Piper: The Sorrows of Minneapolis: A Prayer for Our City

Article by John Piper

“Almighty and merciful Father,

Hallowed be your name in Minneapolis. Revered, admired, honored — above every name, in church, in politics, in sports, in music, in theater, in business, in media, in heaven or in hell. May your name, your absolute reality, be the greatest treasure of our lives. And may your eternal, divine Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord — crucified for sin, risen from the dead, reigning forever — be known and loved as the greatest person in this city.

It was no compliment to the city of Nineveh, but it was a great mercy, when you said to your sulking prophet Jonah, “Should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left?” (Jonah 4:11).

Oh, how kind you are to pity our folly rather than pander to our pride. Jonah could not fathom your mercy. His desire was the fire of judgment. And you stunned him, and angered him, with the shock of forgiveness.

“Oh, how large is your heart toward cities in their sin and misery.”TweetShare on Facebook

And have we not heard your Son, crying out to the city that would kill him, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)? 

Oh, how large is your heart toward cities in their sin and misery. 

Yes, we have heard you speak mercy to great cities. Did you not say, to Jerusalem, “This city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth” (Jeremiah 33:9)? They were not worthy — not any more than Nineveh, or Minneapolis. But you are a merciful God, “slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).

And what are we? Debtors. Whose only hope is grace. For we could never pay back the honor we have stolen from your name. How precious, then, is the lightning bolt of truth that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!” (1 Timothy 1:15). 

And for what have you saved us, Father? To what end did you forgive, and cleanse, and free, and empower your people? You have told us, “In the coming ages I will show the immeasurable riches of my grace in kindness toward you in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Yes. That is best. You are your best gift to us.

But that’s a long way off, Lord. What about now? For now, we live in Minneapolis, not heaven. This is our home away from Home. We love our city. We love her winters — yes, we do — and cherish her spring. We love her great river and her parks. Her stadiums and her teams. We love her lakes and crystal air. We love her beautiful cityscape. We love her treelined neighborhoods, her industry, her arts, her restaurants, and recycling. 

And we love her people. Her old immigrant Swedes and new immigrant Somalis. Her African Americans, her Asians, her Latinos. We love those with so many genetic roots they don’t know what box to check. We love her diversity — every human precious because you made each one like yourself and for your glory.

This is our home away from Home. We are sojourners and exiles in this city (1 Peter 2:11). So we ask again: For what have you saved us? Here and now?

Open our hearts to hear your answer, Lord: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Yes, Lord. Yes. This is our heart for Minneapolis. We seek her welfare. We pray on her behalf.

For those who knew George Floyd best and loved him most, bring them your consolation, and direct their hearts to the God of all comfort.

For Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes, until he died, we ask for the mercy of repentance and the judgment of justice. For officers Thomas Lane and Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng, who stood by, we pray that grief and fear will bear the fruit of righteous remorse; and may the seriousness of the killing and the cowardice of the complicity meet with proper penalties. 

For the upright police who have watched all ten minutes of the unbearable video of Floyd’s dying, who consider it “horrific” and “inhuman,” who find it unbelievable that Chauvin did not say a single word for seven minutes as the man under his knee pled for his life, and who lament with dashed hopes that they must start again from “square one” to rebuild what meager trust they hoped to have won — for these worthy servants of our city, we pray that they would know the patient endurance of Jesus Christ, who suffered for deeds he did not do.

“We pray that the compounding of sorrows will not compound our sin, but send us running to the Savior.”TweetShare on Facebook

For police chief Medaria Arradondo, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, our Mayor Jacob Frey, and our Governor Tim Walz, we ask for the kind of wisdom that only God can give — the kind king Solomon had when he said, “Cut the baby in half” (1 Kings 3:16–28), and discovered the true mother. 

May our leaders love the truth, seek the truth, stand unflinching for the truth, and act on the truth. Let nothing, O Lord, be swept under the rug. Forbid that any power or privilege would be allowed to twist or distort or conceal the truth, even if the truth brings the privileged, the rich, the powerful, or the poor, from the darkness of wrong into the light of right.

For the haters and the bitter and the hostile and the slanderers — of every race — we pray that they will see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We pray that the light will banish darkness from their souls — the darkness of arrogance and racism and selfishness. We pray for broken hearts, because “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). 

We pray that our city will see miracles of reconciliation and lasting harmony, rooted in truth and in the paths of righteousness. We pray for peace — the fullest enjoyment of shalom, flowing down from the God of peace, and bought at an infinite price for the brokenhearted followers of the Prince of Peace.

