John Piper

Crossway, 2003, 189 pp.  ISBN 1-58134-498-8


John Piper is the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and the author of a number of books.  His passion is the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.  This book helps individuals focus on making their lives count in God’s great global purpose.


“If you are a Christian, you are not your own.  Christ has bought you at the price of his own death.  You now belong doubly to God: He made you, and he bought you.  That means your life is not your own.  It is God’s.  Therefore, the Bible says, ‘Glorify God in your body.’  God made you for this.  He bought you for this.  This is the meaning of your life.” (9)


“Remember, you have one life.  That’s all.  You were made for God.  Don’t waste it.” (10)


“You get one pass at life.  That’s all.  Only one.  And the lasting measure of that life is Jesus Christ.” (13)


“All that looks like reality to us is dependent on God.  There is creation and Creator, nothing more.  And creation gets all its meaning and purpose from God.”  “Stay on the road of objective truth.  This will be the way to avoid wasting your life.”  “There is Truth.  There is a Point and Purpose and Essence to it all.” (18)


“The one thing God is doing in all of redemptive history is to show forth his mercy in such a way that the greatest number of people will throughout eternity delight in him with all their heart, strength, and mind....”  (28, quoting Daniel Fuller in The Unity of the Bible: Unfolding God’s Plan for Humanity, p. 453-54)


“If My life was to have a single, all-satisfying, unifying passion, it would have to be God’s passion.  And, if Daniel Fuller was right, God’s passion was the display of his own glory and the delight of my heart.” “Enjoying God supremely is one way to glorify him.  Enjoying God makes him look supremely valuable.” (28)


The universe is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man.  (34)


“God loves us best by giving us the best to enjoy forever, namely himself, for he is best.”  “What is eternal life?  It is to know God and his Son, Jesus Christ. (John 17:3) (35)


“No child complains, ‘I am being used’ when his father delights to make the child happy with his own presence.” (37)


“God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of this life.” (37)


“The opposite of wasting your life is living life by a single God-exalting, soul-satisfying passion.” (43)


“The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by one great thing.” (44)


“Living to magnify Christ is costly.  This is not surprising.  He was crucified.” (61)


“But suffering with Jesus on the Calvary road of love is not merely the result of magnifying Christ; it is also the means.”  “He loves us.  And love does not mean making much of us or making life easy.  It means making us able to enjoy making much of him forever—no matter what it costs.” (61)


“The normal Christian life is one that boasts only in the cross—the blazing center of God’s glory—and does it while bearing the cross.”  (62)


“The way we die reveals the worth of Christ in our hearts.  Christ is magnified in my death when I am satisfied with him in my dying....” (68)  “To die is gain.”  “If we learn to die like this, we will be ready to live.”  (69)


“God’s glory shines more brightly when he satisfies us in times of loss than when he provides for us in times of plenty.”  “The world is not impressed when Christians get rich and say thanks to God.  They are impressed when God is so satisfying that we give our riches away for Christ’s sake and count it gain.” (72)


“Christ aims to be magnified in life most clearly by the way we experience him in our losses.” (73)


“Better to lose your life than to waste it.” (79)


“The tragic hypocrisy is that the enchantment of security lets us take risks every day for ourselves but paralyzes us from taking risks for others on the Calvary road of love.”  “It is right to risk for the cause of Christ, and not to is to waste your life.” (81)


In the Roman Empire “every Christian knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life.”  “In fact, it was the Christ-exalting love that the Christians showed in spite of risk that stunned the pagan world.”  (87)


“There is no promise that every effort for the cause of God will succeed.”  “Are you caught in the enchantment of security, paralyzed from taking any risks for the cause of God?” (89)


“Risk is real.  The Christian life is a painful life.  Not joyless.  But not painless either.” (92)


“God does not promise enough food for comfort or life—he promises enough so that you can trust him and do his will.” (940


“On the far side of every risk—even if it results in death—the love of God triumphs.  This is the faith that frees us to risk for the cause of God.” (95)


“It is impossible to risk your life to make others glad in God if you are an unforgiving person.”  “The question is, do we lean toward mercy?  Do we default to grace?” (99)


“Forgiveness is essentially God’s way of removing the great obstacle to our fellowship with him.”  (100)


“Our lives must show that he is more precious than life.”  “Magnifying Christ through generosity and mercy is more satisfying than selfishness.” (107)


“If we look like our lives are devoted to getting and maintaining things, we will look like the world, and that will not make Christ look great.  He will look like a religious side-interest....  He will not look like an all-satisfying treasure.”  (108)


“The issue of money and lifestyle is not a side issue in the Bible.” (109)


“Jesus is relentless in his radical call to a wartime lifestyle and a hazardous liberality.” (110)


“If we want to make people glad in God, our lives must look as if God, not possessions, is our joy.  Our lives must look as if we use our possessions to make people glad in God—especially the most needy.”  (111)


“Sometimes I use the phrase ‘wartime lifestyle’ or ‘wartime mind-set.’”  “It tells me that there is a war going on in the world between Christ and Satan, truth and falsehood, belief and unbelief.  It tells me that there are weapons to be funded and used, ...the Gospel and prayer and self-sacrificing love (2 Cor. 10:3-5).  And it tells me that the stakes of this conflict...are eternal and infinite....” (111-12)


