (in word and in deed). (1 Peter 2:9; 3:15; 2:12)
•      We exist not to call attention to ourselves, but to God. (1 Peter 2:9)
•      What specifically do we proclaim? God’s excellencies—beautiful things about him. (1 Peter 2:9)

How You Came to Be (04:47–07:28)

•      God called us out of darkness into marvelous light (how we come into being). (1 Peter 2:9)
•      You came into being as a believer by being born again (same reality in different terms). (1 Peter 1:3)
•      Another way to describe this is with calling, like Jesus calling Lazarus from the tomb. The call creates the life.

His Purpose Is Praise (07:28–10:10)

•      We exist to proclaim the excellencies of a mercifully calling and regenerating God. (1 Peter 2:9)
•      We come into being for God, that is for his praise. (Isaiah 43:20–21)
•      God plants people to make himself look glorious. (Isaiah 60:21)
•      We exist to be a praise and glory to the one who created us and called us out of darkness. (Jeremiah 13:11)
•      He chose us “to the praise of his glorious grace.” (Ephesians 1:4–6)

Does This Make God Vain? (10:10–12:48)

•      Isn’t God vain or selfish to bring us into being for his own glory?
•      No, because this calling (to proclaim his excellencies) is the consummation of our own joy in the highest beauty that exists (God himself).
•      We’re called to bring our pleasure in God to consummation by spilling over and admiring or praising him to others.
•      God is not a megalomaniac because his glory is our greatest, longest lasting satisfaction.

Related Resources

•      The Eighth Decade of Life and the Ultimate Purpose of God (article)
•      How Do I Know God’s Calling for My Life? (interview)
•      “Proclaiming the Excellencies of Christ, Not Prosperity, Among the Nations” (sermon on 1 Peter 2:9–10)

1 Peter 2:11–12, Part 1

Your Old Passions War Against You

December 10, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 5:6–7, 1 Peter 2:11–12, and Matthew 7:17–20
Topic: Killing Sin

There are desires inside of you that want to destroy you. They will try and lure you to anything and everything except God and his glory. In this lab, John Piper teaches us to fight remaining sin in our own hearts. He end by giving two strategies for abstaining from the passions of the flesh.

Principle for Bible Reading

When the Bible uses a metaphor, in this case war, we need to slow down and ask questions about the specific ways in which the word picture teaches us about the spiritual reality. Every metaphor is limited, but there are often precious things to be seen between the two things being compared (e.g. war and sinful desires) that are not immediately apparent at first sight.

Study Questions

1.      1 Peter 2:11 says that our passions wage war against our soul. Based on the immediate context (and anything else you can think of in Scripture) how do those passions fight? What do they do to harm you?


2.      What are ways Christians might misunderstand or dismiss the command in 1 Peter 2:11? How would you help them understand it rightly?


3.      What strategies can you think of from Scripture for abstaining from the passions of the flesh? Where would you take someone wanting to fight sin in their own heart?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:50)

Become Who You Already Are (01:50–05:25)

•      Peter urges these believers to abstain from passions of the flesh. (1 Peter 2:11)
•      He warns them to do this because these passions are warring against their souls, hoping to destroy them. (1 Peter 2:11)
•      Peter just explained who we are as believers (identity), and then comes to how we ought to live. Because of who you already are, be who you are. (1 Peter 2:9–11)
•      Some will get this wrong by thinking these kinds of commands are not necessary for believers, because they’ve already been saved. Others will get this wrong by thinking we abstain so that we can be saved. Both are seriously wrong.
•      The text tells us who we are, and then gives us the command (so that we increasingly become who we already are). Those who walk in love and destroy their sin (not perfectly) are showing they have already been made new through faith.

Confirming the Command (05:25–07:57)

•      The same pattern shows up in 1 Corinthians 5:6–7. Be about becoming something new, because you already have been made new.
•      1 Peter 2:9–10 declare who we already, and then 1 Peter 2:11 says how we ought to live in light of that reality.
•      You don’t become a good tree by bearing good fruit. You show that you are a good tree by bearing good fruit. (Matthew 7:17–20)
•      When you abstain from the passions of the flesh, you’re not making yourself God’s chosen people, but revealing that you already are God’s chosen people.

How Do Passions Destroy You? (07:57–10:54)

•      How do your passions war against you and try to destroy you? (1 Peter 2:11)
•      You exist (were made) to proclaim excellent things about God. (1 Peter 2:9)
•      The passions of the flesh are any passions that cause you to stop marveling most in the excellency of God (1 Peter 2:11). They dim and destroy your passions for God.
•      They do this by making other things look brighter and more beautiful than God. (1 Peter 2:11)
•      The passions of the flesh strip you of the power to do the thing you were created to do: to proclaim God’s excellencies.

How Do You Abstain? (10:54–13:25)

•      One option is to “cut off your hand” and “gouge our your eye” (Matt 5:29-30). You feel the desires, but deny them.
•      A second option (we always do both) is to replace your old passions with new passions. (1 Peter 1:13)
•      Develop new and increasingly intense longings for God’s word. (1 Peter 2:2–3)
•      As you abstain from the passions of the flesh, you preserve the very reason for which you were created, namely to savor God’s glory.

Related Resources

•      Satan and Sodomy: Understated and Inflammatory Words (article)
•      How Do I Know God’s Calling for My Life? (interview)
•      “The War Against the Soul and the Glory of God” (sermon on 1 Peter 2:11–12)

1 Peter 2:11–12, Part 2

Silence the World with Good Deeds

December 29, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:11–12 and 1 Peter 1:14
Topic: Evangelism

Many Christians today cannot stand being maligned, and so they cave to what the world wants. In this lab, John Piper helps us win the world by living differently.

