Truth We Can Touch

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

Truth We Can Touch: How Baptism and Communion Shape Our Lives was written by Tim Chester, and has a forward by Sinclair Ferguson. The title is pretty self explanatory… This is a short book (176 pages) on baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

If your church removed singing, would you notice? If your church stopped having the Lord’s Supper (communion), would you notice? How long would it take? In the introduction of Truth We Can Touch, Tim Chester says that his hunch is that people would notice the no-singing by the end of the service, but most wouldn’t even notice communion was removed.

In the first chapter, Chester goes over all the places in the Bible people are saved by judgement through water. He discusses the flood, Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea, Joshua leading the Israelites through the Jordan, and Jesus and His baptism by John the Baptist.

“Jesus steps into our mess , our wickedness, our judgment. He identifies with us. It’s a dramatic expression of intent. Jesus is symbolically engulfed by the waters of judgment. All those stories from the Old Testament were setting us up to understand this moment. In his baptism, Jesus identifies with his people and expresses his intent to take the judgment we deserve. Jesus is declaring,  ‘I’m with you.’ It is the sign of the incarnation— Jesus has become one with humanity.”

The chapter finishes up things like how we’re baptized into Jesus’ baptism and suffering on the cross, and how our baptism preaches the gospel to us daily.

The second chapter discusses humanity’s sin, the trees in Eden, the Passover meal, manna from heaven, all the places in the OT meals are had that lead up to the Last Supper, and the Lord’s Supper points to the eternal banquet promised by the prophet Isaiah.

“So baptism and Communion point to the resurrection of our bodies and the renewal of creation. Baptism involves getting wet with water, and Communion involves ingesting bread and wine because we are people with bodies. Our bodies are not secondary or incidental to our identity. And our bodies are part of our future. We believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, who rose as the firstborn of the new creation. So , believe in the redemption of our bodies. The physicality of Communion is a reminder of the physicality of salvation.”

The third chapter has comparisons between the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Reformed Confessions, and some of the Reformer’s views on the Lord’s Supper. I really enjoyed how this book included most of the Reformed confessions, not just the author’s preference.

Chapter four is on how the sacraments are reminders, and how when God remembered something, it didn’t mean He forgot, but it was Him keeping a promise. The fifth and sixth chapters are how communion and baptism should shape our lives as Christ’s disciples.

While I found the book a little redundant at times, it was thought-provoking and an interesting read. Thank you to NetGalley and Crossway for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
If you want to read one book in this year, pick this book! Tim Chester needs no introduction. His teaching has been tested again and again and has proved to be very faithful. 

Its unfortunate that many consider that  the reformed theology diminished the value of visible sacraments. In reality, the reformed theology clarified its true meaning. Tim Chester seeks to pull evangelicals from the rut of modernism to the true reformed doctrine of the sacraments. He shows us again and again that the Lord has appointed two sacraments: the Lord's Supper and Baptism for a very good reason. They are not optional extras. 

So if you want to better understand the 'Truth We Can Touch', if you want to know how sacraments fit in our worship 'tolle lege', pick up and read.!
Was this review helpful?
The gospel sacraments seal the gospel promises, as a ring confirms the covenant of marriage. It is an act of faith.

A text that strongly advocates the blessing of Baptism and Communion. It is not a text that argues or debates over differences of the sacraments but encourages the believer (those that want to walk by faith)to participate in the sacraments. It is important to know the difference between what the Catholic and the Protestant view the meal as it relates to worship and ultimately the gospel. "we are saved by grace of God" and not by the sacraments in of themselves. The sacraments only lead us to the gospel and are a profession of faith. If you struggle with this tension of salvation, this text will make clear of what Baptism and Communion mean.

Another interesting part with Baptism and Communion is that the sacraments are meant for community. A church event that brings believers united to the gospel. It is relational and meant to be celebrated. It truly touches all of our senses that we strengthen by it. The sacraments are a gift to us to identify with Christ and his promise. I have belonged to a church body that only practiced communion maybe once every quarter because of time constraint, however, after being part of a community that practices Communion every Sunday and the liturgy of worship, I cannot fathom of only doing it once a quarter. I truly believe we are brought into the presence of Christ as we share the bread and wine and remember with this body...Communion and Baptism is for our good and ultimately for God's glory.

A Special Thank you to Crossway Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Truth We Can Touch by Tim Chester is an amazing book about  baptism and communion. I loved the message of this book. I learned that Baptism and Communion are gifts we receive from Christ. It isn’t something we are doing, it is something we are receiving. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the sacraments.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved the purpose and message of this book. I took so much away - that Baptism and Communion are gifts we RECEIVE from Christ. It isn’t something WE are doing - it is something we are receiving. I will look at these two sacraments differently because of this book. I appreciate all of the research done in both scripture and throughout history to determine what God had in mind when he graciously gave us these sacraments.

