This book has been described as a modern classic. And no less a figure than Billy Graham described it as “one of the most spiritually satisfying books I have read.”
The author, Charles Colson (1931 -2012) was an aide to former US president Richard Nixon1. A highly influential man in American politics at the time, Colson was implicated in the Watergate scandal2 and jailed for several months. For someone in his position, it was a descent into hell, but God raised him up a transformed man and sent him into the world as a living witness to the power of His saving grace.
Colson expounds on several important themes of the Christian worldview, including the authority and reliability of the Bible, the nature of sin and the necessity of conversion, the responsibility of the church in the world, and the imperative of a life of holiness and obedience.
The book is clearly written and I found out it deeply engaging. It underscores the fact that the Christian life is not easy. The believer has to tackle discouragement from friends and family, relentless pressure to conform to the principles of the surrounding culture, and, worst of all, constant struggle with that enemy within – our own sinful hearts. However, the Christian pilgrimage is the only path that brings true joy and lasting peace. It cannot be lived in our own strength. But through the help of the Holy Spirit who is given to us at conversion, we can grow in faithfulness and holiness.
Holiness is our everyday business. And this is not the ‘holiness’ of seclusion away from the world and its troubles. No. True holiness leads us to live in the world as radical disciples of Christ. True holiness compels us to share in the sufferings of others. True holiness is rooted in love – loving God and loving our neighbours.
“So obedience is the key to real faith – the unshakeable kind of faith so powerfully illustrated by Job’s life.”(p.37)
“Prior to his conversion Augustine thought the Scriptures a collection of texts that must be interpreted and revised in comparison to the ‘advanced wisdom’ of the philosophers. But in the garden he saw that the Scriptures were not just words to be interpreted; they were words that interpreted their reader.”(p.52)
“The Resurrection establishes Christ’s authority and thus validates His teachings about the Bible and Himself.”(p.59)
“Repentance is an inescapable consequence of regeneration, an indispensable part of the conversion process that takes place under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.”(p.95)
“The world is not divided into white hats and black hats; it is not divided into good people and evil people. Rather, good and evil coexist in every human heart.”(p.102)
1Richard M. Nixon served as the President of the United States of America from 1969 to 1974.
2The Watergate scandal was a political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s as a result of the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. (Source: Wikipedia)