Let me be upfront with you. When I received this book, I thought, another book by John Piper? Frankly, in some of the recent books, ideas were beginning to be seemingly repetitious. I appreciate Piper and his faithfulness to the Word. I particularly appreciate his four volumes dealing with some of the men of the church such as Jonathan Edwards, St. Augustine, John Calvin, John Newton, and J.Gresham Machen.
As I read the suggestions for how to read What Jesus Demands from the World, the introduction and aim, and the word to biblical scholars, I realized that this book is important. Reading through its pages quickly confirmed that to me. The title also intrigued me because often today there is an attempt to downplay or soft pedal what Piper calls the “demands of Christ.” Such a move often demeans the person of Jesus, waters down the Gospel, and does not reflect the whole counsel of God about the truth.
While it is true that we can focus too much on one aspect of the truth or we can fail to emphasize certain truths that finally distort the whole truth, we must not play fast and loose with the Word of God and the person and work of Christ.
What Jesus Demands from the World is unique and will have much impact on its readers. Piper wrote in the aim of the book that while it is easy to teach people to parrot all that Jesus commanded, his instruction was to teach people to observe all things that he has commanded, which is impossible, at least for man. Observing all things Christ has commanded is a result of teaching.
Piper wrote, “My aim has been to probe the meaning and the motivation of Jesus’ commands in connection with his person and work.” He further writes, “We should not be surprised, then, that Jesus’ final, climactic command is that we teach all nations to observe all that he commanded. This leads to his ultimate purpose. When obedience to his commands happens, what the world sees is the fruit of Jesus’ glorious work and the worth of his glorious person. In other words, they see the glory of God. This is why Jesus came and why his mission remains until he comes.” Piper concludes his explanation for this book, “The universal authority of Jesus produces a mission of teaching, not a mission of terror. His aim is God-glorifying obedience to all that he commanded. This kind of obedience that glorifies God is free and joyful, not constrained and cowering.”
From that aim, Piper started unapologetically with about 500 demands of Jesus and then for the purpose this book narrowed the list to fifty demands. Here is a sampling of the fifty demands included. 1. You must be born again. 2. You must repent. 3. You must come to me. 4. Believe in me. 5. Love me. 6. Listen to me. 7. Abide in me. 8. Take up your cross and follow me. 9. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. 10. Rejoice and leap for joy. 11. Fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. I think you can get the picture of the other thirty-nine demands.
There are a series of demands on love your enemy that I would mention: Love your enemies, lead them to the truth; love your enemies, pray for those who abuse you; love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, give to the one who asks; love your enemies to show that you are children of God. Then he includes: Love your neighbor as yourself, for this is the law and the prophets; love your neighbor with the same commitment you have to your own well-being; love your neighbor as yourself and as Jesus loved us. Each one of those demands is clearly explained and their application leaves no room to disobey. If it is our duty to obey Christ, then we need to know what that entails.
With our emphasis on the Kingdom of God, I particularly appreciated Piper’s explanation of “strive to enter through the narrow door, for you are already in the kingdom’s power.” He makes very clear how a Christian has already entered the Kingdom but he is also to strive to enter, referring to the present experiences as well as the future promises regarding the Kingdom.
Each demand explained by Piper utilizes from three to five pages. Each demand is very readable, not too complicated, but a faithful setting forth. His commitment to biblical faithfulness is present on each and every page. How refreshing and practically challenging. I believe it is a must-read for every Christian, especially today. What Jesus Demands from the World is a goldmine of truth for personal or group studies or a good format for a preaching series, giving Piper the credit if you do.
Buy this book! Read it carefully and prayerfully! Teach it to your children as you pass its truth on to the next generation.