Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Roots of Endurance

The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce.
By John Piper.

Review (Part 1 of N, where N is approximately the equal to the number of chapters).

I thought for this book I might blog as I read through it, as I find helpful and interesting ideas.

The setting for Piper's book:
Our time is marked by emotional fragility. We shatter easily when misfortune comes our way. In the face of sustained contention, we have little ability to withstand the onslaught, let alone surmount it with joy.
So Piper goes in search of the "root" of endurance. What is it that gives Christians endurance in the life of Godliness, and endurance in the face of opposition:

In his search Piper finds Newton, Simeon and Wilberforce as:
Men who rose to the challenges before them. Men who endured trial after trial, year after year. Men who weathered life-long opposition with joy in Christ.

Newton was a slave trader who found "Amazing grace", and later became a pastor and authored that well-known hymn.
Simeon was a pastor who endured much opposition. For his first 12 years out of 54 at the same place, his "pewholding" parishioners boycotted his services.
Wilberforce is well known for his battle to first abolish the slave trade, and then slavery itself from Britain and its colonies - but what gave him the power to endure what became a very long battle?

In his introductory chapter, what I find very interesting, and indeed Piper was surprised by this - justification by faith is the root of endurance for these three warriors of the faith, especially for Wilberforce:
The deepest root of endurance for Wilberforce - and Newton and Simeon shared this view entirely - was the precious and powerful experience of the justification of the ungodly by faith alone (Romans 4:5) - leading necessarily to a life of glorious freedom in the never-ending battle against sin and injustice.
Piper (and I) knew somewhat of Newton's finding of "Amazing grace", but new little of the cause of Wilberforce's and Simeon's endurance.
I did not realize that both of these men would make the cross of Christ so vital to the root of their endurance, and that Wilberforce in particular would focus on the very nature of justification as the linchpin of endurance in righteous living.

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