Book Review: Words From the Fire

“Words From the Fire: Hearing the Voice of God in the 10 Commandments” by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

In this book, Mohler, who is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes an exposition of the Ten Commandments, explaining how each is still vitally important to us today, even though we live under the covenant of grace, and not under the law. Jesus, after all, was the fulfillment of the law, and we are to be like him. While Jesus’ sacrifice allows us to come to faith by the free gift of God’s grace — even though we are guilty of breaking every commandment He has ever given us — we are still called to live according to God’s Will. Jesus didn’t remove the law, though he removed it’s power over us. Rather, he raised the bar, setting an even higher level of expectation for those who bear His name. It is not enough to live according to the letter of the Law. We are to live according to its spirit, through the power of the Spirit which enables our obedience.

The purpose of the book, says Mohler, is to answer the question: “How do we know and teach what we claim to know and teach?” His answer is that God is a God who speaks. Previously, He has spoken through the law, but now He has spoken through the Living Word, Jesus Christ. This leads to what he calls “several realities that should frame our thinking”. He offers eight such realities that must be true regarding the question “How do we know?” if we operate under the assumption that God speaks, and that He has spoken: If God has spoken, then (1) we do know; (2) we know only by mercy; (3) we too must speak; (4) all He has spoken is about God, and it is all for our good; (5) it is for our redemption; (6) we must obey; (7) we must trust; and (8) we must witness.

Mohler then devotes a chapter to each of the commandments. I was amazed and challenged by the depth of his insights, particularly in regard to our worship. In fact, as I was reading the book, I shared one of those insights in a previous blog. His focus is entirely on Jesus, and this makes the 10 Commandments more “relevant” now than ever! Mohler’s summary in the penultimate paragraph of this book is spot on:

“Understood rightly, these commandments lead, not to our despair that we fall short of them, but to our thankfulness for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ comes to save lawbreakers like ourselves. Thus, we see the commandments themselves as grace to us. But our confidence is not in our ability to keep these commandments, for we will surely fail. Our confidence is in Christ, whose perfect obedience fulfills the law.”

This book would make an excellent resource for small group discussion, as well as for personal reading. Buy it here.

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