Many Christians today cannot stand being maligned by the world, and so they cave to what the world wants. They ignore the Bible and do whatever society does. In this lab, John Piper helps us win the world by living differently. He explains how our changed lives are one of the most powerful witnesses to the worth of Jesus Christ.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you read commands or arguments in the Bible, like in 1 Peter 2:12, think of the ways that command or argument might be abused by someone. How might it be taken out of context or warped to serve another purpose? Then develop a way to answer or correct that wrong interpretation or application with support from elsewhere in the Bible.

Study Questions

1.      Look back at 1 Peter 1:14, and explain how it relates to 1 Peter 2:11–12. What are the relationships, according to Peter, between our knowledge, our desires, and our behavior?


2.      What is the ultimate purpose of 1 Peter 2:12? How do the other parts of these two verses relate to or support that one main purpose?


3.      Can you think of your own example for what this might look like? How might 1 Peter 2:12 really happen, how might we win the world, without compromising our Christian faith and convictions?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:22)

Made New with Truth (02:22–03:55)

•      Ignorance produces sinful passions and desires. (1 Peter 1:14)
•      And those sinful passions lead to conformity to sin.
•      Peter is striving to replace their ignorance with new truth, that will change their desires, and eventually their behavior.
•      Peter must have that process in mind here again in 1 Peter 2:11.

The Power of a Changed Life (03:55–06:39)

•      The call is to keep your conduct honorable or beautiful in the world. (1 Peter 2:12)
•      Peter wants these Christians’ lives to make Christ look beautiful.
•      The purpose is to confront and end slander from nonbelievers. (1 Peter 2:12)
•      How do we silence slander from our opponents in the world?
•      We silence them by doing good deeds. (1 Peter 2:12)

Win the World, Don’t Let the World Win (06:39–08:52)
• This does mean that we do whatever it takes not to be maligned by the world.
• We are not going to continue to do what the world wants us to do, no matter what they say. (1 Peter 4:3–4)
• 1 Peter 4:4 says the world will be surprised when you stop acting like them, and they will malign you. It does not say go ahead and do what the world wants.
• 1 Peter 2:12 suggests there are certain good deeds that even some in the world will recognize, respect, and admire.

An Example: The Pro-Life Movement (08:52–11:01)

Related Resources

•      Why Would the World Ask About Your Hope? (article)
•      Is God Only Glorified by People Who Love Him? (interview)
•      “Good Deeds and the Glory of God” (sermon on 1 Peter 2:11–12)

1 Peter 2:11–12, Part 3

Will Others Worship God Because of You?

December 31, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:11–12, Acts 15:14, and Luke 1:68
Topic: Evangelism

The Bible says that some will be saved through the witness of our faithfulness. But how does that happen? What makes our living in line with the gospel compelling to nonbelievers? In this lab, John Piper explains how our good deeds win others to Christ.

Principle for Bible Reading

Often the biblical authors create or mention a series of steps for the Christian to learn and practice. When you come to a series of actions, stop and think about the differences between the steps, what order they should be in, and any relevant relationships between the steps.

Study Questions

1.      Look at 1 Peter 2:12 and separate the different steps Peter mentions (John sees four steps). Put the steps in order, and explain how they relate to each other.


2.      How does someone go from seeing our good deeds to glorifying God? What moves them from observing our good deeds to worship? Look at 1 Peter 2:15 and 3:16 for help. What massive thing has to happen before anything else (mentioned in the first verses of the letter)?


3.      Peter says they will glorify God on “the day of visitation.” What do you think that means and why? Where in the Bible would you go to support your answer?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:20)

A Path to Glory (01:20–03:34)

•      First, we are slandered. (1 Peter 2:12)
•      Therefore, we should do good deeds—positive, proactive engagement for the good of the world. (1 Peter 2:12)
•      Then, the world sees your good works. (1 Peter 2:12)
•      Finally, having seen, they glorify God. (1 Peter 2:12)

Awakening an Unbeliever (03:34–05:59)

•      How does the world go from seeing our good works to worshipping God?
•      One way is that the good works might silence their unfair criticism or slander. (1 Peter 2:15)
•      Another way is that they might be put to shame and repent. (1 Peter 3:16)
•      However God chooses to do it, he must cause them to be born again. (1 Peter 1:3)

The Day of Visitation (05:59–08:55)

•      Peter says some in the world will glorify God because of your good works “on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11). When is that day?
•      It might the day of the second coming, or it could be the day that God causes them to be born again and believe.
•      God “visits” the Gentiles to save them through faith. (Acts 15:14)
•      Again, God “visits and redeems” his people in the coming of Jesus (the first time). (Luke 1:68)
•      Therefore, Peter probably is not thinking mainly of the second coming, but of their conversion through the witness of your good deeds.

Related Resources

•      How to Drink Orange Juice to the Glory of God (article)
•      How Does It Glorify God to Predestine People to Hell? (interview)
•      “How to Do Good So That God Gets the Glory” (sermon on 1 Peter 4:10–11)

1 Peter 2:13–17, Part 1

Live on Earth as Citizens of Heaven

January 5, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:13–17 and Philippians 3:21
Topic: Government

Christians live in and are citizens of some nation on earth, under some government, but their final authority is in heaven. So what did God intend for human governments to do? And how should we respond as believers in Jesus? In this lab, John Piper explains how to live as exiles and refugees.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you see a biblical author repeating a theme in a book or series of books, stop and look at the verses that deal with that particular theme. Often phrases or ideas in one verse will bring light and clarity to another verse.

