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John Newton is famous for his legendary hymn “Amazing Grace.” Many have celebrated his dramatic conversion from a life in the slave trade to his eventual work to end it. But often overlooked are Newton’s forty years as a pastor ministering to parishioners and friends unsettled by the trials, doubts, and fears of life. Newton is perhaps the greatest pastoral letter writer in John Newton is famous for his legendary hymn “Amazing Grace.” Many have celebrated his dramatic conversion from a life in the slave trade to his eventual work to end it. But often overlooked are Newton’s forty years as a pastor ministering to parishioners and friends unsettled by the trials, doubts, and fears of life. Newton is perhaps the greatest pastoral letter writer in the history of the church. He took up his pen day after day to help others fix their eyes on Christ, which, he writes, is the underlying battle of the Christian life. Through a careful study of scores of letters, Tony Reinke brings together Newton’s brilliant vision of the Christian life in one accessible place. “Here is mastery! Reinke distills a vast flow of pure honey for the Christian heart. This is a book to read over and over again.” –J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College “Newton on the Christian Life is a magnum opus. A bold project, beautifully done. You know about John Newton; now you can be pastored by him.” –Ed Welch, counselor and faculty, The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation “Linger long here. The depths and riches within these pages are truly rare, and answer what your soul most hungers for: life in Christ. I will be returning to this book many, many times over.” –Ann Voskamp, author, New York Times bestseller, One Thousand Gifts “For some readers, this book may just become the most important book, outside the Bible, they will ever read.” –Ray Ortlund, pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee


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John Newton is famous for his legendary hymn “Amazing Grace.” Many have celebrated his dramatic conversion from a life in the slave trade to his eventual work to end it. But often overlooked are Newton’s forty years as a pastor ministering to parishioners and friends unsettled by the trials, doubts, and fears of life. Newton is perhaps the greatest pastoral letter writer in John Newton is famous for his legendary hymn “Amazing Grace.” Many have celebrated his dramatic conversion from a life in the slave trade to his eventual work to end it. But often overlooked are Newton’s forty years as a pastor ministering to parishioners and friends unsettled by the trials, doubts, and fears of life. Newton is perhaps the greatest pastoral letter writer in the history of the church. He took up his pen day after day to help others fix their eyes on Christ, which, he writes, is the underlying battle of the Christian life. Through a careful study of scores of letters, Tony Reinke brings together Newton’s brilliant vision of the Christian life in one accessible place. “Here is mastery! Reinke distills a vast flow of pure honey for the Christian heart. This is a book to read over and over again.” –J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College “Newton on the Christian Life is a magnum opus. A bold project, beautifully done. You know about John Newton; now you can be pastored by him.” –Ed Welch, counselor and faculty, The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation “Linger long here. The depths and riches within these pages are truly rare, and answer what your soul most hungers for: life in Christ. I will be returning to this book many, many times over.” –Ann Voskamp, author, New York Times bestseller, One Thousand Gifts “For some readers, this book may just become the most important book, outside the Bible, they will ever read.” –Ray Ortlund, pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee

30 review for Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark Nenadov

    I’ve been plunging into several William Cowper biographies lately, and I’m amazed at how bitterly many of his biographers hate John Newton. As I’ve read the perspectives of, say, Hugh l’Anson Fausset or David Cecil, I see transparently festering contempt for Newton. So, when I received this volume on John Newton in Crossway’s “Theologians on the Christian Life” series, I was ready for a refreshing change. I knew Tony Reinke has a sincere appreciation for this man and his legacy. After such unvei I’ve been plunging into several William Cowper biographies lately, and I’m amazed at how bitterly many of his biographers hate John Newton. As I’ve read the perspectives of, say, Hugh l’Anson Fausset or David Cecil, I see transparently festering contempt for Newton. So, when I received this volume on John Newton in Crossway’s “Theologians on the Christian Life” series, I was ready for a refreshing change. I knew Tony Reinke has a sincere appreciation for this man and his legacy. After such unveiled contempt, even a little hagiography would be excusable! In this series, thus far I’ve read the volumes on Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I generally appreciated and enjoyed them, though I also found some weakness in each of them. I had no desire to nitpick, I just really expected more. And, so, beginning this book, I’ve been very interested to see how it would measure up. John Newton (1725-1807) made a lasting contribution to the Christian church when he penned the words to the hymn “Amazing Grace.” However, there is a rich store of resources from the pen of John Newton which have gotten much less fanfare over the last three centuries. Newton’s placement in history at the point at which “the Post Office had developed to the point where letter delivery was more affordable and reliable than ever” allowed him build a substantial letter writing ministry. These one thousand or so letters rivaled his sermons “in both substance and usefulness.” Tony Reinke has submerged himself into this vast quantity of letters in an attempt to show that Newton was, indeed, a theologian, and then presents for a popular audience the essence of his theology. Reinke shows Newton as a “spiritual doctor,” or more specifically an expert in “cardiology,” a student “of his own heart and the hearts of others.” The first and most enduring impression I had upon reading this book was that Newton exalted the supremacy, centrality, and glory of Christ. Christ, to him, is the “priceless treasure” that seeps through all of what he writes. “Like an unceasing echo, the theme of Christ’s super-abundant grace is heard in everything Newton writes” Newton “will not allow us to abstract the Christian life from Christ” and so, a book on Newton’s view of the Christian life is largely a book about Christ. This emphasis seeps through all of what Reinke writes about Newton! Here you can really see how Reinke has steeped himself into Newton’s work and does a fantastic job of bringing this emphasis out. I would like to highlight a few portions that were especially helpful: There is an excellent discussion of “gospel simplicity” (Simplicity of Intention/Dependence). The discussion of seven types Christians with character flaws is excellent and convicting (Austerus, Humanus, Prudens, Voatilis, Cessator, Curiosus, and Querulus). Don’t let the Latin trick you, the observations in this section are extremely concise and simply explained! The chapter on “Discipline of Trials” is also excellent and very thought provoking! Upon reflection, I’ve concluded that this is the best book in the series, a fair amount better than the works on Edwards, Luther, and Bonhoeffer. Each has remarkable strengths, but none I have read in the series yet measures up to this one.The only notable weakness I would point out is perhaps connected to it strong points. Reinke has submerged himself in Newton’s letters and masterfully described his theological thinking, but he has perhaps not given enough space to show how that theology worked itself out in practice, both in his life’s decisions and also in his pastoral advice on specific topics. Some of the exploration of Newton’s theology could have been tied a little tighter into concrete events in his personal or pastoral life. At one point towards the end of the book Reinke intimates that there is much more to be said about Newton on topics such as friendship, fellowship, marriage, discerning God’s will, etc. I think that rings true, and I am left wishing Reinke devoted some space to these subjects if he could do so without too severely truncating his coverage of Newton’s theological thinking. Reading this book is certainly profitable from a devotional perspective. It also is a helpful volume if you want to better understand the theological emphasis of 18th century evangelicalism. On both accounts I can sincerely recommend it and I hope many Christians read it, not only to know John Newton, but ultimately Jesus Christ, who he so vigorously pointed to.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rosalie

