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Jesus: The Only Way to God: Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved?

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If the evangelical church at large was ever too confrontational in its evangelism, those days are gone. In our shrinking, pluralistic world, the belief that Jesus is the only way of salvation is increasingly called arrogant and even hateful. In the face of this criticism, many shrink back from affirming the global necessity of knowing and believing in Jesus. In Jesus, the If the evangelical church at large was ever too confrontational in its evangelism, those days are gone. In our shrinking, pluralistic world, the belief that Jesus is the only way of salvation is increasingly called arrogant and even hateful. In the face of this criticism, many shrink back from affirming the global necessity of knowing and believing in Jesus. In Jesus, the Only Way to God, John Piper offers a timely plea for the evangelical church to consider what is at stake in surrendering the unique, universal place of Jesus in salvation.


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If the evangelical church at large was ever too confrontational in its evangelism, those days are gone. In our shrinking, pluralistic world, the belief that Jesus is the only way of salvation is increasingly called arrogant and even hateful. In the face of this criticism, many shrink back from affirming the global necessity of knowing and believing in Jesus. In Jesus, the If the evangelical church at large was ever too confrontational in its evangelism, those days are gone. In our shrinking, pluralistic world, the belief that Jesus is the only way of salvation is increasingly called arrogant and even hateful. In the face of this criticism, many shrink back from affirming the global necessity of knowing and believing in Jesus. In Jesus, the Only Way to God, John Piper offers a timely plea for the evangelical church to consider what is at stake in surrendering the unique, universal place of Jesus in salvation.

30 review for Jesus: The Only Way to God: Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved?

  1. 4 out of 5

    Greg Wilson

    Must you hear the gospel to be saved? Piper answers a resounding yes. He actually breaks it down into three questions that he answers yes to. Is there an eternal hell of conscious torment to be rescued from? Is the death and resurrection of Christ essential for that rescue? Do people need to hear this good new and believe it in order to be rescued? Since the Bible answer to all these questions is yes, then the truly loving thing to do is to tell people the truth. You may be labeled arrogant, nar Must you hear the gospel to be saved? Piper answers a resounding yes. He actually breaks it down into three questions that he answers yes to. Is there an eternal hell of conscious torment to be rescued from? Is the death and resurrection of Christ essential for that rescue? Do people need to hear this good new and believe it in order to be rescued? Since the Bible answer to all these questions is yes, then the truly loving thing to do is to tell people the truth. You may be labeled arrogant, narrow minded, presumptuous, offensive and politically incorrect, but it won't matter in eternity. Piper is not the easiest author to read, so this book is not for everyone. Also if strong Calvinism offends you, be prepared.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I think this book was just alright, but maybe better than I expected in some ways. This is my first book to read by Piper, though I've obviously heard a lot about him and have read excerpts of things he's written before. I really like the topic of the book, and I think it's intriguing and an important question that most Christians will/should consider at some point in their Christianity. Actually, the interesting thing is that even while I was reading it, a brand-new believer asked me the same q I think this book was just alright, but maybe better than I expected in some ways. This is my first book to read by Piper, though I've obviously heard a lot about him and have read excerpts of things he's written before. I really like the topic of the book, and I think it's intriguing and an important question that most Christians will/should consider at some point in their Christianity. Actually, the interesting thing is that even while I was reading it, a brand-new believer asked me the same question. I can't say my answer was the exact same as Piper's though. I think that Piper generally does a great job of answering the question and dissecting it into its various nuances. He seems to have a pretty good command of the issue at hand when this question is asked. Personally, I don't think a view on Hell (either annihilationist or otherwise) needs to be in any way defined to answer this question. But I can see how someone of Piper's theological persuasion might see that as inherent in this question. One of the first things I didn't like about the book though was that his introduction was entirely too dogmatic. He confronted all the major arguments and stated all his main conclusions right at the beginning, and he did it as if his ideas were both obvious and indisputable. I don't appreciate that line of argument or reasoning. I was happy to see that throughout the book, he actually did converse with many of the main contrasting ideas, and as far as that's concerned, his footnotes were also much more fair to dissenting ideas/opinions than the actual main content of the book. I appreciate at least that. Also, as he's considering many of the arguments, he seems to alternate between some proof-texts and some actual consideration of the internal context. Obviously I don't appreciate the proof-texts, but I certainly was happy he went in-depth on some aspects of the context and I applaud him for that. However, my main overall problem with his approach, that doesn't seem to let up anywhere in the book, is that he seems to believe all theological issues, and certainly this particular one, have defined and clear answers in the Bible. He doesn't seem to take the human element into consideration, along with the idea that just maybe WE (which includes the Bible's authors themselves) don't actually know the full answer to this question. He seems to think this is a sort of "mathematical" question, where if you find 1 and 1, then you know you've got 2. When I read the beginning of Romans, I can see that Paul is making a reasonable/logical appeal from what he can see and from (I assume) some inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But when he gets to Romans 2:15, the translation variously reads "sometimes defending" or "perhaps excusing" them on the Day of Judgement. It sounds like Paul is taking a guess here and the guess seems to be that maybe God will take mercy (on the Day of Judgement) even on those who haven't known the specific history of Jesus but who have followed and submitted to what God HAS shown them. It doesn't sound like it's set in stone, but there's no reason to assume it should be. We won't be the judges, so why should we expect to have a full criteria of judgment revealed to us? Especially when we consider that one of the overarching and most consistent descriptions of our judge is that he's "merciful". Paul wrote letters to churches, about how to conduct their lives and how to believe in Jesus. He didn't write theological textbooks. Why should his letters be following classical (i.e. mathematical) parameters of logic? So, it definitely comes off as dogmatic and unnecessary for Piper to require a black and white answer to this question, and to ignore the perfectly human aspects of the Bible that seem to offer opposing thoughts. My last contention is Piper's claim to speak "on behalf" of missionaries, claiming the missionary cause is defeated by believing God has mercy on some who've never heard his historical name. As a missionary myself (a long-term one, not just a show-up-every-now-and-then) one, I'll say that's certainly not the case! It's true, as Piper claimed, that believing God might have or have had mercy on people who've never had the opportunity to hear his explicit history takes away some of the urgency in the work. But I think that's both appropriate (certainly more balanced) and gives God even more glory (Piper's own stated objective)! It helps keep me from rushing around like a clown thinking it's my urgent work to make sure no one goes to Hell. Instead it puts the focus back on God and seeks to observe and participate in the work he's already doing. It's his saving work, and though he chooses to use me in it, it doesn't rely on me. It also certainly does broaden my perspective of the Gospel, and removes it from the limitations of individual eternal destinies but allows me to consider what God's plan is for this whole world! That makes the message I share both more life-giving and more in line with what we read in the Bible. And it's worth sharing (and motivating me to share) regardless of my consideration that God may have already been working on (and perhaps giving mercy to) some I'm sharing it to, or some in the community who've already passed on but who've helped lay a solid foundation for those following them to receive the message I'm bringing. I certainly believe the historical consideration of God's work in Jesus is more fulfilling and life-giving than any general revelation, even if God might/does take mercy on those who've had nothing more than the general revelation (or some specific revelation too that was less explicit than the historical one we have now), and that motivates me to share! It also keeps the focus on WHO is the judge: Jesus. Not our preconceptions of the things that limit his judgment. And I'm saying all this as an active missionary. It doesn't undermine my foundation in any sense, but undergirds it even more strongly with a broader view of who God is and what he does in this world. Finally, I appreciate that through this book I've come to see that my own views on the matter are well-represented within Orthodox Christianity. And there's a name for it: "inclusivism"! While the nuances of my belief on it may not be entirely the same as those with that label, it's nice to know there are plenty other Jesus-seeking Christians who've come to consider that this sort of work might be or is part of his plan. Overall the book brings up a good question and in some areas considers it thoroughly. However, I think the author's personal approach to the Bible somewhat limits his consideration of the bigger picture and leaves some areas to be disagreed on. Also, I think he could use some improvements in his manner of writing, making it more enjoyable and accessible. But what he did achieve was short and fairly comprehensive and for that I appreciate it. I'll definitely give some of his other books a chance (especially considering they're so often free digitally) and at least now I have an idea what I'm in for, perspective-wise.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeremiah Whiteman