Study Questions

1.      Review 1 Peter 2:11–12. What kind of people is Peter writing to with this letter? Who are they and what is there status in this world? How does that inform his call in 1 Peter 2:13–14?


2.      Read 1 Peter 2:13–17, 18; 3:1, and 7–8. How does this effect your understanding of 1 Peter 2:13–17? What theme is Peter building on throughout this letter, specifically in these verses?


3.      One important word appears in 1 Peter 2:14 and 1 Peter 2:15. What does Peter’s use of that word in both verses reveal about God’s intention for Christian witness and the local government?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–03:12)

A Call to Refugees (03:12–05:58)

•      Remember that Peter is writing to Christians who are sojourners and exiles in this world, like spiritual Syrian refugees today. (1 Peter 2:11)
•      We are citizens in heaven (Philippians 3:21), and therefore aliens on the earth.
•      Peter calls these sojourners and exiles to live honorably in the world, to do good deeds, in order to silence their opponents and critics. (1 Peter 2:12, 15)
•      You are exiles or refugees here, but do not ignore the governing institutions where you live. (1 Peter 2:13)

A Call to Submission (05:58–09:22)

•      How do we relate to our American government (or the authorities wherever we live or work)?
•      We submit to “every human institution.” (1 Peter 2:13)
•      Submission is a major theme in 1 Peter. Peter speaks to submission as citizens (1 Peter 2:13–17), as employees or even slaves (2:18), as wives and as family (3:1–7), and as believers one to another (3:8).
•      We could apply this to the police, or the military, or to teachers and professors, and to a hundred other institutions.

A Call to Governors and Citizens (09:22–12:34)

•      Specifically, Peter calls Christians to subject themselves to the emperor and the governors (to the governing authorities in the land). (1 Peter 2:13–14)
•      The emperor and his governors (those in power) are called by God to “punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” (1 Peter 2:14)
•      The good that governments are to praise is the same good Christians are to excel in. (1 Peter 2:12, 14–15)
•      There’s an overlap between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of Christ so that the reign of Christ can be seen in the world.
•      As Christians, one important role we play in this equation is to in help elect rulers who do what God intended them to do, namely punish what is evil and praise what is good.

Related Resources

•      Live Homeless, Homesick, and Free (article)
•      Pilgrims and Patriots (interview)
•      “The Hope of Exiles on the Earth” (sermon on Hebrews 11:13–22)

1 Peter 2:13–17, Part 2

Obey as People Who Are Free

January 7, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: Mark 12:17, Matthew 17:24–27, and 1 Peter 2:13–17
Topic: Government

How do servants of the King live and serve in a world with kings? In this lab, John Piper reveals the wonder of Christian freedom and the witness of being subject to human authorities. To help, he draws in an encounter Jesus and his disciples had with tax collectors.

Principle for Bible Reading

Often the Bible creates tensions that appear to be contradictions to our limited perspective (e.g. freedom and subjection in 1 Peter 2:13–17). Some mysteries are above our human minds, but some of the most beautiful and profound things we can learn about God, and life, and ourselves are found in working hard to understand how these tensions are not contradictions.

Study Questions

1.      What might it mean to subject yourself to the government “for the Lord’s sake” in 1 Peter 2:13? Identify a couple of options and decide which one you think Peter intended.


2.      Peter says to “live as people who are free” (1 Peter 2:16) in the same passage he calls these believers to “be subject” (2:13) and to be “servants” (2:16).


3.      Read Matthew 17:24–27 and Mark 12:17. What do these passages bring into your understanding of 1 Peter 2:13–17?

Introduction/Prayer

Subject Yourselves to the Government

•      How does our subjection to every human institution stand out as peculiarly Christian? (1 Peter 2:13)
•      We are to subject to every human institution “for the Lord’s sake.” (1 Peter 2:13)
•      That means we exalt the Lord over our rulers as we subject ourselves to those same rulers.
•      It also means being subject because the Lord sent us to be subject to human institutions. (1 Peter 2:13)

Subject Yourselves as Free People

•      Live (and be subject to every human institution) as people who are free. (1 Peter 2:16)
•      We are supremely subject to God as our highest authority (“servants of God”). (1 Peter 2:16)
•      This frees us from our earthly rulers’ authority ultimately. We don’t owe them anything because of them. We subject ourselves to them because our King has sent us into the world to obey our human institutions for the Lord’s sake.

An Example from Jesus’ Ministry

•      Jesus confronted these issues with his disciples before the tax collectors in Matthew 17:24–27
•      If God is your Father, and he’s the King over this world, and you’re the sons of the King, you don’t owe anything to anyone here because of their intrinsic authority. (Matthew 17:26)
•      You only owe anyone anything on this earth if your God, with all of his authority, tells you that you do.

Render to Caesar

•      Live as free people who are servants of God sent by God into to the world to be subject to human institutions.
•      Once you are subject to God in everything, you will be able to discern what to render to Caesar. (Mark 12:17)
•      You are servants of God, and everything belongs to him. And he sends you to subject yourself to every human institution and obey those authorities for his sake.

