Book Review: Counsel to the Cross by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Dennis E. Johnson
“The problem, of course, is that we are never made deeply joyful by the Gospel because we have never been deeply crushed by it.”
In this book, the authors (Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Dennis E. Johnson) not only dissect how to counsel someone else in gospel-centered counseling, but they also apply truths for any reader’s life.
Do you get angry or impatient in the express line at the grocery store when the person in front of you has more than the limited amount of items? Then you need more of Jesus. Do you get upset when someone cuts you off in traffic? Then you need more of Jesus.
This book begins by reminding us that we are more sinful than we think or understand. God hates sin, and so should we. However, that is not the end of the story. Jesus lived a perfect life and took your sins and my sins upon Himself so that by believing in Him we could be saved. That’s the Good News.
The authors continually lead their reader back to the Gospel, not for gaining self-righteousness on our part, but to remind us to place God back on the throne. They point out that in the Old Testament the Israelites were only required to mourn and think about their sin for one day out of the week, and the rest of the week they were to seek out the glory of God.
In the same way, we should not beat ourselves up about our sins. In doing that, the authors explain that we place ourselves as the center of our lives. Instead, we should focus on God’s glory in light of our sins.
The subtitle for the book is “connecting broken people to the love of Christ,” and that is exactly what this book does. I began reading the book thinking that I would learn how to counsel broken people, and while I did learn about how to apply the Gospel to certain situations, that was not all I learned. I also learned that I need to remember the Gospel each day in my own life. It is when I don’t focus more on Jesus that I focus more on myself.
“Counsel to the Cross” is packed with lots of useful explanations on how to apply the Gospel to various issues. If you are interested in the Gospel, counseling or your life, I would highly encourage you to read this book.