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Finally Alive

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When Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘You must be born again’, the devout and learned religious leader was unsure what Jesus meant. It would seem nothing has changed. Today ‘born again Christians’ fill churches that are seen as ineffectual at best, and even characterised by the ‘mosaic’ generation as ‘unchristian’.   The term ‘born again’ has been devalued both in society and in the church. Those claiming to be ‘born again’ live lives that are indistinguishable from those who don’t; they sin the same, embrace injustice the same, covet the same, do almost everything the same.   Being ‘born again’ is now defined by what people say they believe. The New Testament however defines Christians very differently.   “When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7), he was not sharing interesting and unimportant information. He was leading him to eternal life… If he does that for you (or if he already has), then you are (or you will be) truly, invincibly, finally alive.” John Piper

208 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

John Piper

552 books3,904 followers
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem.

John is the author of more than 50 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 106 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick Lacson.
39 reviews1 follower
February 16, 2020
John Piper writes on the topic of regeneration in a very accessible and winsome way. One of the strengths of Piper is he writes as a pastor and not as a theologian only. I think it was Tom Schreiner who rightly called Piper a "pastor-theologian" because the theology he writes of warms the heart and invigorates the soul. This book does exactly that.

The book presents the doctrine of regeneration as a vital doctrine for the Christian today. It changes our view of ourselves in our total inability and God in His gracious work. That view has implications in how we evangelize, how we minister to each other as Christians, and how we preach the gospel.

What makes this book unique is Piper moves from the subject of soteriology to pneumatology and Christology effortlessly. He views theology, not as a foundation that builds upon another, but an interconnected web that if you cut one strand you impact the rest. In my mind, this is the best way to teach and explain theology because theology flows out of the one perfect mind of God. But Piper's theology is practical that has implications for us as Christians. Where do our affections come from? How is it that we once rejected and hated God and now have affections for God? Where does this life that the Spirit imparts to us come from? Or more specifically, whose life did we receive?

Read this book and rejoice.
Profile Image for Lindsay Hart.
29 reviews
June 29, 2021
I was really encouraged by the tips for evangelism at the end. He said it’s fine that we don’t feel particularly good at evangelism because that shows the glory of God when he saves people through the treasure of the gospel that we deliver on a paper plate. We are not very impressive, but the Gospel is powerful. ❤️❤️❤️
Profile Image for KC McCauley.
89 reviews30 followers
March 25, 2009
We know that we have been born again, but what exactly happened? This book gives a thorough answer to that question. Also, there are so many people claiming to be Christians, but in all reality, they are not; they have not been born again. That is one reason why this book was written: to clearly examine the doctrine of regernation (being born again). This is a must read for the false doctrines that are circulating in our culture.

This is the first book where I have seen the expository side of Piper. He did a wonderful job of exposition on several texts dealing with regeneration. He also provides practical application for evangelism and how others can be born again.

This book draws you closer to the Lord because it gives you a greater appreciation for the fact that you are born again, and what God did to make you born again.
Profile Image for Maddie.
27 reviews1 follower
August 2, 2022
Absolutely LOVED. So good to get deeper into what it truly means to be born again as a believer. I liked the way he payed out this book going through the how, what, why etc of the new birth. Can’t speak highly enough of it!!
Profile Image for Jim.
25 reviews6 followers
July 15, 2012
Excellent book dealing with the subject of what it really means to be a "Born Again" Christian. It also shows that while the "Barna Group" says that 45% of Americans say they have been religiously "Born Again," that in reality it is much lower than that. Why? Because "Born Again" has been so loosely thrown around that many who think they are "Born Again," are NOT based on what it Biblically means. Piper will take you through 100's of scripture references in this 200-page book, that will help you to see if you are a "Born Again Christian. If not, my prayer is that this book will be used to bring you to that place of becoming a "Born Again" Christian.

