The title of this book does not do it justice. Paired with the subtitle, it makes a little more sense: “The Purifying Power of Living By Faith in Future Grace.” Even then, it still fails to accurately convey the compelling, life-altering teachings found in this book.
Future Grace seems to be much more essential than Piper’s other works. Some of Piper’s works—such as A Peculiar Glory (which I recently reviewed), God is the Gospel, or The Pleasures of God—are focused on theological concepts. While each of these books does have significantly practical implications for daily living, they approach this by investigating and defending theological ideas.
This book is different. Piper veers a bit from some of his core teachings—although they are still present—to focus with great intensity on a single, foundational idea, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Piper structures thirty-one chapters around an exploration of this idea, unpacking it to explain that we live righteous, Godly lives through faith in God’s promises of future grace. This grace is undeserved favor or merit, which we should recognize at the present; apprehending God’s great and glorious promises for future grace empowers a life of holiness now.
The book’s argument starts with the problems of the “debtor’s ethic” and gratitude-driven Christianity teaching that pervades evangelicalism today, and then considers the place of faith in future grace in the Scripture. One of the more insightful sections explores how the righteous in the Old Testament—pre-Christ—lived by faith in future grace, not by works. Piper’s exploration of this idea shatters the notion that God’s people under the old covenant were saved by works.
Another contrarian perspective woven through this book is the concept of conditional promises and the implications that one could appear to “lose salvation.” Piper is renowned as a Reformed theologian, but he argues powerfully against the misapplication of the doctrine of perseverance. In an exceptional chapter on lust, Piper quotes Christ and apostles to drive home the conclusion that failing to actively fight lust will result in eternal damnation—not because Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t effectual, but because faith that saves is also faith that fights sin. A person who is not fighting lust shows that they are not saved.
Future Grace is explicitly intended to be read slowly, one chapter at a time, almost like a devotional. This, in part, explains the thirty-one chapters, one for each day in a month. It is laid out with two or three chapters on principles and concepts, and then one chapter directly applying these ideas to specific areas of Christian struggle.
This book is a must-read for every Christian. It challenges erroneous ideas of how to live the Christian life and provides directly applicable instruction for taking the power of the promises in the Word and applying them, through faith, to our day-to-day walk.