    Piper did a great job of staying on topic and confronting not just the ideology of the people, but the theological error that is the foundation of those ideologies (annihilationism, universalism, pluralism, inclusivity). The book is a good primer, in my opinion, to aid in supplementing the heart of the reader to share the gospel with all since it is only thorough Christ and in Christ that we are saved. Thus, Piper quickly defines (broadly since it is a small book) what he believes (and I agree w Piper did a great job of staying on topic and confronting not just the ideology of the people, but the theological error that is the foundation of those ideologies (annihilationism, universalism, pluralism, inclusivity). The book is a good primer, in my opinion, to aid in supplementing the heart of the reader to share the gospel with all since it is only thorough Christ and in Christ that we are saved. Thus, Piper quickly defines (broadly since it is a small book) what he believes (and I agree with him) actually hinder the necessity of preaching the gospel to all people. Not only does he define the errors and heterodoxy (I’d call Pluralism a heresy personally), he goes on to show why they do not fit in with how the Bible actually talks about evangelism/missionary work. How can any be saved if they have not heard nor know Him by whom they must be saved? Christian, do not let your beliefs in scripture be watered down by the vain philosophies of man nor by the whims of culture. The gospel is the power for salvation. God’s Word is living and active, it will accomplish that which God has purposed it for. Take heart, and remember that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John Brackbill

