I’m going to start making a regular thing of posting a book review on Saturday afternoons. I’ve done reviews in the past simply when I finish a book, but this will help to make more of a rhythm. To read past reviews, you can click here. You can also check here to see what I’m reading so you’ll know what reviews will be coming up next.
Besides the creepy looking mannequin on the front cover, it was a great book that looked at what Scripture says about you as a follower of Jesus.
For many people, our identities are really broken. They are found in our past sins and hurts. They are found in what our family has said about us, what teachers have said about us, they are found in the broken promises of parents, broken marriages and bad decisions. What this leads to is trying to prove ourselves to God, believing that God believes the same broken things about us that we believe.
Bridges lays out very clearly what it means to be a follower of Jesus, in a short 95 pages. He covers how and why it matters that we are a creature, in Christ, justified, adopted, a new creation, a saint, a servant of Christ and not yet perfect.
Here are a few things I highlighted:
- Christians, our identity is to be found in our relationship with Christ, not in our subjective and often negative life experiences.
- While being made in God’s image puts us on an entirely different plane from any of the animals, we are still creatures. This makes us both dependent upon God and accountable to God.
- Dependent creatures we are also spiritually vulnerable. We have three enemies: the world, the devil and our own sinful flesh. The world—the totality of humanity that is set in opposition to God—is constantly seeking to conform us to its own standards and values. The devil comes to us disguising himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), seeking to sow doubt in our minds as to the love and faithfulness of God toward us. And then, worst of all, we have our sinful flesh which constantly strives against the Spirit who resides in us.
- Everything good in me or around me, whether spiritual or material, is a gift from God.
- I am a creature, created in the image of God, fully dependent on him and fully accountable to him.
- The term “in Christ” is the apostle Paul’s shorthand expression for being united to Christ.
- What Paul is getting at in these two verses is that in God’s way of dealing with humanity there are only two men, Adam and Christ. All the rest of us are represented before God by one or the other of these two men. Behind Adam stands all of humanity representatively united to him. We all come into this world “in Adam.” Because of that, Paul’s descriptive words in Ephesians 2:1-3 are true of every one of us before we trust Christ. Here is what he wrote: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Paul’s description of our dismal condition can be summed up in three expressions: • Spiritually dead • Slaves (to the world, the devil, and our sinful passions) • Objects of God’s wrath Think of that! As one “in Adam” you came into the world an object of God’s wrath. It doesn’t matter whether we were born of Christian parents or pagan parents. We are all born “in Adam” and so an object of God’s wrath. All because Adam sinned. Not only all of humanity, but creation itself suffered the consequences of Adam’s sin. Though in Genesis 3:17-19, God refers specifically to cursing the ground, Paul in Romans 8:19-22, speaks of the futility of all creation. So we all come into the world spiritually dead, objects of God’s wrath, and into a natural environment that is under the curse of God. That is what it means to be “in Adam.”
- To be “in Christ” is the most basic identity of a Christian, so much so that all other answers to the question, “Who am I?”, are based on, or drawn from, that identity:
- We are justified, not by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. Justified is an evaluative term based on one’s obedience to a law. It is a legal or courtroom evaluation. To be justified means that one has been declared “right” according to the appropriate law.
- To be justified means to be declared righteous by God with respect to his law. It also means to be accepted and treated by God as such
- Justification secures our legal relationship with God as judge. In justification God declares that we are righteous in Christ. • Adoption secures our family relationship with God. Through adoption God makes us his children.
- Adoption takes our relationship with God to a higher level.
- By adopting him he has become personally responsible for both his welfare and his behavior.
- We have been adopted by Father God, and that fact has completely changed our future.
- God loves us, not because we are loveable, but because we are in Christ, and the love which the Father has for his Son flows over to us because we are in him.
- In our adoption, we gain an inheritance, and we gain a relationship with God as our Father.
- God promised two things: to radically change our hearts and to actually put his Holy Spirit within us to prompt us and enable us to obey God.
- Here are some questions to help us examine ourselves: • What is my attitude toward God? Do I gladly acknowledge my dependence on him and my accountability to him? • What is my attitude toward my sin? Am I concerned or indifferent about it? • What is my attitude toward Jesus Christ? Do I trust in him as the one who died for my sin on the cross? • What is my attitude toward the Bible? Do I truly want to grow in my understanding and application of it in my life? • What is my attitude toward prayer? Do I also want to grow in this area of my life, or am I quite content to see prayer as an occasional call out to God for help? • What is my attitude toward other Christians? Do I appreciate being with them and learning from them, or do I actually prefer the company and lifestyle of my non-Christian friends?