John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce suffered lifelong opposition and endured for the causes of gospel truth, missionary zeal, and political justice. They found, in solid doctrine and humble joy, the tough roots for habitual tenderness in response to their adversaries—without doctrinal or moral flinching. They are examples of remarkable grace. John Piper looks at the lives of these three great men and focuses on how they not only endured great opposition, but that they did so with joy and without bitterness. Their lives exemplify how to set a pace and finish the race before us, encouraging every heart that it is possible to jump the hurdles in our paths.
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John Piper, pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 1980, is a widely respected theologian and bestselling author. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Piper attended Wheaton College where he majored in literature and minored in philosophy. He completed his Bachelor of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he studied under Dr. Daniel Fuller. Piper received his Doctorate in Theology from the University of Munich and taught biblical studies for six years at Bethel College.
His preaching and teaching is featured daily on the radio program, Desiring God. His books include The Passion of Jesus Christ, Desiring God, The Pleasures of God, Life as a Vapor, and the Gold Medallion Award-wining Pierced by the Word.
“When historians list the character traits of America in the last third of the twentieth century, commitment, constancy, tenacity, endurance, patience, resolve, and perseverance will not be on the list. The list will begin with an all-consuming interest in self-esteem. It will be followed by the subheadings of self-assertiveness, self-enhancement, and self-realization. And if we think that we are not children of our times, let us simply test ourselves to see how we respond when people reject our ideas or spurn our good efforts or misconstrue our best intentions.” (Page 79)
“And one of the pervasive marks of our times is emotional fragility. It hangs in the air we breathe. We are easily hurt. We pout and mope easily. We blame easily. We break easily. Our marriages break easily. Our faith breaks easily. Our happiness breaks easily. And our commitment to the church breaks easily. We are easily disheartened, and it seems we have little capacity for surviving and thriving in the face of criticism and opposition.” (Page 79)
“For Simeon, adoration of God grew best in the plowed soil of his own contrition. He had no fear of turning up every sin in his life and looking upon it with great grief and hatred, because he had such a vision of Christ’s sufficiency that this would always result in deeper cleansing and adoration.” (Page 109)
“What made Wilberforce tick was a profound biblical allegiance to what he called the ‘peculiar doctrines’ of Christianity. These, he said, give rise in turn to true ‘affections’ for spiritual things, which then break the power of pride and greed and fear and lead to transformed morals, which lead to the political welfare of the nation.” (Page 118)