    This is a short helpful read. The kind of book that I will have handy to give to a Christian who is struggling with the implications of the necessity for all people to have conscious faith in Christ for salvation. While dealing with this issue he raises the issue of annihilationism (I was pleasantly surprised that he took on John Stott explicitly regarding this)and universalism. It is written in a very accessible way though like the other Piper books I have read he does not just give the answers This is a short helpful read. The kind of book that I will have handy to give to a Christian who is struggling with the implications of the necessity for all people to have conscious faith in Christ for salvation. While dealing with this issue he raises the issue of annihilationism (I was pleasantly surprised that he took on John Stott explicitly regarding this)and universalism. It is written in a very accessible way though like the other Piper books I have read he does not just give the answers to the questions that he raises, he demonstrates them. This is a strength of the book, but some may lose interest because of it. I also found it helpful that he quoted from the opposing viewpoints. A theme throughout the whole book is the devastating effect that being wrong on this issue has on missionary motivations. At the end of the book he dismantles the weak attempts by those who claim that missionary motives are actually strengthened by believing that some get saved apart from conscious faith in Christ.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This book was intensely helpful for getting a full side of the debate between universalism, inclusivism and exclusivism. (Incidentally I needed the book only just after it had been published.) Piper basically deals with three questions: Is hell real? Is Jesus the only way of salvation? (and) Can people be ignorant of their own salvation? I naturally agree solidly with Piper on the first and lean on the third, but unfortunately, the book's rhetoric is lacking. Piper goes through the tried and true This book was intensely helpful for getting a full side of the debate between universalism, inclusivism and exclusivism. (Incidentally I needed the book only just after it had been published.) Piper basically deals with three questions: Is hell real? Is Jesus the only way of salvation? (and) Can people be ignorant of their own salvation? I naturally agree solidly with Piper on the first and lean on the third, but unfortunately, the book's rhetoric is lacking. Piper goes through the tried and true arguments and offers few new thoughts. I doubt any Christian would be persuaded by it. It's true old stuff, but the truth is never old.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Not going to lie, this was a challenging book, as are most of Piper's books. It is just so dense in logic and scripture that getting more than 10 pages down in one sitting requires serious focus. That said, this book is excellent and worth the read if you, like me, believed that the Bible (particularly verses in Romans) suggests that people that don't hear about Jesus can come to salvation. That simply doesn't line up with what the Bible teaches unless you take verses in isolation or out of cont Not going to lie, this was a challenging book, as are most of Piper's books. It is just so dense in logic and scripture that getting more than 10 pages down in one sitting requires serious focus. That said, this book is excellent and worth the read if you, like me, believed that the Bible (particularly verses in Romans) suggests that people that don't hear about Jesus can come to salvation. That simply doesn't line up with what the Bible teaches unless you take verses in isolation or out of context and Piper breaks it down strategically and thoroughly.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    I probably went through this book too quickly to get its full benefit. Even the level at which I read it showed Piper's reasoning to be sound and biblically based. Everyone needs to hear and be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be saved. Anything else cannot be defended but by speculation, and such speculation leads to diminished motivation to lead our lives for Christ. I probably went through this book too quickly to get its full benefit. Even the level at which I read it showed Piper's reasoning to be sound and biblically based. Everyone needs to hear and be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be saved. Anything else cannot be defended but by speculation, and such speculation leads to diminished motivation to lead our lives for Christ.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Myra

    I picked up this little Piper book with a desire to refocus my heart on the urgency of evangelism and making disciples. Piper does not disappoint! He begins by talking about how the evangelical church is in no danger of being too confrontational in its evangelism. He says those days are passed and "the pendulum has swung, with a commercialized and psychologized temperament in the other direction. The church today leans strongly toward offering Jesus as appealing or not offering him at all. And w I picked up this little Piper book with a desire to refocus my heart on the urgency of evangelism and making disciples. Piper does not disappoint! He begins by talking about how the evangelical church is in no danger of being too confrontational in its evangelism. He says those days are passed and "the pendulum has swung, with a commercialized and psychologized temperament in the other direction. The church today leans strongly toward offering Jesus as appealing or not offering him at all. And what's new about this temperament is that we are more inclined than we used to be to let the customer, or the person who is offended, define what is appealing. ...The unhappy consumer and the offended listener take on a power that once belonged only to the Bible. There is an epidemic fear of man behind these two mindsets. In the name of marketing savvy or sensitive communication, cowardice capitulates to the world, and we surrender the offensive truth of Christ's uniqueness and supremacy." He then lays out all that is at stake if we soften our attempt at sharing the gospel to please the listener. This would include believing and obeying the Bible, genuine love, the salvation of people in other religions, the strengthening of missionaries on the field, and our own souls. Jesus exclusive claim that he is the one way, one truth, and one life, has been under fire from people without and within the church. Universalism and annihilationism have undermined the strong words of Jesus himself about the impending reality of an eternal conscious punishment oin a fiery hell that awaits those who reject the one Savior that God put forth. (Matthew 10:28, 25:41, 46, Luke 16:23-26) But the force of these verses is inescapable and cause us to make Gospel proclamation a matter of love for all of those around us who are lost. There is so much more packed into this little book that will encourage you to be bold to proclaim Christ. In Piper's typical method, he systematically lays out questions and arguments then stakes his conclusions firmly on the strong foundation of the Word of God. The final paragraphs should once again light a fire in our hearts to share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus wherever we are, at home and around the world. "It is our unspeakable privilege to be caught up with him in the greatest movement in history - the ingathering of the elect from every tribe and language and people and nation until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and all Israel is saved, and the Son of Man descends with power and great Glory as King of kings and Lord of lords, and the earth is full of the knowledge of his glory as the waters cover the sea forever and ever (Hab. 2:14). Then the supremacy of Christ will be manifest to all, and he will deliver the kingdom to God the Father, and God will be all in all. This is our final destiny. Missions is our temporary, lifelong task. Persecution may be our appointed lot (1 Thess. 3:3). Only God's approval matters in the end. "Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come" (Hebrews 3: 13-14)."

  9. 5 out of 5

    J.R. Coltaine

    I bought and read this book as part of a larger study on inclusivism and exclusivism (particularism), and my thoughts about it cannot help but be informed by comparing it to other works (many of which Piper cites). This book is short, clear, and easy to read. The title makes it seem that the subject of the book is the inclusivism/exclusivism debate, but Piper begins by tackling pluralism, universalism, and annihilationism (conditional mortality). The sections on these topics are very short and fa I bought and read this book as part of a larger study on inclusivism and exclusivism (particularism), and my thoughts about it cannot help but be informed by comparing it to other works (many of which Piper cites). This book is short, clear, and easy to read. The title makes it seem that the subject of the book is the inclusivism/exclusivism debate, but Piper begins by tackling pluralism, universalism, and annihilationism (conditional mortality). The sections on these topics are very short and fairly shallow. Most people who pick up a book by John Piper are not going to be either pluralists or universalists and his abbreviated responses to the topic are not substantial enough to contribute to the debate. His section on annihilationism is longer but still frustratingly short. In addition Piper largely ignores ahnnihilationist arguments and exegesis, content to simply assert traditionalist (eternal concious torment) interpretations. I am not an annihilationist, but the shallow and hasty treatment of the view does not seem helpful to me. Piper does much better on the subject of inclusivism and exclusivism, but this too is a short and fairly shallow engagement with the topic. While Piper cites and addresses a number of inclusivists, he does not engage their best arguments. The exegesis and presentation of the exclusivist or particularist view is helpful and engaging, as is his encouragement towards missions, but probably will not be muscular enough to convince anyone well acquainted with the other side of the debate. In addition to this content, Piper also includes some very helpful comments on missions, general revelation, and God's work at calling people to Himself. He also includes a retreading of Calvinist interpretations of Romans 8 and John 10 that seemed out of place. As a whole this book seems to exist as an encouragement to people who will already agree with Piper's position, and within that function it is a very good book. As a book intended to take part in the debates on pluralism, Hell, and inclusivism/exclusivism it is mediocre at best. The much shorter contribution on exclusivism by Geivett and Phillips in FOUR VIEWS ON SALVATION IN A PLURALISTIC WORLD contains a much more rigorous and convincing case. That said, I am grateful for the encouragement I did find in this brief and accessible work.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nathan DiBagno

