I didn't know what to expect when I started the book. The full title should have clued me in... "Spectacular Sins and their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ", but I still wasn't sure what this book was going to be about. Joni Eareckson Tada wrote this about the book (from the back of the book):
"When it comes to holocausts and other horrors, most of us assume God has his hands tied and his back to the wall. But John Piper paints a different picture from the pages of Scripture that will strengthen your heart, bolster your faith, and deepen your understanding of the 'largeness' of God's sovereignty."I have finished the first three chapters of this book, and I am having a hard time keeping myself from blogging the entire thing. I believe it is an important book in what it is saying. I believe that it will have an impact in my life and ministry as it is unfolding the powerful words of God into my mind and my heart. As John Piper says in this book,
"Paul's antidote for wimpy Christians is weighty doctrine. In Paul's mind, the most massive truths are meant for producing radical lives of obedience. That's why I say the main point of this book is not information for your head, but application to your life."That is what I am experiencing in this book, weighty truths. They are being preached to me through scripture by a pastor... a pastor who feels he has a job to do.
"As a pastor, I do not think it is my job to entertain you during the last days. It is not my calling to help you have chipper feelings while the whole creation groans. My job is to put the kind of ballast in the belly of your boat so that when these waves crash against your life, you will not capsize but make it to the harbor of heaven -- battered and wounded, but full of faith and joy."I agree, but most of the Christians that I know... many times including myself... are mostly interested in being comfortable. So much so we want to be comfortable that we will do most anything to achieve that comfort. And I am not just talking about building comfortable environments for ourselves, including big TVs and comfortable chairs and couches and finding new ways to entertain ourselves... NO, I am talking about Christians who will do anything... ANYTHING to avoid hardship, tragedy, suffering, heartache, etc.
Christians ordering their lives around avoidance of these difficulties. Christians that will determine who and how they will serve to keep even the thought of sickness and death away from their doorstep. Christians that have come to believe that God can be manipulated; that if they do and say the right things, God will not allow suffering in their lives.
I know I run the risk of over-quoting, but I want to include one more quote:
"I am writing this book to build a vision of God into our lives that will not let us down in the worst of times. I mean really bad times. Horrific times. Who is prepared to meet the Agony that is coming?
"Our worship services and our preaching too often pamper us. They coddle. I am not opposed to friends helping us with the daily frustrations that make us unhappy. There is plenty of proverbial wisdom in the Bible to warrant this. It is good. Love does this. I need this help. I want it. There is a time for everything under heaven, even pampering. But surely the preaching of God's word must aim for more than this."I believe that hard times are coming for me and ... I hate to say it ... for you too.
At least one person just screamed and ran away from the computer. "No, no, I can't think that. IF I think it, God will hear me and realize that I am now prepared for suffering. Since God won't allow me to endure anything that I can't handle, I must now convince God that I can't handle ___________ !"
I am forcing myself to stop quoting this book. It is good. Get it.