Saturday, February 04, 2006

God is the Gospel

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, - John 1:1

The Word was with God, and the Word was God...or as John Piper said in the title of his book, God is the Gospel. I had never read any of Piper's previous books. So, when Mind and Media presented the opportunity to review this book I decided to find out what he's all about. I'm very glad I did.

God is the Gospel is a part instructional and part devotional. He instructs in how how to look at scripture and and the same time draws us into wanting to read the scripture in a more meaning ful way. He begins the book by asking what is the Gospel? And why is it called good news? He gently leads us along to finally coming to the conclusion that the good news is "God Himself seen and savored in all his glory." That too often we focus on the specifics of the bible and its doctrinal teachings and miss the whole purpose of the gospel. He is not saying doctrine is not important. But that He likens it to studying the facets of a diamond but missing the beauty of the diamond itself. The gospel is a treasure chest that must be opened and "doctrine is the description of those treasure." His mission is to seek a balance between defining the gospel too broadly that everything good in the Christian message is called the gospel news and so narrowly that we miss the glory of the Christ in the gospel .

The book is very easy to read despite the loftiness of the topic. There were a few chapters that I had to read again to get a full understanding of what he was saying. And there were many chapters I wanted to read again just to remember what he or how he said it.

One particularly difficult question that challenged me in the introduction and throughout the book was "Would you be happy in heaven if Christ were not there?" I still ponder the answer today. I want to live in the reality that Jesus is the reason I live. But practically I know I fall way short. Too often I seek the blessings of the Christian life without seeking the Creator of my life. His exhortation to see God in the Gospel reminds me of why I want to live each day.

John Piper's writing style is conversational. He is teaching profound biblical truths. But as I read, I felt more like I was in a conversation with him not a lecture hall. That was refreshing and made me want to continue reading. Even when he got into some the the more difficult scriptural truths it was done in a very understandable and readable way.

As he is closing the book he exhorts, "Make it your aim to let the eyes of your heart run up the beam of glory shining in the gospel until your mind's attention and your heart's affection rest in God himself." Excellent encouragement from an excellent book.

(God is the Gospel was provided free for my review from Mind and Media. To find out how you can blog for books click here.)

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