Look at the Book — New Chapter in Piper’s Legacy

UPDATE: Look at the Book is now live.

The following is a transcript of the audio.

Listeners to this podcast, and readers of the Desiring God blog will have heard some things about “Look at the Book.” Pastor John, can you explain what it is, how it works, what you are working on?

I love to talk about it, because I am having a great time working on it. We have been working on it for over a year, but we finally got the technology to a point where we can actually produce the kinds of things that we are going to put on the internet to probably starting sometime in the fall as we roll it out with our annual conference. Look at the book is rooted in my sense of calling to take people from the banquet to the kitchen.

I spent the last 30, 40 years of my life mainly serving meals to people in sermons, meaning I have spent hours in the kitchen cooking. And then I set the table in a manuscript and I stand in the pulpit and I feed the people a finished meal. And I believe in that with all my heart. I think that is what preaching is.

But what will happen when I am gone if people haven’t learned to make meals for themselves? Now there will always be preachers, praise God, amen. But as I come to the end of my life: I am thinking, you know, I would like in addition to serving meals take people into the kitchen and show them how I cook, how I get food, how I get meaning from biblical texts.

People ask me all the time: How did you see that? Or where did you get that? Or how do you study or how do you prepare a sermon? Or how do you reads the Bible? And people are hungry to read the Bible for themselves and find meaning. And I am hungry to help people gain confidence in reading the Bible for themselves. That is the idea that the kitchen is where the meals are made and where spiritual culinary arts are taught. Crowds aren’t as big. It is messy in the kitchen. It is less finished, less refined, you spill things, you have to start over. So the kitchen is not as, you know, it is not as public and not as many, maybe kudos that come with the small group that meets in the kitchen. And I want to go there.

I want to go deep and I want to go wide. So this is Bethlehem college and seminary. I get to go deep because we are in Greek and I am going to take, you know, 16 guys and go to the kitchen with them for a year. But I want to go wide. I want to help lay people who don’t have any Greek get as much as they can out of their English Bibles and they can get infinitely more than they think they can get out of their reliable English translations. And there are reliable translations that they can work with with confidence. So look at the book is part of the deep and it is part of the wide.

I was inspired to what we are going to do by Khan Academy online by Emmanuel Khan when he is teaching algebra, for example. What you see online is a black screen and then numbers appear as he writes them. And he teaches math that way. And I looked at that and I said: Oh, I would love to do that with the Bible. So that is what we are going to do. People aren’t going to see me on these little videos. These are five to eight minute videos online and when they click the app—we have an app for this—those little six second introduction with a logo and then they will see a screen black with white print and there will be a text of the Bible, two, three four verses, maybe five. And then they will hear me talking and they will see me circle and draw arrows and underline and make connections and write notes all to show them what do you do with this text? And that is my goal. My goal is to lead people through text after text after text, hundreds of them to form habits of mind, habits of reading, habits of analysis that will give people the confidence.

I was inspired by Khan Academy online and Salman Khan when he teaches algebra, for example. What you see online is a black screen and then numbers appear as he writes them. I looked at that and I said: Oh, I would love to do that with the Bible. So that is what we are going to do. People aren’t going to see me on these little videos. These are five to eight minute videos online. They will see a screen black with white print and there will be a text of the Bible — two to five verses. And then they will hear me talking. They will see me circle and draw arrows and underline and make connections and write notes all to show answer: what do you do with this text? And that is my goal. My goal is to lead people through text after text after text, hundreds of them, to form habits of mind, habits of reading, habits of analysis that will give people confidence with their own Bibles.

I can do this. John Piper, he can die now because I have seen him do a couple hundred of these. I can do this now. I can find meaning so that my obedience will be stronger and purer and my worship will be more authentic and my courage as I share the gospel and as I try to teach my Sunday school class will be higher.

So those are the goals, Tony, and that is the gist of what people are going to see when we roll it out.

This is a really outstanding new product. I’ve see a few of these videos that will be released this fall, and it’s absolutely wonderful to see how you, Pastor John, do exegesis with the Bible. For more details see Pastor John’s blog post, “The Legacy I Want to Leave,” published on April 29th at desiringGod.org/blog. This forthcoming LAB product is tied into this year’s national conference, too: “Look at the Book: Reading the Bible for Yourself,” is the conference title, and it will be hosted here in Minneapolis on Sept. 26–28. Unlike previous National Conferences, John Piper will be delivering five sessions himself — in two session he will unfold the biblical foundations for reading your Bible, and in the other three he will model his method of inductive Bible study, focusing on Romans 8, the greatest chapter in the Bible. Here at DG we’re really looking forward to the “Look at the Book” product and conference this fall. I hope you can join us in Minneapolis. Speaking of working through texts, tomorrow we’ll look at Colossians 1:24–25 and try and understand how our suffering fills up what is lacking in Christ’s suffering. What can that possibly mean? I’m your host Tony Reinke, we’ll see you tomorrow.

More on Look at the Book:

UPDATE: Look at the Book is now live.

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