Alive in Him, by Gloria Furman
19/30 | Started 04.24.22 • Finished 05.15.22 | 5 stars
In this highly accessible book, Furman takes the reader through the book of Ephesians section by section. She uses four chapters to talk about each half of Ephesians: the first half being focused on doctrine and the second focused on how to live in light of that doctrine. Furman's love for Christ, passion for his Word, and knowledge of doctrine/theology is evident throughout. The book is packed with references from all over the Bible and she draws from a number of outside sources (well-documented).
When we see Paul using the phrase “in Christ,” he is not merely saying that we are to walk in Christ’s footsteps, as though the message of Christianity is merely that Christ followers should do what Christ would do. We certainly ought to look like our Savior, but our moral performance is not the source of our justification. Christ’s moral performance is the source of our justification, and being in Christ is being united to him and receiving all the blessings that are part of Christ in the heavenly places. Being “in Christ” is indeed the one, great, permanent circumstance. If you are in Christ today, then thirty trillion years from now you will still be in Christ.
In chapter 1, Furman shows us how we are the recipients of God's rich grace in Ephesians 1:1-14. In chapter 2, we are called to hope as we look at Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23. Chapter 3 covers Ephesians 2:1-22, which looks at how God resurrects a new humanity, essentially raising zombies to life. Lastly, we see what is the "mystery revealed" of Ephesians 3:1-21 in chapter 4.
The single most mind-blowing, life-altering reality of being in Christ is that we no longer need to hide ourselves from the presence of the Lord God; in Christ we may walk with God in perfect fellowship now, and ultimately forever in the garden city that is to come (Gen. 3:8).
Furman now moves on to how we are supposed to live in light of all that Paul has said in Ephesians 1-3. Chapter 5 explores the concept of unity in the church, along with the giving of gifts and the speaking of truth in Ephesians 4:1-16. In chapter 6, while discussing Ephesians 4:17-5:14, we learn what it is to put on the new self now that we are in Christ. In chapter 7, we look at the sacrificial love of the household code as described in Ephesians 5:15-6:9. Finally, we end with Ephesians 6:10-24, which concerns the armor of God and the reality of spiritual warfare within the church.
I think that all too often we find ourselves trapped someplace and wonder what on earth God was thinking. We fail to remember that God has sent us here to glorify him—chains or no chains.
I fully recommend this book to anyone looking to gain a better understanding of Ephesians. Read alongside your Bible, I am sure it will result in notes covering the margins. I'm thankful for Furman's gift.