I recently finished reading John Piper‘s book ‘Let the Nations Be Glad’. I thought I would share the main point of the book and its strengths. The central thesis of John Piper’s book “Let the Nations Be Glad” is very clear in the first chapter. Piper writes; “missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. In fact “missions exists because worship doesn’t”, therefore “worship is the fuel and goal of missions”.
Piper rightly argues that Christian missions are the means that bring about true worship. The central theological theme of this book is that God’s desire for people to glorify Him as their highest treasure motivates the Christian’s desire to see God glorified. Piper writes, “the ultimate foundation for our passion to see God glorified is his own passion to be glorified”. Piper rightly perceives how this idea might be misconceived and argues that it is not megalomania for God to desire His own glory. This gets into the missional theme of the book, when humanity begins to recognize “true value for what it is and…enjoy it in proportion to its true worth” they experience true satisfaction. Since God is of supreme value we should desire that all men know and worship Him for their ultimate satisfaction. The essence of worship is “the experience of being satisfied with God in Christ”. Therefore, we should aim “all we do to maximize our satisfaction in God”, because “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him”, and we should also labor in order that others would experience this satisfaction. So it is this zeal “for the glory of God that motivates world missions”.
When it comes to the task of missions this means ‘liberation’, the simple “fact is that the message we take to the frontiers is that people everywhere should seek their own best interest”. But this liberating mission comes at a cost, and it’s often hard, “missions and ministry are war”. Piper gives the sober reminder that times of war often leave loss. Yet there is hope in “loss and suffering”, when joyfully accepted for the Kingdom of God, they “show the supremacy of God’s glory more clearly in the world than worship or prayer”.
Piper rightly brings this difficult task into perspective with prayer proclaiming that it “is for the accomplishment of a wartime mission”. While Satan’s aim is that no one would be saved, “the purpose of prayer is to make clear to all the participants in this war that the victory belongs to the Lord”. And when we pray, we are asking “God to do for us through Christ what we can’t do for ourselves- bear fruit”. Piper also makes an important distinction in saying that the work of missions is “the proclamation of the gospel in word and deed”, with the aim of bringing “about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all nations”. He argues that God’s will is “that every people group be reached with the testimony of Christ and that a people be called out for his name from all the nations”.
Furthermore, the passion of missions “is to honor the glory of God by restoring the rightful place of God in the hearts of people who presently think, feel, and act in ways that dishonor God every day, and in particular, to do this by bringing forth a worshiping people from among all the un-reached people of the world”. Piper then concludes that the motive for missions is “mercy for man and glory for God”, which is one coherent goal.
John Piper provides a steady diet of ‘theocentric’ arguments in all of his books, and this one is no exception. Piper seems to always draw a clear line in the sand and call for a radical response. He writes to inspire “generations of world Christians who are willing to lay down their lives to make the nations glad in the glory of God through Jesus Christ”. One of the crucial strengths of this book is the absolute necessity of the Gospel to the central thesis. Without a devoted stance on the Gospel this book would make no sense, it is the “saving faith…coming to Jesus for the satisfaction of your soul thirst” that provides foundation for all of Piper’s arguments. The gospel is not only the foundation, but the persuasion behind this book, “God’s goal to be glorified will not succeed without the powerful proclamation of the gospel”. Let the Nations Be Glad is refreshing in a market full of books that teach technique, and strategy. This book is loaded with scripture! The biblical and theological arguments that thread through this work give it a timeless value, and while this work is timeless it is also timely. Piper does not neglect the critical issues facing the church today such as materialism, annihilationism, and universalism.