For Christians who have hit spiritual bedrock: A review of “Deeper” by Dane C. Ortlund

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For Christians who have hit spiritual bedrock: A review of “Deeper” by Dane C. Ortlund

May 16, 2022 - Mark Legg

© kieferpix /stock.adobe.com

© kieferpix /stock.adobe.com

Everyone reading this review is a sinner. I am too. 

And if that sin has gripped you, if you find yourself stuck, or you’ve strayed off the path, read Deeper: Real Change for Real  Sinners.

Dane. C. Ortlund gives us the shovel to dig down when we’ve hit bedrock in our spiritual lives. This book is for the new follower excited to grow but not sure where to begin, the worn-out priest searching for his lost spiritual passion, the heavy-ladened mother searching for support, and every other believer that feels caught in the loop of sin. 

What is this shovel with which we dig deeper? 

The gospel. The good news.

Actually, Jesus is holding the shovel and doing all the digging, we’re just getting out of his way—and watching; watching the gentle, lowly, all-powerful shepherd of infinite glory doing the work for us in our spiritual lives.

Overcoming apathy with the gospel

I’ve been a follower of Jesus for basically my entire life. Staleness easily settles over faith and apathy can dampen one’s spiritual

 life (in this regard, I am the “chief among them”). These are difficult to overcome. In fact, sometimes it feels impossible. This book is helping shake me out of staleness and apathy. It can help you too. 

How? 

God uniquely gifted Ortlund to write simply but substantively. His prose touches our lives with effective analogies and easy-to-understand language. He doesn’t compromise the depth of truth that he communicates. Deeper is simplistic, yet eloquent. 

At the end of the day, what makes this book exceptional is how Ortlund gets his writing out of the way of the good news of Jesus. 

In the end, he writes: “I do not have nine things to say [in nine chapters]. I have one thing to say. Look to Christ.”

He unpacks scripture and draws from great Christian writers from across Christian traditions. All of it points back to that message: “look to Christ.” Really, really look to him. 

Pointing back to Jesus

He talks about honest confession, how justification fuels our sanctification, the tender love of Jesus, how God uses pain to forge us, and that the Bible is like oxygen. Deeper is not, however, a list of things to “do.” There is no twelve-step program here. There are only pointers to Jesus and his finished work to inform our spiritual growth. 

Ortlund draws the reader closer to Jesus. Page after page points back to Jesus’ grace. In the same way that he touched readers in Gentle and Lowly, Ortlund again provides sharp but gentle encouragement for our Christian lives. If any book outside of the Bible should supplement our personal devotion, I would recommend this one. 

The gospel deals a death blow to our pride and self-righteousness, and it uncovers sin for wickedness. Ortlund does not hamper the Word that pierces “joints and marrow,” but reflects it in a way that made me want to reread Deeper immediately (Hebrews 4:12).  

This book provides a refreshing wellspring for the worn-out, stuck-feeling Christians; those believers who are “poor in spirit” but struggling to find their place in “the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).  

If that sounds like you or someone you know, I’d encourage you to pick up Deeper so that Ortland can point you back to the message of Jesus.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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