- 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: #15,052 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Special thanks to Caitlin of Baker Books for a review copy of this book.
John Piper's book, Let the Nations Be Glad (hereafter LTNBG) has been a hit since it's first edition came out back in 1993. Our discipleship and missions training school has been using the 2nd edition since it came out in 2003, and for good reason. But not only is there a new edition, which I'm reviewing here, but there's also a DVD with 6 Piper sermons on the topic of missions and a Study Guide. The DVD and Study Guide will be reviewed separately, but for now I'll say that I applaud Piper and Baker for trying out a multi-media approach to this excellent and needed guide to the biblical theology of missions.
To organize my thoughts, I'm breaking this review down into 3 sections: the Good, the Bad and the Piper
1. Piper openly admits that this book focuses on "biblical reflection rather than methodological application" of missions (p9), a decision I appreciate. It's not the only book you should use in training missionaries, but it gives an excellent theological basis for why we should do missions in the first place.
2. The main difference between the 3rd edition and the previous one is found in the introduction. Piper not only surveys the changing face of global Christianity (with insights from Philip Jenkins and Mark Noll), but extends a plea to preachers of the so-called `prosperity gospel.' At first my thought was `this seems out of place in a missions book,' but Piper argues (and he is largely correct) that the prosperity gospel teaching of some American preachers has infiltrated parts of the "Global South" and is doing damage to the church there, particularly in Africa.
3. Chapter 1 is worth the price of the book alone. In fact, I rarely read past the first page of the first chapter without stopping and thinking more deeply. The central thesis: "worship is the fuel and goal of missions." I won't go into detail (get the book!), but I appreciate that Piper makes God the center of missions rather than anything else.
4. From the perspective of a teacher, I really appreciate Chapter 4, where Piper tackles three heavy issues: the eternality of hell, the necessity of Christ's work, and the necessity of conscious faith in Christ. These are difficult waters to navigate, and I have found it helpful to have everyone read this chapter and come ready to discuss in class. Piper makes a strong, biblical case for his answers, and I've told students over the years that if they plan on disagreeing with him, they better come prepared to argue their case biblically just as he does.
5. Piper offers a number of great thoughts on suffering and prayer, as well as laying out the Bible's teaching on people groups.
6. Piper draws from a fairly wide range of writers, preachers, etc., in this book. You get theologians like Jonathan Edwards, missiologists like Ralph Winter and pastors like John Dawson. In other words, he reaches outside of his camp (Reformed Baptist) and pulls from a broad spectrum.
There is more I could say about what is good in this book, but suffice to say the good far outweights the bad.
1. My biggest complaint about this book, and the primary complaint I get every year from students, is that it is longer than it needs to be. Piper has a habit of taking twice as long as he needs to in making a point. Sometimes this is because of his rampant use of proof-texting. Other times Piper seems so intent on making his point that he marshalls every bit of evidence he can, rather than simply selecting the best to support his case. Either way, this book could probably be 33% shorter and not miss a thing.
2. I'll put this here, but I'm not sure I'd call it `bad,' but John Piper can come across very strong for some. I don't mind this, but some are put off by it. So even if someone may agree with Piper's reasoning, he communicates- even in writing- in a way that some (again, not me) find a bit short and condescending. I only mention this because there are some churchgoers who are not accustomed to reading books where someone seeks to make a strong case for something. If that sounds like people in your church, you may need to address this issue up front if you use this book.
John Piper has some idiosyncracies that show up in most of his writings, and LTNBG is no exception. They don't bother me, though some may not like it (but mostly if you're already prone to dislike some of his writings). Anyway, I get a kick out of them, so here are a few:
"My passion is to see people, churches, mission agencies, and social ministries become God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-powered, soul-satisfied, Bible-saturated, missions-mobilizing, soul-winning, and justice-pursuing"
"Where do such God-centered, Christ-exalting, missions-driven people come from?"
"There is a God-enthralled, Christ-treasuring, all-enduring love..."
"There is a distinct God-magnifying, Christ-exalting mindset"
"It cannot make peace with God-ignoring, God-neglecting..."
And those are just from the 4-page preface.
2. Jonathan Edwards. Piper is known for his love of Jonathan Edwards, and apparently couldn't resist having an entire chapter dedicated to him. I appreciate it because Piper breaks down walls that are dangerously erected, in this case theology and missiology. But a chapter on Jonathan Edwards in a missions book is definitely something that only John Piper would do.
3. For those who are in no way convinced of John Piper's belief that God's glory is the central concern of His own heart, and should be ours, you may struggle a bit with this book. In my opinion, he doesn't hit it as hard here as he does elsewhere (and I think he may overstate his case anyway). I don't think anyone from my training school has ever said anything about it, but I throw it out there.
This is one of the best biblical-theological books on missions I've read (which is why we use it in our school). Piper deals with heavy issues in a pastorally sensitive way, making it appropriate for audiences ranging from laypeople to seminary classes. He does not cover the entire Bible's teachings on missions, but summarizes and clarifies the main themes and issues at hand. I have used the 2nd edition with great success over the years, and look forward to the 3rd edition being just as big a blessing.
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