Recovering Redemptionby Matt Chandler, Michael Snetzer
Length: Approximately 7 hours. To read (211 pages)
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Recovering Redemption reveals a full picture of how the Gospel is meant to impact every part of every person’s life. We are without any real power to make good changes in our lives without Jesus Christ redeeming believers in such a way that it makes a practical difference.
Who should read this?
Any person who wishes to make good changes in their life should read this book. Many people struggle for years trying to overcome bad habits, addictions, or unhealthy relationships. Our world tells us that the power for real change comes from within us, but the Gospel tells us the change is only possible in the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.
The first author, Matt Chandler, is well-known as the Lead Pastor of The Village Church (TVC) in Dallas, TX. The second author is less well-known, but equally as important. Michael (Mike) Snetzer is the Groups Pastor at the TVC and oversees their recovery ministry. These two men are constantly brought into contact with hurting people who want to make practical changes in their lives.
The authors write in a pastoral tone that reflects the hearts of shepherds who care greatly for people. They include personal stories throughout the book about their own personal spiritual walks. It is endearing to hear real-life struggles and application from contemporary giants of the faith. Neither Chandler nor Snetzer present themselves as experts who have mastered every aspect of the Christian faith, but, rather, as fellow journeymen who face difficulty like everyone else. They constantly move the spotlight away from them and onto Jesus Christ.
The audience really is “any person.” Every person is looking for some level of change in their lives. The good positive change that all seek often is elusive due the fact that many people are looking to the wrong power source for the change.
The structure of the book is patterned after the biblical model of salvation. It starts with the need of salvation initiated at the Fall. It explores functional and false saviors many people pursue. It clearly presents the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All of this happens in the first three chapters! The remaining nine chapters explore the practical application of the Gospel to one’s life. They include chapters devoted to justification and adoption as well as sanctification. While almost any Christian book dealing with salvation will include chapters with similar subject matter, Recovering Redemption goes further by showing how the Gospel is applied to the ups and downs of the Christian experience.
The purpose of this book is to help people understand true, life-changing power through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This reminder is especially needed for nominal Christians who have professed Christ for salvation, but follow worldly philosophies to try to find peace and freedom.
I believe it adds much to the subject of Christian living. Increasingly, Christians are becoming more syncretistic in their worldviews. Chandler and Snetzer bring the focus for real, practical life-change back to the Gospel. This is where true peace and freedom is found. Too often there are many people who view the Gospel through a negative lens because they have only experienced Christians who are concerned with irrelevant religion. There are many people who leave churches every year because they are disenchanted with preachers who preach about the power of the Gospel, but do not possess it.
Many preachers have resorted to worldly motivational speeches in place of biblical teaching centered on the Gospel. Those who are disenchanted are becoming disenfranchised and leaving church altogether. Christians should be encouraged to see the practical effects of the Gospel which result in real life change rather than just believing in principled theology and denomination defenses. They want to experience real freedom in Christ instead of water-downed platitudes that never translate into reality. Recovering Redemption addresses these issues and more.
The main arguments of the book are that real change is possible in Christ and that believers need to trust in the completed work of Christ just as much as the unbeliever. The Gospel is not meant to be just the initial step into faith, but is the all-encompassing ethos of the Christian faith and lifestyle.
It attracts people with something we all want: a better life and preferred future. Those who want freedom from addictions, broken relationships, and past injury need to know these are all found in the Gospel. Too many people have reduced Christianity to legalism and moralism without understanding the heart transformation required to motivate good works and behavior.
Most people would agree that our world is broken. They see it globally as nations wage war against one another. They also see it played out personally in their own lives. They try to lose weight and fail. They want relationships mended only to find greater division. Every person knows the frustration and disappointment of making resolutions for positive change, but falling short.
The functional saviors that most people run to are summarized in the second chapter of the book. Titled “Attempted Redemption,” Chandler and Snetzer reveal how we all try to create our own redemption by placing our trust in things that have already proven themselves to be redemption failures. The four faulty redeemers are: ourselves, others, the world, and religion. When we trust in these things we are guaranteeing disappointment. These are the broken cisterns that Jeremiah speaks of in Jeremiah 2:13.
