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on 22 May 2016
One of the best Christian literature books I've read. It's a book that you'll want to read again and again and will not sit on your shelf collecting dust. Really brings the gospel to life, the love of God and the brutality of the crucifixion. If you're feeling distant from God and need encouragement to pick yourself back up again, this is the book to read (and of course the Bible itself) =)
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on 26 April 2017
Book arrived on time, I bought a book used. Book came in perfect condition. The book itself is brilliant, my wife is reading it at the moment. It's not too long but also not short. Great book to share with your brothers and sisters in Christ. The book is practical and hard to put down.
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on 17 December 2014
An amazingly insightful book filled with powerful and thought provoking aspects to get you closer the truth and significance of the cross and the overwhelming love God has for his children.
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on 22 September 2014
excellent book. Very american, perhaps a bit too much irreverence, but the tone is very casual and engages you with the material. It gave me a different perspective on a few aspects. excellent book to add to your tool shed of deeper understanding.
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on 13 February 2015
Interesting read
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on 21 November 2014
Great book. Definitely recommend.
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on 20 March 2015
Have read better ones on the topic
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on 10 December 2011
Mahaney's short book was recommended to me by my pastor, so I read it with great expectation in one sitting. My initial reaction was disappointment; the book has a simple and indeed almost simplistic central tenet - the centrality of the cross and Christ's redemptive act - yet somehow Mahaney pads this out into 165 pages with anecdote, repetition and an embellished and rather sensational retelling of Scripture. For example, on page 91 Mahaney suggests that Christ's final words of anguish on the cross were "screamed out". Yes the Gospels talk about "crying out with a loud voice", which is not quite the same.

So when I finished the book I felt somewhat dissatisfied, but without quite knowing why, other than the insubstantiality of its content. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to realise why I was unsettled: I could not remember reading anywhere in the 165 pages of the resurrection!

On p14, Mahaney points to 1 Corinthians 15:3 as the central thrust of his book: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins." (ESV translation)

The rest of the book is Mahaney's expansion of this truth of 'first importance' and in particular, his belief that given our innate sinfulness we need to eschew "feelings" (even if the Holy Spirit sometimes leads us through our feelings - look at Paul in Acts 20:22) and focus wholly on the 'truth' of the cross.

But hang on, isn't 1 Corinthians 15 that great chapter where Paul expounds not on the cross but...on the resurrection? We then discover that Mahaney has mischievously inserted a full stop into 1 Corinthians 15:3 where no full stop exists! This is the passage in full (vv3-5):

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."

So why does Mahaney stop with the cross? It reminds me of the 1970s musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which finishes with Christ on the cross. Most Christians condemned the musical for that reason, yet CJ Mahaney writes a book with the same message and it is hailed as a Christian masterpiece!

The deeper you dig, the more flawed is Mahaney's theology. He devotes a whole chapter to how the message of the cross is summarised in Isaiah 53, and this is indeed true. But he is highly selective, skipping quickly over Isaiah 53:10-11 which is clearly a reference to the resurrection:

"Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied..."

Yes, the cross is important, but it cannot be disconnected from Christ's resurrection, and we are seriously in error if we focus on one and not the other. As someone has said: the cross freed us from the penalty of sin, but the resurrection freed us from the power of sin. Paul stated this clearly in Romans 6 (vv8-9 - "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.")

Paul also put it elegantly in Philippians 3:10:

"I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead."

The whole of the Book of Acts is about the power of the resurrection, not the power of the cross. This may be an 'inconvenient truth' for CJ Mahaney, but the early Christians lived resurrection-centred lives, not cross-centred lives! In Acts 1:22, the Apostles selected a replacement for Judas who was to "become a witness with us of his resurrection". In Acts 4:33 we read that "the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection." In Acts 17:18 Paul "was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection."

Some have criticised CJ Mahaney's Sovereign Grace Ministries for its authoritarianism (see [...]) and if this selective reading of Scripture is anything to go by, once can see how SGM has gone off track.

Read this book with great care!
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on 16 February 2018
"Reminding ourselves of the gospel is the most important daily habit we can establish. If the gospel is the most vital news in the world, and if salvation by grace is the defining truth of our existence, we should create ways to immerse ourselves in these truths every day. No days off allowed."

I picked up this book recognising the author of the forward, Albert Mohler. I've also read books by Joshua Harris recently and C.J. Mahaney is mentioned frequently as a mentor/senior pastor. I agree with the main principle in this book which is summed up in the subtitle: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing. However, I don't think we should do this to the exclusion of everything else in the Bible.

I enjoyed his section on The Passion of the Christ movie. The author points out that it is a starting point for some useful conversations. However, images by themselves cannot depict the Gospel message in its entirety and will not, therefore, result in conversions. He quotes Scripture as a reminder that it is preaching the Gospel that converts and that follow-up to any movie like this is critical if we want to see real change in people's hearts.

I felt a bit underwhelmed by this book in general, although there were some useful sections, but was reminded not to rely on my feelings by this very true statement:

"We can learn to focus outward and upward, regardless of how we feel, because the gospel and its events remain completely unaffected by whatever is agitating our emotions. The gospel is objective fact."

When I read books that were written a decade or more ago, I often research the authors and ministries to see how they are doing now. In this case, I kind-of wished I hadn't. It appears that Joshua Harris has left the umbrella of C.J. Mahaney's ministry and he (C.J.) had also left his original church network. There was an alleged cover-up of serious sexual abuse within the church network which was unresolved due to the statute of limitations in the US. It's difficult to review a book objectively knowing these things....

There are better books on living the Christian life, most notably by Jerry Bridges. C.J. Mahaney also recommends Bridges books so......!
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on 13 March 2010
The Christian life is a life-long struggle and it is very easy to become despondent and confused in our thinking, mainly due to three tendencies we all face:

1. Subjectivism, which means basing our view of God on our changing feelings and emotions.

2. Legalism, which means basing our relationship with God on our own performance.

3. Condemnation, which means being more focused on our sin than on God's grace.

The author cuts a swathe through these, and other issues using simple, direct and heart-warming language which leaves the reader focusing instead on the only place where true assurance and joy can be found on an ongoing basis - the all-sufficient work of Christ on the cross.

This book has been a real blessing to me, and it surely deserves a place on every Christian's (and indeed non-Christian's!) bookshelf.
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