Genre: Nonfiction, John Newton's letters, brief biography.
Source: Free ebook from Crossway in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
I'd sang "Amazing Grace" many times before knowing the story of the author who'd written the hymn. John Newton had worked on several slave ships, also holding the office of captain. In 1747, and during a storm at sea, he cried out to the Lord. As a child he'd been introduced to the teachings of Jesus by his mother; but John Newton was a hardened, prideful, arrogant, and immoral man. After the storm experience at sea, Newton continued to work on slave ships but tried to harness the abuse of slaves. He left the sea in 1755, later becoming an ordained pastor in the town of Olney, England.
Newton on the Christian Life is a study of his "personal letters." A total of "500 letters written and published during his lifetime" and another 500 published after his death. Tony Reinke and Crossway publishers have compiled and studied these letters, in order to teach modern readers the Christian life. Newton on the Christian Life is apart of a series of books subtitled "Theologians on the Christian Life." Other noted books are "Luther on the Christian Life," "Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life," and "Packer on the Christian Life."
Chapter 1---"Amazing Grace"
Chapter 2---"Christ All-Sufficient"
Chapter 3---"The Daily Discipline of Joy in Jesus"
Chapter 4---"Gospel Simplicity"
Chapter 5---"Indwelling Sin"
Chapter 6---"Christ-Centered Holiness"
Chapter 7---"The Growth Chart of the Christian Life"
Chapter 8---"Seven Christian Blemishes"
Chapter 9---"The Discipline of Trials"
Chapter 10---"The Goal of Bible Reading"
Chapter 11---Battling Insecurity"
Chapter 12---"Victory over Spiritual Weariness"
Chapter 13---"Victory over Mr. Self"
Chapter 14---"To Die Is Gain"
Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, you must be "born again." To be "born again" is to be radically changed (an about-face) from the person you were. A person is not "born again" in the flesh, but "born again" by the cleansing and renewal work of the Holy Spirit. When a person becomes "born again," their entire being is affected; further, it is displayed and manifested outwardly. John Newton had been an unrestrained, immoral, vile person. His transformation and sanctification was only possible because of the work of God's Spirit.
To behold the glory of Christ is ammunition against unbelief and power for sanctification. A life focused on Christ is a life of faith, and it's a life opposite to a life focused on self, self-sufficiency, and self-wisdom. Christ and self are opposite aims. The opposite of selfishness is beholding Christ, and in the discipline of beholding Christ, by the 'eye of the mind', Newton wields a lethal weapon in the battle against sin. This weapon is available to any Christian who reads the Bible not merely as a book of motivation and inspiration, but as the manifestation of Jesus Christ and His glory. Chapter 3.I feel there are people who come to a belief in Christ Jesus, but never understand the importance of continual focus on Christ Jesus. They live a quasi-solo independence, picking and choosing what they want to out of the Christian life and ignoring the rest because it does not "fit" their idea of life. This is not the way to live the Christian life. It is living a life of "self."
I was glad Reinke chose this topic for one of the beginning chapters in the book.
"Keep Christ in view at all times is, by far, the hardest-and the most essential-part of our calling as Christians."
I read four other chapters that stood out to me as favorites.
Chapter 4 examines "living for the glory of God alone." Reinke continues by stating that this can only be accomplished "by the moment by moment provision and support of God."
Chapter 6 explains further about John Newton's conversion experience at sea.
Chapter 7 includes a quote by Timothy Keller. "Most Christians stay babies all their lives and only a few even get out of that."
Many years ago I was convicted of being an immature believer, and I became determined to not let anything dampen an abiding and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Which leads me to another strong lesson in this chapter: Reinke points out our culture of impatience. As a growing Christian we do not grow at what we want our pace to be but by what God's pace would have us to grow. "Sync your spiritual expectations to the leisurely agricultural pace of God."
Chapter 8 explores the various temperaments of "blemished" personalities. Each reader finds themselves in this list (I did.)
Newton on the Christian Life is a book I wish I could memorize whole parts of. There are many sentences and paragraphs that are beautiful and rich in wisdom.
Scripture link courtesy of Bible Gateway.