Contend Earnestly: Some John Piper Action

Friday, March 14, 2008

Some John Piper Action

I just reviewed God is the Gospel, a book by John Piper. I thought I would wet your pallet a little bit with some excerpts. By the way, you can get the book for free in PDF here. Enjoy.

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 were 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.” I pray that our ministries would have the same focal point as the ministry of John Owen, the great Puritan writer of the seventeenth century. Richard Daniels said of him:

There is one motif so important to John Owen, so often and so broadly cited by him, that the writer would go so far as to call it the focal point of Owen’s theology … namely, the doctrine that in the gospel we behold, by the Christ-given Holy Spirit, the glory of God “in the face of Christ” and are thereby changed into his image.

The implications of this for understanding 2 Corinthians 4:4–6 are enormous. “The gospel of the glory of Christ” is the gospel of the glory of God, for Christ is God. To see the glory of the work of Christ in the events of Good Friday and Easter is to see the glory of God. To love Christ for his saving work in the gospel is to love God. I am not collapsing all distinctions between the Father and the Son. Rather I am contending against all separation. I am arguing that it is not only permissible but essential to see and savor God in the glory of the gospel. That is the emphasis of 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6, and that is the aim of this book and why I titled it God Is the Gospel.

The gospel is the light of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. It is the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ. This is what makes the gospel good news. If the glory of God in Christ were not given to us in the gospel for our everlasting seeing and savoring, the gospel would not be good news. The emphasis could not be clearer in these verses. In wakening our souls to see and savor the glory of the gospel, Paul emphasizes above all things in these verses that the gospel gives the glory of God for us to see and enjoy forever.

And let us not fail to see the sun at broad day. We are talking about glory—radiance, effulgence, brightness. Glory is the outshining of whatever is glorious. The glory of God is the beautiful brightness of God. There is no greater brightness. Nothing in the universe, nor in the imagination of any man or angel, is brighter than the brightness of God. This makes the blindness of 2 Corinthians 4:4 shocking in its effect. Calvin says it with the kind of amazement it deserves: “They do not see the midday sun.”12 That is how plain the glory of God is in the gospel. When God declares the omnipotent word of creation and “[shines] in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” the curtains are pulled back in the window of our Alpine chalet, and the morning sun, reflected off the Alps of Christ, fills the room with glory.

The Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth … If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son … And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
1 JOHN 5:6–11

Piper, J. (2005). God is the Gospel : Meditations on God's love as the gift of himself (73). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.


John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Reformed site; pls visit, comment;

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