    30/10 stars. As per usual for a Tony Reinke book. This book is one of the most edifying books I've ever read. The truth is rich and deep and wonderfully drawn from Newton's letters, and it is one I intend to read over and over again. 30/10 stars. As per usual for a Tony Reinke book. This book is one of the most edifying books I've ever read. The truth is rich and deep and wonderfully drawn from Newton's letters, and it is one I intend to read over and over again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

    We become by beholding. “by Beholding we are gradually formed into the resemblance of Him whom we see, admire and love. It was hard to choose a quote that reflected the heart of this study of Newton because there was so much and so much of it was good. Newton strived for one thing and that one thing was Christ. As his writing suggest, the one thing we fight for is not an easy to obtain as so much of life detracts us from Christ. We may all know the hymn that John Newton was famous for Amazing Gr We become by beholding. “by Beholding we are gradually formed into the resemblance of Him whom we see, admire and love. It was hard to choose a quote that reflected the heart of this study of Newton because there was so much and so much of it was good. Newton strived for one thing and that one thing was Christ. As his writing suggest, the one thing we fight for is not an easy to obtain as so much of life detracts us from Christ. We may all know the hymn that John Newton was famous for Amazing Grace however; do we think on the inspiration of those words that were penned. John Newton had the confidence and the freedom to face his own personal sins directly because he also knew the grace of Christ to walk away from those sins. I appreciated his words on indwelling sin and how God desires for us to feel the weight of that sin so that all we have and know is Christ. It is always our union with Christ that frees from sin. It is God’s grace that the very thing that keeps us from God (sin) drives us to him our confession and our union with Christ. In an age where programs are king and the gospel is secondary, it is uplifting in the writings and study of Newton to see the Gospel in simplicity in living in the glory of God alone. It is the man who drinks deep at these streams will not thirst after other waters. When we behold Jesus and his love by the eye of faith, we may, with the Prophet of old, sit down by a barren fig tree and a failing crop, and still rejoice in the God of our salvation. John Newton is the example to live is Christ. John Newton had all the temptations as we do and had succumbed to his temptations as well, however, in knowing the Glory of Christ in grace and the depth of his sin, each time has died to himself and lived thru Christ; all in the simplicity of the Gospel. A Special Thank You to Crossway Books and Netgalley for ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Binsy

    What an edifying read !

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    What a treasure of a book! Reinke did an amazing job collecting quotes and themes from John Newton's life. Newton, if you didn't know, wrote the famous hymn, "Amazing Grace." I read this book along with my devotions and boy, did it stir my affections for Christ every morning! Every page is Christ-saturated and dripping with the amazing grace that saves, keeps sanctifying us and that will bring us home. Newton believed and depended on Christ's sufficiency all the way to the end and said famously What a treasure of a book! Reinke did an amazing job collecting quotes and themes from John Newton's life. Newton, if you didn't know, wrote the famous hymn, "Amazing Grace." I read this book along with my devotions and boy, did it stir my affections for Christ every morning! Every page is Christ-saturated and dripping with the amazing grace that saves, keeps sanctifying us and that will bring us home. Newton believed and depended on Christ's sufficiency all the way to the end and said famously before his death, "“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.”Amen! Lord, help me believe both of these truths deeper and deeper!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    This is a book I wish every Christian could read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Debra Frey