“Simplicity may be inwardly directed and may benefit no one else.  A wartime lifestyle implies that there is a great and worthy cause for which to spend and be spent (2 Corinthians 12:15).” (113-14)


“We have seen the sacrifices that military people made in wartime during World War II.  But it wasn’t just the military that changed its priorities.  The whole country did, just like the whole church could today.  During World War II, the entire nation...sacrificed.”  (116)


“One of the marks of this peacetime mind-set is what I call an avoidance ethic.  In wartime we ask different questions about what to do with our lives than we do in peacetime.  We ask: What can I do to advance the cause?  What can I do to bring the victory?  What sacrifice can I make or what risk can I take to insure the joy of triumph?” (118)


“Oh, how many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family.”  “We were created for more, far more.”  (119)


“Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age.”  “The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels.” (120)


1,511 men and boys were killed or wounded in the capture of Iwo Jima, 8-square miles of rock required for the war effort.  Medics did everything they could to save the wounded, many losing their own lives.  Like those medics, “I want to be able to say to suffering and perishing people, ‘I tried everything in the world.... I was trying so hard.’  And I want to be able to say to those around me when I die, ‘It’s all right.  To live is Christ, and to die is gain.’”  (125)


“The secular vocations of Christians are a war zone.  There are spiritual adversaries to be defeated (that is, evil spirits and sins, not people); and there is beautiful moral high ground to be gained for the glory of God.  You don’t waste your life by where you work, but how and why.” (132)


“The call to be a Christian was not a call to leave your secular vocation.” (135)


“Your work is to take what God has made and shape it and use it to make him look great.” (139)


We make much of God in our secular work “through the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry.” (142)


“Thinking that our work will glorify God when people do not know we are Christians is like admiring an effective ad on TV that never mentions the product.  People may be impressed but won’t know what to buy.” (143)


“Our secular work can become a great God-exalting blessing to the world if we aim to take the earnings we don’t need for ourselves (and we need far less than we think) and meet the needs of others in the name of Jesus.” (150)


Speaking the good news of Christ is part of why God put you in your job.” (151)


“For many of you the move toward missions and deeds of mercy will not be a move away from your work but with your work to another, more needy, less-reached part of the world.  Christians should seriously ask not only what their vocation is, but where it should be lived out.  We should not assume that teachers and carpenters and computer programmers and managers and CPAs and doctors and pilots should do their work in America.  That very vocation may be better used in a country that is otherwise hard to get into, or in a place where poverty makes access to the Gospel difficult.” (153)


“God is closing in on some of you.”  [He] means to make you far happier in some dangerous and dirty work.” (155)


“If you have pity for perishing people and a passion for the reputation of Christ, you must care about world missions.”  (158)


“This is the big picture.  Christ came and died and rose again in order to gather a joyful, countless company for his name from all the peoples of the world.  This is what every Christian should dream about.”  (162)


“This is God’s design in world history—that people from all nations and tribes and languages come to worship and treasure Christ above all things.” (162)


“Foreign missions is a validation of all ministries of mercy at home because it exports them abroad.” (164)


“The people who stay in the homeland are surrounded by need.”  “This challenge is not separate from the challenge of missions.  Showing practical mercy to the poor displays the beauty of Christ at home and makes the exportation of the Christian faith credible.  We are hypocrites to pretend enthusiasm for overseas ministry while neglecting the miseries at home.” (164)


“We owe our lives to God’s commitment to missions and mercy.  He came a long way to help us, and his help includes every kind of help we need.  And he got dirty doing it.  In fact he got killed.”  (165)


“It is inauthentic to presume to send what we don’t have.  And it is inauthentic to have a treasure and not send it.” (166)


“In a war, no matter how valuable the civilian work is in itself, everyone longs for his life to count also for the distant war effort, where enemy lines are being breached.  Laypeople, pastors, churches—all of us who stay behind—will find the ‘sweetest and most priceless rewards’ as we enlarge our hearts to embrace not only the needs close to home, but also the hard and unreached places of the world.” (171)


“The effort to evangelize the world presents the speediest and surest methods of saving the Church.  Our material resources are so stupendous that we are in danger of coming to trust in riches rather than in God.  ‘If a man is growing large in wealth, nothing but constant giving can keep him from growing small in soul.’  The evangelization of the world is the only enterprise large enough and important enough to provide an adequate outlet for the Church’s wealth.” (171-72 quoting J. Campbell White)


“Missions is not only crucial for the life of the world.  It is crucial for the life of the church.”  “All the money needed to send and support an army of self-sacrificing, joy-spreading ambassadors is already in the church.  But we are not giving it.”  (172)


“For its own soul the church needs to be involved in missions.  We will not know God in his full majesty until we know him moving triumphantly among the nations.” (173)


“Don’t think the days of foreign missionaries are over, as if nationals can finish the work.  There are hundreds of peoples and missions of people where there are no Christian nationals to do same-culture evangelism.  A culture must be crossed.” “Missions, not same-culture evangelism by nationals, will finish the Great Commission.  (175-76) 


So ‘pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ (Matthew 9:38), and ask him if you should be one.  Expect this prayer to change you.  When Jesus told his disciples to pray it, the next thing that happened was that he appointed twelve to be his apostles and sent them out.” (176)


“How will you join the great global purpose of God expressed in Psalm 67:4, ‘Let the nations be glad and sing for joy’?” (177)