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Finally Alive Paperback – March 20, 2009
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"It is an incisive examination of a topic of profound importance. I think it represents Piper at his very best as an author...Piper's tone is gracious and compassionate throughout this book. He shows the heart of a pastor from the first page to the last. But he also shows the skill of a theologian and the passion of a prophet...I cannot recommend this book too highly. I really believe it is Piper's best." (Tim Challies ~ Blogger at www.challies.com)
"For those curious about the Christian faith to those deeply committed to Christ and his ways, come read and behold the glory of any and every sinner's only hopethe miracle of the new birth that brings forth new life in Christ that will never end." (Bruce Ware ~ Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky)
"Regeneration, or new birth, meaning simply the new you through, with, in, and under Christ, is a largely neglected theme today, but this fine set of sermons, criss-crossing the New Testament data with great precision, goes far to fill the gap. Highly recommended." (J. I. Packer ~ Well known author & Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada)
"Nothing could be more eternally important than Christian people knowing what the Bible teaches about the new birth and knowing that they have experienced it. One wonders why it's taken so long for a book on the new birth to be written! But now it has and I pray every reader rejoices in God for the rich beauties of Christ Jesus so compellingly shared in its pages." (Thabiti Anyabwile ~ Pastor, Anacostia River Church, Washington, D.C.)
"When I was a boy my grandmother asked me, Have you been born again?' Though I didn't understand what she meant at the time, that question led to my conversion to Christ. In this wonderful book, Pastor John Piper rescues the term born again' from the abuse and overuse to which it is subject in our culture today. This is a fresh presentation of the evangelical doctrine of the new birth, a work filled with theological insight and pastoral wisdom." (Timothy George ~ Founding Dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama)
"Classic Pipercrystal clear exposition and a must read." (Alistair Begg ~ Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio)
"I cannot too strongly celebrate the publication of this book. Owing in part to several decades of dispute over justification and how a person is set right with God, we have tended to neglect another component of conversion no less important. Conversion under the terms of the new covenant is more than a matter of position and status in Christ, though never less: it includes miraculous Spirit-given transformation, something immeasurably beyond mere human resolution. It is new birth; it makes us new creatures; it demonstrates that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. All the creedal orthodoxy in the world cannot replace it. The reason why "You must be born again" is so important is that you must be born again." (D. A. Carson ~ Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois)
From the Inside Flap
When Jesus said to Nicodemus, 'You must be born again', the devout and learned religious leader was unsure what Jesus meant. It would seem nothing has changed. Today 'born again christians' fill churches that are seen as ineffectual at best, and even characterised by the 'mosaic' generation as 'unchristian'.
The term 'born again' has been devalued both in society and in the church. Those claiming to be 'born again' live lives that are indistinguishable from those who don't; they sin the same, embrace injustice the same, covert the same, do almost everything the same.
Being 'born again' is now defined by what people say they believe. The New Testament however defines Christians very differently.
"When Jesus said to Nicodemus, "You must be born again" (John 3: 7), he was not sharing interesting and unimportant information. He was leading him to eternal life]] If he does that for you (or if he already has), then you are (or you will be) truly, invincibly, finally alive." John Piper
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My main criticism of the book deals with its execution. I found there were a few redundant places, and some other places where I wish he'd say more. But, overall, I recommend it. Especially to people who are curious to know what the Bible has to say about salvation.
Dr. Piper gives a complete gospel presentation in 190 pages. His book is divided into sections that answer five questions: What is the new birth, why must we be born again, how does the new birth come about, what are the effects of the new birth, and how can we help others be born again?
All are born dead in sin. In order to have eternal life, people must be born again. But how can one who is dead have life? Only by the regenerating power of God. Piper shows that this regeneration, or life, causes faith and belief. Though they appear at the same time and are inseparable, the new life is the cause of the faith, just as fire is the cause of heat. "Spiritual life and faith in Jesus come into being together. The new life makes the faith possible, and since spiritual life always awakens faith and expresses itself in faith, there is no life without faith in Jesus."
Belief and faith are not the only fruits of a new birth; Dr. Piper shows that obedience and love also necessarily follow. "Our love for God obeys him freely and joyfully because in the new birth the spell of the world is broken and it loses its power....God himself is at work in the new birth so powerfully that we cannot keep on practicing sin."
How does the new birth come about? By the hearing of the gospel. Not the mere hearing of sounds made by certain words, but the hearing of the historical, factual narrative of the Lord Jesus Christ and the truths concerning Him. Because God uses the spoken gospel as a means of regeneration, Christians ought to be encouraged to spread the gospel. And because the new birth results in true and unselfish love, Christians ought to be burdened to spread the gospel. "...What should we be doing to help unbelievers to be born again? The biblical answer is not obscure, and it's not complicated. The answer is: Tell people the good news of Christ from a heart of love and a life of service."
Piper's love for the glory of Christ is evident in Finally Alive. So is his love for people. His chapters are clear and concise. At times they are convicting, and at times they are comforting. Finally Alive will benefit those who want a better understanding of the new birth and the effects that it should have in the life of a believer. It will also motivate and better equip those who want to share the gospel. Regardless of where you are at--unbelief, new belief, or mature belief--I recommend this book to you.
If you are a Christian, get this book. If you are NOT a Christian, get this book. If you are not sure, get this book. After you have read it, studied it, have it well highlighted, "dog-earred" to mark favorite passages, and suitably marked up, give it to others. Pay it forward!!
Piper breaks the discussion of the new birth into five parts: 1) What Is the New Birth, 2) Why Must We Be Born Again?, 3) How Does theNew Birth Come About?, 4) What Are the Effects of the New Birth?, and 5) How Can We Help Others Be Born Again?
In each of these parts, Piper goes into his normal deep exegesis of Scripture. To me, parts four and five were the best, as we learn about how the new birth affects us and how we are used by God to help others come to the new birth.
I did struggle, however, with some of the earlier parts, as Piper defends a Reformed/Calvinistic stance on regeneration. I am still reading on this issue, and I have a lot of respect for Reformed ministers and believers, but at this point in my walk, I am still not convinced by a completely Reformed understanding of salvation.
Even so, I always learn something, even from those I disagree with. If you want a good explanation of regeneration, this would be a good book to add to your reading list.