Worthy: Living in Light of the Gospel by Sinclair Ferguson. Crossway. 95 pages. 2023
This short book, by respected theologian Sinclair Ferguson, is part of a series of books devised by Michael Reeves on the basis of Paul’s words in Philippians 1:27–2:3. This book both introduces and summarizes their main theme.
The title of the book comes from verse 1:27, which reads in part:
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ
Ferguson tells us that being worthy is a sure mark of Jesus’s disciples. He tells us that to “live worthy of the gospel of Christ” does not rank high on the priority lists of the twenty-first-century church, but the Apostle Paul placed it high on his priority list.
A life that is worthy of the gospel of Christ expresses itself in the form of a lifestyle that the gospel teaches in the form of a message. Such a life takes on a character that reflects the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. Living “worthy of the gospel of Christ” is not a matter of techniques. It involves the development of Christian character. It’s about who and what we become in Christ.
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Ferguson writes that humility is the mark of the worthy life because it is an authentic imitation of Christ. He tells us that the way we become worthy is by imitating Jesus, both consciously and unconsciously, by growing down in our estimation of ourselves so that we may grow up in humility.
The author covers a number of subjects in this book including indicatives and imperatives, deconstruction and reconstruction, the preached word, providence, biblical imitation, a gospel aroma, and participation in Christ’s sufferings. Ferguson addresses the stories of Joseph, as well as Paul and Timothy – the latter of which was a model of a life that is worthy of the gospel because he shared the mindset of Christ – and Saul and Stephen – the latter of which impacted Saul with his triumphant death and the Christlikeness of his life.
Ferguson tells us that at the end of the day, only what is Christlike in your life and character will last for eternity. The worthy life is a life that becomes a connecting link between the Savior and others. In summary, to be “worthy of the gospel of Christ” means becoming more like Jesus himself.
I really enjoyed this book about a life that is worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Here are some helpful quotes from the book:
- God’s indicatives are the foundation for all of his imperatives; his resources are the source of our transformation.
- If we are in Christ, then here is the truth about us: We are no longer under the dominion of sin. We have been set free from it in Christ.
- The person whose life is worthy of the gospel walks spiritually with both feet in a balanced way: a negative step (Do not be conformed . . .) and a positive step (Do be transformed . . .).
- Deconstruction and reconstruction—this is the divine pattern of transformation.
- Our heavenly Father intends to make us like his incarnate Son, transforming us into his likeness.
- God’s simple “purpose” is that we should be “conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:28–29). That is what it means to be “worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
- Think of it: you can never be more justified than you were the moment you trusted Christ! The greatest saint is no more justified than the newest believer! That justification is sure; it is perfect; it is irreversible; it is therefore final. It is guaranteed!
- Character doesn’t just appear out of nowhere; it is the result of God’s refining our lives through tribulation—and, yes, even suffering.
- When we hear the word of God expounded in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, we are listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd himself calling his sheep.
- To “be worthy” involves sharing “the mind [or as we might say, mindset] of Christ Jesus.”
- Biblical imitation means recognizing patterns and principles and building them into the way we ourselves do things.
- Our transformation into the likeness of Jesus Christ has been God’s purpose for us from before the dawn of creation. It is central to his purposes for us. And he will stop at nothing to accomplish it.
- The life that is worthy of the gospel inevitably leaves behind a gospel aroma, the scent of the Lord Jesus.
- What matters is not our prominence but our being faithful in the place and at the time God assigns to us.
- Being a Christian involves participation in Christ’s sufferings but also sharing in his triumphs. Since this is what it was like for God’s Son, this is what it will also be like for those who are being “conformed to the image of his Son.” There is no other way to reflect him.
- Why John Piper Reads Books. On this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper responds to the question “What has been the impact of books on your life?”
- Ten Authors for Your Soul. On this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper responds to the question “In a recent Solid Joys devotional I listened to, Pastor John, you mentioned the practice of reading ‘rich doctrinal books.’ What would you consider to be your top ten ‘rich doctrinal books’ that have helped you grow over the decades?”
- Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy has published a book about HOW to study the Bible. The book is available on Amazon in both a Kindle and paperback edition. She writes “Maybe you have read the Bible but want to dig deeper and know God and know yourself better. Throughout the book I use the analogy of making a quilt to show how the Bible is telling one big story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Quilting takes much patience and precision, just like studying the Bible, but the end result is well worth it.
Won’t you read along with us?
We are reading through Truths We Confess: A Systematic Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith by R.C. Sproul. From the Ligonier description:
“The Westminster Confession of Faith is one of the most precise and comprehensive statements of biblical Christianity, and it is treasured by believers around the world
. R.C. Sproul has called it one of the most important confessions of faith ever penned, and it has helped generations of Christians understand and defend what they believe.
In Truths We Confess, Dr. Sproul introduces readers to this remarkable confession, explaining its insights and applying them to modern life. In his signature easy-to-understand style and with his conviction that everyone’s a theologian, he provides valuable commentary that will serve churches and individual Christians as they strive to better understand the eternal truths of Scripture. As he walks through the confession line by line, Dr. Sproul shows how the doctrines of the Bible—from creation to covenant, sin to salvation—fit together to the glory of God. This accessible volume is designed to help you deepen your knowledge of God’s Word and answer the question, What do you believe?”
This week we look at WCF 5: Of Providence. Here are a few quotes from the chapter:
- When big things assail us or smaller things annoy us, do we rest in the knowledge and assurance that they have come to us through the providence of a God who is supremely wise and holy?
- We question His wisdom as well as His goodness when we murmur and complain about our lot in this world.
- If we have been justified by faith alone, the ground for our eternal salvation is secure—not because of our obedience or disobedience, not because of our righteousness or lack of it, but because of the perfect righteousness of Jesus, which God counts as ours when we receive Christ by faith.
- God gives people over to Satan to be exposed to His manifold temptations. God does not just allow these things but positively ordains them.
- People are in one of two states: saved or unsaved. An individual goes either to heaven or to hell.
- God owes grace to no one, and the common grace He gives to everyone becomes an exercise of His judgment, because the wicked resist even that.