Archives For John Piper

Bible-Saturated vs. Bible-Based

Greg Strand – June 28, 2013 Leave a comment

When John Piper was asked in an interview which theologian of the past he would like to visit, it is no surprise he stated Jonathan Edwards. This explanation, which was part of his response, is compelling.

Edwards’ mind was uncommonly capable of holding complexities of reasoning long enough to sort them into threads that he could then weave into compelling arguments for great biblical truth. But what gave explosive power to this use of reasoning was how Bible saturated it was, not just that it was Bible-based. Many scholars say their work is based on biblical truth. But you will look in vain for any clear evidence of that. It is as if the contemporary thinkers feel the need to hide the Bible lest they be accused of proof-texting. Edwards was not so insecure. He had more respect and confidence in the Word of God.

Though not many have been blessed with the mind of Edwards (or Piper for that matter), it does explain why those of us not so blessed need to read people like Edwards. They help us to think long, hard and deep about the Bible, God and biblical truth.

I am also taken with how Edwards was Bible-saturated, not just Bible-based. The difference can be subtle, but profound. And anyone who is Bible-saturated can quickly discern the difference. The former is a result of being immersed in the text of Scripture, praying over, pondering, studying, reflecting. It approaches it as a primary source. The latter is a result of knowing Scripture, more often theology and theological systems (which are important, but as a second step from the Scriptures, which can only be faithfully articulated from spending time in the Scriptures). It often approaches Scripture as a secondary source.

In looking at these two points, read the Bible first, not Edwards. Read Edwards after you have read the Bible. And read people like Edwards because they will cause you to go back to the Bible, not away from it.

Finally, it is an exhortation to many who are insecure or doubt the sufficiency of the Scriptures. It is the Word of God that is inspired, inerrant, complete, final and sufficient (Ps. 119:160; Prov. 30:5; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). It is living and active (Heb. 4:12). It is the hammer that breaks into pieces the rocks thrown against it (Jer. 23:29). God’s Word does not need an apology. It is our life (Dt. 32:47; Matt. 4:4)! Therefore, it must be humbly believed, faithfully submitted to and boldly proclaimed.


John Piper recently retired from 33 years of pastoral ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Last week while at The Gospel Coalition Conference 2013, Collin Hansen sat down with Piper for a 30-minute interview addressing “regrets and retirement.” There is much to gain from this interview, not only theologically, but also from the godly wisdom gleaned over the years of pastoral ministry.

Last evening there was a corporate gathering  of all the Bethlehem Baptist campuses to give thanks and praise to God for His sovereign grace and mercy in the life of the church, and express gratitude to the Pipers for their 33 years of faithful ministry in, with and among them. This was both a retirement from vocational ministry at Bethlehem Baptist to a recommissioning to the next chapter of ministry in the Pipers’ lives, the full-time ministry of Desiring God. For the Pipers, this is not a retire but rather a re-fire!

Piper has no plans of slowing down. In dependency on God, he notes there is “much more to come” in this next chapter.

We thank the Lord for His grace evidenced in the lives and ministries of Bethlehem Baptist and the Pipers, and we pray a blessing on both in these next chapters!

A number of years ago John Piper wrote “Fifty Reasons Why Christ Suffered and Died” (The Passion of Christ [Wheaton: Crossway, 2004]). During these days it is important to ponder the reasons for Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, and also the accompanying blessings we experience in and through Him.

As you read, ponder and pray over these biblical truths (take time to read the Scripture texts), may the Holy Spirit enable you to give praise and thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation, and may it lead to worship in Spirit and truth of our great God, a foretaste of the worship we will participate in our glorified states around the throne forever and ever!

Christ Suffered and Died . . .

