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The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (The Swans Are Not Silent #1)

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4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  677 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Augustine. Luther. Calvin. We read their books, their commentaries, their sermons, and we admire them for their greatness. We think of them as nearly perfect giants of the faith--locked peacefully inside their studies, relentlessly writing, rarely disturbed--who enjoyed a mystical union with God that they alone could know.

But John Piper records the truth: Their experience
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Hardcover, 158 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by Crossway Books
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Jesvin Jose
Feb 17, 2016 Jesvin Jose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a joy it is to behold God's triumphant grace in the lives of these "flawed saints"! How God rescued Augustine from sexual promiscuity is such a powerful testimony of the God we serve - the God who persistently seeks His own! Augustine, Luther and Calvin were weak in themselves but they were strong in the might of our God. Glory be to Him! Piper doesn't hide their faults, and displays how the majesty of God revealed through the Word of God awakened in them "sovereign joy" and so helped them ...more
Jacob Aitken
As far as a narrative goes, this is decent. Piper cannot escape his enlightenment presuppositions. He attacks all three on points which aren't really their fault:

Augustine: he attacks Augustine's sexual immorality and notes, "the saints aren't perfect." Well, they are not but this was PRE-CONVERSION.

Calvin: he attacks Calvin on the Servetus episode and sort of ends with a passionate plea for justice for Servetus. Except he doesn't realize Calvin did not put Servetus to death. This is a historica
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Kevin McCarthy
Dec 22, 2015 Kevin McCarthy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As Piper reveals, Augustine, Luther and Calvin had one significant thing in common: a nearly insane single-mindedness to know, enjoy, study and preach God. That, by far, is the biggest encouragement this book offers. It's difficult to even imagine a person being that focused on one thing in today's world. But it is interesting to consider what that would look like.
David Gregg
All of Piper's biographical sketches are pearl. The conference version is available for streaming or download as MP3 for free at the Desiring God website.
Stephen Stripling
Easily one of the most spiritually enriching books I've ever read.
Hank Pharis
In this book Piper examines the life of perhaps the three most important men in church history. B.B. Warfield famously said that Augustine was both the founder of Roman Catholic ideas of the church and Protestant ideas of salvation. He is certainly the most important theologian of the first 1500 years of church history and a huge influence on both Luther and Calvin. Agostina Trape thus says: "Augustine was . . . a philosopher, theologian, mystic, and poet in one. . . . His lofty powers complemen ...more
Daniel
Apr 19, 2012 Daniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: church-history, joy
“The Legacy of Sovereign Joy” is the first book by Pastor
John Piper in a series entitled “The Swans are not
Silent”. This series gives a brief glimpse into the lives

of people used by God in the history of the church.
However, the purpose is not primarily biographical,
but to highlight the character of God in the lives of
these notable Christians. As the title suggests, the
focus of this book is finding joy in a sovereign God. The
characters Piper focuses on are St. Augustine, Martin
Luther and John Cal
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Bob Hayton
Jun 25, 2008 Bob Hayton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
John Piper’s biographies are written with a pastor’s eye and so are more than just the story of a famous individual. Rather, they focus on how the person ticked, and how they lived for Jesus. This book looks at 3 great men in the history of the Church, and even though each man had serious flaws, Piper points out the evidences of God’s grace and how these men were used so mightily for God.

It would be hard to pick three more trans-formative individuals in church history than the three Piper survey
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Heath Marion
Sep 17, 2012 Heath Marion rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If church history is not your thing, don't worry this book is not a history book. In fact it reads more like a story and only one chapter is devoted to each of these three men. You have probably heard of the names of these three men whether you know much about their lives or ministries.

In this book you will be introduced to each man by an overview of their life, ministry, struggles, and victories. This book will create a thirst in you for God being supreme in your life. Piper writes to open the
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Julia
Jan 04, 2009 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pastors; M.Div students
Shelves: history
This is the first John Piper book that I have read and I'm glad that I started with this one because it is very thin, compared to his other books. It's easy to read and to get through. I appreciate John Piper so much after reading this book. He ties the legacy of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin which include both their strengths and weaknesses. The text actually comes from a series of sermons that he preached during a pastor's conference. So, the intended audience is for ministry professionals. Bu ...more
brad lucht
Feb 22, 2008 brad lucht rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is great for what it is designed for. If you are looking for a full biography of the lives of these men, this is not the book. If you are looking for a quick synopsis of their lives along with incredible insights and encouragements from their lives, this is a fantastic book. Also, it is slightly geared toward people in vocational ministry.
With all that in mind, I would highly recommend reading this. It is a quick read and extremely motivating for ministry purposes. Piper has an incred
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David Batten
Perhaps it was because I read this book late at night, but it felt much less coherent and pointed than others I have read by Piper. It does have a fair retelling of this history of Augustine, Luther and Calvin, as well as take home points to learn from each one. It is also very accessible for anyone who wants to benefit from church history yet feels a bit out of their league on the topic. Yet, comparing this biographical trio to a later one in the series, I think this early work lacks the struct ...more
Josue Manriquez
Jan 24, 2012 Josue Manriquez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book in which Piper briefly reviews the lives of three reformers—-Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. These were flawed men who struggled with sin, health, persecution, and more, yet their commitment to delighting in God, displaying His glory, and declaring His Word has left a lasting legacy that has affected all people (whether they know it or not). Still, there is much to learn by their example and writings. Perhaps you should read this book to whet your appetite for further st ...more
Brian
May 16, 2010 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian, biography
This is a great series of small books from a great Pastor. This was the first of the series and one that just added much joy to my life and endeared me to these three great men that the book touches on. Luther, Calvin and Augustine. This simply can't be missed. All three of these giants of the faith encountered the grace of God in ways that enabled them to do tremendous things, I'm in awe of what they did and how much they have impacted the church. Check it out you won't be disapointed.
Lee Gunter
Jun 04, 2011 Lee Gunter rated it really liked it
This is not John Piper's best book. But if it had come from any of several dozen authors I can think of and do gladly read, it would be among their best.