    This book is gold! It speaks to so many aspects of the Christian life but I particularly loved the chapter on the discipline of trials. “Trials remind us of the vanity of this life, and the vanity reminds us that this world is fallen, and the fallen was reminds us that it is a deeply unsatisfying world. For all the entertainment and the joy offered here, trials make us uneasy and set our hearts on things above, where Christ is.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Sussex

    I enjoyed reading this book, the author does a great job in presenting the Theme that encapsulated Newtons life, To Live Is Christ. You dont notice when Tony Reinke transitions from Newtons words to his own which makes it flow well. There is endless encouragement for the christian in these pages.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ben Robin

    Absolutely exceptional! Let Tony Reinke introduce you to John Newton, and then, invite Newton into your life as a conversation partner from the past who can provide hope and help for your ministry.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Eason

    This book came to me at a time when I needed a fresh look at Jesus. It was illuminating on John Newton, but even more so on Christ. I think that’s just the way Newton would have wanted it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tom Wilding

    A new favourite of mine - really Christ-centred and therefore warming. Chapter 4 on 'gospel simplicity' was fantastic! A new favourite of mine - really Christ-centred and therefore warming. Chapter 4 on 'gospel simplicity' was fantastic!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Yoder

    This is the first book in the series "Theologians on the Christian Life" that I have read. And if they are all this good, then I'm going to be eating them up this year. This was one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I can easily see this as a book that I come back to over and over again throughout my life and am already looking forward to reading it again. My copy of this book is covered in underlines, exclamation points, and boxes. Reinke did an excellent job in capturing the h This is the first book in the series "Theologians on the Christian Life" that I have read. And if they are all this good, then I'm going to be eating them up this year. This was one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I can easily see this as a book that I come back to over and over again throughout my life and am already looking forward to reading it again. My copy of this book is covered in underlines, exclamation points, and boxes. Reinke did an excellent job in capturing the heart of Newton's theology, and his commentary on Newton blended in with direct quotes from Newton so that you thought as if the whole book was written by Newton himself. Christ-centered is a catch phrase in today's Christian subculture, but Newton truly embodied it. To live is Christ is more than simply the subtitle of this book on Newton, it was the dominant theme of the life of Newton.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    It took me three months to finish this book... not because it was slow or boring at all. It caused me to think so much and required a lot of journaling and self-reflection. I loved it. It was like being discipled by both Tony Reinke and John Newton at the same time. I will definitely be re-reading this another time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jesvin Jose

    This book is not really about Newton, it is about the all-sufficient Christ. It is pure gold! Tony Reinke who is a very capable writer, focuses through the book on John Newton’s thousand odd letters that he penned during his ministry. ‌ Even the footnotes have priceless insights! The book is a masterpiece because of its relentless focus on looking to Christ. Here are some highlights: According to Newton, the Christian life is all about Christ. Indeed, the Christian life is Christ (He is the subst This book is not really about Newton, it is about the all-sufficient Christ. It is pure gold! Tony Reinke who is a very capable writer, focuses through the book on John Newton’s thousand odd letters that he penned during his ministry. ‌ Even the footnotes have priceless insights! The book is a masterpiece because of its relentless focus on looking to Christ. Here are some highlights: According to Newton, the Christian life is all about Christ. Indeed, the Christian life is Christ (He is the substance and motto of the Christian life- He is all in all). When Newton focused on the person of Christ, he centered on the roles of Christ as the all sufficient Shepherd, Husband, Friend, Prophet, Priest and King. ‌If the Christian life is Christ, then looking to Christ (beholding Him) is the great duty of the Christian life (Hebrews 12:1-2). However, there are clouds, shrouds and trifles that take our eyes off Christ (We are distracted by entertainment, worldliness, legalism, pride and unbelief). So we must daily fight for joy - to see Christ in all His glory. ‌Newton believed that the path to Christian maturity is nothing less than gospel simplicity (pleasing God alone) leading to gospel sincerity (living sincere lives before others).  Gospel simplicity is displayed in a simplicity of intention (i.e., a simple aim - living for the glory of God alone) and a simplicity of dependence (i.e., a simple trust - living in light of God's trustworthiness).  Such a singular aim and a deep trust result in a sincerity of life both in private and public (no double standards and no dual aims). ‌Further, Newton believed that we must "feel" the weight of our indwelling sin before we rightly prize our great Physician. A primary reason indwelling sin remains in the Christian is because it promotes the ultimate good of the Christian.   The chapter on Christian maturity using vibrant metaphors from Newton's writings is a treasure. Newton used these metaphors for Christian maturity: the toddler, the adolescent and the father (or the blade, ear and the full corn). The Christian father is the one who is mature, humble and genuine - he truly treasures Christ and his glory! Such maturity takes time, much like an oak tree and unlike a mushroom plant. Meanwhile, Newton's call is for us to fix our eyes upon Jesus!      ‌Newton's letters also portray seven types of Christians who display specific character flaws ("respectable sins") that undermine the gospel's testimony in culture: 1) Austerus: Orthodox (but strict). 2) Humanus: A self sacrificing life (with a tireless tongue). 3) Prudens: Generous in private (but a miser in public). 4) Volatilis: Large-hearted (but always late). 5) Cessator: Heavenly minded (but earthly disconnected). 6) Curiosus: Upright and interested (but nosy and closed). 7) Querulus: Wrapped in political debate (and politically powerless). These portraits are truly meticulous descriptions of the human heart and it does sting as we consider them attentively. This might be the best chapter in the book! I also loved the chapter on Newton's counsel to believers struggling with spiritual weariness from the ups and downs of Christian experience. Newton gives us three common causes of spiritual weariness: 1) seeking our joy in broken cisterns (instead of the fountain of living waters), 2) seeking to ground our security before God in personal righteousness and obedience, 3) battling ceaseless spiritual battles. He also gives us the root of all our weariness: a disregard for our all-sufficient Savior! Only in the all-sufficient Christ do we find rest for our weary souls! Tony closes with Newton's focus on the number one spiritual enemy in the Christian life: Mr. Self. As before, the all sufficiency of Christ is what destroys the utter insufficiency of self! I would give this book my highest recommendation because the book points to the all sufficient Christ, over and over and over again! It was indeed a delightful read and one that I hope to return to again in the near future.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    Newton, known for penning the great hymn, Amazing Grace, was also a prolific writer of letters. He took to the quill with pipe lit and fire burning in the hearth on many evenings, attempting a response to all who wrote him. Newton was a keen observer of human behavior and brought many sound words of comfort to those he pastored. In the many addresses over the course of his life, one thing is evident: to Newton, Christ is all. His vision of the Christian life centers on Christ's all sufficiency. Newton, known for penning the great hymn, Amazing Grace, was also a prolific writer of letters. He took to the quill with pipe lit and fire burning in the hearth on many evenings, attempting a response to all who wrote him. Newton was a keen observer of human behavior and brought many sound words of comfort to those he pastored. In the many addresses over the course of his life, one thing is evident: to Newton, Christ is all. His vision of the Christian life centers on Christ's all sufficiency. His parting words were these: "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that christ is a great Savior" (49). This work is a terrific look at the Christ-centeredness of the Christian life through the eyes of John Newton, masterfully written by Tony Reinke.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zach Barnhart

