Crossway will be releasing a new book by John Piper later in the month entitled, What Jesus Demands of the World. I’m looking forward to it as it will address that God does make demands of us, and our existence in Christ is more than just a grand indicative. We do have a responsibility before Him to obey Him, submit to His Word and keep His commandments. Not to earn grace, not to merit favor, but precisely because of His Grace freely given, live lives of "grace motivated obedience". Without it, we cannot and are not His disciples no matter how much of God’s monergistic ways we can clearly articulate to others.
This tendency is in my opinion the bane of Reformed Christians and many Reformed Churches. I have encountered far too many people in Reformed Churches who by their lives, espouse a theology that God will somehow sanctify them in this life without any necessary "work" or "effort" on their part to live in obedience. Or they seem to think that living in obedience is a relatively easy thing to do like keeping a few golden rules, and not the battle, warfare, utterly exhausting, yet amazingly joy filled struggle that Scripture teaches that it is.
Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the book where Piper writes on how to approach reading this work. You can find it here. I look forward to reading it and commenting on it.
A few words about the title What Jesus Demands from the
World. I am aware that the word demands is jarring to many modern ears. It
feels harsh, severe, strict, stark, austere, abrasive. The reason I choose that
word is to confront some of the underlying causes for why it would feel offensive to portray Jesus as demanding. My
conviction is that if we rightly understand Jesus’ demands, and if we are
willing to ﬁnd in him our supreme joy, his demands will not feel severe but
sweet. They would land on us the way the Lady’s commands landed on the beasts
in C. S. Lewis’s novel Perelandra: “The beasts would not think it hard if I
told them to walk on their heads. It would become their delight to walk in
their heads. I am His beast, and all His biddings are joys.”
But it would be a cheap and superficial spin to give the
impression that Jesus does not in fact often speak abrasively and sound severe.
This is true not only toward his adversaries, the scribes and Pharisees—for
example, in Matthew 23, where he calls them children of hell (v. 15), “blind
fools” (v. 17), “blind guides” (vv. 16, 24), “hypocrites” (v. 27), “whitewashed
tombs” (v. 27), and “brood of vipers” (v. 33). It is also true toward his
disciples. For example, he says, “If you . . . who are evil, know how to give good
gifts to your children . . .” (Matt.7:11);
and to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the
things of God, but on the things of man” (Mark 8:33)and again to Peter, referring to John’s destiny, “What is that to you? You
follow me!” (John 21:22).
And after a blunt and jarring teaching in John 6 (“Whoever
feeds on my ﬂesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,” v. 54), John comments that
when “many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying; who
can listen to it?’ . . . After this many of his disciples turned back and no
longer walked with him’” (vv. 60, 66). Such was the price of how he spoke. My
aim is not to gloss over the tough implications of the word “demands” or to
soften the “hard” sayings of Jesus; the aim is to be changed in our hearts and in our understanding to such a degree that the tough Jesus
is as sweet to us as the tender Jesus.