Monday, January 20, 2014

Life in Christ: a Modern Puritan Treatment

Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. By Jeremy Walker. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books. 2013. 176 pp. $15.00 (List Price). Available in Print and Kindle formats.

I think one of the reasons the Puritans' writings are so popular today is because people don't write like that anymore. John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim's Progress, had a very vivid, descriptive style of writing that has made his book one of the most published books of all time, second only to the Bible, I believe. The Puritans had a rich vocabulary and, contrary to popular belief, a passion and excitement in their writing that magnified Christ as Lord. The average person writing like that today would probably be considered "over-the-top" because it is so hard to believe that someone could be that enamored with God and God's word. Jeremy Walker is clearly above average.

Life in Christ is essentially a modern day Puritan work. The language is rich, the examples are many and down to earth, and the passion of the author is unbridled. There is a certain timelessness to this book that makes me believe it will outlast popular books by Rick Warren or Francis Chan and find it's home on the shelf next to the works of Richard Sibbes, Jeremiah Burroughs, and John Bunyan. The lack of archaisms makes the book quite obviously a modern work, but just as Charles Haddon Spurgeon, arguably one of the best and most popular preachers of the 19th century, was raised on the Puritans and evoked their style in his preaching, so too Jeremy Walker emulates the best of the Puritans.

The straightforwardness of the book's subtitle, Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, articulates the contents of the book. The first chapter explains how we come to Jesus, how we are saved. The passion and power of this chapter cannot be too highly esteemed. Walker considers the verse from Isaiah 45:22, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." He reflects on the first word:

First, Christ gives a command: "Look." … When an awakened sinner hears such words as these, under the influence of the Spirit he feels at least something of their majesty, their compelling force, and their divine authority and understands something of their consuming demand. For what is commanded here is a distinctive way of looking. Here the living Lord requires us to look from something to something else. It is a cry to detach our thoughts, concerns, hopes, and desires from whatever distractions and deviations they have been running after and turn our full attention to some other thing. Whatever we might have been pursuing, we are to leave it and pursue something else entirely.

From here he explains the gospel, repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus for salvation. The rest of the book revolves around various aspects of the life of a Christian, from our new identity as children of God to the assurance of our salvation to sanctification and even to our own life's end. One of my favorite chapters is the third one, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ. Powerful. Poetic. Worshipful. Perhaps those three words could accurately sum up the book. For that reason, I highly recommend it.

I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Bonus content: Jeremy Walker was recently interviewed about the book on Janet Mefferd's radio show. The interview is available here.

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