    When I first looked at the title of this book, I incorrectly assumed that many or most Americans believe that Jesus is the only way to God. Salvation through Christ doesn’t sound too controversial for people in America, especially in the South. But if you actually delve into what it means, you’ll probably find that there are many who don’t truly believe it. John Piper spells out in this book the following facts: -Universalism -- the view that all will eventually be saved from sin and damnation in When I first looked at the title of this book, I incorrectly assumed that many or most Americans believe that Jesus is the only way to God. Salvation through Christ doesn’t sound too controversial for people in America, especially in the South. But if you actually delve into what it means, you’ll probably find that there are many who don’t truly believe it. John Piper spells out in this book the following facts: -Universalism -- the view that all will eventually be saved from sin and damnation in hell -- is false. The Bible is clear on this. -No one can be saved from sin by praying and believing in another false god, no matter how sincere their faith is. -People will only believe in Jesus if they have heard and believe the gospel. For example, someone in the middle of a remote tribe in a developing country can’t just look at the sky, admire creation, and someone abstractly believe in Christ. They need to have heard from the Bible. -The Bible and the Gospel of Christ need to be preached and taught by His people. And His people will preach and tell of the Gospel. -There will be a remnant from nations all around the globe of those who believe in Christ. Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” It is amazing how easily accessible these verses are to people, and yet many will continue to live their lives without much thought of eternity. Many believe that most people will be in heaven despite the fact that Jesus explicitly says that the way to heaven is “narrow” and that “those who find it are few.” So it should come as no surprise that these verses are ignored. The good news is that salvation through Christ, although narrow, is done by His work on the cross. The choice and life to follow Him can be hard and require hardship, as Jesus often told His disciples when giving up things to follow Him. Accepting Him as savior also means accepting Him as King over the world, first of all over our lives.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bobby Bonser

    This is a great, succinct book by Piper on the exclusivity of Christ for salvation with a specific focus on evangelism/missions. He breaks the book down into 3 questions: 1. Will anyone experience eternal conscience torment? 2. Is the work of Christ necessary for salvation or are there other bases? 3. Is conscious faith in Christ necessary for salvation? He systematically breaks down each question by looking at key passages in the Bible that support all of these claims. He interacts with other s This is a great, succinct book by Piper on the exclusivity of Christ for salvation with a specific focus on evangelism/missions. He breaks the book down into 3 questions: 1. Will anyone experience eternal conscience torment? 2. Is the work of Christ necessary for salvation or are there other bases? 3. Is conscious faith in Christ necessary for salvation? He systematically breaks down each question by looking at key passages in the Bible that support all of these claims. He interacts with other scholars and refutes them based on exegesis which is helpful. For example, he counters John Stott's passive stance on Annihilationism (belief that there may not be eternal torment for some souls, but simply annihilation). One particular commentary I found fascinating and helpful was on Acts 10:34-35 - namely asking does "acceptable" here mean that people can be accepted based on simply fearing God and doing good? I guess some would use this verse to support the notion that only a vague fear of God and good deeds are enough to be saved for those who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. But Piper does a great job with this text, explaining the context and meaning and supporting with other passages. Very thorough. Well done!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carol Arnold

    Excellent book explaining biblically why you MUST hear the gospel to be eternally saved. The only problem that I had with the book was the format. I am not so much an audio learner and usually reserve audio books for my fiction/pleasure reading. Theological audiobooks always leave me wanting to purchase a hard copy! One that I can read, reread and mark up. I did listen to this book two times but would still like a hard copy. That said, the content was excellent!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Theunis Snyman

    Piper shows convincingly that, according to the Bible, faith in Jesus is the only way to salvation. There are not many ways, but only one way. He rejects current views, very common in our pluralistic society, that the all religions, in their own way, can bring about salvation. This is a wake-up call to many Evangelistic churches who departed from the Biblical view that makes missionary work so necessary. He stresses the urgency of missions in a world that don’t see the need for it any more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Owens

    Piper makes good Biblical arguments for eternal punishment in hell, Christ is the only means of salvation and of the necessity to have a faith in Christ for salvation. These being the case he shows that we must proclaim the gospel because it is necessary for people to hear before they can believe. I rated it a 3 because it did not keep my attention. The writing did not seem to flow.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mathew Nix

    This book is very helpful for debunking any misconceptions about the way of salvation. It is well written and concise, so a quick read that is worth it for anyone needing to clarify their doctrine on salvation.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peter Sullivan

    Convicting! Loved this book. Pushed my faith and made me think about how I was going to live my faith out.

