Author: ALISTAIR BEGG
Publisher: The Good Book Company
This short, stirring exhortation based on the story of Daniel is a book which no 21st century Christian should miss.
Although an atheist, the late Tony Benn was fond of quoting his childhood memory (mine too!) of the hymn ‘Dare to be a Daniel – dare to stand alone’. But not many Christians would fail to spot the Hebrews 11 implication in this book’s title: this bravery is only ‘by faith’. Alistair Begg rightly states that without faith in a great God, such daring amounts to nothing. ‘So the real emphasis… is not so much Daniel as God. You and I will only live brave like Daniel did if first we know the God who Daniel did’ (p.27).
As residual knowledge of Daniel’s God is fading fast in our post-Christian society, a Christian who is living bravely by faith will suddenly stand in stark contrast to prevailing culture. Quoting Tim Keller, Begg agrees that the new era we live in ‘knows no social benefit to being Christian, but an actual social cost’ (p.12).
Daniel in the lions’ den and his friends in the fiery furnace therefore present us with the perfect template for transitioning from life with benefit to living with a heavy social cost. Christians have got to learn that living for Christ is not a pragmatic option for maximising their own social good. Rather, ‘We are not called to be pragmatic but faithful: to say, God has said this, and so I will do it’ (p.55).
In a culture which we sense is triumphantly cocking a snook at God, Begg insists we remember Belshazzar, who, in his decadent debauchery, mockingly played with sacred vessels and ‘took the arrogance and mockery up a notch’ (pp. 76-77) to praise the created and debunk the Creator. Quoting Sinclair Ferguson on the den of lions, Begg asserts, ‘This was the hand of the kingdom of darkness seeking to annihilate the kingdom of God’ (p.99). But another hand is always at work. All it took was for God to lift a finger, and the lions’ mouths were shut. And for Belshazzar the writing was on the wall, and party time became the night of judgment.
In an up-to-the-minute challenge, Begg says that our Afghan brothers and sisters have already answered the question which is now posed to us all: ‘Is there anything I would die for?’ (p.95).
Those who have heard the author preach will know this is vintage Alistair Begg: punchy, biblically saturated, wonderfully allusive, and gripping. Don’t miss this book!