John 3:3,7 reads:
3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he CANNOT see the kingdom of God...7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You MUST be born again.'
30 reviews4 followers
February 12, 2019
The book started out by talking about Augustine and C.S. Lewis conversions and how one was dramatic and the other was just a bus ride. It drew me in because I thought the book was going to talk about why and how God converts differently.
While the book certainly did talk about the differences in conversions, it carried so much more. The points that stick out to me the most were the difference in the new nature God gives us as opposed to sin nature.
And our responsibility in the gospel. I have repeated and memorize the verse to work out my salvation in fear and trembling, for God is working in you to will and act according to his good purpose. The verse led me to continually question what my job is and how I can work out my salvation in the right way.
The book painted the picture that God regenerates our hearts, that He creates the possibility to desire him and draws us near with his irresistible grace. My job was to believe in the truth and use the power he has given me through the Holy Spirit and the death of Jesus to follow the truth. The union with Christ and my relationship with God is all made possible by the faith God created in me.
I can love holiness and hate sin. I don’t find his commands burdensome, and I enjoy spending time with Him. I walk in the light and can see my sin. I won’t envy the righteous like Cain.
Christ is in control and we control our rebirth no more than an infant controls their birth. God ransomed us, he rescued us, His voice created faith in us when he spoke the gospel.
The next step for us is to preach the gospel and the word of God. It’s God’s word that creates faith and rebirth. The seed of God is what is needed to transform, not our elegant plans. God isn’t constrained by our will, especially when our will was only to sin.
If I’m upset by the fatalistic doctrine that God is in control, then prayer and submission is needed. My heart is evil and deceptive above all means, but is God not stronger?
The book ends with the righteous call to preach the gospel with a heart of humility. To know that God had blinded the light of unbelievers, but to still try to flip the switch in all your neighbors. Even if it’s a simple, “Praise Jesus” or giving generously the gifts God has given you. Let the word of God do its work.
Profile Image for Andy Schmidt.
51 reviews
December 24, 2022
4.5 stars! A very comprehensive look at "being born again". Piper talked about everything from what it means, to how it happens, to how we can help others to be born again (and all supported by and based on what the Bible has to say about the new life). I genuinely enjoyed this book and it afforded a lot of opportunities for learning, thinking, and reflecting.
Profile Image for Joseph Louthan.
34 reviews7 followers
February 3, 2012
A gorgeous call to the Christian to finally and fully understand the blessed doctrine of regeneration--not only the swapping of hearts by God alone but the call to evangelize to proclaim what God has done in us.

The regeneration and faith issue (chicken-egg argument) is settled here. Piper wonderfully exegetes passages such as John 3, 1 John 5, 2 Peter 3 and Ephesians 2 to serve as the basis for the entire book. While the faith-first arguments have passages to ponder but not necessarily concrete "this is so" statement, the regeneration-first argument has absolute concrete "this is so" passages, to which, Piper highlights the clearest here:

1 John 5:1
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him."

Catch the wording: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God--not, everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is now born of God.

Fortunately, the book is bigger than that age-old debate.

What made this a real joy to read was the wonderful surprise in the practical application: that is the call for evangelism. You love God? You love others? You love yourself? Then do what Christ has commissioned us all to do: Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-20; John 21:15-18; Acts 1:6-8.


This is an excellent little book for self-study and group study alike. Piper is master of reading deep rich theological books and concise, to-the-point books. This book leans to the latter.

I would highly recommend this book to any English-speaking saint.
Profile Image for Peter Jones.
552 reviews84 followers
September 12, 2014
A good book on understanding the new birth. He spends a lot of time in I John, which makes sense. He does a good job showing why regeneration in necessary, how it occurs, and what are the results of it. He also nicely balances God's work and the necessity of means. God does not believe for us nor does God magically change people's hearts apart from the Word of God. I especially enjoyed his last chapter on how to be more proactive in evangelism. A really good book on this topic and worthwhile read for anyone working through I John.

