Mike McKinley. The Resurrection in Your Life: How the Living Christ Changes Your World. Purcellville, VA: The Good Book Company, 2015. 144 pp. $14.99.
Most Christians know the cross matters to how we live. It’s where Jesus died to wash away our sins and make us eternally right with God. We preach it, sing about it, share it with others, pattern our relationships after it, and suffer gladly because of it. But oddly enough, Jesus’s resurrection isn’t typically regarded the same way. It’s essential to our faith, and we celebrate it with joy, but it just doesn’t seem to have the same real-life effect as the cross.
This is the problem Mike McKinley tackles in his fifth book, The Resurrection in Your Life: How the Living Christ Changes Your World, a sequel to his The Cross in Your Life (originally titled Passion: How Christ’s Final Day Changes Your Every Day). Without minimizing the crucial importance of the cross, McKinley argues that believers need to increase their awareness of how Christ’s resurrection affects us. He writes, “The risen Jesus ascended into heaven and poured out his Spirit on his people so that we can live our lives in his resurrection power” (11).
McKinley is a shining example of a new generation of biblically strong Christian leaders. He has proven himself an able pastor and author. Trained at Westminster Theological Seminary, McKinley is the lead pastor of Sterling Park Baptist Church in Virginia and has been involved in pastoral ministry for more than a decade, including time on the pastoral staff of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Mark Dever’s positive influence can be seen in both Mike’s preaching and his writing.
With this kind of background, I wasn’t surprised to find The Resurrection in Your Life to be a biblically solid publication. Readers are pushed in every paragraph to consider and reconsider the biblical texts that detail Christ’s resurrection and subsequent events.
McKinley labors to demonstrate why Christ’s resurrection isn’t an afterthought, some event merely tacked on to deal with a dead body. On the contrary, it has major theological and practical implications for how we understand our Lord’s present and future ministries on earth as well as how we understand our role today in his continuing story of redemption.
McKinley shows that, because of the resurrection, death is now defeated—a fact that should dramatically alter how Christians make decisions and handle trials. He also explains how the resurrection leads to the ascension—with Christ now seated on his throne in full authority. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit came in power on Pentecost. And the Spirit of the risen Christ fills believers, organizes them into churches, and sends them to the ends of the earth with the gospel. All of these are happening today because Jesus is a living Savior.
One of McKinley’s most helpful illustrations appears as he reflects on how the Emmaus road disciples may have felt when they finally realized they were speaking with Jesus (Luke 24:13–35). He tells the story of a well-known television program that sent New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey to the streets of New York City to ask people about Matt Harvey. Harvey was in his rookie season and hadn’t been around long enough for most to recognize him. Nevertheless, many knew about him since he was having such a phenomenal season—he was all the buzz among Mets fans. So Harvey, with microphone in hand, asked stranger after stranger what they think of Matt Harvey. People offered their opinions, having no idea that they were speaking directly to him. At the end of each interview Harvey revealed his true identity, and everyone responded with a hilarious look of total shock.
This is how the disciples must have felt when it suddenly struck them that the stranger they’d been speaking with about Jesus was, in fact, Jesus. The Resurrection in Your Life has a number of similarly inviting stories that shed light on the Scriptures.
The Resurrection in Your Life originated in a series of sermons through the end of Luke’s Gospel and the beginning of Acts. It’s admittedly difficult to transform sermons into a book, but I think the volume could have been further edited to give it more of a book feel and less of a “collection of sermons” feel. The temptation is to take sermon manuscripts and keep them basically as they are—one sermon per chapter. But this can create problems with flow and continuity.
Though McKinley no doubt worked hard on the transitions and was mostly effective in the process, more could have been done to create a smoother flow from chapter to chapter.
Who Should Read It
Expectations are important. If you’re searching for a scholarly treatment of the resurrection or a Gary Habermas-type apologetic, this isn’t the book for you. Those simply aren’t McKinley’s goals. But if you want to spend quality time meditating on the glory and power of Jesus, then The Resurrection in Your Life will not disappoint. It is terrific devotional reading material. Additionally, those looking for a small group study will find a strong candidate in this encouraging and readable volume (there are helpful discussion questions and inspiring hymn lyrics provided at the end of each chapter).
Does the resurrection of Christ matter for our daily lives today? Yes, in every way. And McKinley’s new book does an outstanding job showing readers how. I hope it is widely read, sparking celebrations of the glories of the risen and living Christ.