(Photo: Andrew Shepherd)
John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., stood before more than 40,000 Christian college students Wednesday and told them that some of them might not be saved.
While speaking at the Passion 2012 conference in Atlanta, Ga., an event which was also broadcast on the Internet, Piper said some people might be deceived into believing they have received salvation because they made a “decision” when they were young, yet they still haven't “waved the white flag of surrender” to Jesus Christ.
"Believing in Jesus is a soul coming to Jesus to be satisfied in all that he is. That is my definition of faith on the basis of John 6:35. This is not...a decision,” he said.
Piper gave his definition of salvation, explaining one concept in three different ways. He said that saving faith is “Seeing and savoring Jesus, being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, and trusting Jesus,” and that those three things are “equivalent realities.”
But those realities should also be apparent in our actions, Piper said, because “God did not come into the world in Jesus or create the world in order to be glorified invisibly.”
When you treasure God in your soul, "you outwardly are set free from the slavery of sins, which people can start to see, and you are set free for the sacrifices of love, which people can see. So the root of your salvation glorifies God privately, and the fruit of your salvation glorifies God publicly."
Piper also said that humans are not born morally neutral, so they can't simply choose to believe in and follow God. We are born “so corrupt in our hearts, so bent toward sin, so in love with ourselves and our worldly pleasures [that] we cannot believe,” he said.
Because of this spiritual corruption, Piper added, people cannot choose to believe in God and receive salvation unless God gives that gift to them.
"Blind people don't decide to see. Jesus says, 'See!' and they see. Sickened people don't decide to savor what is sickening them. Bored people don't decide to be satisfied with what is boring them, which is why some of you are not yet saved,” he said.
“You can't make yourself saved. This is very threatening to people, even Christians, because of what it seems to say about freedom."
Many people are taught that Christians choose God out of their own free will, but Piper says the idea of free will isn't necessarily an indicator of freedom.
In heaven, he said, "we will be all-the-way slaves of righteousness and the freest people in the universe because we will be doing exactly what we love to do, and it will happen to be God's will. This is freedom."
Piper also explained that if people could learn to treasure Jesus Christ, who is supreme over all things, then many of the little temptations that bother them would become nearly “powerless.”
“Little hearts, little souls give little lusts big power,” he said. “Big hearts give little lusts little power.”
In his conclusion, Piper explained that Christ doesn't just free Christians from sin, but he also frees them so that they can focus on their future hope, perform acts of love and “embrace suffering, embrace sacrifices for the sake of others.”
Piper wasn't the only well-known preacher at Passion 2012, which took place Monday through Thursday of this week at the Georgia Dome stadium in Atlanta. Francis Chan and Beth Moore both spoke at the event, and Christian music stars Christ Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Lecrae, Matt Redman and more also performed.
The Passion Movement started in 1995 under the vision of Louie Giglio, who, according to Passion 2012's website, “longs to see a generation living for the fame of Jesus.”