Review: Deeper by Dane C. Ortlund

In April I finished reading Deeper by Dane C. Ortlund. It's in the same Union series as Gentle and Lowly and shares the same tender voice towards the growing christian and adoration towards Christ.

The title hints at the central claim: growing in the faith is not finding out new truths, but deepening our understanding and appreciation for the same gospel truths.

The whole book is worth your reading, but three aspects stood out for me in my particular moment in my Christian journey:

Make time for despair.

The index of the soundness of a man's faith in Christ is the genuineness of the self-despair from which it springs.1

Ortlund discusses how truly recognizing the depths of our depravity is required for truly appreciating the forgiveness we receive. This challenged me. I typically busy myself, dodging contemplating my sin. I’m not sure how exactly to approach this safely. I am starting with being clear, no longer minimizing the way I describe my sin in confession. I am also experimenting with a written confession that I’m adding to periodically. I have the gospel truth of forgiveness right next to it too… so as not to live in a place of sorrow, but I need to visit.

Pray for my eyes to be opened about acquittal.

a practical knowledge of the grace that God has revealed in Christ, a heartfelt trust that he has forgiven all our sins and accepted us as his children. For that reason this faith is not only needed at the beginning in justification, but it must also accompany the Christian throughout one's entire life, and also play a permanent and irreplaceable role in sanctification.2

Having a complete understanding of the forgiveness of sin isn’t natural and takes time. Ortlund details how Francis Schaefer, Martin Luther, and C.S. Lewis all experienced an enlightening realization late in life, and how it impacted them deeply. I’m starting to diligently pray for myself and my family to have this illumination.

Making scripture and prayer a life-defining habit.

the way to think about these two practices is by the metaphor of breathing. Reading the Bible is inhaling. Praying is exhaling.

Ortlund touches on the habits of grace but focused on scripture reading and prayer. I think the Lord has taken me on a journey when it comes to prayer… but I have room to grow in reading. My grandfather was a consistent man: one spot, every morning, always. It’s a defining characteristic of him. I want my kids to remember the same of me.

There’s a lot more to mine out of this book, and if you liked his previous work it’s more excellent food for meditation and conversation. His last words are best:

This is a book with one point: Be astonished at the gracious heart of Jesus Christ, proven in his atoning work in the past and his endless intercession in the present. Receive his unutterable love for sinners and sufferers. Stop resisting. Let him draw near to you. Gaze upon him.

  1. J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (1990; repr., Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 170. 

  2. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, God and Creation, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004), 257. 

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