Need to Know: Your Guide to the Christian Life | Written by Gary Millar (The Good Book Company, 2020, 128 Pages).
Are you looking for a great little book to give to a new Christian? Or a resource to use in discipling a young believer? Or maybe a clear and challenging overview of the Christian life to spur someone on to keep growing spiritually? If so, Need to Know, is an excellent option. Gary Millar is well-known as a preacher, author, Principal of Queensland Theological College and Chair of The Gospel Coalition Australia. His delightful sense of humour, warm personality and personal vulnerability are combined here with his deep grasp of the gospel and the Bible. The result is a short, interesting book that is simple but far from simplistic. Millar maps the basics of the Christian life with both freshness and depth.
The opening chapter focuses on knowing the God of the gospel, which means “meeting the Trinity” and being united to Christ. It is a striking place to begin, Millar refusing to see either the Trinity or union with Christ as doctrines to be left until later, but as truths right at the heart of the gospel. He describes God as being like a loving family of three. Jesus then introduces us to his Father by “moving in” to our lives through the Spirit. As a result, we are brought into the heart of God’s family which means Christianity “is not a mindset or a worldview or a philosophy of life (although it does produce all these).” Rather, “it is founded on and flows from and leads to knowing and enjoying God the Trinity for ever” (20).
From chapter 2 onwards Millar unpacks how to live the Christian life, contending that, while it hard, it is not complicated. He beings by addresses in an appealing and non-legalistic way, the place of the Bible and prayer in the life of a Christian. Then he unfolds how the gospel helps us to get to know ourselves, particularly our strong inclination to sin and to temptation. He is not afraid to get personal, identifying six very specific temptations he battles, and inviting the reader to do the same. Only when we grasp what a mess we are in will we see the great news of what God has done for us in Christ. The essence of the Christian life, then, is repentance and faith; “running back to God” and “throwing our weight on Christ” (59).
That leads to a life of transformation. In explaining sanctification Millar doesn’t only describe what holiness is and why it is so important; he unpacks two things God gives us to help us grow in godliness: our conscience, and suffering. The following chapter deals with the life of the church because we are never to be Christians alone; and the final chapter interacts with “the whole of your life” as we are called to live for Christ in all we do. He helps a young believer think through how to think and act in our messy world, especially when we face issues the Bible does not directly address. He gives some “worked examples”, commenting briefly on work, social media, sex and gender, and identity.
In six short chapters and just over a hundred pages, this book offers a rich, engaging, practical and thoroughly biblical account of the Christian life. Here is a great resource to give away, use in discipleship, or just enjoy as a refresher in how to live as a believer in the Lord Jesus.