Of course I’ll never forget where I was on September 11, 2001. My wife and I were in our second year of marriage, and we were living in Louisville, Kentucky while I was working on my Ph.D. On the morning of the attacks, I was in our apartment, and she called me from work to tell me to turn the television on. I think both buildings had already been struck by the time I tuned in, but I was watching live television as both of them eventually crumbled to the ground.
The emotion of that day has left an indelible mark on me. The uncertainty. The questions. The very real concern that more attacks were imminent. The threat of a larger war. The horror of watching all those people die. I think everyone felt something like that, and that is why churches across America were filled on Sunday September 16.
If you want to know something about a preacher’s theology, go and listen to what he preached on September 16, 2001. The most powerful one that I heard was preached by John Piper (audio, transcript), pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“A Service of Sorrow, Self-Humbling, and Steady Hope in Our Savior and King, Jesus Christ”
In addition to expressing grief appropriate for the occasion, Piper builds his exhortation on the theological foundation of the sovereignty of God over all things, which includes His sovereignty over calamities like the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Piper called his listeners to turn away from their implicit trust in American military might and national prosperity. Americans by and large had taken for granted their own security in the world. Piper said 9-11 proves what the Bible already teachesâ€”that such security is an illusory fiction. Our hope is not in the military and its ability to protect from all danger. Our hope is in Christ, and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39).
As I remember the tragedy of 9-11, I also remember this message. I am thankful for the reminder that I serve a God who is sovereign over all things, that I serve a Christ who once looked into the cold eyes of at a heartless Roman govenor and said, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.” I am thankful that while we have no basis for confidence in military might (Psalm 20:7), we have every reason to be confident in King Jesus who has promised to come again and to defeat evil once and for all. I am thankful for a Christ who loves sinners and who will one day make all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Calamaties will come, and calamities will go. But God’s word will never pass away. Take some time to listen to this sermon and to set your hope completely on Christ.
P.S. If you have a sermon that you would like to share, please share the link in the comments section.