Related Resources

•      Fare Well, Liberty Bell (article)
•      Does Romans 13 Prohibit All Civil Disobedience? (interview)
•      “Subjection to God and Subjection to the State,” Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 (sermons on Romans 13:1–7)

1 Peter 2:13–17, Part 3

Fear God, Not the Government

January 12, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: John 18:36–37 and 1 Peter 2:13–17
Topic: Government

What does freedom in Christ look like in subjection to a human government? In this lab, John Piper explains five key principles. He touches on our attitude toward one another, toward hardened criminals, and to ungodly government rulers. He ends with Jesus being confronted by Pilate as one paradigm for all believers.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you are studying a passage of Scripture that deals with a particular subject or topic (e.g. government, or marriage, or spiritual gifts), try to see all that the biblical author says about that topic in that passage, not just the main thing or the thing you see first. Then work to see how the various things you’ve seen relate to each other.

Study Questions

1.      What might it mean to “honor everyone” (1 Peter 2:17)? How would a Christian honor a rapist or a murderer?


2.      Why does Peter include, “Love the brotherhood,” here in 1 Peter 2:13–17? How does that command fit with the wider purposes in this set of verses?


3.      Read Jesus’s interaction with Pilate in John 18:36–37. How do Jesus’s words help us make sense of 1 Peter 2:13–17?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:58)

  1. Fear God. (02:58–04:16) • You do not fear the emperor. You fear God. (1 Peter 2:17)
    • Godly submission to a government is marked by a fearless fear of God.
    • Our only ultimate fear in this life is to dishonor our Maker, the King over every earthly king.
  2. Honor all people appropriately. (04:16–06:54) • We honor all people appropriate to their role (“Honor everyone.”). (1 Peter 2:17)
    • We subject ourselves to the emperor in one way and to governors in another way. (1 Peter 2:13–14)
    • How do honor a rapist or a murderer? Certainly not in the same way you honor a teacher, a boss, or a friend.
  3. Reserve special affection for believers. (06:54–07:49) • “Love the brotherhood.” (1 Peter 2:17)
    • Alongside all the honor you show to all people, there’s a special love and affection we show each other as believers.
    • This is crucial in days when the emperor and governors may not be supportive of Christianity.
  4. Overflow in good deeds. (07:49–10:05) • Peter returns to this theme again and again in 1 Peter. (1 Peter 2:20; 3:6, 10, 13, 16–17; 4:19)
    • We are not subject to human institutions by simply keeping the minimal requirements (e.g. speed limits), but by looking for every possible way to bless our communities.
    • No unbeliever is impressed by minimalist Christian ethics that simply avoid bad things. What impresses the world are good deeds overflowing way beyond normal expectations.
  5. We silence the ignorance of the foolish. (10:05–10:39) • By the abundance of good deeds, we silence ignorant opposition to Christianity. (1 Peter 2:15)
    • The people in the world who slander Christians are ignorant of the truth.
    • We want that to change, and Peter says that happens as they see us do good deeds. Bear Witness to the Truth (10:39–13:39) • Jesus’s kingdom is not of this world. He did not come to be installed as king, yet. (John 18:36)
    • If his kingdom was here, his servants would fight to install him as king or emperor now (John 18:36).
    • This is Jesus’s world. He will take it back, and rule as King over this world.
    • Jesus was born not to rule now as king now, but to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). And the truth is that he will return and be King over everything.
    • We submit to every human institution so that the world might see our good deeds, as we bear witness to the truth, and give glory to God. (1 Peter 2:11–12)

Related Resources

•      Render to Caesar the Things That Are Caesar’s (article)
•      What Oppressive Governments Cannot Do (interview)
•      “Slaves of God: Free from All to Honor All” (sermon on 1 Peter 2:13–17)

1 Peter 2:18–20, Part 1

Slaves, Obey Your Masters

January 14, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:21–24 and 1 Peter 2:18–20
Topic: Social Issues

Slavery is a sensitive topic with a horrific history. So what does the Bible say for slaves? Or does the Bible say “so little”? In this lab, John Piper explores one place where freedom is found, looking at a couple key passages that address the tragedy of human slavery.

Principle for Bible Reading

Some topics are so sensitive and painful, we have a hard time slowing down enough with the texts in the Bible that deal with them. For instance, the horror and destruction cause by human slavery. As issues like this one remain relevant in our society and world, we have to study very carefully all that God has said about slavery and freedom, about Christian hope and witness, looking for every principle we can find.

Study Questions

1.      Look through 1 Peter for passages similar to 1 Peter 2:18–20. What can you say about this theme in Peter’s letter? For help, start in 1 Peter 3:9 and 4:19.


2.      As we read Peter’s counsel for Christian slaves, we have to keep in mind relevant encouragement or counsel from elsewhere in 1 Peter. How do 1 Peter 2:13 and 2:16 inform our understanding of 1 Peter 2:18–20?


3.      Now, read 1 Corinthians 7:21–24. How does this effect your reading of 1 Peter 2:18–20 and your understanding of slavery in the Bible?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:11)

A Theme Throughout 1 Peter (02:11–03:32)

•      The theme of submission to authority with good deeds, even to unjust authority, is not new in 1 Peter 2:18–20.
•      Just as slaves are told to good and suffer, we are all told to do good and suffer. (1 Peter 4:19)
•      We are not to repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but instead to bless or do good. (1 Peter 3:9)

Free Slaves for the Lord’s Sake (03:32–06:26)

•      What makes these slaves’ submission to their masters Christian?
•      All Christian submission to any human institution is submission “for the Lord’s sake.” (1 Peter 2:13)
•      We must remember general principles for submission as we come to more specific circumstances of submission. (1 Peter 2:13, 17)
•      Another overarching principle is that Christians are free (1 Peter 2:16). That applies to every Christian in every position in society.
•      God sends us into every human institution as free people for his sake (“for the Lord’s sake”).

