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Posted March 26, 2011
I learned quickly in Sunday School as a child that the answers to just about any question the teacher ever asked were these: "read your Bible," "pray," and "go to church." While I look back at those days with a bit of humor, I certainly recognize what importance these answers have played in my own spiritual growth through the years. R.C. Sproul has adapted for adults this childhood teaching in his book 5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow by renaming these actions with two more: the study of the Word, prayer, worship, service, and stewardship.
While the book itself is a simple, short read, Sproul's handling of these five topics inspires confidence in the reader that each action is not only possible, but also possible right now. He calls each of these things "a means of grace," stating that "a means of grace is a tool or instrument that God uses to strengthen and nurture us so that we grow in conformity to Christ" (84). He then develops each, in order to encourage this conformity of character, by offering his own personal experience, applicable illustrations, Scripture to back up his reasoning and practical helps for the reader to pursue this necessary growth.
Several key elements that stood out to me involved his constant references to Martin Luther, a man drawn away from the established church by the power of the Word, and a man committed to teaching others how to pray. Sproul also refers to John Piper's Desiring God in his chapter on service, a reference I found comforting as I am currently working through a study on this so-called "Christian hedonism." Sproul also drew a striking conclusion in his chapter on stewardship-one that has sent me back to the Word for study on the issue-stating that while the New Testament is replete with the necessity of giving, it never designates to where that giving must go (i.e. the local church or some other Christian ministry).
I enjoyed this short book, and it served as a great reminder to me of all the things I must never neglect in my pursuit of holiness and Christ-like character in this life.
[Disclaimer: I received this book free for review from Ligonier Ministries]