Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Review: The Joy Project

The Joy Project. Tony Reinke. 2015. Desiring God. 122 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: How much of your life is driven by the desire for joy? Well, all of it. We know we need joy like we need food and water. How we get joy is something of a mystery, and most of us are content to leave that mystery unsolved. We simply want to experience the joy we desire. Joy is real, but joy is also elusive.

Premise/plot: Reinke introduces readers to the JOY PROJECT asserting that "someone else is more concerned for your joy than you could ever be." And that someone is GOD himself who "has been planning your joy since before you were born." Unlike man-made happiness projects or joy projects that depend on you--your lists, your plans, your ambition, your gumption, your whatever--the real path to joy is to be discovered in Scripture. Reinke writes, "The Joy Project is the heartbeat of Scripture. Neglect the Bible, and you neglect God’s Joy Project, and you neglect your own joy." So when he talks about the "JOY PROJECT" what is he talking about? He's talking about a little something called the DOCTRINES OF GRACE.

These doctrines of grace are not the deep space of Scripture; rather, they are its major constellations: bright, burning signs of God’s sovereign and saving activity. The story is so wonderful, so captivating, that it must be told and retold.

God has written our joy into a script and what he planned for us we can hardly imagine. The Joy Project is the boldest and subtlest story ever told. It will shock you, then it will bewilder you, and then it will plunge you into an ocean of divine love. It is a drama told in five acts.

He then introduces readers to TULIP. Each will get its own chapter.
TOTAL DEPRAVITY is not just badness, but blindness to beauty and deadness to joy. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION is how God planned, before we existed, to complete our joy in Christ. LIMITED ATONEMENT is the assurance that indestructible joy in God is infallibly secured for us by the blood of Jesus. IRRESISTIBLE GRACE is the sovereign commitment of God to make sure we hold on to superior delights instead of the false pleasures that will ultimately destroy us. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS is the almighty work of God to keep us, through all affliction and suffering, for an inheritance of pleasures at God’s right hand forever.
My thoughts: I LOVE this little book. I really do. I think Reinke did a great job of speaking clearly and honestly. He makes some great points in each chapter. He challenges readers to think and reflect.

One point he made early on was asserting that,
"The greatest hazard we face is not intellectual atheism—denying that God exists. Our most desperate problem is affectional atheism—refusing to believe God is the object of our greatest and most enduring joy."
 I think it's a valid point and definitely food for thought. He continues, 
"Sin is not merely wrong doing; sin is essentially wrong adoring. Sin is the fastening of our hearts on any good, treasure, or security in life that replaces the good, treasure, and security of God. This is the chief question of life. This is the chief determination of our joy. This is the misstep that sends us down the rabbit hole, where we find ourselves lost atheists in the core of our being... Our root problem is not that we break commandments; our problem is that we ignore God. Ignoring the beauty of God is the essence of total depravity. It’s what makes the depravity so holistic— we cannot begin to imagine how any real sense of pleasure or joy can be found in our Creator! To us sinners, God is only a boring obstacle to our pleasure. This dynamic is what makes our depravity total."
 How many Christians really think of sin as wrong adoring?!
If our greatest problem— our total depravity— is our failure to treasure God, then our greatest need in life is to come alive to God’s beauty. This is the work of regeneration. Regeneration is the infusion of God’s life into my spiritual deadness so that I can now behold his resplendence. It’s exactly what we need for God’s Joy Project to take root in us. In sin, our reason loses its way because its compass is not pointed toward God. In sin, our will and desires go off course because they have no captain at the helm. Grace fixes the compass and sets our course, putting our reason, will, and desires on a fixed course toward God and toward genuine joy.
Another great point: "If we deceive ourselves, it is only inevitable that we will also deceive others."

Reinke also knows how to effectively quote others. This is a Tim Keller quote:
 “The doctrine of original sin is rude. It is the most incomprehensible of all the doctrines, and yet without it, we become incomprehensible to ourselves.” 
And here is a gem by John Piper, 
"If we want to go deeper in our experience of God’s grace, this is an ocean of love for us to enjoy. God does not mean for the bride of his Son to only feel loved with general, world-embracing love. He means for her to feel ravished with the specificity of his affection that he set on her before the world existed. He means for us to feel a focused: “I chose you. And I send my Son to die to have you.” This is what we offer the world. We don’t horde it for ourselves. And we don’t abandon it by saying, all we have to offer the world is God’s general love for all people. No, we offer this. We offer a full and complete and definite atonement. We offer Christ. We don’t say, come to a possibility. We say, come to Christ. Receive Christ. And what we promise them if they come is that they will be united to him and his bride. And all that he bought for his bride will be theirs. All that he secured with absolute certainty will be their portion forever." 
Not everyone he quotes is a believer, but, all quotes ultimately challenge readers to fully believe the truth.

Since many, many people struggle with the "L" of Tulip, I thought I would share this little list:
In all these ways (and others), joy springs from Christ’s blood for the elect. In its concentrated form, here’s what Christ’s joy looks like:
  • Jesus found exuberant delight in the Father’s plan to save the elect.
  • Jesus desired that his joy in the Father, through the Spirit, would overflow in the lives of God’s children.
  • Jesus died to redeem the elect, to become their High Priest, and to guarantee their eternal flourishing.
  • Jesus’s blood defeated every ultimate impediment to the joy of God’s chosen.
  • Jesus’s blood purchased for the elect the promised joys of the new covenant.
  • Jesus’s blood purchased the Holy Spirit, opening an eternal fountain of eternal joy in the life of the elect, which is the joy of Christ in them.
Understanding the depths of these concentrated truths will take an eternity of study, reflection, and worship.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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