Review: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

I was privileged to write a review for my church’s newsletter, Charis, and figured I share it with all of you 🙂

So many of us cringe at the thought of a scene like this: a friend comes to you looking like they’re carrying the weight of the world. You ask what’s wrong and they start telling you every detail of what they’re going through. As they speak, you know you want to help but you’re clueless as to how to help. If you’re like me, you can’t help but think, “If only I knew what to do!”

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (P&R, 2002)

Enter Dr Paul Tripp and this wonderful book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change!

Tripp’s approach is not exactly typical of so much of “Christian counselling” available these days. Most of what is written today comes from the perspective of mixing secular psychology with vaguely Christian principles. The end result is more Dr Phil than Paul, and you have secular principles without any spiritual power to change.

Not so with Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. For Tripp, the problem is not that we have ‘low self-esteem’. Actually the sad truth is that since the Fall, our actions and attitudes are all deeply coloured by sin. As Tripp powerfully points out, “Change only occurs on a real, permanent level when the one receiving counsel comes to realize that ‘sin is much more than doing the wrong thing. It begins with loving, worshiping, and serving the wrong thing.’” (67)

Once you grasp that, the work of real change can begin. Rather than falling into the errors of either focusing too much on the surface-problems, or wishing them away, Tripp rejoices in the reality that things can indeed change. Sinful attitudes and actions can be overcome, relationships can be restored, we can make it through trials – and all because the Gospel which works so powerfully in salvation works in the tough situations of life as well!

This is not a book for quick fixes, checklists and rules – but it is full of incredible insights, and thoroughly practical steps to see the Gospel bring about change in our own lives. While that happens, it is a relief to know that there are these simple, biblical tools to help others take steps towards such wonderful, Gospel-driven change.

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