I can honestly say this is the best book I read in 2011. If you only have time to read one book this year, this is the one I recommend. In fact I loved it so much I bought it for two people as Christmas presents. This is a book I hope to read annually.
After reading Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change by Brian G. Hedges, I have to say I’m very disappointed I haven’t heard more preaching on some of the topics this book covers. Most specifically, I’ve never heard anyone preach a sermon about mortification or vivification; yet these seem like some of the basics that every Christian should know. I’ve read the epistles a dozen times but only once have I heard someone else talk about the putting off/putting on that Paul describes. (The only other book I’ve read that covers this is God without Religion by Andrew Farley.) I felt as though, after reading Christ Formed in You, that this is the meat and potatoes of our involvement in progressive sanctification. I feel like these are essential topics that need to get taught more in our churches.
Of greatest importance is Hedges’ insistence that we never “move on” from the Gospel; instead we are to be rooted and established in the Gospel; it is the soil from which we grow. This is something that I had to learn early on when I started taking theology classes. After a couple semesters my studies became a detached, sterile exercise and my relationship with God started to suffer significantly. I took a few semesters off (during a deployment) and managed to recover the Gospel for myself, but it would have been easier if I had known much of what is covered in Christ Formed in You.
If book publications are any indicator, it seems as though there is a revival in “Gospel awareness” among influential pastors. I feel as though we will see a huge movement of “Gospel-centered” preaching, teaching, and ministry arise from the next generation of church leaders. I’m excited to be a part of it and certainly want to learn more about how to apply the Gospel to my daily life.
Overall, I think this was an excellent, refreshing book that covers many of the basics of Christian living. Ideally, I would recommend that young Christians read it so as to start their spiritual formation on a solid foundation. It’s a great book with lots of solid, applicable teaching.