  1. To Absorb the Wrath of God (Rom. 3:25; Gal 3:13; 1 Jn. 4:10)
  2. To Please His Heavenly Father (Isa. 53:10; Eph. 5:2)
  3. To Learn Obedience and Be Perfected (Heb. 2:10; 5:8)
  4. To Achieve His Own Resurrection from the Dead (Heb. 13:20-21)
  5. To Show the Wealth of God’s Love and Grace for Sinners (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:7-8; Eph. 1:7)
  6. To Show His Own Love for Us (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:2, 25)
  7. To Cancel the Legal Demands of the Law Against Us (Col. 2:13)
  8. To Become a Ransom for Many (Mk. 10:45)
  9. For the Forgiveness of Our Sins (Matt. 26:28; Eph. 1:7)
  10. To Provide the Basis for Our Justification (Rom. 3:24, 28; 5:9)
  11. To Complete the Obedience That Becomes Our Righteousness (Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 2:8; 3:9)
  12. To Take Away Our Condemnation (Rom. 8:34)
  13. To Abolish Circumcision and All Rituals as the Basis 0£ Salvation (Gal. 5:11; 6:12)
  14. To Bring Us to Faith and Keep Us Faithful (Jer. 32:40; Mk. 14:24)
  15. To Make Us Holy, Blameless, and Perfect (1 Cor. 5:7; Col. 1:22; Heb. 10:14)
  16. To Give Us A Clear Conscience (Heb. 9:14)
  17. To Obtain for Us All Things That Are Good for Us (Rom. 8:32)
  18. To Heal Us from Moral and Physical Sickness (Isa. 53:5; Matt. 8:16-17)
  19. To Give Eternal Life to All Who Believe on Him (Jn. 3:16)
  20. To Deliver Us from the Present Evil Age (Gal. 1:4)
  21. To Reconcile Us to God (Rom. 5:10)
  22. To Bring Us to God (Eph. 2:13; 1 Pet. 3:18)
  23. So That We Might Belong to Him (Act 20:28; Rom. 7:4; 1 Cor. 6:19-20)
  24. To Give Us Confident Access to the Holiest Place (Heb. 10:19)
  25. To Become for Us the Place Where We Meet God (Jn. 2:19-21)
  26. To Bring the Old Testament Priesthood to an End and Become the Eternal High Priest (Heb. 7:23-27; 9:24-26; 10:11-12)
  27. To Become a Sympathetic and Helpful Priest (Heb. 4:15-16)
  28. To Free Us from the Futility of Our Ancestry (1 Pet. 1:18-19)
  29. To Free Us from the Slavery of Sin (Heb. 13:12; Rev. 1:5-6)
  30. That We Might Die to Sin and live to Righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24)
  31. So That We Would Die to the Law and Bear Fruit for God (Rom. 7:4)
  32. To Enable Us to Live for Christ and Not Ourselves (2 Cor. 5:15)
  33. To Make His Cross the Ground of All Our Boasting (Gal. 6:14)
  34. To Enable Us to Live by Faith in Him (Gal. 2:20)
  35. To Give Marriage Its Deepest Meaning (Eph. 5:25)
  36. To Create a People Passionate for Good Works (Tit. 2:14)
  37. To Call Us to Follow His Example of Lowliness and Costly Love (Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 12:3-4; 1 Pet. 2:19-21)
  38. To Create a Band of Crucified Followers (Matt. 10:38; Lk. 9:23)
  39. To Free Us from Bondage to the Fear of Death (Heb. 2:14-15)
  40. So That We Would Be with Him Immediately After Death (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 2:21-23; 1 Thess. 5:10)
  41. To Secure Our Resurrection from the Dead (Rom. 6:5; 8:11; 2 Tim. 2:11)
  42. To Disarm the Rulers and Authorities (Col. 2:14-15; 1 Jn. 3:8)
  43. To Unleash the Power of God in the Gospel (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18)
  44. To Destroy the Hostility Between Races (Eph. 2:14-16)
  45. To Ransom People from Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation (Rev. 5:9)
  46. To Gather All His Sheep £rom Around the World (Jn. 10:16; 11:51-52)
  47. To Rescue Us from Final Judgment (Heb. 9:28)
  48. To Gain His Joy and Ours (Heb. 12:2)
  49. So That He Would Be Crowned with Glory and Honor (Phil. 2:7-9; Heb. 2:9; Rev. 5:12)
  50. To Show That the Worst Evil Is Meant by God for Good (Acts 4:27-28)


Collin Hansen interviewed John Piper last year regarding the “insider movement”: “Piper Responds to the Insider Movement.”

