John Piper, Tony Reinke

The Joy Project: An Introduction to Calvinism (with Study Guide)

Paperback, Three Ebook Formats
(2 customer reviews)

Foreword by John Piper

True happiness isn’t found. It finds you.

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The Joy Project: An Introduction to Calvinism (with Study Guide), by Tony Reinke

Endorsed by J. I. Packer, Rosaria Butterfield, Randy Alcorn, David Murray, Gloria Furman, Sam Storms, Michael Reeves, Benjamin Vrbicek.

True happiness is not found. It finds you.

We think of our chase for joy as a fundamental right—and it’s no surprise. By nature we are pleasure-seekers, though chronically unsuccessful at finding the type of joy that will endure for more than a passing moment.

But what if long-lasting joy isn’t found at all? What if the deepest and most durable happiness breaks into our lives, overcomes our boredom, and ultimately finds us? What if true joy is out of our reach, but reaches for us?

  • What if joy goes deeper than the flimsy foundations of organized day planners, thinned-out closets, freshly painted walls, or a perfectly followed gym routine?
  • What if joy is not found at the end of a to-do list?
  • What if joy is not governed by the personality assigned to me by the lottery of my genetic heritage?
  • What if Aristotle, when he said my happiness depends on me, was fundamentally wrong?

To say it another way: What if I told you someone else was more concerned for your joy than you could ever be? What if this person has been planning your joy since before you were born? Would you believe me, or would you write me off as a well-meaning but ignorant religious optimist?

If you’ll hear me out, I want to share with you a true story of inescapable happiness.

The Joy Project is a story that reminds us we are characters in God’s unfolding cosmic story. God has written our joy into a script, and what he planned for us we can hardly imagine. The Joy Project is the heartbeat of Scripture. Neglect the Bible, and you neglect God’s Joy Project, and you neglect your own joy. The Joy Project is the boldest story ever told. It will shock you, then it will bewilder you, and then it will plunge you into an ocean of divine love.


Tony Reinke is a staff writer for and host of the popular Ask Pastor John podcast. He’s the author of 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (2017). Tony lives in Phoenix, AZ with his wife and their three children.


“Biblically, colorfully, and with realistic precision, Tony Reinke presents God’s work of saving grace as a jamboree of overwhelming sovereign joy. This is a book of deep truth that does good to the heart as well as the head.”
–J. I. Packer

Click to read all endorsements

“Our eyes of flesh seek joy in the wrong places, define it with a bankrupt vocabulary, and settle for it using mistaken formulas. Because we don’t know what to do but try harder and hide our shame, we get stuck and sick, depressed and despondent. This dehumanizes us, discourages us, and defeats us. But there is hope! The Joy Project is applied Reformed theology at its best.”
–Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

“Biblically, colorfully, and with realistic precision, Tony Reinke presents God’s work of saving grace as a jamboree of overwhelming sovereign joy. This is a book of deep truth that does good to the heart as well as the head.”
–J. I. Packer

The Joy Project is a celebration of Reformed theology, and in this way it’s more in keeping with the Bible’s treatment of the subject—behold the beauty before bemoaning the controversies. We cover this topic briefly in our church membership class, and for those who want to pursue it further, this book, for its accessibility and warmth, is the one I’ll recommend first.”
–Benjamin Vrbicek, Pastor, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

“What do you get when you combine Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project with the Five Points of Calvinism and Tony Reinke’s compelling writing? You’re looking at it. It sounds like a weird and unworkable combination, but it works well and results in an outstandingly beautiful presentation of the doctrines of grace. This is the most beautiful presentation of Calvinism I’ve ever read.”
–David Murray, Professor, Puritan Reformed Seminary

“Tony Reinke’s The Joy Project is a unique and delightful summary of the unfolding drama of God’s sovereign grace. Tony, as usual, is biblical, Christ-honoring, gospel-centric, imaginative, and articulate. Who could ask for more? You will enjoy this book!”
–Randy Alcorn, Director, Eternal Perspective Ministries

“At the end of a restless day we look to the self-help gurus, but they can only give us magnifying glasses to gaze more deeply into our own navels. Lift your sights through The Joy Project and rejoice to read that joy is actually coming for you.”
–Gloria Furman

“‘Joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory’ (1 Pet. 1:8). But what does that mean? Is it for me? How do I get it? What does it feel like? Is it okay for me to want it? How will it change my life? Is this ‘joy’ the same as being ‘happy’? If not, what’s the difference? And what does joy have to do with God’s sovereign, saving grace for sinners in Jesus Christ? Yes, there are answers to these questions. And Tony Reinke does a masterful job in providing them. Read on, then, and rejoice with joy everlasting!”
–Sam Storms

“We all want joy and happiness — but they seem such elusive things. We reach for them and fall, we aim and miss. For me that’s because I make them dependent on me: how I’m doing, how I’m feeling. Tony Reinke shows a far sweeter way, a way to solid joy.”
–Michael Reeves


Click to read the Foreword from John Piper

Could it be that Christianity is very different than the impressions you have from your experience?

I recall how thunderstruck I was, in my early twenties, even as a Christian, to hear my teacher say, “the problem with the world is not that people are seeking their own happiness, but that they are far too easily pleased.”

