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What I Learned from John Piper (by Matthew DelValle)

John Piper at 2011 Ligonier National Conference

I didn’t encounter John Piper until age 16. I had not heard much about Dr. Piper at this point. I remember Pastor Pete had assigned his book Don’t Waste Your Life to some of my older friends for a missions trip, and I remember said friends commenting how the book was too deep and they didn’t understand it at all. But I had not read or listened to Dr. Piper myself.

This all changed when Pastor Bobby assigned Let the Nations Be Glad! to read for the missions trips in 2007. I’ll never forget the opening lines of the book. They are etched into my memory:

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.

The main reason why we go out and preach the gospel to all people is not mainly because we don’t want to see people go to hell, but because we want God to be worshiped. That is why God ordains the missionary task. He wants to be worshiped. His glory is not honored, his holiness is not reverenced, his greatness is not admired, his name is not praised, his faithfulness is not trusted, his commandments are not obeyed, his justice is not respected, his wrath is not feared, his grace is not cherished, and his person is not loved. Therefore, missions exists because worship doesn’t.

I grew to love the God-centered worldview of Dr. Piper. Something about his teaching just resonated within me. I had to read more of this man who wrote so convincingly about the supremacy of God’s glory as the center of all things.

Later that year Pastor Bobby again introduced me to another book from Dr. Piper: Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. I found the term “Christian Hedonist” intriguing. I wanted to know what Piper meant by it. I was not disappointed. The thesis of the book is Dr. Piper’s most famous sentence: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

Now everything was coming together. Both R.C. Sproul and John Piper had convinced me that the glory of God is the most important thing in the universe. Nothing is more ultimate in the mind of God than the glory of God because nothing is more valuable in the heart of God than the glory of God. But Dr. Piper helped me see another wonderful truth: God’s glory coincides with my joy.

God’s passion for his own glory is the measure of his passion for my joy. If he were to make something else more ultimate than his own glory, he would sell me short. The more God seeks his glory, the more he seeks my happiness in him.

Likewise, the more I pursue God’s glory, the more I pursue my own happiness in God. Nothing can fully satisfy the human heart other than God himself. I was created to enjoy God. “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). That’s why God actually commands me to enjoy him: “Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4).

The value of the gospel is just as important as the truth of the gospel. Or as Piper himself writes, “The most precious truth in the Bible is that God’s greatest interest is to glorify the wealth of His grace by making sinners happy in Him.” This is indeed a precious truth. I love the gospel more now than before because I love God more now than before.

This is what John Piper taught me. I am eternally grateful to God for raising up this pastor and teacher to build up the body of Christ. I thank God for what he has accomplished in my life through this man’s teaching (cf. Romans 15:18). It is a wonderful truth that God indeed is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him. God gets the glory; I get the grace. He is honored; I am happy. Praise the Lord!

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