Each February Margie and I look forward to attending the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis. And each year we look forward to John Piper’s lecture during the conference, which always consists of a biographical sketch of one of his theological heroes. “God ordains that we gaze on his glory,” Piper says, “dimly mirrored in the ministry of his flawed servants. He intends for us to consider their lives and peer through the imperfections of their faith and behold the glory of their God. ‘Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith’ (Hebrews 13:7).”
Now three of those lectures—on Augustine, Luther, and Calvin—are available in book form as The Legacy of Sovereign Joy.
“It is a book about three famous and flawed fathers in the Christian church,” Piper writes. “Therefore it is a book about grace, not only because the faithfulness of God triumphs over the flaws of men, but also because this was the very theme of their lives and work. Aurelius Augustine (354-430), Martin Luther (1483-1546), and John Calvin (1509-1564) had this in common: they experienced, and then built their lives and ministries on, the reality of God’s omnipotent grace. In this way their common passion for the supremacy of God was preserved from the taint of human competition. Each of them confessed openly that the essence of experiential Christianity is the glorious triumph of grace over the guilty impotence of man.”
Piper’s obvious love for these heroes of the faith, his eagerness to honor and learn from them while refusing to overlook their faults and errors, and his passion for calling the people of God to rejoice in God’s grace make these biographical sketches a delight to read and discuss.
We recommend The Legacy of Sovereign Joy to you. And we recommend listening to the audio version on tape as well, since Piper is a passionate and effective public speaker.