  17. 4 out of 5

    David West

    A short but helpful book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Johnny G

    Straight to the point!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alexis Neal

    Baptist preacher and self-proclaimed Christian hedonist John Piper addresses the question of whether it is possible to be saved apart from Jesus. (Hint: His answer is No. Which, in an increasingly pluralistic society, is a deeply unpopular answer.) In explaining his conclusion, Piper breaks the issue down into three separate-but-related questions: 1. Will anyone experience eternal, conscious torment under God's wrath? 2. Is the work of Jesus necessary for salvation? 3. Is conscious faith in Jesus Baptist preacher and self-proclaimed Christian hedonist John Piper addresses the question of whether it is possible to be saved apart from Jesus. (Hint: His answer is No. Which, in an increasingly pluralistic society, is a deeply unpopular answer.) In explaining his conclusion, Piper breaks the issue down into three separate-but-related questions: 1. Will anyone experience eternal, conscious torment under God's wrath? 2. Is the work of Jesus necessary for salvation? 3. Is conscious faith in Jesus necessary for salvation?The first section, as you might expect, is a defense of the doctrine of hell--a doctrine that's made people uneasy for centuries, but which was recently brought to the forefront of the public consciousness by Rob Bell's recent (and controversial) book, Love Wins. This was, in my opinion, the strongest section in the book. Piper does an excellent job of identifying the abundance of scriptural support for the orthodox view of hell. In Piper's view, a clear understanding of this doctrine is a necessary and foundational catalyst for missions. The second section addresses the pluralistic claim that there are many ways to God. Piper emphatically insists that the atoning work of Christ is "the one and only way for anyone to get right with God." There is, as you can imagine, a substantial amount of scriptural support for this position as well. Again, Piper uses his conclusion as a springboard for passionate commitment to missions and the spread of the gospel. The third and final question is addressed in four chapters, each of which engages with a different nuance of or objection to the idea that conscious faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation: 1) those who don't know about Jesus or who lived before the Incarnation; 2) Cornelius's conversion in Acts 10; 3) the Biblical teaching that there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved; and 4) Paul's attitude toward and teaching about the missionary task. These discussions are not quite as well-supported as the previous sections--which makes sense, since solid theologians have been wrestling with these issues for a really long time, and there is not, as yet, one widely-accepted answer to these admittedly very difficult questions. Piper concludes that conscious faith in Christ is indeed necessary for salvation--a belief that drives his passion for missions. I don't have a problem with any of Piper's arguments (though I think sometimes he's a little too quick to derogate the opposition as being fundamentally incompatible with any serious commitment to missions--I think we've seen throughout history that 'fuzzy' Christians (for lack of a better word) can be very passionate about missions and have even risked their lives to share the gospel). The thing is, I'm not really sure how many of Piper's 'opponents' on this issue base their beliefs on a careful and rational study of the Bible. There's a huge emotional cost to holding these beliefs, and plenty of folks just can't handle the idea of Uncle Joe stuck in eternal torment with no hope of escape. Modern journalism has allowed us a glimpse of just how many people die every day--every hour--in faraway lands. It's hard enough to stomach temporal tragedy; never-ending suffering is just too much to accept. For these individuals, I don't think Piper's arguments, however biblically supported, will be sufficient to overcome their deeply ingrained hostility to and horror of the reality Piper describes. But perhaps this book will at least show them the true basis of their opposition to the doctrines of hell and the exclusivity of Christ. A note about the edition: The audiobook is narrated by . . . well, honestly, it doesn't really matter. The guy's only done a few books, but even if he was freaking Scott Brick, it still wouldn't change the fact that he's not John Piper. I'm sure John Piper is far too busy to record his own audiobooks. I get that. But the guy is prolific. And there's a really good chance that people who read his books have also listened to his sermons. They know what he sounds like. And hearing John Piper's words come out of someone else's mouth is just weird. The whole time I was listening to the book, I kept hearing John Piper in my head (in my imagination, though, not in an 'I'm hearing voices' kind of way). And hearing two people read the same thing at the same time is not conducive to maximum content absorption.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Bensema

    John Piper presents an argument that all people need to hear the Gospel to be saved. It follows from these propositions: 1) The entire human race has sinned and offended God. 2) The punishment for such sin is eternal. 3) Man cannot atone for this sin by his own means. 4) By grace through faith in Christ, man can be saved from eternal punishment. 5) Apart from the grace of Christ, there is no satisfaction for man's sin. 6) Man can come to the grace of Christ by hearing the Gospel. 7) Without being preac John Piper presents an argument that all people need to hear the Gospel to be saved. It follows from these propositions: 1) The entire human race has sinned and offended God. 2) The punishment for such sin is eternal. 3) Man cannot atone for this sin by his own means. 4) By grace through faith in Christ, man can be saved from eternal punishment. 5) Apart from the grace of Christ, there is no satisfaction for man's sin. 6) Man can come to the grace of Christ by hearing the Gospel. 7) Without being preached to, a man cannot come to the grace of Christ. Piper presents a mostly convincing argument for the first six points, but fails to ever prove point #7, and indeed assumes its validity. At one point, he provides five verses from John to show that salvation only comes from Christ by the preaching of his apostles. Five for five verses point to Christ as the only means of salvation. Five for five verses fail to make any mention of the apostles' preaching, much less the necessity of it. John Piper's argument fails because he mistakes the ordinary means of learning about salvation for the exclusive means of learning about salvation, and he ignores the possibility of private revelation - an oversight made all the more amazing by the fact that he often quotes Romans. The author of Romans, St. Paul, did not come to Christ through the preaching of the apostles. Named Saul at the time, the young Pharisee impassively watched the execution of St. Stephen, and promptly set out to kill Christians outside the Jerusalem area when Jesus Christ Himself relates to him the Gospel. It was not the preaching of men that converted Paul, but the direct revelation of God. This is an example of a larger fallacy in Piper's work: If Scripture talks about or emphasizes that X is a property of A, then Y cannot sometimes be a property of A. The argument is set in the curious context of "motivation for missions" - as if the motivational consequences of a theological doctrine could have any bearing on the truth of that doctrine, one way or another. Further, I don't find Piper's claim that the theoretical possibility of salvation by faith through grace apart from preaching - the barest hint of which is emphatically denied by this work - would have a significant and detrimental effect on the motivation of missionaries. The difference is akin to the difference in motivation between two rescue workers: the first told that if he does not reach a stranded man, that man will surely die; the second told that if he does not reach the stranded man, there is the faintest of theoretical possibilities that the man may survive. That said, Piper's work does do a reasonable job of establishing that there is no salvation outside the Church (something we knew since Unam Sanctum, but that theological liberals love to forget or ignore) and rejecting various errors about the nature of Hell. I removed the two stars for the author's repeated and staunch claims to have refuted things that he never really addressed. I don't think the possibility of salvation without preaching is likely, and may not even occur, but there is no proof that convincingly states that it does not. Piper's argument doesn't touch the theoretical possibility entertained by Vatican II, but I'm not sure he meant to address it. He certainly didn't succeed if he did mean to.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pastoralmusings

