Item description for In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life by Sinclair B. Ferguson...
Overview This devotional tapestry of articles published earlier in Tabletalk magazine and Eternity Magazine, is designed to help believers gain a better understanding of their Savior and the Christian faith, and to live out that faith in their day-to-day lives. In fifty short chapters arranged in six sections, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson shows that Christ, who is fully God, took on humanity that He might be the Great High Priest of His people as well as the once-for-all sacrifice; that He now ministers to His people through His Spirit, crowning them with great and precious blessings; and that believers are called to duty, from cultivating contentment to mortifying sin. In Christ Alone packed full of nuggets of Scriptural truth that will spark and fan the flames of the believer's love for the Savior, and deepen their understanding of basic Christian doctrine.
Publishers Description In fifty short chapters arranged in six sections, Dr. Ferguson shows that Christ, who is fully God, took on humanity that He might be the Great High Priest of His people as well as the once-for-all sacrifice; that He now ministers to His people through His Spirit, crowning them with great and precious blessings; and that believers are called to duty, from cultivating contentment to mortifying sin. In Christ Alone is packed full of nuggets of Scriptural truth that will spark and fan the flames of the believer's love for the Savior who is so beautiful in His person and so faithful in His work on behalf of His beloved sheep.
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Studio: Reformation Trust Publishing
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.29" Width: 6.36" Height: 0.89" Weight: 1.19 lbs.
Release Date Dec 1, 2007
Publisher Ligonier Ministries
ISBN 1567690890 ISBN13 9781567690897
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More About Sinclair B. Ferguson
Sinclair Ferguson (born 1948) is a Scottish theologian known in Reformed Christian circles for his teaching, writing, and editorial work. He is currently a professor at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas.
Ferguson received his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen and was a minister in the Church of Scotland from 1971 to 2005, when he transferred to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, serving as the Senior Pastor of historic First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, South Carolina. He has served as an editor with the Banner of Truth Trust, worked as a minister at St George's-Tron Church, Glasgow.
Ferguson was the Senior Minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He is also a Professor of Systematic Theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas and part-time Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) prior to which he held the Charles Krahe Chair for Systematic Theology at this same seminary.
He is also a council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.
Sinclair B. Ferguson currently resides in Columbia Columbia.
Sinclair B. Ferguson has published or released items in the following series...
Communicator's Commentary: Mastering the Old Testament
Reviews - What do customers think about In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life?
Living Theology Nov 19, 2008
In 2004 I picked up John Piper's Life is a Vapor and Pierced by the Word. I devoured both, using them back-to-back that summer for devotional springboards. Up until that time, the devotionals I had been exposed to were incredibly short, and usually related to some promise that had nothing to do with me contextually. Piper's devotionals were different because of the time he took to pull out rich theology from the text of Scripture... theology that was so grand that the practicality of it could hardly be missed.
In Christ Alone has a similiar flavor to it. The chapters are 3-7 pages each, just about perfect for a morning devotional. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson takes Scripture and pulls out rich theology, all of it (as the title would suggest) amazingly Christocentric. Most of his meditations come from the gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews; this creates a unifying aspect to the chapters beyond the way he structures them.
Basic thesis for the book? Christ Himself is the impetus for daily Christian living.
His way of writing is masterful, to say the very least. He knows how to draw one into each meditation... in fact, one could call his writing periodic in the sense that he doesn't usually reveal the "punch line" until the end of each chapter. Typically beginning with a personal anecdote ("I almost choked on my doughnut" prompted me to laugh for a few minutes), he moves into a text right away, giving a proposition up front but not fully revealing the weight of that proposition until the end.
Some examples of topics include: a whole section of the Holy Spirit's relationship to Christ, and exposing Scripture that shows how Christ is the forefront of our sanctification. It is His Spirit in us. Also, Dr. Ferguson uses Hebrews to show the fulfillment of the Old Covenant in Christ, as well as to compare the promises given to Israel with their completion in the Church. Just thinking about it as I write, his examination of our forensic benefits in Christ is worth the cost of the book alone. He expositionally probes Scripture to show the weightier elements of what Christ has purchased for us.
