How would you like a book that takes the concept of grace and interweaves it through the whole of Scripture? By that I mean what grace really means to us. How does faith play out to bring the dramatic power of grace into our lives? How does grace, faith, sin, and the promises of God interrelate to make the Christian life the awesome thing it is? I assure you that Mr. Piper makes one of the strongest explanations I have seen in that regard.
Not that I would agree with everything he writes (I don’t), but he takes you to thoughts that need to be entertained though you have never thought them before. That interrelation of key Bible concepts I spoke of is the volume’s greatest asset. He connected a few dots for me.
Though he ties many things together, his theme is one: we must live by faith in the future grace of God. We find that that simple theme brings great clarity to the Christian life as expressed in the Scriptures. Or as he further explained, “…the faith which justifies also sanctifies, because the nature of faith is to be satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus.”
I can at best whet you appetite in this review of the things he brings out. For example, he describes sin as what you do when you are not satisfied with God. We sin, he says, because we believe we will find happiness there. That presupposes a lack of faith in what God said. If we believed His grace will deliver what it promised, it would be impossible to think that the sin in question could bring happiness. I can see that truth, can’t you?
Perhaps you will be as shocked as I was to follow his discussion on the debtor’s ethic. He justly describes how we so often try to motivate ourselves and others by saying that we owe the Lord for what He did for us. Though what He did for us is monumental beyond description, he shows that is not at all how the Bible seeks to motivate us. No, he rightly argues, our problem is always a lack of faith, not a lack of gratitude, when it comes to the matter of radically following and obeying Jesus Christ.
Pride, he goes on, is a specific form of unbelief that is a turning from God to self. With that goes a loss of faith that comes a foolish faith in the promises of self. That ties the hands of grace’s work. Building on C.S. Lewis he tells of the “itch of self-regard and the scratch of self-approval.” He quotes: “The pleasure of pride is like the pleasure of scratching. If there is an itch one does want to scratch; but it is much nicer to have neither the itch nor the scratch.” He explains how the craving of the praise of others is a loss of faith in future grace.
There is so much more. He goes all the way to a faith in future grace that can triumphantly lay down one’s life for the glory of God as many martyrs before us have done. How did they do it? They believed the promises of God and the grace they contain.
Besides a few points of disagreement, I love this book. I find it superior to his writings on Christian hedonism, though he believes they are connected. It is 400 pages that I had to read slowly, but it is worth it. He has conveniently given this work in 31 chapters if you want to take a month with it. That might be the best way.
This volumes re-establishes how my faith in what my Lord has told me is so essential to the overall success of my Christian life. For that, I thank Mr. Piper.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .