Mason, Eric. Unleashed: Being Conformed to the Image of Christ. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2015. 208 pp. $16.99.
The Christian life isn’t cookie cutter; God’s plan of molding us into the image of Christ is as varied as sunsets and snowflakes. Some of us sail through the waters of life peacefully, seemingly unaffected by sin. While others feel the constant bombardment of the crashing breakers which seem unending. And for those new to the faith, the next steps are important but not always clear.
In Unleashed, Pastor Eric Mason lays down a biblically solid and gospel-rich path towards sanctification for all Christians to follow. “Everyone has wondered, ‘why am I not growing?’ and ‘why do I feel like my life is at a standstill (pp.2)?’ Mason clears through the clutter and shines a clear and biblically strong light upon our pursuit of Christ.
In his typical readable and accessible style, Mason hammers again and again that the goal for every Christian is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. He writes, “my goal is to call believers to a lifestyle of faith by which we submit and maximize every means that God makes available to us as He grows and sanctifies us by faith” (pp.xviii) In other words, “Jesus is the goal of the Christian life”(pp.3).
Through 10 practical and theologically-rich chapters Mason does just that as he teaches on every aspect of sanctification from faith and repentance to prayer to marriage and my personal favorite: the role of suffering in sanctification. By the end of the book, there isn’t an aspect of the Christian life that Pastor Mason hasn’t touched with the gospel.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
Sunday’s sermon gets all the attention, but what happens the other six days of the week at coffee shops, in the study, during hospital visits and home visits is what lays the groundwork for effective body ministry. Pastors are constantly peppered with life’s challenges and big questions: How do I overcome this constant sin? Where’s God during all of this? Why don’t I desire to pray more? How do I heal from past sin?
The thoroughness and theological depth of Unleashed makes it eminently useful for a pastor in any situation. Every Christian brings hidden baggage into salvation, but far too few understand the freedom of the Christ’s imputed righteousness to ever truly be freed from the guilt of past or current sin.
With regards to faith and repentance, Mason encourages Christians forward with a robust and freeing understanding of salvation, “Owning (our) sin is what makes us Christian…We don’t guard our salvation, but God is guarding it…with that level of security we are freed to use faith to engage in gospel growth (i.e. sanctification)” (pp.52,53). That preaches to any Christian struggling with applying the gospel and is a useful arrow the pastoral quiver.
Pastors will find the breadth and depth of Unleashed a helpful resource to put into the hands of struggling Christians across the spectrum.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
Across the board, Unleashed: Being Conformed to the Image of Christ, is a top notch aid for pastors and will prove to be a helpful resource to place into the hands of Christians.