What did I not like? Piper is still too revivalistic for my tastes. Too many altar calls in the book. Second, he has a low view of the institutional church and the sacraments. Both of those are almost non-existent in this book. Finally, I do not think he adequately addresses the continued presence of sin in the believer. That was not the point of this book. However, with all the time he spends in I John he should have explained more clearly how a regenerate person can keep on sinning. His view of regeneration is so dramatic that a natural reading leads to perfectionism. But he does not believe Christians are perfect. I did not think this tension was adequately explained.
Profile Image for Douglas Wilson.
Author 282 books3,524 followers
September 13, 2010
This is a wonderful book on the absolute necessity of the new birth. If it true that not every baptized Christian is saved, and it is true, then we need an explanation for the dividing line. What differentiates the saved from the unsaved? What is the difference? Does the Bible give us any direction on the subject? The answer is yes, and Piper does a great job in assembling the relevant biblical material, and explaining it clearly.
Profile Image for Blake.
355 reviews6 followers
October 6, 2017
"What is my problem?" That's the question I asked as I read through this book, wondering what took me so long to actually get through this book. Finally Alive has sat on my shelves for years and it even found its way to my home where I think I envisioned reading it at a slow pace while the family was out and about. Finally I made a commitment to read it and I am so glad I did. Though certainly not Piper's best book, it was such a joy to read it as Piper unpacked the concept of being "born again." It is a theological book, yet not one of those theological books that I believe would make the average follower of Christ feel overwhelmed and intimidated. Piper gave indepth explanation to what Scripture means when it says that one must be "born again". That was very insightful. Piper spent a large chunk of writing as he talked about the proofs in one's life of whether he/she is truly born again, looking at the pages of I John. I loved this section and thought it would provide a tremendous tool for helping people to evaluate where they truly stand with the Lord Jesus. Piper ends with a marvelous section about the implications of "being born again" and our role in leading others to this point in their life. Finally Alive is an excellent book and should be read by many who want to understand this precious precious truth.
235 reviews7 followers
October 30, 2019
Reading through some books I've had for a while that I haven't wanted to read. And overall, I didn't really like this book. Piper is great and his exposition of Scripture has some pierce your heart moments. I just wish he would incorporate stories to show the beauty of Scripture. At times, this read more like a commentary on different passages.

That being said, I was reminded why it's important to read widely and to read books that stretch you by this book. The last two chapters, the Spirit really spoke to me through Piper's exposition. The Word of God came alive as he wrote. I love that. Piper does understand that God speaks through the gospel and his Word. So he talks about it a lot in his books. So even though I wouldn't write in his style and prefer authors who incorporate more story, I'm still glad I read this book and that God graciously met me with refreshment through it!
Profile Image for Josh Stowers.
53 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2020
A book about the most experiential truth in the world should not be boring. I felt like it was just that and pretty scattered. I was telling myself, “Finally Alive is finally over”. He defined monergistic theology well but not the heart of it. There is some application ( scattered ) at the end and a tangent about yoga ( a tangent I agree with ) but it seemed like an unfinished product. To borrow his own illustration; light but no heat?
Profile Image for Matt.
29 reviews4 followers
February 19, 2018
A good book looking at rebirth and regeneration. Solid biblically and very practical. A good help for anyone studying the Gospel of John or the letters of John. A needed reminder for those in ministry who far too often rely on technique and human strategies. A return to the simple yet profound Gospel that turned the ancient world upside down and is still changing lives today.
Profile Image for Coalición por el Evangelio.
224 reviews119 followers
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October 7, 2021
Los cristianos sabemos que no hay nada más importante que poder decir que hemos pasado de muerte a vida (1 Jn. 3:14). Justamente eso es lo que hace que «¡Más vivo que nunca!», de John Piper, sea un libro de vasta seriedad y belleza.

Lee la reseña en Coalición por el Evangelio.
Profile Image for Shannon.
565 reviews26 followers
December 12, 2021
I was hoping for a book that actually describes more of what *happens* in being born again, something a bit more focused on the supernatural miracle of what happens in the soul. This was not that book, and Piper never advertised it as such. However, I still benefited from reading it.

Piper is at pains to define "born again" biblically, apart from the popular definition used in surveys of "born again Christians." He is very focused on the order in which hearing, being born again, and faith must happen, using several passages to show the unity of Scripture on this point. He also focuses much on how one can know whether one is "born again," mainly drawing from 1 John, and because of this, I could almost recommend a large portion of this book as a GREAT commentary on some of the thornier passages in 1 John. (Piper is great at untangling John's meditative, circular style. I am not.)

I will say that the prose, especially in the first half of the book, was almost unreadably clunky for me. In many paragraphs I felt like all he was doing was saying, "Okay, in the last paragraphs we've been establishing this. And our answers to that question were this and this. Now in these next paragraphs we'll be looking at these two questions: this and this. And we will find that the answers to these two questions will be this and this." Essentially, it felt like TOO much transition, as if the transitions got in the WAY of the flow when they were meant to make the flow clearer.

I'm glad I stuck with it, especially for the encouraging and pastoral chapters on evangelism at the end of the book.
358 reviews4 followers
December 28, 2021
In his characteristically lucid way, Piper delves into scripture to reveal what the new birth is, how it happens, and why it is important. Everyone should grapple with the contents of this book and come to terms with its implications.
January 22, 2021
A really helpful book on the new birth. It was helpful to me to see how reformed theology interprets and understands this doctrine. As always, Piper is thorough and biblical in his approach.
17 reviews
February 17, 2022
A good read but I had to read it slowly. Not my normal kind of book but I like to push myself to read a variety.
Profile Image for Ben Adkison.
119 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2016
I received a free copy of Finally Alive last month at the Death to Performance Conference in Nashville. Finally Alive is a new book (published in 2009) by John Piper that is all about regeneration. Regeneration is the technical (but still Biblical) term used to describe what the Bible calls “being born again.”

