Book Review on John Piper’s Risk is Right

Risk Makes Sense for the Christian – A Book Review on “Risk is Right” by David P. Craig

RIR Piper

I have to own up to the fact that I own every book that John Piper has written and yet find that I have a hard time reading most of his books. He writes with such depth and verbosity that I often have started his books and left many of them unfinished. I do better with his devotionals and shorter works like this one. This is a very short book that can be read by slow readers like me in less than four hours (I read at the speed of the spoken word – due to 3 detached retinas in my right eye in the last several months). One of the common denominators that make Piper’s books and preaching so compelling is that he is a man who walks the talk. John Piper has addressed virtually all of the so-called “Politically Correct” issues of the day like abortion, homosexuality, racism, and numerous other issues head on in his ministry and has never veered to the left or to the right to teach, preach, and write on the whole counsel of God no matter what the cost or consequences.

If anyone has earned the right to speak on “risk” in the Christian community its John Piper. He owns up to his own sin and imperfections and always exults in the cross, forgiveness of sins, and God’s glorious grace. This book is to sanctification what Pascal’s wager is to justification. The gist of Piper’s writing in this book is that everyone is risking their life in one way or another. Therefore, the greatest use of one’s life is to risk it for and in Christ. The greatest risk of all is to not live for Christ – that is a tragic risk that is not worth taking.

In the Introduction David Platt writes,

“This [risk] is the picture of Jesus in the gospel. He is something–someone–worth losing for. When we really believe this, then risking everything we are and everything we have, to know and obey Christ is no longer a matter of sacrifice. It’s just common sense. To let go of the pursuits, possessions, pleasures, safety, and security of this world in order to follow Jesus wherever he leads, no matter what it costs, is not sacrificial as much as it is smart. In the words of Jim Elliott, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lost.”

The truth of the matter is that Jesus risked his own relationship with the Father and the Spirit in going to the cross. He was totally forsaken so that we could be forgiven and accepted by the Father. However, He did this for the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). What makes this book powerful is that John Piper has modeled a life of risk – in his faithfulness to God’s Word; entrusting his finances totally to God (he doesn’t earn a penny from his writings), and in his sold out total dedication to his tireless endeavors of spreading the gospel for the glory of God – so that everything he says about risk carries the weight of his own integrity (1 Timothy 4:16).

Giving examples from both the Old and New Testaments on risk, and honing in on the greatest risk taker of them all – the Lord Jesus Christ – Piper does an excellent job of tackling the objections we all have to taking risks. He then demonstrates the tremendous joy and how ironically low the risk actually is for the life of the Christian.  When we fully entrust our lives to living in faith on the promises of God in Christ there is ultimately nothing to lose, but everything to gain. In Piper-esque fashion at the end of the book one is left being satisfied in Christ and in the glory of God and with a desire and passion to spread the gospel among the nations so that they like us may live to worship Him in all His splendor. Piper motivates and stirs up a passion for Christ and His gospel in the soul like few others – and for that this book is definitely recommended and worth your time, mediation, and application of the truths explicated.