Dr. John Piper on the question “Is Being Born Again Up to Us?”

John 3:3 Jesus answering Nicodemus – “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The following is an edited transcription of the audio.

Is being born again up to us?

It’s no more up to us than it was up to my grandson, who was born two days ago, to get out of the womb. In other words, birth is something done to us. It’s not something that we do.

It is, however, something that we react to. The first cry of a newborn in Christ is faith. I would never write a book on how to be born again—because that is like writing a book for babies on how to get out of the womb—but I would write a book on how to be saved, because that is about faith in Jesus Christ.

I’ve never met a believer who, when you ask how they came to Christ, really wants to take credit for it. I’ve never talked to anybody who wants to say that they were the one who really provided the decisive initiative and the decisive work behind their salvation. Almost every believer, because of the work of God within them, wants to give God the credit for their salvation.

When you have two brothers listening to a sermon together, and one is awakened to see the spiritual beauty of Christ while the other isn’t, can this awakening in the one be attributed to any innate wisdom or sensitivity to spiritual things? No! These things are not innate. The Bible says that we are all dead in our trespasses and sins and that it is God who makes us alive together with Christ. God, in his sovereign mercy, is the one who quickens people and causes them to be born again.

The new birth is the prior, miraculous, subconscious work by which people are enabled to see and savor and embrace Jesus Christ. Therefore we must pray accordingly.

I’ve prayed for my own children, before they were born again, that God would do a decisive, regenerating work in their hearts. I didn’t pray that God would keep his distance and leave it up to my son to come to Christ. I prayed, “Break in! Crash in! Take out the heart of stone and give a heart of tenderness!”

We pray for regeneration—we pray for new birth—so that people can believe. They don’t believe so that they can be born again. They’re born unto a living hope so that they can believe. People don’t believe unless God breaks into their lives, raises them from the dead, gives them a new heart, and enables them to see the beauty of Christ.

Do you think we’ll ever be able to resolve the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility?

Yes, in heaven. I think it can be resolved to a significant measure here, if you read the very best analyses of it. (Jonathan Edward’s book The Freedom of the Will is as good as they get, and I think he comes to a pretty close solution. But practically I find that lay people, by and large, are not going to read such a heavy-duty book).

In the end, however, we have to live with mystery because we are finite. And we must make sure that we draw the line for mystery in the right place. I find that a lot of people agree that there is mystery, but they don’t agree on what that mystery is.

The mystery is not between the sovereignty of God that governs all things (including the will of man) and the absolutely self-determining free will of man. That is not the biblical mystery.

The biblical mystery is between God, who is sovereign over all things and governs all things (including the will of man), and our accountability and responsibility to will what we ought to even though we don’t have absolute self-determination. That’s the mystery. And I’m willing to live with that because the Bible teaches both of those things.

What is the first step in our responsibility?

If we read Jesus in John 3 we see that the new birth is God’s work. The wind of God’s Spirit blows where he wills. And if was talking to another person who showed some interest in spiritual things, I would say to them, “There is evidence that the wind is blowing here because of your concern, interest, and conviction. Therefore, take this initiative that God has wrought in your life and use it to close with Christ. Come to Christ. Come to the cross, and reach out with the arms of your heart and will, and embrace Christ as Savior and Lord.”

Then the person must admit, “I was brought to this point by the Spirit of God. Yet now I must use my will, enabled by God, to embrace him, to receive him” (John 1:12).

So I would plead with people to come to Christ as the fountain of living water and as the bread of heaven (Isaiah 55:1-3). And when people come and embrace Christ with faith they are saved, their sins are forgiven, and they have the hope of eternal life. Then they’ll look back some day and say, “I came because he drew me. I came because I was born again. He opened my eyes. He gave me ears to hear. He enabled me to taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Article above: By Dr. John Piper, Novmeber 9, 2007. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org. He has written an outstanding book on the topic of Regeneration called Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again? Published by the British Publishers – Christian Focus, 2009 (Pictured at the beginning of the article above).

About the Author: John Piper is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 40 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

God Centered Encouragement With Summer Upon Us from Dr. John Piper

Does God Really Want Us To Be Encouraged?

Holidays are dangerous times of discouragement. The expectations for gladness are higher, so realities of sadness are heavier. You’re supposed to be gloomy in February; so it’s more tolerable then. But Thanksgiving and Christmas are supposed to be festive. Hence the double whammy of discouragement. May I offer some preventative medicine?

