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The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Book Summary)

Updated: May 3, 2023


The Supremacy of God in Preaching

As I read books, I provide myself with a short book summary and relevant book notes for future reference. Others have asked about me sharing those notes in the past. So....here you go.


Here's my book summary of The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper.


Book Summary of Supremacy of God in Preaching

Book in a Sentence

Using the life of his mentor from afar, Jonathan Edwards, John Piper reminds the preacher that God's sole goal is to exalt Himself, not the preacher, in the preaching task.


Key Ideas:

1. Expository Exultation is what good preaching is made of.

2. Good preaching aims to glorify God, ground itself in the reality of the Cross of Christ, and depends on the power of the Spirit to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel.

3. Find a good theological "mentor" who you can "converse" with as a peer. Piper's person was Jonathan Edwards.


My Rating:

8/10

 

Book Notes

 

Two parts of true worship:

There are always two parts to true worship. There is seeing God and there is savoring God. You can’t separate these. You must see him to savor him. And if you don’t savor him when you see him, you insult him.

 

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 73.

 

What is true preaching:

True preaching is not the opinions of a mere man. It is the faithful exposition of God’s Word. So in a phrase, preaching is expository exultation.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

Usefulness of our preaching (long-term view):

The true usefulness of our preaching will not be known to us until all the fruit on all the branches on all the trees that have sprung up from all the seeds we’ve ever sown has fully ripened in the sunshine of eternity.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 183.

 

God will hide from you much of your fruit:

God will hide from you much of your fruit. You will see enough to be assured of his blessing, but not so much as to think you could live without it. For God aims to exalt himself, not the preacher, in this affair of preaching.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 192.

 

The Trinitarian outline of the supremacy of God in preaching:

1. The Goal of Preaching: The Glory of God

2. The Ground of Preaching: The Cross of Christ

3. The Gift of Preaching: The Power of the Holy Spirit


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 197.

 

Beginning, middle, and end of preaching:

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are the beginning, middle, and end in the ministry of preaching.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 197.

 

Many haven't heard God-centered preaching:

My guess is that one great reason why people sometimes doubt the abiding value of God-centered preaching is because they have never heard any.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 224.

 

The keynote speech of every preacher:

The good tidings of the preacher, the peace and salvation that he publishes are boiled down into one sentence: “Your God reigns!”...The keynote in the mouth of every prophet-preacher, whether in Isaiah’s day or Jesus’ day or our day, is “Your God reigns!”

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 250.

 

The importance of glad submission:

The only submission that fully reflects the worth and glory of the king is glad submission. Begrudging submission berates the king. No gladness in the subject, no glory to the king...When the kingdom is a treasure, submission is a pleasure. Or to turn it around, when submission is a pleasure, the kingdom is glorified as a treasure. Therefore, if the goal of preaching is to glorify God, it must aim at glad submission to his kingdom, not raw submission.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 272

 

What in God is righteousness, in man is sin:

What in God is righteousness, in man is sin. This is the very point of Genesis 3—that sin came into the world through a temptation, and that the essence of that temptation was, “You will be like God.” The effort to imitate God at this point is the essence of our corruption.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 300.

 

The role of the Cross in overcoming obstacles in preaching:

In the cross of Christ, God has undertaken to overcome both obstacles to preaching. It overcomes the objective, external obstacle of God’s righteous opposition to human pride. And it overcomes the subjective, internal obstacle of our proud opposition to God’s glory. In so doing the cross becomes the ground of the objective validity of preaching and the ground of the subjective humility of preaching.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

God-centered perspective on sin:

Man-centered humans are amazed that God should withhold life and joy from his creatures. But the God-centered Bible is amazed that God should withhold judgment from sinners.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 331.

 

Cross isn't about my infinite worth, but God infinite glory:

It horribly skews the meaning of the cross when contemporary prophets of self-esteem say that the cross is a witness to my infinite worth, since God was willing to pay such a high price to get me. The biblical perspective is that the cross is a witness to the infinite worth of God’s glory and a witness to the immensity of the sin of my pride.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 351.

