A book entitled In Christ Alone should pique the interest of any Christ follower who truly wants to follow Christ. A resounding Foreword by Alistair Begg doesn’t hurt in increasing desire to read the book by the Scotsman Ferguson. The subtitle is the final blow that makes you pick this book up and read it—Living the Gospel Centered Life.
Ferguson starts with a worthwhile study theologians like to call Christology. To truly live a life centered on the Gospel (or good news of Christ) this is the logical place to begin—answer the question “who is Christ?” Then a cursory glance at the table of contents reveals the journey on which the author takes you discussing what it means to follow Christ including addressing such topics as the Holy Spirit, Grace, and Wisdom along the way.
Stylistically, this book though over two hundred pages in length is rather easy to read because the author keeps the chapters to bite-sized morsels. The average length of a chapter being only three or four pages, and that divided into sections that allow the reader to chew over the material quite handily.
Ferguson runs back and forth between John and Hebrews for the biblical foundation for most of the material. His discussion of the advent and work of Christ draws heavily on John’s gospel then he turns to the book of Hebrews as he discusses the humanity of the Savior. Then he turns to the book of Romans to discuss how we must “exchange” our old life for the new one.
The book has several high points that make it well worth your time to read. Especially interesting are the chapters on discernment, mortification of sin, and living in Christian liberty. I was particularly inspired by the four principles the author enumerated in the discussion of Christian liberty:
- Christian liberty must never be flaunted.
- Christian liberty does not mean that you welcome fellow Christians only when you have sorted out their views on X or Y.
- Christian liberty ought never to be used in such a way that you become a stumbling block to another Christian.
- Christian liberty requires grasping the principle that will produce this true biblical balance: “We . . . ought . . . not to please ourselves . . . For even Christ did not please himself.”
The conclusion serves as an object lesson for the reader. In what appears to be a tribute to Ferguson’s friend and colleague Al Groves whose life and death seem to have been an inspiration for the book, the author provides an example of one who spent his life putting into practice the advice held within the covers of the book. Namely, to live life “In Christ Alone.”
I would recommend this book to any Christ follower who has a desire to walk “In Christ Alone.” Even the attacks on society’s accepted norms in Christian behavior (turning Christ in to more of a Santa figure than a savior, for instance) are made in such a way that Christ is glorified.
In Christ Alone gets four out of five reading glasses from this reviewer.
—Benjamin Potter, February 26, 2008