A Second Text on Slavery (06:26–08:49)

•      Christians have far bigger issues to worry about than slavery (1 Corinthians 7:21). We don’t ignore it or condone it, but it’s not our first and primary concern.
•      Paul does encourage slaves to gain their freedom if they can. (1 Corinthians 7:22)
•      Any slave who is a believer is a freedman in the Lord, and a slave of Christ. (1 Corinthians 7:22)
•      Slaves submit to their masters as men and women who have been bought and freed by Christ. They submit now to their earthly masters because of their Master’s authority and purpose. (1 Peter 2:18)

Related Resources

•      How Paul Worked to Overcome Slavery (article)
•      Why Did God Permit Slavery? (interview)
•      “The Horror and Hope in Slavery” (message on 1 Peter 2:18–20)

1 Peter 2:18–20, Part 2

Trust God When You Are Mistreated

January 19, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:18–20
Topic: Social Issues

What happens when someone is mistreated for doing good? In this lab, John Piper teaches us how to respond to and endure injustice. He takes Peter’s words about slavery to call all of us to fear God and to persevere in loving and serving others for His sake, even when it brings hardship.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you come to a question or stumbling block in a particular verse, it is often helpful to read the verse or verses immediately before and/or after the one you’re currently studying. Reading the verse in context might help clarify the author’s meaning or purpose.

Study Questions

1.      Read through 1 Peter 2:18–20. How many principles do you see that make a slave’s life, in subjection to someone else, distinctly or manifestly Christian?


2.      Peter says that slaves should subject themselves to their masters “with all respect.” Respect could also be translated “fear.” Do you think Peter is speaking here of respecting or fearing the master or God? Why?


3.      If this slave is submitting or complying (1 Peter 2:18), why are they suffering (1 Peter 2:20)? What does that say about the relationship between the call to submit and the call to do good?

Introduction/Prayer

Live and Serve with Fear

•      Slaves, be subject to your masters “with all respect (or fear).” (1 Peter 2:18)
•      Is this respect for the master or for God? Is the fear of the master or of God?
•      Peter exhorts his readers to fear God in the previous verse. (1 Peter 2:17)
•      A verse later, he encourages them to be mindful of God. (1 Peter 2:19)
•      This is not a cowering or slavish fear, but a fear of treating God has though he were not worthy to trusted as a loving Father (1 Peter 1:17). This is a positive fear.

Suffer for Doing Good

•      Why does this slave/servant suffer (1 Peter 2:20) if he’s submissive and complying (1 Peter 2:18)?
•      Maybe someone lied about him or her? No, because Peter says he or she is suffering for doing good. (1 Peter 2:20)
•      The master rejected the good deed and punished the slave for it. (1 Peter 2:20)
•      Therefore, subjection is not the highest priority here. Doing good is the highest priority. (1 Peter 2:18)

Related Resources

•      What Christians Do About Modern-Day Slavery (article)
•      Slavery, Oppression, and America’s Prosperity (interview)
•      “How To Suffer for Doing What Is Right” (message on 1 Peter 2:18–20)

1 Peter 2:18–20, Part 3

God Will Reward Every Wrong Endured

January 21, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: Luke 6:32–36 and 1 Peter 2:18–20
Topic: Suffering

Jesus says that those who follow him will suffer, and many of you will suffer for doing good. In this lab, John Piper reminds us of God’s love for us in every trial, and uncovers the promise that one day he will make every wrong right.

Principle for Bible Reading

When you comes across a word or phrase in the Bible that could have several different meanings (e.g. “a gracious thing”), it helps to search for that word elsewhere in the Bible. It’s especially helpful if you can search in the original languages, but often still useful to search and English text for the same or similar words.

Study Questions

1.      Peter is motivating Christians to suffer for doing good in 1 Peter 2:19–20. Explain how he is motivating them in your own words.


2.      Peter is speaking to slaves in 1 Peter 2:18–20. Do we have any reason to try and apply what he is saying here to ourselves and our circumstances? How does 1 Peter 3:14–17 effect your answer?


3.      What specifically does Peter mean by “a gracious thing” in 1 Peter 2:19–20? The same word is translated “benefit” in Luke 6:32–36. How do Jesus’s words help us understand what Peter might mean?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:29)

A Gracious Thing Before God (01:29–03:03)

•      Twice Peter uses the phrase “a gracious thing” to talk about suffering unjustly for doing good. (1 Peter 2:19–20)
•      What you are experiencing as you do not return evil for evil is a beautiful thing in the sight of God.
•      When you suffer unjustly for doing good, be mindful of God and his favor toward you.

Can We Identify with Slaves? (03:03–04:50)

•      Is it legitimate for us to see ourselves in 1 Peter 2:18–20 when Peter is talking about slaves?
•      Yes, because Peter speaks the same way to all people in other places in this letter.
•      The same kind of arguments, for instance, are used in 1 Peter 3:14–17 to speak to all Christians. “If you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed” (1 Peter 3:14).
•      This means we can read Peter’s words to slaves and look for general Christian principles for our lives and relationships.

A Reward for Every Wrong (04:50–08:31)

•      What does it mean that suffering for doing good is “a gracious thing” (1 Peter 2:19–20)? Is it just beautiful? Or does it imply some kind of tangible reward or benefit?
•      Jesus uses the same word (“gracious thing”) in Luke 6:32–33, translated “benefit.” He also mentions a “reward” in this passage (Luke 6:35).
•      This makes me think Peter has benefit or reward in mind in 1 Peter 2:19–20. Good is coming to those who suffer for doing good.
•      He says the same thing in 1 Peter 3:9, “… that you may obtain a blessing.”
•      Christian, if you suffer for doing good, you will be lavishly rewarded by God in the end.

