As a thank you for being a volunteer cook at Forum, I was given four new books from IVP, which was very exciting. Picked up one of them last night because of the title alone! ‘Battling Unbelief’ by John Piper. Before someone reads too much into this and thinks I’m doubting my faith – be reassured that that’s not the case, but actually there are times when I, like everyone else (I’m guessing!) do feel like ‘but can it be true’ and it just seems ludicrous.
And, I kinda thought I knew what the book would tell me but the first couple of chapters showed me I was quite wrong! I was expecting it to be along the lines of there’s so much proof, we can be assured that the gospel’s true and that it would be a really reassuring book in that sense. But, it’s another book on grace which obviously in itself is amazingly reassuring. Dealing with future grace and past grace and the fact that it is that, that we so often don’t believe in. And it’s so true. Whenever I have doubts most of them are to do with can God’s promises really be trusted. Grace really is something that I am never going to be able to have a proper grip on – it does always seem to just slip away.
Also, the book starts with the reminder that “No one sins out of duty. We sin because it offers some promise of happiness” and that the lie is only broken when we realise that God is the one that is more desirable. This wasn’t the only thing that I wasn’t expecting in the early chapters as John Piper (AKA Pipes) starts to deal with the things that cause us to disbelieve the promises of God. The first one is anxiety which I thought was really strange. He talks about it in a non Medically defined condition way, in terms of when we constantly worry about things. It is being anxious that so often leads us to sin as we doubt in God’s promise in some way. This link is something I’ve never ever realised before. So found this really new and shocking. I’m probably fairly well known for being a bit of worry wart especially when it comes to making decisions and so the thought that worrying is causing me to doubt in God’s promises is well…shocking.
Pipes backs a lot of this up from Matthew 6, which strangely enough I found myself quoting to someone else in the last week who was doing nothing but worry about things! I knew worrying was pointless which is what I was saying from Matthew 6 to my friend, but Pipes takes it one step further by making the link with that doubt or unbelief in God’s future grace and promises, or in some cases past grace. Really challenging to as he encourages us to “sever the clinging roots of sin that ensnare us”. This is only the first chapter as well!