You know the rule with Iain Murray’s books, right? If he writes it, you read it! You can simply never go wrong. The rule proves itself true once again with his newest work, Seven Leaders.
The thirteenth chapter of Hebrews exhorts us, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” This book is designed to help us meet, understand, and remember seven leaders, seven pastors who faithfully served their God. Several of them may be familiar to most readers: Andrew Bonar, Archibald Brown, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and John MacArthur; several may be familiar to only a few: John Elias, Kenneth MacRae, and W.J. Grier. Yet whether they labored in the public eye or in obscurity, each of them has valuable lessons to teach us.
The format of the book is simple and effective. Each of the seven men gets his own chapter. It contains a brief account of his life and ministry and a number of lessons we can draw from it. From John Elias we learn about the nature of true revival, from Andrew Bonar we learn of the importance of maintaining and deepening our fellowship with Jesus Christ, and from Archibald Brown we learn of the centrality of the gospel in all faithful preaching. Kenneth MacRae teaches us that effective preaching depends upon effective ministry within the local church, Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows that all ministry must be undergirded by sound doctrine, and W.J. Grier teaches us the peril of frittering life away and the importance of faithfully passing on the “sacred deposit” of the gospel. Finally, in the life and ministry of John MacArthur, we see the importance of a strong doctrine of Scripture to support a powerful preaching ministry.
Because Murray’s knowledge of church history is both deep and wide, he is able to set these men in their context and provide interesting glimpses of what was happening in the wider world and in the Christian world while these men carried out their ministries. And, because he knew several of them and has written biographies of three of them, he is able to give personal touches and details that help bring them to life.
Seven Leaders is exactly the kind of book we’ve come to expect from Iain Murray. While its primary audience is pastors and church leaders, there isn’t a Christian alive who wouldn’t benefit from reading it.