The introductory section read a bit dry to me, but the main course of the book - being the discourses on Augustine, Luther and Calvin - ended that.

To anyone interested in the history of the church, the foundations of the reform or the message of sovereign joy I heartily recommend this book.
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
Excellent writing and very encouraging. All the focus of this book is on God and God alone. It barely mentions man and his needs. Man is only a vessel, and our lives are a means by which to glorify God. God is the central focus.

I loved the stories of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. They were not portrayed as heroes, but as normal men with flaws whom God used mightily, so that the glory is always God's.
Fantastic stuff.
CJ
Aug 18, 2010 CJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The "sovereign joy" of the title refers to a work of saving grace in Augustine's life. Augustine was given a gift of joy that made all his former joys pale in comparison. Martin Luther's grace was for "sacred study" of scripture. John Calvin's grace was to the effect of preaching the "divine majesty of God's Word." All three men give hope to all of us who are flawed in our natural selves but have faith in the grace of God.
Bill
Jul 25, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Encouraging, bite sized, theological biograpies (of Augustine, Luther and Calvin). The chapter on Augustine made me very keen to read his Confessions. The chapter on Luther was really inspiring, lots of stuff to spur me on in ministry. I also liked the honest examination of their faults. These are not neutral accounts of their lives, they are themed around Piper's own theological passions. I quite enjoy this, because Piper's aim is to encourage, not just to recount history.
Aaron Pratt
Jun 27, 2016 Aaron Pratt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely beautiful, riveting, challenging, and encouraging. Three men who, perhaps better than any other in church history, exemplify a God-centeredness and dedication to the majesty, glory and grace of Christ that is and produces sovereign joy in our lives. One could summarize that the sanctifying power of sovereign joy does not arise in a blind soul. “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another”. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Bethany
Not exactly what I expected... Very light on the biography and heavier on exposition around key theological beliefs or themes that were central to Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Helpful as I knew very little about each, and some key points really stuck with me (like Luther reading the entirety of the Bible 2x a year every year) but was expecting something a little different.
Joan
Nov 28, 2007 Joan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was excellent. It encouraged me and inspired me. It always amazes me to read of Christians in the past; I see vivid examples of how God remains the same even though time passes and cultures vary. God works faithfully and constantly today, just as He did centuries ago. I will read this book again and again.
Matthew Bandy
Aug 04, 2015 Matthew Bandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about three famous theologians Augustine, Luther, Calvin. You can sum the book up by three phrases – finding joy and pleasure in God over joy in sin, The importance of diligence and faithfulness in the study of the Bible, and the importance of illustrating the glory of God through expositional preaching.
Wendy Rabe
I began re-reading this because I gave a copy to my friend for Christmas in 2008 and she fell in love with Piper! I read it the first time in April 2008, and now again in March 2009. I was reminded again that these great men did not let their flaws paralyze them, but pressed on and lived lives that shouted the story of God's grace.
Dan
Dec 15, 2007 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very readable and quick education in church history. I consider it the best in Piper's biography series. He briefly examines the lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin and gleans from them lessons for us all. These guys are amazing, although flawed. Piper makes a point to cover both the strengths and defects of each.
Towens23
Jul 03, 2008 Towens23 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the whole "Swans Are Not Silent" series in which Piper does a partial biography of three Christians from the past in each book. And each book has a specific theme. This one in particular focuses on the role of Joy in the life of Augustine, Luther and Calvin.
Leila Bowers
Sep 25, 2009 Leila Bowers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite book in Piper's The Swans Are Not Silent series. This is a fantastic way to read shortened biography - it will strengthen your faith, convict you, and give you an appreciation for those who have gone before.
Anna
Jan 27, 2009 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gave a great overview of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin's commitment to exalting God and understanding Scripture.
Kathryn Spurgeon
Learned so much about Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin maintained joy in the midst of trails. Want to read it again.
Wade
Aug 24, 2007 Wade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church-history
A solid and easy to read biography on the lives of Augustine, Luther and Calvin. Showing their theology and their life struggles how that deeply applies to our lives today.
Jo
May 13, 2012 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The "Swans are not silent" series was a wonderful adjustment to my modern day christianity mindset.
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John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethe
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More about John Piper...

Other Books in the Series

The Swans Are Not Silent (7 books)
  • The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (The Swans Are Not Silent, #2)
  • The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce (Swans Are Not Silent, #3)
  • Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen  (The Swans Are Not Silent, #4)
  • Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (The Swans Are Not Silent #5)
  • Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis (The Swans Are Not Silent #6)
  • A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, and Hudson Taylor (The Swans Are Not Silent #7)

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