When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he added an oath, so that through two unchangeable things (the promise and the oath), in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:17-18)

“…God desired to show more convincingly…”

This text assumes that God had already said enough to give us encouragement. But God is not a God of minimums. His aim is not to speak as few encouraging words as possible. He speaks some words to give us hope. Then, being the effusive God he is, he says to himself, “This is good. I like doing this. I think that I shall do this again.” And so he speaks some more words of encouragement.

But not just more. They are better. He moves from simple promises (which are infallible and infinitely trustworthy!) to oaths. And not just any oaths, but the best and highest kind—oaths based on himself. Why? Not because his word is weak. But because we are weak, and he is patient.

He desires to “show…prove…demonstrate…point out…represent…display…reveal… drive home” the hopefulness of our future. He really wants us to feel this. He goes the second (and third and fourth) mile to help us feel encouraged. This is what he wants. This is what he really wants. “When God desired to show more convincingly…”

“…that we might have strong encouragement…”

How encouraged does God want us to feel? He said, “Strong encouragement!” Note the word! He might have said, “great encouragement” or “big encouragement” or “deep encouragement”. They would all be true. But the word is really “strong”. Encouragement that stands against seasonal downers. Preach this to yourself: “God desires me to have strong encouragement!” “God really desires me to have strong encouragement!”

“…to seize the hope set before us…”

There are good times in this life. But let’s face it: the days are evil, our imperfections frustrate us, and we are getting old, and moving toward the grave. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ we are of all people most to be pitied. There are good times yet to come in this life. But even these are rubbish compared to the surpassing worth of gaining Christ. Even here we can rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But only because there is a “hope set before us.” Reach out and seize it. God encourages you to. Take it now. Enjoy it now. Be encouraged by it now. Be strongly encouraged. Because your hope is secured with double infiniteness: the promise of God and the oath of God.

Encouraged with you by God’s desire,

Pastor John Piper

About Dr. Piper: John Piper is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 40 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

Dr. John PIper on God’s Design for Marriage: 4 Biblical Realities

4 Reasons Why Marriage Is God’s Doing – by Jonathan Parnell

(Summarizing John Piper)

The most foundational thing we can say about marriage is that it is God’s doing. John Piper explains, “A glimpse into the magnificence of marriage comes from seeing in God’s word that God himself is the great doer. Marriage is his doing. It is from him and through him” (24).

In his book This Momentary Marriage, Pastor John Piper gives four reasons why marriage is God’s doing:

First, marriage was God’s design.

While Genesis 1:27–28 makes clear that marriage is meant for male and female, the logic of Genesis 2 also confirms it.

In [Genesis 2:18], it is God himself who decrees that man’s solitude is not good, and it is God himself who sets out to complete one of the central designs of creation, namely, man and woman in marriage. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. Don’t miss that central and all-important statement: God himself will make a being perfectly suited for him — a wife. (p. 21)

Second, God gave away the first bride.

God took the role as the first Father to give away the bride. “Genesis 2:22: ‘And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.’ He didn’t hide her and make Adam seek. He made her; then he brought her.” (p. 22)

Third, God spoke the design of marriage into existence.

We can see this if we look carefully at Matthew 19:4–5: “[Jesus] answered, ‘Have you not read that he [God] who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said [Note: God said!], “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”‘?” Jesus said that the words of Genesis 2:24 are God’s words, even though they were written by Moses. (p. 22)

Fourth, God performs the one-flesh union.

The one-flesh union between a man and woman is the heart of what marriage is.

Genesis 2:24 is God’s word of institution for marriage. But just as it was God who took the woman from the flesh of man (Genesis 2:21), it is God who in each marriage ordains and performs a uniting called one flesh. Man does not create this. God does. And it is not in man’s power to destroy. This is implicit here in Genesis 2:24, but Jesus makes it explicit in Mark 10:8–9. He quotes Genesis 2:24, then adds a comment that explodes like thunder with the glory of marriage. “‘The two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

When a couple speaks their vows, it is not a man or a woman or a pastor or parent who is the main actor — the main doer. God is. God joins a husband and a wife into a one-flesh union. God does that. The world does not know this. Which is one of the reasons why marriage is treated so casually. And Christians often act like they don’t know it, which is one of the reasons marriage in the church is not seen as the wonder it is. Marriage is God’s doing because it is a one-flesh union that God himself performs. (p. 23)

Article adapted from: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/four-reasons-why-marriage-is-gods-doing posted on May 21, 2012.

Dr. John Piper’s 10 Resolutions For Mental Health

 Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the gory of God, and the sky proclaims His handiwork.”

