Book Review: Galatians for You by Timothy Keller

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Image courtesy of The Good Book Company

Galatians for You by Timothy Keller is the first in a series of “expository guides” which aim “to be: bible centered, Christ glorifying, relevantly applied and easily readable” (Loc 32).  This title can be used for “reading, feeding or leading” (Loc 32).  I am pleased to report that Galatians for You hits the mark on all counts.

Galatians for You is full of so much information about the impact of the gospel to the Christian’s daily life that it’s hard to narrow down the focus of this review. There are several things that stood out to me: the blazing firepot when God made His covenant with Abraham (Loc 997-1000), the significance of women as heirs (Loc 1145-1159) and Paul’s example of Sarah and Hagar in Galatians 4:21-31 (NKJV) to illustrate the difference in “being related to Abraham: one right way and one wrong way”(Loc 1522).

“Paul says clearly that Hagar and her son, Ishmael, represent the law covenant of Sinai and the earthly city of Jerusalem, which by and large consists of persons who have not accepted Christ.  And these people are “in slavery”(v.25), because they are under law.  Paul is linking several things together: the Sinai covenant of law; the present Jerusalem; Hagar; and all who make the law the means of justification with God and the main principle of life…..By sleeping with Hagar, Abraham was choosing to rely on his own capabilities.  He was opting to “work” and gain his son.  He was acting in faith; but the faith he had was in himself, as his own “savior” (Loc 1558).

“Though the false teachers proudly consider themselves related to Abraham by Sarah and Isaac, Paul says that they are spiritually descended from the slave woman, the Gentile (Hagar), the outcast.  Their heart and approach to God is like Abraham with Hagar, and the fruit in their lives is like Ishmael-just more slavery!  Though racially they are from Sarah, in their soul and heart they are like the people they despise.

They rely on their own ability rather than the supernatural grace of God. The most religious people can be furthest from freedom” (Loc 1558-1570).

That last sentence is chilling and a crucial reminder to be sure that we are looking to the gospel for our freedom, and not anything else!  I highly recommend Galatians for You. It’s an understandable read with an easy to use concordance to identify terms that the reader may not know and also contains an appendix that briefly discusses a “modern” debate about another aspect of Galatians.

A copy of this ebook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: To Walk or Stay by Lara Williams

Image Courtesy of Christian Focus Publishing

Image Courtesy of Christian Focus Publishing

I’ve been through a divorce, so I was immediately interested in reading To Walk or Stay by Lara Williams.  To Walk or Stay chronicles a period of spiritual growth in the author’s life while she and her husband began the process of reconciliation after he committed adultery.  This is not a book that dishes out all the nasty details. As the author states in the introduction:

The ultimate point of this book is to show you how I wrestled before my God in the midst of a devastating valley and to testify to his faithful guidance (Loc 89).

Before I proceed, I’d like to point out that if you’re going through a divorce, in a period of separation or if you’ve been through a divorce in the past, it’s easy to read a book like this and wonder what you “should” have done (or should be doing) differently or to feel guilt over a sin that you’ve already repented and moved away from (see Romans 8:1).  Don’t! There are biblical reasons for divorce and God’s grace is deep. As Mrs. Williams points out in Loc 245 “this book isn’t a prescription”. If you want to read it because you think it will give you a map, A-Z of what to do to fix your marriage, you won’t find that.  You may also think that divorce is something that will never touch your life and you should spend your money elsewhere.

So. Why do I think that you should read this book?

1.  This book is an excellent read for any Christian but especially those who are single, engaged, married or divorced. And it starts off with the acknowledgement that marriage is between two imperfect people.

He takes ownership for what he has done in our marriage to pull us apart.  I take ownership for what I’ve done to pull us apart. And we both believe that God wants us to use our unfolding story of redemption to encourage and empower others. (Loc 96-97)

2.  This book emphasizes trusting God to do the work.

All I can do is testify. I can tell you how I have sought after God through one of the darkest seasons of my life. I can give you tips for your thought life. I can lay out His commands to forgive. And I can share how brilliantly He shows up each and every day through each and every storm.  But ultimately, the victory comes as an outworking of His Spirit. He opens our eyes. He changes our minds. He guides our feet and convicts our hearts. He does the work. (Loc 1651)

3.  This book touches on “how to be a godly wife” without being overly preachy or stuffy.  The author achieves this primarily by humbly admitting the wrong things she’s tried.

I wanted him to change.  I suggested books for him to read and bought different clothes for him to wear.  I tried to coax him with my words in efforts to win his affection-in efforts to control him. (Loc 312)

In this flesh of mine, I tried to control him.  I wanted good things for him mainly because I wanted good things for me.  I wanted to be in control.  I wanted him to stay in my husband-box. (Loc 323)

Overall, this book is a fairly quick read. The book has footnotes for scriptures referenced and there are brief questions at the end of each chapter, which makes it a good pick for anyone who might want to dig a little deeper or to read it with a friend.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, Christian Focus Publishing,  in return for a fair and honest review.