Last summer, I attended one of the plethora of Christian conferences celebrating Calvin’s 500th birthday (as I am writing this, I am happily celebrating his 501st birthday – July 10 – and am wondering why there are no conferences celebrating this). I recall one particular session led by Dr. Ligon Duncan called “The Resurgance of Calvinism in America,” in which he listed 9 factors for the unexpected, young, and fresh popularity of Calvinism we see in the world today. Number 8 on the list was what Dr. Duncan called “a force of nature named John Piper,” who “has no fear and serves only God.” Dr. Duncan said that John Piper is “the swelling wave, the visible expression of all the earlier men on the list (men like RC Sproul, Martin Lloyd-Jones, Charles Spurgeon, JI Packer, you get the idea), he channels Jonathan Edwards.” High praise indeed, especially coming from an eminent theologian like Ligon Duncan.
So, this radiant endorsement for John Piper, plus all the stunning reviews I had heard (and continue to hear) from friends, professors, and pastors, stuck in the back of my mind. I am sad to say that I did not go right from that session and listen to Piper’s sermons or read any of his books. That did not happen until about four months later, when my friend Chuck started always talking about John Piper. When Chuck recommends something, I listen (in fact, I have often wondered why I write this column instead of Chuck, as he is the one who gives me recommendations). What finally made me look John Piper up was when Chuck dramatically reenacted a particularly passionate (and hilarious and now infamous) rant from one of Piper’s sermons (I use “rant” in a good way here, meaning a particularly impassioned presentation of God’s truth).
Finally, I looked John Piper up. I downloaded some of his sermons onto my iPod and started listening to him at work. Wow! From the very first sermon, I was hooked. I’ve been listening to two or three Piper sermons every day since. Just ask my co-workers – now it’s me who never stops talking about John Piper and what he says.
And so, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about John Piper to you, readers. His website, www.desiringgod.org, is a treasure trove of resources for Christians. On this site, you can go to the store and buy books, CDs, and DVDs from John Piper and other teachers. You can go to the blog and learn more about John Piper’s ministry, about ways you can serve the kingdom, or read various theological articles (and yes, they had a post celebrating John Calvin’s 501st birthday). You can learn more about upcoming conferences and events. Or, you can go to my favorite place, the resource library. Here, you can read articles on many topics, read entire books, find good Christian poetry, listen to conference messages, listen to sermons, and so many other things. There’s really no way to waste time in the resource library, because it’s all good stuff. And, oh yeah, it’s all free. Yes, you can listen to every sermon John Piper has preached from the 1980’s until 2010 for free, every sermon from his ordination until now. You can download his sermons onto your computer and make copies for all of your friends. For free. (They just ask that you do not edit the sermons in any way or charge anyone for the copies you make). This is a great resource for evangelism and personal growth.
Desiring God is a great ministry, and one that you should check out. Oh, and the rant that Chuck reenacted that originally got me hooked on John Piper? It’s from “Holding Fast to the Word of Life in 2010,” preached on January 10, 2010. Look it up and give it a listen. You’ll know it when you hear it.