Book Review: A Peculiar Glory

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We know, from the built-in template of our own weakness together with our longing for transcendent greatness, that the glory of Jesus Christ—the Lion and the Lamb—is the glory we were made for.  This is the heart of the glory that shines into our hearts through the Scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit and convinces us that they are the very words of God.”  John Piper, A Peculiar Glory, p. 225

A Peculiar Glory by John Piper is an awesome glimpse into what it means to seek and to treasure God’s glory above everything else.  Piper makes an incredible case for the authority of Scripture and the inerrancy of the inspired Word of God.  This book would be a great gift for a new believer as well as an excellent resource for someone that is more mature in their faith.  One of my favorite parts of the book is when Piper is sharing about his own spiritual growth and biblical education.  One of his professors read a paper Piper had written and challenged him to follow God’s call on his life to preach.  Piper did so reluctantly at first…but clearly the Lord has used him to become a voice for a generation of those who desire to boast in nothing other than Jesus.  As an educator, it is a weighty call to realize that God might use me to call something like that out of a student that I have the privilege of investing in.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • My seven decades of experience with the Bible have not been mainly a battle to hold on.  They have been a blessing of being held on to, namely, by beauty—that is, by glory. p. 11
  • Jude 24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (ESV) p. 20
  • 2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (ESV) p. 25
  • Not a painting on a Wall, but a Window The Bible was never like a masterpiece hanging in a museum that I viewed this way and that.  Rather, it was alike a window.  Or like binoculars.  My view of the Bible was always a view through the Bible.  So when I say that, all along the way, my view was getting clearer and brighter and deeper, I mean the reality seen through it was getting clearer and brighter and deeper.  Clearer as the edges of things became less fuzzy, and I could see how things fit together rather than just smudging into each other.  Brighter as the beauty and impact of the whole message was more and more attractive.  And deeper in the sense of depth perspective—I suppose photographers would say “depth of field.” Things stretched off into eternity with breathtaking implications—in both directions past and future.  You could sum this up with the phrase the glory of God.  That’s what I was seeing.  p. 27
  • 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (ESV) p. 32
  • Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith
  • Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. Hebrews 1:1-2 p. 52
  • One of the strongest statements of Jesus’s concern for preserving his own words, as well as the very words of the Old Testament, is Matthew 5:17-18: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. p. 71
  • “It is reassuring at the end to find that the general result of all these discoveries and all this study is to strengthen the proof of the authenticity of the Scriptures, and our conviction that we have in our hands, in substantial integrity, the veritable Word of God.” Frederic G. Kenyon, The Story of the Bible, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967), 113. p. 86
  • The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6 p. 88
  • The term apostle is not a synonym of disciple.  Disciple means “follower” or “learner,” and apostle means “authorized representative.” p. 118
  • The teaching of this Book shows the way to eternal life and shapes the way we live in this life.  Therefore, knowing whether the Bible teaches the truth is of ultimate importance. p. 129
  • He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.  Acts 1:3 p. 129
  • “It is impossible that men, who have not something of a general view of the historical world, or the series of history from age to age, should come at the force of arguments for the truth of Christianity, drawn from history to that degree, as effectually to induce them to venture their all upon it.” Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, vol. 2, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, ed. John Smith (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957), 303. p. 133
  • The promise that the apostle John gives in his first letter, that “when Christ appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2), is already being fulfilled, as we behold the glory of Christ in the gospel.  That is what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 3:18. We tend to become like those we admire.  This means that we, like him, set aside our rights and do not seek to please merely ourselves, but rather we become servants for the benefit of others.  Beholding the beauty of Christ’s character, we begin to share it. p. 144
  • With you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Psalm 36:9 p. 159
  • Ephesians 1:16-18 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (ESV) p. 166
  • “Must an intellectually honest man know everything about the Bible’s origins before he could use it?  Were theological professors the only ones qualified to speak of religion, or might a simple America, or an ignorant jungle villager, or even a child, lead another to Christ?” John Pollock, Billy Graham: The Authorized Biography (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1966), 52. p. 167
  • Knowing that our ability to see the self-authenticating glory of God in Scripture depends on the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit should make us humbly and joyfully prayerful that the Spirit would come with his life-giving, light-giving power and cause the truth and beauty of God’s word to shine in our minds and hearts. p. 191
  • The prophet Isaiah marvels at the uniqueness of God among all the gods of the peoples: “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4) p. 218
  • Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (ESV) p. 222
  • We know, from the built-in template of our own weakness together with our longing for transcendent greatness, that the glory of Jesus Christ—the Lion and the Lamb—is the glory we were made for.  This is the heart of the glory that shines into our hearts through the Scriptures by the power of the Holy Spirit and convinces us that they are the very words of God.  p. 225
  • One of the ways this peculiar communication of the glory of God is woven into the Scriptures, confirming them to be the word of God, is the way the Old Testament Scriptures find fulfillment in the New Testament.  It is not only the amazing wonder of God’s foreknowledge and providence that captures us.  It is, even more, the way the New Testament treats the fulfillment of Scripture as a display of the peculiar glory of God.  p. 226
  • The peculiar glory is that the Promised One displays the fullness and the uniqueness of his glory by moving to majesty through meekness and to splendor through suffering.  He attains the height of his glory through humble service.  This is the golden thread of prophecy.  Crowning this glory of prophecy is the truth that it was the spirit of Christ himself prophesying the sufferings and the glory of Christ. “The Spirt of Christ in them predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” (1 Peter 1:11) p. 237
  • Only the divine “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” transforms the soul.  Only divine light yields certainty that secures the soul for a life of love through the worst sufferings.  Only the sight of God’s glory in his inspired word gives certainty to the simplest and the most educated person. p. 279

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