Hansen states the following about this six minute interview:

John Piper depends on many experienced missionaries and pastors at Bethlehem Baptist Church who help him discern the related issues: whether new followers of Jesus Christ can stay in the mosque, continue to call themselves Muslims, refer to Jesus as the “Son of God,” and so on. In this interview, he tells me what he appreciates about the impulse behind the Insider Movement and why Westerners struggle to understand the consequences of belief among Muslim-background believers.

Piper also raises an important problem with the Insider Movement not always appreciated by its proponents: the staunch opposition of many Muslim-background believers who have sacrificed so much to follow Christ and reach their friends, family, and neighbors with the gospel.

Regarding contextualization, Piper believes that C4 is as far as one should go.

One of those involved/engaged in missionary outreach to which Piper refers in this interview is his former colleague at Bethlehem Baptist, Erik Hyatt. Hyatt served as Pastor for Global Outreach from 2002-2011, at which time he transitioned into Bethlehem’s Church Planting Residency as training to church plant this fall.

In this piece linked below, Hyatt shares how he and Bethlehem Baptist had to come to terms with contextualization among Muslims. Through this, they developed questions for missionary candidates, “Questions and Biblical Guidelines for Missionaries among Muslim Peoples.”

Daily Readings for Advent 2012

Greg Strand – November 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Advent is part of the larger season in the church year leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. It is a time of remembering the birth of Christ (Matt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:5-2:20; Gal. 4:4), the time at which the promises for the Messiah in the Old Testament were fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ (cf. Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14; 9:2-6; Mic. 5:2), pondering the Person of Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:1-18; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:16), and looking ahead to the time when Christ will return in great power and glory (Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Rom. 1:4) to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:8; cf. 1 Thess. 4:15).

Pondering the future return of Christ leads to a time of examination to ensure one is ready, prepared, and properly waiting for Christ’s second coming (Matt. 25:1-30; Phil. 3:20-21; 2 Thess. 2:6-13). This waiting is active, not passive, which means one diligently and faithfully pursues the Lord and the things of the Lord while waiting (Tit. 2:11-15; 2 Pet. 3:11-14; 1 Jn. 3:2-3), those things that will receive the Lord’s commendation (Matt. 25:21, 23; Lk. 19:17).

A new Advent resource has been compiled from John Piper’s sermons and writings that is a free download: Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent.

In the introduction, “What Does Jesus Want This Christmas?,” Piper focuses on the conclusion of Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17:24-26. What Jesus wants, Piper concludes, is that we “see my [His] glory” (v. 24) with the final goal being “that the love with which you [Father] have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (v. 26). Jesus’ desire is that we both see and savor His glory. Here is how Piper explains this.

What Jesus wants most for Christmas is that his elect be gathered in and then get what they want most—to see his glory and then savor it with the very savoring of the Father for the Son.

What I want most for Christmas this year is to join you (and many others) in seeing Christ in all his fullness and that we together be able to love what we see with a love far beyond our own half-hearted human capacities. This is our goal in these Advent devotionals. We want together to see and savor this Jesus whose first “advent” (coming) we celebrate, and whose second advent we anticipate.

This is what Jesus prays for us this Christmas: “Father, show them my glory and give them the very delight in me that you have in me.” Oh, may we see Christ with the eyes of God and savor Christ with the heart of God. That is the essence of heaven. That is the gift Christ came to purchase for sinners at the cost of his death in our place.

Advent begins this Sunday, December 2. I encourage you to download this resource and use it as a supplement to your personal Bible reading. You may also consider using it for your family devotions. My family has followed a Scripture reading plan designed especially for Advent, which we have supplemented with singing Christmas hymns. It has profoundly impacted and shaped all of us, my wife and me, and our children.