However, the most helpful section for me was on faithfulness. I would likely be labeled as a Reformed Baptist, which includes a certain amount of indicative faithfulness built into my theology. God will indeed preserve me. But I struggle sometimes in thinking through all the imperatives to faithfulness (to persevere). The way Dr. Ferguson unpacks Matthew and Hebrews in the last section was challenging and eye-opening. We can be deceived to the point that when we think we'll be entering heaven's gates, we're in fact about to find ourselves in hell. Sobering thoughts. We are able to be deceived, and we should be on watch.
A firm grip on Christ helps this. What does this look like? Solid theology that impacts the way you think and live your life. In Christ Alone is full of such material, and receives my whole-hearted recommendation.
The Symphony of Christ Nov 11, 2008
Recently I was sent a copy of "In Christ Alone" - Living the Gospel Centered life, by Reformation trust. Its a collection of articles that Sinclair B. Ferguson wrote for Tabletalk and Eternity Magazines. Trying to sum up Jesus can be monumental task. Some have said its like a blind man trying to draw an elephant after feeling it. Reviewing this book wasn't easy. There is so much I could write about. Each of these articles is like a gold mine of truth about Jesus. I hope you enjoy my review and can gain a deeper appreciation for our Lord.
My Parents had a holiday in Europe recently and while they were away my wife and I looked after their house and kept their cats alive. When they came back we all went out for dinner to our favorite local restaurant. In and amongst the tales of mischief they got up to (for my dad has been and always will be a hooligan even at age 58) they shared some profound thoughts. "His providence is my inheritance" & "Our sole purpose is to make Jesus famous in our lives" These were etched onto the walls of some Cathedrals they visited. The quotes have stuck with me and play on my mind constantly, particularly the later. How do I make Jesus famous in my life? What is it about my life that shows Jesus to others. I suggest to you that it starts with a decent, solid understanding of the Person of Jesus in both his historical and Biblical contexts.
Ferguson starts with some foundational truths about Jesus. He was present before the creation of the world in the counsel of the Trinity with the Father and Holy Spirit. He was also present at creation, and the one through whom and for whom all things were made. As the God-man he was revealed to creation as the messiah, the Christ and the fufillment of the Old Testament prophecies. He is the one who died in our place, who became sin for us, and bore the full extent God's wrath against sin. He is the author and finisher of our Faith, our high priest, our mediator. The pioneer of salvation who brings many sons to Glory.
You might at this point start asking "What is the point of knowing all this?" echoing Jean Domminic Crossans's statement "So what if Jesus was raised from the dead! Thats nice for him, what does it mean for me?" Jesus is the answer to the cosmic problem of sin. The only one capable of putting the world to rights. But payment for sin is not enough. We also need deliverance from death and a righteousness that is foreign to ourselves. Christs death and resurrection secures this for us. By his active and passive obedience we are made whole.
But another important aspect is the here and now. How weview Jesus affects the way we live. Let me give you an example. If we view Jesus as a moral teacher, or someone promoting a new way of behaving we will try to emulate his example or adopt his teachings into our existing framework of morality. The problem is that when we find ourselves unable to live up to his standard e.g. "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" we become disillusioned and forget about Him. If we believe that the incarnation, death and resurrection were a once off event meant to show us a God who loves us but has ultimately gone into hiding then we will live as if God isn't around and we are free to do as we please. But if we see that creator of Heaven and Earth, the eternal triune God, took on flesh and bones, became a human being, lived and died to reconcile all things to himself, to renew creation, to save sinners from sure and certain eternal death, and that he is still active in the world today, we will live very differently. Not only that we will worship differently. We will worship with a clear idea of why and who we worship. We need a solid foundation lest we make Christ in our own image (or Santa's image to borrow from Chapter 2).
The form of the book is both its selling point and its downfall. Its great because you can start anywhere. Each of the articles is a self contained chapter. I imagine pastors or leaders would find them invaluable as sermon or study outlines. It needs to be chewed, dissected, and discussed by a group. But at times the form was a little irritating. The articles can be a little too well contained, lacking in continuity and flow. That made the review of the book a little difficult. How do you sum up 50 individual articles without spoiling the entire book? Well, you highlight some of the chapters that made an impact on you.
