My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is a difficult thing to attempt to bring deep-rooted truth to worn believers and contemporary disciples. The one is so used to hearing the “old, old message of Jesus and his love” that the flame has been nearly snuffed out. The other seems to have become so enamored with the immediacy of “how can this help me here and now” that it all sounds dull and distant. A new book has pulled up in the parking lot that may be a help in spanning these two cavernous gorges, “Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change.” Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor of Teaching at the Village Church in the Ft. Worth/Dallas area, and Michael Snetzer, Groups Pastor at the Village Church, have pulled together this 224 page paperback with the goal of conveying the Biblical message of redemption, both justification and sanctification, to those who know it well, and those who know nothing of it.
“Recovering Redemption” appears to be a series of sermons that have been reworked for publication. The overall flow is Creation, Fall, Redemption, with most of the ink flowing into the redemption stream. Chandler and Snetzer take a very chatty approach to addressing these subjects, and use some fresh illustrations. It seemed to me that they succeed in getting across their points clearly and graciously.
Two items I appreciated about their work in “Recovering Redemption” is that they neither shy away from difficult topics and that they clearly lay out the relationship of justification and sanctification. With regard to the first, they tackle a whole host of issues like sex, greed, manipulation, unforgiveness, the wrath of God, repentance, and so forth. Their style, empathy, and care while addressing these subjects is warm, compassionate and very Gospel centered.
But more, “Recovering Redemption” is clear about the beautiful relationship of justification and sanctification, a subject that seems to be getting short shrift in our hip and hyper culture. As an example, the authors state, “But the proof of Christianity is not perfectionism. In fact, one of the key ways you can tell you’re saved—as backwards as this logic may feel or sound—is when your faith is continually leading you toward repentance, and Jesus is continually bringing about change” (64). Chandler and Snetzer are very clear that sanctification – growing holy in heart and habit – is not what makes us God’s children, but exhibits that God has made us his. They rightly grasp that while justification is a 100% work of God, sanctification is a 100% work of God and 100% work of God’s child; “So sanctification isn’t something we lean back on, as much as it’s something we lean into. Rather than being an action only God can do, all by Himself (the way justification and adoption are), sanctification is an endeavor He undertakes in full cooperation and partnership with us. It requires us to exert what you might call “grace-driven effort”—made possible only by the merciful initiative of God, of course, and yet fully employing our human brains, brawn, and body parts as we go” (100).
“Recovering Redemption” is an easy read that would be ideal for both new Christians and seasoned disciples. It would be a good addition to a church’s book table, as well as a beneficial study guide for an adult Christian education class. It’s solid and sound in its message, while being compassionate and considerate in its approach. Without any reservation, I commend to you “Recovering Redemption.”
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