The Legacy of Sovereign Grace

By John Piper
Wheaton, IL : Crossway (2000). 160 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Richard Mayhue
11.2 (Fall 2000) : 263-264

John Piper looks at three famous Fathers of the Christian church who shared a similar theme in their lives and work. Aurelius Augustine (354-430), Martin Luther (1483-1546), and John Calvin (1509-1564) “ministered in the reality of God’s Omnipotent Grace.” Each was seriously flawed, in that Augustine grappled with sexual passion, Martin Luther struggled to control his tongue, and John Calvin fought the battle of faith with the world’s weapons. Yet, God used each of these men in a mighty way.

According to Piper, Augustine’s vision of salvation through Jesus Christ and of living the Christian life was rooted in his understanding and experience of grace. Prayer was the basis of Luther’s approach to studying God’s Word. Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit provided Luther the enlightenment he sought. A breakthrough came for him in 1518 when his study of the Word led him to understand justification by faith alone, apart from the works of law. Calvin was “taken captive to preaching” when he saw the majesty of God in His Word.

The author’s examination of these three famous men leads him to offer the following advice:

“Do not be paralyzed by your weaknesses and flaws.”

“In the battle against sin and surrender, learn the secret of sovereign joy.”

“Supernatural change comes from seeing Christ in His sacred Word.”

“Therefore, let us exult over the exposition of the truth of the Gospel and herald the glory of Christ for the joy of all peoples.”

Centuries after their deaths, the lives and messages of Calvin, Luther, and Augustine continue to resonate clearly. The Legacy of Sovereign Joy is inspirational reading for every pastor who wants to understand God’s grace more fully and minister more powerfully as a result of it.