And as the scourge of COVID-19 has now killed 100,000 people in our nation, and still kills 20 people a day in our state — most of them in our county — and as the virus wreaks havoc with our economy, and riots send lifetimes of labor up in smoke, and the fabric of our common life is torn, we pray that the compounding of sorrows will not compound our sins, but send us desperate and running to the risen Savior, our only hope, Jesus Christ.

O Jesus, for this you died! That you might reconcile hopeless, hostile people to God and to each other. You have done it for millions by grace through faith. Do it, Lord Jesus, in Minneapolis, we pray. Amen.”

-John Piper

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-sorrows-of-minneapolis

Pierre: A Prayer of Lament from Jeremiah 5

“Is there anyone who is prepared
To speak the truth and weep
As another black brother and sister
Lay dead, murdered in the street?
Must our children inherit our nation’s wickedness?
Must another generation be blind because
we are
Too busy
Too comfortable
Too power hungry

Lord, rend our hearts

Were it simply a problem amongst the wicked
Perhaps then we could bear it
But it is God’s people!
Those who claim his name, it is his church that
Ignores
Excuses
Passes by

More blood is on our hands, our clothes stained with guilt

Lord you continue to call your people to turn away
You have stricken us and shown us the destruction of our evil ways
Yet we refuse to be corrected, we are
Too idealistic
Too consumeristic
Too individualistic
…dislocated from the others pain

Lord, rend our hearts

Like leper’s our body wastes away
And we do not even feel it
We throw parties and celebrations
Counting who has the largest crowd
Hoarding influence
Seeking pleasure
Chasing admiration

Stone hard faces, we refuse to repent

And another year passes by
Black mothers, sisters, fathers, and brothers
Weep over their murdered sons and daughters
Killed while they radiated beauty, as they
Jogged
Rested
Played in parks
Walked home from school

Lord, rend our hearts

We welcome lions and wolves
In from the jungles and the deserts
we comply, we’re complicit
As life continues to be devoured
Generation
after generation
We forsake you
….so do our children

We swear by gods that are no gods

Awaken us oh Lord
Remove the blinders from our eyes
Take the deceit from our lips
Bring us low
May we tremble in your presence
our rebellious hearts softened
Take our riches, our power, our pride
Have it all

That we might marvel at your costly grace

Awaken us to be a people
who seek justice
defend the oppressed,
and promote the cause of the fatherless

Lord, lead us to repentance.”

Dennae Pierre

A Prayer of Lament from Jeremiah 5

Hoekema: What Does Spiritual Body Mean?

“One of the difficulties [in 1 Corinthians 15:44] is that the expression “a spiritual body” has led many to think that the resurrection body will be a nonphysical one—spiritual is then thought to be in contrast with physical.

That this is not so can be easily shown. The resurrection body of the believer, we have seen, will be like the resurrection body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:48, 49). But Christ’s resurrection body was certainly a physical one; he could be touched (John 20:17, 27) and he could eat food (Luke 24:38-43). Further, the spiritual…does not describe that which is nonmaterial or nonphysical.

Note how Paul uses the same contrast in the same epistle, chapter 2:14-15: “Now the natural…man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. But he that is spiritual…judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man” (ASV).

Here the same two Greek words…are used
as in 15:44. But spiritual…here does not mean nonphysical. Rather, it means someone who is guided by the Holy Spirit, at least in principle, in distinction from someone who is guided only by his natural impulses. In similar fashion, the natural body described in 15:44 is one which is part of this present, sin-cursed existence; but the spiritual body of the resurrection is one which will be totally, not just partially, dominated and directed by the Holy Spirit.

Our future existence…will be an existence completely and totally ruled by the Holy Spirit, so that we shall be forever done with sin. Therefore the body of the resurrection is called a spiritual body, Geerhardus Vos is correct when he insists that we ought to capitalize the word spiritual in this verse, so as to make clear that the verse describes the state in which the Holy Spirit rules the body.”

-Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 249-250.

Waldron: How Can Jesus Not Know the Day and Hour of His Second Coming?

“Matthew 24:36 reads as follows:

‘But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.’

By way of a brief or preliminary exposition of this passage, I want to say two things.

First, when Christ refers to “that day and hour”, he is referring to the day and hour or time of His second coming: The entire context puts this beyond doubt. Jesus has been speaking of His second coming in the preceding context 24:27, 30, 31). He goes on to speak of this event in the immediately succeeding context (24:37). He uses this exact language to speak of His second coming in the following context (24:42, 44, 50).

