READING THE BIBLE SUPERNATURALLY: SEEING AND SAVORING THE GLORY OF GOD IN SCRIPTURE, by John Piper

Published on February 15, 2018 by Steve West

Crossway, 2017 | 430 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

By Steve West

 

Introduction

In this book Piper explores how believers can read the Bible through the power of the Holy Spirit, which enables them to see and savor God’s glory. He lays a theological foundation for such reading, and then also provides practical advice for how we can become more attentive and careful readers. He argues that our aim in everything should be to give glory to God, and this includes all of our Bible reading. God uses the Bible to display his glory and lead his people into white-hot worship and transformed lives that honor him.

 

Table of Contents

Part 1 The Ultimate Goal of Reading the Bible
Chapter 1 Reading the Bible toward God’s Ultimate Goal
Chapter 2 Reading the Bible toward White-Hot Worship
Chapter 3 Reading to See Supreme Worth and Beauty, Part 1
Chapter 4 Reading to See Supreme Worth and Beauty, Part 2
Chapter 5 Reading to See Supreme Worth and Beauty, Part 3
Chapter 6 Reading to Savor His Excellence, Part 1
Chapter 7 Reading to Savor His Excellence, Part 2
Chapter 8 Reading to be Transformed, Part 1
Chapter 9 Reading to be Transformed, Part 2
Chapter 10 Reading toward the Consummation
Part 2 The Supernatural Act of Reading the Bible
Chapter 11 The Necessity and Possibility of Reading the Bible Supernaturally
Chapter 12 Why the Pharisees Couldn’t Read
Chapter 13 New Testament Pictures of Bible Reading as a Supernatural Act
Part 3 The Natural Act of Reading the Bible Supernaturally
Chapter 14 God Forbid That We Despise His Natural Gifts
Chapter 15 Humility Throws Open a Thousand Windows
Chapter 16 The Indispensable Place of Prayer in Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Wakening Our Desire for the Word
Chapter 17 The Indispensable Place of Prayer In Reading the Bible Supernaturally: To See, Savor, and Love with a United Heart
Chapter 18 Reading the Bible by Faith in the Promises of God
Chapter 19 Reading the Bible by Faith in His Promise to Instruct Us
Chapter 20 The Ordinary Aim of Reading: The Meaning of Meaning
Chapter 21 The Ordinary Aim of Reading: Five Reasons to Define Meaning as What the Author Intended to Communicate
Chapter 22 The Ordinary Aim of Reading: God’s Intention through Man’s Intention
Chapter 23 The Power of Patience and Aggressive Attention
Chapter 24 Active Reading Means Asking Questions
Chapter 25 Asking Questions about Word and Phrases
Chapter 26 Propositions: Collections of Nuggets or Links in a Chain?
Chapter 27 Querying the Text about Paradoxes, Pleasures, and a Transformed Life
Conclusion

 

Summary

Chapters 1-2

Chapter 1 Reading the Bible toward God’s Ultimate Goal
Chapter 2 Reading the Bible toward White-Hot Worship

Piper presents the book’s thesis: “Our ultimate goal in reading the Bible is that God’s infinite worth and beauty would be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood-bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation.” This proposal contains certain implications. The first implication is that God’s infinite worth and beauty are ultimate. Nothing is more ultimate than God’s glory, which is the display of his holiness. God is in a category all by himself. His being and moral character transcends everything else that exists. The glory of God that we perceive is the shining out of his infinite holy excellence and worth. We were created to find satisfaction in this glory alone. God reveals his glory and makes it known so that it can be praised and rejoiced in. Everything that he does is for this purpose. God predestines to redeem to the praise of his glory. Creation and the existence of the human race—God’s image bearers—is for his glory. The incarnation was for God’s glory, as is Christ’s atoning work that propitiates the Father. Sinning demeans and discounts God’s glory and worth, and Christ dies to demonstrate the righteousness and worth of the Father, thus vindicating God’s glory. We are sanctified for God’s glory. Christ returns to consummate the revelation of divine glory. From beginning to end, all of God’s plan shows that nothing is more ultimate than his glory.

This display of God’s glory—the ultimate value—is not to be received with apathy. On the contrary, God’s work is displayed so that people will respond with white-hot adoration and worship. God has designed us to be worshipers, and worshiping anything other than himself is idolatry. The Bible teaches that in every stage in God’s redemptive plan (predestination, creation, incarnation, propitiation, sanctification, and consummation), the goal is the worship of God. God’s aim in all of his acts is that he will receive praise. Praising God is what a believer desires to do, and God draws us into it. He is not selfish to demand praise: he knows that nothing exceeds himself, and so his command for us to praise is really a gracious gift of love. We are not to be half-hearted or divided, but to pursue him and exalt in him with passion and intensity. We are to worship him with all of our being, rejoicing sincerely in his truth.

 

Chapters 3-5

Chapter 3 Reading to See Supreme Worth and Beauty, Part 1
Chapter 4 Reading to See Supreme Worth and Beauty, Part 2
Chapter 5 Reading to See Supreme Worth and Beauty, Part 3

A person who is physically blind can still see the glory of God, since God’s glory is perceived by the eyes of the heart. There are hundreds of practical reasons to read God’s word, but seeing his glory is always foundational. John tells us that the word became flesh and revealed his glory. The resurrected Lord told Thomas that many would believe who never saw him physically. John records that his purpose in writing his Gospel was so that people would read about Jesus’ signs and believe. Glory, therefore, is revealed through reading. Paul tells the Ephesians that when they read his letter, they could perceive his insight into the mystery of Christ. Paul tells them that Gentiles and Jews are reconciled to God in one body, and each has the glorious inheritance of the riches of Christ. As Paul states, the riches of the glory of God in Christ are revealed through reading. We are not to try to see the glory of God instead of other things in Scripture—we are to see God’s glory through them all.

Paul loved books and he loved reading Scripture. Second Corinthians 3:7-4:6 uses the word “glory” fourteen times. He compares the glory of the old covenant with the glory of the new. God’s glory is always amazing, but he reveals more or less of it at different times. The glory of the Old Testament is incredible, but the glory of the gospel is even greater! Paul makes the point in this passage that the glory is seen or veiled in reading. When someone turns to the Lord Jesus, they see the glory unveiled. Before, the veil covered. . .

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Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture

Crossway, 2017 | 430 pages

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