John Piper on Preaching

(Jamie Dickson) #1

There’s been some interesting discussion of John MacArthur’s view of preaching (no application - leave that for the Holy Spirit) on here recently.

Wondered what people make of this article/John Piper’s approach to preaching in general?

“The aim of preaching was only secondarily that marriages might hold together, or that our people might be honest and just in all their business dealings, or that they might witness with boldness to unbelievers, or that they might pray with fervor, or that they might give themselves to the cause of global missions, or that they might be generous so that the church budget can be met, and all the ministries carried out. If any of those things ever became the primary goal of my preaching, I believed I had ceased to preach biblically”

I think language like this can lead to preaching with no application or conviction of sin, but from what I’ve listened to of Piper I don’t think it does. Would appreciate other peoples thoughts. At the very least it sounds different from how I’ve heard Tim Bayly and others describe preaching.

(Jason Andersen) #2

Piper made me a Calvinist. Piper showed me that God was very big and glorious; that I am very small; that life isn’t about what God does for you or for me, but it is about the glory of the Son, Jesus Christ.

Piper taught me that Christ was to be enjoyed; that Christ is better than sin; that being a Christian isn’t about being a more moral person, where we just sort of have to choose to do right even though deep down we really love evil; but rather, Christ transforms us at the level of our affections, that we come to delight in Christ, and not in sin.

Piper taught me that victory over sin is actually possible, because through the Spirit we come to actually delight in righteousness. Because in God’s presence, there is fullness of joy; and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). Those pleasures are not in sin.

It was this preaching that led to the shattering of most of the idolatry in my life.

Can this preaching lead to no application and no conviction of sin? Sure. All preaching, falling on the unregenerate, whom God has not opened to see the glory of Christ, will prove futile. But I absolutely believe that the aim of preaching is to reveal the glory of Christ. By contrast, most preaching aims at petty moralism, heady theology, or sentimental feel-goodism, which all fall short of the gospel.

Don’t misunderstand. I absolutely affirm the need for the use of the law in preaching — that men must feel the weight of their iniquity and the threat of hell. But the gospel is not just that we are sinners; it’s that God has shown mercy on us sinners, he’s lavished his love upon worthless rebels, forgiven us, and given himself to us. He’s made us sons, and given us a life of joyful fellowship with him, and the hope of the glory.

And this joy is a great part of what restrains the Christian from sin. The more we drink from the fountain of living water, the less interested we become in broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13).

So yes, I love me some John Piper.

(Tim Bayly) #3

Maybe once have I ever heard John speak, and never preach. But I know his fruit and it is good. I don’t think his comments quoted above would lend any support to John MacArthur’s error. May God continue to bless His Church through John in all the ways Jason listed. Love,

(Valerie) #4

Stating priorities isn’t tantamount to neglecting all but the top one. This sounds like basic keep-the-two-greatest-commandments-in-order stuff to me: Love God firstly, then love your neighbor secondarily. Omitting the first would make the second impossible. Omitting the second would be failing in the first. I don’t see this statement leading to that ditch.

(Jesse Tiersma) #5

Well said. This article by Pastor Piper helps gaurd against some preacher’s view, that exposition is essentially a download of information from the preacher’s brain to the congregations brains. Piper’s description of preaching as “expository exultation” is a great way to describe how the answer to Q. and A. 1 of the catechesim apply to preaching, to paraphrase, the chief end of preaching is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This doesn’t detract from the other ends/goals of preaching, but exemplifies them, because the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. All the application in the sermon flows from this to the specific contexts that someone may be preaching on.

(Nathan Smith) #6

There is a difference between preaching an be pastoring - just something to keep in mind when looking at Piper on preaching.

(Jamie Dickson) #7

I agree with all that has been said about John Piper. I’m grateful for him, especially for his books which I’ve benefited from massively.

However, I don’t think that someone would read this article and come up with a definition of preaching like Paul’s.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. - 2 Timothy 4:2

Perhaps “expository exhortation” would be better than “expository exultation”. What is unique about preaching from other speech is not that it is worship (all Christians worship, only few should preach), but that is the authoritative application of the word of God.

