Monday, January 30, 2012

"Gospel-Powered Humility" (William P. Farley)

This review was first published on Dec 17th, 2011 here.

TITLE: Gospel-Powered Humility
AUTHOR: William P. Farley
PUBLISHER: Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2011, (224 pages).

This is a timely book. In a no-holds barred critique on modern culture's penchant for self-love, nice words, and puffed up self-esteem, Farley poses a remarkable insight about the great paradox: ". . the proud man thinks he is humble, but the humble man thinks he is proud." (26)

The fact of the world is that there is a great tendency among people in general to have so high a view of themselves, that they are guilty of possessing a low view of God. The main concern of the author is this.

"My contention is that the church is most apt to fulfill its God-given purpose when we preach the gospel in such a way that it produces a faith that humbles sinner and saints alike." (12)

Thus begins a book that touches on the topic of humility in three parts. In Part One, Farley hits hard at the state of pride in man's heart. Two chapters essentially drive home the point that pride is very much alive and thriving in the world today, even within the church. The sick person needs to be convinced that he is sick.

"Pride is the opposite. It is spiritual blindness. It is a delusional, inflated view of self. It is unreality on steroids. And the scary part is this: The thing to which we are most blind is our pride. A demonic Catch-22, pride causes us to chase our spiritual tails. We cannot see pride - even though it is our most grievous, disabling sin - because its very nature is blindness, and the first thing to which it is blind is its own existence." (26)

The four reasons why humility matters. It is necessary for conversion, for sanctification, for seeing clearly what God is doing, and for producing a humble faith. Thankfully, instead of just barking up the tree of condemnation and disgust, the author has gently ushered in the good news, that humility is essentially not a 'negative view of self' but an ability to see ourselves as God sees. Farley then brings out examples from social research to show us that the pride is everywhere in our society.

Part Two talks about the true gospel that humbles us in at least five ways. Firstly, we are humbled by the wrath of God simply because saving faith always humbles one initially. Secondly, we are humbled by the final judgment through two guarantees of God's justice together with God's love. Thirdly, we are humbled by the sinfulness of sin. Farley distinguishes the biblical usage of sin (singular) to denote the presence of sinful attitude, and sins (plural) to denote the presence of sinful acts. The former drives the latter, which is why it is critical to attack the root of vice: Pride. Fourthly, we are humbled by Faith Alone. Using the analogy of a bankrupt person, prideful people are unaware of their own spiritual bankruptcy, and cannot comprehend why they need to repent. Fifthly, we are humbled by the history of preaching. The preachers of old refuse to bow down to the fear of man, and is able to preach the full gospel due to their fear of God. In order for the good news to be preached and to take root in the hearts of people, the bad news have to be preached.

Part Three is most helpful as it brings together the gospel-powered humility that we all need to grow. Fighting pride is a major spiritual battle. This is highly important because this battle is not external but very much internal.

Closing Thoughts

Even though there are already other books written on humility, the continual presence of pride makes this book a necessary write and a compulsory read. There is too much pride that it is filling the church with puffed-up superiority that makes the church look hypocritical and downright ugly in the eyes of the public. This book is a humble and honest attempt to burst this bubble.

Every Christian ought to read this book. Every leader ought to practice this book. Every preacher ought to preach this message. Pride is that one gaping hole in our vessels that will drain out whatever goodness we fill into them. Humility more than patches up this hole. Humility in Christ heals and renders our hearts whole.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free of charge by P&R Publishing and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. The comments given above are freely mine.

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