Note to Self is a quietly important book. Joe Thorn has written a small volume here that might go unnoticed amidst the clamor of the latest theological fad, or the weighty volumes of systematics. By quiet, I mean it is unassuming. One hundred and thirty-six small format pages of unassuming to be precise. Stand that up to Michael Horton’s 1,056 page The Christian Faith and you may be wondering how I can describe it as “important”. But just as with hobbits, sometimes the most faithful advice comes from small frames. This is a book that the enemy of your soul will not want you to read. For that reason, I heartily recommend you pick it up and embrace its message.
“The impact of preaching to ourselves is not found in dramatic moments of crisis, or in our ability to use words creatively, but in the ongoing, regular and virtually plain preaching of the law and the gospel” (p. 32)
After a brief introduction on the need to preach both the law and the gospel to ourselves (showing that we need to see our failings, God’s righteousness and the solution to profitably preach to ourselves), Joe then breaks things down into a practicum of sorts. Three sections on the gospel and God, others and self are presented, each made of between 13 and 20 brief chapters. These all begin with a scripture and then a note to self – the working out of understanding and applying that passage to your own life based on the law and the gospel.
Having read it straight through, I thought that this is a book with many uses. Firstly, it is worthy of a complete read to really understand the simplicity and power of preaching to yourself. I am confident that within these pages you will find words that cut through to your own struggles, and quicken you to the wonderful truth that in Christ you have overcome.
This book could also be employed devotionally, to read aloud in preaching to yourself. A chapter from each section would not take a vast time from your day, but I daresay would be rewarding in and of itself, and would be training you for the ongoing work of heading to Scripture in prayer for the earnest work of bringing the gospel to bear on yourself.
Finally, aside from a more normal reading experience, and a daily reading plan, this is a great book for training new believers in the work of reflective reading. Sometimes, we just need someone to show us how it is done. I appreciate that Joe has shown strong and crafted theological reflection but has retained a common-man voice in his writing. This is not a book that is liable to leave non-seminarians floundering, but will serve to encourage and equip all believers.
Thanks to Crossway/Re:Lit for allowing me to review the book. I was provided a copy at no charge for my fair and unbiased review. Thanks also to Joe, lead pastor at Redeemer Fellowship, for taking the time to pen this work and help equip the saints for the work of ministry.