Raised With Christ: A Book Review

I've had a copy of Adrian Warnock's book Raised with Christ sitting on my shelf for a few months. I knew that it was going to be a good book, so I don't know why I hadn't got round to reading it yet, but in the run up to Easter, I thought that reading a book about the Resurrection sounded like a good idea. And it was.

Not only is this the best book I've read about the Resurrection, but it also contains a chapter which is one of the best clear and concise explanations that I've come across on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, as well as a great (and prayer-encouraging) section on revival.

Warnock not only manages to transmit the truth, but also to write in a compelling way and to show how important the truth of the Resurrection is for us as Christians today. Raised with Christ starts off by looking at the historical facts of Jesus' Resurrection. Warnock looks at the Biblical evidence and deals with common objections. Standard fare so far. But then he goes on to look at the neglect of the Resurrection in today's church and to contrast this with the vital role of the Resurrection in the Bible. Here he shows how the Cross and Resurrection form one saving event - you can't have one without the other - 'the truth is that we are saved by both the death and  resurrection of Jesus working together' (p.74).

As he shows the importance of the Resurrection in the Bible, Warnock looks at foreshadowings and predictions before the Cross, both in the Old Testament and during Jesus' earthly ministry. Then turning to the book of Acts, he goes through the results of the Resurrection taught by the early church leaders in their sermons, showing that:
'if Jesus had not been raised, none of the following things ... would have been possible:
  • The sending of the Spirit (Acts 2:33)
  • Physical healings (Acts 3:15-16)
  • The conversion of sinners (Acts 3:26)
  • Salvation by union with Jesus (Acts 4:11-12)
  • Jesus' role as the leader of his church (Acts 5:30-31; 9)
  • Forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:30-31)
  • Comfort for the dying (Acts 7)
  • The commissioning of gospel messengers (Acts 9; 10:42)
  • Freedom from the penalty and power of sin (Acts 13:37-39)
  • Assurance that the gospel is true (Acts 17:31)
  • Our own resurrection (Acts 17:31)
  • Jesus' future judgement of this world (Acts 17:31)' (p.114)

Next, Warnock focuses on Romans 4:25 and examines what it means for Jesus to be 'raised for our justification.' This chapter looks at what justification is and then at how it relates to the resurrection of Christ, and then how all this relates to the Cross. Following on from this chapter on Justification is one called 'Resurrected with Jesus', which looks at what it means to be born again and united with Christ. 

Having looked at the role of the Resurrection in our salvation, Warnock then goes on to look at the role of the Resurrection throughout the Christian life. We see that the Resurrection has an impelling power for our sanctification.
'Our biggest problem is that we do not see Jesus as he is. If we could desire him, treasure him, delight in him, be satisfied in him, cherish him, savor [sic.] him, value him, revere him, esteem and admire him as much as he deserves, we would want to follow him as our Lord in every area of our life, and sin would instantly lose its appeal. One of the most important ways for us to deal with sin in our lives is to get a clear picture of Jesus in our minds and hearts. Jesus shares every attribute with God and is therefore not to be messed around with, argued with, or treated with contempt. It is as we contemplate Jesus and his resurrection that we will be changed.' (p.149-150)
Warnock spends the next three chapters drawing the connection between the Resurrection and revival. At first I wasn't sure how well this section fitted into the book, but before long I didn't really care, because it was really good. In the first of the three chapters we see what revival is, which Warnock roots in the book of Acts, as well as some lessons from church history and what this has to do with us today. At the conclusion of this look at what revival is, Warnock writes:
'Both the biblical accounts in Acts and the study of revivals in church history teach us that two things are emphasized whenever a group of people experience a revival - prayer and the Word of God. It seems reasonable, then, to assume that a focus on such things will also lead to individual revival. Learning to pray effectively and allowing God's life-changing Word to shape our lives is the only way to diligently seek God. Only by prayer and Bible study can we connect with the life-changing power of God that Jesus obtained for us through his resurrection.' (p.168)
The following two chapters then are given over one each to 'Reviving Prayer' and 'God's Reviving Word'. And the chapter on prayer is particularly good (Warnock himself says that it is 'potentially the most important chapter in this whole book' [p.169].)

Following on from the chapters on Revival, Warnock looks at the experiential nature of Christian faith in a chapter on 'A Relationship with the Risen Jesus'. Here he looks at the importance of communion with Christ, and gives examples from the lives of prominent Christians in history.

This then flows into the chapter on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (entitled 'Assured by the Resurrected Christ'). I may well be wrong, but at times here it felt that Warnock was having to be quite careful (and diplomatic) in how he put things. He is, after all, part of a Newfrontiers church, writing a book for a mainstream conservative evangelical publisher and talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so I had the sense that in a few places he seemed a bit constrained. But irrespective of that, this is quite simply one of the best concise explanations of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in print. Warnock doesn't play down either the nature (like those who would limit it to the ability to move in the miraculous) or the tangibility of the experience (like those who would equate it with conversion). Take the following paragraph, for example:
'In the book of Acts, receiving the Holy Spirit is not something that we can infer or assume has happened to us. Rather, it is a conscious, real experience that, at least in Acts, is usually accompanied by tongues and/or prophecy. At its core, however ... it is an experience of the love of God poured out into the believers heart by the resurrected Jesus, giving tangible, visible effects.' (p.218)
From there the book goes on to look at the connection of Christ's Resurrection with our mission, the resurrection of the dead, and finally the new heavens and new earth.

All in all, it's a great read: good theology, sound teaching and very easy to follow and understand. Whether a new believer or one of many year's pilgrimage, you'll benefit from reading this book.

This review was of: Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything, by Adrian Warnock (Crossway, 2010)