Saturday, June 13, 2009

Review of God is the Gospel by John Piper

Author: John Piper

Publisher: Crossway

Pages: 192 pages

Price: 12.99

Genre: Christian Living

Quick Summary:

This is a Piper book so you should know what you are getting: a healthy dose of the glory of God, radically Christ-centered appeals, and passionate pleas to enjoy God. In this particular offering Piper’s main concern is that we understand that the greatest gift of the gospel is God Himself. “All God’s gifts are loving only to the degree that they lead us to God Himself. That is what God’s love is: his commitment to do everything necessary (most painfully the death of his only Son) to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying—namely, himself.”

The first few chapters of this book are given to defining the gospel. Then Piper moves towards what this means for the Christian life. He then moves forward with a little theology. And finally closes out the book by encouraging us to “sacrifice and sing”.

What I Liked:

The first four chapters are worth the cost of the book. Even in the introduction Piper asks perhaps one of the most important questions for modern evangelicals: “could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?” We really need to hear this message. If you do not consider God to be the ultimate good of salvation then something is wrong. Piper makes a passionate biblical defense of this central doctrine to the Christian faith.

In his typical Edwardsean-way Piper absolutely exhausts this topic. He considers the impact of this doctrine on numerous aspects of the Christian life. He writes in a heartfelt and pastoral manner. You will be deeply informed and emotionally stirred.

What I Disliked:

UPDATE: Due to a comment, I have reworded this section. The original did not convey my actual intent.

I absolutely love John Piper and his ministry. Unfortunately, most of the congregation in which I serve do not share that love. A good portion of our church has commented that his writing is too difficult for them. And I think I understand. Piper can use really big words that may be unfamiliar to those that do not read a good deal of theology books. Piper also will have jam-packed sentences. Now, in Piper's defense I would love to see the somewhat anti-intellectualism in our church context be changed. I would love to see people pursuing God with not only heart but also mind. So, I am torn. I love Piper and his writings and would love to see people labor to read and enjoy him. At the same time I would love for Piper to write books that would appeal to those of a more rural context.

One commenter felt in the orignal that I was holding my church in contempt and not loving them. The truth is I have a ton of compassion for our church. Certainly, that passion can grow because I know I do not love them like Jesus does. Yet, at the same time I also would love to see our church pursue doing hard reading Piper.

Should You Buy It?

There is hardly a Piper book that I would not heartily recommend. The modern church that is so enamored with the gifts of the gospel needs to hear this call. I heartily suggest you buy and read this book. In my opinion, this is one of the Top 5 books written by Piper.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


  1. Mike,

    I don’t know you and I’m not that familiar with the area in which you and your congregation live, however I know contempt when I see it. You clearly have distain for the people who live in your area. I hope that no one in your congregation reads your blog.
    While they may not be as smart as you, I have no doubt that they would be offended by this post.
    I can’t help but think that this kind of contempt would negatively affect your ministry.
    I hope that you will ask God to help you see these people the same way he sees them and replace your contempt for compassion.


  2. Max,

    I think you have misunderstood my point. And I must humbly say I am not sure that you do know contempt when you see it. I have a deep love for the people in our congregation. That, in fact, was my entire point. Many of the people in my area are not "intellectual". But they really love Jesus. And I am convinced that if it were written more in their language that they would love Piper.

    I do think that the anti-intelluctalism can stunt our growth...and I would love to see our people pursuing God deeply with their mind as well as their heart. But I say that with deep compassion and not contempt.

    If I have caused any sort of offense to anyone in my church I would greatly apologize. I am going to look back over the way that I wrote things and see if there is a better way to communicate it. I do thank you for pointing that out.

    Thanks for commenting...

  3. Mike,
    I've never heard you express contempt for your church...never. All I've seen is loving compassion from you. So don't take Max's comments to heart, brother.

    3 Things:
    1. Piper probably uses heady language on purpose - even in the presence of laity. This is an ancient and well tested rhetorical tool designed to take passive listeners and make them active. If the rhetoric is slightly above their heads, they have to reach for it. And if they reach for it, when they get it IT IS FULLY THEIRS. This is a good practice in sermons, too.

    2. Do you have any critiques of Piper's arguments? any of his books?

    3. My fav. Piper books are 'Brother's We are Not Professionals' (a book which I thought was excellent!) and 'Let the Nations Be Glad.' (a book which challenged me in college and still does today - Missions exists b/c worship does not!)

  4. Mike,

    In your reply you do sound like you have compassion and love for the people in your Church; however I still stand by my assessment of your post. I asked someone else to look at it before I made my comments and they felt the same way also. Sometimes we simply write things that come off completely different than what we really feel. I know that I have been guilty of that myself.
    I agree with you that Christians should pursue God just as much with their minds as they do with their hearts.
    Forgive me if my original reply was too harsh. Maybe I’m too sensitive due to being from a small Deep South town and now live in a sea of transplants in Atlanta.


  5. Tom,

    I agree with reason #1...I think it probably is a good idea. Sometimes, I think he is way too'd be nice to have some middle ground or ways to work up to it.

    On #2 I have never disagreed with John Piper on anything. Just kidding. I do not have significant differences with Piper on anything but there are times in his books that I will question some things...but never really enough to put in a "dislike" section.

    On #3..i love those books too. Have you ever read Don't Waste Your Life? I absolutely love that book.

  6. Mike,

    It's worthy to note that Piper distributes his books in PDF format for free on his web site.



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