Title: The Faith-Shaped Life
Author: Ian Hamilton
Publisher: The Banner of Truth Trust (2013)
156 pages, paperback.
Reviewed by Lee Beng Kui (25 Oct 2013)
I first came across Pastor Ian Hamilton’s writings from the website of The Banner of Truth Trust. I enjoy his articles as they are scriptural, insightful, and often pack quite a punch. For The Faith-Shaped Life, the 43 short chapters, contained in this small book of a mere 156 pages, remind me of these qualities. The author informs us that the chapters are intentionally brief, and are meant to “encourage and challenge both younger and older Christians; and above all to point us relentlessly to Jesus Christ ‘the founder and perfecter of our faith’ (Heb. 12:2).”
The title—The Faith-Shaped Life—tells us the author’s focus in this book. He teaches us how we should live our Christian lives in faith. In Chapter 1, Ian Hamilton states that faith—the “self-abandoning reliance on and trust in Jesus Christ” which “fundamentally looks out and up, not in and around,”—is not only “the instrument that unites us to Christ,” but also “the reality that shapes how we live in union with Christ.” He observes that many Christians, when faced with difficult situations in life, often fail to look unto Him who is invisible, but start to live by sight and by feelings, and conclude that God has forgotten or even abandoned them. In Chapter 2, he tells us that faith is not principally “introspective” but ”extraspective”. In Chapter 5, he warns us against the spirit of censoriousness. In Chapter 8, he explains that doctrine matters for Christian living. In Chapters 10 and 18 he shows us the link between faith and the practice of brotherliness. Other topics include the providence of God in our lives, and our submission to it (Chapters 21 and 29), the grace of encouragement (Chapter 26), living a courageous life in this post-modern world (Chapter 31), to name just a few.
Besides being succinct, Biblical and insightful (which is already a rare combination), the articles are also theocentric, movingly experiential, filled with pastoral compassion and deep humility.
You can use this book for personal devotion, or extract useful thoughts from it for family devotions or other occasions. I highly recommend this book.