John 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 now.