On October 22, 1976, Clyde Kilby, who is now with Christ in Heaven, gave an unforgettable lecture. I went to hear him that night because I loved him. He had been one of my professors in English Literature at Wheaton College. He opened my eyes to more of life than I knew could be seen. O, what eyes he had! He was like his hero, C. S. Lewis, in this regard. When he spoke of the tree he saw on the way to class this morning, you wondered why you had been so blind all your life. Since those days in classes with Clyde Kilby, Psalm 19:1 has been central to my life: “The sky is telling the glory of God.”

That night Dr. Kilby had a pastoral heart and a poet’s eye. He pled with us to stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, but instead to drink in the remedies of God in nature. He was not naïve. He knew of sin. He knew of the necessity of redemption in Christ. But he would have said that Christ purchased new eyes for us as well as new hearts. His plea was that we stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things. He ended that lecture in 1976 with a list of resolutions. As a tribute to my teacher and a blessing to your soul, I offer them for your joy.

1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.

2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death when he said: “There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.”

3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

4. I shall not turn my life into a thin, straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.

5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.

7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the “child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder.”

8. I shall follow Darwin’s advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.

9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, “fulfill the moment as the moment.” I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.

10. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.

John Piper was pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 40 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

Four Ways God Leads His People By John Piper

“Thoughts on How to Know God’s Will”

I see at least four methods that God uses to lead us in his will. I put them in four D’s to help me remember them.

The 4 D’s

(1) Decree. God sovereignly decrees and designs circumstances so that we end up where he wants us to be even if we don’t have any conscious part in getting there. For example, Paul and Silas found themselves in jail, and the result was the salvation of the jailer and his household (Acts 16:24–34). This was God’s plan, not Paul’s. God does this often—putting us in places we did not plan or decide to be. This is the leading of decree. It is unique above the other three leadings because it includes them (since God’s decrees include all our decisions) and because it happens infallibly (since “no purpose of [God’s] can be thwarted” [Job 42:2]). The other three leadings of God involve our being consciously led.

(2) Direction. This is simply what God does for us by giving us the commands and teachings of the Bible. They direct us specifically what to do and what not to do. The Ten Commandments are one example. Don’t steal. Don’t kill. Don’t lie. The Sermon on the Mount is another: Love your enemies. The Epistles are another: Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Put on humility. This is the leading of direction. God reveals his directions in the Bible.

(3) Discernment. Most of the decisions we make are not spelled out specifically in the Bible. Discernment is how we follow God’s leading through the process of spiritually sensitive application of biblical truth to the specifics of our situation. Romans 12:2 describes this: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” In this case, God does not declare a specific word about what to do, but his Spirit shapes the mind and heart through the Word and prayer so that we have inclinations toward what would be most glorifying to him and helpful to others.

(4) Declaration. This is the least-common means of God’s leading. He simply declares to us what we should do. For example, according to Acts 8:26, “An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ ” And according to Acts 8:29, “The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot.’ ”

Notice three implications:

First, we should always rest in the decrees of God. They will always be for our good if we love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). This should remove worry from our lives and put us at peace as we seek the directed, discerned, and declared leading of the Lord.

Second, there is the implication that God’s leading of decree may bring about acts that are contrary to his leading of direction, discernment, or declaration. In other words, he may direct, “Thou shalt not kill,” but decree the murderous death of his Son (Acts 4:28). There are mysteries here, but it is manifest in dozens of places in the Bible that God wills that some things come to pass which he forbids in his Word.

Finally, our confidence that we are tracking accurately with God in each of these leadings increases as we move from the bottom to the top of this list. Subjectively perceived declarations from God are the least common and most easily abused of all the ways God leads. Our confidence that we have known the will of God in this method will not be as great as in the other methods that relate directly to God’s written Word. Discerning what to do on the basis of biblical principle when we do not have a specific command for our exact decision will yield less confidence than when we have an explicit direction in the Bible. And the truth that God is sovereign and guides all things is the rock-bottom confidence under all others.

It is a good place to rest.

About the Author: Dr. John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God’s call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.) and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books, including Desiring God, The Pleasures of God, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, What Jesus Demands from the World, and Don’t Waste Your Life. DesiringGod.org provides a huge selection of God-centered resources from the prolific ministry of John Piper with free sermons, books, conference teachings, and articles like this one. Article Above adapted from John Piper. A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All Life. Sisters, Or.: Multnomah Publishers, 1997, 217-219.

The Quest for Joy Can Only Be Found in Jesus Christ by John Piper

Did you know that God commands us to be glad?

