Ally’s #18 A Holy Ambition by John Piper

“There are only three kinds of Christians when it comes to world missions: zealous goers, zealous senders, and disobedient.”

I think I’ve found the perfect Piper combination. A lot of his books go way over my head and are challenging to digest. I dig his sermons, but his voice is so distracting that I can’t concentrate on what I’m hearing. A Holy Ambition hits the mark, as it’s a collection of Piper’s sermons on the topic of frontier missions–preaching Christ to unreached people groups worldwide as modeled by the Apostle Paul. I am only about half way through his book, Let The Nations Be Glad, on the supremacy of Christ in missions, so I won’t try to compare them here.

The book is divided into three topical sections (see below) and is bookended by two intro sermons, one concluding sermon, and two very helpful sermons in the appendix. I highlighted a great deal in the final sermon in the appendix on the “Driving Convictions Behind Cross-Cultural Missions”…my guess is Piper knew it needed to be included, but didn’t have a good place to fit it. While reading, I found some overlap here and there, but it’s to be expected in sermons that span from a few months before I was born (June 1983) all the way to 2008. Each chapter was roughly 10-15 pages long, so it’s a great book to read if you can only do so intermittently.

A Biblical Theology of Gospel-Centered Missions

“…if we want our heart for the nations to rest upon God’s heart for the nations, it should rest upon the basis of God’s heart for the nations, namely, God’s heart for his own glory.”

The Mandate of World Missions

“God is not done with the work of missions. He said go make disciples of all nations. And then he said, ‘I will be with you to the end of the age.’ The promise is good till Jesus comes, because the commission is binding till Jesus comes. Therefore, you and I face the question individually what our role is in obeying the great commission to reach all the unreached peoples of the world with the gospel of the riches of Christ.”

The Costs and Blessings of Mission

“I get very tired of people coming to look at staff positions in my church, which is in downtown Minneapolis. We all live in the inner city, and one of the first questions they ask is, ‘Will my children be safe?’ And I want to say, ‘Would you please ask that question tenth and not first?’ I’m just tired of hearing that. I’m tired of American priorities. Whoever said that your children will be safe in the call of God?”

As Jim and I consider our future, quite possibly in world missions, I dogeared two different sections that I think will help us on our journey. The first is a list of questions at the end of Chapter 8 “The Aroma of Christ Among the Nations.” The questions are derived from 2 Corinthians 2:17 and include five tests from the Apostle Paul as to whether or not someone is fit to be a missionary. I appreciate that Piper follows it up by saying that there are no perfect missionaries, and we will all miss the mark in some way or another, but our desire should be a resounding “Yes!” in response to all of the questions posed.

The second section that would be an especially helpful resource for anyone considering world missions or in the midst of it is found in Chapter 10 “I Am Sending You Out As Sheep In The Midst of Wolves.” Here, Piper does an excellent job of succinctly describing the six costs and ten blessings of frontier missions. I think the ten blessings would be an awesome thing to commit to memory or to have readily accessible in times of discouragement.

All in all, this was a great book and an easy read. I highly recommend it!

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