    This is the third book from Crossway’s tremendous Theologians on the Christian Life series that I’ve both read and now reviewed. After reading Dane Ortlund’s work on Jonathan Edwards in January, then Carl Trueman’s take on Martin Luther in February, I arrived eager to read Tony Reinke’s approach to John Newton. This has been the title I anticipated reading more than any other from this entire series. This was only Reinke’s second book written, and I knew little about John Newton’s ministry apart This is the third book from Crossway’s tremendous Theologians on the Christian Life series that I’ve both read and now reviewed. After reading Dane Ortlund’s work on Jonathan Edwards in January, then Carl Trueman’s take on Martin Luther in February, I arrived eager to read Tony Reinke’s approach to John Newton. This has been the title I anticipated reading more than any other from this entire series. This was only Reinke’s second book written, and I knew little about John Newton’s ministry apart from a few sporadic events and quotes of his life. I was coming into this book with virtually no prior persuasion. I walked away from it feeling utterly persuaded to soak myself with more of Reinke’s work, more of Newton’s letters, and most of all, more of Christ Himself. I’ll expound on these three subsequently. First of all, Tony Reinke is the perfect fit for writing a “pastoral synthesis.” It is obvious he was diligent in researching for this book — this book was in the works for nearly three years. Few could take on the daunting task of not only sorting through a thousand of Newton’s letters, but also delivering them through an accurate and precise scope on the man that is John Newton. To do this, Reinke lets Newton do the talking and steps to the side, a trait so many authors should strive to replicate. Reinke writes JNXL in such a way that makes the reader feel like he’s reading an autobiography of Newton, not a narrated take and opinion piece on his life. It was not simply reading about Newton, but nearly like reading with him (most chapters had 50+ citations of Newton’s words!). His brilliant use of metaphor and allegory faithfully complimented Newton’s teaching, making the two a dynamic duo in proclaiming Christ’s goodness clearly to the reader. Tony: I cannot thank you enough for humbly laboring to bring us a passion for getting to know the authentic John Newton. Not only was I impressed with Reinke’s skill in this project, but as I’ve alluded to, I don’t know if I’ve ever been more motivated to dig into the work of a theologian after reading a summary of their life/theology. What I appreciated most about Newton’s life was his unceasing assurance of both his humanity and the power of grace. Pagan of all pagans, Newton never let himself forget what he was; not a successful minister, not a wordsmith, but a great sinner saved by great grace. I believe in every quotation of Newton in this book, one theme holds them all together; Christ is all. Newton’s life serves as a deep breath of oxygen for the Christian. If Newton could be saved, we must be encouraged. Also, his dedication to ministering through meek, diligent, tedious, and private letters instead of lofty, fame-seeking, public acts of gain encourages church leaders and pastors with placing primer on abandoning prosperity for faithfulness. I want to be a pastor like Newton, but not because he was famous or notable — quite the opposite. I want to faithfully serve the Lord, day by day, in the small and quiet, continually reminded of His grace in my own life and the lives of others. Finally, this book has pushed me to be thankful for the all-sufficient, long-suffering Christ that I know and love. In studying theology and holding to a Reformed view, it becomes easy at times to make faith academic study instead of treasured warmth for our soul. Reinke displayed Newton well, and Newton displayed Christ well, and Christ has revealed Himself through this book, and made it abundantly known that He is all in all (Col. 3:11). Since I finished Chapter 4, called “Gospel Simplicity,” this has been my prayer every morning, a quote from Newton: “May [I] be enabled from henceforth to serve him with a single eye and a simple heart, to be faithful to every intimation of his will, and to make him [my] All in all!” (124). This will hopefully become the daily prayer and plea for me when I roll out of bed and crawl back in. As I pursue ministry, trials are sure to come, faith is sure to get difficult, circumstances are sure to look grim. But this word, and the life and character of Christ, well-reflected by Newton and Reinke, will be sure to get me through. To live is Christ. Recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s my favorite of the series thus far. But I must warn you: Be ready to become aware of the depths of your depravity without the Redeemer, and the heights of the glory of Him. Be ready to be enraptured in the life of a slave-trading seaman who was blind but now sees. Be ready to make much of Jesus, to sing with Paul in his letter to Philippi, “To live is Christ.” Reinke does it well. Newton does it well. This book pushes us to do the same. Stars: 5.0/5.0 I was provided this book via Crossway in exchange for my review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Spencer R

