- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Baker Academic; 3 edition (March 15, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801036410
- ISBN-13: 978-0801036415
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions 3rd Edition
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From the Back Cover
"Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate."--John Piper
Let the Nations Be Glad! has become a modern missions classic. A trusted resource for thousands of missionaries, pastors, church leaders, and laypeople, it provides a biblical basis for missions and worship. This third edition has been expanded to include timely new material on the prosperity gospel.
Praise for the Previous Edition
"If I had to choose only one book on missions, Let the Nations Be Glad! would be it--precisely because it's about so much more than missions. The book's relentless God-centered focus, with its stress on worship as the 'fuel and goal of missions,' provides the crucial biblical counterpoint to the anthropocentric drumbeat of our day."--Duane Litfin, president, Wheaton College
"An invaluable resource that keeps worship at the center of the church's purpose and shows both theologically and practically what that means for mission in the modern world. Missionaries, pastors, teachers, and laypeople with a thirst for God's passion for himself and the peoples of the world will be challenged and encouraged. I offer it my highest recommendation."--A. Scott Moreau, editor, Evangelical Missions Quarterly
"Let the Nations Be Glad! is the most important book on missions for this generation, and I hope it will be the most influential as well. John Piper places missions where it belongs: at the heart of God's desire to be glorified among the nations."--R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"The best biblical study there is on the nature of missions. The best, however, has become better! After building a solid biblical base, Piper confronts some burning issues in missions today in a way that is both spiritually nourishing and inspiringly readable."--Ajith Fernando, national director, Youth for Christ/Sri Lanka
About the Author
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor for Bethlehem College and Seminary, Minneapolis. For thirty-three years, he was pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. He is author of more than fifty books, including Desiring God and Let t
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Piper makes the now famous claim that “missions exist because worship doesn’t” (p. 35). This claim underlies the entire message of the book and comes out more positively found in the subtitle, “The Supremacy of God in Missions.” For far too long the primary motivation, guiding principles and practices have been driven by a less then Biblical priority to the Supremacy of God and the promotion of his glory to the ends of the Earth. That God has had a heart for the nations from the beginning and it’s not because they are so lovely but exclusively because God in Christ would get glory as his name is hallowed, heralded and honored by a multitude of diverse people groups. There will not be a tribe/family left out from representation that will not bow in adoration of King Jesus. With that as the ends for God the question becomes what is the end for man? And if that end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever then the fact that that is not happening means the must be precisely the mission of the church provide the only means that will bring about the repentance of lost individuals to be forgiven, reconciled and live a new life with God. That means to that end, the Bible says, is the gospel of Jesus Christ and is appropriated by conscious faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let the Nations be Glad has 3 sections that draw largely upon Biblical Revelation but are sprinkled with examples of systematic, historical and pastoral theology throughout which makes for an engaging read.
I should make mention of an additional chapter in the latest edition, thought necessary due to the growing popularity of “the prosperity gospel”, which is really no gospel at all. Sadly this theology has flourished in some of the more poverty stricken areas of the south largely due to the desire for the alleviation of suffering. Christianity does not promise material or physical prosperity. This teaching is antithetical to Chapter 2 on the Supremacy of God in Missions through suffering. Piper gives 12 appeals to prosperity preachers and not to belittle or ‘rebuke’ but to pastor that movement, that surely has Christians in it, to steer them towards biblical Orthodoxy.
Chapter one is on the Supremacy of God in missions through Worship is ringing the same bell found in all of Pipers Book’s summarized in the statement ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Piper helpfully lists full verses out that can be read through quickly which drives it home. There is no doubt that God has created, provides, redeems, judges, and consummates all for the praise of his Name. Piper helpfully introduces us to Jonathan Edwards and The End for which God Created the World, highlighting the book he wrote to summarize Edwards main points and get help navigate the rich prose called “God’s Passion for His Own Glory”. In addition to that book he wrote “The Pleasures of God” and a Chapter in Desiring God is devoted to the same subject.
