Archives for 10.10.07

on so much for my quote game

Last week, I posted a list of quotations in hopes of getting some unbiased responses from some whom I know to be readers of John Piper. I wanted to get a comparison of Piper’s teaching with the quotes offered. My reason was that I see some strong similarities between some of these quotes and Piper’s approach. I wondered if someone else who is more familiar with Piper could tell me if I were right or wrong. Alas, no one chose to enlighten me — perhaps they thought I was baiting them, perhaps they weren’t interested, perhaps my estimation of my readership is greatly exaggerated (and I think that I have only a few readers!). In any case, a couple of people have asked who the quotes were from, so I will offer the answers here.

All of the quotes come second hand via a book by Elmer Towns, Understanding the Deeper Life. Towns is trying to systematize various types of teaching regarding Christian Experience. In the section from which I am getting these quotes, Towns is discussing what he calls the ‘deeper life experience’. He sub-categorizes this view as ‘Christological deeper-life’, ‘Holy Spirit deeper-life’, and ‘soteriological deeper-life’. He offers two quotations illustrating each sub-category:

Christological deeper-life


On the contrary, the life that God has given us is the life of His son. All whom He has called He has also justified, and all whom He has justified He counts as already glorified. God never begins anything that He does not bring to an end. The world may start that which it cannot finish, but God says: “He that hath begun a good work in you, will keep on perfecting it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1.6, Gk.). Here are all three of the great doctrines of God’s work within us. He which hath begun a good work in you — that is justification — will keep on perfecting it — that is sanctification — until the day of Jesus Christ — that is glorification. There is no change in God, and there will be no change in His work in us.

This one is Donald Grey Barnhouse, Life by the Son: Practical Lessons in Experimental Holiness (Philadelphia: Revelation Publications American Bible Conference Association, 1939), 33. quoted in Towns, p. 23.


The apostle Paul gives us his own definition of the Christian life in Galatians 2:20. It is no longer “I, but Christ.” Here he is not stating something special or peculiar — a high level of Christianity. He is, we believe, presenting God’s normal role for a Christian, which can be summarized in the words: l live no longer, but Christ lives His life in me.God makes it quite clear in His Word that He has only one answer to every human need — His Son, Jesus Christ. In all His dealings with us He works by taking us out of the way and substituting Christ in our place. The Son of God died instead of us for our forgiveness: He lives instead of us for our deliverance. … It will help us greatly, and save us from much confusion, if we keep constantly before us this fact, that God will answer all our questions in one way and one way only, namely, by showing us more of His son.

This one is Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, Penn.: Christian Literature Crusade, 1973), 9. quoted in Towns, p. 23.

Holy Spirit deeper-life


I want here boldly to assert that it is my happy belief that every Christian can have a copious outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a measure far beyond that received at conversion, and I might also say, far beyond that enjoyed by the rank and file of orthodox believers today. It is important that we get this straight, for until doubts are removed faith is impossible, God will not surprise a doubting heart with an effusion of the Holy Spirit, nor will He fill anyone who has doctrinal questions about the possibility of being filled.

This one is from A. W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest (Harrisburg, Penn.: Christian Publications, 1950) 121, 122. quoted in Towns, p. 24.


The fullness of power is the heritage of every Christian! It may be an unclaimed heritage, but the power of God which enables a Christian to witness for Christ and win souls is the right of every Christian. Not to be filled with the Holy Spirit, not to be endued with power from on high, is to miss the highest good, and fail to claim the Highest blessing, offered to every child of God. … That the power of Pentecost is for every Christian is made clear; first, by the promises which are to all alike; second, by the New Testament examples; third, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every Christian makes the enduement for service logical for every Christian; fourth, by the fact that the soulwinning task demands supernatural power; and, fifth, because the Word of God clearly commands Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

This one is from John R. Rice, The Power of Pentecost or the Fullness of the Spirit (Murfreesboro, Tenn.: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1976), 277, 278. quoted in Towns, pp. 24-25.

Soteriological deeper-life


‘I have been crucified with Christ,’ says Paul. What does this mean? In principle, it means that my right to myself is annihilated, as His concern and love for others is expressed through me. Identification, that’s the first thing. Not simply to die to myself, but to live in Him. Bless your hearts, evangelism isn’t a ‘project’, it’s a way of life! ‘Feed My sheep. Identify yourself with My interests in other people,’ says Jesus. Oh, to be so satisfied, identified with Jesus that my life is spoiled for everything but His will! Am I more concerned with my right to live, than with my daily dying to Him? Which are you more concerned about? Paul says, ‘I die daily’ — do you? Do I? Is that my major passion?

