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Book Review – Found in Him (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

Found in HimEveryone struggles with alienation and isolation, at one time or another, whether conscious or subconscious. “Since the day that our forefather and mother were exiled out of the garden of Eden, we’ve been lost, trying to get back in, trying to find oneness with each other and the Lord, trying to find communion, our way home. We’ve been trying to be found” (p. 17). But without the saving love and work of Christ, the truth is that we are utterly alone. We can try to fill our lives to the brim with pleasure-seeking endeavors, but at the end of the day, it’s all futility and vanity. We are empty and alone, wanting and needing to be found.

Biblical counselor, author, and frequent conference speaker Elyse Fitzpatrick wrote “Found in Him” because most Christians are unaware of (or haven’t feasted upon) the importance and blessedness of Christ’s oneness with us (“incarnation”) and our oneness with Him (“union”). The glorious truths of these two oft-ignored doctrines show how Christ alone offers the true antidote to man’s isolation. “We will never know how found, loved, welcomed, and reconciled we are until we see how he has forever taken our nature to himself in enduring oneness. God is one with man in Jesus Christ, and we are one with him” (p. 18).

In chapters 1-6, Fitzpatrick focuses on the incarnation and shows us that we are not alone because He is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus Christ took on human flesh and entered into complete solidarity with us in our sinful existence in order to save us, without becoming himself a sinner. He became one with us so that we could experience deep communion with God as well as with each other. Fitzpatrick fleshes out these details by showing us in chapter 1 how the whole Old Testament pointed to Christ and the work of redemption that He would accomplish. In chapter 2, she gives us a summary of the narrative of Christ’s life, linking passages from the gospels to Old Testament prophecies that Christ fulfilled. In this chapter, Fitzpatrick illumines the fact that Jesus had to go through everything we go through in order to be our savior.

In chapter 3, we see the importance of Christ’s entire life of active obedience. We tend to focus on just Passion week, or just the three-and-a-half years of His public ministry. But Fitzpatrick helps us to see the importance of Christ’s active obedience in satisfying all the demands of the law in our place – this was necessary in order for Him to die in our place for our salvation. Otherwise, an assassination by Herod shortly after Christ’s birth would have been sufficient. In expounding upon this point, she helps us to see the truth expressed in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” We see in this chapter that because Christ identified with us in His humanity and because of His active obedience through all manner of temptations, He can identify with us and help us in everything we face.

In chapter 4, Fitzpatrick takes us through the last few weeks of Christ’s earthly life, leading up to the crucifixion, focusing on the transfiguration. Chapter 5 takes us to the crucifixion, and chapter 6 expounds upon the resurrection and ascension. Here, Fitzpatrick reminds us that the resurrection is the proof that the curse of death for sin had been annihilated. Death was crushed to death, and believers can have eternal life with God. She also spends some time highlighting the ascension, another vital but oft-neglected doctrine. Christ’s welcome into the holy presence was proof that He had accomplished all the work the Father had given Him to do. “He who once was Spirit has now and forever become man, and man is now and forever welcome into heaven, his home. When we get there, we’ll be welcomed because he has already been there preparing a place for us (John 14:2-3). We’re no longer lost or wandering. We’re home” (p. 130, emphases original).

In chapters 7 – 10, Fitzpatrick turns to the doctrine of union with Christ, showing us how Christ’s work impacts us, and, in particular, how our oneness with him in all that he has accomplished transforms our identity and life. Chapter 7 tells us of six benefits of union with Christ: redemption, eternal life, freedom from condemnation, freedom from the law of sin and death, assurance of the love of God, and becoming God’s temple. All the blessings bestowed upon us as believers are because we are in Him and He is in us. Chapter 8 is about our oneness in Christ in marriage. Although there are many metaphors in the Bible for our union with Christ (vine and branches, building and foundation, body and members), they all point to one reality – our marriage with Christ. In eternity we will not be branches or a building or members; we will be a bride. Finally, in the concluding chapter, Fitzpatrick finally talks about how Christ’s work transforms us. She has intentionally not raised the topic of obedience until the last chapter, wanting to focus our attention on the initiating love of God in Christ. Even in this chapter, she is careful to keep the gospel at the center, to remind us that justification is by faith alone, and to help us see that the message in chapters 1-9 is what actually has the power to change us. Using Galatians 5, she helps us to see the cause of each of those works of the flesh, and how union with Christ can help us truly break free of them. All the while, she reminds us to remember the gospel when we fail.

This is a great introduction to the doctrines of Christ’s incarnation and the believer’s union with Christ. It is devotional, and at the same time theologically deep. Throughout the book, Fitzpatrick encourages the reader to ponder, be in awe, pray, worship; to allow the truths to warm our affections. At the same time, she does not shy away from introducing us to theological terms and concepts (e.g. covenant of redemption). But she avoids being overly technical and erudite, and clothes introductory theology in a candid and winsome way. Each chapter ends with reflection questions. The entire book is saturated in Scripture and saturated in the gospel. For anyone who has never truly pondered the doctrines of incarnation and union, and/or who has not walked into existential benefits that you feel should accompany a child of God, I highly recommend this book. If you are wandering, if you feel alone…come be found in Him.

*This book officially releases on October 31, 2013 but it seems like it’s already available for purchase on some online retail sites. Westminster Books currently has the best price at $8; this is probably just for a limited time. Amazon has it for $11.83.

**I received a free advanced electronic copy from Crossway Books through NetGalley for review. I was not obligated to provide positive feedback, and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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