book review: “Redemption” by Mike Wilkerson


The word “redemption” is one of my all-time favorites. Though some of its meaning has been generalized and corrupted by overuse, it still manages to capture much of the awesome power of the concept that lies behind the word. The Bible itself has been frequently and accurately called “God’s story of redemption.” Ultimately, Mike Wilkerson tells us in this book that redemption is all about drawing near into the presence of God (Revelation 21:3). The subtitle is: “Freed by Jesus from the idols we worship and the wounds we carry.” That is essentially what the book is about – how Jesus redeems us from the double-edged sword of this fallen creation, sin and suffering. Anyone who lives experiences both. 

Wilkerson unpacks the concept of redemption by examining its Biblical prototype: the Exodus story. Recorded in the second book of the Bible, the Exodus story is the record of how God freed his people, the descendants of Jacob, from slavery in Egypt. A constant drumbeat-like theme of the Bible is “remember the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” When the Jewish New Testament authors wrote about the redemption in Jesus, they had the Exodus story in mind (see Romans 3:24-25, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:13-14). Wilkerson therefore uses it as his outline, exploring its many aspects and showing how Jesus himself is our redemption.

I loved reading this book because it is so real. The real-life examples Wilkerson uses are filled with intense human brokenness, and are devastatingly relatable, yet brimming with hope. He looks honestly at abuse, addiction, and the many other brutal manifestations of sin faced by so many in the world. He also goes deeper, penetrating the heart of these issues by examining idolatry, shame, desire, repentance, forgiveness, and more, as well the both obvious and subtle manifestations of each. Thankfully, he treats both sides – the idols we worship as well as the wounds we carry – with justice and clarity. He also relentlessly does away with every counterfeit redemption which may so easily substitute for the real thing: Christ the one mediator between God and man. Cloaked in religious language or not, anything else is simply another idol.

To anyone seeking healing and restoration from a really screwed-up life, especially from abuse or addiction, this book will introduce you to a God who sees and knows, and who ransoms and redeems. You will be amazed at the faithfulness of God, the applicability of the Bible, and the reality of what Jesus’ sacrifice means for your life. God is good, and trustworthy, and he holds out true, transforming redemption to you, personally. He forbids that you settle for anything less.

To others who have been relatively sheltered (so far) from life’s more brutal side, this book is for you too. It will unveil the slavery you settle for and the freedom you may be missing out on by looking towards your own “Egypt” or “golden calf,” whether by minimizing sin, rationalizing sin, partially confessing sin, accepting sin as part of who you are, or in any other way serving an idol that is not the living God. Understanding redemption by reading this book will greatly help you in reaching out to the very broken people around you who, underneath their hardened exterior, are yearning for the forgiveness and renewal found only in Jesus, just as you are.

Chapter 1 – When You Suffer, God Is Near
Chapter 2 – Bricks without Straw: How Long, Oh Lord?
Chapter 3 – The Passover: At Your Worst, God Gives His Best
Chapter 4 – Crossing the Red Sea: Into a New Life Free from Shame
Chapter 5 – Demanding Manna: The Subtle Significance of Everyday Desires
Chapter 6 – The Golden Calf: Volunteering for Slavery
Chapter 7 – The Covenant-keeping God: Our Only Hope for Lasting Change
Chapter 8 – Is God Your Promised Land?

Also included are an epilogue about the responsibility to pass on the truth of God’s redemption to others (“The Redeemer’s Mission”) and an appendix about the temptation to substitute a living faith with the trappings of religion (“Religious Addiction”).

I plan on buying my own copy for future use. If anyone would like to borrow it, I will gladly share it with you.

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