    You can read my full review here: http://wp.me/p3JhRp-zt Crossway’s Theologians on the Christian Life series wants to fill our lack of “perspectives from the past, perspectives from a different time and place than our own… [When] it comes to learning about and practicing discipleship[, it’s] like owning a mansion and choosing to live in only one room. This series invites you to explore the other rooms” (Series Preface). The aim of the TotCL series isn’t to give us biographies nor full-blown theol You can read my full review here: http://wp.me/p3JhRp-zt Crossway’s Theologians on the Christian Life series wants to fill our lack of “perspectives from the past, perspectives from a different time and place than our own… [When] it comes to learning about and practicing discipleship[, it’s] like owning a mansion and choosing to live in only one room. This series invites you to explore the other rooms” (Series Preface). The aim of the TotCL series isn’t to give us biographies nor full-blown theologies of each man. They are “an exposition of each man’s view of the Christian life” (Storms). Tony Reinke writes this volume on the ex-sailing slave trader turned devoted follower of Christ, a man who Packer calls, “the friendliest, wisest, humblest and least pushy of all the eighteenth-century evangelical leaders, and was perhaps the greatest pastoral letter-writer of all time.” (Foreward). John Newton was focused on the Christian participating in the joy of Christ. This was especially important because, like Paul, we have “conflicts on the outside, and fears within” due to the immense trials we face. The trials consist of physical hardships, inner turmoil, anxieties, fears, and the indwelling sin that remains. Newton gives good reasons for why the Christian still has sin remaining and how God will use that for his glory and our benefit, mainly, we will know him better. Newton is concerned with the Christian’s defeating not only the big sins, but the small blemishes as well. Christian “[trials]are medicines of kindness applied to serious diseases called indwelling sins.” But victory can be found our spiritual weariness brought on by life, and victory of Mr. (and Mrs.) Self. We can battle and have victory over our insecurities because the Lord is on our side and is fighting for us. Recommended? 
My one complaint is that I had a difficult time finding any sort of structure while I was reading the book. The chapters themselves were excellent, but I didn’t really know why they were ordered as they were. But that aside, this book is highly recommended. If the rest of the series is this good, then every volume is worthy of purchase. We are not to think that 21st scholars, pastors, friends, and parents are the products of all that have come before us and are, therefore, wiser and more insightful than our previous ancestors. The way we choose to live as Christians speaks volumes to the world around us. Let us not pass up this opportunity.

  18. 5 out of 5

    E

    I really admire John Newton and his pastoral heart, as exhibited in his rich and warm letter writing ministry (perhaps the greatest of all time). Yet, since Newton was an occasionalist, not a systematician, a book like this is a bit of a tough fit. Reinke has clearly read a ton of Newton, but it still felt like I read the same chapter fourteen times. There was little narrative drive. This has been an issue in a couple of other entries in this series, but this is the worst so far. I should say som I really admire John Newton and his pastoral heart, as exhibited in his rich and warm letter writing ministry (perhaps the greatest of all time). Yet, since Newton was an occasionalist, not a systematician, a book like this is a bit of a tough fit. Reinke has clearly read a ton of Newton, but it still felt like I read the same chapter fourteen times. There was little narrative drive. This has been an issue in a couple of other entries in this series, but this is the worst so far. I should say something good: the chapter on trials was excellent, for it was really about God's sovereignty and providence. Newton's teaching is famous, and aptly so: "All shall work together for good: everything is needful that he sends; nothing can be needful that he withholds." Do we really believe this? Do we trust that everything that comes into our lives, no matter how painful, is for a good reason? And can we be content with what God has chosen not to give us, no matter how badly we might want it? If so, we can face anything. The rest of this chapter addresses specific reasons that God provides trials (and these reasons are quite insightful), but it all comes back to this core truth. The rest of the book is decent, but don't miss the chapter just highlighted (chapter 9).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rex Blackburn

