This review was originally published here.
I have read every book that Gloria Furman has written. What I love the most about her books is her persistent hammering of the gospel into each page. While her other books deal mainly with the gospel and womanhood, Alive in Him intrigued me to dive in even more as it is a book about Ephesians—an epistle that highly elevates the gospel. In this book, Furman trades her hammer for a drill and begins to drill (graciously) the gospel of Jesus Christ into the reader as she covers its themes among all six chapters of Ephesians.
Many believers know the Apostle Paul wrote the first three chapters of Ephesians to lay out what Christ has already done. Then, he gives the first command of the entire letter in chapter four verse one. The “dones” come before the “dos.” Furman puts it like this:
In its most basic interpretation, the first half of Ephesians describes a narrative picture of what Jesus has accomplished through his cross; the second half of the letter describes how we can walk in the light of that reality (17).
In the foreword, J.I. Packer acknowledges she dug deep into the book of Ephesians, and it knocked her socks off (12). Thus, if you already know that the first three chapters speak of what Christ has already done with the remaining chapters laying out what you should do in light of it, let Furman knock your socks off—and your hat, too—with her excitement in this truth.
She begins chapter one with the section of Ephesians 1:1-14 digging into the gospel. She moves along the sections of Ephesians, and in chapter two, she expands on Paul’s prayer, God’s call, inheritance, and power. The next chapter shows how Christ does God’s will in which He died, was raised to life, and now how we can be raised to new life. These truths should change everything in our daily lives! Thus, Furman asks, “Does your priestly status before the Lord of the earth inform the way you feel, think, do, speak, and write?” (83). She adds, “What we believe concerning doctrine determines the way we respond to God, his church, and this world” (124).
As someone who ministers to 50 plus nationalities in her local church, Furman zooms in on what it means that the gospel is for all peoples everywhere in chapter four. She titles chapter five “Walk This Way” as it highlights Ephesians 4 where Paul begins his instructions on living in light of gospel truth. The remaining chapters of Alive in Him lay out God’s commands in Ephesians chapters 4-6.
How to Use this Book
This book will have the best impact on readers if it is read carefully and slowly. A personal study through Ephesians would be greatly enhanced if it is read alongside this book one section at a time. Also, this book would serve well as a small group study meeting. Every church member should have a good grasp on Ephesians. Furman states:
Ephesians teaches us that each of us has a self-interest in the discernment of our brothers and sisters because self actually refers to all of us—we are one body (119).
May this book enhance our love for what God has already done for us to such a degree that we cannot help but zealously obey Him with all our might by His grace.
*This book was provided by Crossway.