John Piper was born January 11, 1946, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has one older sister.His father was an evangelist who traveled and planted churches.The family moved to Greenville, South Carolina when the children were still small.
Piper came to Christ at the age of six, with his mother, during a family vacation. He recalls the story with wonder at what God did in his life.
After graduating high school, Piper went to Wheaton College. He had begun with pre-medicine, but after a stay in the hospital during which he listened to sermons on the radio, he changed his mind and chose ministry. During his college years, he studied literature and philosophy. He discovered a love of poetry, which he writes regularly. He then went to Fuller Theological Seminary in California where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity. During these years, he discovered Jonathan Edwards’ writings, and these, C.S. Lewis’ writings, and Daniel Fuller’s teaching were his largest influences.
In 1968, Piper married. He and his wife, Noel, have five children and twelve grandchildren.
In 1971, he began attending the University of Munich, Germany, where he earned a Doctor of Theology degree in New Testament Studies. He went on to teach Biblical Studies for six years at Bethel University and Seminary in Minnesota.
Piper pastored Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis starting in 1980 and continuing until 2013. He has written many books about the Christian life and theology. He began Desiring God Ministries in 1994, with the intention to “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.” The ministry’s website contains all of the sermons and articles Piper has produced in thirty years and many of the books, as well, at no charge for viewing online.
The church at which Piper pastored had a legacy of mission work. Their first missionary couple, Mini and Ola Hanson, was sent out in 1890 to Burma, where they not only reached the Kachin people, but also developed a written language for them and published both a dictionary and the Bible in the Kachin’s language. By 2012, the Kachin people were literate in both their own language and Burmese, thanks to the Hansons.
Piper has a list of ten things about missions and the reason for the mission effort.
- The intent is to make God’s name known.
- The goal is that all men will worship God.
- Only Jesus brings salvation.
- Jesus bought all people with His blood, in all nations, all people, all parts of the world, and all subsets of people.
- The need for missionaries to take the gospel to the unreached is great.
- The sending of missionaries must be handled appropriately, for senders and goers.
- It is wartime; spiritual battles abound.
- Prayer is required from senders and goers for the missionaries to have God’s power.
- Suffering is God’s strategy for victory.
- There is no failure. Nothing done for the cause of Christ is in vain.
In 2019, Piper still pastors a church and continues to write and preach to encourage people to fulfill the mission given by God to share the Gospel of Christ with all nations and people. He also offers encouragement and wisdom on Twitter under the handle @JohnPiper.
He has written many books to clarify his understanding of missions and to encourage Christians, many of which are available in languages other than English, as well as in English. The books below are arranged by publication date, with the most recent first.
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The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce (3)
The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent)
This is one of Piper’s newest releases, examining the vision of global missions. This edition of the book contains new material that replaces some of the original, and the whole has been edited and organized.
The subtitle of this book is “Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce.” These three men were missionaries that faced opposition and their stories can be a great encouragement to missionaries today.
This second book in The Swans Are Not Silent Series looks at the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd. The title of the series comes from a quote from Augustine’s successor in 426AD when he was taking over the church. He said, “The swan is silent” because he felt that Augustine’s voice would be lost over time, but that has proven to be inaccurate over a thousand years later.
This book explains the victories of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin over the earthly desires that pulled at them. Displaying their struggles and strengths, the lives of these men are an example of how victory can be won over sin in the Christian life.
These ten truths turned John Piper’s world upside down, followed by his entire church, and he has shared them in this book in the hope that they will go on to do so for the whole world. Piper calls these doctrines “wildly untamable, explosively uncontainable, and electrically future-creating.”
With society changing the definitions of what it means to be a man or a woman, and some of this spilling over into even the church, this book offers Christians answers from the Bible about Biblical manhood and womanhood. It is maintained that God created men and women with equal value but with distinct roles.
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Material things and human experiences seem tantamount in today’s world. Piper encourages the next generation to avoid wasting their lives, and instead choosing the risks and sacrifices of a life wholly given to the glory of God and focused on Him alone.
While the whole Bible is edifying and teaches truth, the most appealing and exposing book is likely the Psalms. They are full of emotion, from exaltation to agony, and there is much to learn from.
This third book of meditations contains an excellent addition to daily devotions to encourage service to God daily. This book contains 120 readings.
This second set of devotions includes devotions regarding current controversial situations such as partial-birth abortion and same-sex marriage.
The first in the series, the 120 devotions in this book seek to point Christians toward God in daily life.