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Piper: The Pleasures of God December 11, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Book Reviews, John Piper.
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pipertpofgodI’ve had this book sitting on by shelf for almost two years and have finally got around to reading it. I’m not sure why I waited so long; maybe I was overloading on Piper books (3 last year) or had some other theological question I desired to read a book on, but I am thankful that I finally did get around to it. This book has a lot of what I, and I assume most of Piper’s many other fans, have come to enjoy most about his books- They are written in a warm easy to read style, with tons of scripture references and great anecdotal references to the lives of other Christians.

In the introduction Piper asks:

“Do you feel loved by God because you believe he makes much of you, or because you believe he frees you and empowers you to enjoy making much of him? It is the difference between the modern world where all terminates on self and the Biblical world where all terminates on God” (pg. 11-12)

So then if our world terminates on God and “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love” with God being the most excellent thing to love, what is God like? What aspects of God bring him pleasure? We need to know God to truly love him. Through 10 chapters Piper guides us through God’s pleasure in his various attributes and actions. Helping us to get a better Biblical understanding of the nature of God. The subtitle of the book ‘Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God’ describes well the subject of this book.

While all chapters are helpful, I found myself gain the most from four in particular:

Chapter 4 ‘The Pleasure of God in His Fame’– This chapter really opened my eyes to an attribute that I never really thought about before. He uses the story of Samuel and the Exodus to make his main point and ends with a hopeful yet challenging call to missions. How true that God desires his name to be known through out the world.

Chapter 8 ‘The Pleasure of God in the Prayers of the Upright’– Why pray? This can be a tough question for Calvinists since we know that God is sovereign and unchanging.  So does prayer ‘change things’ or not. Piper shows that changing things is not the point ‘Prayer is his delight because prayer shows the reaches of our poverty and the riches of his grace”.  God commands our prayer so we learn to rely on him our creator, sustainer and redeemer.

Chapter 9 ‘The Pleasure of God in Personal Obedience and Public Justice’– In this chapter he examines 1 Samuel 15:22 “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offering and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?” Since the answer is no this leads to the questions of Why does God delight in obedience and is that good news. He gives several reason for God’s delight in obedience but one convicting reason for God’s pleasure is that disobedience is idolatry, which enthrones man “obedience, being the exact opposite , in all these things enthrones and honors God. Therefore God has great pleasure in obedience.”

Yet we know we can’t keep the law so is this bad news for us? Not really, Piper explains several points but hits big with the fact that the obedience that God loves is the obedience of faith “True saving faith is not the kind of belief in facts of the gospel that leaves the heart and life unchanged’. We see that our faith gives us salvation first and foremost but it also gives us the desire to obey and honor our Savior.

Chapter 10 ‘The Pleasure of God in Concealing Himself from the Wise and Revealing Himself to Infants’– Piper breaks this out by basically showing how ‘infants’ are those who rely on God while the ‘wise’ rely on themselves. He closes this chapter with a call to both study the word and pray for illumination as the two work together in growing our understanding. He also stresses how God needs to be central in all Christian scholarship.

In closing another thing that I like about this book (and other books by Piper again) is that they awaken in me a desire to read the Bible more. He quotes so much scripture highlighting its depth and wisdom.  You soon become aware that these short quotations are but a sample of the feast.

It is available from Westminster Book Store