Before addressing 40,000 young adults gathered for prayer and worship at the Passion 2016 conference, theologian John Piper opened with prayer and read aloud Revelation 13:1-10, which focuses on John the Apostle's vision of the terrifying Beast of the Sea.
"You don't need to know who the beast is, you don't need to know when the beast is, but you do need to know whether you will worship beastly contenders for the authority of God in your life," said Piper, who is the founder and teacher of desiringgod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. "If I can help you to be ready to contend successfully with all beastly contenders for your affection and allegiance, you would be ready for anything that shows up...You need to know by what power you will be rescued from the forces of idolatry hovering over your campus with supernatural deception powers against which no human resistance can stand."
Piper went on to focus on verse 8, which states, "and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain."
"The slaying of the Lamb of God was the plan of God before the laying of the universe," the pastor said, referring to the verses as "Eternity Past." "If Satan, together with Adam and Eve, thought when he brought sin into the world, that he was wrecking God's plan, he's a fool. He didn't wreck it, he set it up. Because it was the plan that there be a slain Lamb before the foundation of the world."
He then referenced Revelation 5:9-10, which reads, "And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.'"
"The central song of the universe is the slain Lamb," he explained, referring to these verses as "Eternity Future". "That was the plan for eternity; that was the song for eternity...That's what Revelation shows us in all of its strangeness."
The pastor turned to the New Testament book of John, which calls Jesus Christ as the "Lamb of God" before telling of His death -- an act Piper described as the "central supreme act of God in history."
"Do not be intimidated by brilliant people on your campus who do not know what the central purpose of the universe is, and are living in total darkness with all of their brilliance," Piper exhorted the audience. "Don't be intimidated by brilliant people who live in the dark and don't know what the point of it all is."
He continued, "If you know these three things: The plan of the universe is the lamb slain, the song of the universe forever is the lamb slain, the central point of history is the lamb slain...then you know vastly more than they do, and it is important and totally life-changing."
Piper then focused his attention on the people of the lamb; those who are appointed and purchased by God.
"Pray that God would allow you to see yourself in these scenes," he said before reading Revelation 13:7, which focuses on the Beast making war on the saints and conquering them. However, Christ had already purchased the saints and the church through His blood: "There was a list in the book of whom Christ had purchased," Piper contended.
The pastor then laid out three purposes these passages have for the life of a Christian today.
First, your name is written in the book so that you will see the glory of the Lamb: "Seeing the Lamb as beautiful is the great vocation of the Christian," he said. "This is the fountain of all the godliness in your life...it is satisfying, it is compelling. The devil knows this, that's why Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 4:4, 'Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.'"
"The great first decisive result of being in the book so that Jesus is beautiful, you see him for who he is," Piper continued. "That's the effect of being in the book...you see Him as supremely precious, more than anything else in your life."
Second, if your name is in the book, you will live and die humbly and happily to show that Jesus is more precious than life.
"If your name is in the book, your calling isn't to stay alive, but to stay in love," the pastor said. "Death is a small thing compared to hell, a very small thing. If you're in the book, that's not your goal. The purpose of being in the book, of being known, appointed, loved, purchased -- the point is not to keep yourself alive, but to keep yourself in love with Jesus..and nothing, not even death, can stop it...we must be ready to die for the world, that's what Christians do. We keep ourselves in love. By your life, humble, happy, by your death, humble, happy, the lamb is seen to be more precious than anything."
Third, all of that leads to the greatest privilege of all: Being glorified with God and sharing in his glory.
"You will eat of the tree of life in the paradise of God," Piper said, quoting Revelation 3:21, which reads, "To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne."
"We will be taken into the Lamb's fellowship and take our seat with Him," he said. "You will sit with him...personally, individually, on the throne, as He sits on the Father's throne. That's what it means for your future to be in the Book of Life of the Lamb Who was Slain...your face will shine like the sun, the Lamb will transform your lowly body to be like His...you will be free from sinning and sorrow and sickness and shame, and you will be happy, as happy as you can be, forever."
Piper then addressed those who are unsure if their name is in the book: "If you're afraid right now, that your name might not be in the book, I want you to hear God speak a final word."
He quoted Revelation 22:17, which reads, "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life."
Piper concluded: "If you would have Him as your treasure, you are in the book,"