In which Pastor John contradicts everything he's said in the previous 70 messages.
Piper starts off by talking about the differences between a small town church, where one sees the same people for 30 years, and a church in a big city, such as Minneapolis, where people are constantly moving in and out of the area. He then says the command to love one another given in Romans 12 means all our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I agree with this latter point, but here's where it, and everything John Piper subsequently exhorts in this sermon breaks down in the model of the institutional church.
I have never been a member, or even really an attendee, of a church in even a town of significant size, let alone a large city. However, in the many small town churches with which I am acquainted, it seems from my observations they end up being little more than social clubs for the oldest, longest standing families in the church.
From what I understand, in the sizable churches found in larger locales, there is much more emphasis on programs and clubs, such as the small groups which are the focal point of the sermon on which I am presently commenting.
While the small or cell group sounds attractive, it inevitibly fails for the simple reason it is mandated by the church which facilitates said groups. Obedience to everything Paul is commanding the Roman believers to do in Romans 12 has to come from within the believer by the Holy Spirit. If Pastor mandates that being part of his church means joining a small group and doing such things as finding ten lonely, single people and inviting them over for soup next Sunday lunchtime, then what he'll get is a congregation of believers doing a work because the guy in the pulpit told them to do it and not one that stems from their knew birth in Jesus and which flows out of having clothed themselves in Christ's righteousness.
Hence, John Piper has just flown in the face of everything he's emphasized up till now in this series on the Book of Romans and has helped to prove the unbiblical nature of the way believers fellowship today as compared to the church of the first century. I mean to say, while there is so much excellent material in this message, it's teachings can not be truly and properly applied under the present institutional model.
For the original sermon, click here.