Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book Review: Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ by Michael Reeves

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BOOK review
Started on: 28 March 2018
Finished on: 9 April 2018

Title: Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ
Author: Michael Reeves
Publisher: Crossway
Pages: 192 pages / 192 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2018
Price: Rp 255,571 (https://www.bookdepository.com/)

Rating: 4.5/5
*This e-book is received as a review copy from Crossway
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"The motto of all true servants of God must be, 'We preach Christ, and him crucified.' A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching."
This book is part of a series called Theologians on the Christian Life—in which different authors will write about famous theologians to help us learn from great teachers of church history. This series intends to give us wisdom from the past for our present lives. In this book, Michael Reeves shared with us the life of Charles Spurgeon, a well-known preacher who is also known as the 'Prince of Preachers'. The book is divided into four parts: Charles Spurgeon, Christ the Center, The New Birth, and The New Life. In each chapter, Reeves presents Spurgeon's compelling personality, his perspective on Christianity, and his Christ-centered preaching.

"But if we preachers enjoy close communion with Christ, living in Spirit-filled dependence on the Father, then we will be conformed into his likeness and find our very presence a sermon. Then we shall know and utter the mind of God and embody the gospel we proclaim."
Before reading this book, I've only known Charles Spurgeon through various quotes by him that are posted on the internet. I always loved what he said and am eager to know more about him. I was really happy when I discovered that Spurgeon is indeed a man full of joy and part of the book described that he's a 'bubbling fountain of humor'. Spurgeon sees that joy is a vital component of a Christian life for him because God wishes his people to be happy. Through his pleasant personality, he embodied the sermons that he preachedand there are a lot of things that I learned from Spurgeon in this book.
"He saw that in Christ he was adopted and loved by an omnipotent Father who reigns, sovereign over all things. It meant that everything fearful—all opposition and danger—tended to shrink in his sight. When rightly viewed, nothing could cause despair, for everything exists under the almighty hand of God the Father, ruler on high."
image source: here. edited by me.
His aim was to see people transformed at the very deepest leve, their affections and desires turning away from their naturally cherished sins to Christ. "The object of all true preaching is the heart: we aim at divorcing the heart from sin, and wedding it to Christ."
In the chapter Christ the Center, the author explores how Spurgeon's preaching always centered on Christ and the message of the Cross. I admire how he strives to transform people's lives and not just merely educating their minds through his preaching. This book also provides advice for preachers in which Spurgeon always emphasizes the importance of Christ in preaching the gospel. He even compares a Christless sermon is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. Those passages really made me think and actually reminded me how important it is to preach about Christ and him crucified. 'The best way to preach sinners to Christ is to preach Christ to sinners.'

Another thing about preaching that certainly opened my eyes is how Spurgeon would rather preach clearly and beautifully than preaching something that will be difficult to understand. The most important thing is conveying great truths of God, without simplifying or distorting them, with clarity and comprehensibility. I love the part in which Spurgeon humorously said: "Christ said, 'Feed My sheep... Feed My lambs.' Some preachers, however, put the food so high that neither lambs nor sheep can reach it. They seem to have read the text, 'Feed My giraffes.'" 😂😂 I completely laughed out loud at that. I applaud Spurgeon for getting his message across in his own lively way. 😂
"Some would impress us by their depth of thought, when it is merely a love of big words. To hide plain things in dark sentences, is sport rather than service for God." Nor can pretentious, prettified talk penetrate hearts and so transform lives. Proud words cannot produce humble people."
"Aspire to be understood rather than to be admired."
I also gained a lot of insight on Bible reading and its importance in leading a Christian life. Spurgeon encouraged us to read the Bible with the goal to understand what is written; because understanding the meaning is the essence of true reading. It is a reminder to me that Scripture is the Spirit-breathed Word of God, we read it to know him and seek his help toward a better understanding. I think there are a lot of people who struggle with Bible reading; even me who considers myself an avid reader. That is why we should seek out Scripture's meaning and intent; in which we can find spiritual instruction that will transform our lives.

There are still so much more I could write in this review about passages in this book that changed and sharpened my perspective on Christianity. There's a chapter about baptism, human sin and God's grace, the Holy Spirit and sanctification, prayer, and many more. I won't get into too much detail about the content so that you can experience this book for yourself. As for the writing, this book is composed of numerous quotes and references about Spurgeon and what he said. I think Michael Reeves did an amazing job portraying Charles Spurgeon's character and what he values most in his life. Since English is my second language, there are several terms that are difficult for me to understand, so it takes longer for me to process some things. Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style of this book. 😊😊
Much, then, that passes for Bible reading is really no Bible reading at all, as Spurgeon understood it. "Do not many of you read the Bible in a very hurried way—just a little bit, and off you go?" he asked. "How few of you are resolved to get at its soul, its juice, its life, its essence, and to drink in its meaning." When the eye freewheels over verses and leaves the mind unengaged, that is no true reading.
"If a preacher does not believe the gospel he proclaims, God may still use him in spite of himself, but that preacher's Christlessness only nullifies his own message."
It actually took me quite a long time to finish this fairly short book; and with less than 200 pages, I highlighted almost everything in it. Each page is packed with theological insight and deep understanding on the Christian life. I definitely want to reread this book and take note of all the wisdom and understanding that I acquired from this book. Reading this book makes me eager to pick up more books from this Theologians on the Christian Life series. I'm interested in reading the book about John Calvin (who promoted Calvinism theological approach), Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, and of course, C.S. Lewis. I'm glad I decided to pick this book up because it has undoubtedly made me reflect upon my own life and taught me to focus on Christ—just like Spurgeon did. Although I know I still have a long way to go, I would strive to be more like Christ each and every day—in the way I preach the gospel and especially in the way I live the Christian life. 😊😊
"Growth in the Christian life is not, therefore, something very different from the initial experience of conversion. It is, first and foremost, about turning to Christ in faith and love. It is, consequently, about increasing likeness to Christ."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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