There is a fine line between a faith by works and a faith that works. With the influence of sin, we have the propensity to take a good thing and turn it into an obligatory action. I daresay that we have the ability to do that with faith. We confuse sanctification and justification. Jason Allen, President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary draws forth from Scripture to present a book that is quick to make a clear distinction.
In reality, Dr. Allen has done one thing: drawn from the gospel and applied it to everyday life. To do this, the book is designed around ten topics of the Christian life, explaining how the gospel impacts a Christian’s behavior in each area. Those areas are exactly what you would expect, such as marriage, family, time, money, work, recreation, the mind, and the church. There are no surprises here as the author simply tackles each aspect and draws forth biblical principles.
Because there are no surprises, reading Being A Christian is straightforward and simplistic. While there are sometimes notions that readers will be challenged with, the most problematic part of the book is not the book itself, but the conviction that it will generate. Thus, the true effect of the book comes from the reader when he or she evaluates his or her own life in light of the biblical principles being presented. Allen is straightforward when he discusses our need to cultivate a biblical worldview, need to be involved in a local church, or the need to be involved in family discipleship. In our imperfect state, it can be expected that you will be just as challenged by it as I was.
Perhaps such a notion will turn many readers away from the book. After all, very few of us enjoy being confronted about our sin. Yet, the author never writes from an emphasis of condemnation. In fact, he does quite the opposite and creates hope in readers because it places one’s view on the hope that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. To share with you my own personal response, I emerged from my reading of the book with joy at the fact that I can experience the Lord Jesus Christ, and in that experience I do not have to be content with my failures, but instead live in the victory that is Jesus Christ for the glory of God.
At times he may shock readers with his comments, noting things like God needs to trust us and our stewardship of money is a way in which that can be demonstrated (see chapter six) or with his explanation that work is not the result of sin, but only that sin transformed work from a blessing to a curse (see chapter seven). So while he teaches about the Christian life, he intertwines pieces of theology so that it there is understanding combined with a heart attitude.
Being A Christian is quite the book and one that demands our attention. There is one caveat though: it’s not a book for unbelievers; as Allen notes, “You will not be able to live the Christian life unless you are a Christian.” Therefore, read the book and be encouraged to examine yourself and to be encouraged to live the gospel.
To purchase a copy of this book, click here. Tip: If you have a Kindle, the book is especially reasonably priced.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of review. However, the review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with the book and is the response of my own reading to it.