Book Review – Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (27/11)

If I had a choice on one pastor I would have in my life, I would definitely choose John Newton. At first glance you might be wondering why I would choose the author of Amazing Grace as the pastor of my choice. Most Christians only know his dramatic life testimony, but you might not know how pastoral Newton became as he served his congregation in St Mary Woolnoth.

Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Theologians on the Christian Life)Tony Reinke first starts with a brief introduction to John Newton, highlights the major milestone in the life of Newton. This sets the picture and context to people who are new to the life of Newton. After the quick overview into the life of Newton, Reinke wants christians to see the importance of looking to Christ. I like the fact that Newton helped christians see the importance of looking to Jesus, with an emphasis on the word ‘looking’, keeping a continuous focused graze on Jesus throughout the christian life. This keeps christians focus on what Christ has done when we’re dealing with our indwelling sin or with our insecurity.

Having laid this foundation, Reinke then moves on to the topic of christian living, he helps us see the advice that Newton gave to his correspondences and how his advice is still good pastoral advice to us today. Newton gave very sensible and sensitive advice to those suffering from trials or those struggling with indwelling sins. Newton often helps his readers see the ‘benefits’ that such trials or indwelling sins brings to our christian life. For example, in dealing with trials Newton writes, ‘When these serious trials interrupt our lives, we “run simply and immediately to our all-sufficient Friend, feel our dependence, and cry in good earnest for help.” But when all is well, when life seems peaceful and prosperous, and when the difficulties in life are small, then “we are too apt secretly to lean to our own wisdom and strength, as if in such slight matters we could make shift without him.”’. Living in a day and age where suffering seems strange, undesirable and quickly avoided or alleviated, this advice comes like a fresh breeze and encouragement to endure through our trials patiently.

I’ve also found Newton’s advice to young and old christian extremely helpful. In a series of 3 letters, Newton addresses the young and new born christian, those who are in adolescence and those who have been a christian for a long time. I have found Newton to be a master of the human heart and of the christian life. He highlights points that readers will identify with in their lives and he also points out the dangers they will face and areas that they should be especially watchful for. At all times, Newton gives the slight nudge of encouragement to the christian to keep their focus on Christ and to live evermore so in dependence on the love of God, the compassion of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit.

If you are a pastor, or if you are thinking of going into the pastoral ministry, I cannot recommend this book highly enough for you. You will first be cared for pastorally and then learn to care for your congregation pastorally. For those who are doing any form of mentoring or counselling or even if you’re going dry in your christian life, read this book and let Pastor Newton give you some of his counsel. Personally I’ve been helped by the advice of this seasoned pastor and hope one day to be as pastoral in the way I interact with my congregation in future.

Rating: 5 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. As a add-on I would also recommend Letters of John Newton. They will surely minister to you and help you be able to give wise pastoral advice to others. Get it here and here (free international shipping).