If you desire to learn more about joy, scripture, or Reformation history, you will be blessed and encouraged by this book. It values church history and keeps the historical context of the Reformation constantly in view. Most importantly, it's biblical and practical.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Are you searching for joy? Do you desire to find true wisdom on finding it? Are you interested in Reformation History? Reforming Joy: A Conversation Between Paul, the Reformers, and the Church Today by Tim Chester is the best of three wonderful worlds.
If you struggle with joy, Reforming Joy will offer you the gospel (our source of joy) and application (how to cultivate joy in your life). Rooted in Galatians, Chester makes clear the aim of this book:
"The Galatians are returning to legalism and losing their joy. So this is an invitation to rediscover joy. If your life lacks joy, then this is for you. I don’t mean being happy all the time—sometimes life is painful. But even in those moments we will find comfort in God. If you can’t find that comfort or if you’ve lost your fizz, then listen up."
He shows readers that we lack joy when we try to impress others and when we try to fix sin through religious duties. The gospel frees us from being slaves to the opinions of others and religious duties. In typical Tim Chester fashion, each chapter has a section to reflect. He also has a getting personal section which probes our hearts to get to the bottom of our joylessness:
"Identify someone in your church who you struggle to get along with. Satan sees that person’s faults and makes those faults the focus of his attention. God sees that person’s faults and makes Christ the focus of his attention. What difference would it make if your focus were more like God’s than Satan’s?"
Tucked neatly within this book is an exposition of Galatians 1-5. Throughout the chapters, you will find biblical teaching and sound doctrine based on Paul's teaching to the church in Galatia. For example:
"In 4:3, Paul says that the Jews “were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.” He uses the same word in 4:8 to describe how the Gentile converts used to be “enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.” In the case of the Jews, Satan took God’s good law and persuaded them to see it as a means of proud, God-defying self-righteousness."
He also cites notable Reformation leaders such as Martin Luther, William Tyndall, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin as he frames up his teaching on the true gospel. If you want sound, solid biblical exposition, you'll find it here!
Tim Chester knows his church history. As the co-author of Why The Reformation Matters, he brings his expertise to Reforming Joy. He drops historical tidbits throughout the book to help readers see how God brought joy by reforming their views of the gospel to match Scripture’s:
"Luther’s second breakthrough moment was when he realized that God’s righteousness is not just a boost to help us become righteous. First and foremost, it’s the declaration that we are righteous."
Each chapter also has a "Voice of the Reformation" section which lays out important doctrines such as active and passive righteousness as defined during the Reformation.
If you desire to learn more about joy, scripture, or Reformation history, you will be blessed and encouraged by this book. It values church history and keeps the historical context of the Reformation constantly in view. Most importantly, it's biblical and practical. Reforming Joy is a great resource for personal study, small groups, or teaching through the book of Galatians.