By John Piper (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2006, 400 pgs.)
John Piper has some incredible thoughts in his newest book, on the teaching of Jesus. I say incredible, because we are so use to preachers and teachers presenting and emphasizing only the barest minimum requirements for salvation as normative Christianity. Dr. Piper goes way beyond that in this book, he actually presents all the demands that Jesus made of his followers. Imagine that! Demands? Obviously he hasn’t been paying attention to the latest church growth strategies for going after the unchurched in suburbia.
A recent popular slogan WWJD (what would Jesus do) sounds good, but is typically and severely limited by our modern inadequate perceptions about Jesus. Pastor Piper presents to us the unvarnished truth in the form of what Jesus actually said. There is a lot of demands here, a bunch of ‘do’s’, and even some ‘don’ts’. Some of it is the kind of stuff that many Christians want to discount as ‘Old Covenant’.
Dr. Piper starts with ‘the great commission’ (Matt. 28:18-20):
Â “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
He points out that the ‘All authority’ includes us and really everyone else in the world. So Jesus does have the authority to make demands (obviously). We are supposed to goÂ and make disciples in every nation. What does it mean ‘make disciples’? Obviously we are supposed to tell folk about Jesus, and when they believe, we are supposed to baptize them. That’s about as far as many of us go. But according to Piper and according to the words of Jesus, we are supposed to teach them to observe all the commands and demands of Jesus.
How does one observe all the commands and teachings of Jesus? Isn’t that rather impossible? Yes it would seem to be: “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27) However, we are not alone. He is with us all the way and he has given us his Spirit to dwell within.
The book contains 50 short chapters, each one exploring one of the demands of Jesus. I hope to write short articles on each one.