    Finished 1/14/17 Finished 7/3/17 It has been a very long time since a book has done so much for me. Reinke has done a great service to the church by opening up the lines of pastoral communication between us and John Newton. In an age of instability, relativism, and rampant self-centeredness, Newton points us over and over to the person of Jesus. By doing so, he places every category of the Christian life under a single heading: 'To live IS Christ.' Newton, with Reinke's help, has pointed me back t Finished 1/14/17 Finished 7/3/17 It has been a very long time since a book has done so much for me. Reinke has done a great service to the church by opening up the lines of pastoral communication between us and John Newton. In an age of instability, relativism, and rampant self-centeredness, Newton points us over and over to the person of Jesus. By doing so, he places every category of the Christian life under a single heading: 'To live IS Christ.' Newton, with Reinke's help, has pointed me back to the North Star of the Christian life: Jesus. I plan on re-reading it this month, using it as a foundational text in discipling others, and returning to it often. PLEASE read this book!! And thank you, Tony Reinke, for such a gift.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Budd

    Beautifully written. A real treasure. John Newton (through Reinke's labours in reading and digesting his many letters) has stirred me to cultivate a gospel-simple heart, to look to Jesus more frequently, and to delight in him as my all-sufficient Saviour. So so good. Beautifully written. A real treasure. John Newton (through Reinke's labours in reading and digesting his many letters) has stirred me to cultivate a gospel-simple heart, to look to Jesus more frequently, and to delight in him as my all-sufficient Saviour. So so good.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steve Nation

    Can't speak more highly of this book - probably the best pastoral /counselling/ discipleship book I've ever read. Can't speak more highly of this book - probably the best pastoral /counselling/ discipleship book I've ever read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matt Chapman

    Wow! This book is so richly Christ-focussed and edifying. A new favourite of mine and one I'd like to revisit regularly. Wow! This book is so richly Christ-focussed and edifying. A new favourite of mine and one I'd like to revisit regularly.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vaclav

    This is the second book I read in the series on theologians through the centuries and their thoughts on the Christian life. This book is based on Newton's letters he wrote while he was a pastor for many years to believers who have struggled with many different issues like the assurance of salvation, indwelling sin, temptation, holiness, self-centeredness, Christ-centeredness, etc. Here are some quotes from this excellent book: "We must discover our sin—we must feel our own sin and it must shake u This is the second book I read in the series on theologians through the centuries and their thoughts on the Christian life. This book is based on Newton's letters he wrote while he was a pastor for many years to believers who have struggled with many different issues like the assurance of salvation, indwelling sin, temptation, holiness, self-centeredness, Christ-centeredness, etc. Here are some quotes from this excellent book: "We must discover our sin—we must feel our own sin and it must shake us—and this feeling of our sin is a sure mark of the work of grace...“The gospel affords no hope but to those whose hearts are contrite, and broken by a conviction of sin; for, while we feel not our malady, we cannot duly prize, or rightly apply to the only Physician.” This sting is felt when God’s grace breaks into your life, like a sharp knife, cutting deep into motives and intentions (Heb. 4:12). Without this sting, we would never be compelled to confess our sins. We would be left in the condition of the legalist, who can only make excuses for his sin, but who cannot repent because he remains numb to his depravities." (Kindle Locations 2411-2412, 2416-2421). "“I am a riddle to myself,” he wrote, “a heap of inconsistence.” This was never an excuse to shrug off obedience or justify scandalous sin, but it was a disclosure of grace intended to break and humble him. Every Christian must feel something of the same." (Kindle Locations 2435-2437). "As C. S. Lewis wrote, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”" (Kindle Locations 2446-2447).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    It was great to dig deeper into the thought and theology of Newton that is so well characterized in "Amazing Grace". His pastoral and practical heart for real people was evident throughout the book. I particularly benefitted from the chapters on "The Growth Chart of the Christian Life" where we start off as babies that trust Christ but are still prone to rely on our own self-sufficiency, adolescents where we trust more in Christ's complete work for us and begin to grow through various trials, an It was great to dig deeper into the thought and theology of Newton that is so well characterized in "Amazing Grace". His pastoral and practical heart for real people was evident throughout the book. I particularly benefitted from the chapters on "The Growth Chart of the Christian Life" where we start off as babies that trust Christ but are still prone to rely on our own self-sufficiency, adolescents where we trust more in Christ's complete work for us and begin to grow through various trials, and adulthood where we become like oak trees not due to our own strength but our complete dependency on Jesus and his sufficiency. I also was challenged by the chapter on "Seven Christian Blemishes" where Newton describes what we might call different kinds of "respectable sins" today such as "Austerus" who is orthodox but strict and "Querulus" who is always someone who is engaged in quarrels over political issues that he has little or no power over. My complaint about the book is that it is too long, and I felt like several of Newton's ideas were repeated throughout the book. I think partly it felt like this to me because as the book alludes to many well-known pastors today have trumpeted Newton's ideas such as Tim Keller and John Piper. I am thankful for such godly men in today's church that preach the sufficiency of Jesus in all things and that we can look to him as Newton said in one of his hymns: "Jesus! My Shepherd, Husband, Friend, My Prophet, Priest, and King: My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michele Morin

