DULUTH, Georgia – John Piper, founder of Desiring God and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, presented a panoramic view of history as he shared unique insights and application from the book of Revelation at the Passion 2016 conference Sunday morning.
Speaking from the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, Georgia, Piper addressed an audience of over 40,000 young people ages 18-25 gathered across three arenas in Atlanta and Houston as well as thousands more watching the live stream from around the world.
"What I say doesn't matter unless you can see it in the Book – namely, the Bible," explained Piper to open his message. "Put your spiritual hands on the steering wheel of your mind and drive with me into eternity past and eternity future and at the center of history 2,000 years ago outside Jerusalem."
Preaching from the book of Revelation, Piper referred to it as the strangest book in the Bible that fits these strange, unexpected, nervous times. "The more strange the times become and the more uncertain, the more this strange book is going to be as relevant as it really is," he said.
"The central plan of God is eternity past, the central song of God is eternity future, and the central supreme act of God in human history is the actual slaying of the Lamb of God," he said. "It was the plan that there be a slain Lamb before the foundation of the world. Who is the Lamb of God? Jesus Christ. He resolves to carry the plan through."
Piper started by reading from Revelation 13 which describes the beast out of the sea and the beast out of the earth, then read select verses from several other chapters throughout his message.
"You need to know by what power you will be rescued from that beastly deception that moves through your classes and your dorms with a kind of power that if you could see it with your eyes you would be terrified and know you need help from God," he explained.
Piper exhorted the students to stand firm in their faith and to recognize the eternal purposes of God even amid challenges. "Do not be intimidated by brilliant people on your campus who do not know what the central purpose of the universe is and are living in total darkness," he said. "You don't need to know a lot of things. You just need to know a few things and believe them with all of your heart."
"What power will keep you from worshiping Jesus on your campus? Will you worship the beastly contenders in your life, or will you worship the Lamb?" Piper asked the gathering. "The blood of the Lamb secures and guarantees the life of the names of those who are written in the book. Seeing that the Lamb is beautiful is the great vocation for the Christian; seeing the Lamb as supremely beautiful and satisfying and compelling."
"The people of the Lamb are appointed by God, they are purchased by the blood of the Lamb, and they are praising the Lamb with the song of the universe. Everything hangs on being there in these scenes; if you are not there, you are of all people the most to be pitied."
Piper asked the gathering, "Is your name in the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain?"
The effects of being in the Book, Piper explained, are to "see the Lamb as supremely precious, more than anything else in your life;" to "live and die humbly and happily to show that Jesus is more precious than life;" and to "share in His glory."
Piper lamented that too many Christians today seem overly concerned with protecting their own lives at all costs rather than living with an eternal perspective. "If your name in the Book, your calling is not to stay alive but to stay in love with Jesus. Death is a small thing compared to Hell. We die for the world; we don't kill for the world," he contended. "Show Him more precious than life by the happy humble way you live, and the happy humble way you take the bullet."
Explaining what it means to be glorified with Jesus, Piper stated that Revelation 3:21 "may be the most breathtaking thing that could be said about you in the future." He read the verse, "The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne" (ESV).
"You will share the rule of the universe," he explained. "We will be taken into the Lamb's fellowship and take our seat with Him."
Piper opened and closed his session in prayer. "Help us hear and set us free from the deceits of the beastly evil one," he prayed. "In these journeys grant I pray that thousands of hearts would be empowered and committed to so live and so die in humility and in happiness, that they would show that you, Jesus, are better than life."