This post was inspired by a comment (third comment, by Patrick) at Pyromaniac, the blogging ministry of Phil Johnson.
There are many men God has used to influence my life, my father, brother, various pastors, etc. But there are four I have never met (not on a first name basis, though I have shaken their hands) that have had a profound impact on my christian walk.
1) Steve Green’s music opened my eyes to the need for biblical, God-centered music. His songs, in addition to being worshipful taught me theology.
2) R.C. Sproul’s teaching ministry showed me the Holiness of God in such a way that I almost came to a ‘second conversion’. I was saved at an early age but his video series on the Holiness of God was a very awesome and transforming experience in my life.
3) John MacArthur’s emphasis on ‘Counting the Cost’, and the difficulties of being a Christian gave me focus and determination in my Christian walk.
4) John Piper’s emphasis on the compatibility Glory of God and personal joy turned my world upside down. It is true, “God is most glorified in me, when I am most satisfied in Him.” That is a revolutionary thought.
But there seems to be a contradiction in the ‘counting the cost’ spoken of by MacArthur and the ‘Christian hedonism’ embraced by Piper. Notice I said ‘seems to be’. But when you get right down to it they are flip sides of the same coin. It is true that when we come to Christ we are to take account of what we must give up in order to follow Him. Houses, land, possessions, earthly pleasures, our families, and our own lives. But it is also true that we are to take into account what we gain in return, houses, land, Heavenly pleasures, a new family, our own lives, and God.
This principle is true even in our business world. Before we buy a home, car, television, etc., we take into account what we will be giving up, money and other things that could be bought with that money, and then we weigh it against what we receive in return.
In the life of every one of us we make these decisions every day. Do I value my ten dollars, five gallons of gas, or an Arby’s giant roast beef sandwich with curly fries Dr. Pepper and an Oreo milkshake most? (I’ll take the fattier of the three!) But there is no more a momentous choice, or valuation that we make, than when we are faced with the choice, ‘Christ, or the world?’ It takes careful consideration. MacArthur in this case tells us that we should flee this present world, while Piper pleads for us to flee to Christ. Yet in each of their ministries they declare both truths. Piper has no monopoly on the ‘find true pleasure in God Gospel’ any more than MacArthur has a monopoly on the ‘renounce your very self Gospel’. In fact they are the same Gospel. It is MacArthur preaching, ‘repent and believe’, while Piper proclaims ‘believe and repent’. It is the Gospel of self-denial and riches in Christ.
So, Can I be a Christian hedonist and still count the cost? Yes! And I cannot be a Christian hedonist without counting the cost any more than I can count the cost and not find in Christ ‘pleasures evermore’.
Note: Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John, Augustine,Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, Paul and Jan Crouch, and Benny Hinn have all had an impact on my life as well. Just kidding, I can hardly understand anything John Owen wrote.