God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself
- Piper, John, 1946–
- God is the Gospel : meditations on God’s love as the gift of himself /John Piper.
- p. cm.Includes indexes.
- ISBN 13:978-1-58134-751-7
- ISBN 10: 1-58134-751-0 (hc : alk. paper)
- 1. God—Love. I. Title.
- BT140.P52 2005
- 231′.6—dc22 2005014843
God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
This book is a cry from the heart of John Piper. He is pleading that God himself, as revealed in Christ’s death and resurrection, is the ultimate and greatest gift of the gospel.
None of Christ’s gospel deeds and none of our gospel blessings are good news except as means of seeing and savoring the glory of Christ. Forgiveness is good news because it opens the way to the enjoyment of God himself. Justification is good news because it wins access to the presence and pleasures of God himself. Eternal life is good news because it becomes the everlasting enjoyment of Christ.
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.
Saturated with Scripture, centered on the cross, and seriously joyful, this book leads us to satisfaction for the deep hungers of the soul. It touches us at the root of life where practical transformation gets its daily power. It awakens our longing for Christ and opens our eyes to his beauty.
Piper writes for the soul-thirsty who have turned away empty and in desperation from the mirage of methodology. He invites us to slow down and drink from a deeper spring. “This is eternal life,” Jesus said, “that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” This is what makes the gospel—and this book—good news.
John Piper’s God Is the Gospel is a candle in the doctrinal darkness that we seem to be in far too often. Piper’s call in this small but thoughtful book is to reestablish God as the center of his good news-God gave us himself because he is the best thing we could be given. Right from the very beginning, the Reformation theology Piper is so famous for is right on the surface and clearly guiding his work. I do not consider myself particularly reformed, but I appreciated deeply the God-centered focus of the book and Piper’s willingness to be theologically straightforward.
On the opening page, Piper’s focus is clear, “The acid test of biblical God-centeredness-and faithfulness to the gospel-is this: Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because, as the cost of his Son, he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever?” (11). This sentiment sets the tone for the rest of the book. Piper does not deny that we take great joy in our salvation and that God does make much of us, but the purpose and progression of sanctification should lead us to the reality that the greatest joy we can have is making much of him. Not long after this thesis statement, Piper explains what he means with the phrase “God Is the Gospel,” “When I say, God Is the Gospel I mean that the highest, best, final, decisive good of the gospel, without which no other gifts would be good, is the glory of God in the face of Christ revealed for our everlasting enjoyment.” (13)
Through much of the rest of the book, Piper focuses on this theme of the glory of God revealed in Christ. Though the biblical notion of the “glory of God” can be wide-ranging and difficult to pin-down in an easy to grasp fashion at times, Piper does a wonderful job of explicating the notion and encouraging the reader to take pleasure in God and his glory.
Though it is not an academic work, it is well cited and researched. His ability to be conversant with the Puritans was clear, and I appreciate the way he quoted and handled Edwards. It is good for us pastors and contemporary Christians to be reminded that we have a rich and “relevant” theological history that goes back beyond a couple of decades. The theologian Thomas Oden has written that he has become hesitant to, “trust anyone under `three hundred’,” and that he believes “[w]e should be passionately dedicated to unoriginality.” I believe Piper would add a hearty “amen!”
If there are any drawbacks to God Is the Gospel, they would be in its chapter and section format. Though I believe that chapters broken into smaller sections can aid a reader, especially a busy reader, there were too many sections within chapters that were too small. At times, there were as many as four sections on a set of opposing pages, and from time to time their proliferation became a hindrance to the flow of the argument.
But ultimately, that is a small matter. I would heartily recommend God Is the Gospel as a wonderful and rich reminder of the core of our lives and the life of the Church: the glory of Christ in his gospel.
It’s All About God!
When I sat down to read God Is The Gospel, I have to admit that I was feeling a bit world-weary. I was even dreading to read this book. I didn’t want to read anything. I just wanted to wallow in my self-pity. It is sad, but true.
But, I sat down to force myself to read this book. After two pages, I wasn’t forcing myself anymore. I felt myself being sucked into a profound theological philosophy. I was reading words that didn’t just tell me what I should be doing as a Christian–these words told me why I am a Christian and how wonderful the gift of God is to me. The words I was reading were seeping into my heart and reminding me that I am to savor the glory of Christ.
We are privileged to worship and enjoy God. While we do not deserve the attention and love God gives us, He has done everything to get our attention. He wants to bring us to Him so that we can enjoy Him. He wants us to know Him! He wants us to realize that the gospel is about Him! God is the gospel!
John Piper really hits home with this book and reminds us that it is really all about God. If you are looking for something more filling, something to quench your thirst for truth, then this book is for you. You will walk away with a greater understanding of the gifts God has given us–especially the gift of Himself.
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