Saturday, February 5, 2011

John Piper and BIOGRAPHIES

Pastor John Piper (*despite any reserves you may have towards him (and i do NOT agree w/all that he has done or said), he is nonetheless a well respected minister of the gospel and one we can learn much from) has made it a practice to do a biography on godly men of the past at his desiring God conference.
It's his motive that is grounded in scripture which makes such historical sketches so important. in his own words (which is often worded differently from time to time):

I have often turned to Hebrews 11 as a biblical warrant for loving and reading biography. But more recently I have been more struck by Philippians 3:17 where Paul says, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us." This is very striking. Paul himself is one step removed from Jesus, the great example. And yet he calls us to "join in imitating me." Then he says: Keep your eyes on, or fix your gaze on, those who walk according to the example you have in us. These people are now two steps removed from Jesus. Paul follows Jesus, these people walk according to Paul's example, and then we are told to imitate them. So we are three steps from Jesus. But the wording is even more striking. It says, fix your eyes (Greek skopeite) on them. Watch them closely. Don't lose sight of them. It seems to me that this is one of the most powerful warrants in the Bible for fixing our attention on the saints who have lived lives that are so exemplary—flawed, but still exemplary.

Now this is a solid foundation for motivating ALL believers to put effort into studying the lives of those God has seen fit to bless & bring forth much fruit through. It is regrettable that so few Christians have any knowledge of Christian history, of the most important & useful history available to us. Now there are some "history buffs" that speak of history & their love for it, but usually such 'love" seems more to do with unresearched novelties, more along the lines of history-based entertainment, what is often found on television or even worse movies.
Now I suggest & hope that u will put some effort into learning about church history for it is OUR history, it is indeed HIStory, some may find great delight in discovering the roots of their "family tree", but o what a better "family" tree with firmer eternal roots is found in the lives of God's people. With such knowledge we have the opportunity of learning from the victories and losses of others, we have the opportunity to praise God all the more for His grace and we have the opportunity to increase our faith, our expectation by seeing what God has done!

back to Piper:
Piper also does something which is very important when dealing with biographies, he seeks to point out what the person stood upon: in otherwords Piper desires to bring out the theological foundation which a person moves from, this is CRUCIAL to grasp, especially in light of so many biographers who deceitfully disguise the theological beliefs of a person because they themselves don't share those convictions but still want to present that man/woman in a good light (this happens often with popular preachers & missionaries of the past, like Spurgeon, Mueller, Carey, Newton who are clearly Calvinistic/Sovereign grace-minded men---hence the importance of objective biographers).
John Piper also (as to be expected & praise the Lord for it) attempts to point out the HEART/affections of his biography, he seeks to shed light upon their passion for God (their "desire" for God), their intimacy, their devotion towards Christ!

Lastly I would wish to point out that going to Piper for his biographical sketches is a great way to BEGIN looking at such lives, more akin to an appetizer, his sketches are exactly that, sketches and that done in a typical Piper devotional manner. There are indeed times (just a few) i think his conclusions are wrong and some observations or comments unnecessary, but overall they are of much use & good for all to read or listen to.
Here is a link to his biographies:
http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/by-title

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