John Newton has a massive impact on the history of the Church. His ministry influenced men like William Wilberforce who helped end slavery in England. His ministry continues to help people today through his articles and books, and especially through his hymn Amazing Grace. I’ve greatly enjoyed reading some of Newton’s writing over the years. When I saw there was a new book in the Theologians on the Christian Life series on Newton by Tony Reinke, I was excited and intrigued. In reading Tony’s book on Newton, I was not disappointed but rather deeply helped. This book is one of my favorites in the Theologians on the Christian Life series, and I’ve read all the volumes in this series so far.
Reinke covers a lot of ground in Newton’s life and ministry in his book Newton on the Christian Life To Live Is Christ. He considers the hymn Amazing grace, how Christ is all-sufficient, the discipline of joy in the Christian life, gospel, simplicity, indwelling sin, Christ-centered holiness, the growth chart of the Christian life, seven Christian blemishes, the discipline of trials, the goal of Bible reading, battling insecurity, victory over spiritual weariness and Mr. Self, and to die is gain.
The best part of this book is how Reinke approaches his subject. Reinke directly quotes Newton but doesn’t stop there. Instead, he offers his own thoughts and how they relate to what Newton is saying. This is what makes this book so good and why it’s one of my favorites in this series. Reinke is a gifted writer and has the ability to draw the reader into the unfolding narrative of Newton’s life. Not only this, but Reinke helps the reader understand the importance of Newton’s thought for today. While this work is not a biography it could be said that this book is a reflection on Newton’s life and thought by one whose taken the time to read his works and reflect on what they mean. In reading this book, what stood out to me was the obvious impact Newton’s life and thought has had on Reinke and how that bleeds into every page of his book. At least for me, this made me read the book a lot slower than I probably would otherwise and digest deeper the material the author covers in this book on Newton.
I really enjoyed the entirety of this book. If I have to pick a few chapters that stand out especially, I pick chapters three and seven. In chapter three, Reinke states, “If the Christian life is Christ, then looking to him is the great duty of the Christian life. Looking to Jesus marks the beginning of the Christian life; looking to Jesus is the end goal of the Christian life; and looking to Jesus is the daily privilege of the Christian life, which is Newton’s way of saying that we never outgrow the gospel” (69). He also states, “To look upon Christ in faith is a re-creation, an act of cleansing and sanctification. He helpfully notes, “To behold the glory of Christ is ammunition against unbelief and power for sanctification” (75). He continues elaborating, “Keeping the eyes of our mind focused on the glory of Christ is the sweet battle of the ministry and the hardest part of the Christian life” (76). This is just a sampling of chapter three. Chapter seven is also excellent and will help readers to understand the very neglected but important topic of Christ-centered holiness in the Christian life.
Whether you’re a new or seasoned Christian Newton on the Christian Life has something for you. First, this excellent book emphasizes the sovereign work of God’s grace from the beginning of the Christian life to the end of the Christian life, and everywhere in-between. Second, this book will help you to grow in your knowledge of the gospel. Reinke has written this book not just about the gospel but about how Newton’s life was impacted by the gospel. Third, this book will help you to grow in appreciation of Christ’s work on your behalf. Often times, especially if you’re a life-long Christian you can just walk through the motions where everything seems like it’s okay when it really isn’t. The Christian life is fueled by the gospel. As Spurgeon once said we have a great need for Christ and we have a great Christ for our need. This is what Newton explained in his writing and Reinke draws out so wonderfully in this book.
Finally, this is one of the best books in the Theologians on the Christian Life. Not only does this book examine the life and thought of Newton but Reinke masterfully blends his own thoughts– not to take away from Newton but to build upon Newton’s work. I highly recommend this gospel-drenched and biblically-saturated book. This book will help you to grow in your walk with God by pointing you to the all-sufficient Christ who so won over Newton’s life that he dedicated his life to proclaiming and living by the gospel all his days. This book will help you to grow in your knowledge and understanding of the gospel which is something every Christian needs. Please go and pick up this excellent book book on Newton on the Christian Life you won’t regret doing so and in the process of your reading you’ll be encouraged, challenged, and grow more in love with your Savior—Jesus Christ.