This book is great for ministry teams and Christians alike - it will change the way you see these sacraments.
Was this review helpful?
This is a great book. It is pretty concise, but the author makes a good point and supports it well. His premise is that we Protestants who hold to a symbolic interpretation of the sacraments have swerved too drastically to the other extreme to the point where the sacraments mean nothing anymore, they're a dead ritual. He argues for a fuller understanding of the sacraments and supports it with Scripture and tradition.
Was this review helpful?
Truth We Can Touch is about TWO church sacraments: baptism and communion. Is the book necessary? Do we really, truly need yet another book about communion and baptism? The author would argue YES. Because both are vitally misunderstood OR undervalued in terms of priority. The truth is that Christians often find communion and baptism to be confusing--and most books are so focused on the HOW or even HOW OFTEN that the WHY or SO WHAT is lost altogether.

This is not your typical book about the sacraments. This isn't a book about sprinkling or immersion, infant baptism or believer's baptism. Nor is it an argument about wine or grape juice. What should communion MEAN to believers? How should taking communion impact your life? What should baptism MEAN to believers? Should having been baptized change your life on the day-to-day?

So what is the purpose of this one? He writes, "I want to argue that our primary focus when we think about baptism should not be on our faith, but on the object of our faith—Jesus Christ. I think this is consistent with both an evangelical paedobaptist position and a Reformed credobaptist position. If you’ve grown up in the kind of Baptist circles where the focus is all on the commitment we make in baptism, then this emphasis may initially appear unfamiliar. But I hope you will see that, while it is true that baptism is in part a sign of faith, first and foremost it points us away from ourselves to the promises of God and the work of Christ. As we recognize this, we will discover how God uses baptism and Communion to strength our faith and reassure our hearts. I want us to learn to appreciate baptism and Communion. Christ gave them to us to nurture our faith. I want us to understand how we can approach them so they do this. They do more than simply work on our minds to teach or remind us—otherwise Christ would merely have given words to say or truth to remember. Working out what the “more than” involves is the theme of this book. What is the added value of physical acts? Or, to put it another way, why water, bread, and wine? Why not just thoughts and words?"

I think he does a MARVELOUS job answering these questions.

I don't usually seek out books about baptism and communion. First because I don't want to be lectured. Second because they tend to go technical and theoretical. But this one does neither. It is a book that is ENTIRELY practical and further more grounded in Scripture. By focusing on the WHY and the SO WHAT, instead of being dry and scholarly, it becomes relevant and personal.

 My absolute favorite chapter was "Enacted Grace" in which he tells the HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN TWELVE MEALS.

1. Creation and the Menu for Mankind: The Story of God’s Generosity
2. The Fall and Another Menu: The Story of Humanity’s Sin
3. The Passover Meal: The Story of God’s Redemption
4. Manna from Heaven: The Story of God’s Provision
5. A Meal on the Mountain: The Story of God’s Covenant
6. The Bread of Presence: The Story of God’s Presence
7. The True Happy Meal: The Story of God’s Home
8. Exile and Famine: The Story of God’s Judgment
9. Another Meal on a Mountain: The Story of God’s Feast
10. Levi’s Party: The Story of God’s Grace
11. The Feeding of the Five Thousand: The Story of God’s Future
12. The Last Supper and the Lord’s Supper: The Whole Story in One Meal 

Of this last meal, he writes:
It is a meal that echoes all the other meals and points to their fulfillment. The Lord’s Supper looks back to the Passover meal. Luke is at pains to point this out in his account of the Last Supper, mentioning the Passover in Luke 22:1, 7, 8, 11, 13, and 15. The Passover meal told the story of redemption from slavery through the blood of a lamb. The Communion meal tells the story of redemption from sin through the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. The Sinai covenant and its sprinkled blood find their fulfillment in the cross. This is God’s complete and permanent solution for sin. All who come to Christ are cleansed by his blood and welcomed to his banquet. We are invited to eat in the presence of God. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). The cup represents the new covenant, a new relationship-forming agreement through which we become God’s people and he becomes our God. The Communion meal embodies the grace of God to needy sinners. Paul would later say we “proclaim the Lord’s death” every time we eat it (1 Cor. 11:26). Here in this meal we encounter the heart of our salvation. And we do not just see it or hear it. We eat it! It becomes part of us. We enact what Jesus said in John 6:51, 54–56: I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. . . . Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. This is a meal at which Jesus is the host. He tells Peter and John to “go and prepare the Passover” (Luke 22:8). But the point of their mysterious encounter with an apparently random man carrying a jar of water is to show that Jesus has made everything ready (Luke 22:7–13). It is a powerful picture of the way Jesus prepares the eternal banquet by dying in our place. He takes the judgment we deserve so we can come to eat in the presence of God. At the cross Jesus experiences exclusion from God (like Adam from the garden) and exile from God (like Israel in Babylon) so we can come close to God. The Lord’s Supper also echoes the feeding of the five thousand. That miracle involved four verbs: taking, thanking, breaking, giving (Luke 9:16). The same four verbs in the same order describe Jesus’s consecration of the bread in Luke 22:19: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them.” Here is Jesus providing bread from heaven to satisfy his people, except that now this bread is his own body, which we feed on by faith as we consume the Communion bread. The Lord’s Supper also points forward to the final eternal banquet promised by Isaiah. Luke’s account of the Last Supper is bookended by references to Christ’s return (Luke 22:14–18, 28–30).
It was a great way to reveal the BIG PICTURE of the Bible. Sadly, many are lacking this big-picture context. So books that include a way of conveying the whole story of the Bible in just a chapter or two are desperately needed.
Was this review helpful?