Friday, July 17, 2009

The Ordinary Hero: Living the cross and resurrection by Tim Chester

The Ordinary Hero: Living the cross and resurrection
by Tim Chester, IVP, 2009, 221pp

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ lie at the very heart of the Christian faith. As Evangelical Protestants we preach that Christ died once and for all to save us from sin. We are also prepared to defend Jesus’ bodily in the face of unbelieving scepticism. But what impact should these gospel basics have on the life of the believer? As the subtitle suggests, this book is about living the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

Chester has the gift communicating his ides in crystal clear prose, with a generous sprinkling of vivid illustrations and telling quotations. He avoids technical jargon, apart from “eschatology”, which he goes out of his way to define. This work is evidently the product of careful scholarship, but Chester’s style is wonderfully engaging and accessible.

The writer delves into the Scriptures, basing what he has to say on a sound and insightful handling of the biblical materials. Chester writes with a keen awareness of the theological dimensions of his subject. He makes a good, biblically reasoned case for penal substitutionary atonement. He points to the cosmic implications of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection is the first fruits of the new creation. However, Chester is incorrect to state that while in the tomb, Jesus’ flesh was “rotting into dust” (p. 185). As Peter is careful to point out in quoting from Psalm 16 on the Day of Pentecost, Jesus’ flesh did not see corruption (Acts 2:25-32 cf. Paul's similar words in Acts 13:35-37). His dead body was preserved from the corrupting effects of death by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Chester thoughtfully applies his teaching. Readers are challenged not simply to understand what the Bible has to say on of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but to live in the light of these things. The once crucified and now risen Saviour calls us to take up the cross and follow him, whatever the cost. As those who are united to Christ by faith, believers experience the power of his resurrection in their lives. But that power is not given to us so that we may breeze triumphantly trough life without a care in the world. Resurrection power is power that enables us to serve and suffer for Christ’s sake.

The author is pretty culture-savvy, referencing contemporary films and music. He gives a penetrating critique of today’s materialistic society. If the consumer is king, little room is left for humility, self-denial and sacrificial service. Only by being ‘ordinary heroes’, living the death and resurrection of Jesus will we find true joy and purpose in life.

Many believers tend to think of the Christian’s final hope in terms of dying and going to heaven. But Chester paints a more biblical picture of the eternal sate. When Jesus returns, our bodies will be raised up and made like Christ’s resurrection body. We shall live forever in the new creation in the presence of the triune God and in the company of his people. With this hope in our hearts we are motivated to live for Jesus in this fallen world.

Everyone who wants to know more about what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus should read this most helpful and challenging book. Buy it and by God's grace, live it. Check out this video, where Tim Chester talks about what it means to be an 'ordinary hero'.
* An edited version of this review will appear in a forthcoming edition of Protestant Truth.

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