Monday, June 16, 2008

tough tenderness

Both Susie and I have recently really enjoyed this lecture by John Piper on the tough tenderness of John Newton. . .

PLEASE Listen Here!

Those who affirm the doctrines of God's grace and His absolute sovereignty in all things, should be most tender, gentle and graceful in communicating these and all truths.

Sadly such is not always the case . . . even here at Grace. It seems like we are continually mopping up after those who in their zeal for their new knowledge of these exciting and Biblical doctrines are dogmatic, harsh and ungentle in their communication and dealings with others. How this grieves me . . .

Newton shows us the true way. I want to be like John Newton, as John Newton was like Christ. Oh that our church would be so marked by this sweet tough tenderness for the glory of Christ, the exaltation of His Name, and the extension of His Kingdom.


Jeff said...

Hey Tim,

The more I truly understand the absolute sovereignty of God, the more patient I’ve become and the more grace I try to extend to others. Because I understand how much I need their patience and grace. But it took a while to grow in maturity and quit using great theology like a hammer, instead of as a tool to love my neighbor. And I’ve still got a long way to go. I’ve probably done more damage than good so far, which is sad. (But fortunately, God has me covered.)

And I understand what Pastor Don meant when he said, "Don’t kill the patient.” I no longer wonder how someone can disagree on a theological point that seems so obvious to me. He could only see it if God has allowed him to see it. And he sees exactly what God wants him to see, in God’s perfect timing. Just as I can only see what God wants me to see. With all of our great “theology”, we should understand better than anyone that God has everyone right where He wants them. And it is good. And even in our immaturity, God is sovereign.

It was John MacArthur I first heard it from, but the thought may have originated from another great mind. He said that as he gets older and more mature, he sins less and is grieved by his sins more.

May we all grow in empathy, patience, and grace toward one another.

Thanks for continuing to bring important thoughts like these to our attention. It’s so easy to be distracted from the essential theology of faith, hope, and love. RenĂ© and I are grateful.
Jeff Jessee

Suzette said...

I didn't listen, but looked up the transcript and read it.

No MP3 player so it is more convenient for me.

It was all very sweet. Especially his faithfulness to his friend Cowper. I love how he said he aspired to be like him. Cowpers evidently clung to his hope in Christ through all of his painful struggles.

It would have been so easy for me to read your blog post and think it is better not to try unless you are certain of perfect success. This quote in the transcript from John Newton put it in perspective for me.

"The day is now breaking: how beautiful its appearance! how welcome the expectation of the approaching sun! It is this thought makes the dawn agreeable, that it is the presage of a brighter light; otherwise, if we expect no more day than it is this minute, we should rather complain of darkness, than rejoice in the early beauties of the morning. Thus the Life of grace is the dawn of immortality: beautiful beyond expression, if compared with the night and thick darkness which formerly covered us; yet faint, indistinct, and unsatisfying, in comparison of the glory which shall be revealed."

That thought really gives me hope.