Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Dr. John Piper.

John Piper: God is infinitely valuable. All other value has value in proportion to its reflection of His value.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Thursday, May 22, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When was the last time you were left in awe at the beauty of God’s holiness? Now, I know that holiness isn’t all that popular of a topic today. I think that’s in part because to some the word conjures up images of a God who’s out to ruin everybody’s fun. But a couple of years ago, I heard a message from Pastor John Piper that left me in awe at the wonder of God’s holiness, and we’re going to share that message today.

Pastor Piper delivered this talk at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in 2012. I had the opportunity to speak there as well, and now the plenary sessions of that conference have been turned into a book called Here Is Our God. Dr. Piper has a chapter; I do as well, along with several other speakers at the conference.

We’d like to send you that book today as a thank you for your donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. For more details you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, and I’ll share more about it with you after we hear this message.

Now, let’s listen to Dr. Piper.

Dr. Piper: June 1, 1973, Chuck Colson heard the gospel for the first time from Tom Phillips. All the while, Watergate was exploding. He was the special counsel to President Nixon. That night, he said, “I cried out to God and found myself drawn irresistibly into His waiting arms. That was the night I gave my life to Jesus Christ and began the greatest adventure of my life.”

Several years later Chuck Colson repented of a very inadequate view of God. He said it was a very dry season, and a friend suggested to him that he watch a video cassette series by R. C. Sproul called The Holiness of God. And here’s what he wrote:

By the end of the sixth lecture, I was on my knees deep in prayer, in awe of God’s absolute holiness. It was a life-changing experience as I gained a completely new understanding of the holy God I believe in and worship.

Now that has happened to many people—a completely new understanding of God, though already saved with an inadequate view of God. It happened to Job.

Do you remember how the book begins? He “was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). I mean, what more could you want? He was the best man in the land. And then, because God is merciful, according to James’ interpretation of Job, suffering broke over his life like a tidal wave, and he wrestled with God for chapter after chapter until God speaks to him:

Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified? Have you an arm like God, andan you thunder with a voice like his? Deck yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor. Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand (Job 40:8–10, 12).

Job joined Chuck Colson in a completely new grasp of God, and he said,

Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:3, 5–6).

It happened to Job, and it happened to Isaiah.

After that vision, in verses 1–4, and I do invite you to open your Bibles to Isaiah 6, if you haven’t already. After that vision, in verses 1–4, verse 5:

Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, [Yahew] of hosts!

It happened to me between the ages of twenty-two to twenty-five, Pasadena, California. A new understanding of God. Saved when I was six. A taste for the majesty of God that has never, ever gone away and did not exist in the same way before. And my prayer is that God will do it for you as we look together at this vision. I pray that He will give you a taste for His majesty.

I am sorry that so many of you have grown up in homes, unbelieving homes, nominal homes, and you go to churches, some of you, where things are so light-hearted and so glib and so shallow. I’m sorry about that. I would like for your life to count for the healing of that silliness. So there is a sense of awe and wonder that is the happiest seriousness in the world.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, seated upon a throne high and exalted; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: With two wings [they] covered [their] face, with two [they] covered [their] feet, with two [they] flew. And one cried to the another: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" And the foundations of the thresholds shook and the house was filled with smoke (Isa. 6:1–4).

Seven glimpses of God in these four verses.

Glimpse number one: God is alive.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.” The king is dead; God is not. From everlasting to everlasting, You are God. The Living God. He was alive forever when this universe exploded into existence. He was alive when Socrates drank his poison. He was alive when William Bradford ruled over the Plymouth Colony. He was alive in 1966 when Thomas Altizer said, “God is dead,” and Time Magazine absolutely, absurdly put it on their front page.

He will be alive in ten trillion ages of years when all of those who have lifted their squeaky voices against Him are obliterated like BB’s in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. He is alive, and He will be alive forever.

All the potentates that are on their little thrones today in fifty years will be no more in those offices. The seven billion people that are alive on planet Earth will experience a complete turnover in 120 years. And God will be alive. He is alive. Think of it: forever, never having come into being, never going out of being. Our God is alive. Glimpse number one.

Glimpse number two: God is authoritative.

“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne.” There has never been a vision of God in heaven plowing a field, cutting His grass, shining shoes, filling out reports, or loading a truck. And heaven is not coming apart at the seams for inattention. He is sitting in complete composure and on a throne. God is never at wit’s end with His heavenly realm. He sits. And He is in complete authority.

The throne signifies He has the right to rule the world. You don’t give God authority in your life. He has it—totally. You can either pretend He doesn’t and perish, or you can own it with joy. He has in the universe absolute authority.

God has authority, and we revel in it. We don’t play games with this. We don’t question Him. We don’t criticize Him. We don’t call Him into question or shake our fist at Him. We may weep with utter perplexity if He takes our child, breaks our husband, but we won’t rebel against our King.

Few things are more humbling. Few things give us a sense of God’s majesty like the truth that He is utterly authoritative. He is the Supreme Court of the universe, the Legislature, the Chief Executive Officer. Behind Him, no appeal.

Glimpse number three: God is omnipotent.

The throne of His authority is not one among many. It is high. “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” Meaning: over every other throne, and thus superior in power, superior in authority, superior in rule and control, over every other throne. “It is high and lifted up.” It’s not just an authority. It is authority with supremacy of rule, supremacy of power and control.

“My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isa. 46:10).

“He does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What [are You doing?]’” (Dan. 4:35).