Do people agree? Please do tell me if I’m nit-picking.

(Valerie) #8

I don’t think that’s a definition of preaching that Paul’s giving, but a list of pastoral duties.

(Tim Bayly) #9

You’re not. Read Calvin’s sermons.


(Jason Andersen) #10

I don’t know of a single pastor that couldn’t be nit-picked on the basis of his preaching. There will always be many voices ready to criticize on the basis of emphasis, as we discussed in that previous thread you had begun a couple weeks ago.

I think the fact is that some pastors emphasize certain truths better than they emphasize others. That isn’t a fact we should celebrate, as every pastor’s aim should of course be to preach the full counsel of God. But I think if we’re honest, we’ll recognize that all men – even pastors – are susceptible to their own biases. Pastors can tend to settle on their pet doctrines. And I wouldn’t even say this is always a bad thing. In particular times and places, whether in the context of a given local church, or the context of the visible church at large, I believe it is true that certain truths need to sort of be re-discovered.

Take our own beloved @tbbayly. I’ve heard the man preach exactly once – some sort of conference message. Moreover, I’ve listened to some podcasts, read some blogs, and read his dialogues on this forum. If I wanted to be critical, I’d tell you that this man doesn’t know how to talk about anything except manhood and womanhood; the feminization of worship; and authority. I mean, doesn’t he know how there are other things to talk about? Talk about over-emphasis.

But the fact is, I don’t know him up close. I haven’t been loved personally by him as a member of his flock. I don’t know what particular sins his congregation contends with – and at the end of the day, those are the people he is entrusted to minister to. Not Joe Christian on the internet. So I should be pretty cautious before presuming to throw shade on the man’s ministry. Obviously, my sample data is pretty limited.

I think the most we can do when it comes to preaching we encounter on the internet is appreciate the things they emphasize. I’m grateful that John Piper has labored to emphasize the sovereignty of God. So far as I can tell, the sweet doctrines of grace were essentially lost in my generation, and by God’s grace, he has been a big part of rekindling them.

Similarly, I am grateful for John MacArthur’s emphasis on inerrancy, or exposing the heresies of the charismatic movement. His has been a much needed voice in the church for the last several decades, as theological liberalism and mysticism have invaded the church in a post-modern era. And finally, I am grateful for those, like Tim, who have taken up laboring for the truth concerning manhood and womanhood, in a Christendom that has been so infected by feminism.

That isn’t to say that we can’t test the fruit of such men from afar at all. Surely, we can. I just think we need to be aware that the internet provides a unique occasion for us to fall into thinking we’re in better positions to judge pastors than we really are.

At the end of the day, the most influential pastors in our lives shouldn’t be the internet preachers anyway. It is my elders who should be the most influential, because they are positioned to speak into my life, and love me personally. They don’t even have to be great preachers to do that well. Faithful, okayish preachers will do, as long as they are loving the flock.

(Tim Bayly) #11

Yes, and the Apostle Paul and the Judaizers. Whew! And Calvin, Knox, and Luther and the idolatry of the Mass. Whew! One-track minds.

What you gloss over is that John MacArthur makes principle out of his error. Which matters. Love,

(Jason Andersen) #12

I don’t disagree. Hopefully I properly emphasized that over in the other thread.

This thread is to emphasize something different.

See? Always the emphasis gets us. :slight_smile:

(Valerie) #13

It matters a lot what that emphasis is and what it can contain. In Piper’s case, for instance, it’s the glory of God, and there’s nothing that doesn’t encompass. How do we do missions, marriage, child-rearing, personal piety, etc., etc.? All to the glory of God. If that’s the goal, not only is nothing else off the table, but there’s all the motivation in the world to make sure everything’s on the table.

(Zak Carter) #14

Amen and Amen!

Be sure to put the emPHAsis on the right sylLAble. :stuck_out_tongue: