Dale Ratzlaff wrote Gospel Transformation in 2015. Life Assurance Ministries Publications, a publishing ministry founded and operated by Dale, published the book. Pastor Gary Inrig and Larry Wessel of Christian Answers (among others) recommend the book.
Who is Dale Ratzlaff?
Dale Ratzlaff is the founder of Life Assurance Ministries. LAM is the publisher of the Proclamation Magazine, a magazine edited by his wife, Carolyn Ratzlaff. Dale is a former Seventh Day Adventist Pastor. He has since devoted a large part of his ministry to help SDAs and former SDAs understand and embrace the apostolic gospel and the historic Christian faith.
Dale regularly speaks at the Former Adventist Fellowship Conference. He is also the author of important books like ‘Sabbath in Christ,’ The Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-day Adventists,’ and ‘Truth Led Me Out.’
Summary of Gospel Transformation
Dale has two goals in this book: defining and explaining the biblical gospel and highlighting the role of the gospel in our sanctification (transformation). Paul’s concern for the Galatians was that though they began in the Spirit, they wanted to be perfected in the flesh. Like the Galatians, many Christians hold firm to the gospel when it comes to justification and then forget the gospel when it comes to sanctification. We tend to see the gospel as what gets us in; now that we are in, we think we can forget about the gospel and go on to ‘weightier matters.’ Dale argues that the gospel is as much at the heart of our sanctification as our justification.
In the first part of the book, Dale outlines the apostolic gospel, beginning with the biblical teaching about our union with Christ. He explains the benefits that flow from that union – justification, redemption, and reconciliation – and important gospel terminologies like propitiation, substitution, and representation. He examined the biblical concept of faith using Paul’s teaching about Abraham as the springboard.
In the second part, Dale looks at how the gospel sanctifies and transforms us. He examines those passages where the bible uses our identification with Christ (who we are in Christ) as the motivation for our obedience. Paul points the Colossians to the fact that they are seated with Christ in the heavenly places to motivate them to put to death what belongs to the flesh and clothe themselves with the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (Colossians 3).
Dale examines the ‘in Christ’ passages and how biblical sanctification is a call for us to become who we are already in Christ. We are already unleavened; therefore, we should put off the old leaven (1 Corinthians 5:7). Dale beautifully points out that Christians do not approach sanctification from a position of fear or doubt but from a place of certainty (we are who we are called to become). He then highlights how this truth assures us of salvation and produce true holiness.
What I Love About This Book
Dale’s book is simple, clear, and straightforward. He focuses on the exegesis of the relevant biblical passages. This book was written for the average person on the pew even though the theologians and theology students will find many rare gems.
Because of his commitment to the biblical text, he examines a wide range of biblical texts that bear on a particular truth. The exhaustive treatment of the ‘in Christ’ passages makes for a good read. He did not leave any stone unturned in defending his propositions.
Dale is always careful to use terminologies that the bible uses. He does not define theological terms by modern usage. Instead, he examines the term in its biblical context and defines it as the New Testament does.
Love for the gospel
The truth of the apostolic gospel led Dale out of Adventism. In this book, his love for the gospel of Jesus Christ shines through.
Dale does a thorough work investigating the biblical teaching on sanctification. There is so much confusion in many circles on the relationship between justification and sanctification. To emphasize the latter, many lose sight of the former, leading to doubt, fear, and Pharisaism. Through careful exegesis, Dale offers the biblical teaching on the relationship of justification and sanctification (and corollaries like the assurance of salvation and perfection).
Why you should Read This Book
- Simplicity: You do not need a degree in theology to understand this book. It is simple and clear to a fault.
- Gospel Clarity: This book will help you understand the gospel (in all its aspects) with so much clarity.
- A biblical understanding of sanctification: If you are confused about sanctification and how it relates to the gospel, this is a great book to read. If you are not confused, this is an excellent book to test your understanding of the biblical teaching.
- Assurance of salvation: If you are a Christian (someone who is trusting in Christ and his finished work for his salvation) and you are not sure if you will reign with Christ when he comes again or will be in his presence when you die, this is an excellent book to read. If you believe you will reign with Christ because you go to church every Sunday, read your bible every morning, and fast twice a week; this is a great book to read.
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