Astonished by God: Ten Truths to Turn the World Upside Down, by John Piper
Turn your world on its head.
For more than thirty years, John Piper pastored in the rough-and-tumble realities of downtown Minneapolis, preaching his people through the ups and downs of life one Sunday at a time. When it came to capturing a generation of joy in one final sermon series, he turned to ten trademark truths to leave ringing in his peoples’ ears.
These ten are world-shaking truths—each astonishing in its own way. First they turned Piper’s own world upside down. Then his church’s. And they will continue to turn the whole world upside down as the gospel of Christ advances in distance and depth. These surprising doctrines, as Piper writes, are “wildly untamable, explosively uncontainable, and electrically future-creating.”
Join a veteran author, pastor, and Christian statesman as he captures the ten astonishing, compassionate, life-giving, joy-awakening, hope-sustaining truths that have held everything together for him.
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. John and his wife, Noël, have four sons, a daughter, and twelve grandchildren. He is the author of numerous books, and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free of charge at desiringGod.org.
Doctrine simply means “teaching.” It has come to refer to groups of teachings, usually held by a religious group, but every place doctrine occurs in the Bible it simply translates the ordinary word for teaching.
So, when Jesus saw the crowds who were “like sheep without a shepherd,” Mark tells us that he had compassion on them and “began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). Jesus’s compassion elicits teaching—doctrine.
This is what Jesus did more than anything else: he taught. “Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching” (Matthew 9:35). And usually the response was astonishment. “When the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching” (Matthew 22:33). Astonishment is elicited by Jesus’s teaching—doctrine.
It is simply amazing the way the apostle John connects doctrine with our relationship to God. He says, “Everyone who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1:9). If we tenaciously treasure true teaching from Jesus, we have God. Amazing.
Not surprisingly, then, Jesus tells us that his teaching is for our “joy” (John 15:11) and our “life” (John 6:68). And the apostle Paul said that all the doctrine of the Bible is for our “hope” (Romans 15:4).
So, when I was coming to the end of my 33 years as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it seemed good to look back over the decades and distill the doctrines—the astonishing, compassionate, life-giving, joy-awakening, hope-sustaining teachings—that held everything together.
That is what I did in my final sermons at the church. I think of them as legacy messages. What were the main truths I wanted to leave ringing in my peoples’ ears? I ended up with ten of them, ten truths that have turned my world upside down, and turned our church upside down, and will continue to turn the whole world upside down as the gospel advances by the power of God. In this book, I want to walk you through those ten truths, much as I did in those final sermons at Bethlehem. Indeed, this book is a summary of the main things I tried to impart during those 33 years.
But it would be a mistake to read this book in a nostalgic mood. These messages are future-oriented. They are for living life today and tomorrow. I explain in chapter one that the aim was not to land the plane after a 33-year flight at Bethlehem, but to launch two new seasons of life—theirs and mine. Because these doctrines are, as you will soon read, “wildly untamable, explosively uncontainable, and electrically future-creating.”
Every day is the launch of the rest of your life. You are not bound by your past. Not if you turn to Jesus and believe his teaching. Not if you are astonished by God. Instead, you will know the truth—the doctrine—and the truth with set you free (John 8:32).