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Review: Spectacular Sins And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ

By Fred Zaspel–

John Piper. Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

Most Christians have wondered at some time or another about the problem of evil. The question why God allows “spectacular” sins and disasters can be a puzzling one. And of course many books have been written to address the question, and from various angles. But precious few have been offered with the robust faith of this delightful little volume.

The curious thing about the Bible, in this connection, is that in facing the question of sin the inspired writers never retreat from the notion of divine sovereignty or shy away in the least from their firm declaration that God rules over all — including evil. They boldly declare that all that is exists because God has created it for his own purpose and glory, and that if it did not serve to this end it would not exist at all.

Piper takes this Biblical notion and runs with it — or revels in it, I should say — and finds here the ultimate answer to all that may puzzle us. With keen theological insight and warm pastoral concern he presents to us the exalted Christ who reigns over all for his own glory. Taking his text in Colossians 1:16-17 he expounds this deeply reassuring truth that all things were created by Christ and for him. He then traces out this theme in relation to many of the “spectacular sins” of Biblical history — the fall of Satan, the rebellion of Adam, the tower of Babel, the sale of Joseph in to slavery, Israel’s sinful clamor for a king, and Judas Iscariot and the crucifixion — and demonstrates in each case that and how it was designed by God for his own good purpose. In the end we are impressed to learn afresh that sin is a strange tool of divine providence indeed, but a tool of divine providence it is nonetheless.

In the space of just over a hundred small pages Piper combines profound theological truth and rich devotional encouragement that will strengthen the faith of any Christian. Lofty concepts though these may be, particularly for those to whom this consideration is new, the book is well within the grasp of the average Christian and is marvelously well-suited as a gift and for reading and discussion groups. It is profound theology made simple and applied theology displayed in rich and warm and fervent devotion.

Fred Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010) and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012).

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