"The Calvinist" A Poem by John Piper

I grew up in a Christian tradition that emphasized duty. While I know that duty is good, sometimes if overemphasized it can suck the joy out of our Christianity. About 20 years ago I came across a book that had a profound impact on my life. The book was Desiring God and its author was John Piper. Desiring God changed the way that I saw my Christianity. Piper freed me to pursue my deepest joy. And that joy is Jesus Christ. Over the years John Piper has continued to inspire me, to instruct me, and help me to continue to pursue my deepest satisfaction in Christ. Piper shows us in the writing of “The Calvinist” that profound theology and beauty exist together.  We can think the deep thoughts of God in artistic and refreshing ways. I hope you enjoy John Piper’s poem and video as much as I have.

John Piper writes, "I wrote this poem called “The Calvinist” to capture a glimpse of God’s sovereign intersection with the life of a sinful man. There is no part of life where the greatness of God does not penetrate deeply. I want to help you feel that.

The team at Desiring God was so moved they that they dreamed up a plan to make the poem more memorable and moving by putting it into video.

To my amazement, six friends were willing to be part of this. They joined me in reading the poem. Listen for the voices of D.A. Carson, R.C. Sproul, Alistair Begg, Thabiti Anyabwile, Matt Chandler, and Sinclair Ferguson. I love these men. And you will hear why in the way they read."

"The Calvinist"

See him on his knees,
Hear his constant pleas:
Heart of ev’ry aim:
“Hallowed be Your name.”

See him in the Word,
Helpless, cool, unstirred,
Heaping on the pyre
Heed until the fire.

See him with his books:
Tree beside the brooks,
Drinking at the root
Till the branch bear fruit.

See him with his pen:
Written line, and then,
Better thought preferred,
Deep from in the Word.

See him in the square,
Kept from subtle snare:
Unrelenting sleuth
On the scent of truth.

See him on the street,
Seeking to entreat,
Meek and treasuring:
“Do you know my King?”

See him in dispute,
Firm and resolute,
Driven by the fame
Of his Father’s name.

See him at his trade.
Done. The plan is made.
Men will have his skills,
If the Father wills.

See him at his meal,
Praying now to feel
Thanks and, be it graced,
God in ev’ry taste.

See him with his child:
Has he ever smiled
Such a smile before,
Playing on the floor?

See him with his wife,
Parable for life:
In this sacred scene
She is heaven’s queen.

See him stray. He groans.
“One is true,” he owns.
“What is left to me?

See him in lament
“Should I now repent?”
“Yes. And then proclaim:
All is for my fame.”

See him worshipping.
Watch the sinner sing,
Spared the burning flood
Only by the blood.

See him on the shore:
“Whence this ocean store?”
“From your God above,
Thimbleful of love.”

See him now asleep.
Watch the helpless reap,
But no credit take,
Just as when awake.

See him nearing death.
Listen to his breath,
Through the ebbing pain:
Final whisper: “Gain!”

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.