Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review - A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ by Stanley Gale

A Vine Ripened Life is a welcome addition to what is often only a mystical explanation of what it means to ‘abide in Christ’. It is a clear explanation of what it means to not only abide in Christ, but to bear abundant fruit.

One of the most useful sections of Stanley Gale’s new book is found in Chapter 1 where he details the essence of abiding with Christ.  “Freedom from bondage to sin for development of the fruit of the Spirit is forged by union with Christ” says Stanley Gale. And that fruit is formed in reliance on the Holy Spirit who is now at work in you, as you focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ by spending time in his word, in prayer, and in fellowship with the Saints.

In this reviewer’s experience, the topic of our union with Christ is often presented as only an objective reality. John Calvin once wrote "We must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us....All that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him" (Institutes, III.i.1).     In A Vine-Ripened Life, Stanley Gale makes it clear how abiding in Christ makes it possible to experience the subjective side of the reality of our union with Christ, bearing mature, abundant fruit that manifest itself in a distinctively Christian character.

In chapter 2 Stanley Gale talks of the discipline of the Father and how not to make light of it. He spells out how to recognize it, value it and heed it.

Using personal stories and many biblical references, the fruit of the Spirit is detailed in chapters 3-11. There is an additional chapter on humility and the book ends with a very helpful chapter on grace.

I’ve read other books on Abiding in Christ, including Andrew Murray’s classic work. In comparison, I find this book easier to relate to and more engaging.  I’ve marked this book up so much – I need to purchase one to give away!

I received this book for free from Shepherd Press via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

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