Monday, March 2, 2020

New Life in Christ by Steven J Lawson

Lawson looks at the interaction between Nicodemus and Jesus to explore insights on what new life in Christ means.

Much of the book deals with the order of salvation from a reformed perspective. Saving faith is required for new life in Christ but does not initiate with the individual. God must first initiate the saving faith and only then can one respond to the gospel. (Loc 202/2328) Also, “...God must regenerate us before we can exercise saving faith.” (Loc 1402/2328) He shows from Nicodemus' example, “new birth was completely dependent upon the will of God.” (Loc 1439/2328) Also,”The Spirit is irresistible in His omnipotent movement to cause new birth.” (Loc 1455/2328) And lastly, Lawson reminds us of the permanent nature of regeneration. He follows the reformed order of salvation.

He spends some time on what has happened to a new believer. He or she has a new quality of life only God can give. There is a new mindset and new desires. “We become entirely new beings at the deepest level and have new priorities with new passion." (Loc 329/2328) He does note we retain elements of our old life. (Loc 170/2328) He encourages us to make God our chief pursuit and desire Him above all else. (Loc 321/2328) Interestingly enough, he does not provide any practical strategy for developing the pursuit or desire or how we deal with the elements of our old self we retained.

There is an odd passage near the end of the book. Lawson writes that he has shared the gospel with someone and they did not respond by committing their life to Christ. He suggests the reason might be they were not convinced of the Scripture or they were not ready to forsake sin or they were concerned what others might think. (Loc 2260/2328) What? After all he has previously said in this book, the only reason someone would not accept Christ is because God has not regenerated them yet. Lawson clearly said no one can accept salvation except they have been regenerated by a sovereign and irresistible act of God. (Loc 210/2328, 202/2328, 1402/2328, 1439/2328)

This book is generally a good exploration of how new life in Christ happens and what it immediately means to the believer. It's a good book for a new believer to understand what happened and what it means. Lawson's writing style is very readable and the book includes frequent requests for the reader to respond to the gospel. How one grows as a result of the new birth is not covered.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Steven J Lawson (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary, DMin, Reformed Theological Seminary) is president of OnePassion Ministries. He is the professor of preaching at The Master's Seminary, where he is also dean of the doctor of ministry program and serves on the board of directors. A teaching fellow and board member of Ligonier Ministries, he is also the executive editor of Expositor magazine. He is a regular speaker at conferences and is the author of 29 books. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

Baker Books, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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