In the interest of full disclosure, John Murray has been my friend and colleague in ministry for nearly two decades. When he first told me of his desire to write a book on the essentials of the Christian faith, I told him I wanted to review it when it was published. John gave me a copy and I am pleased to commend his book as worthy of taking its place in a long line of works devoted to explaining what it means to be a Christian.
Born and raised in the United Kingdom, John Murray has been a business man, a pastor, a Christian journalist, and for the final 20 years prior to retirement, Executive Director of Eurovangelism Canada, an evangelical ministry of relief & development, evangelism, and church planting focused on Eastern Europe and Russia.
In retirement, John remains active in pulpit ministry, public speaking and writing. His first book, If we only knew, gives readers a taste of John’s remarkable experiences with Eurovangelism – true stories of God’s amazing power in the lives of individuals.
In Real Faith, John’s second book, he tackles the important theme of the gospel, providing a window to the essentials of the Christian faith.
Many begin their journey to faith by asking themselves: “Who am I? Why am I here?” Perhaps not framed in those precise words, they are the questions nevertheless. At the root of those questions, says Murray, is mankind’s “insatiable desire to find meaning and purpose for his existence.” A long-time, committed Christian himself, Murray is convinced that our meaning and purpose is ultimately found in a living relationship with Jesus Christ – in a vital Christian faith.
Finding and enjoying real faith requires building on the proper foundation. Murray says essential Christianity is built on three pillars:
- The existence of God
- The Trinity (God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit)
- The divine inspiration of Scripture
“Take any one of these away and there would be no real Christian faith,” says Murray.
Having established this foundation, Murray devotes three chapters to the doctrine of God. He examines eight attributes of God the Father. His chapter on God the Son surveys the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and future return of Jesus Christ. Regarding God the Spirit, readers learn of the presence of the Holy Spirit in Scripture, the world, the Church corporately and the believer personally.
The chapter on Christian conversion answers several key questions:
Why is it needed?
What is the gospel?
What happens at conversion?
What is the result of conversion?
As all true believers soon realize, living the Christian life is a challenge. Murray faces this straight up by first asking “Is your faith real?” After describing the internal battle against sin and the external battle to live a genuinely Christian life in a very unchristian world, readers will find practical guidelines for facing these challenges.
In three chapters devoted to motivation and conduct as true Christians, readers will examine what is known as the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. Christians of real faith are called to exhibit these qualities in growing measure.
The book closes by answering the question, “What then is expected of us?” Here Murray discusses the Christian’s responsibility toward God, the church, and the world.
Each chapter concludes with a set of discussion questions making this an ideal tool for instructing believers – new and old – in the basics of Christian belief and practice. After reviewing a pre-publication manuscript of Real Faith, I wrote:
“John Murray provides an introduction to essential Christianity. Writing with clarity and accessibility, Murray guides the all-ready committed to a deeper understanding of their faith and the seeker to a clearer picture of what it means to be a Christian.”
I stand by those words and commend this book to all who desire to know what it means to experience Real Faith.