At first glance, the title of Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson’s book Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ seems to indicate that it is a resource for Christian counselors. And it is that. An excellent one. In fact, as a counselor at our local crisis pregnancy center, I was so excited that Crossway offered me a copy to read for review. I anticipated that it would be a great help in my ministry there and I was not disappointed.
Yet Counsel from the Cross deserves a wider audience. Its message applies to any believer who seeks to encourage another believer with the glorious truth of the gospel. Not only that, but its message that the power of the cross offers freedom speaks directly to me and my real life. It’s a message I need to share; it’s also a message I need to hear.
Fitzpatrick and Johnson’s premise is clear from the beginning:
Whether you are a pastor shepherding a congregation of a hundred or a thousand, a layperson to whom others look for spiritual guidance with personal problems and growth in godliness, or simply a follower of Jesus seeking his grace to persevere in faith and faithfulness in a miserable situation, [we the authors] want to lay before you a provocative claim: the cross of Christ and the gospel that proclaims it really are “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16)…and in that cross lies the power both to liberate hearts that have been caught in seemingly unbreakable cycles of defeat and to instill hope that change can actually happen…
With chapters covering topics such as “Seeing Your Savior,” “God’s Immeasurable Love,” and “The Gospel and Our Relationships,” Counsel from the Cross connects the dots between theology and reality. The gospel, that we are far more sinful and depraved that we can imagine and far more loved and welcomed than we could ever hope or deserve, makes a difference! In fact, one of the most valuable chapters of the book in my opinion is “The Gospel and Our Sanctification,” which encourages believers to persevere in the faith by finding joy in God’s glorious grace.
Counsel from the Cross is a book I will return to again and again not just as a counselor but as a believer who gets discouraged and struggles at times to stand firm in the faith. I highly recommend it.
Wife and mother, Bible teacher and blogger, Lisa loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate and, of course, books. Read more of her reflections at Lisa writes….