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Book Review: John Piper’s God is the Gospel, Part One

July 13, 2011

John Piper's book reminds us that it is God, not heaven, we should be longing for and delighting in.

When the careful reader lets the Bible speaks for itself, when he closes the man-made commentaries in order to know for himself what the Bible is all about, and when every part of the Bible is understood on its own, and when the reader goes over all its parts again and again, like a jeweler who is impressed with the value of each diamond, and when all the diamonds are strung together to form a unity that dazzles the reader because its worth is not imposed by a system but is discovered by careful reading, then one will know for himself what John Piper knows, that the great, true, emphatic, unsurpassable good news is that God is the Gospel, and all who believe this will make a maddened gold rush to meditate on God Himself. For it is God, not heaven, that we long for. “Would you be happy in heaven if Christ were not there?” (p 15). ‘Tis God that we are estranged from, and ‘tis God Himself that we were made for. Piper writes,

It is stunning how seldom God himself is proclaimed as the greatest gift of the gospel. The Bible teaches, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). The best and final gift of the gospel is that we gain Christ. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, and I count the loss of all things as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

 In God is the Gospel you have the privilege of looking over John Piper’s shoulder to see what he has opened his Bible to. Piper is the jeweler, the careful reader, but you can be a jeweler too and see the precious stones for yourself. For example, “Christ suffered for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Our deep, supreme need is that God would bring us to God. “What makes all the events of Good Friday and Easter and all the promises they secure good news,” writes Piper, “is that they lead us to God.” I want to say that this book has brought me back to God; back to the joy of God, back to delight. A deep gladness opened up when I read the book’s subtitle, Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself. God made my heart glad, very glad, to read a chapter called, “The Gospel—‘Behold your God!’” I always hoped that God was like a Father who wanted his prodigals back again, at any cost. “The gospel,” writes Piper, “is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God.” I believe reading God is the Gospel will make your heart glad as well.

It is the message for Muslims as well; for Muslims, like all people, were made to behold God. But when I read that the founder of Islam, Mohammad, forbade his followers from even thinking that human beings would behold their God, then I get angry; I have to close the book, stand up, walk out my front door, and tell all, tell everyone, tell the world the glad, good, decisive, true, princely good news of “God with us” in Jesus Christ. Serious stuff is going on inside me on account of reading John Piper’s book, God is the Gospel.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2011 5:28 am

    Something like “break my heart with what break’s the heart of God”? I will look for this book, though I am on a book-fast! (Too many unread already, including yours 😉 I recently went on Dr. R. Winter’s “Wartime lifestyle” although it hasn’t totally taken effect, but maybe I can cut a purchase somewhere else to accommodate here. It sounds too good to miss! Blessings, PM

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  1. Why God is the Gospel, Even for God. Book Review: John Piper, Part 3 « Bob Blincoe

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