Second, Christ asserts here that knowledge of the time of His second coming is hidden from every intelligent creature. Of the time of His coming, Christ says, “no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Now this statement is from one viewpoint quite perplexing. It raises the question, If Christ is God and, therefore, omniscient or all-knowing, how can there be anything he does not know?

The solution to this question is suggested by The 1689 Baptist Confession. In Chapter 8, paragraph 2, it echoes the historic, orthodox doctrine of the person of Christ. There the Confession states that the Son of God possessed a “whole, perfect, and distinct” human nature. Thus, the Bible speaks of Him as a man physically or bodily. He was hungry, thirsty, and grew tired. The Scripture also speaks of him as a man spiritually or mentally. He grew and matured intellectually (Luke 2:40, 52; Heb.5:8).

Therefore, when we come to Matt. 24:36 there should be nothing surprising to us in Christ’s assertion that there were some things He did not know. If we are not stumbled when we hear the Son of God say, “I thirst,” there is no reason why we should be stumbled when we hear Him say that there is something He does not know. If we are not stumbled when the Scripture says that he grew in wisdom, then there is no reason for us to be stumbled when the Scripture declares that not even the Son knows the time of

His second coming. Jesus is speaking here as a man. He is not declaring to us the contents of the divine mind, but of His human intellect. Christ here asserts that neither He, nor any other man, nor even the angels of heaven knew the time of His second coming.

Think about the implications of that statement. Jesus’ statement implies that God had not revealed the date of the end of the world to any of the men or angels by which God communicated to men in the Old Testament. It also implies that He had not revealed it to the Son by which He brought that revelation to conclusion in the New Testament.

All of God’s special revelation is brought to us either by the angels and men through whom God spoke in the Old Testament or through His Son and the other men through whom He spoke in the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Jesus is, thus, plainly teaching that the time of His coming is not a part of the revelation God chose to give men in the Word of God. Therefore, no amount of scholarship or genius, not even a whole life-time of study dedicated to the study of typology, numerology, or prophecy will ever find in Scripture some secret, figurative, mysterious revelation of the time-period of Christ’s return. It has not been put in the Scriptures and no amount of searching will find it there.”

-Sam Waldron, The End Times Made Simple, 173-174.

Pieters: Israel and the Church

Albertus Pieters writing during the Depression provides a great illustration of how the church has become the people of God, now that Israel has rejected her Messiah.

“Recently many banks have been closed for a time, have been re-organized, and have resumed business, sometimes under the same name, sometimes with new names. In such a case it is quite often appropriate to speak of the reorganized institution as a new bank. New capital has been subscribed, new rules adopted, new directors elected, a new president and new cashier have been appointed. It is a new institution.

Yet, for other purposes, it is a continuation of the former bank, particularly so with regard to the assets. He who signed a promissory note payable to the bank before it was re-organized must make it good to the new bank. For such purposes it is the same old bank.

Precisely so stands the case between Israel and the Church. It is not that the Church is the “spiritual Israel, but that it is reorganized Israel. When we call the Church the New Covenant Irael, we are not allegorizing or spiritualizing the prophecies as some maintain; we are simply recognizing the historic fact of this re-organization, whereby the Church, in strict legality and in unbroken continuation, took over the assets of the national Israel, said assets being the promises of God—not some of them, but all of them.

It took over the assets of Israel because it was, for legal and Prophetical purposes, Israel, the only group having a legitimate right to the title.”

-Albertus Pieters, The Ten Tribes in the History of Prophecy, 81.

Justin Martyr: The True Spiritual Israel

“For the true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (who in uncircumcision was approved of and blessed by God on account of his faith, and called the father of many nations), are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ, as shall be demonstrated while we proceed.”

-Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, ch. XI.

Spurgeon: The Church of God in the Old Testament

“We have even heard it asserted that those who. lived before the coming of Christ do not belong to the church of God! We never know what we shall hear next, and perhaps it is a mercy that these absurdities are revealed one at a time, in order that we may be able to endure their stupidity without dying of amazement.”

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume 15: 1869, 9.

Should Churches Reopen

Yesterday I posted two articles, one by my friend Eric Scholtens and the other from the Elders of Grace Community Church which show two somewhat different responses to the recent declaration that churches are essential by President Trump. I have found both to be helpful. You can read them here: https://modernpuritan.com/2020/05/23/should-churches-reopen-if-gyms-cant/ and here: https://www.gracechurch.org/news/posts/1956

Jesus told us that we are in the last days and Paul remains us that Satan is on the prowl and will try anything to disrupt God’s plans. I’m thankful for the confidence that comes from knowing that Jesus has already won and that our God is sovereign. As Christians we must not be coopted for political means by any political party. Jesus in Lord, and we seek the growth of His Kingdom until it comes in fullness at His glorious return. We are grateful when Caesar supports Christians and our freedoms but he is not lord. Nevertheless we are all called to submit to Caesar’s authority as long as he doesn’t interfere with God’s commands.

