Reinke on Newton on Growth in the Christian Life
The best book I read on my sabbatical this past summer was far and away Tony Reinke's, Newton on the Christian Life. Since reading Reinke's work, I haven't stopped reading Newton's original works.
John Newton, known more for his letter-writing than his sermon-preaching (and known most widely only for his hymn-writing), embodies what it means to be a theologically robust shepherd of the flock. If you want to learn how to pastor, read Newton.
One of the most edifying chapters of the aforementioned book is titled, "The Growth Chart of the Christian Life." In it, Reinke masterfully draws from three of Newton's most important letters, thereby presenting Newton's understanding of progressive sanctification. Near the end of that chapter, Reinke summarizes Newton's stages of maturity in some brief categories that I included below.
I have found these categories helpful in thinking through growth in the Christian life and I pray they may be helpful to you as well:
- Maturity moves away from a self-centered life and toward a gospel-simple, God-centered orientation aimed at God's glory.
- Maturity moves away from circumstantially centered roller coaster of emotions and toward a disciplined life rooted in daily spiritual habits.
- Maturity moves away from a legalistic, works-oriented relationship with God and toward a stable, gospel-centered security in Christ.
- Maturity moves away from self-centered evaluation of the assurance of salvation and toward a firm confidence in Christ as the ground of assurance.
- Maturity moves away from exalted thoughts of self and toward lower and more humbled opinions of self and greater awareness of the remaining sin within.
- Maturity moves away from the impulse to correct others in harsh arrogance and toward a humbled and loving correction of others motivated by a deep sense of the worth of souls.
- Maturity moves away from a fearful apprehension about life's circumstances and toward a confidence in God's sovereign orchestration over every detail in life.
- Maturity moves away from worldly securities and toward and increasing willingness to leave this world in the Lord's timing.