Union with Christ is "everywhere in Paul's letters but almost nowhere in our churches." Rory Shiner wants to fix that and "One Forever" is a terrific tool for the job.
In 77 - count em - 77 pages of crystal clear, garden fresh prose Shiner takes us from creation to new creation, demonstrating the centrality of union with Christ.
The material began life as a series of talks to students (see here **) and that origin shows in its relaxed tone and lively humour. He manages to quote from (among others) Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Karl Barth and John Owen while maintaining a light touch and a simplicity of delivery.
The chapters are as follows:
1. Glory be to God for dappled things: creation
2. Into the far country: incarnation
3. In Christ you are a new creation: salvation
4. Before the throne of God above: justification
5. In which we face some playground bullies: union and sin
6. United to the body of Christ: church
7. Union with Christ, resurrection and the end of the world
Time and again Shiner returns to an illustration I'll be nicking forthwith - the airplane. See here:
At various points the plane illustration helps him explain salvation, assurance and justification in such helpful ways.
Think about salvation... when you're in - what happens to the plane, happens to you.
Think about assurance... if you're in the plane it doesn't matter how full of confidence or doubts you are, you're gonna get home.
Think about justification... we're not interested in some legal fiction of imputed 'air miles' - if you're "in" you've actually arrived!
The book is rich and warm and my only criticism is it's over far too quickly. Please can we have more of such books that grapple with the core of our faith in fresh and engaging ways!
** I know what every cricket fan will say... yes he does bear a striking resemblance to Ricky Ponting. But try to get over that, ok? Let's be grownups please.