 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

1) God created us for his glory

“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth,… whom I created for my glory.” (Isaiah 43:6-7)

God made us to magnify his greatness – the way telescopes magnify stars. He created us to put his goodness and truth and beauty and wisdom and justice on display. The greatest display of God’s glory comes from deep delight in all that he is. This means that God gets the praise and we get the pleasure. God created us so that he is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

2) Every human should live for God’s glory

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

If God made us for his glory, it is clear that we should live for his glory. Our duty comes from his design. So our first obligation is to show God’s value by being satisfied with all that he is for us. This is the essence of loving God (Matthew 22:37) and trusting him (1 John 5:3-4) and being thankful to him (Psalm 100:2-4) It is the root of all true obedience, especially loving others (Colossians 1:4-5).

3) All of us have failed to glorify God as we should

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

What does it mean to “fall short of the glory of God?” It means that none of us has trusted and treasured God the way we should. We have not been satisfied with his greatness and walked in his ways. We have sought our satisfaction in other things, and treated them as more valuable than God, which is the essence of idolatry (Romans 1:21-23). Since sin came into the world we have all been deeply resistant to having God as our all-satisfying treasure (Ephesians 2:3). This is an appalling offense to the greatness of God (Jeremiah 2:12-13).

4) All of us are subject to God’s just condemnation

“The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23)

We have all belittled the glory of God. How? By preferring other things above him. By our ingratitude, distrust and disobedience. So God is just in shutting us out from the enjoyment of his glory forever. “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

The word “hell” is used in the New Testament fourteen times1—twelve times by Jesus himself. It is not a myth created by dismal and angry preachers. It is a solemn warning from the Son of God who died to deliver sinners from its curse. We ignore it at great risk.

If the Bible stopped here in its analysis of the human condition, we would be doomed to a hopeless future. However, this is not where it stops…

5) God sent his only son Jesus to provide eternal life and joy

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1:15)

The good news is that Christ died for sinners like us. And he rose physically from the dead to validate the saving power of his death and to open the gates of eternal life and joy (1 Corinthians 15:20). This means God can acquit guilty sinners and still be just (Romans 3:25-26). “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Coming home to God is where all deep and lasting satisfaction is found.

6) The benefits purchased by the death of Christ belong to those who repent and trust him

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19). “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

“Repent” means to turn from all the deceitful promises of sin. “Faith” means being satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Jesus. “He who believes in me,” Jesus says, “shall never thirst” (John 6:35). We do not earn our salvation. We cannot merit it (Romans 4:4-5). It is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a free gift (Romans 3:24). We will have it if we cherish it above all things (Matthew 13:44). When we do that, God’s aim in creation is accomplished: He is glorified in us and we are satisfied in him – forever.

Does this make sense to you?

Do you desire the kind of gladness that comes from being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus? If so, then God is at work in your life.

What should you do?

Turn from the deceitful promises of sin. Call upon Jesus to save you from the guilt and punishment and bondage. “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Start banking your hope on all that God is for you in Jesus. Break the power of sin’s promises by faith in the superior satisfaction of God’s promises. Begin reading the Bible to find his precious and very great promises, which can set you free (2 Peter 1:3-4). Find a Bible-believing church and begin to worship and grow together with other people who treasure Christ above all things (Philippians 3:7).

The best news in the world is that there is no necessary conflict between our happiness and God’s holiness. Being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus magnifies him as a great Treasure.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

 

*John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God’s call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.) and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books, including Desiring God, The Pleasures of God, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, What Jesus Demands from the World, and Don’t Waste Your Life. DesiringGod.org provides a huge selection of God-centered resources from the prolific ministry of John Piper with free audio and video sermons, books, conference teachings, and articles like this one.

10 Reasons Why I Am Thankful for the God-Breathed Bible by John Piper

*Just a Few Reasons Why Reading the Bible is SO Important!

1. The Bible awakens faith, the source of all obedience.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

2. The Bible frees from sin.

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:32)

3. The Bible frees from Satan.

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

4. The Bible sanctifies.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)

5. The Bible frees from corruption and empowers godliness.

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

6. The Bible serves love.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment. (Philippians 1:9)

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

7. The Bible saves.

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. (Acts 20:26)

[They will] perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)

8. The Bible gives joy.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)

9. The Bible reveals the Lord.

And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. (1 Samuel 3:21)

10. Therefore, the Bible is the foundation of my happy home and life and ministry and hope of eternity with God.

*John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God’s call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.) and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books, including Desiring God, The Pleasures of God, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, What Jesus Demands from the World, and Don’t Waste Your Life. DesiringGod.org provides a huge selection of God-centered resources from the prolific ministry of John Piper with free sermons, books, conference teachings, and articles like this one.

