Can anyone just believe ? Can we just say to people, "Trust in Jesus Christ and he will save you!" ?
But save you from what ? And why would anyone believe, anyway ? Why would anyone want to ? What would drive someone into the arms of Jesus Christ ?
How do people come to faith ? Why do they do it ? What happens before conscious faith ? Can we describe it ? Analyse it ? Understand it ? Define it ?
And how can we both respect people's need to feel their desire to trust in Christ without creating some sense of needing to feel a deep need before we can even hope to be accepted ? How ready does someone have to be to believe ?
Who cares, anyway ?
Well, we should care. We want to see people become Christians, precious few do, and most people don't have any sense of need of a saviour. A SAVIOUR ? Why would I need a SAVIOUR ???
Nobody was more qualified to think through the whole process of repentance and faith than the reformers and the puritans. They were faith's anatomists ! And with reason - they had to distinguish, define and declare saving faith in a context of great debate and conflict.
I doubt if anybody is more qualified to survey the reformers and puritans on the anatomy of saving faith than Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley. That's the great value of this book.
You can come to this book in many ways : for example
to find out about the history of theology
to face up to the whole "Calvin and calvinists" controversy
to find out about the anatomy of conversion, the relation of repentance and regeneration, of faith and justfication
to get help in understanding how to preach for conversion
to understand what it might take for your contemporaries to come to faith in Christ.
It's in some ways an academic book, and deserves a more thorough and scholarly review than a blog and an Amazon recommendation can give it. And I am sure it will get it - watch in the pages of the more serious Christian magazines !
But for what it's worth, this humble reviewing blogger found this demanding book very helpful. Good stuff !
"'twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed !"