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The Death of the Saviour – Review by Barry Shucksmith

Category Book Reviews
Date August 17, 2012

Richard Phillips is the Senior Minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, USA. The seven terse and insightful chapters of this brief work on The Death of the Saviour1 cover John 19:13 to John 19:42. The chapters first began life as sermons preached to the author’s Greenville congregation. No doubt, they have been modified and extended but still retain an attractive sermonic character which adds to the powerful and applicatory nature of the material. It would be a serious mistake to think because we possess John Owen on The Death of Christ,2 or George Smeaton on The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement,3 a short book like this can be of little help. It is a mine of rich devotional gems, a deep theological treatise which satisfies the searching and renewed mind, and a refreshing overview of our Lord’s death upon Calvary’s Cross.

The sheer amount of biblical, prophetic, and related doctrinal aspects, of Christ’s atonement are simply staggering. A biblical index is not added at the end of the volume but it would, surely, account for two thirds of the material? And just look at some of the authorities tastefully and succinctly quoted – Bernard of Clairvaux, Donald Grey Barnhouse, A.W. Pink, Bruce Milne, Professor John Murray, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, James Montgomery Boice, J.C. Ryle, Martin Luther, George Beasley-Murray, Leon Morris, F.F. Bruce, Mark Johnston, F.B. Meyer, D.A. Carson, John Flavel (frequently!), F.W. Krummacher, and R.C. Sproul, to quote just a few. For the Christian worker, to say nothing of the believer who needs a ‘soul-refreshing view of Jesus and his Word’, this tiny volume is a seed-bed for personal and public work.

The author is right to remind us that Christ is central to salvation. He quotes with approval what any Christian readily recognises,

if I do not so study and understand Moses and the prophets so as to find that Christ came from heaven for the sake of my salvation, became man, suffered, died, was buried, rose, and ascended to heaven so that through him I enjoy reconciliation with God, forgiveness of all my sins, grace, righteousness, and life eternal, then my reading of Scripture is of no help whatsoever to my salvation. (Martin Luther)

Every familiar aspect (and more) of Christ’s death is touched on in a fresh and heart-warming manner. Pastor R D Phillips is faithful to the reformed Protestant position. He gives no space to the contemporary Roman error of co-redemptrix Mary. Jesus as substitute and sacrifice is central. Propitiatory atonement and Christ’s shed blood for repentant, believing, sinners comes through again and again.

For the theologically astute, he touches on several theories of atonement but always brings us back to the experience and application of our Lord’s finished work. Imputed sin and imputed righteousness are foremost. He rejects some of the fanciful allegories of the seamless garment but keeps a beautiful application of Christ’s nakedness for man’s sinful exposure in the Fall (Gen. 3). Similarly, he has a delightful thought about our Lord’s willingness ‘to become a worm for us’ (Psa. 22). ‘I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people’ (Psa. 22:6). Isaiah also speaks of Christ being bruised and crushed for our iniquities. Evidently, as Phillips thoughtfully points out, a certain kind of worm (the Tola) is crushed so that the blood becomes a valuable crimson dye. Yet, 21st century evangelicals can sometimes give the impression of being embarrassed, even apologetic, for propitiatory sacrifice and shed blood! Shame on us!

This book deserves a large audience. It should appeal to all who feel their love for Christ periodically waning. It is suited for young and older, new convert and mature saint, for the pulpit as for the pew. I would like to put a copy in the hands of every liberal churchman I know. However, I shall not be parting with my own copy. Instead I shall use it as a devotional aid. Heartedly recommended reading, highly produced to the Banner’s usual reliable standards, and easily packed for the summer holiday. A snip @ under £6.00.

Notes

    • The Death Of Death In The Death Of Christ
      price £7.50
      Avg. Rating

      Description

      Richard Phillips is the Senior Minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, USA. The seven terse and insightful chapters of this brief work on The Death of the Saviour1 cover John 19:13 to John 19:42. The chapters first began life as sermons preached to the author’s Greenville congregation. No doubt, they have been […]

    • The Death of the Saviour

      The Death of the Saviour

      Studies in John's Gospel

      by Richard D. Phillips


      price £5.75

      Description

      Richard Phillips is the Senior Minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, USA. The seven terse and insightful chapters of this brief work on The Death of the Saviour1 cover John 19:13 to John 19:42. The chapters first began life as sermons preached to the author’s Greenville congregation. No doubt, they have been […]

    • The Apostles' Doctrine of the Atonement
      price £16.00

      Description

      Richard Phillips is the Senior Minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, USA. The seven terse and insightful chapters of this brief work on The Death of the Saviour1 cover John 19:13 to John 19:42. The chapters first began life as sermons preached to the author’s Greenville congregation. No doubt, they have been […]

Rt Revd Dr J Barry Shucksmith Royal Navy (Rtd) in English Churchman, No. 7850 (July/August 2012). Notes addded.

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