This one is from Alan Redpath, “The Price of Christian Service,” The People and the King, ed. David Porter (Kent, England: STL Books, 1980), 154. quoted in Towns, p. 25.


It takes a long time to come to a moral decision about sin, but it is the great moment in my life when I do decide that just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world, so sin must die out in me, not be curbed or suppressed or counteracted, but crucified. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be earnestly convinced, and religiously convinced, but what we need to do is come to the decision which Paul forces here. … I cannot reckon myself “dead indeed unto sin” unless I have been through this radical issue of will before God. Have I entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that is left is the life of Christ in my flesh and blood?

This one is from D. W. Lambert, Oswald Chambers An Unbribed Soul (London: Marshall, Morgan Ea Scott, 1972), 62. quoted in Towns, p. 26.

Now, I don’t have an axe to grind against the deeper-Christian life movement (although I do tend to mock its extremes). There are some flaws to Keswick thinking, but some valuable teaching is produced by the Keswick movement in some of its forms, especially the more early forms. Many good men were involved in its initial efforts and their lives and work are nothing to sneer at.

My interest in the comparison with Piper is my thesis that Piper is promoting a neo-Keswickian experience oriented theology in his whole ‘Desiring God’ mantra. It seems to me that many who follow Piper are quite critical of Keswickian teaching, but at the same time are pursuing almost the same experience orientation they decry in others [albeit with somewhat different terminology]. I suppose I might be forced to read more Piper myself (Lord, would you require so much??) in order to prove or disprove my thesis.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

on Thanksgiving Sunday

In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October. Usually, as in all ways we differ from Americans, many Canadians are quite smug about it. According to us, we celebrated Thanksgiving first. So there. Most Americans I know look on this insecurity with bemusement.

Anyway, since Thanksgiving fell on Oct 8, the earliest it can occur in Canada, we made our Sunday a special Thanksgiving Sunday. We usually hold a special service and Thanksgiving banquet in our hall on the actual day. This year a number of people are away, including my wife who is caring for her failing mother in Tennessee. So the week before, we decided to make our regular Sunday meal our Thanksgiving dinner. Our ladies did a tremendous job decorating the fellowship room and preparing the meal. And… our folks invited a number of others to the services. We ended up with 66, which was especially tremendous since I was thinking we would be way down with the number of folks who were away.

Our first service continued our Romans series, finally completing verse 1 with the message The Called Apostle. The proposition of the message was this: “The Word of God stands or falls on the integrity of its human authors.” We began the message talking about the importance of credentials and showing how Paul was laying out his credentials in verse 1. We noted a bit more about the designation ‘slave of Christ Jesus’, noting that the slavery to Christ is a voluntary slavery, an entire selling of the soul to Christ. The term is not used of Christians in general in the NT, but of men who are given over to the service of Christ in the gospel. The bulk of the message dealt with the credential ‘a called apostle’ [literal rendering]. The term apostle was invested with special meaning by the Lord himself, the word does mean ‘sent one’ but in Greek usage doesn’t have the high, ambassadorial connotation that the New Testament gives it. The Lord himself used it to distinguish a select group out of his disciples [and a man named Saul, an apostle born ‘out of due season’.] The function of these men is to lay the groundwork for the Christian church, to provide the foundation. The whole credibility of the Christian church rests on their integrity and mission. This leads us to the third credential ‘separated unto the gospel’ or ‘horizoned’ or ‘marked out’ – the word has to do with someone who is especially set apart, marked out like a towering monument on the horizon, like a mountain, for a particular cause, in this case, the gospel.

In all of this, we see a man volunteering himself as the slave of Christ. This man finds himself called an apostle, and marked out for a task. These last two are the works of God in his life. I concluded this way:

It is remarkable – the God of Heaven put His word in the hands of men.

Now …

God’s word is in your hands.

What kind of credibility do you offer its message in the places where you live?


For our afternoon service, we did something different. As our Thanksgiving Sunday fell on the first Sunday of the month, making it a Communion Sunday, I decided to create a reading interspersed with various hymns to prepare our hearts for communion. We had our deacons and one of the deacon’s wives doing most of the reading. I read the ‘narrator’ bits. The selections moved from some of the birth passages to the betrayal and denial, the trial, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. The hymns were selected from our Majesty Hymnal. The whole reading and singing took us about 45 minutes to complete. The whole service was quite moving as simply the words of Scripture put before us once again the redemptive work of Christ. So that you can see the way the service went, here is a link to Thanksgiving: A Communion Reading.

May the Lord bless you in your work, wherever you might be. At our Thanksgiving, our hearts are quite full of the grace of God.

May those unsaved folks who visited our services this weekend be moved by the power of the Word of God to trust Christ for their own salvation.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3