Monday, October 11, 2010

Book Review: Supernatural Living for Natural People

Last month we were away on holiday for a week, and I managed to get through eight books. But before I could start reviewing them, I had to deal with the couple of books I had read but not reviewed before I went away. So now we're into the holiday reviews, and this was a book long overdue of being read.

Ray Ortlund was the morning Bible Reading speaker at last year's New Horizon in Coleraine. We had bought the book, but then I never managed to get reading it, until now. I'm sorry that I waited so long. Supernatural Living for Natural People is a brilliant book which unpacks and expounds the glorious riches of Romans 8. Romans 8 has been described as the Everest of the Bible, the peak of the New Testament, and there is no better mountain guide than Ray Ortlund.

Ortlund faithfully explains Romans 8, not just systematically, but also in the context of the whole letter to the Romans, showing how and why the apostle Paul says what he does in the way he does - and what it means for us, sinners 'fighting, but too often failing.' Almost each verse yields a gem of a statement from Ortlund's pen and pastor's heart:

'that declaration [Romans 8:1 no condemnation] has a remarkable effect upon the people of God... they rejoice in the certainty of their final triumph and are energised to fight on.' (p. 17)

'We do not need more frightening punishments and more withering scoldings. We need the all-sufficiency of Jesus applied in rich measure to our deepest points of personal need. And that is what the Holy Spirit does.' (p. 18)

'The new life in Christ is not a superior religion. It is God's alternative to human religion.' (p. 33)

'We see the heart-lifting power of hope.' (p. 93)

'The future God has promised us is cosmic in shape and royal in elevation.' (p. 106)

'The biblical confidence in the Providence of God is a faith so bold, so demanding, so unapologetic, that we cannot believe it half-way. Either all things work together for our good, or nothing makes sense.' (p. 137)

'All around us every day are potential evangelists... we know them as our non-Christian friends. And God has positioned us in the midst of our storms to show them the practical difference that Jesus makes.' (p. 138)

'Certainty in the love of God is how the gospel makes heroes out of ordinary sinners.' (p. 168)

You can probably see, from that quick selection of quotes, that Ortlund is pastoral, practical, and passionate for the glory of God and the upbuilding of God's people through the proclamation of God's word. I can think of no better book to guide you through Romans 8 that I have read; buy this book, read it, and your heart will be warmed, strengthened and encouraged in the gospel.

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