Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: God is the Gospel

God is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself. John Piper. 2005. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

God is the Gospel is not the most reader-friendly Piper book I've read. It's definitely theology. He has an argument to make, and, his goal is to persuade readers of the soundness of his argument. To simplify his argument, I'd say the book was about proving that God IS the gospel, that "the gospel" is ALL about reconciliation and relationship. The gospel is good news ONLY because it brings us back into right relationship to God. The gospel isn't necessarily about--or only about--deliverance from sin or hell. It is about us now being able to GLORIFY GOD and delight in Him forever and ever. The book has a strong premise. It does. And I agree with plenty of what he has to say. But he can be wordy and heavy on the notes. And he LOVES to quote Jonathan Edwards. (Edwards isn't the easiest theologian to try to comprehend. It's easier to read what others say about him.)

For the engaged reader, I think there is plenty of theological richness to discover and explore. He asks plenty of questions. And he gives readers plenty to think about. For example:
The critical question for our generation--and for every generation--is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there? And the question for Christian leaders is: Do we preach and teach and lead in such a way that people are prepared to hear that question and answer with a resounding No? How do we understand the gospel and the love of God? (15)
Our question is not merely, what is the gospel? Our question is: What is the ultimate good of the gospel that makes all the aspects of the good news good? What is the goal of the gospel that, if we miss it, takes all the good out of the gospel? What do we mean when we say God is the gospel? (23)
I liked this one. I did. But I'm not sure I loved it as much as I wanted to love it.

The saving love of God is God's commitment to do everything necessary to enthrall us with what is most deeply and durably satisfying, namely himself. Since we are sinners and have no right and no desire to be enthralled with God, therefore God's love enacted a plan of redemption to provide that right and that desire. The supreme demonstration of God's love was the sending of his Son to die for our sins and to rise again so that sinners might have the right to approach God and might have the pleasure of his presence forever. In order for the Christian gospel to be good news it must provide an all-satisfying and eternal gift that undeserving sinners can receive and enjoy. For that to be true, the gift must be three things. First, the gift must be purchased by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Our sins must be covered, and the wrath of God against us must be removed, and Christ's righteousness must be imputed to us. Second, the gift must be free and not earned. There would be no good news if we had to merit the git of the gospel. Third, the gift must be God himself, above all his other gifts. (13-14)
Gospel doctrine matters because the good news is so full and rich and wonderful that it must be opened like a treasure chest, and all its treasures brought out for the enjoyment of the world. Doctrine is the description of these treasures. Doctrine describes their true value and why they are so valuable. Doctrine guards the diamonds of the gospel from being discarded as mere crystals. (22)
God is the final and highest gift that makes the good news good. Until people use the gospel to get to God, they use it wrongly. (42)
Propitiation, redemption, forgiveness, imputation, sanctification, liberation, healing, heaven--none of these is good news except for one reason: they bring us to God for our everlasting enjoyment of him… The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It's a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don't want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel. (47)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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