Summary (08:31–9:40)

•      When you are suffering unjustly, keep God’s favor in view.
•      And, you should keep in mind that it will all be made up to you someday.

Related Resources

•      Great Losses, Severe Mercies, Tearful Joy (article)
•      What Pains Here Bring Greater Reward in Heaven? (interview)
•      “Liberated for Love by Looking to the Reward” (message on Hebrews 11:23–28)

1 Peter 2:21–25, Part 1

Jesus Suffered to Keep You from Sinning

February 9, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 12:19–20 and 1 Peter 2:21–25
Topic: The Death of Christ

Jesus promised us that his followers would suffer unjustly for bearing his name. In this lab, John Piper explains how we return good for evil, even when it seems like evil is winning. He shows that Jesus died for you in more ways than one, and demonstrates how each way speaks into the opposition we face from the world.

Principle for Bible Reading

People with different theological convictions will latch on to key texts in the Bible that support their school of thought and worldview. It is wrong and dangerous, though, to allow certain truths in Scripture to silence others. Good theology is about finding the (often difficult and mysterious) harmony in all of Scripture. 1 Peter 2:21–25, for example, bring together two important truths about Jesus that have often been set against each other in church history and practice.

Study Questions

1.      In 1 Peter 2:21–25, Peter gives us two main reasons from the life of Jesus to be willing to suffer unjustly for righteousness’s sake. What are they?


2.      If you believed one motivation, but not the other, what would go wrong in your theology and life? Answer for both motivations.


3.      Looking specifically at 1 Peter 2:22–23, how does Jesus’s example as a sufferer help us to suffer injustice ourselves?

Introduction/Prayer

All Christians Are Called to Suffer

•      We are called to suffer unjustly for two reasons. (1 Peter 2:21)
•      First, because Christ suffered for you (substitution), that is, for your sins. (1 Peter 2:21)
•      Secondly, because Christ left an example for you (illustration) in his suffering. (1 Peter 2:21)
•      If you abandon the second, you’ll be a nice conservative evangelical who neglects the exemplary example of Christ who teaches us to suffer righteousness’ sake.
•      If you abandon the first, you become a nice, liberal Christian, neglecting the most important thing, Christ’s death for sinners who could never do enough good to atone for their sin. (1 Peter 2:21)

Christ Left Us an Example

•      The illustration is unpacked in 1 Peter 2:22–23, and the substitution is unpacked in 1 Peter 2:24–25.
•      Christ committed no sin on his way to the cross (1 Peter 2:22). We should never sin to get ourselves into suffering.
•      When Christ was treated badly or unfairly, he did not respond with the same (1 Peter 2:23). Likewise, do not return evil for evil.

The Power to Suffer Well

•      How do we find the power to respond like Christ when it feels like injustice is being done?
•      Christ could have come off of the cross and killed them all, and it would have been perfect justice. But he didn’t in order to bear our sin and set us an example.
•      In the midst of a sea of injustice, Christ entrusted himself and his cause to his Creator (1 Peter 2:23). He knew justice would be done.
•      Paul tells us not to avenge ourselves, but to surrender justice and vengeance to God, and to love and serve our enemies. (Romans 12:19–20)

Related Resources

•      Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves? (article)
•      Do My Sufferings Complete Christ’s? (interview)
•      “Christ Died for Our Sins That We Might Die to Sin” (message on 1 Peter 2:21–25)

1 Peter 2:21–25, Part 2

By His Wounds You Have Been Healed

February 11, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:21–25
Topic: The Death of Christ

The Bible says that when Jesus went to the cross, he bore our condemnation and purchased our healing. What does his sacrifice mean tangibly for a life now lived for the glory of God? In this lab, John Piper explains what kind of healing and transformation we experience through faith.

Principle for Bible Reading

Whenever the New Testament quotes or alludes to an Old Testament text or story, it is likely you will learn something by going back to reread the passage being quoted in its original context. The New Testament authors often have that context in mind as they quote the text.

Study Questions

1.      Jesus died for you as an example or illustration (1 Peter 2:21) and he died for you as a substitution. Describe what it means for Christ to be a substitution for us? Refer to 1 Peter 3:18.


2.      In 1 Peter 2:24, Peter quotes from Isaiah 53. Read Isaiah 53. What light does it bring to your understanding of 1 Peter 2:21–25?


3.      When Peter says, “By his wounds you have been healed,” what is the healing that happens here? What kind of healing is this?

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–02:13)

Christ Died in Your Place (02:13–05:37)

•      Jesus died for you in two ways, as an illustration or example and as a substitution. (1 Peter 2:21, 24)
•      In terms of substitution, Christ bore our sins, our condemnation, when he died on the cross. (1 Peter 2:24)
•      Christ suffered on the cross, “the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” With his death, he bridges or overcomes the chasm between sinners and a holy God. (1 Peter 3:18)
•      Our sin (1 Peter 2:24) is our failure to follow in Jesus’s steps (1 Peter 2:21). Christ died for our sin (substitution) so that we might live like him (illustration).

