In honor of The Gospel Coalition conference taking place this week, John Piper explores four distinct ways to know Jesus Christ accurately in this week’s Wednesdays on the Word. For more from John Piper, check out the John Piper Sermon Archive, containing over 30 years of John Piper’s sermons and conference lectures on a variety of topics from election to evangelism.
1. Know Him as One Who Gave His Life for You
First know him as one who gave his life for you. I say “gave his life for you” instead of “died for you” just to make plain that he chose to die. He planned to die. He embraced death for you. He didn’t stumble in front of the divine bullet meant for you; he stepped in front of it. Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man came … to give his life as a ransom for many.” So know him that way.
Know him as the one who gave his life for the ungodly, not the deserving and worthy, but the undeserving and unworthy, even while we were still enemies (Romans 4:5; 5:6).
Know him as the one who gave his life to complete his perfect obedience so it could be imputed to us (Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:19; Galatians 2:21; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Know him as the one who gave his life to forgive all our sins (Ephesians 1:7).
Know him as the one who gave his life to become a curse for us and remove the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13).
Know him as the one who gave his life to absorb our condemnation and remove the wrath of God (Romans 8:3).
Know him as the one who gave his life to prove that God is just when he justifies the ungodly who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).
Know him as the one who gave his life in all these ways to prove the love of God for us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
2. Know Him as the One Raise from the Dead by the Father
Second, know him as the one raised from the dead by the Father. I stress that he was raised by the Father because the verb is passive in verse 34: not “Christ rose” but “Christ was raised.” The point is that the Father was so satisfied with the once for all, atoning work of the Son that he vindicated his obedience and suffering and his infinite accomplishment by raising him from the dead.
So know your Friend and Savior and Lord and Treasure as one absolutely approved by God. And know him, as Romans 6:9 says, as the one who “will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” And therefore know him as what Paul describes in the next two phrases.
3. Know Him as the One Who Is at the Right Hand of God
Know him, third, as the one who is at the right hand of God. That little phrase “right hand of God” was full of power for those first-century Christians who knew their Old Testament. Psalm 110:1 is quoted by New Testament writers more than any other verse in the Psalms. God says to the Messiah, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The meaning is triumph and rule and authority. We can see this in Ephesians 1:20–21, “[God] raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” And 1 Peter 3:22, “[He] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”
In other words, to be at God’s right hand is to rule over all authority and power and dominion and angels and names. Know your Savior, your Lord, your Friend, your Treasure this way—triumphant and ruling now over all the universe until all his enemies are put under his feet. Know him and enjoy this unshakable security.
4. Know Him as the Intercessor between You and God the Father
Finally, know him as the intercessor between you and God the Father. Verse 34 ends, “… who also intercedes for us.” He was and is now and ever will be our go-between (1 Timothy 2:5). Our advocate (1 John 2:1). Our intercessor. We might ask, Why do we need an intercessor if the death and resurrection of Jesus provide the full ground of our forgiveness and righteousness? The answer is that today in heaven Jesus does nothing to add to the ground and purchase of our forgiveness and righteousness. That he finished once for all. What he does is represent that finished work for us in heaven. He stands as a lamb slain and triumphant. And provides a living evidence and witness for the ground of our salvation.
Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” We experience this intercession every time we pray in Jesus’ name. Why do we say, “In Jesus’ name, Amen”? Because we have no rights with the Father apart from what he did for us on the cross and what he is for us in heaven. So know him as your intercessor every time you pray. Be thankful to him that he loved you and died for you and bought all your salvation and every answered prayer at the cost of his life.
I have emphasized know him. Not just knowing his work. Know him who did—and is doing—for you these great things. Know him as your freedom from condemnation, and your fearlessness, and your massive security in merciful service through many sufferings.