I suppose there is a kind of commentary that would put the emphasis on helping people find the meaning themselves. That’s the kind I would want to write if I wrote a commentary, because there’s a deep conviction behind this; namely, that over the long haul, strong Christians are created not by sermons and by books alone, but by a personal encounter with the word of God, the Bible itself.
Piper goes on to explain what sort of questions he’d like to see commentaries (and the people who read them) ask.
It’s a great, short answer to an excellent question. Check it out!
John Piper answers a question from a listener about why he’s churned out two recent books focused on the Bible. He tells of a third book on its way, and he gives three reasons for this focus in his remaining years:
[First,] I don’t expect any of John Piper’s ideas to survive me or be useful when I’m gone if they are not faithful extensions of the meaning of God’s word into life. My authority is zero; God’s authority is everything. Whatever I have said that accords with his truth shares in his authority. [Second,] I desperately don’t want people to substitute my books or my insights for their own inquiry into the Scriptures. [Third,] generations to come, until Jesus returns, are going to face new crises, new challenges, new issues that I have not faced and others have not faced. Therefore, if people depend on what I’ve written or what others have written, they’re going to be swept away when the challenges come that we never addressed. But I have total confidence in the Bible for meeting those future challenges.
I have not yet read his latest books, but I can heartily recommend his motivations. Check it out!
As you set your reading goals for this new year, please remember there is only one book you must read. As John Piper writes:
I have never called any book a “must-read” except one, the Bible. I suppose that’s because I take the word “must” so seriously. I mean, “Must,” or you perish. “Must,” in order to make it to heaven.
Now there you go, turning salvation by grace into salvation by works. Salvation by Bible reading!
Probably anyone who responds like that is not very saturated with the Bible. For the Bible makes plain that there is a practical, ongoing “holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), and that this holiness is produced by the Holy Spirit through the word of God. Hence Jesus prays for us, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
This is how we confirm that we are truly his disciples, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). And if we are not found to be his holy disciples in the end, we will perish. This is what Paul meant when he said, “I warn you . . . that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).
The truth of God, rising continually through the roots of faith planted in God’s word, is the way God keeps Christians alive and enables them to bear the faith-authenticating fruit of love, so that they will not be castaways in the last day. This is the essence of why I say the Bible is a “must-read” — the only must read.
Piper then goes on to give 7 inspiring reasons to read the Bible. I can’t list them here, as most of them consist of a long sentence. But Piper’s reflections are motivating and worth considering.
HT: Andy Cimbala
In this short clip, John Piper describes his experience reading commentaries: often helpful, but rarely igniting his devotion to the Lord. To learn from the Book, you’ve got to look at the Book—and keep looking! Don’t go elsewhere for all your material.
This year, may we be a people motivated daily by the best source material in existence. May we look and look and look and not let go until the Lord blesses us.
Check it out!
As a follow-up to my “check it out” post a few weeks ago, here’s a brief interview with John Piper addressing how to apply Old Testament promises today. Piper starts with 2 Cor 1:20 to show that all the promises belong to us through Christ. Then he explains how the meaning of some promises changes in light of Christ’s work on the cross.
You can listen to the 9-minute recording or read the transcript. Check it out!
The Bible is boring. Many people outside the church take this as given. For them, reading the Bible is like watching C-SPAN or counting blades of grass.
But, let’s be honest—Christians feel this way at times. And we’re unlikely to study a book we don’t find interesting.
We need to consider some important questions.
Is the Bible boring?
No, the Bible is not boring. Let’s not confuse a bored reader with a boring book.
The Bible is God’s word. If God is the creator and sustainer of every atom that exists; if he is infinitely holy, good, wise, and glorious; if he is the very definition of love; then everything about him must be interesting.
OK, so why does the Bible seem boring?
If God’s word seems boring, there’s either a problem with the reading or the reader.
For some, the Bible seems dull because they assume they know what it says. They think they’ve heard all the stories and learned all the rules. Instead of “living and active,” the Bible sounds repetitive and bland.
For others, the Bible appears boring because they read the text without engaging with it. We are meant to meditate upon the Bible, to read it with the expectation that God will meet with and change us.
Additionally, the Bible feels irrelevant if we forget who we are. We are created and corrupt. We depend on God both for life and salvation. When we lose our sense of ongoing need, we won’t be thrilled by God or what he’s done for us.
What should we do if the Bible seems boring?
First, we should acknowledge our need for God’s help. Even redeemed people need God’s Spirit to desire what is of supreme value. In other words, we should pray. (Read what John Piper suggests you pray when the Bible seems boring.)
Next, don’t confuse difficult with boring. The Bible is hard to understand in some places, but that doesn’t make it dull. In fact, like your backyard garden, Bible study is often most rewarding when it makes you sweat.
Further, not every Bible passage should be studied in the same way. A physics textbook is not a detective novel, and Proverbs is not Revelation. While you might spend several days looking carefully at the first ten verses of Ephesians 1, you won’t treat 1 Chronicles 1 the same way.
Some of the hardest parts of the Bible are the genealogies, the construction of the tabernacle, and the apportionment of the promised land to the tribes. Ask yourself, why did God include these chapters? What purpose do they serve? (This short article at Desiring God tackles Joshua 13–21 and the apportionment of the land.) We must do our best to read the Bible in context and seek the author’s intention in each passage.
Finally, when the Bible seems stale we might be tempted to import excitement. Maybe we’ll use a flashy study guide or dig around for some never-before-seen insight. If we chase ideas that are new or novel because we are afraid the Bible won’t hold our interest, we need to get back to the basics of Bible study.
Observe the text carefully. Ask questions, think about the author’s train of thought, and look for the main point. Connect the passage to the big story of the Bible, the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, with God’s help, apply the passage to yourself.
The goal of Bible study is the worship of God which spills over into all of life. As God transforms you, it might be uncomfortable, stretching, or disruptive. It will all be very good. But it certainly won’t be boring!
In this recent Look at the Book video, John Piper shows how to dig in to the Scripture to address apparent contradictions or questions regarding foundational Christian doctrine. He looks at 1 Peter 3 to see whether Peter provides support for the idea that Jesus’ “resurrection” was only spiritual, without involving a physical body.
In writing this advice to a teenager, John Piper has something to say to all of us:
You are right to read it every day and seek to let it permeate all your thoughts and feelings…
I think it is good to always be reading through the Bible as a whole…
In addition, it is good to focus on some unit of Scripture for going deeper, like a book or the Sermon on the Mount, or Romans 8…
With regard to prayer, this is absolutely crucial, and I am glad you are doing it. God hears our prayers and helps us be humble enough and alert enough and in-tune enough to grasp what he says.
The full article is available at Desiring God. Check it out!