    Through the years there have been those who have decided that perhaps people can come to God without Jesus. Some have declared that those who reject Jesus are annihilated. Others claim that the condemned eventually are brought to repentance after a period of punishment. Then others tell us that those who have never heard of Jesus can actually come to God by following the knowledge that they have from nature. A Hindu who is a good Hindu can come to God without consciously believing Jesus. The ques Through the years there have been those who have decided that perhaps people can come to God without Jesus. Some have declared that those who reject Jesus are annihilated. Others claim that the condemned eventually are brought to repentance after a period of punishment. Then others tell us that those who have never heard of Jesus can actually come to God by following the knowledge that they have from nature. A Hindu who is a good Hindu can come to God without consciously believing Jesus. The question that we must ask is, “Is this true?” Piper asks three questions in one: “Is Jesus The Only Way of Salvation?” The answer is a definite “YES!” Working from there, Piper asks: 1. Will anyone experience eternal, conscious torment under God's wrath? 2. Is the work of Jesus necessary for salvation? 3. Is conscious faith in Jesus necessary for salvation? To each of these questions Piper gives a resounding “YES!” as an answer. Though the book is short and the chapters concise, the Biblical exegesis is sound. The answers are true to the historic faith of Christianity, and they are certainly Biblical. Piper explains the statement that God passed over the times of man's ignorance and shows that it does not mean that God forgave those who did not trust in Jesus. He also shows that Cornelius, though a God-fearer, had to hear and believe the Gospel to be saved. He did not receive salvation simply by being a good person who did his best. Piper also shows that we must indeed consciously trust Jesus if we are to be saved. He does so by reminding us that there is no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved. Finally, Piper demonstrates that the apostle's missionary purpose was not to help people learn that they had already been forgiven, but that their purpose was to preach Jesus so that people would believe and receive forgiveness. In a pluralistic world it is easy for us to bend and yield to the pressures against the exclusive claims of Christ. In reality, we must say that Christianity is exclusive of those who WILL NOT believe, but is inclusive of ALL WHO WILL believe. The door of opportunity is open and sinners MUST BELIEVE the Gospel. I'm glad that Piper has chosen to take his stand as one who holds fast to this truth. This book freely provided for review by Baker Publishing and there was no expectation of a positive review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ben Zajdel