I had the confused notion that I needed to get rid of my desire to be happy so that I could do the will of God. Now here was someone saying: that’s not your problem. Your problem is that you are not passionately committed to the pursuit of joy.

This was mind-boggling. And true. Biblically true. I have spent the last fifty years looking at things through this lens—trying to see reality the way it really is.

  • What if the essence of my sin were the incapacity for supreme joy?
  • What if sin were the loss of taste for what is supremely delicious?
  • What if sin were the craving for the taste of poison?
  • What if God, from all eternity, has been planning a kind of pleasure so great that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into any human imagination?
  • What if God sent his Son into the world with the mandate to remove every obstacle to perfect happiness, and to create a people willing and able to be that happy in his presence?
  • What if his Son bought this all-satisfying destiny for his people at the cost of his own life?
  • What if God sent his Spirit into the world to be the down-payment of this ecstasy, and to use all his omnipotence to make sure we arrive in his presence where there are pleasures forevermore?

Those questions lead to a view of reality that can turn your world upside down. Discovering in the bible the roots of this way of looking at the world is utterly liberating.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that there are few people alive today who have gone down deeper into those roots than Tony Reinke. His book The Joy Project tells the story of the world—a God-saturated world that is on its way to becoming radiant with joy. It is the story of Christianity.

The supremacy of God and the satisfaction of the human soul are the two great realities we cannot escape. I used to think that God was in pursuit of the first, and I was in pursuit of the second. And that was the greatest problem to be overcome. I don’t see it that way anymore.

No. God is in pursuit of both. He knows that the human soul will never be satisfied until it treasures the supremacy of God above all things. And he knows that his own supremacy shines most brightly in the soul of those who are satisfied in him. That’s the way he made the world.

My problem (is it yours too?) was not that I wanted a satisfied soul. My problem was that I couldn’t taste and see the all-satisfying God. And to my amazement I discovered that the story of Christianity is the story of God’s pursuit of my joy—his quest, at the cost of his Son’s life, to replace my blindness with a sight of beauty, and to replace my craving for poison with a taste for his all-satisfying perfections. This is Christianity—The Joy Project.

My prayer is that you, and thousands more, will take up and read, and waken to the wonder that you are being pursued—through the brightest blessings and the darkest sorrows—with Joy.

John Piper
February 2018

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Weight5 oz
Dimensions5.25 × 8 in
Imprint or Series

Desiring God


Print/PDF 978-1-941114-85-8
Mobipocket 978-1-941114-86-5
ePub 978-1-941114-87-2

US List Price

11.99 Print, 8.50 Ebook


168 pages


Paperback, Three Ebook Formats

2 reviews for The Joy Project: An Introduction to Calvinism (with Study Guide)

  1. GEM (verified owner)

    Oh, my! Wow! Heart-piercing to the core!!! Thank you, Tony, for writing this! I highly recommend it to every American Christian though I know there would be great resistance to it. May the Lord be pleased to urge many to read it. Certainly the elect will appreciate it.

  2. Aaron Lee

    The curriculum for our high school Sunday School class includes the Doctrines of Grace. What I have been struggling to do is to find a way to teach how The Five Points of Calvinism connects with Christian hedonism. Thankfully, Tony Reinke has provided a bridge in The Joy Project: An Introduction to Calvinism, published by Cruciform Press for Desiring God.

    An Introduction to Calvinism

    Author Tony Reinke is a staff writer for, host of the popular Ask Pastor John podcast, and most recently the author of Competing Spectacles. I am an admirer of his work, and his way with words is on full display in this 150-page book on TULIP. The Joy Project is his name for God’s sovereign and perfect plan and pursuit of our joy.

    What sets this book apart is the way he frames the Doctrines of Grace. With Christian hedonism as the background, he displays TULIP in five acts. Act 1: The World’s Joy-Tragedy is total depravity. Act 2: The Joy Project Designed is unconditional election. Act 3: The Joy Project Purchased is limited atonement. Act 4: The Joy Project Breaks and Enters is irresistible grace. Act 5: The Joy Project Unwraps and Unfolds is the perseverance of the saints.

    For Your Joy

    Reinke’s worldview is explained and elaborated on throughout the book. But he doesn’t parade his own opinions. There are Scripture references as well as quotes from Edwards, Spurgeon, Keller, and more. John PIper’s impact on Tony Reinke’s life is unquestionable, and his writing has the same flavor you would expect from the best DesiringGod resources.

    Interestingly, the book includes an Appendix: How Calvinists Miss the Key to Happiness. It is a brief rebuttal of Greg Forster’s book The Joy of Calvinism: Knowing God’s Personal, Unconditional, Irresistible, Unbreakable Love. You can read his argument as a DesiringGod article.

    To The Glory of God

    The updated book concludes with a study guide filled with questions suited for personal or small group use. As someone who has taught the Doctrines of Grace, I found this entire resource to be extremely helpful and refreshing. But more than theological conviction, I have found this to help in my own personal convictions. I am brought closer to Jesus. And I am brought deeper into his joy.

    I was provided a complimentary copy of The Joy Project: An Introduction to Calvinism in exchange for an honest review.

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