R. T. Kendall
Hodder; 238 pages; £10.99
Can those who fall in Christ’s service be restored – not only to him but to his service? This book holds out hope and compassion particularly to those whose fall has been a public affair. But Kendall ministers to us all. Which of us have not felt the sting of failure at some point?
A glance at the chapter headings gives a flavour of the book – God’s house; Ending well; God’s blueprint; The quality of the superstructure; Money and sex; Power; The mighty fallen; The returning backslider; Repentance; and Simon Peter.
Kendall’s approach to spiritual effectiveness and recovery from a fall is no soft touch. Each of these easy-to-read chapters holds many valuable challenges, insights and lessons. With judicious leadership they could form a series of studies for a home group.
Kendall’s thrust is how we build our lives on Christ, dealing with many issues that flaw God’s people such as money, sex, lust for power and recognition. He draws on the great characters of God’s word to back up his arguments – giving useful insights on such cases as Saul’s rejection by God and God’s choice of David, and Joseph’s stand against adultery.
He repeatedly emphasises that the only way to keep close to Christ is genuine heart repentance – the only way of restoration. As you would expect, Kendall looks helpfully at the prodigal son and Peter’s restoration.
The author concludes: ‘At the judgment seat of Christ, about which this book has had a lot to say, it will be your personal relationship with God that will matter most’. Amen to that!
However, his teaching on suffering loss or reward at Christ’s judgement seat can lead us away from the Reformed emphasis on the holiness demanded of all God’s children – ‘By their fruits you will know them’. Also, at times, Kendall sails closer to charismatic phenomena than some might wish.
Nevertheless, his writing is robust and challenges us to higher things in Christ while holding out hope to those who have fallen. He makes it clear that the important thing is the integrity of our relationship with Christ, rather than any public ministry we have had or may wish to have.