Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Review – From the Resurrection to His Return

D. A. Carson is an author who has a history writing books that are small in page count yet large in impact. His Exegetical Fallacies is an oft-recommended book that does not include more than 150 pages. Similarily, The Cross and Christian Ministry is another Carson classic with fewer pages than the aforementioned book. In the newly released From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days published by Christian Focus, Carson has provided another compact volume that should not be disregarded. Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a founding member of The Gospel Coalition, is a scholar with solid reputation and his latest book is further proof of his ability to communicate Scriptural truths to the Body of Christ. From the Resurrection to His Return is a helpful book that exposits 2 Timothy 3 thoroughly and practically in a manner in which the author's voice is apparent.

Despite its small size, this book provides a detailed account of the second epistle from Paul to Timothy. Carson works his way through letter, sometimes focusing on the entire letter, sometimes large sections, sometimes on smaller passages, and sometimes on individual words. This ability to present Scripture in small detail, such as when he writes "The crucial word that shows the flow of thought is the initial 'however'" (22), as well as having a penchant for delivering large ideas, such as when he divides the book he has written into 5 main sections, are some of the skills that Carson demonstrates in this volume that I have come to appreciate. The 5 major sections, corresponding with the 5 chapters in this book, are as follows: Living in the Last Days, Hold the Right Mentors in High Regard, Hold Few Illusions about the World, Hold On to the Bible, and Hold Out the Bible to Others. The chapter titles accurately indicate that this book focuses on both what the epistle actually says as well as how we should respond to it.

From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days is a very practical book. Despite the occurrence of the term "last days" in the title, this book is not a treatise on one particular eschatalogical view. Carson does not deal with the much argued specifics about how and when Christ will come. Rather, in light of Christ's return which is sure and imminent, Carson discusses how we should live. If Christ's return inevitable, and it is, and Scripture bids us to face this return expectantly, and it does, then the way we act in light of this impending event is crucial. Carson puts the somewhat intangible idea of the last days into our context of life in the here and now. These practical insights can help us choose our mentors and reject the world. They can inform us on the necessity of grasping the Word and at the same time sowing it to others. I found that Carson's practical and applicable instruction from 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8 to be the most helpful aspect of this work.

I have heard D. A. Carson preach on this passage of Scripture both in person and through various recordings. I, for one, enjoy his style and find his delivery edifying. I appreciated the fact that Carson's voice can be heard in the reading of this book. Whether the book came first and was used for preaching or this book was birthed from sermons delivered, I'm not sure. But I found that I could almost hear Carson's voice as I read certain phrases on even paragraphs. And since I enjoying Carson's preaching, it makes sense that I would enjoy the tone and style of this writing as well.

In From the Resurrection to His Return, Carson delivers a book that is both practical and thorough in its dealing with 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8 in a style that reflects the manner in which he preaches. This is a book that steers clear of controversy surrounding the "last days" by focusing on the Biblical meaning of that term and emphasizing the practical insights that Paul offers to Timothy in light of Christ's glorious return. It is a book that should not be ignored due to its size, but should be encountered as the compact yet powerful work that it is.



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