One of the books that I have just received from Shepherd Press to do a review on is Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change. It is written by Brian G. Hedges, who resides in South Bend, IN (not too far from my location in Warsaw, IN and in the same town as my in-laws reside). I found the receipt of this book as being timely “coincidence”, as we are studying the book of Galatians in our morning worship, with a view to understanding what the Gospel of Jesus Christ truly is.
I am one of those book-readers that are quite odd, in that, I read the Forewords and Introductions to all my books. It was in the Foreword of Christ Formed in You that I immediately realized the value of the text I held in my hand. It was then I decided to do a chapter by chapter review instead of a overall review. I pray that this will encourage you to pick up a copy of this book, you may do so here.
The Foreword, written by Dr. Don Whitney of SBTS, offered an imaginative exercise that would be profitable in any church or bible study that claims to be “Christian”. He begins with these questions: (I would encourage you to answer as you read along)
How many times do you think you have heard the gospel?
Good! And since most of you profess to be Christians, you certainly had to not only hear the gospel, but understand it well enough to believe it and be saved, right?
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 the message that people must hear, understand, and believe in order to be right with God and go to heaven.
How did you do?
What Dr.Whitney goes on to demonstrate is that a vast number of people are “unclear on the most basic and important message of the Bible”. And this inability to relate what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is has serious implications for the Church:
- It reveals the reality that [some of these people] aren’t Christians at all. He is right to argue that if one cannot communicate what they simply are to believe, in their own words and on their level of understanding, then can that individual be saved?
- It reveals that their efforts at personal evangelism are likely to be seldom and shallow. If someone could not communicate the gospel in a loving environment of friends, how confident would they be in a world that is openly rejecting and anti-Christ?
- Lastly, it demonstrates that a weak grasp of the gospel is a hindrance to holiness. This is true because those who understand the Gospel of Christ will be compelled to be more like Christ.
The result of this exercise is precisely what author Brian Hedges is attempting to correct. His stated goal of this book is to “…explain where the process of transformation fits and how it happens in the Christian life.”(p.20) And, “…my purpose in this book is to bring these pieces together, presenting a single, unified, gospel-centered vision of how to understand and live the Christian life.”(p.21)
Hedges breaks Christ Formed in You down into three parts:
- Part One: The Foundations for Personal Change
- Part Two: The Pattern of Personal Change
- Part Three: The Means of Personal Change
I am excited to be able to provide short summaries of Brian’s work, as well as, give my thoughts, reactions and applications to each chapter.
Chance to Interact: How have you seen an adequate understanding of the Gospel affect your efforts in evangelism?