Book Review: Justification and Regeneration, by Charles Leiter
Synopsis: Dealing with the two major aspects of man's sin problem before God â€“ objective guilt and moral corruption â€“ and the two major aspects of the redemptive work of Christ that overcome these problems, Justification and Regeneration, by Charles Leiter, is a book that explains in clear, simple, and eminently biblical terms the very heart of the gospel. Its value can scarcely be overestimated, in a day when the true gospel has been all but forgotten in much of Evangelicalism, and many believers struggle to live a truly Christian life in spite of widespread confusion and ignorance as to what constitutes the foundation of Christianity. To anyone who may be discouraged by a seeming lack of progress and real substance in his walk as a believer, in spite of a ready familiarity with all the emphases and strategems of American Evangelicalism, I enthusiastically say, â€œRead this book!â€. It may be the most important book you read this year or for many years.
Our need as sinners before a just and holy God is twofold: first, we have violated his commands, and have a real, objective guilt which demands punishment; and second, we have become filthy in our hearts, and are corrupt and vile before the eyes of a God who is too pure to behold evil. If we would ever experience the joy for which we were made, of coming back into God's presence with confidence, then both of these problems must be solved. And they have indeed been solved, by the manifold redemptive work of Jesus Christ: in justification, he cancels our sin debt, having made a way for God to remain just, and yet declare sinners to be righteous; in regeneration, he changes our evil hearts, creating instead hearts that are pure and holy. And the way in which we progressively come to display in our walk what we have become in reality is to know and understand and delight in the certainty and sufficiency of these truths. These are not just abstract principles; they are the Christian's food and drink, providing the nourishment he needs to press on into the eternal Kingdom.
It should come as no surprise then, that these two themes, justification and regeneration, comprise a very large portion of the biblical teaching. If a person has a good understanding of these two things, he is well on his way to becoming a solid theologian â€“ or, for that matter, simply a well-grounded Christian. And I personally know of no better work for establishing someone in the full-orbed biblical teaching on these themes than Justification and Regeneration.
Leiter's book is notable for its virtually exhaustive treatment of the many changes that the bible speaks of as aspects of regeneration. But it does not come across as an exhaustive, systematic treatise: it is instead a practical and passionate unpacking and exulting in the great riches that are ours by inheritance. Understanding what Christ has done for us, and who we are in him, is a truly lifechanging experience. How different we are now, in Christ, from what we were before, is a many-faceted marvel that cannot fail to thrill our souls and energize our walk.
After fifteen brief chapters which lucidly illuminate the biblical teaching on justification and regeneration come several appendices which are just as meaty as anything in the book, and sure to be useful tools for many occasions. The first is basically an outline of the portion of the book which deals with regeneration, and gives a very helpful and well-structured overview of the manifold biblical testimony on the theme. Following are two expositions of key passages, Romans 7 and 1 John 3:4-9, somewhat too lengthy and involved for inclusion in the book itself, but very insightful and well worth the read. And finally, Leiter has compiled a categorized and annotated list of all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ, which is as thrilling as it is useful. The many precious things that we can glean from that simple phrase â€œin Christâ€ (â€œin him,â€ etc.), are simply staggering, and underscore the vital truth that everything we have been given is contained in and made possible by one thing alone: union with Christ.
Available at Monergism Bookstore