Book Review: Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification. Sinclair Ferguson, Banner of Truth Trust, 2016 (277pp)

Who wants to be holy? Sinclair Ferguson’s thesis is that every true Christian does. Equally, he recognises that every Christian finds the call to grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ to be daunting, difficult, and a journey full of setbacks. This book aims to help all believers to understand biblically what holiness is, and to grasp our holiness in Christ with conviction and joy.

Cover for Devoted to GodDevoted to God is a systematic treatment of the Bible’s teaching on sanctification. God is holy, not ‘set apart’ from His world (as is often the frankly unappealing definition of holiness), but devoted to Himself in the Persons of the Trinity. The Gospel is God’s call to us to share in that Trinitarian life through Christ. Starting then with our new status and nature in Christ through conversion, Ferguson guides us through what the New Testament has to say about (amongst other things) how we die to sin, how we fight the battle of godliness, how we relate to the Law, and how we keep going in the Christian life. There is detailed exposition of ten key New Testament passages, whilst many other passages from throughout Scripture are also referenced. Illustrations abound, and there are many (but not overbearing) references to historic theological figures with their contributions.

This is not a book you can race through. The chapters are full of detail and challenge. There is serious theology and close exposition of the text of the Bible here which need working through carefully. Devoted to God would be a great accompaniment to a quiet time. Best of all, if used in a group setting then its treasures could really be best appreciated.

I enjoyed this book so such that I had to think hard about if it could be improved. To my mind, the Christian life in the book doesn’t focus sufficiently on the church. So much of the Bible speaks of our holiness being expressed amongst and enriched by fellow believers. We needed to hear more of the mutuality of growing in holiness. At the editorial level, two smaller points: firstly, there are five appendices which cover topics relevant to holiness, including the Trinity, what it means to be “dead to sin”, and the place of the Fourth Commandment in discipleship. This is all good material, and wouldn’t have been unwieldy if included in the body of the book, to my mind. As appendices, they maybe risk being overlooked, which would be a real shame. Finally, an index would make the book even more useful, allowing readers to return to it and go easily to key passages and doctrine. All in all, though, this is an outstanding read, and a blessing from author and publisher.

Devoted to God comes from a Pastor’s heart. Ferguson wants to help us follow Jesus Christ with more confidence and fruitfulness, and he writes clearly and tenderly. Pastors will love this book, and will quickly value it for its probing marrying of the best of exposition and theology, always with an eye to personal transformation. It deserves to be read.

Lewis Allen

Pastor, Hope Church Huddersfield, Director of Gospel Yorkshire, husband, father of five, football follower and dreaming fly-fisherman, Daily Reading the Bible Together blogger.

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