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Yet each man will always be remembered for the messages he declared---messages that still resound today. Piper explores each of these men's lives, integrating Augustine's delight in God with Luther's emphasis on the Word and Calvin's exposition of Scripture. Through their strengths and struggles, we can learn how to live better today. As we consider their lives, we behold the glory and majesty of God and find power to overcome our weaknesses. If you're ever complacent about sin, lose the joy of Jesus, or become dulled by the world's influence, the lives of these men can help you recapture the wonder of God. Book 1 in The Swans Are Not Silent series.
|Format: DRM Free ePub|
Publication Date: 2006
Series: Swans Are Not Silent
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books, including Desiring God; Don’t Waste Your Life; This Momentary Marriage; A Peculiar Glory; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
The three great Christian pastor-theologians are Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Piper originally gave these chapters as addresses at the Desiring God Pastors Conference. They are not intellectually rigorous, academic studies. Instead, they brim with Pipers warm and zealous personalitya tone that matches the marvelous outworking of Gods grace in the lives of these men.
Each chapter is quite unique in their main themes. The title is thus somewhat misleading; not each life should be characterized by the one phrase, sovereign joy. Instead, only Augustines life and theology, according to Pipers estimation, can rightly be summarized by that phrase. Piper quotes extensively from The Confessions. In this way, we get a good grasp of his powerful voice. He summarizes Augustines theology with phrases like the following: Grace governs life by giving a supreme joy in the supremacy of God (p. 61). One quote, from the ninth book of The Confessions, is used several times throughout the book. In it Augustine contrasts those fruitless joys of his old nature with the sovereign joy of God Himself.
The chapters on Luther and Calvin are the highlights of the book, both in the amount of historical detail and in the striking contemporary relevance of their lives and ministries. This is the major point of continuity among all three men: the relevance and supremacy of grace, not only to the gospel and salvation, but to the current battle against Semi-Pelagian and even outright Pelagian outcroppings in evangelical theology. Luthers chapter focuses on his commitment to the external word. In both Luther and Calvin, this first commitment was so strong because they faced the powerful opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to the doctrine of sola scriptura. Against the backdrop of various persecutions and political upheaval, both Reformers lived and died for the supremacy of Gods Word. Piper shows them heaving and toiling in the study and exposition of Gods Word under tremendous external and internal strain. He demonstrates how both men were so captivated by the Word, that they were driven to the faithful, regular exposition of it.
The only weakness of this book is the slightly misleading title. However, as one reads through it, one comes to recognize sovereign joy in the gospel, in the Word, in grace, in preaching, in suffering, and ultimately, in every aspect of the redeemed life. One of the great strengths that should not go unnoticed is the recognition of the major flaws in the lives of these saints. Piper reminds us that we must learn the secret of gutsy guilt from the steadfastness of sinful saints who were not paralyzed by their imperfections. God has a great work for everyone to do (p. 145). Pastors will come away from this book humbled and then recharged for the great work of the gospel. Every believer will leave this book with their pride wounded, but their appetite for God and for doing His work raised to a higher level. Jason Park, Christian Book Previews.com
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