We’ve just been away on a week long holiday. While away, I had the usual list of books that I thought I’d read and a bunch of blog posts that I thought I’d write. And as usual, I got virtually none of it done. We did however, have a heap of fun and enjoyed a great time away together as a family.
The one book that I did manage to finish is “Let the nations be glad” by John Piper. It may sound like I did well, but the truth is I’ve been reading this book for months (just ask the nice bloke I borrowed the book from ).
Anyway, if you’ve never really had a passion for missions or evangelism, this book may well e the book for you. I’ve always struggled with evangelism and missions, however, this book has helped me immensely.
My prime passion is to see the Lord glorified in my life (which I do poorly) and in the lives of others. The reason this book was so helpful to me is that in it, John Piper starts with the glory of God and then works backwards from there. The first paragraph of chapter 1 contains the following amazing concept which really frames the entire book:
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.
Don’t confuse the current thinking of “worship” with what is intended here. Worship is not singing praise to God in and of itself. It is the surrender of our entire lives to do and enjoy doing that which brings pleasure to God. Thus, God saves people not for their sake alone, but primarily for His sake alone. Not that He needs us, but that it benefits Him.
Piper then works through this through prayer, suffering (great chapter – the most challenging to me), the centrality of Christ in the proclamation of the gospel and then a discussion of what is intended by “all nations” found in Matt 28:19-20 (among numerous other places).
Piper also works through the difference between evangelism and mission briefly in the final chapter which is helpful.
Some of the closing remarks of the book are also profound:
The goal of missions therefore is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God… The missionary command to be happy in God is simply a command for the consummation of praise. Professed praise of God without pleasure in God is hypocrisy… Therefore worship is the fuel and goal of missions… because you can’t commend what you don’t cherish… Missions begins and ends in worship.
Piper is very thorough in his analysis, taking time to examine at times all instances of particular words or phrases. This takes time, but ensures that the reader understands how he comes to the conclusions he comes to. This can make the book difficult to work through at times.
The analysis and conclusions in the book are outstanding and the book is well thought out, tackling difficult issues and dealing with them well.
If you are interested in the heart of God around missions and evangelism (even if you don’t , this book will challenge and inspire you.