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The death of the Saviour

By Richard D. Phillips
February 2013 | Review by Geoff Cox


At the heart of the Christian faith is the simple truth, yet profound mystery, that 'Christ died for our sins'. According to the Apostle Paul, Christ dying in our place is the truth of 'first importance' in the gospel, apart from which we have 'believe in vain' (1 Cor. 15:2-3). And yet it is all too easy for Christians to lose sight of the cross and for things of this world to eclipse the glory of its message. In seven short studies in the nineteenth chapter of John's Gospel, Richard D. Phillips encourages the reader to take a fresh look at the amazing story of the death of the Saviour, Jesus Christ the Son of God. Writing with intelligence and pastoral warmth, the author especially delights in drawing the reader's attention to the small details surrounding the crucifixion that John recorded in his Gospel. The aim of these studies is to refocus eyes that have grown dim and to stir up a spirit of thanksgiving and praise in the heart of the believer. For it is at the cross, as the author says, that 'we gaze upon the heart of our Lord with wonder and feel the warmth of his grace in our soul'.

  • Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
  • ISBN: 978-1-84871-158-7
  • Pages: 92
  • Price: 5.75
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Book Review

This engaging book began life as a series of sermons given by the writer in his church, viewing the death of Christ from John’s account in John 19:13-32. The result is refreshingly interesting. He relates the events of Christ’s death to Old Testament prophecies and brings out applications throughout the book.
    As the author goes through the events of Good Friday, he not only explains their spiritual significance but also deals with wrong ideas, some of which are current today.
    In a short book space is limited, but the author uses such economy of language that issues are covered in a clear, simple and understandable way. The same is true when he looks at some problem texts, for example the apparent difference in the time of the crucifixion between John and Mark.
    On occasions, things are viewed from a different perspective and the result is striking. Here is one example: ‘The world yet insists that all roads lead to God, and the world is right. Of course all roads lead to God, for God is the alpha and omega of all things.
    ‘But the horror that unbelievers will discover, if God’s Word is true, is that the God to whom they will arrive by any other way than the cross of Christ is an angry, offended and awesomely holy God, whose perfect justice must consign them to an eternity of punishment in divine wrath’.
    I was disappointed to discover that the author appears not to think Psalm 22 is a direct prophecy by David as Psalm 16 certainly was. In his references to Hosea marrying and buying back Gomer, there is, I think, rather too much imagination used. He also confuses the presentation of Jesus to Simeon with his going to the temple as a 12-year-old.
    Despite these minor concerns, I thoroughly recommend this book. For new believers it will be an invaluable introduction to the theology of the cross; and to those familiar with these things it will be a real tonic, simply because Richard Phillips’ approach is different enough to bring these truths freshly to our minds.
Geoff Cox

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