Book Reviews

Book Review: The Christian Life (Sinclair Ferguson)

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Imagine staring at a pile of nuts and bolts. Not very exciting, right? You’re not enticed to pick them up and play with them. You don’t look down in glee at them because they symbolize that you will need to build something. No, they’re not very exciting. We want cabinets and tables, not nuts, bolts, and wood. The materials are meant to be put together so that we can live better. Many people have the same experience when they hear about “doctrine” (read: boring). But it is doctrine—proper doctrine—that holds us together when we are faced with hard times, and proper doctrine which keeps us grounded when we are surrounded by blessings and easy days.

Doctrine is the frame in which we live our lives. Children learn to walk not so they can brag to their friends that they have learned to walk, but so that they can run, play, come when you call them, flee from danger, run into your arms, and swim! We learn to walk so that we can live. Similarly, we aren’t meant to learn doctrine so we can brag that we understand doctrine better than the rest. We learn doctrine so that we can live well and represent God properly to everyone around us.

The Scottish native Sinclair Ferguson guides his readers through eighteen chapters of doctrine so that you will know what God has planned for you, what Christ has done for you, and who you are in Christ. J. I. Packer (who wrote the preface) notes that “Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs, not his giraffes” (x). Ferguson places the cookies on the bottom shelf. He doesn’t dumb down his material, but he makes doctrine readable.

Looking at what it means to be born again, justified, adopted, unified with Christ, elected, and glorified, Ferguson packs his chapters with Bible verses and exposition supported by illustrations and examples on how you ought to now live. Not only those main topics, but he looks at hoe God has called believers, what true repentance looks like, how we crucify sin and persevere. Being unified to Christ, Christ’s sacrifice and his “life of obedience” become ours. His power to transform is at work in us to sanctify us, that is, to give us new habits that are not sinful. He works fruit in us, we persevere, and we know we have strength to fight sin because we are, somehow, through our belief in his death and resurrection, unified to Christ.


Yes! This is recommended to everyone. While not a book you will probably read from cover to cover, most chapters are pretty short, the writing is easy to read, and it reads even better when you keep the Scottish accent in mind (it was much better than reading it with my own voice). But no matter which “voice” you read the book with, to be able to learn so much out of such a short book (less than 200 pages) is delightful. The cover of the book isn’t tantalizing, but the content is valuable.

  • Author: Sinclair Ferguson
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Banner of Truth (May 31, 2013)

Find it on Amazon!

Disclosure: I received this book free from Banner of Truth. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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