 

Preaching would be invalid without the cross:

Preaching would not be valid without the cross. The goal of preaching would contain an irresolvable contradiction—the glory of a righteous God magnified in the gladness of a sinful people.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 354.

 

The cross as substitution AND execution:

The cross is the power of God to crucify the pride of both preacher and congregation. In the New Testament the cross is not only a past place of objective substitution; it is also a present place of subjective execution—the execution of my self-reliance and my love affair with the praise of man.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 382.

 

The preacher must be crucified:

Paul goes so far as to say that unless the preacher is crucified, the preaching is nullified (1 Cor. 1:17).


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 393.

 

Don't get too beside yourself:

Phillips Brooks used to counsel young preachers with these words: “Never allow yourself to feel equal to your work. If you ever find that spirit growing on you, be afraid.”

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 404.

 

God will strike us if he must:

The dangers of self-reliance and self-exaltation in the ministry of preaching are so insidious that God will strike us if he must in order to break us of our self-assurance and our casual use of professional techniques. (2 Cor. 1:8-9; 12:7).


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 412

 

Your view on Scripture matters:

Where the Bible is esteemed as the inspired and inerrant Word of God, preaching can flourish. But where the Bible is treated as a record of valuable religious insight, preaching dies.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 435.

 

Let me be a man of one book:

I urge you to be like John Wesley in this matter of relying on the Spirit in his Word, the Bible. He said, “O give me that book! At any price give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.”

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 461.

 

Pricking John Bunyan:

Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, “Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.”

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

Piper's APTAT before preaching:

1. Admit-to the Lord that without him I can do nothing. I affirm that John 15:5 is absolutely true of me at this moment: “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

2. Pray-for help. I beg for the insight and the power and the humility and the love and the memory and the freedom that I need to preach this message for the glory of your name and the gladness of your people and the ingathering of your elect.

3. Trust-not merely in a general way in God’s goodness, but in a specific promise where I can bank my hope for that hour.

4. Act-in the confidence that God will fulfill his word.

5. Thank-God at the end that you were sustained and that the truth of his Word and purchase of his cross have been preached.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 587-501.

 

Marks of the gravity of preaching:

Intensity of feeling, the weight of argument, a deep and pervading solemnity of mind, a savor of the power of godliness, fervency of spirit, zeal for God—these are the marks of the “gravity of preaching.”

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 548.

 

Weaving together gladness and gravity:

Gladness and gravity should be woven together in the life and preaching of a pastor in such a way as to sober the careless soul and sweeten the burdens of the saints.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 573.

 

Importance of enjoying what you do:

One reason an essential element of love is the enjoyment of our work of preaching is that you can’t consistently give what you don’t have. And if you don’t give gladness, you don’t give the gospel; you give legalism.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 591.

 

Good tour guide analogy:

A pastor who is not manifestly glad in God does not glorify God. He cannot make God look glorious if knowing and serving this God gives no gladness to his soul. A bored and unenthusiastic tour guide in the Alps contradicts and dishonors the majesty of the mountains.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 594.

 

Laughter replacing repentance:

Laughter seems to have replaced repentance as the goal of many preachers.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 626,

 

Don't create environment for revival:

I have been amazed at conferences where preachers mention the need for revival and then proceed to cultivate an atmosphere in which it could never come.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 629.

 

More adept at humor than tears:

And surely it is a sign of the age that we preachers are far more adept at humor than tears.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 658.

 

Heaven and hell at stake every Sunday:

Heaven and hell are at stake every Sunday morning, not merely because unbelievers might be present, but also because our people are saved “if indeed [they] continue in the faith” (Col. 1:23), and faith comes—and stays—by the hearing of the Word of God in the gospel (Rom. 10:17).

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 676.