Chapter 2 was extremely important for an understanding of and motivation for prayer. He used the image of wartime walkie-talkies in a battle. When we pray we are asking God for help for the mission similar to soldiers might appeal to headquarters with all their recon and data. The reason we don’t pray is because we don’t think we are at war. Piper makes a strong case for the wartime imagery in Paul in terms of at war with our flesh, the devil, and the world.
The second section of the book is about the necessity and nature of the task of missions. Here Piper makes it clear that man is under condemnation because of his rebellion and the only means for escaping is the gospel. The Son of God became a man and satisfied the wrath of God in our place so we could be forgiven and accepted. What is so important for mission is that this saving work of Christ is never granted to sinners apart from conscious faith in the gospel and repentance. This brings about the necessity for messengers of the gospel to bring the gospel to unreached people groups. Scripture dictates the nature of missions. We must preach the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation for who believe (Rom. 1:16). This means we don’t depend on underhanded or cunning ways but preach the whole counsel of God tied to the story line of God’s plan to redeem a people from ever nation/family through life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The 3rd section of the book deals with the practical outworking of compassion and worship. Here we have Piper seeking to show that there is no need to create a bifurcation in our motives to see God glorified in saving people and having compassion on our lost neighbors. If our motivation of evangelism is merely to glorify God then not only do we have zero compassion for our fellow man and we become cold and heartless but also our good works are seen as a ‘bait and switch’. Piper argues that on the contrary, true compassion for man sees that man’s greatest need is the forgiveness of sins. As well as this, his chief end is to glorify God. Having the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation the new creation will be completely satisfied in God resulting in another worshiper of God. It is no way unloving or uncompassionate to see our highest calling and most loving thing we can do to share the message of God’s saving grace.
Evaluation of the Book
The book succeeds and will serve as a classic text on inspiring generations of Christians to missions because of it’s Biblical and Theological precision. Piper proves that his “reformed thinking’ in no ways hinders his passion for mission but instead inspires it and gives it hope in the first place. The Supreme God of the universe has done everything for his glory and would become an idolater himself if another motive were sought. This might sound selfish but when God is so good that he delights to share himself with others who in turn promote his praise to the ends of the earth he is greatly pleased and so are we. Far be it from missions being some stepsister to the story of the Bible or purpose of God. It is rooted in the purposes of God from before the foundation of the World. God commissioned his Son to save a people, sent the Spirit to apply his work and now sends his people to the ends of the earth with a message of hope.
Personal Reflection on the Implications of the Book for Ministry
The most impactful portions of the book were on worship, prayer, inclusivism/exclusivism and the word study on ethne. I greatly appreciate how Piper is not afraid to do some intense exegesis in a popular book. A permanent application for motivating our church to pray will be to see our desperation, the enemy we are fighting and the mission we have before us. We are wholly inadequate in and of ourselves to fulfill the great commission and yet not only does Christ promise to be with us to the end of the age he tells us to ask anything in his name and it will be granted to us. The way I understand nations in Matthew 28:19 has been tweaked. I now see that this has to do with people groups rather than geopolitical entities. This helped me see the great commission as flowing from God’s promise to Abraham that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed, that blessing being namely salvation. As far as greater impact, the fact that Piper was a pastor of a large church, not an overseas missionary and yet has such a passion for missions gives me a model of how to model to and mobilize a local church for missions. I can imagine that Bethlehem Baptist was praying towards, informed of, giving towards and sending missionaries all over the place. And they were taking the same message that Piper preached week in week out. God in Christ is glorifying himself through the salvation of the nations so that Christ will be a universal savior and have a diversified choir in heaven of blood bought rebels turned worshipers.
