Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: Severe Compassion

Severe Compassion: The Gospel According to Nahum. Gregory D. Cook. 2016. P&R Publishing. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I must admit that I was skeptical that any person could be passionate and enthusiastic about the book of Nahum. Now passion and enthusiasm for the Bible--that I get, that I live. So reading Cook's little commentary on the book of Nahum was enlightening. It did indeed help me to appreciate Nahum more than ever before.

I agree with Cook's premise that every single book of the Bible is important and serves a purpose, that every single book of the Bible should be read from and preached from, that God has a message for us in every book of the Bible.

Nearly every single chapter of Severe Compassion treats the subject of sin. The doctrine of sin is examined, explored, discussed. The author's tone is at times openly confrontational and direct. Are you, YES YOU, aware of the sin in your life? Are you, YES YOU, taking sin as seriously as God is taking it? Are you, YES YOU, being a hypocrite, living a hypocritical life? Do you say you love God, trust in God, yet live for the world and glory in the world?

In addition to being "about" sin, judgment, and the holiness of God, the book is "about" how Nahum fits into the big picture of the Bible, of how the book connects with Jesus Christ.

Nahum becomes a wake-up call in the hands of Gregory Cook. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing either. Aren't we all at times guilty of taking sin oh-so-lightly? Aren't we all a little smug about how silly and foolish and disobedient those ancient-Israelite's were? At times.

The book is for anyone. Pastors may be a little more likely to pick the book up in the first place. But you don't need to be a scholar to appreciate this one.

Cook takes an intimidating book--minor prophet written in poetry--and shows why it is worth your time.

I definitely found it worth reading. It is easy to recommend.

Favorite quote(s):
We read the Bible to know God. He has told us about himself. We will not know God if we refuse to listen to his self-description. Those who will not allow the Bible to describe God do not worship the God of the Bible; they worship a god of their own making.
If God did not care when our hearts are far from him (Isa. 29:13) or when we adulterously give our hearts to the world (James 4:4), he would not love us. If God did not care that the world, the flesh, and the Devil attempt to seduce us away from him (Eph. 2:2-3), he would not love us. If God could watch us suffer grievous injustice without punishing evil (Deut. 32:35-36), he would not love us. The notion of a love without jealousy and vengeance cannot survive a thorough biblical examination.
We tend to read the Bible as if it focuses on us. It does not. The primary concern of the Bible is that God would be glorified. The primary reason for missions and evangelism is not to save people from hell, as important as that is. The primary reason to abandon all to tell others about Christ is that he might receive glory.
Our task is to consider what makes Nahum unique: how did it add to Jesus' understanding of God's plan for him, and how does it illumine what Jesus did for us?
In the gospel according to Nahum, we are saved not because we are righteous but because we take refuge in God.
We have sinned grievously against God, and we live among people who have sinned grievously against God. We have no hope apart from God's mercy given to us because of his Son's work. The cross alone can provide us shelter from God. That God would willingly shelter us from his wrath by pouring it out on his Son demonstrates his goodness.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of forgiveness.
Jesus came, not only to save us from the effects of our sin, but also to save us from our sin. Sin destroys our lives. Every human wants deliverance from the effects of sin, but few humans hate their sin.
A person may live his or her life for the honor of this world or for the honor of Christ. Despite this, much of American evangelism seeks to combine the two.
We are not here to receive the glory due to Jesus. Rather, we are here so that others may see Jesus' beauty and glory for themselves and may worship him.
We face dangers far more insidious than blatant state persecution. What we desperately need--and what would be a most gracious gift from God--is that he would strip off the erotic exterior of American culture and force us to comprehend the truly horrific nature of what we have sold ourselves to. We cannot deliver ourselves. We must be delivered. It will not happen unless God does it. If you ask and beg him to, he promises to answer that prayer.
We do not sit in judgment of Scripture; it sits in judgment of us.

1 comment:

Gregory Cook said...

Thank you for your kind words and recommendation. I am grateful that you found the book edifying.
In Christ,
Greg Cook