Book Review: Thinking, Loving, Doing edited by John Piper & David Mathis

Theological and Practical Help For Balancing the Mind, Heart, and Hands

This book is a compilation of several outstanding pastoral addresses from experienced Christian leaders from a recent Desiring God Conference on the theme of balancing the mind, the heart (emotions), and the hands. I will seek to summarize what each chapter/leader addresses in their specific topic of choice and what I benefited from in my reading of each chapter:

The Introduction is written by David Mathis (an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis). He makes a helpful distinction between churches that focus on being pure and those that focus on unity and encourages those who lean one way or the other to learn from the other side. He then proceeds to use Dr. John Frames helpful distinctions of tri-perspectivalism, whereby some churches emphasis The Kingly role, some the Priestly role, and others the Prophetic role of Christ. He then sets up the following chapters in the book and shows how each contributes to bring balance to how we can love Christ with our minds, hearts, and hands.

I personally really enjoyed this chapter as it caused me to reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses in my personal and corporate involvement in the body of Christ and what I have to offer others and what I can learn from others in becoming more Christ-like in balancing the tri-perspectivalism as described in the chapter via John Frames helpful schema.

Chapter Two is entitled “The Battle for Your Mind” by Rick Warren (everyone knows who he is – if you are on planet Earth). He does a topical study from the Scriptures on the pitfalls we wrestle with in the battle between our ears, and then proceeds to give four principles on thinking; five levels of learning; and five things to remember when we are teaching others.

As usual, Warren is very practical, and gives some good acronyms whereby one can remember easily his various points. What I liked about this chapter is that it was very thorough and broad and it is a chapter I will go back to again and again in my teaching others, and being reminded myself how to win the battle for the mind utilizing distinct principles in taking every thought captive for Christ.

Chapter Three is the most intellectually demanding chapter written by Albert Mohler – the President of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. He gives a very thought provoking analysis of our present state of thinking in light of Romans 1:18-32 and postmodernism. He gives 14 insightful noetic effects on the mind due to the fall; five precepts of the modern mind, 12 features of the natural mind, and three practical ways to combat the blind spots that we all have due to the fall.

Dr. Mohler has an amazing mind and what this chapter did for me primarily is to help me think more theologically about how thinking must be reformed and renewed by the Scriptures and the amazing effects of the fall upon our minds. It really motivated me to study the Scriptures and Culture more thouroughly then I typically do, so that I give more thought to how to declare the gospel the “natural” mind, and well as to the “spiritual” mind of those I seek to reach and grow in the gospel.

My favorite modern theologian – Dr. RC Sproul – founder of Ligonier Ministries writes about how Paul addresses the secular mind from Acts 17 and what we can learn from what he did, in our own approach to skeptics today.

Dr. Sproul makes the case for how we can never find “an explanation for being, for life, or for motion if we try to find it outside the being and character of God.” I was encouraged by this reminder of how amazing it is to have the perspective of God in my worldview, when so many have suppressed this, and are thus in great need of modern “Paul’s” to address the issues of the day from a Theo and Christo-centric perspective.

In Chapter Four Thabiti Anyabwile (Pastor in the Cayman Islands) addresses how we may encounter Islam by using the mind of Christ as opposed to being driven by fear where he rightly says, “where fear takes control, thinking does not.”

Pastor Anyabwile (a former Muslim who converted to Christianity as a young adult) does a fantastic job of giving an overview of pluralism, Islam, and how we should respond to Muslims. His chapter helped me to fear Islam less, and gave me a bigger heart to share the good news with the many Muslims who live in my community.

In Chapter Five, Francis Chan (Pastor and Writer in San Francisco) addresses how to think hard, combat pride and stay humble based on an exposition of 1 Corinthians 8. In this chapter Chan really does a great job showing how we can love more like Jesus by thinking more like him.

The Concluding chapter is by John Piper (Preaching Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church) and addresses how love flows out of us when we love God with all of our minds. He gives 8 points that he hopes this book will prevent in Christians, and then what he hopes that this book will awaken and increase: ‘Thinking for the sake of loving.”

I really enjoyed this book because it was deep theologically, and gave helpful applications from the Scriptures in how to love God and others with our minds, emotions, and actions. I highly recommend it and give it 5 stars because it’s a book I will come to again and again for my own personal walk with the Lord, and because it will help me to be more balanced in my own teaching, and coaching ministries.

*Note: I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to give a favorable review.