Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: Life in Christ

Life in Christ by Jeremy Walker was written to believers so that they would "consider something of the Christian's experience of God's lovingkindness, his sense of God's tender mercies and great goodness, and his relationships with Christ in them and responses to them."  Even though Pastor Walker writes to professing Christians, he still includes a clear Gospel presentation in his book.  He cites a plethora of biblical references to support his points, from the Old Testament as well as New, and unashamedly writes from a Reformed perspective.
Although this book is devotional in nature, I still found the writing style pleasantly precise and somewhat scholarly.  Like many devotional books, each chapter includes a list of questions for further reflection.  I'm usually not a fan of study questions, but these questions are thought-provoking and provide guidance for personal and/or family devotions.  Reading through the questions at the end of Chapter 7 - 'A Work in Progress' prompted me to think more deeply about my desire for godliness and my ongoing battle for holiness.
Life in Christ is a great aide to help new believers understand what it means to belong to Jesus Christ and follow Him:  "This is the proof that God is at work in our hearts, when, with newly opened eyes, we gaze with repenting faith upon the Son of God in all His saving glory, and --believing-- enter into the family of God.  This is life in Christ."   It's also good for the seasoned Christian to know Christ more fully and understand the reality of being united to Him as Pastor Walker reminds us that "there is a real sense in which conversion is not so much the end of our battles as their beginning."  Regardless of where you are in your Christian walk, this book is a great resource for studying the doctrines of sanctification and perseverance.
Life in Christ encouraged me to reflect on my level of gratefulness for the spiritual blessings and unsearchable treasures of being in Christ.  Pastor Walker reminded me that "These riches are deposited in the incarnate Son so that they might be found and obtained by sinners like us."  I was also challenged by his warning:  "If you clutch solely at the sand of this world you will always be dissatisfied and -- what is far worse -- you will be lost forever.  This is the folly and misery of those who seek their blessings outside of and apart from Christ."
The only critique that I have of this book was the inclusion of a quote by D.A. Carson.  While Dr. Carson is a well-known professor of the New Testament, he has been identified by some Reformed leaders as a proponent of New Covenant Theology.  However, New Covenant Theology does not align with Pastor Walker's Reformed covenantal view.  Since this book is geared toward new believers, I believe that the inclusion of a quote by D.A. Carson could lead some to assume that Dr. Carson's books can be read without heightened discernment.
Overall, I highly recommend this book for the individual believer and/or family.
Full Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
NB:  Jeremy Walker was interviewed by Janet Mefferd on 01/16/14 about his new book Life in Christ; if you are interested, you can listen to the interview here.