[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Monday, September 24, 2007

John Piper on Rewards

by John Piper

Beware of commentators who divert attention from the plain meaning of these texts. What would you think for example, of the following typical comment on Luke 14:13-14 "The promise of reward for this kind of life is there as a fact. You do not live this way for the sake of reward. If you do you are not living this way but in the same old selfish way."

Is this true- that we are selfish and not loving if we are motivated by the promise of reward? If so, why did Jesus entice us by mentioning the reward, even giving it as the basis ("for") of our action? And what would this commentator say concerning Luke 12:33, where we are not told that reward will result from our giving alms, but we are told to actively seek to get the reward "Provide yourselves with purses!"?


So it is simply wrong to say that Jesus does not want us to pursue the reward he promises. He commands that we pursue it (Luke 12:33, 16:9). More than forty times in the Gospel of Luke there are promises of reward and threats of punishment connected with the commands of Jesus.

Desiring God, p.166

John Piper is not Free Grace. The chapter in this book on conversion is absolutely appalling. I think John Piper's teaching on Desiring God is rather unbalanced and I would not recommend it. Neverthelss these paragraphs are a rare gem and are possibly the best part of the whole book.


  • Matt,

    yes of course, unless Piper is intimating that the prize itself is everlasting life...


    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, September 24, 2007 4:33:00 PM  

  • The following quotes are from Jeremy Myers' book review of, Brothers, we are NOT professionals, by John Piper:

    Chapter 4 on justification by faith alone was typical Calvinist fare, but chapter 15, “Brothers, Save the Saints,” was rank and file Romanism.

    In chapter 15, Piper shows that the “Puritans believed that without perseverance in the obedience of faith the result would be eternal destruction, not lesser sanctification” (p. 106). He says that “What is at stake on Sunday morning is not merely the upbuilding of the church but its eternal salvation" (p. 106) and that “The salvation of our believing hearers is on the line” (p. 106).

    Later, Piper reveals his belief that the salvation of the elect depends not just on their own perseverance, but on the perseverance of the pastor. “The eternal life of the elect hangs on the effectiveness of pastoral labors … It is the job of a pastor to labor so that none of his brothers and sisters is destroyed” (p. 108). Pastors need to preach the Word so that the people grow, “because if they don’t grow, they perish” (p. 111).

    Regarding eternal security, he says “It is a community project” (p. 110) and that “self-sufficiency and self-determination…will result in a tragic loss of eternal life, if there is no repentance” (p. 153).

    For many in Reformed theology, the prize, or reward, is heaven itself.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, September 24, 2007 4:37:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    You know, I wish these guys would just come out and admit what they really believe. Piper's passage on rewards is good, but the rest of the theology I've heard from him is downright sickening. His concept of desiring God, as you say, is totally unbalanced. I think the thing that disturbs me the most as a youth minister is that John Piper and other Calvinists are popular in trying to bring revival to this generation. However, without the true message of Grace I fear their calls to revival are nothing but calls to a works salvation.

    Tom <><

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, September 24, 2007 5:30:00 PM  

  • Antonio, yes some rotten stuff.

    Free Grace Guy

    Yes, I think unbalanced is the best word for John Piper's teaching on Desiring God.

    He makes some good points about glorifying God and delighting in Him.

    However, there is an unhealthy overmephasis on emotions.

    He tells people they must feel a certain way or otherwise there is bad news. This amounts to a kind of emotional legalism.

    When I listened to a series of sermons on Desiring God, I was amazed at how little he said about the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Instead of directing people to look to Christ and find their deliverance from the power of sin in Him, his answer to the pursuit of holiness seemed to amount to 'read your Bible more.' Reading your Bible is very important, but it cannot lead to holiness without moment by moment faith in the sanctifying work of Christ.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:50:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    Excellent points to which I would also add the love and support of God's people (1 Peter 4:10; Ephesians 4:16). We can't fight the battle alone.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, September 25, 2007 5:58:00 PM  

  • Matthew,
    Thanks for posting this. What do you think the reward is that Piper is thinking of?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, September 27, 2007 7:04:00 AM  

  • I don't know. He does not say.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, September 27, 2007 7:39:00 AM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    Even a broken clock can be right twice a day... unless it's digital ;-)

    Blessings upon you,
    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at Monday, October 01, 2007 2:54:00 PM  

  • Thanks.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, October 02, 2007 12:40:00 AM  

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