Dr. Sproul has based this children's book on Zechariah 3:1-5. He begins the book with a letter to parents explaining the purpose and end goal of the book. I love that he incorporates specific scripture and encourages the reading of scripture as a foundation for the story.
Each character has a specific role and representation within the Gospel: King = God, Jonathan = an everyday Christian, Malus = Satan, Great Prince = Jesus, the Son of God. When Jonathan faces a difficult situation, the King gives him a second chance to complete his task as required. Malus works hard to discredit Jonathan but the Great Prince provides what Jonathan needs to perform his task with excellence. This provision is based solely on his trust in the Great Prince. Sproul weaves an intricate storyline through these characters that illuminate the concepts of a loving and forgiving God, our sinful nature, the reality of the devil, and the sacrifice of Christ.
The story has a very similar beginning and ending to the first children's book I read of Dr. Sproul's. A brother and sister find themselves in a troublesome situation, the grandfather steps in to tell a story that provides wisdom (in this case, that of the priest Jonathan), and then the grandfather concludes with a gospel message. Sproul essentially presents substitutionary atonement through this story in a way that young readers can grasp. Although imputation and justification are very deep theological topics, the story is written in a manner that is simplified yet preserves the essentials of the gospel.
Once again, Sproul concludes the book with a series of questions and discussion topics that are useful for the parent in clarifying the parallels between the story and the scripture from Zechariah. It is clear that Dr. Sproul's primary focus is to have the child walk away with a clear understanding of their relationship with Christ.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher as part of their review program. 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."
The priest with Dirty Clothes was written by R. C. Sproul and illustrated by Justin Gerard. The two combine their talents very well in this book- I was very glad to receive a copy of this book free from Ligonier.
When little Darby and Campbell play in the mud and get themselves covered, Grandpa has a story to tell them. There once was a young priest who was on his way to preach his first sermon before the King. This young priest is wearing his new, clean clothes, and the roads are very muddy, and the rain is pouring down.
Along the way, Jonathan falls off his horse and into the mud. Jonathan's clothes are ruined- and yet he must appear before the King. Jonathan's King is a wise and kindly King, and he would love to have Jonathan preach, but Jonathan cannot appear before the King in dirty clothes, as the wicked magician "Malus"=evil, reminds him, accusing Jonathan before all the court and the King.
Jonathan leaves the castle, determined to find a way to clean his clothes. He washes them, but no soap can clean them. He brings them to a launderer, but no human launderer can cleanse them. The stains are too deep! Jonathan goes to the Bishop, and begs for another suit of clothes- but only one robe is given for each priest! "I cannot help you."
Where shall I go for help? wonders Jonathan. To the Great Prince, is the answer. The Great Prince knows that Jonathan's heart is dirty with sin and his clothes are dirty with stains.
Jonathan cannot clean either his own heart or his clothes. The Great Prince commands Jonathan to go before the King again, in his dirty clothes. I will take care of you, promises the Prince. "I always keep my promises."
Jonathan goes before the King, in his dirty clothes, trembling before the accusations of evil Malus- who delights in keeping Jonathan far away from the loving King.
all of the sudden- the Great Prince enters the Throne Room, dressed in a rough brown peasants robe. He is carrying his beautiful, clean clothes, for Jonathan to put on, and Great Prince puts on Jonathan's soiled robes. "Father," says the Great prince, "May Jonathan stand before you now?" Yes says the King, as long as he wears Your clothes, my Son, Jonathan may stand before me.
We must ask now- can we be clean? No, not by oursleves. Can we be given the Prince's clothes?
"Yes," Grandpa answered. "He gives clean clothes to everyone who believes in Him. But they are not clothes like the ones you ruined today. The Great Prince gives new clothes for our hearts. "The dirt that we get on our clothes can sometimes be washed away. But we have a bigger problem. When we sin and do wrong, our hearts become so dirty that we cannot stand in front of God. For us to be able to be friends with God, we need to have the dirt on our hearts cleaned away. This is what Jesus does for us. He forgives us by taking the dirt from our hearts and putting it on Himself, just like the great prince took Jonathan's dirty clothes and wore them.
So when God looks at us, He doesn't see the dirt on our hearts. Instead, He sees a heart covered by His Son's clean clothes. If you trust in Jesus and believe His Word, your heart will be clean. Jesus will forgive you when you sin. But you have to ask Him to forgive you. Then He cleans your heart, and you can stand in front of God forever." And as the wind flaps the clothes dry on the line, and gives them a breezy perfume, our hearts sing with the knowledge that we have clean clothes too. Jesus' clothes.
