Tolle Lege: Future Grace

Readability: 3

Length: 401 pp

Author: John Piper

Here is savory truth, slow cooked to intensify flavor over thirty-one days.  Here are thirty-one meditations that are deeply theological and deeply practical. With all of the contemporary discussions concerning the gospel, law, and sanctification, this book written more than a decade earlier is now even more helpful and needed. Piper shows that we are sanctified by faith, but that we must fight for faith, and that specifically the faith that we fight for is faith in future grace. Future Grace will show you the God-glorifying nature of faith, the promises it leans into, and give instruction on how to fight for faith in those promises. Most helpful are the smattering of chapters that deal with fighting the specific sins of pride, anxiety, shame, impatience, covetousness, bitterness, despondency, and lust. This will prove to be a hard read for some. I’ll give you Piper’s own words why you should read this book anyway:

Every book worth reading beckons with the words, “Think over what I say.” I do not believe that what I have written is hard to understand – if the person is willing to think it over. When my sons complain that a good book is hard to read, I say, “Raking is easy, but all you get his leaves; digging is hard that you might find diamonds.”

There are diamonds here. Here are a few:

Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. No one sins out of duty. We sin because it holds out some promise of happiness. That promise enslaves us until we believe that God is more to be desired than life itself (Psalm 63:3). Which means that the power of sin’s promise is broken by the power of God’s. All that God promises to be for us in Jesus stands over against what sin promises to be for us without him.

I conclude that the New Testament teaches us to obey the commandments of God – the law of Christ – by faith in future grace. The commandments of Christ are not negligible because we are under grace. They are doable because we are under grace.

Hell will not be able to blackmail heaven into misery. God’s judgment will be approved, and the saints will experience the vindication of truth as a great grace.

The test of whether our faith is the kind of faith that justifies is whether it is the kind of faith that sanctifies.

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The Pugilist: The Law Presupposes Grace

The piety of the Old Testament thus began with faith. And though, when the stage of the law was reached, the emphasis might seem to be thrown rather on the obedience of faith, what has been called ‘faith in action,’ yet the giving of the law does not mark a fundamental change in the religion of Israel, but only a new stage in its orderly development. The law-giving was not a setting aside of the religion of promise, but an incident in its history; and the law given was not a code of jurisprudence for the world’s government, but a body of household ordinances for the regulation of God’s family. It is therefore itself grounded upon the promise, and it grounds the whole religious life of Israel and the grace of the covenant God (Ex. xx. 2). It is only because Israel are the children of God, and God has sanctified them unto Himself and chosen them to be a peculiar people into Him (Deut. xiv. 1), that He proceeds to frame them by His law for His especial treasure (Ex. xix. 5, cf. Tit. ii. 14). Faith, therefore, does not appear as one of the precepts of law, nor as a virtue superior to its precepts, nor yet as a substitute for keeping them; it rather lies behind the law as its presupposition. – B.B. Warfield, The Biblical Doctrine of Faith