    For starters, this is a good book. Piper does a great job of stating his case, which is three fold: 1. Hell is a place of eternal, concious torment. 2. Humanity is saved by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and through his resurrection. 3. A person must hear the gospel in order to be saved. Piper presents his views clearly and succintly, and even includes some correspondence with John Stott, with whom he disagrees about issue number one. I do, however, disagree with some of his conclusions, in For starters, this is a good book. Piper does a great job of stating his case, which is three fold: 1. Hell is a place of eternal, concious torment. 2. Humanity is saved by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and through his resurrection. 3. A person must hear the gospel in order to be saved. Piper presents his views clearly and succintly, and even includes some correspondence with John Stott, with whom he disagrees about issue number one. I do, however, disagree with some of his conclusions, including one that was so egregious that I had to knock two stars off of the review. I'll take each issue separately: 1. While I tend to lean toward Piper's view of hell, I can't discount annihilationism as quickly as he does. I believe that the Bible seems to establish eternal torment as hell, but there are some verses that cast some doubt on the subject. But overall, a pretty good treatment by Piper. 2. I completely agree that Jesus' death and resurrection are the salvation of humanity, establishing his lordship on the Earth. In this, I think Piper and I are in full agreement. 3. This is where Piper and I diverge. I'm not sure that the gospel must be presented to a person for that individual to be saved. If that is so, God created billions of people for no purpose other than hell, as the majority of the earth in history had no chance to hear the gospel. This isn't necessarily a problem for Piper, who believes in predestination, but for me, it seems out of character for God, as he is presented in the Bible. Where Piper's argument really falls apart, in my opinion, is when he suggests that infants and mentally incapacitated people do not go to hell, as they cannot understand the gospel. Piper, in this regard, would like to have his cake and eat it, too. If one believes that unevangelized peoples go to hell, then so do babies and the mentally incapacitated. There is no difference between not hearing the gospel and not being able to understand it. Either way, the gospel message was not communicated. With that in mind, Piper's whole line of reasoning is derailed. For me to accept that hell is the fate of the unevangelized, I would need a stronger argument than what Piper presented in this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    Is it necessary for a person to have actual, conscious faith in Jesus Christ in order for them to be reconciled to God? Do those who either refuse Jesus or who simply never hear of Jesus spend an actual eternity in hell under the wrath of Almighty God? In Jesus, the Only Way to God, John Piper addresses these questions in his inspiring, helpful, and typically thorough style. Positive Simply put, Piper nails this issue with the word of God. He is not arrogant, belittling of others, or sensational Is it necessary for a person to have actual, conscious faith in Jesus Christ in order for them to be reconciled to God? Do those who either refuse Jesus or who simply never hear of Jesus spend an actual eternity in hell under the wrath of Almighty God? In Jesus, the Only Way to God, John Piper addresses these questions in his inspiring, helpful, and typically thorough style. Positive Simply put, Piper nails this issue with the word of God. He is not arrogant, belittling of others, or sensationalistic in this work. Piper simply goes to the Scripture to explain what Christians have believed from the word of God for centuries. Negative In chapter 5, Piper addresses the question of whether or not Cornelius was already saved before Peter came to tell him the gospel. Piper eventually argues that Cornelius represents a special kind of person in the world, one who seeks after God in an extraordinary way. Piper then illustrates this idea by quoting a story of missionaries in Ethiopia. It is strange, then, that Piper does not explain this conclusion about lost God-seekers in the light of Romans 3:11 which declares that no one seeks after God. Recommendation People in our churches are actually asking whether or not one must have conscious faith in Jesus in order to be reconciled to God; thus, we need a work like this one from Piper to answer them. While the brevity of the work leaves a question or two unanswered, Piper does an outstanding job of answering what needs to be answered with biblical soundness, thoroughness, and readability. If you have any struggles with the question of the exclusivity of Christ and the necessity of conscious faith for salvation (or if you know someone who has these struggles), this book is an excellent resource for you. Audio I received an excellent copy of the audio recording of this work from ChristianAudio.com. The narration was very well-done and quite easy-to-listen-to.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Frank Peters

    John Piper is an outstanding man of God who says he is on a mission to correctly represent God’s word. Throughout this short book, he systematically examines all of the relevant biblical passages while discussing the in what sense the bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to heaven. His purpose was not only to eliminate any biblical base for a belief in universalism, but to extend his views in an attempt to dismantle a biblical case for any form of inclusivism. While attempting to do this, I John Piper is an outstanding man of God who says he is on a mission to correctly represent God’s word. Throughout this short book, he systematically examines all of the relevant biblical passages while discussing the in what sense the bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to heaven. His purpose was not only to eliminate any biblical base for a belief in universalism, but to extend his views in an attempt to dismantle a biblical case for any form of inclusivism. While attempting to do this, I believe he has over stepped himself. This does not mean he is wrong, rather that his logic is too often overly dogmatic , and as a result flawed. In this respect, he also reminds me of Martin Luther, who referred to John Calvin as a “spawn of hell” due to Calvin not accepting Luther’s view on transubstantiationalism. Thankfully, he is not quite as dogmatic as Luther, and merely (and confidently) refers to anyone who disagrees with him as wrong. Ultimately, I believe the best review for the book is contained in a footnote, which Piper was gracious enough to include. In the footnote John Stott writes: “What troubles me is the way you tend to quote proof texts as knock-down arguments, when they are capable of alternate interpretations. I just find you over-dogmatic, as I wrote in my early letter, leaving no room for humble agnosticism which allows that God has not revealed everything as plainly as you make out.” However this is an excellent book for articulating the exclusivist argument, and he may even convince others to change their minds via his arguments.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hemmeke

    Piper wrote this book to demonstrate to the reader the necessity of missions to yet-unreached lands. If people believe that the “innocent” natives who have never heard the Gospel will not be condemned, they will not have a compelling motive for evangelizing them. Piper writes to convince us that conscious faith in the name of Jesus is required for salvation. Overall this was a good book. Piper makes a convincing case that unreached people are condemned and without excuse. They need to hear about Piper wrote this book to demonstrate to the reader the necessity of missions to yet-unreached lands. If people believe that the “innocent” natives who have never heard the Gospel will not be condemned, they will not have a compelling motive for evangelizing them. Piper writes to convince us that conscious faith in the name of Jesus is required for salvation. Overall this was a good book. Piper makes a convincing case that unreached people are condemned and without excuse. They need to hear about Jesus. Simply seeking the truth is not sufficient, because the name of Jesus must be claimed. This is a powerful impetus to evangelize and seek out the seekers in any tribe or nation. I think Piper makes an error in his assessment of Cornelius, though. He judges Cornelius to be lost before Peter preaches Christ to him, seeing his situation as identical to an unreached heathen. But Cornelius was a god-fearer with much knowledge of God. He lived during the unique transition from Old to New Covenant, when I believe fearers of the God of Israel were saved if they hadn’t yet heard of the Messiah, Jesus. I don’t think this disagreement changes my basic appreciation for his argument above, though.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tung