When I finished reading The Priest with Dirty Clothes, my seven-year old daughter asked if I have other books like that. I think that is a clear indicator that she was a fan of this book. My daughter Rose who is in the fourth grade said this was a good book and that she enjoyed the whole storyline. After going over the 12-question study guide at the end of the book, we decided to check out other picture books at the Ligonier Ministries site written by Dr. Sproul. We definitely plan to read more of his books in the near future.
Dr. Sproul dedicates The Priest with Dirty Clothes to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Before he begins the story, there is a letter to the parents explaining the purpose of the book. The Priest with Dirty Clothes is based on one of Dr. Sproul's favorite passages from the Bible, Zechariah 3:1-5, and it is recommended that the passage is read with children prior to reading the story. The story starts off with a brother and sister coming home extremely muddy, and a grandfather telling them a story after they get cleaned up. The grandfather tells his grandchildren of a priest who got his special clothes muddy. Because of this, the priest was not permitted to preach before the king and was told to preach the next week with clean clothes. Unfortunately the priest's clothes were permanently stained so he went to the prince to get help. The prince told the priest to go to the king with his dirty clothes and to trust that the prince would take care of everything. The priest was confused as to how his clothes would get cleaned, but he did as the prince instructed. When the priest came before the king with muddy clothes, an evil magician and others shouted at the priest. At this time the prince walked into the room and presented the priest with the prince's beautiful clothes. The priest put on the new clothes, and the prince put on the priest's dirty clothes. The priest was now allowed to stand before the king. He would go on to deliver his best sermon and would continue preaching about the prince and wearing the prince's clothes. The story concludes with the grandfather explaining how Christ washes our dirty hearts and creates clean ones - how Christ took our sin and gave us His righteousness.
It has been a blessing to have read a couple of Dr. Sproul's modern classics, Chosen by God and The Holiness of God. These books helped me to better understand predestination and God's holy nature significantly. In The Priest with Dirty Clothes, Dr. Sproul helps children (and adults) better understand another all-important topic, the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Although imputation is a weighty topic, The Priest with Dirty Clothes is not told in a manner that is above the heads of lower or upper elementary students. The plot is easy to follow, the words are age appropriate, and the pictures are colorful and fun. The book has all of the elements needed to keep the attention of today's millennials. I have read a number of books to my girls over the years, and you are not going to find too many children's books that are as captivating while explaining themes of such crucial importance. My daughters and I heartily give Dr. Sproul's book, The Priest with Dirty Clothes, our Wickersham stamp of approval.
Although I will receive a free copy of this Reformation Trust publishing title as compensation for this review, a positive book review is not required.
I'm never surprised when I read a children's book published by Reformation Trust. I know I can count on reading a biblically-based story that will help explain deep theological truths in simple, easy-to-understand ways. The Priest with Dirty Clothes was no exception. Dr. Sproul uses a simple story about a young priest who needs clean clothes in order to complete his task of preaching before the king to teach children about how Jesus makes our hearts clean before God. The story is based on a passage in Zechariah 3, and I appreciated how the author included that information in a letter to parents at the beginning of the book and then the Scripture on the first page of the story. It was the perfect way to begin. There are several pages of questions and Bible verses at the end of the story for adults to use in order to help children understand the deep truths explained in the story. The pictures are wonderfully illustrated as well, adding to the beauty of the story. I highly recommend! [5 stars]
I received a free copy of this book from Reformation Trust in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Our family recently read the children's book The Priest with Dirty Clothes, published by Reformation Trust. We already have in our library two other of Dr. Sprouls' children's books (The Prince's Poison Cup and The Lightlings) so I was fully expecting a delightful read for my family - This book certainly did not disappoint. The Priest with Dirty Clothes was written to help children understand how someone whose soul though dirty may be made clean. Quite frankly this book provides an excellent resource for parents to discuss some fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith such as: the Imputation of the Rightousness of Jesus Christ; His Substitutionary Atonement; and the Doctrine of Man. The basis for this book is the passage of Zechariah 3: 1-5. Another passage(s) that families could discuss after reading this book would be the parable Jesus told of the wedding feast (Matt 22:2-14; Lk 14:16-24). I was glad to see that on this book Sproul teamed up once again with illustrator Justin Gerard. The colorful and variety of illustrations helped keep all of the children's attention regardless of their age interested. I so appreciate the questions in the back directed to aid parents in explaining the scripture truths behind the book. There are varying levels of depth to work with both smaller and older children. These questions and bible verses would even work well as family devotions and scripture memory.
I received a review copy of this book from Reformation Trust.