Reviewed by: Ryan M. McGraw
Date posted: 06/17/2018
Faith, Hope, Love: The Christ-Centered Way to Grow in Grace, by Mark Jones. Crossway, 2017. Paperback, 287 pages, $15.59. Reviewed by OP minister and professor Ryan M. McGraw.
Many Christians recognize that faith, hope, and love are important. It is difficult to read the New Testament without encountering them all. However, few today connect faith, hope, and love as did our forefathers in the early and medieval church. The fact that they went together in the Apostle Paul’s mind should be enough to alert us to the fact that we may be missing something vital.
Mark Jones seeks to revive the so-called “theological virtues” of faith, hope, and love in this thought-provoking and heart-stirring volume. Jones’s writings are marked by theological balance, Christ-exalting content, and devotional warmth. This book is no exception, and readers of all levels of Christian maturity will both enjoy it and profit from it.
The book treats faith, hope, and love in catechetical form. Following the catechetical tradition of the Christian church, each chapter expounds a question related to its subject. The end of the book includes a list of all fifty-seven questions, comprising a complete catechism on faith, hope, and love. The themes tying the entire book together are the preeminence of Christ in Christian theology and life, as well as communion with the triune God. He treats a wide range of issues such as the habits and acts of saving faith, the relevance of hope to persecution and suffering, and Christ embodying the Ten Commandments as the rule of love. Jones’s book is full of careful and deep reflection on Scripture, addressing his readers with wisdom and pastoral sensitivity throughout.
Many features of this book stand out. These include the detailed description of how Adam broke all Ten Commandments in his Fall into sin (163–65) and the glorious inverse parallel in the life of Christ as he loved and kept all of them (168–70). Jones leads his readers to meditate on the majesty of Christ in keeping the law for his people in a way that moves beyond superficial theological epithets. This is precisely the kind of thinking that the church needs so desperately in every generation. He tenderly addresses parents and children alike in their duties toward God in union with Christ by the Spirit. He also maintains the important conceptual distinction between faith and love (175), seeing faith as the principle of love without confusing faith and faithfulness. He also does not avoid hard issues that face Christians today, especially in the area of prevalent sexual sins that many shy away from addressing (217).
These features, and many others, remind us why Jones is always worth reading. He succinctly addresses the key issues of Christian faith and life in a positive and encouraging way. Faith, Hope, and Love is compelling and edifying. It connects us to the piety of the church in all ages through the lens of Reformed theology. Most importantly, it drives us back to three key biblical virtues that belong together and are together in the Bible. Reading this book will show you why these virtues were so important to the Apostle Paul and why believers should treasure them today.