As many of you know, I love a good book. There are times when I read a book for enjoyment and escape. Other times I read to expand my knowledge. Yet there are other books that are good because they touch my heart and change my way of thinking about God and life. The best of these books are books I wish every believer would read. They are so biblical, so wise and yet so challenging, that it would be impossible for a believer who read them with an open heart to close the book unaltered. Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols by Brad Bigney is just such a book. Thoroughly biblical, incredibly wise and powerfully challenging, I wish every believer would read and take to heart the truths in this book.
When I picked up this book, I was not familiar with Brad Bigney. I have to thank Blake Shaw, who was watching over the Grace Bible Church (Bozeman, MT) resource room for putting me onto this book. I had read books about idols recently – Gods at War by Kyle Idleman and Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick – and I wondered, “Do I want to read another book on this topic?” But the title of Bigney’s book grabbed me – idolatry really is gospel treason. Worshipping our idols – and we all have them – is like committing treason against the God who saved us and denying the power of the gospel message. As Bigney defines it, an idol is anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds and affections more than God.
Gospel Treason breaks down into three main sections. The first few chapters are prescriptive. They ask what the problem is. Bigney encourages us to examine our hearts and our motives in light of the gospel. He seeks to help us see, with copious examples from Scripture, that the idols of our heart are the source of many, if not all the sin problems in our life. They stand hidden behind the conflicts and the frustrations and the discouragements that plague us. Idols taint our relationships and even change our very identity, twisting how we see ourselves. That happens because we have hearts that are deceitful, ever in the process of drifting away from the gospel and the message of our Savior. The first step to freedom is recognizing that idols exist in every heart and to begin to shine the light of God’s word into our hearts to reveal them.
Bigney then moves on to discussing the solution. The solution to our idol problem is found in examining our hearts in light of God’s Word and the gospel. Our idols are there because we put them there. Our sinful hearts cultivate them. We nurture them. We protect them. And, as weird as it sounds, we are often blind to their true nature. For example, we may live in continual frustration in our relationships. We may blame others for that. We may even understand, to some extent, that we need to be more patient or more gracious. But the idol in our heart my well be pride or selfishness or a desire to control others, and until that is revealed, we cannot get to the real heart of our relationship problems. So Bigney challenges the reader to examine the ways idols reveal themselves. We need to follow the trail of how we use our time, we were set our affections or how we spend our money. All those things can reveal the true gods in our heart. We need to ask ourselves – what areas of our life are chaotic? Idols will always eventually cause chaos and conflict. We need to open our eyes to the places and areas where are heart is tempted to drift from the place of trusting God. And we need to examine where our hearts are most vulnerable. Idols will always show up under the pressure of difficult circumstances. Fighting idols is about inviting God’s Spirit, through God’s Word, to do the difficult process of self-examination, revealing the true motives behind our actions, and repenting and turning from them in God’s power. We need to let God do what God desires to do – redeem us from the inside out.
Finally Bigney closes the book with some excellent, practical chapters on day to day life. He lays out three vital habits that are necessary cures for our wandering, idolatrous heart. And then he ends the book with a powerful vision of what life will be like when we expose and begin to gain victory over the idols that rule our hearts.
Gospel Treason is a book that will cause you to re-examine your life, your relationships, your desires, your habits, your chaos and most importantly, your heart. I am sure that if more believers read books like this, and took the gospel truths in them to heart, the churches they belong to and fellowship in would be truly changed.