Matt Chandler
David C. Cook, 2013, 240 pp., $17.99

While we have many in our churches who have given their lives to Christ, few go on to live in the abundant life Jesus offers. In To Live Is Christ, Matt Chandler addresses this reality with a biblical and personal presentation of the pursuit of Christian maturity. He uses the theme of “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21) as the framework for understanding our growth in Christ.

Chandler reveals an astute understanding of the times and context of the letter to the Philippians while bringing all the implications to bear on our lives today. He frames his understanding around Paul’s original audience for the letter, an unlikely and diverse church including people such as Lydia, a slave girl and a jailer. We immediately are brought into a place where God’s grace and biblical maturity are available for all people, and the pages that follow provide qualities and perspectives that would shape our pursuit of Christ.

Because “the gospel creates a new reality that deepens our understanding of the world and our place in it,” readers are called upon to live in a way that shows the supreme value of the gospel we have received. This journey is not going to be without effort or struggle, and Chandler writes with the transparency of one who is genuinely yearning for and pursuing a vibrant life with the God to whom he belongs. He correctly places this mission in the context of the church. “If we don’t pay attention, we’ll weaken the reality that the church is actually a group of people meant to represent the image of Christ. To each other and to the world.”

To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain would be an excellent companion for a Bible study or sermon series on Philippians. Chandler presents a distinct point of view and an earthiness that guides readers from the richness of accompanying study to an equal richness in applicable presentation. Perhaps the greatest challenge for readers to consider is whether they will speak as transparently and soulfully to their audiences with the courage and heart that marks a disciple on the path to maturity in Christ.

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