Truth For Life by Alistair Begg
I don’t use a daily devotional book for my personal daily devotions. However, when the daily devotional book Truth For Life by Alistair Begg was advertised as being a Rupee one devotion per day for a gospel-saturated devotional, I purchased it. The sales promotion undervalues the value of this devotional book, as these daily devotions cannot be valued by means of money. It is an invaluable devotional book that Begg has produced with a lot of effort. My wife and I read it every morning after breakfast before we begin our day’s work. It helps us to be focused on God’s word and its application as we begin each day. It is written basically for Christians but has messages for all. I would like to mention a few things why I think this book is worth a buy to use as a daily devotional (apart from the Bible).
1. The Language is Simple
Anyone who has a working knowledge of English can read and understand it. There is hardly any theological jargon. It is very readable, and down to earth. Teens and above can benefit much by going through daily devotions. I think using it as a family devotion book would be helpful for families with older children.
2. The Biblical Exegesis is Sound
Every devotion begins with a title of devotion followed by a Bible verse or two on which the devotion is based. The verses are chosen from the Old Testament or the New Testament with an intention and not randomly. The verse(s) are exegeted in the context it is written, the meaning for today is derived and it ends with an application. It is not about just getting any meaning so as to satisfy the reader. A lot of effort has been put when it comes to referring to other resources which would help in understanding the verse(s). As a preacher (that he is), Begg uses apt illustrations. If anyone wants to learn good biblical exegesis, this devotional book will help you towards that. The devotions are like reading a mini-sermon every day. The devotions end with a portion of Scripture relevant to the title (As a practice my wife and I read this Scripture portion first before reading the devotion).
3. The Devotions are God-Centred
Truth for life devotions are like reading a mini-sermon every day.
In Begg’s words, “The Bible is the story not only of God’s work of salvation but also of the unfolding of God’s character. Many of us have become adept at reading our Bible and asking important questions of application: ‘How does this relate and apply?’ … These matters are not irrelevant and wrong, but they are not the primary questions to ask. God is the hero of the story and the theme of the book, and so the first question we ask of every passage ought to be this: ‘What does this tell me about God?’ The Bible was written to establish God’s dealings, character and glory.” (page 36).
The centrality of God is found throughout the devotions.
4. The Devotions are Gospel-Saturated
As one reads these devotions one gets to see how the Gospel is important to the reader not only for his or her conversion but for their daily living. The devotions are truly Gospel-Saturated (as had been advertised!). Writing a devotion on ‘Justice Is Satisfied’ based on Romans 5:10, he writes,
“For those of us who have been Christians for a while, it is easy for familiarity to breed, if not contempt, then complacency. But the death of Christ is not just the entry point of our faith; it is our faith. So today, pause to see the second Adam, the perfect human, succeeding where the first Adam failed and defeating the devil, reversing the effects of the fall. This is the gospel. Your sins have been pardoned. You have been rescued. You are now a friend where once you were an enemy. Christ is now your confidence, your peace, and your life” (page 37).
Here is another example in a devotion titled ‘We Call Him Father’ based on Luke 11:2, in which he writes,
“When we are tempted to forget our new status as God’s children, the Spirit stands waiting to testify, No you truly are His! You’ve been bought at the greatest price. You are loved and cherished. When we haven’t done as God would have us do and when we are feeling bruised, broken and discouraged, the Spirit helps us cry, “O Father O Father, could you please help me?”Such pleas serve as reminders of Jesus’ finished work – His redeeming sacrifice and sending of the Spirit to live within our hearts. Without those, there would be no relationship with God other than as our Creator and Judge, and therefore no opportunities for our hearts to cry, “Abba! Father!” (page 42).
These are just two examples. The pages of this devotional book are saturated with the Gospel thus prodding us in our daily walk with our Lord.
5. The Devotions are Mission-Oriented
The devotions don’t make us think about ourselves and how we can be spiritually nourished. It goes beyond that. Begg’s passion to see the gospel passed on is very evident throughout the book. He urges the readers to proclaim the gospel, share the gospel and live the gospel in whatever situation they may be in. In the devotion titled ‘No Other Name’ based on Acts 4:12, we read,
“One day [all the] false prophets will bow at Jesus’ feet and declare that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Until that day comes, hold fast to the truth and seek to point people to the one who is the way, the truth and the life that we all need (John 14:6). It was Christians following the example of John and Peter’s refusal to give up or stay silent that changed the Roman Empire; we could likewise transform the world as we follow in their footsteps” (page 27).
In the devotion ‘A New Place To Live’ based on Revelation 21:15-16, he concludes by writing,
“Do you live in the eager expectation of this unimaginable intimacy with God? If you are sincerely anticipating this permanent dwelling place with God, it will be apparent by the purity of your life and by a passionate concern to see friends, relatives and neighbours come to know Christ. Knowing we have this great hope, we will be purified, even as Christ is pure (1 John 3:3) – and we won’t be able to help but tell others about Jesus, both by life and lips” (page 100).
The readers are constantly reminded about their responsibility for God’s mission such that they is compelled to do something about it.
6. The Devotions have Practical Applications for Life
Each devotion ends with a practical application. It may be something to think about, something to be reminded of or to encourage oneself or to do something in a practical way. So this is a devotional about both listening and doing. In a devotion entitled ‘Thinking Christianly’ based on Philippians 4:8, he concludes,
“So as you think about your thoughts, here are three questions to ask as you seek to apply this verse in your life.
Is there anything that I should think about more?
Is there anything I should think about less, or not at all?
Is there anything I should think about differently?” (page 92).
In another example of practical application the devotion with the title ‘Be A Doer’ based on James 1:22, Begg says in the application section,
“Determine today not to be a hearer only, and so deceive yourself into thinking you are a growing Christian when in fact you are a shrivelling one. Resolve to be a doer of the word. Look honestly over your life now and identify any areas about which you have heard how to live for Christ but have never actually obeyed. That will be the part of your life about which the Spirit is saying to you right now, Do not be a hearer only. Be a doer – for that way blessing lies.” (page 217).
(I think one potential improvement that could be made would be for the book to have a Scripture Index, but it is understandable that it has been left out of this devotional book.)
Most devotional books last for a year and then we wait for a new one the following year. This devotional is different. I believe it can be used year after year. However, I am glad that Part 2 is going to be released soon. So go ahead and get a copy for yourself if you haven’t one. As Christmas and New Year approach it is a very good devotional book to gift to family and friends. If you find its usefulness, tell others about it and encourage others to read it.
You can get your own copy of Truth for Life: Volume One here.
You can get your own copy of Truth For Life: Volume Two here.