The only true Redeemer is Jesus Christ. He is the only one not limited by our human failings. It is only when a person trusts His completed work over all other advertised redeemers that they find true power for recovery and life change. Each of the false redeemers is deceptive in its own way, but probably the most heinous of all is religion. It is a cheap substitute for a powerful, life-altering relationship with God through Jesus. Religion is often reduced to traditionalism, legalism, or moralism. It does not bring any real freedom, instead it just shackles people with more-attractive chains. Being a Christian is not about religion, but life found in a real relationship.
After sharing the power of the Gospel, Chandler and Snetzer spend the most time on revealing what a lifestyle centered on the Gospel produces. They address practical issues of the new identity given to believers as children of God. They also present what should happen when Christians fail in their walk. They capture the heart of how the Gospel is to be applied to every area of life including how to overcome addictions, shame, guilt, fear, and anxiety. They constantly remind the reader that God, through the Gospel, has a prescribed plan for all problems we can face in this life. Every proposition is backed with adequate Scriptural support without being so exhaustive to overwhelm the common reader.
I enjoy this book immensely. It is one that I have read multiple times and occasionally revisit during trying times or embarrassing failures. It reminds me of the true power of the Gospel to all areas of my Christian walk. In my justification, I find my Savior who took the punishment I deserve.
In my sanctification, I find my Savior who, as a human, lived a sinless life, and has, through the Holy Spirit, empowered me to seek the same. I am reminded that I am not expected to live a sinless life, but God has already made provision for my failures through the grace of confession, repentance, and forgiveness. In glorification, I am encouraged that one day God will restore me to His image and eternal presence.
While there are many strengths to the book, I will list only a few. First, the book is simple without being simplistic. It presents the essentials of the Gospel in a way normal people can understand. Second, it is based on the Bible. Every principle presented is supported Scripturally. Lastly, it is relatable. The authors share personal stories of failure and victory throughout the book. This makes the authors feel familiar, like visiting with a good friend who is challenging you to change, but is not condemning in any way.
It is hard to list weaknesses of books you really enjoy so this part is challenging for me. I think those who want a more scripturally exhaustive treatment of this subject may be disappointed. However, I personally do not see this as a weakness because it was not the purpose of the authors to teach a seminary level course. They wanted to connect with everyday people who are seeking change. I view it as the difference between being a seminary professor and being a pastor.
There are two very different approaches to teaching. When I first entered the full-time ministry and was preaching weekly, I fell into the trap of trying to preach to my congregation the same way my professors taught me. I found myself trying to teach their minds without regard for their hearts. I have since learned that I need to preach to both heart and mind in a sensitive and intentional manner which inspires practical application. I am thankful that Chandler and Snetzer did the same with this book.
I think this book is a needed addition to every believer’s library. Pastors and clergy benefit from being reminded that real power is found in the Gospel and not the latest trends coming out of megachurches or Christian magazines. Lay men and women benefit from having a precise presentation of the Gospel that extends beyond evangelism and speaks to true discipleship.
There are many Christian books that deal with recovery and recovery ministries are becoming more common, but, unfortunately, many are adopting secular psychology’s approach to healing. This book reintroduces the world to the biblical terminology of “redemption.” Where the world proposes that your problems are all external to you and the solution is in you, the Gospel presents that the problem is internal through sin and the solution is external in the person of Jesus Christ. We need to be reminded of this daily! The book makes real life change possible.
- “In order for good news to be good – the gospel is good (literally means ‘good news’) – it must invade bad spaces.” (p. 12)
- “So if you struggle with being able to run hard after the Lord because you feel so unworthy, so unclean, so unsteady, listen up: ‘While you were still weak, at the right time.” God came to your rescue. And still does. And still is.
- “So mark this down: You have no shot at experiencing real change in life if you’re habitually protecting your image, hyping your spiritual brand, and putting out the vibe that you’re a lot more unfazed by temptation than the reality you know and live would suggest.” (p. 77)
- “If the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart – which it is – you’ll never cure the disease you’re suffering from by doing X-rays on other people.” (p. 108)