3 Reasons for John Piper’s Significance

piper2John Piper is a significant voice for evangelical Christianity. In honor of Piper’s birthday, here are three reasons why he’s become so important.

1. He places a premium on faithfulness to Scripture

Whether you’re listening to a sermon or reading one of his books, you get the sense that Piper always begins with the biblical text. His affection for the Word is obvious and contagious. As Piper writes in The Supremacy of God in Preaching:

“Again and again my advice to beginning preachers is, ‘Quote the text! Quote the text! Say the actual words of the text again and again. Show the people where your ideas are coming from.’ Most people do not easily see the connections a preacher sees between his words and the words of the text he is preaching from.”

I’ve never come away from one of Piper’s works thinking “he just didn’t do his exegetical homework.” In fact, I’ve been encouraged on more than one occasion to rethink a position based on his sound exposition.

2. His chief aim is glorifying God

If you’re like me, your first exposure to Piper was the powerful Desiring God. In it, Piper expounds the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s admonition that man’s chief end is to “glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” This call to glorify God permeates all of Piper’s works, and focuses on the idea that God’s most glorified in us when we’re satisfied in him. He explains why in the award-winning God’s Passion for His Glory:

“. . . this duty to be satisfied in God is not just a piece of good advice for the sake of our mental health. It is rooted in the very nature of God as one who overflows with the glory of his fullness, which is magnified in being known and loved and enjoyed by his creatures. Which is why I say again that this discovery has made all the difference in my life.”

The thought that there’s no conflict between our happiness and God’s glory, that his glory is apparent in our happiness when our happiness is in him, is not a new idea. But Piper’s focus on this truth fills his ministry with an effusive and charitable spirit.

3. He has a heart for missions

American theologian and the ninth president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, R. Albert Mohler Jr. called Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad “the most important book on missions for this generation.” If you’ve read the book, it almost feels like an understatement. Piper rightly prioritizes missions below worship:

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”

To prioritize worship over missions doesn’t devalue missions, but rather contextualizes it. Through Piper’s lens, both worship and missions are strengthened by this focus. Piper’s theology for missions is informed and driven by his passion for God’s glory. The Holy Spirit is hungry to see the world come to know Christ, Piper would tell you, because God’s chief aim since the beginning has been to glorify himself in the whole world.

It’s almost impossible to be familiar with Piper’s ministry and not be challenged to have a stronger missions focus.

These are just a few of the reasons that Piper’s ministry has been important to me. Have you benefited from Piper’s ministry? Leave us a comment and tell us how!

Logos has a wealth of Piper materials available. You can add the 24-volume John Piper Collection to your library or be edified by the manuscripts of over 1,100 John Piper sermons. Check out Piper’s books on Logos and Vyrso now!

Comments

  1. CR Optiker says:

    This post is likely to generate some controversy, but that’s not my intent. I don’t know anything about John Piper, but have seen him and his books hilighted by Logos. The following is NOT Piper bashing, but an honest and candid inquiry.

    A friend is looking for a church and asked for comments/opinion on the Acts 29 Network, which I’d never heard of. In researching it online, I was a bit surprised that one of the first Google recommended searches as I started typing was “Acts 29 Network cult”, and that other suggested searches were very negative. As I continued researching, including the Acts 29 Network website, and many negative pages, I learned that Acts 29 Network is a spinoff of the Mars Hill Church, started by Mark Driscoll. I also didn’t know anything about that. Mars Hill/Driscoll were strongly associated with the “emergent church”, of which I know relatively little, but of which I am skeptical. I’m a born again Christian with little denominational loyalty, but currently attending a conservative, independent Baptist church.

    In at least one article, John Piper was lumped in along with the Mars Hill, Driscoll, and the emergent church. Having read some articles on these, I see much that is good and right on, but I also see a fair amount of reporting, anecdotal testimony and opinion that would cause me to avoid these.

    I recognize that Logos users include all flavors of Christians, some who will be offended by negative implications regarding Mars Hill Church, Acts 29 Network, Driscoll, the Emergent Church, and John Piper. But, in searching for the truth regarding these, I would very much appreciate any comments regarding John Piper’s relationship to the other people/issues mentioned above.

    • CJohnJohnson says:

      There is a strong working relationship between Driscoll and Piper, each has spoken at the others conferences, etc. Both have a Reformed background and high view of scripture. Although Mark Driscoll is much younger than Piper and tends to be more contemporary in his style, both of these men speak and teach solidly from a grounded and biblical point of view.

      I believe that a differentiation needs to be made between ‘emergent’ and ‘emerging’. Emerging reflects a desire to reach out and find people where they are, helping them find Christ without the traditional constraints that many find to be cumbersome and legalistic. Emergent thinking tends toward the post-modern ideas surrounding relativism and discourages the idea of absolute truth. I feel comfortable saying that neither of these ways of emergent thinking sit well with either Piper or Driscoll.

      I have had the great blessing of hearing Piper teach in person and even having him pray for me specifically as I started the church I now serve in. His teaching, insight, passion, and humility are among my most highly held goals as a pastor.

      Though I cannot speak for a specific Acts 29 church, I would feel very comfortable suggesting to a friend that he look into any one of them.

      • CR Optiker says:

        Thanks! That’s helpful. I wasn’t aware of a differentiation between emerging and emergent, so appreciate that. I used them pretty interchangeably.