    There is a way of speaking and writing that travels well, that finds its way into the small spaces of full days and busy brains so that truth, like a clinging burdock seed, gets caught and carried along for the ride. Tony Reinke has portrayed this aspect of John Newton’s theology in Newton on the Christian Life, conveying the essence of Newton’s understanding and communication of what it means to live a life that is distinctly Christian. With remarkable self-control, Tony limits himself to the d There is a way of speaking and writing that travels well, that finds its way into the small spaces of full days and busy brains so that truth, like a clinging burdock seed, gets caught and carried along for the ride. Tony Reinke has portrayed this aspect of John Newton’s theology in Newton on the Christian Life, conveying the essence of Newton’s understanding and communication of what it means to live a life that is distinctly Christian. With remarkable self-control, Tony limits himself to the details of Newton’s biography that bear directly on his topic. Clearly, the spotlight is on Newton’s writing, and Tony has ransacked multiple libraries and historical collections of rare books to access primary resources, and anyone who fails to read the footnotes is missing out on the full impact of the author’s deep and wide research. Although John Newton’s name is mainly associated with the phrase “Amazing Grace,” his teaching actually centered around the phrase “sufficient grace,” based on Paul’s message from God regarding his thorn in the flesh, (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). In Newton’s experience and in his teaching, grace is far more than the warm and fuzzy notion tied to his famous hymn by our modern culture. For Newton, grace was tied specifically to Jesus Christ as that which unites the believer to Christ. In his own words: “The great God is pleased to manifest himself in Christ, as the God of grace. This grace is manifold, pardoning, converting, restoring, persevering grace, bestowed upon the miserable and worthless.” Tony Reinke has sifted through Newton’s letters, thoughts on pastoral ministry, hymns, published works, and sermons and distilled the contents into systematic units beginning with John Newton’s words on the sufficiency of Christ which is demonstrated in the diverse roles through which Christ meets the believer: Shepherd, Husband, Prophet, Priest King, and Friend. In each of his abundant metaphors, Newton presents Christ as central to the hope of the Christian life which is tied up in the ultimate aim of gospel simplicity. Again, the Apostle Paul’s words form Newton’s thinking: “ For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God . . .” (2 Corinthians 1:12) This bedrock was the foundation to Newton’s practice in the pulpit, his single-minded devotion to one Master, his focus on the glory of God, and his utter dependence upon God. The outflow of this integral life was gospel sincerity in which “the principles and motives upon which [ones] conduct is formed are the same in public as in private. Their behavior will be all of a piece, because they have but one design.” It follows then, that if devotion to Christ is the chief motive for righteousness, then the daily walk will be empowered by Christ. Given that Newton identifies himself as “chief of sinners,” sin figures prominently in his view of the Christian life as that which pulls one away from Christ and from gospel simplicity. The effects of indwelling sin he likened to a troublesome lodger in his house who “spoils all. To turn him out is beyond my power. We both lay such a claim to the same dwelling that I believe the only way of settling the dispute will be (which the Landlord himself has spoken of) to pull down the house over our heads.” Even so, Newton’s belief in sovereign grace was such that he acknowledged that even sin can be used to accomplish God’s purpose in the believer’s life, for he was firmly convinced that it was not his own sinlessness, but Christ’s upon which his salvation rested. Newton hailed Christ as the believers’ victory, life and example, and in spite of humanity’s profound sinfulness, Newton regarded every immortal soul as priceless, sharing C.S. Lewis’s view that “it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” First and foremost a pastor, Newton wrote extensively on the growth process of the Christian life, the dangers of sinful habits and character flaws, and the importance of a right response to trials. The believer’s need for spiritual discipline, he believed, was centered in Christ Himself, and ultimately on Christ’s revelation in Scripture which he exhorted his sheep to read with sincerity, diligence, humility and prayer. His advice about Bible reading embodies simplicity: “Read it through from beginning to end; and, when we have finished it once, begin it again.” Likewise, his advice on reading books other than Scripture is also succinct: “Read books like eating an apple — eat what’s good and toss the rest.” This does not come across as snobbery or fear, but rather as a jealousy for the glory of Christ. Newton’s highest aim in ministry was to put Christ’s beauty on display with no distractions. On this fallen planet, trials and the war against sin can lead to insecurity in the heart of a believer. The daily battle for joy can lead to spiritual weariness. Even so, it was Newton’s firm conviction that the believer’s worst enemy is selfishness. Given that we have met the enemy and he is us, victory can come only through obedience based on love for God that results in a desire to please God that is strong enough to supersede the desire to please “Mr. Self” — as Newton referred to his selfish nature. Tony Reinke helps his readers to see that Newton’s theology of the Christian life boils down to this one thing: to live is Christ, (Philippians 1:21). And so, the ministry of John Newton resonates anew from these pages in a call to “look again to the brazen serpent of the glory of Christ,” when we “feel our hearts growing cold, and we lament our chilled worship.” Indeed, in reading his words, we find hope that although we are not what we ought to be, not what we might be, not what we wish to be, not what we would hope to be, we rejoice in knowing that we are no longer what we once were. Truly, this is amazing grace. This book was provided by Crossway in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    I doubt my review of this book will do it justice. It was wonderful. It was a feast of good things. It stirred my heart, nourished my soul and clarified my mind. It cut through the fog of modern obsession with self-gratification, self-worship, shallow convictions, and kindergarten thinking (both inside and outside of the church) and brought me to the rest, and the gladness of Gods favour and smile assured by God’s gracious Word in Christ. And it wasn’t just the words of Newton that encouraged and I doubt my review of this book will do it justice. It was wonderful. It was a feast of good things. It stirred my heart, nourished my soul and clarified my mind. It cut through the fog of modern obsession with self-gratification, self-worship, shallow convictions, and kindergarten thinking (both inside and outside of the church) and brought me to the rest, and the gladness of Gods favour and smile assured by God’s gracious Word in Christ. And it wasn’t just the words of Newton that encouraged and instructed. The movement between the thinking of Newton and the thinking of Reinke was seamless. Reinke’s thinking and writing was excellent, succinct and full of carefully chosen words in colourful and clear sentences. So much so, that I will be on the lookout for more of his books. I’m the sort of reader that highlights, and underlines, and scribbles my way through books. About halfway through my reading of this one I began to wonder if I should only underline parts of the book that didn’t strike me; the booked looked silly, so much of it was underlined, and so many margins were written in. Anyway, I loved it. For a Christian looking to lift their heart and deepen their thinking, I can’t recommend this book more highly.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Short

