Monday, October 31, 2011

John Piper on Thinking to Make Us Lovers of God and Others

Today (10/31/11) is the final day to download a free copy of Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper at  

I began to listen to this audiobook while I did some driving this weekend.  I am hooked.  I have enjoyed the books, articles, sermons, tweets, and blog posts that I have either read or listened to over the years.  To be honest, when I first saw this book in a bookstore, I thought, "Well, here is another Piper book that will no doubt be very thought-provoking, but I don't have time to read it now."

My thinking has been changed.  I need to hear this message now, and I'm also certain that this book will also be a tremendous aid to the church.  I would love to have our Sunday small group to read, think through, and discuss this book.  We are currently working through the book of Revelation which challenges us at every turn to think carefully about the gospel message without getting tangled up in speculations and fruitless debates.

In the video trailer below, Piper states that his end goal is "that we would love God through thinking well about the world and about the Bible that he has given us. The whole aim is not to make us thinkers, the aim is to use thinking biblically to make us lovers."

Since thinking invariably requires a person to ask questions, Piper points us to a biblical perspective on a very common concern of the average reader of the Bible.  Here's and excerpt that was helpful to me.

Is the Habit of Asking Questions Respectful?

Some may wonder if asking questions of the text is a respectful way to read the Bible.  It can be. Or it may not be.  An illustration may clarify.  Near the time of Jesus' birth, an angel came to Mary and to John the Baptist's father with predictions about what was going to happen.  Both Mary and Zechariah asked a question about what the angel he said.  But the angel was angry with Zechariah, not Mary.  Why?

It had to do with the attitude of their hearts in asking their questions.  The angel said to Zechariah, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John? (Luke 1:13).  But Zechariah was old and his wife was barren.  He was skeptical.  In fact he was unbelieving.  He expressed this with a question, "How shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years" (Luke 1:18).

The angel did not like this response. Zechariah did not ask humbly how God would do this.  He was not submissive and trusting in his question.  So the angel said, "I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time" (Luke 1:19-20).

But Mary's heart was different when she asked her question.  The angel had said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus" (Luke 1:30-31).  Mary, of course, was perplexed and could not understand how this could be.  So she asked, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34).  Instead of getting angry at her, the angel answered her question as far as he could: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the son of God" (Luke 1:35).
If you prefer the print edition, see these sources