A portrait of Paul
Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker
Reformation Heritage; 207 pages, £13.99
Joel R. Beeke’s foreword states: ‘This is a great book that should serve as required reading in an introductory course on Christian ministry. Every minister should own a copy and read it’. However, it is equally true that it ought to have a wide readership in the pew.
It is this dual concern of the writers to speak with clarity to a wide readership that makes the book such valuable reading. A portrait of Paul is based on an exposition of Colossians 1:24 – 2:5, which is exactly what these verses give us.
As one of the writers humbly confesses, ‘I fear I cannot readily point to myself as a pattern of genuinely Christ-like ministry. But I can point to Christ, and I can point to what there is of Christ in Paul’.
To a remarkable degree, this is what the Lord has enabled the authors to do. The result ‘pulls no punches’. Ten chapters of God-honouring, Christ-exalting exposition cover ten distinctives of Paul’s ministry, as they flow from the verses.
These distinctives are the joy, focus, hardships, origin, essence, subject, goal, strength, conflict and warnings of Paul’s ministry. Each chapter commences with the text to be expounded, followed by a judicious quotation from a wide variety of Christian writers, ancient and modern. Each chapter ends with powerful applications addressed first to ‘fellow Christian’ then to ‘fellow pastor’.
While the book makes great demands on those who aspire to pastoral office, the demands are all legitimate yet never divorced from warm encouragements to press on in continual endeavour.
Every pastor with a tender conscience will find the book uncomfortable reading in places. It will search, convict and humble, but if the reader is ready to repent and turn to the Lord for fresh grace and strength, it will never devastate.
In a similar fashion, church members are shown what to look for in their spiritual leaders. Such men deserve the loving and prayerful support of every member of the flock that they serve, and there is no shortage of helpful counsel as to how church members can give this.
I highly recommend this to the widest Christian readership possible. In particular, it should prove especially helpful to any church in the process of seeking a pastor. It deals with a subject vital to the spiritual health of a church.
Should there be a need to reprint, it is to be hoped that the publishers will add an index. There are many other valuable books quoted and a list of them might be a useful addition.