A friend gave me a book for Christmas and urged me to read it- Christ formed in you: the power of the gospel for personal change by Brian Hedges (actually generously she gave it to quite a few in our leadership team I think). I read it in two sittings and it greatly blessed me- particularly the feast of C S Lewis it contains. The forward probably best explains why you might want to read this book. It is written by Don Whitney and has a quiz and it so struck me that it is worth quoting to you in full. If you have trouble with the quiz (do take it yourself) then this might be a good book for you to read.
Here it is:
"Do not try the following when you are discouraged by the lack of spiritual progress among those in your ministry setting. In other words, if you have been experiencing disappointment with the spiritual condition of those in your discipleship group, Bible class, or church, wait awhile before you attempt the experiment I suggest. For if you aren't discouraged before you try this little quiz, you almost certainly will be afterward.
Distribute pens and paper to all who are present. Then ask, "How many times do you think you have heard the gospel?" Some listeners, especially those who have been Christians for many years or who have attended Bible-preaching churches from childhood, may roll their eyes and say, "Thousands of times." Others will nod, affirming their repeated exposure to the gospel.
"Good!" you reply. And since most of you profess to be Christians, you certainly had not only to hear the gospel, but understand it well enough to believe it and be saved, right?"
Again, you'll see relaxed, confident affirmations all round.
Great! Since you're all so familiar with the gospel, I'm sure you won't have any problems with this simple exercise. Please take a sheet of paper and write down the gospel. In a paragraph or so, write down the message people must hear, understand and believe in in order to be right with God and go to heaven"
Watch people freeze.
"Please, go ahead now and write a paragraph declaring the gospel which you say you have heard perhaps a thousand times and which you understand and believed when you were saved."
Now, in an increasingly uncomfortable silence, people will begin shifting in their seats, shuffling their feet, and staring at the sheet of paper. Many will not know what to write. The only thing more discouraging than these empty sheets will be some of the things people actually do write"
What will likely become depressingly apparent in this pop quiz is that an alarming number of those in your group are unclear on the most basic and important message of the Bible. Despite the fact that by their own admission they have read or heard countless presentations of the gospel and claim to have experienced new life in Christ through its power, they are unable to convey even the ABCs of the message of salvation"
We would all do well to read this book, but not only read it, also to mark it and inwardly digest its message. Brian Hedges has done a super job in providing a deep, accessible, warm, intellectually rigorous, doctrinal and very pastoral book on the gospel. It will introduce you (among many other things) to:
1. The gospel and its power
2. The spiritual disciplines
3. Justification by faith
4. C S Lewis
5. Tim Keller
6. John Owen
7. Richard Lovelace
8. Jonathan Edwards
9. The problem of idols
10. Sin and what we need to do with it
11. The Spirit
12. Grace, suffering and community.
Buy copies, give them to others, start a reading group, read it with your wife or with friends but whatever you do get some of this stuff into your bones and when you have done so pass it forward to others. The gospel is to be known and shared and my prayer is this book will equip you to do both more passionately, effectively and lovingly.
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