Skip to content ↓

He Lives!

Articles Collection cover image

This morning I cracked the cover of a new biography–one I spied while browsing the book tables at The Gospel Coalition Conference. It is titled The Life of Rowland Hill: The Second Whitefield and is written by Tim Shenton, a school teacher in England who has several previous biographies to his credit. Dr. Joel Beeke wrote the Foreword and he says this: “Here is biography at its best. Shenton marvellously brings Rowland Hill to life in a balanced and objective way, neither minimizing his remarkable set of gifts nor hiding his destructive blemishes.”

It is only the rare and exceptional biography that can seem to bring its subject to life. If you have read Marsden’s biography of Jonathan Edwards you may have felt, by the end, that you had actually met Edwards–that you actually knew him. The same is true of McCullough’s John Adams and, from what I’ve heard, of his Truman. Some authors have the ability to bring a person to life, to allow you to meet him, even from beyond the grave.

And this is the task of a biographer, isn’t it? His task is to take a person who is unavailable, usually because he is a historical figure who has long since died, and give you a taste of who that person was. A biography that relates no more than cold facts about a person is so much less satisfying than a biography that gives you the man himself.

I paused for a few moments this morning to thank God that we do not need a biography of Jesus. Rowland Hill died 176 years ago. All we can know about him now is what history has recorded of him. His biographer offers 48 pages of end notes, sources, and bibliography–the resources he has had to use to get to know his subject and to attempt to bring him to life in this book’s pages. Jesus died just about 2,000 years ago and a biographer could offer tens of thousands of pages of end notes, sources and bibliography of all that has written about Jesus. At the end of the gospel of John, the Apostle said “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” Neither could the world contain all that has been written about Jesus since that day.

Yet we need no biography of Jesus. We have no need of a biographer who can make Jesus come alive. When Jesus ascended to his Father, he sent his Spirit to be his witness. He sent forth the Spirit in his name to testify about himself. Rowland Hill died but did not send anyone to bear witness to him. It is only through the skilled biographer that he can seem to come to life. But Jesus, he died and rose and even today is alive. He is the one man who died, but who has no need for any biographer to bring him back to life. He is, and remains, and will always be, alive!


  • Ordinary

    We Who Are So Ordinary

    A couple of years ago I listened to an interview with a critic of Christianity. He was a person who claimed to love Christ, yet who seemed to have little use for Christ’s church and little good to say about Christ’s people. There was one critique that especially stood out to me

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (March 4)

    A La Carte: Christians should long for giftedness / Talking about race in 2024 / No creed but the Bible / 7 blessings older saints offer the church / Is it okay for Christians to grieve? / Kindle and book deals / and more.

  • What Is the Best Thing In Life?

    What Is the Best Thing In Life?

    Any time we consider the spiritual disciplines, or means of grace, it is crucial that we remember not only the great purpose of these habits but also the great blessing they represent. We were made to know God and to be known by God. We were made in the image of God to have a…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (March 2)

    A La Carte: The only way out of our desperate hypocrisy / Are Evangelicals too hard on men? / 9 healthy ways to respond to criticism / Is God disappointed with me? / 4 snapshots of dispensationalism today / Logos and Kindle deals / and more.

  • Free Stuff Fridays (Help The Persecuted)

    This weeks giveaway is sponsored by Help The Persecuted. Help The Persecuted rescues, restores, and rebuilds the lives of persecuted believers in the Islamic World through spiritual support and tangible help. Every week, they send out an email with specific, real-time prayer requests of persecuted believers to their global Prayer Network. You can join the…

  • A La Carte Friday 2

    A La Carte (March 1)

    A La Carte: Rumblings of revival among Gen Z / Addition by subtraction / Seeing red / Burying the talents of the Great Rewarder / Inviting evaluation of your preaching / Book and Kindle deals / and more.