Kept, Safely Kept by Adrian Ferguson; published and available from John Ritchie Ltd; 178 pages; price £8.99. (9781907731440)
Many Christians in Scotland and far further afield included in their prayers over a dozen years the health problems faced by Audrey Ferguson and her devoted husband Adrian. Only those closest to the young couple knew the details of their years of deep anxiety. Only those who had experienced as serious, if not similar, issues could gauge the emotional and spiritual demands of the prolonged and increasingly complex battle they faced. The very title of this book - Kept, Safely Kept bears testimony to their dependence on the Lord they loved and served. It provides a level of detail that enables the reader to follow their journey to the point that Audreys successful lung transplant began to change their lives.
The author has carefully chronicled those difficult years from the loss of their first baby, through the period during which LAM disease was diagnosed until the transplant took place. He provides sufficient insight into their emotional and spiritual state at the critical stages of that period. He takes account of family, fellow Christians and medical and surgical staff all of whom played various parts in their world over those years. Even re-tracing that history will have cost him much.
The book holds many lessons for both young and old who face major crises. We can all learn from the Fergusons dependence on their God and their willingness to be supported spiritually by mature Christians, whether they were in Scotland or around Newcastle where the surgery took place. At many points in the narrative, they made contact with those in whom they had confidence, to pray with them and offer guidance. Throughout all their afflictions they also maintained their interest in the work of the gospel and in the local assembly.
Kept, Safely Kept is the autobiography of two young people who trusted their God in harrowing circumstances. Those who played some part in history traced in the book will be encouraged by it. However, in this moving record a wider readership will find much to reflect upon.
Is Hell for real or does everyone go to Heaven? by Timothy Keller, R Albert Mohler Jnr, J I Packer and Robert W Yarbrough; edited Christopher W Morgan and Robert A Peterson; published by Zondervan. Available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £6.99. (9780310494621)
Is Hell for real or does everyone go to Heaven? is a re-issue of a book first published in 2004. The authors are concerned that many preachers avoid hell as a subject. The stark choice of heaven and hell is never set before many congregations in what were once churches known for the clarity of the gospel they proclaimed. Morgan and Peterson, who edit the series, comment in the Conclusion to the book: "To speak of hell is precarious. But not to speak of hell is more precarious".
The 89-page book comprises six essays, each with a clear title: "Is hell for real?", "What Jesus said about hell", "Three Pictures of hell", "Three perspectives on hell", "Does everyone go to heaven?", and "Preaching hell in a Tolerant Age". Each provides an unambiguous statement of the reality of both heaven and hell, without avoiding the contrast of the unalloyed joy of heaven and the conscious, eternal suffering of the lost; Morgan boldly adds the adjective "deserved". Arguments raised against hell and eternal sufferings are addressed with conviction, including those who suggest that a God of love could not punish eternally or exclude sincere Hindus, Buddhist and Moslems because they do not believe in Gods Son, the Lord Jesus.
Occasionally, there is some looseness of language in these helpful essays: Peter is named as the preacher at Athens (Acts 17); without explanation or justification, "the kingdom of heaven" is equated with "heaven"; the Lords teaching about the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16.19-31) is assumed to be a parable, and also the statement that "Jesus experienced hell itself". Some discussion of the Hebrew sheol and the New Testament hades would have been helpful, perhaps in a short appendix in respect of passages such as Luke 16.19 ff., Ps 16.10 and its citation at Acts 2.27.