    Modern society holds tolerance as one of the most central of all virtues. Because of this, many in American churches have softpedaled Christianity’s central message of Christ as the only means of salvation in order to tolerate and respect other faiths. In this book, John Piper examines the related questions: Does hell exist, and if so, what is it? Is Christ the only means of escaping hell? Is conscious faith in Christ the only way to salvation? Piper takes on universalism, inclusivism, and plura Modern society holds tolerance as one of the most central of all virtues. Because of this, many in American churches have softpedaled Christianity’s central message of Christ as the only means of salvation in order to tolerate and respect other faiths. In this book, John Piper examines the related questions: Does hell exist, and if so, what is it? Is Christ the only means of escaping hell? Is conscious faith in Christ the only way to salvation? Piper takes on universalism, inclusivism, and pluralism and walks the reader through Scripture’s position on these three questions. Piper’s intended audience for this book is the American church; he is trying to demonstrate not just Scripture’s position, but also the position of the early church through Peter and Paul. Piper’s intent of this demonstration of Biblical truth is to magnify the role of being a missionary, and to spur the church on to evangelism and further missionary work. Like all of Piper’s writings, the lens through which he views theology is the sovereignty and majesty of God, so the language used throughout reflects this. Piper’s usage and exposition of Scripture (as always) is clear, easy-to-follow and to grasp, and consistent. A thorough explication of a critical topic. Recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sushant

    Good book. Piper does a thorough job of arguing from scripture that a conscious faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation. He does this by demonstrating that there is real eternal conscious torment for unbelievers, that the work of Jesus is the only basis to be saved from that torment, and how natural revelation is insufficient to save those who have never heard of Jesus. This book is for Christians who struggle with questions regarding the existence of hell, the exclusivity of Jesus' claim as t Good book. Piper does a thorough job of arguing from scripture that a conscious faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation. He does this by demonstrating that there is real eternal conscious torment for unbelievers, that the work of Jesus is the only basis to be saved from that torment, and how natural revelation is insufficient to save those who have never heard of Jesus. This book is for Christians who struggle with questions regarding the existence of hell, the exclusivity of Jesus' claim as the only way to God, and the fate of unreached people groups who have never heard the gospel. I believe reading this book will help you understand (from scripture) why evangelism is vital and missions is absolutely necessary and urgent, especially frontier missions to unreached people groups. This book is for non-Christians who may be offended or put off by the claim Christians make that Christianity is the only path to God and pluralism is false. This book will help you understand why Christians have come to this conclusion, that it is based on an honest study of Christian Scriptures, and not based on prideful bigotry.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lillie

    Piper argues that the Bible says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is the only name by which we are saved. Piper explains that universalism (all roads lead to God) and annihilationism (unbelievers are simply destroyed and do not suffer eternal punishment in hell) are not Biblical. As much as we would like to believe that someone who hasn't heard of Jesus will be saved that belief is contrary to Scripture, which should create a sense of urgency for missions and for each of us Piper argues that the Bible says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is the only name by which we are saved. Piper explains that universalism (all roads lead to God) and annihilationism (unbelievers are simply destroyed and do not suffer eternal punishment in hell) are not Biblical. As much as we would like to believe that someone who hasn't heard of Jesus will be saved that belief is contrary to Scripture, which should create a sense of urgency for missions and for each of us to share the Gospel with everyone we know. I especially appreciated the end notes. Not only does he list sources (often several for a particular position he takes), but he also includes personal correspondence. For example, John Stott disagrees with John Piper and believes people who have not heard about Jesus can be saved. A footnote includes a rebuttal from Stott in a personal letter to Piper, so readers can compare the two positions and decide for themselves. This reader agrees with Piper. The Bible doesn't always say what we would like it to, but it is always the infallible Word of God.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Linden

    Did not enjoy this book at all. Did not find any of his arguments compelling or conclusive. However, two biggest issues revolve around everlasting punishment of the wicked and God winking. Regarding everlasting punishment, A. First, I really have no idea how this is germane to the issue at hand. B. Second, this definitely should not be the initial reason one proposes as why you need the Gospel to be saved. C. His arguments against the annihilist viewpoint is at best weak. Multiple of the points he Did not enjoy this book at all. Did not find any of his arguments compelling or conclusive. However, two biggest issues revolve around everlasting punishment of the wicked and God winking. Regarding everlasting punishment, A. First, I really have no idea how this is germane to the issue at hand. B. Second, this definitely should not be the initial reason one proposes as why you need the Gospel to be saved. C. His arguments against the annihilist viewpoint is at best weak. Multiple of the points he admits are open to interpretation. D. Given how weak the argument is and how I can't see its germane, it really starts the book off on a poor footing. Regarding God winking, totally disagree but I guess this is due to his Calvinistic viewpoint? I think far stronger case could be made that God has higher expectations now but in the past, when there was no gospel message available to millions/billions, the standard differed (although what that exactly was/is is up to God IMHO).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Coyle

    As with most of Piper's books, this little work was theologically solid, expositionally clear, and a bit underwhelming in terms of its style (I maintain that Piper is the greatest living preacher, but that doesn't always transfer over into being a phenomenal writer). This book is an excellent introduction to the question of whether pagans and other non-believers who seem to be sincerely seeking some sort of religious experience can be considered "believers." Piper gives the traditional and ortho As with most of Piper's books, this little work was theologically solid, expositionally clear, and a bit underwhelming in terms of its style (I maintain that Piper is the greatest living preacher, but that doesn't always transfer over into being a phenomenal writer). This book is an excellent introduction to the question of whether pagans and other non-believers who seem to be sincerely seeking some sort of religious experience can be considered "believers." Piper gives the traditional and orthodox (and of course Biblical) answer that in fact conscious faith in Christ is necessary to salvation. Along the way to this conclusion, Piper likewise engages the question of the reality of hell (do nonbelievers need to be saved in the first place) and the nature of our salvation (through the life and death of Jesus). Overall, this is an excellent and short survey of some of the pressing issues that we should be thinking about with regard to modern missions.

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