This omnipotent God, this absolutely authoritative, sovereign, omnipotent God is a refuge for holy women who hope in God and experience tsunamis of pain. I love them in my church. I have loved to watch them for thirty-two years get this. Few things give a pastor more pleasure than to watch his people be steadfast in suffering because they have a place to stand—unshakeable, a holy, sovereign, authoritative, good, perplexing God.

Many have told me over the years, “Had we not heard this news, we would have gone insane.”

Glimpse number four: God is resplendent.

“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” So He has a robe, and it has a train.

You’ve seen brides, you’ve been brides. Some more in past days than presently, I suppose, had incredible trains so that when the photographer does the pictures, they take a half an hour to arrange the train. It flows down over the steps and up on to the platform. You’ve all seen them.

Well, picture it flowing down the aisle, covering all the pews, going into the choir loft, up over the balcony.

When I preached on Isaiah 6 about twenty years ago—thirty years ago—I took it out the windows and over the skyscrapers in downtown Minneapolis. I said, “So I challenge one of you: Paint me a picture, do me a stitch work of the throne of God over Minneapolis with His train filling the city.” And Julie Morgan did. It hung on our wall for years and years—a stitch work that she did, needlework, where she had the skyline of Minneapolis and the feet of the throne—you can see it—and the legs of the One sitting upon the throne, and the train of His robe covered the city. That’s what we’re supposed to feel. He is resplendent.

Now, there about a thousand different kinds of self-illuminating fish at the bottom of the ocean. Some of them have a little dangling lamp hanging out in front with a little light at the end of the lamp to attract food into the mouth. And some of them have a little lighted chin. And some of them have beacons under their eyes that send out little beams. And you wonder: Where do they plug this in? How can light be produced at the bottom of the ocean without any batteries? And why didn’t the Lord just make one of those instead of a thousand?

Because He is lavish in His beauty, lavish in His creativity, and lavish in His splendor. He is resplendent.

Glimpse number five: God is revered.

“Above him stood the seraphim, each had six wings: With two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, with two he flew.” No one knows who these beings are. They never show up again in the Bible under this name, but we better be careful how we conceive of them because Raphael probably hasn't helped up with these fat, little babies fluttering around the ears of God. It wasn’t like that.

I know it wasn’t because when one of them spoke. The foundations of the universe shook. That’s quite a voice, and it didn’t come out of little, fat Cupid’s mouth. We grope for pictures of what it would mean for God to have in His presence beings that when they speak shake heaven. But I remember as a boy (I asked Noel last night if they still fly), and we didn’t know there were a team of four jets called The Blue Angels that flew in formation.

I saw them in person just one time. You know they’re going to arrive, and you don’t know where they are, and they suddenly appeared. They must have broken the sound barrier right in front of us, but it felt like they were several hundred yards away, and the lead plane was going, what, 600–700 miles an hour, went pshhhhhht straight up—vertical. I mean, straight up, and the others peeled off like that just as they broke that barrier. And I thought, Well, maybe it’s like that.

But the point is these magnificent creatures cannot look directly upon God. They take their wings, and they cover their face, and the shame. These are sinless beings. They’ve never fallen. And they’re ashamed of their feet before this God. So they can’t see Him straight on, and they’ve got to cover their feet, and they’re going to keep moving around Him.

God is revered. He is always revered. Though we may look at this world and weep at how many millions give Him no reverence at all, God has seen to it—He will always be fittingly revered with these “Blue Angels” of seraphim day and night doing what one ought to do always in life.

Nancy: Dr. John Piper has been showing us several facets of the beauty of God’s holiness.

I was there in the audience that day when he gave this message at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in 2012. That message and the other plenary messages from that conference have been compiled into a book called Here Is Our God: God’s Revelation of Himself in Scripture.

I was asked to contribute a chapter to this book on my message on the transfiguration of Christ. You’ll also read chapters by Pastor Tim Keller, Paige Brown, Kathleen Nielson, Dr. D. A. Carson, and others. These speakers and authors will stretch your thinking to help you see God for who He really is. And as your understanding of God grows, it will affect the way you worship Him, trust Him, and submit to His ways.

So when you support Revive Our Hearts this week with a gift of any size, we want to say, “thank you” by sending you this book, Here Is Our God.

As we’ve been sharing with you this month, your gift at this time really means a lot. We’re able to continue as a ministry because God prompts listeners like you to give.

Now, typically, donations are down a bit during the summer months. So we’re asking the Lord for a strong May. The end of May is also the end of our fiscal year, which means that’s the time we close our books on the past twelve months, and we make plans for the months ahead.

So if we end the month of May with the fiscal year in the red, that means we have to cut back on ministry outreaches moving forward. We obviously don’t want to do that, and so we’re asking the Lord to provide at least $435,000 in donations during the month of May. That will allow us to end our fiscal year in good shape and be ready to move forward with the things God is putting on our hearts for the months ahead.

Now, if you’ve been blessed by the ministry of Revive Our Hearts but you’ve never supported the ministry in the past, I want to ask you to prayerfully consider doing that at this time. Your gift this month will be doubled by some friends who believe in the ministry and who are matching each first-time gift up to a matching challenge amount of $70,000.

So if you have a heart for this message and this ministry, would you ask the Lord how He would want you to give to help this month’s need, and then let us hear from you soon?

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. To support this ministry, call 1–800–569–5959 and make sure you ask for the book we’ve been telling you about today. It’s called Here Is Our God, and it’s our gift when you support the ministry with a gift of any size. We’ll be making this offer today and tomorrow. Again, call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, tomorrow we’ll hear part two of John Piper’s message. It’s another opportunity to be struck by the beauty of God’s holiness. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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