Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In Christ Alone...Alone

I think I’ve been spreading my reading attention a bit too thin lately. I am currently reading a number of books, simultaneously. I’m in the middle of re-reading Bruce Shelley’s Church History in Plain Language. About halfway through with The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. I’m also sporadically going through some of Spurgeon’s sermons, as well as Luther’s sermons. Needless to say, my mind is having problems keeping on track with all these books. But the one that I have found myself being drawn back to and spending the most time with is a new book by Sinclair Ferguson, titled In Christ Alone.

In Christ Alone is a series of short articles and essays by the noted Scotsman on the person, work, nature, supremacy and all other aspects of Jesus Christ. Right away I was struck by the short and digestible format of these articles, but also by their clarity and depth. I found myself stopping in the middle of a paragraph, going back to re-read and think through what Ferguson was saying. I found myself drawn into the words and the ideas. And when I finished one essay, I was ready to dig into the next one. The book is to me a series of mini-feasts, taking me to a deeper appreciation for my Lord and Savior with each bite. Maybe it's partly because as I read each one, I can hear Ferguson's rich Scottish voice that I love so much.

One of my favorite essays in the book is entitled The Romans Exchange, where Ferguson does a masterful job of outlining Paul's explanation of justification by faith in terms of a series of exchanges. That humanity has exhanged the glory of God for a lie. That God in response has exhanged man's privileged knowledge of Him for His righteous wrath. The gracious exchange of Christ for Adam. The exchange of righteousness for unrighteousness that God has graciously provided in Christ. And the final exchange that takes place in each person who trusts in Christ:

"In response to the great exchange that has been accomplished for us in Christ, there is an exchange accomplished in us by the Spirit: unbelief gives way to faith, rebellion is exchanged for trust. Justification—our being declared righteous and constituted in a righteous relationship with God—is not made ours by works, ceremonial or otherwise, but by the exercise of faith in Christ."

The format of In Christ Alone seems to be one that would lend itself well to a reading group or use as a devotional, but with far more depth of understanding than most devotional works of our time. I’m part of a group of guys that have had a reading group in the past, and I am going to recommend we read through In Christ Alone as our next project.

In Christ Alone is published by those fine folks at Reformation Trust Publishing. Click on the link. Go there. Buy the book. Enjoy.

Now, if I can just get around to finishing all those other books I have in progress…

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