    Tony Reinke has combed through the letters of John Newton and sifted out many of his words pertaining to the Christian life. Newton excelled at distilling practical wisdom for daily living. His counsels are personal and helpful. Reinke does point out a couple of areas of deficiency in his writings. I think those deficiencies and Newton's advice in a couple of other areas show he was somewhat affected with pietism, though he also denounced and warned against legalism. None of that should hinder a Tony Reinke has combed through the letters of John Newton and sifted out many of his words pertaining to the Christian life. Newton excelled at distilling practical wisdom for daily living. His counsels are personal and helpful. Reinke does point out a couple of areas of deficiency in his writings. I think those deficiencies and Newton's advice in a couple of other areas show he was somewhat affected with pietism, though he also denounced and warned against legalism. None of that should hinder anyone from benefiting from this book. The author has arranged Newton's counsels in different chapters that touch on various aspects of Christian life on earth. He gives us much on overcoming sin and temptation, viewing trials, and battling self, which Newton viewed as the greatest enemy. Reinke also acknowledges different aspects of life he didn't have space to deal with, but the book is a real blessing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Moore

    This book was wonderfully edifying. It was water to my soul. Off to buy the works of John Newton. How can I distill this book? Perhaps like this: Dear Christian, let the daily pursuit of your life be constantly gazing upon the all-sufficiency of Christ. In Him there is everlasting joy, the end of sin and self, and a purpose in all our suffering. Speaking of Christ as an infinite source of joy and happiness, Newton says: ...if the whole creation around us were destroyed, and you or I were the only c This book was wonderfully edifying. It was water to my soul. Off to buy the works of John Newton. How can I distill this book? Perhaps like this: Dear Christian, let the daily pursuit of your life be constantly gazing upon the all-sufficiency of Christ. In Him there is everlasting joy, the end of sin and self, and a purpose in all our suffering. Speaking of Christ as an infinite source of joy and happiness, Newton says: ...if the whole creation around us were destroyed, and you or I were the only creatures in the universe–the Lord, the sun of the soul, could make us completely happy, and fill our capacities for happiness to the utmost, immediately from himself.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Jost

    Wow. What an amazing book. Newton offered such a wealth of practical wisdom on what it meant to live in Christ. Newton found Christ to be the ultimate aim and treasure of the Christian life and that passion drove his Pastor's heart. His letters are so convicting and affection-stirring. I repeatedly found myself wanting more of Christ and to be freed from the many entanglements of the old man. Newton is a skilled surgeon when he writes about the spiritual ills that plague a Christian and offers s Wow. What an amazing book. Newton offered such a wealth of practical wisdom on what it meant to live in Christ. Newton found Christ to be the ultimate aim and treasure of the Christian life and that passion drove his Pastor's heart. His letters are so convicting and affection-stirring. I repeatedly found myself wanting more of Christ and to be freed from the many entanglements of the old man. Newton is a skilled surgeon when he writes about the spiritual ills that plague a Christian and offers such relevant, Christ exalting solutions. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hazel Stones

    A book to push the reader into careful thought about their own walk with God and in particular their relationship to Christ. A great incentive to follow in Newton's footsteps going deeper into Christ's love for his people and for the individual specifically. Also a reminder to get more thoroughly immersed into God's word - not just books about the Bible but the very Word itself and Himself. Thoroughly recommended. A book to push the reader into careful thought about their own walk with God and in particular their relationship to Christ. A great incentive to follow in Newton's footsteps going deeper into Christ's love for his people and for the individual specifically. Also a reminder to get more thoroughly immersed into God's word - not just books about the Bible but the very Word itself and Himself. Thoroughly recommended.

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