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Desiring God

by John Piper

What it is and why we like it

We do not have many “theological” books in our best of the best list, but Desiring God is one of the most stimulating and eye opening books you will ever read. Of all books to shape the Faith this century, we would put this in the Top 5. Though the ideas are not new with Piper, he makes them accessible for a new generation. This is the first book you should read by Piper, because all his other books follow from this one.

Piper tweaks The Westminster Confession stating that “the chief end of man, is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. The entire book expands on this truth showing repeatedly from scripture that as God gets the glory, we get the pleasure and joy our souls so deeply desire. In other words, God’s desire to be glorified and my desire for deep abiding joy and satisfaction are not at odds with each other, but are one and the same goal. Our duty now becomes delight not obedience. Chew on that one a while. Piper does for 358 pages. If you must put the book down, do not do so until the 5th chapter. From there Piper begins exploring the implications of the central truth and the book can be a little redundant, but there are some real gems in every chapter. He shows how every pursuit, and every area of our life, can relate back to our joy in God as we exalt (glorify) Him in our life. You do not want to miss Chapter 9 & 10 either on suffering and missions and Appendix 1 on God’s passion for His glory.

This book has a way of rekindling, deepening, and enlarging one’s faith as you see the mystery and majesty of God’s glory and our joy.

Best quotes

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
“But to enjoy him we must know Him. Seeing is savoring. If he remains a blurry, vague fog, we may be intrigued for a season. But we will not be stunned with joy, as when the fog clears and you find yourself on the brink of some vast precipice.”
“…it would seem the Our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fooling around with sex, drink, and ambition when infinite joy is offered us…We are far too easily pleased.” p.17

Who is the book for

  • A thoughtful and skeptical non-Christian who thinks Christianity’s God is feeble and not worth following.
  • For the Hedonist (those who just live for their own pleasure), this book will point to the fountain of all joy: God Himself.
  • For the average Christian who is hungry to know God more- It will awaken you to pursue joy in God with a vengeance.

How to use it

  • Great for a staff team or leadership team to read and discuss
  • Great for your own personal and theological development
  • Great to recommend to the mature student leader wanting to grow in his/her knowledge of God. It can be some deep water for the new Christian. It is a serious theology book.
  • The shorter version, The Dangerous Duty of Delight, (to be reviewed soon!) is a 88 page summary of many of the same ideas, so it is great for all students. If you were doing a book study for students, we would recommend the latter, but the leader reading Desiring God to supplement the shorter book.
  • There is also a great study guide in the back for each chapter for group discussion.
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dangerous duty of delight