Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: Desiring God

Desiring God. John Piper. 1986/1996. Multnomah. 358 pages.

I've been intending to read John Piper's Desiring God for years now. In the past, I've been intimidated and made excuses. This time I was determined to start and finish it. It was a much easier task than I thought it would be.

I found the opening chapters of Desiring God to be incredibly rich and thought provoking. And quote-worthy too! I absolutely loved his chapters on conversion and worship, for example. These opening chapters alone make this one worth reading; the book essentially focuses on two aspects of the christian life: our relationship with God and our relationship with others and/or the world.

Piper's argument in Desiring God can be summed up in this way:
The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever. (15)

The chapter titles:

  • The Happiness of God
  • Conversion
  • Worship
  • Love
  • Scripture
  • Prayer
  • Money
  • Marriage
  • Missions
  • Suffering

Favorite quotes:
We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise. If we were not allowed to speak of what we value, and celebrate what we love, and praise what we admire, our joy would not be full. So if God loves us enough to make our joy full, he must not only give us himself; he must also win from us the praises of our hearts--not because he needs to shore up some weakness in himself or compensate for some deficiency, but because he loves us and seeks the fullness of our joy that can be found only in knowing and praising him, the most magnificent of all Beings. (49)
For God, praise is the sweet echo of his own excellence in the hearts of his people. For us, praise is the summit of satisfaction that comes from living in fellowship with God. (53)
Why is conversion so crucial? What is there about God and man that makes it necessary? And what has God done to meet our desperate need? And what must we do to enjoy the benefits of his provision? These are huge questions. I attempt a summary answer with the following six truths from Scripture:
1) God created us for his glory. (Isaiah 43:6-7)
2) Therefore it is our duty to live for his glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
3) We have all failed to glorify God (Romans 3:23)
4) We are all subject to eternal condemnation. (Romans 6:23)
5) Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 4:25)
6) Turn from sin and trust the Savior (Acts 3:19; Acts 16:31) 
Repentance and faith are our work. But we will not repent and believe unless God does his work to overcome our hard and rebellious hearts. This divine work is called regeneration. Our work is called conversion. (62)
Behind the repentance that turns away from sin and behind the faith that embraces Christ is the birth of a new taste, a new longing, a new passion for the pleasure of God's presence. (69-70)
The fuel of worship is the truth of God, the furnace of worship is the spirit of man, and the heat of worship is the vital affections of reverence, contrition, trust, gratitude, and joy. But there is something missing from this picture. There is furnace, fuel, and heat, but no fire. The fuel of truth in the furnace of our spirit does not automatically produce the heat of worship. There must be ignition and fire. This is the Holy Spirit. (77)
Love is the overflow of joy in God! It is first a deeply satisfying experience of the fullness of God's grace, and then a doubly satisfying experience of sharing that grace with another person. (103)
Faith is born and sustained by the Word of God, and out of faith grows the flower of joy. (127)
Not to pursue our joy every day in the Word of God is an abandonment of the revealed will of God. It is sin. (130)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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