Friday, November 17, 2006

Piper, "Let the Nations be glad!"

Book Summary

John Piper, Let the Nations be glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions. 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004).

Let the nations be glad! is Piper’s offering of a revised and expanded edition of a theological and biblical defense of God’s supremacy in all things. His work’s emphasis is on the application of the sovereignty and supremacy of God towards the area of world missions. Drawing on texts from both the Old and New Testaments, Piper’s basic aim of the book is to demonstrate that proper worship drives missionary outreach.

Part I deals with the purpose of missions (worship), the power of missions (prayer), and the price of missions (suffering). Piper relates missions to the supremacy of God by insisting that missions is not the chief end of the church, worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship therefore is the goal of missions because in missions we aim to bring the nations into the enjoyment or delight of God’s glory. Even more than that, the impetus behind true missionary zeal is a heart that is satisfied in the glory of God. Therefore, worship is also the fuel of missions which leads to a greater worship of God worldwide.

Then, Piper shows the key role of prayer plays in missionary effort. As the proclamation of the Word and deed of Christ goes forth to bring faith and obedience of the nations, prayer is the means to releasing the power of the gospel. Its purpose is to make known to all that the victory belongs to God and for His glory. Prayer is a “wartime walkie-talkie” given by God to call on him for air cover when we are on the frontlines of the battle. Piper closes Part I with a powerful and insightful section on suffering that will inspire many to count the cost of following Jesus. In fact, Piper believes that loss and suffering, joyfully accepted for the kingdom of God, will show the supremacy of God’s glory even more clearly than all worship and prayer combined.

Part II presents Piper’s thought on the eternality of hell, the necessity of the atonement, and the necessity of faith in Christ for everlasting salvation. In this section, Piper interacts with a number of different “theological’ views of eternal punishment, including annihilationism and speaks against the view that speaks of possible salvation of those who are ignorant of Jesus and his saving work (i.e. through other religions yet ‘fear God’). Since the incarnation of Jesus, all saving faith must be fixed on him and salvation is found in no one else but in the Son of God. Piper also deals with the concepts of “reached and unreached people groups”, the biblical phrase of “all the nations”, the Great Commission and related topics.

The penultimate chapter in Part III demonstrates how compassion for the lost is directly related to the passion for God. Here, Piper mainly elaborates on the work of his mentor, Jonathan Edwards (18th century pastor/theologian). If Jesus came not only to vindicate God’s righteousness and uphold God’s glory, but also to rescue sinners from everlasting misery in hell, so the church must follow in Jesus’ footsteps to be motivated the same. One great addition to this revised edition is a chapter on ‘worship’ where Piper clarifies its essence as an individual’s inner spiritual treasuring of the character and the ways of God in Christ, and being satisfied in Him.


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