Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Review: Alive in Him

Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything. Gloria Furman. 2017. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: In the cult classic film Back to the Future, teenager Marty McFly travels back in time and interacts with people in the 1950s. When Marty begins to understand the potential repercussions of his time travel exploits, he says that it’s “heavy.” His friend Doc, confused by the colloquial phrase from the future, asks, “Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth’s gravitational pull?” Doc is awestruck by the idea that something as fundamental to life as gravity could be an entirely different experience for people in the future. The irony in the script, of course, is that Doc is also thinking about something that is “heavy.”

Premise/plot: Gloria Furman's Alive In Him is a study on the book of Ephesians. The book covers each chapter in the book of Ephesians. The goal is not so much to overwhelm the reader with commentary--with insights big and little--for every single verse. The goal is to strengthen and encourage readers to pick up the Bible for themselves to TASTE AND SEE how good God is. The book offers highlights from the book of Ephesians. (Meatier than a movie trailer, perhaps, but not the movie itself.)

My thoughts: I love that she keeps the Bible the main thing. Early on, she writes: "When we hold the Bible in our hands, we are holding a book of unfathomable significance and authority because it is God’s Word. Our ability to acknowledge this fact is evidence of God’s mercy in our lives. Our Creator does not owe us anything; it is benevolence of infinite kindness that God would speak to us and to do so in such a way that we might understand. Living wholeheartedly according to his Word, as we are well aware, requires a powerful work of grace that comes from the almighty God himself."

I definitely enjoyed reading this one. And, yes, it did make me hungry to read the book of Ephesians again. It made me excited. But it also made me think. For example, when she writes: "Not only do we need to be individually on guard against believing false doctrine, but we need to watch out for one another. The adversary’s lies affect my brother and sister, and because they are joined to me and I to them, those lies affect me as well. I care deeply whether my sister is being carried away by winds of false doctrine through the pages of the latest chart-topping, so-called Christian book. I care deeply whether my brother is being tossed to and fro by the waves of the so-called prosperity gospel. Ephesians teaches us that each of us has a self-interest in the discernment of our brothers and sisters, because self actually refers to all of us—we are one body. The whole church must stand against the schemes of the Devil (Eph. 6:11)."

Favorite quotes:
At the moment of our conversion we were altered at the very core of our being. The life of Christ is now in us. 
I am always excited to remind brothers and sisters of this profound truth: there is no such thing as a boring “born-again birth story.” If you have been redeemed out of the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God’s Son, then your salvation was planned before time in the council of the triune Godhead. Any rescue that required the blood of the perfect Lamb of God and was planned by the Trinity could never be a boring rescue.
So we behold the glory of God in his rich mercy and his great love, but to what end? Why? We hang onto the “But God” of the gospel by faith through grace, because in that gospel we trace the echo back to the source of all things. We find Joy himself. And O, what kindness we have been shown by God in Christ Jesus! For we were not even looking for him when he found us. Our deadness is interrupted by rich mercy, and we are raised to life in the throes of un-looked-for upheavals of joy. This kind of tasting and seeing of God’s goodness tells us that there is more to life than what we can taste and see. Then we become hungry for more and more of it. And our eyes will not stop searching the horizon of eternity, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Beloved who promised that he would return for his bride. In the meantime, until his longed-for appearing, we wait. And in our waiting we live. We live! First, we are granted the mercy of living outside the garden of Eden even though we had been dead in our sin. Second, God’s grace sees to it that those who are “in Christ” are made alive together with Christ (v. 5). The soul is raised to life; we are raised up with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (v. 6).

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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