Die to Sin and Live to Righteousness (05:37–08:42)

•      Jesus bore our sins “that we would die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:24)
•      “By his wounds you have been healed,” (1 Peter 2:24) is a quotation from Isaiah 53:5–6, specifically verse 5.
•      Peter’s phrase, “Bore our sins” (1 Peter 2:24), comes from Isaiah’s line, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
•      The wounds of Christ have healed us. (1 Peter 2:24)
•      The healing is a restored and renewed fellowship with God (returned”). (1 Peter 2:25)
•      Peter says the same thing in 1 Peter 3:18, “that he might brings us to God.”

Healing and Transformation (08:42–10:30)

•      How does Christ’s bearing our sins relate to our dying to sin and living to righteousness?
•      When he bore our sins, he healed us.
•      That healing was a transformation that restored us to sweet fellowship with and satisfaction in God.
•      That transformation breaks the power of the attractiveness of sin.

Related Resources

•      It Is Finished (article)
•      Did Christ Die for the Whole World? (interview)
•      “The Beast, the Book, and the Beauty of the Lamb” (message on the death of Christ)

1 Peter 3:1–6, Part 1

To Wives with Unbelieving Husbands

February 18, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:1–6
Topic: Marriage

Some women are exiles within their own marriage. They want to follow Jesus, but their husbands have rejected the gospel they love. In this lab, John Piper wades into very delicate situations, asking what the Bible says about submitting to unbelieving husbands. He will show how the example of marriage relates to other relationships and institutions in our lives.

Principle for Bible Reading

Some phrases in the Bible can come across ambiguous, either because of a difference in the English language or because a couple thousand years have passed since this Book was written. For instance, what does Peter mean here by the phrase, “does not obey the word” (1 Peter 3:1)? We can often find an answer by searching for those same words elsewhere in the author’s writing (or more widely in the Bible if we do not find anything within, say, Peter’s letters).

Study Questions

1.      Explain the “Likewise” at the beginning of 1 Peter 3:1. What in the previous verses is Peter comparing the current situation to and why?


2.      Why would Peter say, “Be subject to your own husbands,” here (1 Peter 3:1)? What distinction is he making, and how does that relate to what he was doing in 1 Peter 2:13–14?


3.      What does Peter mean when he says the husband does not “obey the word” (1 Peter 3:1)? What are the possible meanings, and what do you think Peter meant? After you’ve decided, look to 1 Peter 2:7 and 4:17 for help.

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–03:03)

A Series on Christian Submission (03:03–06:17)

•      “Likewise” tells us this is a continuation of a sequence of instructions, first to all Christians, then to slaves, and now to wives. (1 Peter 3:1)
•      In this letter, Christians are sojourners and exiles on the earth away from their home in heaven. (1 Peter 2:11)
•      Peter wants Christians to suffer unjust persecution and slander in a way that wins unbelievers to faith in God. (1 Peter 2:12)
•      Then, he tells all Christians to be subject to “every human institution,” knowing that some of those institutions will be broken and unjust. (1 Peter 2:13)
•      And then, he tells Christian slaves to be subject to their masters, “not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.” (1 Peter 2:18)

Wives, Be Subject to Your Husband (06:17–07:57)

•      With those other examples in mind, wives are now called to be subject to their own husbands. (1 Peter 3:1)
•      The wives are not called to be subject to all men in this way, but to their “own husbands.” (1 Peter 3:1)
•      We see the same distinction earlier when Peter talks about the government. We don’t submit to the emperor (“as supreme”) the same way we submit to other people. (1 Peter 2:13–14)
•      So how would the principles of submission Peter is applying in various ways apply specifically to a wife and her husband?

An Exile in Her Own Marriage (07:57–11:03)

•      In this case, a wife is a sojourner and exile even within her marriage. Why? Because her husband does not obey the word. (1 Peter 3:1)
•      Does that mean the husband is a Christian who sometimes doesn’t obey, or is the “word” here the gospel and he is not a believer?
•      Peter uses the same phrase, “disobey the word,” in 1 Peter 2:7. There, it clearly means to not believe (or obey) the gospel. He also uses the phrase, “those who do not obey the gospel,” in 1 Peter 4:17.
•      Therefore, we should take that to mean that these husbands are not believers (not obeying the gospel). That makes this believing wife a Christian exile within her own marriage.

Related Resources

•      Three Ways to Love Your Imperfect Husband (article)
•      Hope for Hard Marriages (interview)
•      “Women of Valor for Non-Promise Keepers” (message on 1 Peter 3:1–7)

1 Peter 3:1–6, Part 2

The Saving Power of a Fearless Wife

February 23, 2016
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:1–6
Topic: Marriage

What hope does a wife have of saving her unbelieving husband? In this lab, John Piper explains how fearlessness and purity might make all the difference for her husband’s faith. As is often the case in the Bible, the principles applied to wives here can and should be applied to all of us.

Principle for Bible Reading

Just because the Bible addresses a particular group of people, for instance wives in this case, it does not mean other groups of people should ignore the wisdom and relevance of those instructions for themselves. Very often, the biblical authors expect all Christians, for instance husbands, to read and obey the principles being applied to others.

Study Questions

1.      Read 1 Peter 3:1–2 and 1 Peter 2:11–12. What similarities do you see between the two passages, and what might that mean for how we apply Peter’s instructions to wives?


2.      What might it mean for a wife to win her husband “without a word” (1 Peter 3:2)? How does 1 Peter 1:23–25 inform or effect how you read that phrase?


