Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Calling of John Piper

I found this article on Piper fascinating; well worth reading. It is by Justin Taylor and the whole article can be found here at his blog on The Gospel Coalition website. Here is the start of it:

In May of 1979 John Piper had completed his sixth year of teaching biblical studies at Bethel College (Saint Paul, MN) and was due for a sabbatical in the fall. In every class Piper had encountered students who sought to discount his Calvinistic interpretation of Romans 9. So he had one aim for his eight-month leave: “to study Romans 9 and write a book on it that would settle, in my own mind, the meaning of these verses.” Or put differently, “to analyze God’s words so closely and construe them so carefully that I could write a book that would be compelling and stand the test of time.”

The book–which Richard Muller would call “the most compelling and forceful exposition of Romans 9:1-23 I have ever seen”–was published four years later by Baker as The Justification of God.

But God had more designs for this sabbatical than the production of a book. He would use this time to call Piper away from being a professor to become a pastor.

Piper enjoyed college teaching in many ways. In addition to teaching through a number of New Testament books using an exegetical methodology called arcing, Piper was seeing the lives of some of his students transformed. He even saw some students converted in his NT History classes. And he was also involved at his local church, teaching a rapidly growing young-adults class at Olivet Baptist Church in Crystal, MN. Students unable to take his classes at Bethel (due to enrollment caps) were coming to hear him teach Sunday School.

But during his sabbatical a new desire was emerging: “to see the word of God applied across a broader range of problems in people’s lives and a broader range of ages.” In other words, he increasing longed “to address a flock week after week and try to draw them in . . . to an experience of God that gives them more joy in him than they have in anything else and thus magnifies Christ.” And he found that in studying the majestic, free, and sovereign God of Romans 9 day after day his “analysis merged into worship.”

The decisive night of wrestling was on Monday, October 14, 1979—30 years ago today. His wife and two young sons were asleep. But Piper was up past midnight, writing in his journal, recording the direction God was irresistibly drawing him to.

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