We long to meet again in person in the gathered assembly of believers, and we miss the Lord’s Supper, yet loving our neighbors is an essential command too. May God give each local church and her Elders wisdom as they seek God’s glory while also seeking the good of the cities and communities in which we live. May we be lamp-stands burning brightly as we hold fast to the faithful testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord’s day blessings to you all!

I’ve Seen Too Much

“I know it sounds crazy
But I know what I saw
When the sun came up on the brightest day
From the darkest night of all

I saw the Man die
They laid Him in the tomb
And I know ’cause I saw it with my own two eyes
When He stepped into the room

And I’ve seen too much,
Too much to deny
I’ve seen too much,
Too much to say goodbye

So we scattered to the four winds
To tell them what we know
But I get so tired and the doubt creeps in
And the doubt won’t let me go

And it’s all I can do to get up in the morning
All I can do to stand up in the storm
When all I remember’s the passing form
A glimpse of the glory before it was gone

And I get so tired of this ridicule
But I cannot deny what I know to be true
‘Cause I’ve seen too much
What else can I do?

Where else can I go, Lord?
Where else can I go…
But to You?

I’ve seen too many faces
All shining like the sun
I’ve seen too many skies on fire
Like the face of the Holy One

I’ve seen too many eyes wide open
That once were so blind
All burning with the beauty of the same love
The same love that opened mine

And I’ve seen too much,
Too much to deny
I’ve seen too much,
Too many points of light

I know too much,
I saw the scars and touched His skin
That’s how it was,
And I cannot hold it in

I’ve seen so much that cannot be explained
And I realize it’s a mystery of faith
But my friend was dead and He walked out of the grave
And I knew the world would never be the same

I saw too much,
When I looked into the eye
Of the One I love and the One who loves me
And there was nowhere left to hide

I’ve seen too much,
Too much to deny
I’ve seen too much,
Too much to say goodbye

Too many points of light,
Too much to say goodbye.”

-Andrew Peterson

A Word from the Elders of Grace Community Church

Note from Erik: I’m thankful for the wisdom and leadership exhibited by the Grace Community Church Elders during the past several months. They and Pastor John have set an excellent example through this trying time. May God be glorified and his fame increased during this time until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

“We were elated yesterday morning when President Trump declared churches to be essential, asked us to open this very Sunday, and promised to fight any state government that tried to stand in the way. As I’ve said many times, the Bible would have us submit to the governing authorities, and in the United States, there is no higher human executive authority than the president, who was speaking on a matter of federal and constitutional interest, specifically the First Amendment.

With that said, at our last elder meeting, we talked about how this situation was changing not just day-by-day, but even hour-by-hour, and that sadly turned out to be true here. Late Friday night, the Ninth Circuit, which is generally known as the most left-wing and anti-biblical circuit court in the nation, ruled 2-1 in favor of California Governor Newsom’s statewide stay-at-home order, rejecting an emergency motion to allow for religious services to proceed.

To say that we strenuously disagree with this decision would be an understatement. All credible data show that this coronavirus is far less dangerous than initially projected, even while the economic, mental, and spiritual toll of an extended lockdown order is far more dangerous. Meanwhile, although the initial response arguably might have been somewhat even-handed, as the situation has developed, religious organizations have increasingly been unfairly treated, even targeted.

For a state like California to decide that abortion providers, marijuana dispensaries, and liquor stores are “essential” while churches are forced to the back of the line via a seemingly endless series of moving goalposts and ever more restrictive hoops to jump through, is the very essence of upside-down Romans 1immorality. We stand against it plainly, and moving forward, we are striving to pursue every biblical and legal means to oppose it.

Even so, for now, the Ninth Circuit decision is sadly the law of the land in California, and we gladly submit to the sovereign purposes of God.

Separate and apart from the legal questions raised above, our worship services are not to be times of media circus and frenzy, particularly when we gather around the Lord’s Table. To prevent that from occurring, the elders of Grace Community Church desire to delay our reopening and leave it in the hands of God.

We covet your prayers even as we pray for you. We will continue to meet with live stream at 10:30 AM and 6:00 PM, which obviously the Lord has blessed.”

-The Elders of Grace Community Church, SunValley, CA.

https://www.gracechurch.org/news/posts/1956