Book Review: In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson
Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life (Orlando: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2007).
In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life is classic Sinclair Ferguson, delivering bite-sized devotional theology. Culled from previously published articles, this collection of fifty short chapters is made up of six parts and discusses the person of Christ, union with Christ, life in Christ, and the perseverance of the Christian. Alistair Begg explains in the forward that this collection from Ferguson provides something of “the antidote to theological vagueness” prevalent in our day. Sinclair Ferguson’s writing style is clear and cogent without being simplistic or watered down. In the opening chapter to In Christ Alone Ferguson takes the reader through the prologue to the Gospel of John and lays out some of the broad motifs found there, including the identity, revelation, fulfillment, and work of Jesus. Ferguson’s ability to speak of deep things in a comfortable and easily accessible way is refreshing. Examples of Ferguson’s down-to-earth and witty style are evident from chapter titles like “Santa Christ?” and “Eating Black Pudding”, about the Christ of Christmas and Christian liberty respectively.
Ferguson continues to take the reader on a journey examining topics such as the Holy Spirit, grace, and wisdom.
Despite the 237 page length of the book, it is a very easy and enjoyable read. Each chapter is only three or four pages. The chapters are broken down and formatted with headings and subheadings which greatly aid the reader in understanding the flow of Ferguson’s discussions.
The glory of Christ permeates the book as expected from an author with sound, orthodox theology and a life of commitment to the Gospel ministry.
Other highlights from the book include chapter nineteen, "The Promise of Power". Here, Ferguson discusses Pentecost and the power given to the church. He tells the reader how “the apostles saw that Pentecost was a once-for-all-time, epoch-making event” and goes on to discuss the ongoing need for the Holy Spirit to empower Christians for the task of witnessing to the unbelieving world (95). He then makes an observation regarding the broader Reformed community that concerns many within that community: “This is what we still need: power to witness…it is only through such empowering that we will get beyond witnessing to fellow Christians about the Reformed faith and start witnessing to non-Christians about saving faith” (95).
The book’s treatment of the book of Hebrews was also fantastic. Ferguson says, “So few things would do the evangelical church more good than a baptism into the letter of the Hebrews”. He then proceeds to give several random reasons why this is so.
Ferguson is highly skilled at being theologically astute, including explaining the Greek behind the English text in order to give fuller meaning to what is being said, while his writing remains digestible for the non-theologian.
I would recommend In Christ Alone for anyone who desires to meditate on the glory of the Savior with the help of a trusted and faithful fellow follower of Christ. I would also recommend the book to anyone who would like to clarify theological categories in a non-intimidating context.
In Christ Alone is highly devotional because its central focus is Christ the Lord.