Chapter 2 "Santa Christ" is a wonderfully anecdotal story about how we often make Christ out to be something he's not. God does give grace to the proud or those who have tried their hardest to please him. He gives grace to the humble to those who are most undeserving of it. God justifies the ungodly. That is not an excuse for ungodly behaviour, that would be a misunderstanding of three tenses of salvation as chapter 9 will show. But in reality how often do we treat Jesus as Santa? Do we see him as an added bonus to an already good life? Someone who rewards us for good and punishes us for bad? Or do we see him as the merciful saviour who forgives even the worst of sinners and accepts them unconditionally? Lets not confuse Christmas cheer with Biblical truth.
Chapter 9 "Christ of the three appearances" was a helpful reminder that salvation is more than just a one off event. It reminded me a lot of Michael Hortons "Putting amazing back into Grace". We have been saved (justification), we are being saved (sanctification) and will one day be saved (glorification). When I was younger I had a strange view of salvation. I thought that Jesus had paid my sins I had committed up until the point that I was saved. From then on I had to keep my slate clean in order to avoid hell. As strange as that may seem there are a lot out there with equally strange and unbiblical ideas. Mine stemmed from a bad understanding of the three tenses of salvation. I was confusing sanctification and justification. The former is evidence of the later but the later comes first. Salvation was a past event, where Jesus paid the ultimate and final sacrifice on the cross. Something the old sacrificial system could never do. Salvation is an ongoing reality, a continual process where I am being remade in the image of God. I am being renewed and transformed by the Holy Spirit daily. Salvation is also a future event where I await the physical return of Jesus and in the twinkling of an eye to be made like him with my new resurrection body. If I was preaching on the nature of salvation I'd use this chapter as a sermon outline.
Chapter 18 "Seeing Jesus at Pentecost" helped me to understand that Pentecost was more trinitarian than I had previously thought. It was like the Holy Spirit put a floodlight on Jesus. He illuminated the work Jesus to those present and continues to do the same for us today. This is the work of the Spirit. He makes Jesus famous to us. He never glorifies himself he always points us to Jesus who in turn points us to the Father.
Chapter 25 "Sharing in Christs inheritance" would be perfect for small group study and devotional use. Its a mind numbing thing to think of us as joint heirs with Christ. The correct response to that is reverance, adoration, and worship. We can only be humble in light of such a gift. Ferguson is right, we are extremely rich in Christ. By grace we have become privy to enormous priveliges. All that belongs to the final Adam now belongs to us too. When I went over that in my mind it blew me away. The more I think about it the more I am moved with gratitude. As a sinner I deserve nothing but death, but by Grace through Christ I am not only recued and redeemed, I am showered with gifts.
Chapter 36 "Eating Black Pudding" was one of the best and most practical essays I have read on true Christian Liberty. I'll highlight some of the principles Ferguson posits. Christian liberty must never be flaunted and it is not neccessary to use it to enjoy it. How often has our liberty become a stumbling block or a wedge of offense to our weaker brothers and sisters? Christian liberty does not mean we only welcome brothers and sisters once they have sorted out their theological positions on X and Y. Christian liberty produces a Biblical balance. We don't seek to please ourselves anymore. How often have homegroups split over theological differences or when some people cannot accept the flaunted liberty of some members? This helped me put a lot of my own liberty in perspective.
Chapter 47 "Danger: Apostasy" presents a wonderfully balanced view of Eternal Security or Perseverance of the saints. I've always said to those who question the doctrine that Grace is not a licence for sin, but sin does not cancel out Grace. This has always been a controversial doctrine and as Ferguson highlights earlier, it has been called the greatest protestant heresy by many some Roman Catholic theologians. Ferguson reminds us that we are not to neglect the Grace that has been shown to us through Christ Jesus, and that perseverance is a mark of true Faith. It would be fair to say that there have been more fights within the church over this subject than any other. Sadly this has lead to much division in the Church. We need to be careful not to let our freedom lead us into judgementalism of those who do no hold the same views.
This review is already longer than I had planned. I don't want to spoil the book for you. I hope my review has helped you get an idea of the material present in the book. Get yourself a copy, in fact get a whole lot of copies for your homegroup too and work through it section by section. Its a wonderful book with very little chaff and some great foundational stuff that will get your homegroup talking. My only caution is chapter 22 where he lays out his case against spiritual gifts. I'm not a cessationist and struggle to understand people who believe in a personal God who is active in history and hold that spiritual gifts have ceased. But thats a minor point of contention, a secondary doctrine if you will, and not enough to stop me reccomending the book without reserve. Its one of those books you read and the re-read later with different results. Other articles start to stand out. It truly is a treasure trove of truth about our Lord Jesus Christ.
