Blog Posts by John Piper
Large Sails and Little Ballast
Large spiritual passion with small doctrinal understanding is large sails and tall masts on a tiny boat in high winds. It will dart wildly over the surface for a hundred yards. Then one wave, or one crosswind, will bring it all crashing into the unforgiving sea.
Give as much attention to enlarging the depth of your ballast as you do to the height of your sails.
Of course, if you…Continue Reading
Prayer: “Reversed Thunder”
We just finished a conference on prayer. To keep fanning the flames of zeal for a life of prayer, here is the most remarkable poem on prayer I know. It was written by George Herbert.
For me, the phrase “reversed thunder,” as a description of prayer, is worth more than a hundred explanations.
Prayer the Church’s banquet, Angels’ age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
One Third of Americans Affiliate with Evangelical Churches
Byron Johnson is Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University. In the most recent First Things, he writes The Good News About Evangelicalism, and gives some of the results of The Baylor Religious Survey.
The results contradict recent claims that evangelicalism is shrinking and the younger generation is becoming more secular. I suspect the main value of empirical research like this is to keep other researchers…Continue Reading
First Published Black Poet in America
Phillis Wheatley was the first black person to publish a book of poetry in English. There is a story behind it.
Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, had to be published in London because the Boston publishers, where she lived as a slave, did not believe a young black woman could have written them. The British publishers required an official “Attestation” from leaders in Boston that the poems…Continue Reading
Can the Unregenerate Heal the Sick?
Have you ever wondered how the unregenerate could say to Jesus on the judgment day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” (Matthew 7:22). Could this power have been real, and from God, and yet not be a sign of new birth? I think so.
Consider the way Jonathan Edwards describes how the…Continue Reading
Robert Frost on Fire and Ice
Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Robert Frost died on this day in 1963. The one poem of his that I ever memorized was “Fire and Ice.” This is powerful cadence and rhyme. It gets depravity right.
I think some preachers should ponder what they have to say long enough that sometimes they talk like this.
Fire and Ice
By Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.…
The Secret of Invincible Joy
Jesus revealed a secret that protects our happiness from the threat of suffering and the threat of success. That secret is this: Great is your reward in heaven. And the sum of that reward is enjoying the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ (John 17:24).
He protects our happiness from suffering when he says,
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds…
Pray for Jewish People on this Special Day
January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp in 1945. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
May I suggest that we take a few minutes and pray with the apostle Paul: “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them [my Jewish kinsmen] is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).
Robert Murray McCheyne,…Continue Reading
What Billy Graham Would Do Differently
Billy Graham was just interviewed. Here is what he said to the question,
If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?
Yes, of course. I'd spend more time at home with my family, and I'd study more and preach less. I wouldn't have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn't really need to do—weddings…
It Was Cold at Calvary
One of the things I did on my leave of absence was write poems. Most of these grew out of meditating on God’s word. They are my groping toward affections worthy of Christ. Here’s one that overflowed from John 18:18, which drops the simple fact that the night before Jesus died it was cold.
“Now the servants and officers had made
a charcoal fire, because it was cold.” …
Groaning over Grieving the Holy Spirit
One of the poems I wrote during my leave of absence grew out of my sorrows over grieving the Holy Spirit. It is bad enough to know that God is dishonored by my sin. But to hear Paul connect my particular sins with grieving the Holy Spirit was even more painful.
This he does in Ephesians 4:30–32. He says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you…Continue Reading
Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist”
We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment.
In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation.
Don’t Equate Historically Early with Theologically Accurate
Beware of imputing advantage to antiquity. Seventy years after the death of Jesus the churches had neither the collected New Testament nor a living apostle. It was a precarious and embattled time.
Neither the experiences nor the teachers of the first 300 years of the church are as reliable as the finished New Testament. The church did not rescue the New Testament from neglect and abuse. The New Testament rescued…Continue Reading
Slave-Holding as Character Suicide
One of the books I listened to during my leave of absence was the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. I downloaded the audio free from Librivox, a remarkable website of free, non-professionally recorded books.
