Monday, 29 March 2010

J. I. Packer and Mark Dever, In My Place Condemned He Stood (Crossway).

The cross of Jesus is central to the Christian faith and to the life of each Christian. Therefore it is important that we know what was involved in Christ’s death, how we can explain it to others, and what difference it makes in our lives once we have trusted in Jesus.

Of course, many books have been written on the death of Christ, so some reasons should be given for highlighting this one. First, it is short – I hope we all realise that a book should not be judged by its length but by its depth. There is little point in using a lot of words to say a small amount, but there is obvious benefit in using sufficient words to say a great deal. Second, it is scriptural – our understanding of what happened at Calvary cannot be based on any other source apart from the Bible, and this volume is an exposition of what the Bible says took place there. Third, it is succinct – sadly, not every short book is to the point, and so misses it. This book cannot be defined as doing that. Indeed it goes straight to the cross and stays there. Fourth, it is scholarly – not in the sense that the writers are above our heads, but that they actually use theirs and convey to readers the profound insights they have been given concerning this important doctrine.

This book contains three important articles by Packer on the atoning work of Christ, one article by Dever on the significance of the blood of Christ, plus some additional material. Its publication was prompted by the appearance of books from within the evangelical community that downplayed, if not actually denied, the substitutionary nature of Christ’s death. In this book, readers will discover the meaning of theological terms such as penal substitution, propitiation and reconciliation and will be led to reflect on the wonderful love of God that sent his Son as Saviour. There is also a chapter, compiled by Ligon Duncan, which lists and summarises important writings on the atonement and their authors.

Sinclair Ferguson assures us that this book is ‘a must read – a tract for the times to call Christians to be Bible-based, Christ-centred, atonement-believing and -understanding, God-adoring people.’

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