John Piper may not yet be well known this side of the Atlantic but his track record is considerable: pastor of a large church in Minneapolis; Bible teacher and prolific author (30+ books) with over 25 years experience. This comparatively low profile is likely to change as he accepts more invitations over here in the UK.
This is a mind-stretching and hugely worthwhile read, best consumed in small chunks and well chewed over. He writes like a 21st century Puritan with deep conviction and spiritual fire, following in the footsteps of his spiritual mentor, whom he often quotes, - the famous 18th century preacher, theologian and writer Jonathan Edwards.
He thoughtfully examines the biblical references to the gospel to determine the breadth of its meaning. He stands firmly with the Reformers in highlighting the blessings flowing from Christs death and resurrection: justification by faith, forgiveness of sins, and the imputation of Christs righteousness. But he also warns against the danger of focussing on these gifts, rather than on the giver: God himself.
For Piper the gospel is inextricably linked with the glory of Christ who is the image of God, (2.Cor 4:4-6). Gods glory in Christ must be spiritually seen and spiritually tasted as glorious and precious. The ultimate good of the gospel is seeing and savouring the beauty and value of God himself, revealed through the internal witness of the Holy Spirit in the heart. He wants us to know God intimately, to love and enjoy him, to savour him above all things with everlasting joy. The true believer finds the fountain of all pleasure and the treasure chest of holy joy in the Lord himself. This is admirable.
However, Piper does at times write provocatively, slightly overstating his case. He raised some important issues Id never thought of, although his style is sometimes a tad archaic. The argument is logically presented but there are few illustrations. And he doesnt consider the social implications of the gospel. This is indeed solid food.
Yet I was greatly blessed by many of his insights into Scripture and uplifted by his description of the glory of Christ I had to go back to it again and again. This is about a spirituality that is truly biblical. Reading this book has deepened my relationship with God.
Excellent for pastors, preachers, church leaders and those engaged in mission across the world and truly an inspiration for any of Gods servants going through a hard time.