In today’s world, doctrine and orthodoxy get a bad rap. Many sincere Christians assume studying doctrine is primarily a waste of time. Doctrine usually leads to cold and dead religion, or else it promotes a divisive and bitter spirit that splits churches and wounds people. What really matters is one’s personal relationship with God, and his love for fellow believers.
Joshua Harris would have agreed with this basic sentiment at one time. Dug Down Deep is the story of how he came to realize how important and even life-changing the study of the Bible’s doctrine really can be. Harris invites the reader along as he explains what the basic doctrines (or teachings) of the Bible are and illustrates the impact they have had in his own spiritual walk.
Harris writes in a refreshing, open manner. He lets you into his life even sharing some of the dark secrets of his past. He shares the story of his father Gregg’s conversion to Christ, as well as his own journey from a seeker-sensitive church youth group to being pastoral intern to C.J. Mahaney.
The book’s readability helps it to communicate so effectively when Harris explains such doctrines as the sovereignty of God, sinfulness of man, substitutionary atonement, and the gospel of God’s grace. It is the books focus on grace which most dramatically stands out. This is what drew Harris to the joy of knowing Bible doctrine, and it is worth quoting him at some length on this point.
…it was this message of the gospel of grace for which C.J. Reserved his greatest passion. Most preachers and zealous Christians I knew got fired up over what we needed to do for God. But C.J.’s greatest passion was reserved for exulting in what God had done for us. He loved to preach about the Cross and how Christ died in our place, as our substitute.
For someone who had practically been born into church, I found this surprisingly new. The deeper I delved into Christian doctrine, the more I saw that the good news of salvation by grace alone in Jesus, who died for sin\””the gospel\””was the main message of the whole Bible.
I suppose it might seem completely obvious that this is the center of the Christian faith, and yet it felt new to me. I began to see orthodoxy as the treasuring of the truths that point to Jesus and his saving work. Doctrine was the living story of what Jesus did for us and what it means…. (pg. 27)
As you can see, Harris’ own story provides the perfect backdrop for illustrating how important it is to learn Bible doctrine. Harris argues that we need to dig down deep in order to build our lives on the rock of the solid Biblical teaching of Christ.
This book will introduce the young Christian to the glory of orthodox Christian doctrine. It will also encourage those who do know doctrine, to aim for a humble orthodoxy and see how such knowledge should fuel love and service for others. Dug Down Deep will be an easy read for anyone, but it packs a punch. It will challenge you to make sure you are building on a sure foundation. I recommend this book highly.
Joshua Harris is senior pastor of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which belongs to the Sovereign Grace network of churches. A gifted speaker with a passion for making theological truth easy to understand, Joshua is perhaps best known for his runaway bestseller, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which he wrote at the age of twenty-one. His later books include Boy Meets Girl, Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), and Stop Dating the Chruch. The founder of the NEXT conferences for young adults, Joshua is committed to seeing the gospel transferred to a new generation of Christians. He and his wife, Shannon, have three children.
My thanks go out to WaterBrook Multnomah publishers for providing me a review copy of this book.
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