The book recounts Douglass’ rise from slavery to an oratorical force for abolition in America. He lived from 1818 to 1895. One of the most striking parts of this autobiography was the…Continue Reading
Ice-Cold at the End of the Age—And White-Hot
I am a historic, premillennial, post-tribulational, evangelical Christian who thinks it is possible that, when Jesus appears visibly and bodily on the clouds to establish his earthly kingdom, the Twin Cities could be 95% born-again, Bible-believing Christians, including the mayors, the city council, and the policemen.
“Lawlessness will be increased, [and] the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). But, meanwhile, white-hot martyr-types will take the gospel to every…Continue Reading
Can We See Jesus Better Than the Saints in the Bible?
Jesus speaks of three ways of seeing himself, each better than the one before.
- There were the people who saw him, the incarnate Son of God, and did not see the self-authenticating reality of his divine glory. They only saw a teacher or a prophet. “Seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13).
- Then there were the prophets and righteous people…
How Responsible Are We When the World Rejects Our Message?
It is a humble impulse to feel that our weak effect on people is our own fault. And it may often be true. There are character traits in speakers that God uses to overcome resistance in hearers (Acts 11:24; Matthew 5:16).
But we must not bear more than we should. Not all rejection of us and our message is our fault. The apostle John writes,
The reason why the world…
Consider Loving Someone into Lovability
One of the most transforming forces in our lives is being regarded as better than we are.
There is something profound and paradoxical about the way God creates godly people by first justifying the ungodly (Romans 4:5).
Consider the order of God’s acts in transforming the exiles of Judah. First he says, “I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place…Continue Reading
Should the Church Work on Social and Political Problems?
Yes . . .
If you mean: Ten million Christians should take 10 hours a week spent watching TV, and give that time to worthy social and political engagement.
No . . .
If you mean: The pastors should leave their Bible study and pulpits and counseling and evangelism, and put that time into politics and social ministries.Continue Reading
Perhaps the Most Staggering Promise in the Bible
What does Jesus mean when he says to the church in Laodicea, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Revelation 3:21)?
Sit with Jesus on his throne? Really?
This is a promise to everyone who conquers, that is, who presses on in faith to the end (1 John…Continue Reading
Is God a Megalomaniac? Right Answer. Wrong Reason.
I have spent 40 years seeking to understand and explain why God’s relentless self-exaltation in all that he does (for example, Isaiah 48:9–11) is the most loving way for him to be, and is not megalomania.
Some have tried to argue that the problem of God’s self-exaltation is solved by his intra-Trinitarian other-orientedness. That is, God the Father and God the Son do not seek their own individual glory, but…Continue Reading
Don’t Make Jesus More of a Mediator Than He Is
One of the last sweet gifts from our Father while we were on leave was his reminder not to make his Son more of a Mediator than he is. Jesus said:
In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you. (John 16:26–27)
“I do not say that…Continue Reading
John Piper’s Report on His Leave of Absence
I wrote this report for Bethlehem and have adapted it for this first day of 2011 on the DG Blog. It’s longer than a blog should be. My only excuse is that I did cut 263 pages.
For eight months of this year (May–December), I was on a leave of absence. That meant I was free from all my pastoral duties. It also meant that all my public ministry was…Continue Reading
Update from the Pipers
Noël and I continue to be deeply thankful to our family at Bethlehem for the gift of these months away. You may recall my explanation for the leave where we said there were three components: soul, marriage and family, and vocational. Each needed a reality check. And of course they are interrelated.
On the soul front, we continue to probe the roots of our most characteristic sins with a view…
To Prosperity Preachers: Commend Christ As Gain
This is the twelfth post in a series of twelve. The content comes from “Twelve Appeals to Prosperity Preachers” found in the new edition of Let the Nations Be Glad.
My biggest concern about the effects of the prosperity movement is that it diminishes Christ by making him less central and less satisfying than his gifts. Christ is not magnified most by being the giver of wealth. He is magnified…Continue Reading