3.      “Respectful” (1 Peter 3:2) can be translated literally “in fear.” How do you understand the phrase “in fear” here, in light of texts in 1 Peter like 1 Peter 1:17, 2:17–18, and 3:6?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:06)

Words for Wives—And Everyone Else (01:06–05:47)

•      The wife’s godly conduct or behavior or witness is a means of winning or saving the unbelieving husband. (1 Peter 3:1–2)
•      The same word for “conduct” (1 Peter 3:1) is used in 1 Peter 2:12. The principle is applied generally to all in 1 Peter 2:12, and more specifically to wives in 1 Peter 3:1.
•      The same word for “see” (1 Peter 3:2) is also used in 1 Peter 2:12. In both places, it is an unbelieving person seeing a Christian’s life and being won to faith by it.
•      Because the instructions for wives in 1 Peter 3:1–2 can be applied more generally (1 Peter 2:11–12), husbands (or anyone else) should also try to apply the instructions to themselves.

Can She Win Him Without a Word? (05:47–08:23)

•      What does it mean for a wife to win her husband “without a word” (1 Peter 3:2)?
•      It does not mean the husband does not need to hear the gospel. 1 Peter 1:23–25 says that every new birth happens “through the living and abiding word of God … And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
•      Therefore, the husband needs to hear the good news before wife’s Christian behavior can win him.
•      “Without a word” means without an excessive word or a nagging word or a manipulative or pressuring word. (1 Peter 3:2)
•      Once this husband has heard the gospel in which his wife believes, her conduct might make all the difference in his salvation.

The Power of Fear (08:23–10:34)

•      “Respectful” should be literally translated “in fear.” (1 Peter 3:2)
•      This fear is not toward the husband, but toward God. (1 Peter 1:17; 2:17–18)
•      Peter tells these women very clearly not to fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:6)
•      A godly wife’s greatest fear would be to displease her supreme master, God.
•      In the fear of God, a wife is sent back in to be subject to her husband.

The Power of Purity (10:34–11:46)

•      This new conduct that the wife lives before her husband is pure. (1 Peter 3:2)
•      She is not inclined to be dishonest in anything, or to participate in any sexual illicitness.
•      Her husband, therefore, finds he has a pure and trustworthy wife.
•      And therefore, without a word, knowing her husband knows the gospel, she will not badger him, but will trust and hope in God for his salvation.

2 Peter 1:3–4

Precious and Great Promises

August 26, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Peter 1:3–4
Topic: The Bible

Principle for Bible Reading

When studying a paragraph of the Bible, break it down into individual propositions and ask questions about how each line relates to the one before it and after it. Focus in particular on connecting words (e.g. “for”, “so that”, “by”, etc.).

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:57)

Observations (00:57–06:36)

1.      God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
2.      [“through”] A knowledge of God is the pathway of godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
3.      [“by”] Because God is glorious and excellent, he has given us “precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4).
4.      [“so that”] God’s promises are the means of our becoming like God (2 Peter 1:4).
5.      God’s promises make us more like God by combatting sinful desires in the world (2 Peter 1:4).

Summary (06:36–8:58)

The Power of God ⇒
The Call to Glory ⇒
God’s Promises ⇒
Escape from Sinful Desire ⇒
The Divine Godliness

Application (8:58–9:51)

How do we pursue godliness?

1.      Know your calling to glory and excellence.
2.      Treasure and meditate on God’s promises.
3.      Battle sinful desires with superior pleasures.

Study Questions

1.      Based on this passage, what role does knowledge play in our growth in godliness?


2.      According to these verses, why has God given us promises?


3.      How are God’s promises working to make us more godly? How do they battle sinful desires still in us?

Related Resources

•      Four Keys to Satisfying Your Starving Soul (article)
•      The 8 Steps of Christian Obedience (interview)
•      Liberating Promises (sermon on 2 Peter 1:1–4)

1 John 5:1–4

The Victory That Overcomes the World

September 23, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 John 5:1–4
Topic: Faith

Principle for Bible Reading

There are two major ground clauses (“for” or “because”) in 1 John 5:3–4. Pastor John focuses in on these two for’s to see the relationship between our love for God, our love for others, and our obedience to God’s commands. In doing so, he uncovers our victory in Christ.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:41)

Observations from 5:1–2 (00:37–06:04)

1.      New birth precedes and is the enabling power behind our faith (1 John 5:1).
2.      Believing that Jesus is the Christ always involves loving the Father, that is, finding him beautiful and desirable (1 John 5:1).
3.      And if one truly loves the Father, he or she also loves the children of God (1 John 5:1).
4.      Loving God’s children means loving God and obeying his commandments (1 John 5:2).

Observations from 5:3–4 (06:04–09:40)

1.      When the commandments of God are not burdensome, that is, when they are received and obeyed with joy, we are loving the children of God (1 John 5:3).
2.      The world is anything that makes God’s commandments feel burdensome (1 John 5:4).
3.      Our victory in Christ is that we see the world as unsatisfying and receive and obey God’s commandments with joy and hope (1 John 5:4).

Recap (09:40–12:04)

New Birth ⇒
Faith OR Love for God (one in the same) ⇒
Victory over the World ⇒
Obedience to God’s Commandments ⇒
Love for Believers

Study Questions

1.      From 1 John 5:1, what is the relationship between faith in Christ and the new birth?


2.      Again, from these verses, what does love for other believers look like?


3.      Why are God’s commandments not burdensome to born again Christians?


4.      What is it about faith that gives us victory over the world?

Related Resources

•      Teach Believers What Happened to Them in Conversion (article)
•      The Key to Christian Obedience (interview)
•      Regeneration, Faith, Love: In That Order (sermon on 1 John 5:1–5)

Piper, J. (2014–2015). Look at the Book Labs (1Kor 8,1–1Joh 5,4). Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God.

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