Matt Chandler with Jared C. Wilson in their new book, "To Live Is Christ To Die Is Gain" published by David C. Cook shows us Paul's radical letter to the Philippians.
From the Back Cover: A road map for authentic Christian maturity.
This is not a book with popular sound bites and bumper-sticker theology. This is a disruptively inspiring message from Matt Chandler, a pastor and Bible teacher, who invites you to walk with him through the short book of Philippians.
A study in the Book of Philippines do we really need another? Yes, Pastor Chandler looks at the cost of growth and maturity in the Christian and, that like a child growing up, it does not happen overnight. It takes some work. What does matured faith include? Making disciples and being discipled, Realizing Christ's love is unconditional, Rejoicing in The Lord because He is always at hand, Living in such a way that Jesus is seen as glorious, Accepting that anxiety and worry are a waste of mental time and Discovering that contentment must be learned. This is why we need another study in Philippines. Pastor Chandler has done a remarkable job in putting the focus on the pursuing, chasing, knowing and loving of Jesus. Because if we do not have Jesus we have nothing.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from David C. Cook for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
This book focuses on the issue of spiritual maturity. After someone is saved, are they doing the work to continue to grow in their knowledge and application of the Bible? In this book, Matt Chandler takes a close look at the book of Philippians. While it is a terrific review of the book of Philippians, it did not have the depth that I was hoping for. Chandler is direct and challenging as he asks some tough questions of people_."Have you found Christ worth living for, worth dying for, worth casting all away for His sake?" Chandler challenges us to examine our own heart and see if we spend most of our time hanging out with people who are just like us and whether or not we are timid and fearful when it comes to opposition to your faith. The book emphasizes the importance of character in revealing your spiritual maturity.
I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute (www.desertbibleinstitute.com).
In his book To Live is Christ; To Die is Gain Matt Chandler often makes allusions to the relaxed approach he and his congregation take to such issues as dress, titles, and other perceived superficial formalities. This cavalier approach ends up being the mixed curse-blessing of this book. While Chandler clearly takes his relationship with God very seriously, he periodically doesn't seem to take himself or his audience all that seriously. This casual attitude makes the topics in his book very approachable; however, it causes Chandler to gloss over (over even misrepresent) some important theological issues and may leave his more conservative readers feeling slighted by his nonchalant tone on serious, heart-felt topics.
Early on in the book, there are a number of strong qualities. One of the most obvious is how Chandler makes great parallels between the importance of physical and spiritual growth. Additionally, he is vibrantly clear on how man was made to become physically, mentally, and spiritually strong over time - not instantly. To a lesser degree, he also ties this into the concept that sanctification is a process while salvation is a gift. The problem that he runs into early on (and throughout his writing) is that in many of his attempts to contemporize biblical people or events he injects more than the Bible says. Clearly, he means to make his writing more accessible by doing this, but what results is a lot of unsubstantiated guesswork that often is not presented as such. In doing this, Chandler falls prey to the same issue that a number of contemporary pastors do. When a teacher lays down false assumptions as his groundwork, his conclusions are not only questionable but dangerous. In the end, Chandler was far more on the mark than he was off the mark; however, bad methodology is never something to ignore.
Later in the book, one of Chandler's most redeeming qualities was his analogies. He shares a number of stories (the lion and the goat was a particularly good one) that help the reader understand his point. Here he is not embellishing what the Bible says; but instead, he is showing how the Spirit taught him about important, complex, scriptural ideas. He combines this with rapid-fire, point-by-point scripture references these sections of his book both scholarly and endearing. Unfortunately, this scholarly quality is often offset by regular use of the vernacular and slang to such an extent as to border on profane in one or two spots.
By the end of the book, I liked it for its approachability and analogies, but I would not recommend it due to its surface interpretations and overall common feel. If you are looking for the basics and you are a bit rough around the edges yourself you might find this engaging. If however you are looking to be scholastically challenged or spiritually uplifted, you might want to look a little further. While this book is good, it is not as great as I hoped for based on Chandler's earlier works.
Finally, David Heath did an outstanding job of narrating this book. The thought I kept having was that I want him to do my next audiobook. He is clear and concise in his reading. His pacing is excellent and seems to have put in a great deal of time into looking for where pauses and emphasis would be most appropriate. Heath is one of the best non-fiction narrators that I have heard in a while.
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President
Dr. Nicholson is a member of the christianaudio review program. To learn more, visit their website at: www.christianaudio.com.
Chandler writes on the major points of Philippians for the relatively new believer, to show what Christian maturity looks like. He also gives the background situation for Paul writing to the Philippians.
Here are some interesting points in his book from chapter two of Philippians: "...[I]f the gospel is true, your life should look like its true." (32) From chapter three: "What stirs your affections for Jesus? What robs you of your affections for Christ?" (61) "We need to surround ourselves with people who have strengths in areas of our weaknesses." (73) "Nobody stumbles into godliness ever. _ There is no autopilot mode for the Christian life." (78) "It's our responsibility to find people we can disciple, and it's our responsibility to be discipled." (83) "Because of Christ's work, we have been rescued from the idolatry of earthly things." (89) From chapter four: We have to sometimes fight for joy. "...[W]orry is a choice made in distrust." (105) "Thanksgiving and worry can't occupy the same space." (108) Contentment is not natural - we have to learn it in a world filled with more activities and entertainment than ever before.
He rambles a bit, I felt, when he gives illustrations of a point he is making. An example is his athletic experiences when the subject is discipleship. He retells several Bible stories that, honestly, I skimmed through because I was very familiar with them.
This is a book for new Christians, or at least Christians unfamiliar with the book of Philippians. This is by no means a verse by verse exposition. Nor is the book very deep, although some of his points are. Seasoned Christians who have studied Philippians will probably find nothing new here.
There was no study guide or discussion questions in the galley I read.
I received a complimentary egalley from the publisher for the purpose of this review.