Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Book Review: Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons by John Piper

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BOOK review
Started on: 22 February 2019
Finished on: 28 February 2019

Title: Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons
Author: John Piper
Publisher: Crossway
Pages: 208 pages / 208 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2019
Price: Rp 225,257 (https://www.bookdepository.com/)

Rating: 4.5/5
*This e-book was received as a review copy from Crossway
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"Under Christ, no one has humbled me, diagnosed me, exposed me, taught me, and empowered me to make war on my besetting sins the way Paul has. I think I owe him the survival and flourishing of my ministry and my marriage."
John Piper, a pastor and also a best-selling author, claims that no person other than Jesus Christ himself has had a greater impact on his life than the apostle Paul. In this book, John Piper offered 30 reasons why he loves this famous persecutor-turned-missionary. Through this highly personal reflections, the writer encourages us to imitate Paul's example of unwavering confidence in God's grace, perseverance through suffering, and love toward others.

"My aim has been to help you along the way in getting to know the apostle Paul and what he taught and how he lived. Behind this aim is the hope and prayer that this man's God-entranced soul and his unparalleled vision of Jesus Christ and the authenticity of his life would move you to admire him and believe his message and embrace his Lord."

Despite reading a lot of articles and devotionals written by John Piper in the last few years, this is actually the first time I'm reading a book by him. Over the years, John Piper has highly influenced my perspective on Christianity and I love the fact that he always referred everything back to the Bible. I listened to his podcast every other day in which he answers some difficult questions that a lot of people are wondering. The articles on his website have also helped me immensely in my journey with Christ. That's why I'm eager to pick this book up because I know that John Piper always dig deep into the things that he talked about. Even though John Piper loves to use big words in his writing and his explanations are a bit complex (which makes me have to repeat some paragraphs over and over to fully understand it), I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. It has certainly given me encouragement and strengthen my faith in Christ.
"I am drawn to people who suffer without murmuring. Especially when they believe in God but never get angry with him or criticize him. It seems to me that not murmuring is one of the rarest traits in the world. And when it is combined with a deep faith in God—who could alter our painful circumstances, but doesn't—it has a beautiful God-trusting, God-honoring quality that makes it all the more attractive. Paul was like that."
This book consists of 30 short chapters, each of them focusing on different things that John Piper love about the apostle Paul. Some of the topics included are suffering, contentment, loving people, friendship, God's sovereignty, and many more. In this review, I'm going to share some of my favorite chapters that resonated with me. The first one is the chapter called Unshakable Contentment Whether Abased or Abounding. Being content is something that I still need to keep on learning every single day, because it's fairly easy for us to complain or murmur about so many things that happened in our lives. In this chapter, John Piper explains that Paul's key to not murmuring despite his sufferings is that he knew God was in charge of everything and that God's purposes were ultimately for Paul's good. So it serves as a reminder for me that whatever I'm going through, the merciful sovereignty of God would work all things for my good.
"Rejoicing at the same time as sorrowing. Not just sequentially. Simultaneously. Loving others do not have to wait till sorrow passes, because joy does not wait."
"What Paul meant when he said, 'This is not the wrath of God,' is that, cancer or not, 'God is not punishing you.' This is not punitive. God has his purposes, but they do not include punishment for my sin. They are all mercy. All love. How do I know that? Paul answers that question."
My next favorite chapter is called My Friend with the Best News during Cancer, which contains a personal story of when John Piper was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Paul's perfectly timed gift came in the form of a Bible verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10: "God has not destined [you] for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for [you] so that whether [you] are awake or asleep [you] might live with him." This seems like a perfect gift for me as well. Because most of the time, when something bad happened to us, we assumed that it is a form of God's wrath. He emphasized that cancer or not, God is not punishing you. God has his purposes, but they do not include punishment for my sin. They are all mercy. All love. Which is such a beautiful revelation to me.

The last one that I will mention in this review—my favorite chapter—is called The Greatest Chaper in the Bible and the Most Important Promise in My Life. In this chapter, John Piper talked about the eighth chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans, where he showed the connection between the death of Jesus and the certainty of receiving 'all things'. He specifically talked about his favorite, most hope-supplying verse in the Bible, Romans 8:32: "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?". What I love in this chapter is when John Piper introduced a fortiori argument. The idea is: if you have exerted your strength to accomplish something hard then surely you can exert your strength to accomplish something easier—that's a fortiori argument. And that is exactly what Romans 8:32 is. I think that's a beautiful way of explaining how God not sparing his own Son is the harder thing, and giving us all things is the easier thing. That's how this verse becomes gloriously hope-filled and all-encompassing, and it has indeed become one of my favorite Bible verses as well.
"What is so striking about this way of seeing reality is that God's decisive, sovereign rule in the world and in our lives is not a hindrance but a help in doing what he calls us to do. God's sovereignty does not make us fatalists. It does not paralyze us and make us say, 'What will be will be.' It does not disillusion us with the meaninglessness of an impersonal cosmos... God's pervasive rule in the world gives us hope that nothing is meaningless. Nothing is merely random. All is part of God's infinite, and often inscrutable, wisdom."
Overall, this is a really great book that not only guides us to know the apostle Paul better, but also encourages us to imitate his way of life: how he loves the gospel, his love for other people, and especially his love for Jesus Christ. The deep biblical truths that John Piper explained in this book are truly eye-opening and encouraging for me. I would love to read it again in the future because some of the points in this book are great reminders that will keep me in check. Am also looking forward to reading more of John Piper's book, because I know there's a lot of them 😊.
 
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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