John Piper’s book Let the Nations Be Glad was a personally challenging and devotionally rich reading experience. It caused me to think about missions in a way I had not done previously. While I was familiar with Piper’s main argument, it was an enriching experience to read the book for myself and to see the biblical and theological basis for the supremacy of God in mission. There was much I agreed with, much that challenged me, and some will require further reflection.
Piper’s main argument is that God must be supreme as the focus and motivation for Christian missions. Piper states that missions is not the ultimate concern for the church but rather worship is the ultimate concern. “Missions exist because worship doesn’t” appears several times throughout Piper’s book. This is a new way of thinking about missions and is a theologically faithful way to think about the Great Commission with which we are entrusted.
It is common to think of lost people or unreached people as the motivation and focus of missions. While it is certainly not wrong to be concerned for lost people (Piper makes this clear in chapter six), it is incorrect to make this the first concern. The glory of God among the nations is the ultimate goal. Yes, we certainly rejoice when a person is saved from the wrath of God in hell, but we are to look beyond that to the glory which results when peoples of the earth worship God.
This emphasis also has practical benefit. We have been prone to concern ourselves with conversions and professions of faith without going the distance with discipleship of those coming to Christ. If we see the worship of God being offered by those who do not yet know Him as the ultimate goal, this will drive our missions beyond acquiring professions of faith. We will continue discipling until the fruit of worship blossoms in those to whom we have preached. We will fulfill the Great Commission not it part, but in full.
Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper was a challenging read that pricked my heart concerning more than a few areas. I have read no other book in which the author places his finger on the nerve of missions urgency and presses until the reader is made uncomfortable. This will be a recommended resource for years to come.