Luther’s Hymn

In devil’s dungeon chained I lay

The pangs of death swept o’er me.

My sin devoured me night and day

In which my mother bore me.

My anguish ever grew more rife,

I took no pleasure in my life

And sin had made me crazy.


Then was the Father troubled sore

To see me ever languish.

The Everlasting Pity swore

To save me from my anguish.

He turned to me his father heart

And chose himself a bitter part,

His Dearest did it cost him.


Thus spoke the Son, “Hold thou to me,

From now on thou wilt make it.

I have my very life for thee

And for thee I will stake it.

For I am thine and thou art mine,

And where I am our lives entwine,

The Old Fiend cannot shake it.


The Joy of Calvinism

However the terms are refined, the main tenets of Calvinism are structured around the five-petaled acronym TULIP. But too often missing in this structure is the “sap of delight,” as Pastor John calls it in his biography of Augustine.

In the following excerpt from that biography, Pastor John explains why we need a delight-drenched theology like that of Augustine.

R. C. Sproul says, “We need an Augustine or a Luther to speak to us anew lest the light of God’s grace be not only overshadowed but be obliterated in our time.”

Yes, we do. But we also need tens of thousands of ordinary pastors, who are ravished with the extraordinary sovereignty of joy that belongs to and comes from God alone. And we need to rediscover Augustine’s peculiar slant — a very biblical slant — on grace as the free gift of sovereign joy in God that frees us from the bondage of sin. We need to rethink our Reformed view of salvation so that every limb and every branch in the tree is coursing with the sap of Augustinian delight.

We need to make plain that [T] total depravity is not just badness, but blindness to beauty and deadness to joy; and [U] unconditional election means that the completeness of our joy in Jesus was planned for us before we ever existed; and that [L] limited atonement is the assurance that indestructible joy in God is infallibly secured for us by the blood of the covenant; and [I] irresistible grace is the commitment and power of God’s love to make sure we don’t hold on to suicidal pleasures, and to set us free by the sovereign power of superior delights; and that the [P] 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.

This note of sovereign, triumphant joy is a missing element in too much Reformed theology and Reformed worship. And it may be that the question we should pose ourselves is whether this is so because we have not experienced the triumph of sovereign joy in our own lives.*


* Excerpt taken from John Piper’s 1998 biography of Augustine; also published in Piper’s, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy (Crossway, 2006), 73; and published in Piper’s, Taste and See (Multnomah, 2005), 73. See also Piper’s DVD series, TULIP: The Pursuit of God’s Glory in Salvation.

The Forgotten Zwingli

Luther. Calvin.

The Mantle and Ruth who brought out the boomsticks of church reform.

The Superman and Batman of the Justified League.

Their names are mentioned in the same breath with the word “Reformation.”


Oh yeah. He was around too.

I think.

Like an Aquaman of Reformers, he remains a tad obscure. Most of us have a ripple of awareness he’s in the League.

And this will be true of most young, aspiring pastors. We’re often daunted by the big names because we know (in our most honest moments) that we won’t be joining the majors on the conference circuit or in the history books.

Ulrich Zwingli’s story helps us be okay with that.

Zwingli’s road to salvation and ministry began with a desire to read the Bible. Young Ulrich was exposed to the Bible’s entirety after learning Greek in a secular humanist college. He subversively read its text cover to cover (recall in those days the Catholic Church did not allow lay persons access to the full text of Scripture). This caused him to reevaluate his view of the Bible as a mere book of moral virtue. It was into its fountain that he dove and met Christ. This was the headspring of an eventual overflow that would affect a small congregation in Zurich, Switzerland, forever.

Zwingli’s enthusiasm for the Bible saturated his life of devotion, study and preaching. He believed, against the tide of culture, that the gospel of Scripture was within the grasp of any ordinary intelligence. So God placed this mild-mannered man in the pulpit of a local cathedral in Zurich where he announced that he would ignore preaching from commentaries and preach from the Bible, for it was there that the true gospel would shine – and cause true reformation.

Luther and Calvin’s voices carried. Zwingli’s people reportedly complained of not being able to hear him. But the message of the gospel resounded nonetheless. The established church and unsaved souls of the Swiss people would be forever changed by the following years of steady, gospel-centered preaching and counsel to come.

Dubbed “The People’s Priest,” Zwingli swam against the tide of aloof priests and believed every preacher should be a watchman of the flock entrusted to him. A lover of the Old Testament, Zwingli repeatedly rehearsed the image of the shepherd as descriptive of the call of God upon the minister. He took frequent audiences with church members and even stood for the gospel in civic affairs. Over time, he noticed that this steady diet of biblical preaching and counseling increased the depth of biblical literacy in his people and altered their flow of desire to fidelity for the Savior. God became famous in Zurich and throughout the country of Switzerland because an ordinary man decided to dig in to his local church and, over years, show His people Christ in the Scriptures.

Zwingli didn’t leave us near the volumes of writing and commentary that Luther and Calvin did. Perhaps that’s why we hear less of him. But his story of faithful gospel ministry serves as reminder to us all of the exclusive means of true reform in the local church. He knew that if any influence flowed from him, it came from the primary fount: the very words of God.

You and I will likely never be a Luther. But we can be a Zwingli, quietly epic in our own stewardship of the gospel entrusted to us.

Posted Originally on The Village Church blog here: