Book Review Fridays: God Is the Gospel by John Piper
This is my only John Piper reading for the past year. Again, Piper blows my mind away. God Is the Gospel (Crossway, 2011) allowed me to see the Gospel in a very different light. It made me realize what is the greatest good of the Gospel.
Just like other of Piper’s books, God Is the Gospel is rich in profound, mind-engaging, paradigm-shattering thoughts. But one must be warned that the book isn’t easy to read. I myself had a hard time grasping Piper’s thoughts that I had to reread sentences and even paragraphs to understand what I’m reading. It must be said that diligence and perseverance is required in reading this book.
One of the things I like, or enjoy reading, in this book is Chapter 2, where Piper begins to define the Gospel and considers the biblical scope of its meaning. It seems that he took all the verses with the word “gospel” and explains how the Bible defines it. This gives the reader a clear, even comprehensive, picture of the Gospel.
Why God is the Gospel?
I believe the aim of the book is, obviously, to show that God is the Gospel. Piper keeps on pressing this point throughout the book. I like what he writes:
When I say that 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. The saving love of God is God’s commitment to do everything necessary to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying, namely himself. Since we are sinners and have no right and no desire to be enthralled with God, therefore God’s love enacted a plan of redemption to provide that right and that desire. The supreme demonstration of God’s love was the sending of his Son to die for our since and to rise again so that sinners might have the right to approach God and might have the pleasure of his presence. (13-14, emphasis added)
Piper is right! He’s simply repeating what 1 Peter 3:18 says:
18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God… (Emphasis added)
God’s plan of redemption is ultimately aimed to bring us to Himself, who alone can satisfy our souls and make us eternally happy. This is what makes the Gospel, the good news, good.
Furthermore, Piper proves that all the Gospel events and Gospel gifts are meaningless when it does not bring us to the ultimate good, which is God:
My point in this book is that all the saving events and all the saving blessings of the gospel are means of getting obstacles out of the way so that we might know and enjoy God most fully. Propitiation, redemption, forgiveness, imputation, sanctification, liberation, healing, heaven—none of these is good news except for one reason: they bring us to God for our everlasting enjoyment of him. If we believe all these things happened to us, but do not embrace them for the sake of getting to God, they have not happened to us. (47)
Burden for Gospel Preachers
Piper also shares his burden for preachers:
My burden in this book is to make as clear as I can that preachers can preach on these great aspects of the gospel and yet never take people to the goal of the gospel. Preachers can say dozens of true and wonderful things about the gospel and not lead people to where the gospel is leading. (41)
The last sentence is so true. I have heard of preachers who do this. Most of them preach as if entrance to heaven is the ultimate thing (I will discuss on this in a bit). I believe they are sincere and don’t intend any harm done. But unaware, they’re preaching an incomplete Gospel.
I love the burden of Piper for preachers! This warning and exhortation are very helpful to preachers, including myself. I better learn to preach the Gospel in such a way that it points to God as the ultimate good of it.
I always thought that the ultimate good of being forgiven of my sins through the work of Christ is that I possess eternal life and enter heaven. But Piper challenges that thinking:
Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don’t want God above all things, we have not been converted by the Gospel. (47)
So if we desire heaven without any reference to Christ, or we think of heaven as the ultimate good of the Gospel, we must think twice! Maybe we haven’t yet been converted by the Gospel after all, for it brings us to God.
God Is the Gospel really made me understand the Gospel deeper. It made me realized that the aim of all the Gospel events and gifts is to remove any obstacle that hinders us to fully enjoy God. Indeed, the Gospel brings us to Him, the ultimate good of the Gospel. This makes the good news of the Gospel good! I recommend this book to you.
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