Also by this author: The Cross in Four Words
Published by Good Book Company on June 1, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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It's an incredible privilege to know God through Jesus, but Christians still get weary, face opposition and feel discouraged. Whether it's personal disappointment, opposition or just the costly grind of church life that gets us down, we all need help to keep going.
This wonderfully encouraging book by Bible expositor Richard Coekin will spur you on to live by faith in Jesus as you examine the witnesses of Hebrews 11. The refreshing honesty of their stories will help you manage your expectations in a world of lies and spin. They will remind you of the glory and blessing that await you at the finishing line. And they will encourage you to see that Jesus is the real Hero of the faith and that his Spirit will enable you to endure through exhaustion, opposition and discouragement.
Ideal for private devotional reading for those in need of refreshment, a timely gift for a discouraged Christian friend, and useful background reading to a small-group study of Hebrews 11.
This book, which is by a British pastor, shares insight for Christians who need encouragement to endure as they face personal discouragement and external opposition to their faith. Throughout Faith for Life: Inspiration From The Ordinary Heroes Of Hebrews 11, Richard Coekin highlights the stories of different people mentioned in the famous chapter of Hebrews, but instead of emphasizing their work, or their faith, he focuses on God’s power in them. He gives readers the chance to derive encouragement from the flawed humans profiled here, explaining that the author of Hebrews did not honor these people as exceptional in and of themselves. Instead, they were examples of the work that God does through people who trust Him. The focus is on God’s faithfulness, not our faith.
These elements of the book are very encouraging, but I found the cultural commentary throughout the book frustrating. I wanted more nuance, especially in regards to LGBTQ+ issues. Coekin writes about the continued pressure against Christianity in the West, and the ways that Christians are often pressured to adopt and advocate for causes that go against their beliefs, but he wrote about this solely in terms of opposition, without any examples or encouragement for how people could minister to or connect to their neighbors with different worldviews and life choices. He also didn’t acknowledge the unique challenges of same-sex-attracted Christians who are faithful within the church.
I also noticed that Coekin emphasized vocational gospel ministry in a way that dismissed the impact that people can have in other contexts. This was disappointing, especially when he referred to non-ministry professions as a way to financially support gospel workers without validating the kingdom work that people can accomplish within their secular professions. He refers to how someone could work fewer hours to volunteer at church or lead a small group, but doesn’t acknowledge the influence that Christian workers can have on their coworkers or employees, their other work contacts, and the surrounding community. I agree that people should be open to considering pastoral callings, missions work, and work in Christian organizations, but Coekin seemed to demote people working in secular jobs to a second-class position in Christ’s kingdom, without recognizing the value of their work or the role that it can have in the well-being and health of the community.
This book’s biblical teaching is solid and encouraging, and I appreciated the timeless elements related to Hebrews 11 and God’s work through ordinary people, but I found some of the author’s cultural commentary and personal perspectives distracting and unhelpful. Some readers may feel differently, and will appreciate the themes of faith and endurance in the midst of current social pressures, but the emphasis on current controversies without adequate nuance or well-supported argumentation distracted me from the core messages and makes the book less enduring than it could be, and the repeated devaluing of corporate work may be discouraging to people who are trying to serve others and create a healthy witness in their professional fields.