This book is brilliant.
It’s full of truth.
It is by the pastor of my home church – Dr John Benton (JB) – and is distilled from some sermons he gave on Sunday mornings in the Autumn of 2009. It is a great book for many reasons. Available from Evangelical Press (and thus all over the internet) it is not perhaps the coolest title around, but that doesn’t stop it from having a simple and effective cover design (Pictured above), being engaged with lots of modern ideas, and generally being a relevant defence and exposition of the truths of Evangelical Christianity. JB makes it clear from the outset what this book is for: ‘The central burden of this book is to go back to some key passages of Scripture and rediscover, restate and rejoice in the breathtaking reality of what the cross of Christ achieved, which is the gospel as preached by the apostles’. In an age of the emergent church, ecumenism, liberalism, postmodernism and all sorts, this is a bold aim. I think JB succeeds in his aims. It is a clear, well argued, well though out and engaging book, that demonstrates both an awareness of ‘theology’ and a pastoral heart for individual Christians.
The reader can tell the author is a pastor as each chapter has application and examples of testimony from real people (Coming from the church, I can recognise a few of them and its immensely encouraging to be able to echo the truth of these stories). When was the last time you read a Christian book, largely on doctrine, that was directly linked to real people, let alone ones that you knew? JB has pastored Chertsey Street with grace, humility, wisdom and a stunning Christ-focus for years, and this book reflects this. Quick to get to the point, on page 16 we read that the aim for Christians seeking truth should be; ‘to get to the heart of the matter, the biblical Gospel is predicated upon the truth that mankind’s deepest problem is a moral one – the problem of sin’. This is swiftly followed by this penetrating observation; ‘my thesis is that the major cause of our current confusion about the gospel is that the culture of emotion has influenced the thinking of Christians far more than we realise. Because we now tend to read Scripture through emotional rather than moral spectacles, we have come to feel uncomfortable about truths like penal substitution and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner’. How true is this statement? I think this grabbed my attention in a very powerful way. It reflects exactly the problem that faces so many Christians.
The rest of the book examines some of these distractions, and ends up firmly and God-exaltingly proclaiming the truth. My heart and mind were warmed when I read, near the end of the book, ‘the classic evangelical doctrines of the cross, penal substitution, imputed righteousness and salvation by faith alone, are necessitated by the holiness of God and the moral principles which govern his universe’. This is the God that the Bible shows us. The God that we can rely on. The God that graciously saves us. I cannot recommend this slim, unassuming volume enough.