This book is Piper’s grand treatment of the what, why, how, and for whom of missions. It would be best to let Piper explain the book himself: “Let it be clear: This book is not just for missionaries. It is for pastors who (like me) want to connect their fragile, momentary, local labors to God’s invincible, eternal, global purposes. It’s for laypeople who want a bigger motivation for being world Christians than they get from statistics. It’s for college and seminary classes on the theology of missions that really want to be theological as well as anthropological, methodological, and technological. And it’s for leaders who need the flickering wick of their vocation fanned into flame again with a focus on the supremacy of God in all things” (pg. 12).
Piper writes well, and it is evident he puts much effort into crafting the structure of his arguments and the forms of his sentences. But this strength is also the book’s weakness. In many places, Piper aims to cut off every conceivable contrary conclusion other than the biblical one (i.e. salvation through Christ alone, eternal judgment in hell, the primacy of preaching, etc.). Yet, in doing so, it can become so tedious that one can get lost in the argument and forget the original point. Thankfully, Piper gives helpful reminders to the readers, but still, for the average reader it will take much patience and good reading skills to understand him clearly.
This is a category 5 – all Christians in America should read this book, for two reasons: (1) it addresses fundamental issues of our day that destroy the impetus for missions (such as a finite hell, annihilationism, universal salvation, salvation apart from the gospel message, Christ-less Christians, the prosperity gospel, comfortable Christianity, the social gospel, missions without preaching, and cultural imperialism), and (2) it has become the classic for understanding missions biblically that God has used to raise up an entirely new generation of God-enthralled goers and senders.
John Piper has famously said, “There are only three kinds of Christians when it comes to world missions: zealous goers, zealous senders, and disobedient.” And his aim in this book is to encourage the first two categories and eliminate the last.
If your zeal for the Lord and His mission is, by His grace, strong and growing, you will be immensely encouraged by book. If you are failing to be a zealous goer or sender, then this book will be a fatal axe blade to apathy. By methodically and systematically walking through missions, cutting off any conclusion other than the one that comes from the Scriptures, Piper raises a biblical standard of missiology that is both exhilarating and solidly grounded in the Word. No missiology would be complete without it.
John Piper does a good job of explaining his Christian philosophy — that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him — throughout this book, as he does in all his books. Those who are familiar with it may find it repetitive, but it is not too burdensome, even for those that choose to use different language and terms to explain a God-glorying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled, Word-saturated faith.
Chapter 5, titled, ‘The Supremacy of God among “All the Nations”‘ has become infamous for its technicality and difficulty, and has been the reason why many do not finish this book. Do not be deterred! In it, he explains to what extent God has promised to propagate His gospel; in other words, it explains what “nations” means in the Bible, and thus what critical texts like Revelation 7:9-10 mean.
Chapter Titles & Quotes
Part 1 Making God Supreme in Missions: The Purpose, the Power, and the Price
1. The Supremacy of God in Missions through Worship
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.
2. The Supremacy of God in Missions through Prayer
Now we can say again, safely and stunningly, what the awesome place of prayer is in the purpose of God to fill the earth with his glory. Not only has God made the accomplishment of his purposes hang on the preaching of the Word, but he has also made the success of that preaching hang on prayer. God’s goal to be glorified will not succeed without the powerful proclamation of the gospel. And that gospel will not be proclaimed in power to all the nations without the prevailing, earnest, faith-filled prayers of God’s people. This is the awesome place of prayer in the purpose of God for the world. That purpose won’t happen without prayer.
Do you ever cry out to the Lord, “How long, O Lord? How long till you vindicate your cause in the earth? How long till you rend the heavens and come down with power on your church? How long till you bring forth victory among all the peoples of the world?” Is not his answer plain: “When my people cry to me day and night, I will vindicate them, and my cause will prosper among the nations.” The war will be won by God. He will win it through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel will run and triumph through prevailing prayer-so that in everything God might be glorified through Jesus Christ.
