Judgment comes before blessing. This was true for Israel. And this was true for the nations. We see this trend exemplified in Isaiah 19… First Egypt is judged (19:1-15) – and then they are blessed (19:16-25). The end of Isaiah 19 describes a day when both Egypt and Assyria would worship the Lord. These two nations represented Israel’s greatest enemies – both past and present. God would not only save Israel from their enemies – but gather them together to be allies in worship of the Lord! What a beautiful picture of grace and restoration…
The idea of judgment coming before blessing is not unique to the Old Testament, but spills over into the good news of the New Testament. Jesus received our judgment so that we could receive His blessing! Paul has just spent 16 chapters in his letter to the Romans detailing every good gift we receive because of the death and resurrection of Christ! After reading through Romans, we should be deeply grateful for the gospel and all of its implications in our lives!
The well-known author and pastor, John Piper, spent over 8 years preaching through Romans! In his last sermon on Romans, he prayed the entire sermon. Imagine that! He looked at the congregation – with eyes wide open – praying to Jesus the whole time. He was so thankful for the whole of the gospel that He took an entire sermon to thank Jesus for the work he had accomplished on the cross.
In this final sermon, he listed the benefits of the gospel that are taught in the book of Romans. This list is astounding! But remember, He is praying…
- We embrace the truth that we have died to sin and to the law and now belong to you alone, alive from the dead forever (Romans 6:2-5; 7:4-6).
- We embrace afresh the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 4:6-7).
- We embrace the reality that our condemnation is past (Romans 8:1).
- We exult in the truth that our justifying righteousness is unshakable, because it is performed by you, not by us (Romans 5:17-19; 4:4-9).
- We affirm with joy that you indwell us by your Spirit and are with us forever (Romans 8:10).
- We embrace the truth that you unite us to each other in loving harmony (Romans 15:5; 12:16).
- We hold fast the promise that we are being conformed to your image, and that your death and resurrection guarantees that this will be completed (Romans 8:28-30).
- We receive the gift that you enable us to do significant work for the advance of your kingdom (Romans 15:18).
- We glory in the truth that we are fellow heirs with you of all that God owns and all that God is (Romans 8:17; 4:13).
- And we take heart that nothing can separate us from your invincible love or from the love of God the Father because of your work on our behalf (Romans 8:32-39).
- And rooted in all of this, we receive afresh the promise of your everlasting joy. In Paul’s words, spoken to us on your behalf, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org
John Piper prayed his sermon because he was overwhelmed by the love demonstrated for us in the gospel. We must take these gifts and treasure them. We must meditate upon them and let them sink into our soul so that they define our very selves. They must shape our decisions and the way we interpret world events. These are the truths of the gospel. These are our life.
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)