Some people have been fascinated with the apostle Paul and his theology. I've felt the attraction too. The Epistles are a lot easier to understand than the prophetic books and I easy relate to the struggles. But personally I am fascinated with the person of Jesus Christ. Thats precisely what I enjoyed about this book. Christ is the central focus and is wonderfully expounded in each article. Every so often I catch a glimpse of something I hadn't seen before in the scriptures. As Paul Barnett said, Jesus is the engine that drives drives the New Testament, and it is clear that Ferguson is driven by Christ. For me Christ is the lense that brings all of scripture and life into focus.
Gloriously Expressed In All Its Simplicity Sep 28, 2008
Sinclair B Ferguson has availed himself of the Christian heritage to a degree that few Christians would. Here he gives us extraordinary insights into our union with Christ, from articles collected in publications in both Tabletalk and Eternity Magazine over the last two decades. The subject matter in 50 articles is consistent: if the basis of our union with Christ is objectively discriminant of the work He entered into when He provided for us light and life, much reward to be had from biblical evidence, will show there is also propositional content to Christian belief.
'That is why, for John, the events, imagery, and language of the Old Testament are like a shadow cast backward into history by Christ, the Light of the World. The dwelling of God in the wilderness tabernacle foreshadowed the presence of the Word incarnate as the final temple. It is in Him alone that we finally see God's glory.' pg 13 Contentious?
'There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions. It has to be thus, for He did not come merely to add something extra to life, but to deal with our spiritual insolvency and the debt of our sin.' pg 17 Claimable?
'They were determined to fix mind, heart, will and strength exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ.' pg 18 Conventional?
'The event hardly needs a commentary. It is as though, for one brief but amazing moment, Christ's deity cannot remain hidden. Unholy feet cannot remain standing on this holy ground.' pg 24 Convincing?
'Only a sinless Savior is able to die for our sins. He cannot die for our sins if He must die for His own.' pg 28 Caring?
'In Jesus, God began again from the beginning.' pg 30 Catalyst?
'He is profoundly conscious of His place in the divine fellowship: He has come from the Father, has exercised the power of the Father, and is now returning to the Father (John 13:3).' pg 33 Consciousness?
'He came, says Paul in Romans 8:3, 'on account of sin', or 'to be a sin offering'; NIV.' pg 41 Conciliatory?
Sinclair Ferguson explores our sufficiency in Christ from every imaginable angle - exegetical, theological, sociological and historical - and challenges contemporary Christianity to take it far more seriously.
Book Review: In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson Jun 27, 2008
Joni Eareckson Tada goes as far as to say, "The title In Christ Alone is enough to make hearts brave and souls stand at attention" (ii). I agree. While reading this book, I saw afresh the glory of Christ, especially in Ferguson's treatment of the gospel of John and the book of Hebrews. Christ alone is our all-sufficient Savior.
As Ferguson put it in chapter 4, Christ alone was "free from the need to die for his own sin and . . . in possession of the power to recover his life again" (p. 26). As recently pointed out, only 57 percent of evangelicals today believe Christ is the exclusive Savior of sinners. Of course, this is counter to straightforward words of Christ himself: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). It has always been the task of sinners and false teachers to attempt to deconstruct Christ's words to say they mean something entirely different, but the Bible is abundantly clear: in Christ Alone my hope is found. There is no conquering love greater than the love of Christ for his sheep. That is why I believe Ferguson's book is needed in churches today.
Dr. Ferguson is a gifted pastor and teacher. His primary concern in this book is to expound what Scripture says about Jesus Christ. I highly recommend reading this book. It would also make an excellent resource for a basic theology course at church or an intensive on the doctrine of Christ. Its short chapters make it a swift read, but also draw on the fact that each chapter says exactly what is needed.
Powerful and practical Jun 19, 2008
Sinclair Ferguson is quite a wordsmith. I love his sermons and sat under him at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia for 2 years. I haven't read all his books but quite a few and this is my favorite so far. The chapters are short and yet so full of wisdom. He explains many Reformed beliefs in a very readable and beautiful way. I know a family with high schoolers who used this for family devotions and loved it and the discussions that it launched.