 

7 practices for cultivating gravity and gladness in your preaching:

1. Strive for practical, earnest, glad-hearted holiness in every area of your life. One of the reasons is that you can’t be something in the pulpit that you aren’t during the week—at least not for long! You can’t be blood-earnest in the pulpit and habitually flippant at the board meeting and the church dinner.

2. Make your life—especially the life of your study—a life of constant communion with God in prayer. The aroma of God will not linger on a person who does not linger in the presence of God.

3. Read books that were written by men or women who bleed Bible when you prick them and who are blood-earnest about the truths they discuss.

4. Direct your mind often to the contemplation of death.

5. Consider the biblical teaching that as a preacher you will be judged with greater strictness. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).

6. Consider the example of Jesus. He was as kind and tender and gentle as a righteous man could be. He was not morose.

7. Finally, strive with all the strength you have to know God and to humble yourself under his mighty hand (1 Peter 5:6). Don’t be content to guide people among the foothills of his glory. Become a mountain climber on the cliffs of God’s majesty.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 684-714.

 

Death and sickness bring clarity:

Death and sickness have an amazing way of blowing the haze of triviality out of life and replacing it with the wisdom of gravity and gladness in the hope of resurrection joy.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 709.

 

God's actions, God's sufficiencies:

God’s actions are never motivated to meet his deficiencies (since he has none), but are always motivated to display his sufficiency (which is infinite). He does what he does for the sake of his glory.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 895.

 

10 Characteristics of good preaching:

1. Stir up holy affections

2. Enlighten the mind

3. Saturate with scripture

4. Employ analogies and images

5. Use threat and warning

6. Plead for a response

7. Probe the workings of the heart

8.Yield to the Holy Spirit in prayer

9. Be broken and tenderhearted

10. Be intense

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 906-1191.

 

Good preaching stirs up holy affections:

Good preaching aims to stir up “holy affections”—things like hate for sin, delight in God, hope in his promises, gratitude for his mercy, desire for holiness, tender compassion.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 910.

 

Good preaching oozes Scripture:

I say that good preaching is “saturated with Scripture” and not “based on Scripture” because Scripture is more (not less) than the basis for good preaching. Good preaching does not sit on Scripture like a basis and say other things. It oozes Scripture.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

Paint pictures when preaching:

Experience and Scripture teach that the heart is most powerfully touched not when the mind is entertaining abstract ideas, but when it is filled with vivid images of amazing reality.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 1000.

 

Heaven and hell:

But those who have the largest hearts for heaven shudder most deeply at the horrors of hell.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 1028.

 

Who heaven is for:

Heaven is for people who love purity, not for people who simply loathe pain.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

How powerful preaching is like surgery:

Powerful preaching is like surgery. Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, it locates, lances, and removes the infection of sin...We don’t want to lie naked on the table, and we don’t want to be cut, but oh, the joy of having the cancer out!

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 1089, 1116.

 

Praying and preaching:

Good preaching is born of good praying.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 1144.

 

Preaching and brokenness:

Good preaching comes from a spirit of brokenness and tenderness.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 1146.

 

You don't have to yell:

Genuine spiritual power in the pulpit is not synonymous with loudness. Hard hearts are not likely to be broken by shrill voices.

Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 1157.

 

Preaching as high stakes:

Good preaching gives the impression that something very great is at stake...Lack of intensity in preaching can only communicate that the preacher does not believe or has never been seriously gripped by the reality of which he speaks—or that the subject matter is insignificant.


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 1185.

 

Banquet vs. Cotton Candy:

If God is not supreme in our preaching, where in this world will the people hear about the supremacy of God? If we do not spread a banquet of God’s beauty on Sunday morning, will not our people seek in vain to satisfy their inconsolable longing with the cotton candy pleasures of pastimes and religious hype? If the fountain of living water does not flow from the mountain of God’s sovereign grace on Sunday morning, will not the people hew for themselves cisterns on Monday, broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13)?


Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Location 1236.

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