Piper’s aim is to return to a true, biblical understanding about the new birth. In the first chapter he offers a scathing rebuke to those who misuse the term “born again,” as well as two examples of true regeneration by examining the conversions of C. S. Lewis and Augustine. Building upon the argument that Christians must truly understand regeneration, Piper then spends the next fifteen chapters unpacking the biblical teaching about the new birth. In typical Piper fashion, the exposition of Scripture is precise, the writing is technical, and the truths are glorious. Piper ends the book by spending two chapters urging believers to spread the message of the gospel. Christians must proclaim the message of Jesus. As he says, “God’s role in bringing about the new birth is decisive, and our role in bringing about the new birth is essential” (166). Piper is a Calvinist, but a biblical Calvinist who realizes that humans are the agency that God has appointed to proclaim the gospel to the world.

I found this book really encouraging. Piper’s balance in explaining the doctrine of regeneration is spot-on. He studies the work of regeneration from both God’s perspective and man’s perspective. The new birth is unashamedly God’s work, but is always accompanied immediately by faith in the life of a believer. As Piper says on page 33, “When answering the question What happens in the new birth? never separate these two sayings of Jesus in John 3: ‘Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’ (v. 3), and, ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life’ (v. 36).” Equally important in Finally Alive is Piper’s explanation of grace and work in the life of a believer. The new birth occurs by grace alone, but by grace Christians become irreversibly linked with Christ and his life. This union with Jesus always results in love and good deeds, and evidence true saving faith in the life of a believer. The most compelling part of the book for me was definitely the last two chapters. In chapters fourteen and fifteen, Piper encourages believers to return to good old-fashioned evangelism. As he says, “We’re ending with personal evangelism – an old-fashioned commitment in new contexts for the sake of the new birth in thousands of spiritually dead people for the glory of Jesus Christ” (177). He urges believers to “Tell people the good news of Christ from a heart of love and life of service” (166).

Having read this book, I’m more compelled than ever to embrace God’s absolute sovereignty in salvation, and my absolute need to share Jesus to those around me. Christians must never bow to a fatalistic mindset that ignores the necessity of sharing the gospel. While I know this to be true, I still struggle to be bold with my faith. But as Paul said, “the gospel…is the power of salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
Profile Image for Daniel Duane.
40 reviews
July 30, 2014
First, Piper asks his readers this very fundamental question:-

Have you been born again?

Then he scrutinizes 1 John and 1 Peter to answer a few other questions that stem out from the most accurate definition of being born again.

What is the new birth?
Why must we be born again?
How does the new birth come about?
What are the effects of the new birth?
How can we help others become born again?

Piper also lists how corrupted we are when we're not born again:

1. We are dead in trespasses and sin.
2. We are by nature children of wrath.
3. We love darkness and hate the light.
4. Our hearts are hard like stone.
5. We are unable to submit to God or please God.
6. We are unable to accept the gospel.
7. We are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord.
8. Apart from the new birth, we are slaves to sin.
9. Apart from the new birth, we are slaves of Satan.
10. Apart from the new birth, no good thing dwells in us.

Piper believes that the key is “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” The commandments are not burdensome when we are born again. In fact, obeying the commandments will come naturally when we're born again, just like heat from fire(love this analogy).

There are three links: Loving others, the new birth, and faith in Jesus. He also explains that Faith and Love are inseparable but distinguishable.

Very well written, explicit, detailed, profound, and founded on the from the Bible(which is the most important element). He adds an index for those who want to study deeper the verses he applied. It's like a short commentary.

My favourite quotes:-
1 Peter 2: 3 says you will have this desire "if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good." This is key to personal evangelism: Have you tasted the word of God - especially the gospel - that the Lord is good? Have you tasted it? I am not asking: Have you thought about it? I am not asking: Have you decided to affirm it? I am asking: Have you tasted it? Are there living, spiritual taste buds in your heart that taste Christ as more desirable than all?

If you come, you will be truly, invincibly, finally alive.
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