God is the Gospel by John Piper

This week I completed reading John Piper’s newest (I think, he writes one a week!) book: God is the Gospel. This served as an excellent review for me of the God-centered emphasis of Piper’s ministry. For those not familiar with Piper’s writings, this work could serve as an excellent introduction. The basic premise, as the title suggests, is that the greatest blessing of the gospel is God Himself (not His gifts). Piper has said this elsewhere in other ways (The Pleasures of God, Desiring God, A Hunger for God, Seeing and Savouring Jesus Christ, etc.). This book, however, meets a goal of Pipers which I’ve heard him express before. That goal is to state truth in a shocking enough way to get people’s attention. This book certainly achieves this goal. Although I’m both familiar with and sympathetic with Piper’s views, I was still shocked into a more God-centered view of salvation. Let me share with you a couple of the much needed and shocking statements that stood out to me in this book:

This distortion of divine love into an endorsement of self-adulation is subtle. It creeps into our most religious acts. We claim to be praising God because of His love for us. But if His love for us is at bottom His making much of us, who is really being praised? We are willing to be God-centered, it seems, as long as God is man-centered. We are willing to boast in the cross as long as the cross is a witness to our worth. Who then is our pride and joy? (pp. 12-13)

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The critical question for our generation — and for every generation — is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

And the question for Christian leaders is: Do we preach and teach and lead in such a way that people are prepared to hear that question and answer with a resounding No? How do we understand the gospel and the love of God? Have we shifted with the world from God’s love as the gift of himself to God’s love as the gift of a mirror in which we like what we see? Have we presented the gospel in such a way that the gift of the glory of God in the face of Christ is marginal rather than central and ultimate? If so, I pray that this book might be one way God wakens us to see the supreme value and importance of “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (p. 15)

9 comments

  1. I can see where Jeremy might have gotten the idea that you may have implied that this book is inferior than any of his other books, while understanding that you hope you didn’t imply that it is.

    Having said whatever it was that I said, I will now say that, if I understand it correctly, Piper is saying that Christ must be the object of and focus of our worship.

  2. joe,

    Here’s the similiest way I can understand Piper for those just starting to read him. My thoughts on it even Satan wants to have the gifts that God gives to his children and wants to goto heaven, but those who goto heaven aren’t those who want his blessings as a purpose for love for God, but real worshippers are enthralled with God as the greatest gift of heaven. Having God is greater than anything in the whole worship and all of the blessings you could get. True worship is worship of God and his name and seeking Him.

    God is the greatest of all beings is why we worship and adore him, not because he gives us health and wealth and happiness in this world, but because his is the greatest of all beings and we are enthralled with him as a person and his attributes, not his gifts of blessing. So what you seek is really God and God alone, because his is the greatest. Real worship in truth and spirit, vs. worship that is worshiping to get something better.

    Steve,

    Thank you. I want to get this book so bad, but my budget right now is limited. I think I might be able to read it online.

  3. Thanks for your comments, all.

    Shawn, you can read it online at Crossway’s site. It’s a little awkward, but it can be done.

  4. Steve, Thanks for the good post on what sounds like another great read from John.

    I’d be interested to know which book of Piper you have had any luck getting “the person in the pew” to read and enjoy. I’ve passed out my fair share of Desiring God in the past, but they did not make it all the way through. Don’t waste Your Life is good for the younger, but what else can serve to introduce them to Piper?

  5. wisdomofthepages,

    A few years a small Lifechange book was published called The Dangerous Duty of Delight. It is short (a condensed version of Desiring God )and I have had many people read it. They were later interested in other of his books. Last Easter I purchased a couple of cases of Piper’s The Passion of Jesus Christ and we read it together as a church. A very high percentage read that book because of the seasonal interest (Mel Gibson’s movie had also just been released). I’ve also introduced people to Piper through his preaching ministry. Listening to Piper preach should motivate anyone to read one of his books!

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