John Piper is the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Here he expertly and passionately brings together belief and practice. The Supremacy of God in Preaching is divided into two major sections. The first section is entitled "Why God Should be Supreme in Preaching." Within this section, Piper has written four chapters. These chapters present what he considers to be, "The Goal of Preaching," "The Ground of Preaching," "The Gift of Preaching," and the "Gravity and Gladness of Preaching."
Within this first section, Piper shows God-centered preaching in a Trinitarian way. The first three chapters focus on the role of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in preaching. The first chapter exhorts the preacher to exhort the Scriptures for the glory of God alone. Through the submission of the expositor to the faithful handling of the Word, Piper exhorts that all should be done to bring glory to God. Piper is quick to point out in the next chapter, however, that the "most fundamental problem of preaching is how a preacher can proclaim hope to sinners in view of God's unimpeachable righteousness." The solution to this problem is Jesus Christ. The Cross is God's solution to the sin of man and problem of revealing His glory to him. Piper goes on to demonstrate that the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is the only way in which the preacher can accomplish his goals. The fourth chapter presents the bittersweet aspect of presenting God's Word from the pulpit. In the chapter called the "Gravity and Gladness of Preaching," Piper acknowledges that the preacher should take great joy in his pulpit ministry. However, if he preaches without earnestness for his people, he has failed. Piper looks to great expositors of the past and concludes that their success was not dependent on their style of delivery, but rather on their "blood-earnestness."
The second major section of the book focuses on observing a practical outworking of the principles that Piper set forth in the first section of the book. In "How to Make God Supreme in Preaching: Guidance from the Ministry of Jonathan Edwards," Piper examines the pulpit ministry of the famous American Theologian Jonathan Edwards. From Edward's messages, Piper develops three principles: "Keep God Central," "Submit to Sweet Sovereignty," and "Make God Supreme." Here, Piper examines in brief detail three areas of Jonathan Edwards: his life, his theology, and his preaching. In all of these things, Piper shows where he drew the basis for this book. For it was Edwards himself who was the model for the advice and exhortation that Piper provides here. This section allows the reader to see the first four chapters in the life of a real person. It allows the reader to go deeper than the theoretical and see the impact of implementing the principles in "real life."
One can present nothing but high praise for the work he has seen. In his pursuit to demonstrate the Supremacy of God in Preaching, Piper has not only displayed a Biblical precedent for such a concept, but also illustrates it through the examination of the ministry of a man that God used mightily. By examining passages out of Romans, Isaiah, and Matthew, Piper clearly builds his case that preaching should seek to give glory to the Father by focusing on the Son and being empowered by the Spirit.
One of the most helpful sections in demonstrating his points through the ministry of Jonathan Edwards comes in the final chapter. Piper does not make the mistake of just exhorting one to adhere to a theological concept. Instead, he gives the reader ten specific ways in which to make God supreme in preaching. Such advice as "saturating" sermons with Scripture, being broken and tenderhearted, and being intense allow the reader to make particular changes to their approach to preaching that will enable one to make God supreme in their preaching.
Piper's writing style is also worth mentioning. Unlike other some books and articles by various well-educated men who have difficulty relating their knowledge in writing, Piper does not suffer from this problem. His writing style is very fluid and almost conversational in nature. Yet, he still leaves the reader feeling as if he has read something that has some theological depth to it. Piper is able to communicate the message of his book and at the same time convey his passion for the subject. One of the best examples of this comes in the retelling of his call to ministry in the first chapter.
The most obvious choice for the readership of this book would be pastors. The writer of this paper would recommend that anyone who preaches read this book. It will help to focus the speaker's priorities in preparation and presentation of God's Word. As noted above, Piper also gives examples of how this is worked out in the everyday life and weekly preaching of the pastor through Jonathan Edwards. In presenting the material this way, Piper allows the pastor to see the impact of carrying out this mindset in one's ministry.
I believe Piper has succeeded in his goal of showing God to be supreme in preaching. He has done so both in prescription from the Scriptures and in description from the ministry of Jonathan Edwards. Through the Biblical soundness and passion of his writing, Piper presents an irrefutable case for the supremacy of God in preaching.