Responding to God According to His Word

2014 The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference


In this 65-minute session from the 2014 TGC Women’s Conference, John Piper walks through Nehemiah 9 to describe the two problems Christ died to solve. You will be challenged to rest in the righteousness of God.

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as Senior Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has authored over 50 books including Desiring God and Future Grace


John said, “God does not exist for the sake of our enjoyment of Bible stories, but Bible stories exist for the sake of our enjoyment of God.” Describe your relationship with God. What Bible stories have influenced your knowledge and enjoyment of God?
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Nehemiah 9:36-37 (ESV)

36Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves.37 And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Israel recognized that their distress was deserved. When have you felt like your suffering was deserved? How does sin affect the way you approach God?
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John defined the righteousness of God this way: “If you are the absolute, what is right is to act consistently with your infinite value…To be righteous for God is to always be doing things that accord with the value of His name, or His unwavering upholding of the worth of His name and His glory. That is right.” 

How does this description of God's righteousness deepen your understanding of His character and actions?
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Nehemiah 9:33 (ESV)

33 Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



After recounting their history of rebellion, the people of Israel agreed that God was righteous to punish them. John interpreted their words to mean, “You [God] have upheld Your glory by dealing with us this way. That is right. You are vindicating Your righteousness in punishing us this way. We have no complaints against Your holiness or purity. You have done us no wrong, You are right.” 

When have you struggled to understand the judgement of God in the Old Testament? How might this concept of righteous punishment influence the way you read and interpret the Old Testament in the future? How does it influence the way you see your own sin?
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Israel cried out to God for help and re-established the covenant with the resolve to do better. John described two problems with their response:

  1. The odds that they will remain faithful after 1000 years of failure are not good. They are hopeless without a way out of sin. 
  2. The tension between the mercy and righteousness of God is disorienting. They have to wonder which will hold sway this time.  

How does this imagery of cyclical failure and righteous destruction point to Christ? How do you see yourself in the Israelites?
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Romans 3:23-26 (ESV)

23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



We read in this passage that the Cross solved the problem of sin and tension of mercy and righteousness. First, Jesus made a new covenant in His blood that eradicated sin. Second, “The Cross was to show God’s righteousness. Why did it need showing in this infinitely horrible way? Because He had passed over former sins, looking as if He did not esteem His name, which was not righteous. But he did, every moment of mercy was blood bought by Jesus.” 

Have you ever considered that one purpose of the Cross was to vindicate the righteousness of God from passing over former sins? How does this truth challenge you and encourage you as a Christ follower? What will you take away?
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John said, “The cycle of death and resurrection has been broken. Even though we will stumble, we have new resources in the risen Christ to fight our sin. You will never again need to fret that there is contradiction between God’s righteousness and mercy because He has vindicated it in passing over your sins in Christ.” 


To learn more about The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference and how you can attend the next event, click here.