Monday, July 2, 2007

A Plug for "What Jesus Demands from the World" by John Piper

How many times have we heard someone say, "You should read this book." If I read just the books that people have recommended to me (not to mention the ones I might also like to read) I would do very little else with my life. For this reason I seldom recommend a book to people as a "must read." While I am not recommending this book as a "must read" I am recommending it very highly. So high in fact that if you only read 5 books this year this should be one of them. It is simply a reflection on the commands of Jesus Christ. Desiring God and Crossway have made it available online for free. You can begin enjoying this wonderful meditation on the commands of Jesus by clicking here. Or if you are still not convinced read this excerpt from below before you make your decision:

Purity of Heart: To Treasure One Thing
When Jesus says in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” he is describing the righteousness
that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. He uses the same word “pure” in describing what the Pharisees need: “You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean” (Matt. 23:26). The impurity that Jesus cares about most is our failure to trust and love God. The heart is made for God—to trust him and love him. The
meaning of impure is anything that takes God’s place or lessens the degree of our faith in and our love for God.
Søren Kierkegaard wrote a book entitled Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing.1 That title comes close to the essence of purity. I would only change the word “will” to “treasure.” Willing can be taken too easily to mean an act of the soul against our true desires. But willing to have God that way would not be purity of heart. Purity rises to the degree that God is treasured supremely in Jesus. This is what the Pharisees failed to do, and what the superior righteousness does. The change of heart that creates a new treasuring of Jesus is a gift of God that we experience when the eyes of our hearts are opened to see Jesus as more to be desired than any other reality. Jesus refers to that change as new birth (see Demand #1) or repentance (see
Demand #2). It is the assumed summons of Jesus behind all his other demands. Get a new heart. Be born again. That is what we are seeing implicitly here in the demand for a righteousness or a purity that exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees. This demand is a call most deeply for the new birth. This internal change is a gift. God demands it, and God gives it. Jesus says, “You must be born again” (John 3:7), but also says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you
do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Jesus gives the command. The free and unpredictable Spirit gives the gift. Our responsibility is to see the Jesus who is really there and trust him for all that he is.

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