3. The Supremacy of God in Missions through Suffering
You cannot show the preciousness of a person by being happy with his gifts. Ingratitude will certainly prove that the giver is not loved, but gratitude for gifts does not prove that the giver is precious. What proves that the giver is precious is the glad-hearted readiness to leave all his gifts to be with him. This is why suffering is so central in the mission of the church. The goal of our mission is that people from all the nations worship the true God. But worship means cherishing the preciousness of God above all else, including life itself. It will be difficult to bring the nations to love God from a lifestyle that communicates a love of things. Therefore, God ordains in the lives of his messengers that suffering severs our bondage to the world. When joy and love survive this severing, we are fit to say to the nations with authenticity and power: Hope in God.
Part 2: Making God Supreme in Missions: The Necessity and Nature of the Task
4. The Supremacy of Christ as the Conscious Focus of All Saving Faith
Therefore, the church is bound to engage with the Lord of glory in his cause. Charles Hodge is right that “the solemn question, implied in the language of the apostle, how can they believe without a preacher? should sound day and night in the ears of the churches.” It is our unspeakable privilege to be caught up with him in the greatest movement in history-the ingathering of the elect “from all tribes and languages and peoples and nations” until the full number of the Gentiles comes in, all Israel is saved, the Son of Man descends with power and great glory as King of kings and Lord of lords, and the earth is full of the knowledge of his glory as the waters cover the sea forever and ever. Then the supremacy of Christ will be manifest to all, he will deliver the kingdom to God the Father, and God will be all in all.
5. The Supremacy of God Among “All the Nations”
This chapter shows that God’s call for missions in Scripture cannot be defined in terms of crossing cultures to maximize the total number of individuals saved. Rather, God’s will for missions 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. I believe that this definition of missions will in fact result in the greatest possible number of white-hot worshipers for God’s Son. But that remains for God to decide. Our responsibility is to define missions his way and then obey.
Part 3: Making God Supreme in Missions: The Practical Outworking of Compassion and Worship
6. A Passion for God’s Supremacy and Compassion for Man’s Soul: Jonathan Edwards on the Unity of Motives for World Missions
Edwards was always asking about the ultimate end of things, because once we know and embrace the final and highest reason that we and the church and the nations exist, then all our thinking and all our feeling and all our acting will be governed by that aim. …Edwards was absolutely clear on the ultimate question of why all things exist, including you and me and the church universal and the nations and history. He was absolutely clear on it because God was absolutely clear on it. Edwards wrote a book called ‘The End For Which God Created the World.’ In my own thinking, it is the most important thing he ever wrote. Once we understand what he wrote there, everything-absolutely everything-changes. His answer to the question, What is the ultimate goal of creation and history and redemption and your life and everything else? is this: “All that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works, is included in that one phrase, the glory of God.”
The first great passion of missions, therefore, 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 unreached peoples of the world. If you love the glory of God, you cannot be indifferent to missions. This is the ultimate reason Jesus Christ came into the world. Romans 15:8-9 says, “Christ became a servant to the circumcised … in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” Christ came to get glory for his Father among the nations. If you love what Jesus Christ came to accomplish, you love missions.
7. The Inner Simplicity and Outer Freedom of Worldwide Worship
So I believe it can be shown biblically that all our behavior should he motivated by a deeply freeing taste of God’s goodness and a thirst for- more and more satisfaction in God. …When our whole life is consumed with pursuing satisfaction in God, everything we do highlights the value and worth of God, which simply means that everything becomes worship. May God make himself-manifest fully in Jesus Christ-that precious to us.
That is what I am referring to when I say, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is.” Our goal is to see that experience happen among all the peoples of the world. May the power of the gospel waken the dead, bring them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they see him and savor him with all their hearts. And may they be so radically satisfied in him that they are freed from the fears and pleasures of this world and follow Jesus on the Calvary road of love. Then others will see their good works and give glory to their Father in heaven-and the Word will go on from glory to glory.
"Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah! Let the peoples praise you, O God; Let ALL the peoples praise you! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear Him!" - Psalm 67:4