There are few people alive today that have had as massive an impact on my life as John Piper. His thinking and his theology have had a huge impact on the way that I think about the Christian life and ministry. One of the most critical things he has taught me and modeled in his preaching ministry as Pastor at Bethlehem Church where he was pastor for 33 years is to preach the point of the passage as the point of the text. Such a simple, pithy, and truthful statement is why John Piper is enjoyed by millions of younger Christians. He has the ability to turn a phrase whether in an article, book or in a message that few do. Over the years, I’ve read dozens of books on preaching. His book The Supremacy of God in preaching is one I’ve read at least four times if not more.
The Supremacy of God in Preaching is not your average preaching book. By “average” I mean this is not a “how-to preach” type of book like many preaching books are. Instead, Piper wants preachers and teachers of the Word to fix our gaze on God, so we will make much of Him. While Piper does offer some how-to, even that “how-to” is grounded in his conviction that what we need, is to preach the point of the passage as the point of the sermon. Furthermore, we live in a day where many would rather preach anything but what the Bible teaches. The need is great for this book by Piper that calls pastors and teachers of the Word to biblical preaching, a standard exemplified by pulpits giants of the past, especially Piper’s favorite theologian Jonathan Edwards.
The Supremacy of God in Preaching has three parts. In part one, Piper explains why God Should be Supreme in preaching in four chapters. In these chapters, he considers the goal of preaching: the glory of God, the ground of preaching: the cross of Christ, the gift of preaching: The power of the Holy Spirit, and gravity and gladness in preaching. Part two considers how to make God supreme in preaching and provides guidance from the ministry of Jonathan Edwards. This section considers keeping God central: the life of Jonathan Edwards, submitting to sweet sovereignty: The theology of Edwards, making God Supreme: the preaching of Edwards, including stirring up holy affections, enlightening the mind, saturating the sermon with Scripture, employing analogies, images, using threat and warning, pleading for a response, probing the workings of the heart, yielding to the Holy Spirit in prayer, be broken and tenderhearted and intense in preaching. In part three, which is the revised portion of this book Piper shares wisdom he learned from 33 years of preaching. Here is where he expounds on the theme God still supreme in preaching and ministry. In this section he considers Jonathan Edwards thirty-three years later, in honor of tethered preaching a look at John Calvin and the entertaining pastor, preaching as concept creation, not just contextualization, and thirty reasons why it is a great thing to be a pastor.
Young pastors, especially those fresh out of Bible College and seminary need help for the road ahead. We live in a church culture where people are by and large biblical illiterate. We must focus on the text of Scripture. We must make the point of the passage the point of the sermon to help our listeners understand what the text of Scripture says and how to apply it to their lives by the Holy Spirit. This is what Piper has done so well for so many years in his preaching and teaching—to model the kind of preaching he instructs us about in this book. In this book, he calls pastors to make God supreme over any method and in every message. The faithful preacher will want to read this book and incorporate its vision for fidelity to Scripture. The growing young pastor needs this book to steady himself in the cultural climate in which we find ourselves. Wherever you are experience wise in ministry I highly recommend this book and believe this revised and expanded edition will serve pastors and the Church well for generations to come.
Author: John Piper
Publisher: Baker Books (2015)
I received this book for free from Baker for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”