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Free and Fulfilled: Victorious Christians Living in the Twentyfirst Century Hardcover – May, 1997
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Part One: Foundations.
Chapter 1: Bruce Shelley succinctly provides some crucial foundational information, for example, explaining how John Wesley's beliefs about sanctification changed over the course of his long life and ministry. Very helpful.
Chapter 2: Though Stephen Olford's name is practically synonymous with the Keswick brand of Victorious Life teaching, this chapter was disappointing. (I could see why, when years ago after reading books in search of the "victorious life," I was left confused and still searching.) The five tenets of Keswick are Sin, Sanctification, Surrender, Spirit-fullness, and Service. Not only does this outline seem to sacrifice clarity for alliteration, but Olford's explanations are incomplete and unhelpful. For example, "Spirit fullness is commanded....This is not an option; it is an obligation. Not to be filled is to live in disobedience, and disobedience is sin...." But then he doesn't tell how to accomplish this crucial command. The immature, sensitive Christian living in defeat will simply feel the massive weight of one more sin--and such a huge one!--added to the already heavy burden.
Chapter 3: After Olford's less than clear explanation, I was delighted to find that Robertson McQuilkin gives a thoughtful, Biblical, and well-reasoned presentation about the concept of "perfection" in the Christian life. How refreshing to find someone of stature who also doesn't believe in the "two natures" theory of sin and sanctification. Instead, we can read a cogent explanation and Biblical defense of the concept of victory over intentional sin, rather than the vague--and ultimately untenable--Wesleyan concept of victory over "known sin." If McQuilkin's Biblical, logical, and clear argument were the primary representative of Keswick theology, Christianity would be the better for it.
Chapter 4: Bradford Mullen's admonition against legalism is a very timely warning in a day when more than ever, God's way of day-by-day holiness is proclaimed to be through the Law, rather than by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Chapter 5: Through an expounding of John 8, Stuart Briscoe leads us naturally to Romans 6, the crucial "free from sin" chapter of the Bible. My disappointment with this chapter was that at the end, it seemed he had only just begun his argument and explanation.
Part Two: Implications.
Victorious Life teaching has often received the deserved criticism of being too inwardly focused. Too much "Have I surrendered enough?" "Is my all really on the altar?" and not enough pouring out of the river that Jesus Christ promised would pour out of all those who come to Him. This entire section of six chapters shows that truly victorious living really does "work out" our salvation.
Chapter 6: John W. P. Oliver's testimony about victorious living in the local church--showing how the consistent preaching of a life of victory in Jesus Christ will result in a church on fire for Him--was so exciting that it kept me awake for hours one night praying the same thing for my own church.
Chapter 7: I hadn't heard of Joy Ridderhof until I wrote a book in which she figured in one chapter, With Two Hands: Stories of God at work in Ethiopia (Hidden Heroes). But this graduate of Columbia Bible College, in this chapter by Sanna Rossi, is shown along with several other missionaries to be the embodiment of the outworking of true victory in Christ on the mission field. Very encouraging.
Part Three: Victory for Hurting People.
All three of the chapters in this section are valuable, especially the one by the ever-inspiring Joni Eareckson Tada.
Part Four: Other Perspectives.
Robertson McQuilkin's gracious spirit shines through as he introduces people who sometimes hold views significantly different from his own.
Chapter 15: Kenneth Kantzer, a well-respected proponent of the Old Covenant ("Reformed") view of sanctification helped me to understand more clearly why this view has seemed to be deficient both in its explanation of the Word of God and in its practical outworkings in my own life. Though Kantzer acknowledges that the word *perfect* in the Bible means "mature," and he furthermore acknowledges that God has given us "the moral and spiritual resources to live an ideal Christian life," he goes on to say that no one--in spite of God's complete provision--will ever reach perfection in this life, here obviously changing his definition of "perfection" to mean sinlessness, which the Bible never does. It is this kind of murky reasoning (only one example of several in this chapter) that led me years ago to look elsewhere for a clearer understanding of sanctification.
Chapter 16: William Larkin, Jr., in this extremely well-researched and well-documented chapter, confronts head-on the bulk of criticism leveled at the victorious life teachings over the past century. I disagree with some of his terminology and emphases, but his presentation is helpful.
Chapter 20: The late Dr. Carl Henry was probably one of the foremost experts on postmodern thinking, which he expounds as lucidly as ever in this chapter. However, it seems evident that before writing it he had failed to become fully acquainted with McQuilkin's victorious life teachings. This failure left his exposition significantly lacking.
Part Five: Conclusion.
The history of Columbia International University (formerly Columbia Bible College) is recounted, an institution that has helped many young people find freedom and fulfillment in Christ and go on to live that abundant life and point others the way.
How should we then live? We should stand, by faith, in the life of promise that Christ, through the power of His resurrection, has made fully available to us. We should then move forward against the adversary, with all the confidence of victory. Free and Fulfilled seeks--for the most part successfully--to bring clarity to our perspective as believers in Christ as we move together toward this all-important goal.