According to John Piper, books don’t change people.
But paragraphs do.
And sometimes just sentences are enough to change people.
Here’s one example Piper uses from a book by Jonathan Edwards:
It might be useful to illustrate this with two books by Jonathan Edwards that have influenced me most. Here are the key paragraphs and lessons from these books. Most of the rest of their content I have long forgotten (but who knows what remains in the subconscious and has profound impact?).
Outside the Bible this may be the most influential book I have ever read. Its influence was inseparable from its transposition into the syllabus on Unity of the Bible in a course by that name with Daniel Fuller in seminary. There are two massive truths that were settled for me. First:
All that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God. (Yale, Vol. 8, p. 526)
The book was an avalanche of Scripture demonstrating one of the most influential convictions in my life: God does everything for his glory. Then came its life-changing corollary:
In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged; his fullness is received and returned. Here is both an emanation and remanation. The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, and are something of God, and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and God is the beginning, middle and end in this affair. (Yale, Vol. 8, p. 531)
To me this was simply beautiful. It was overwhelming as a picture of the greatness of God. The impact was heighted by the fact that the last line is a manifest echo of Romans 11:36: “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
But the central, life-shaping impact was the sentence: “In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged.” And even more specifically: “In the creature’s rejoicing in God, the glory of God is exhibited.” God’s glory is exhibited in my being happy in him. Or as Edwards says earlier: “The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted” (Yale, Vol. 8, p. 442.) If not being supremely happy in God means robbing him of his glory, everything changes.
That has been the unifying message of my life: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.
Do you agree?
If so… what PARAGRAPHs or SENTENCEs have changed your life and ministry?