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Customer Review

on January 11, 2005
This is John Piper's best book of the last several years, which builds on (but doesn't repeat, contrary to one review) the foundations laid in Desiring God: The Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Because the supreme duty of every follower of Jesus is to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31) and because praise on the lips divorced from delight in the heart is hypocrisy (Matthew 15:8), nothing is more important than having a heart that is so satisfied in Jesus that it can say, "Whom have I heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire beside You" (Psalm 73:25). And since sustaining that kind of desire for God is a fight, John Piper served us well by writing this helpful book.

Chapter One is entitled, "Why I Wrote This Book." From the outset Piper makes clear that "the fight for joy in Christ is not a fight to soften the cushion of Western comforts. It is a fight to live a life of self-sacrificing love." (p. 20). This is no health/wealth/prosperity handbook to grabbing as much joy in this life as possible. It is a field-manual for the believer who is dead earnest about not wasting his life on trivialities.

Chapter Two, "What is the Difference Between Desire and Delight," far from playing fast and loose in defining words, is a helpful exploration of "affections." Drawing on C. S. Lewis's "Surprised by Joy," Piper demonstrates that desire and delight are different though related, with God the all-important object of both. His discussion is laden with Scripture and his use of language wise.

Chapter Three, "The Call to Fight for Joy in God," is a serious look at God's demand that we delight in Him. Delight in God is serious because the essence of evil is to choose broken cisterns over the Fountain of Living Water (Jer. 2:13). And joy in God is so central to saving faith that Piper rightly says, "Heaven hangs on having the taste of joy in God" (p. 34). Which is why fighting for it is so urgent. This, however, doesn't lead us into the cul-de-sac of legalism, because "Joy in God is a Gift of God" (Chapter Four). God graciously gives what He demands by creating delight in our hearts. Chapter Five further explores that gift in discussing how "The Fight for Joy is a Fight to See" - and seeing is the result of God's gracious work. "Without the work of our omnipotent internal Eye Surgeon we would remain blind and unable to see. Oh, how we need the gift of spiritual sight!" (p. 58) Chapter Six, "Fighting for Joy Like a Justified Sinner," shows how the gospel is central to our fight for joy and urges us to feast on the gospel in the preached Word and the Lord's Table.

Chapters Seven through Twelve take us deeper into application, as Piper teaches us how to "Wield the Word in the Fight for Joy" (Chapters Seven and Eight), discusses the focus and practice of prayer in the fight for joy (Chapters Nine and Ten), and explores "How to Wield the World in the Fight for Joy" (Chapter Eleven - a very useful chapter which shows how to use food and fasting, sex and suffering, art and literature, and rest and nature in the fight for joy). Chapter Twelve is a hopeful encouragement for "When the Darkness Does Not Lift."

I've read most of Piper's books and this one is near the top, along with the classics Desiring God, Future Grace, and The Pleasures of God. It is certainly his most practical book to date and will be my companion for many years as I continue to battle for a heart satisfied in God alone.
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