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Review by Andy Lynch
Michael Riccardi’s Sanctification: The Christian’s Pursuit of God-Given Holiness is well written, easily readable, thoroughly Scriptural, and most of all helpful! But as this is a review and not an advertisement, a bit of time will be given to explaining why these things are true.
First, this is just the type of book one should expect from someone like Michael Riccardi. Riccardi is first and foremost a pastor, serving as the Pastor of Outreach at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. In this same setting he also co-pastors a Fellowship Group known as GraceLife. However, he might also be described as a scholar as he holds graduate degrees in education and divinity as well as a post graduate degree in theology. In this secondary context he serves as a Faculty Associate in Theology at The Master’s Seminary. It is the combination of his background and vocation(s) which qualify him as voice to heed on the subject of sanctification.
Now a few words about the book. As far as books on theological subjects go, it is of an extremely manageable length coming in at a mere 78 pages. However, they are 78 pages packed full of substance without fluff, contained in six well divided and presented chapters. These chapters cover an Introduction, treatments of the Christian’s pursuit of holiness, the means and dynamics of sanctification, and closing with a pastoral Q&A on the subject. It is this concise treatment of a weighty subject which makes for such a readable tome.
For those exhausted by books written in a style alluding to some new way of seeing or understanding any issue, this book will seem as a fresh breeze on a stuffy day. Riccardi spends the precious space on each page examining what Scripture has to teach on sanctification and then demonstrating he has not arrived upon a novel interpretation of those same texts (p. 5). Furthermore, this manner of presenting what is being taught allows the reader to be a good Berean “examining Scripture to see whether these things were [are] so” (Acts 17:11). Thus, the one reading is not left in the position of just having to trust the author but he or she is able to look it up using the book, chapter, and verse references provided.
It is a combination of the foregoing which makes this such a helpful book to read and even reread. Since the sanctification of believers is a pastoral concern it is only fitting that a pastor should write on the subject. Likewise, as sanctification is a doctrinal/theological issue it is proper that a theologian or scholar should address it. Finally, as Scripture is the standard of the Christian’s faith and practice, it is wise to allow Scripture the voice in the conversation regardless of the fitting qualifications of the author!
In light of what has preceded, it should come as no surprise that this book is to be recommended to just about every Christian old enough to understand it. For local church elders it is a primer and reminder all in one. To the average believer in the congregation it is a great introduction to the changes which come with salvation as well as how they might be pursued. Because this is such a broadly aimed work, it is suitable for use as a Sunday School lesson book for both adults and youth, especially if reading the Scripture references is part of the curriculum.
Finally, as a reviewer it is necessary to provide some disclaimers and disclosures. I actually know Michael (Mike) Riccardi. I have been both his classmate and his student at The Master’s Seminary and his co-worker at Grace Community Church. Further, I received the copy of the book used to complete this review without charge as part of the Book Giveaway at The Shepherds’ Conference 2015. In light of these disclosures I feel it necessary to state I have not benefited financially in any way for providing this review or its included positive recommendation. Therefore I am ceding ownership of this review to Glory Books Ministries for their exclusive use.