dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish


Book Review: What Jesus Demands from the World

Considering it has been the source of the last three quotes I posted, I'm sure it comes as no surprise that one books I recently read is John Piper's book What Jesus Demands from the World. It seems only fitting that, after quoting the book so many times, I take the time to review it.

Over the last few years, John Piper has become one of my favorite authors. Each of his books that I have read has helped me to better understand Scripture, taught me how to think Biblically, and drawn my focus to the Gospel. What Jesus Demands from the World is no exception. Nonetheless, it is a unique book, devoted solely to examining the commands of Jesus in the four gospels. He explains his approach in this way: "My method is to reflect on the meaning and motivation of Jesus' demands as they appear in the New Testament Gospels in the context of his person and work. I do not cite the rest of the New Testament for my understanding of Jesus in the Gospels. Citing the whole New Testament is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, and in my preaching I do not hesitate to bring Scriptures from anywhere to help make any text plain, provided I don't change the meaning of either text. But in this book I have given my rendering of Jesus almost entirely through the lens of his own words as recorded in the Gospels. One of my subordinate aims in this approach is to encourage confidence in the unity of the New Testament, because the upshot of this portrayal is so compatible with what other New Testament writers taught."

Beginning with commands such as "You Must Be Born Again," "Repent," "Come to Me," and "Believe in Me," Piper examines the essentials of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Throughout the remainder of the book, depending on how many different instances of a command appear in the Gospels and on how many aspects of a command Piper examines, a command may cover anywhere from one to four chapters. For instance, he has single chapters on "Rejoice and Leap for Joy" and "Worship God in Spirit and Truth," but spends four chapters (numbers twenty-eight to thirty-one) examining what it means to love our enemies: "Love Your Enemies--Lead Them to the Truth," based on Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-28,32-34, and John 7:17; "Love Your Enemies--Pray for those Who Abuse You" takes a closer look at Matthew 5:44 and verses 28 and 32 from Luke 6; "Love Your Enemies--Do Good to those Who Hate You, Give to the One Who Asks" derives its content from Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 6:27, and Matthew 5:47; and "Love Your Enemies to Show that You Are Children of God" looks at Luke 6:29-30, 35, 36 and Matthew 5:44-45. In this way, Piper is able to give an in-depth examination of commands that have common themes but varying emphases, without passing over some aspects in favor of focusing solely on others. Other commands that he examined--and ones that particularly impacted me as I read them--were those pertaining to what it means to humble ourselves, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

What Jesus Demands from the World was well worth the time I spent reading it, and is a book that I hope to re-read in the future. While of a somewhat longer length (375 pages), the fifty chapters are each easy to read in a single sitting (as opposed to some books I've read that have thirty or forty page chapters). That being said, for books of this quality, the length of chapters should hardly be an issue. Reading a chapter just to get through it should not be the goal. I found myself several times returning to re-read chapters that were particularly thought-provoking.

Overall, what can I say about this book? Describing it as a good book is hardly surprising, considering the Biblical insight that is so typical of John Piper's writing. Really, I'd love to read all of Piper's books. (That he seems to be writing faster than I can read doesn't help, nor does the fact that he started publishing before I was born.) But I especially appreciated his focused look at the words of our Savior, and his willingness to examine even the most difficult commands (such as Jesus' words on marriage and divorce), submitting personal comfort level and preconceptions to the Scriptures.

Rating: Highly Recommended




Blogger Laedelas Greenleaf said...

Hmm...I wonder if I have that book now. My mom and I ordered around 50 books from during their huge recent sale, and they just arrived. I'll have to check it out (eventually)!

8/26/2007 11:53 PM

Blogger Jason said...

Sounds like a nice collection. I missed out on the sale, unfortunately. I had heard about it, but since it ended the day YC did, I forgot. It may be just as well: I already have at least 3 of Piper's books that I haven't gotten to; plus, it's a ministry I don't mind paying full price to support. But at $5/book. . .

8/28/2007 6:38 PM


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