November 25th, 2009
Whitney, Donald S. Ten Questions to Diagnose your Spiritual Health. NavPress, 2001. 144 pp. $12.99.
Whitney begins the book with a call and a prayer for growth in Christ, “So whatever the present state of you spiritual health or the rate of you spiritual growth, let’s begin by ‘looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2), and ‘press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (Phillipians 3:14). May the Lord be pleased to use this little volume to help you ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen’ (2 Peter 3:18)” (page 14).
Like an experienced surgeon, Dr. Whitney asks 10 questions, which comprise the 10 chapters in the book. These questions cut through the religious rhetoric of today to help the reader get right to the heart of the matter. With questions like these, one is either forced to take a long, hard look at his or her walk with Christ, or lie completely and pretend that all is well. The questions are:
- Do you thirst for God?
- Are you governed increasingly by God’s Word?
- Are you more loving?
- Are you more senstive to God’s presence?
- Do you have a growing concer for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
- Do you delight in the bride of Christ?
- Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
- Do you still grieve over sin?
- Are you a quicker forgiver?
- Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?
In each chapter, Dr. Whitney shows through Scripture, the lives of saints from years gone by (Edwards, Lloyd-Jones, and Brainerd) as well as those of today (Packer, Erickson-Tada, Sproul), that one must be at some point growing (and have grown) in a particular area. He then goes on in each chapter to give practical examples and questions to diagnose whether or not you have experienced growth in the area.
His words are both convicting and reassuring at the same time. They are convicting because you are shown through the examples of others how little you value your growth as a Christian in each area. For example, I found myself to be deficient with the topic of the 4th chapter–being more sensitive to God’s presence. “But how often are you aware of the presence of God? If we take the teaching of the Bible seriously, perception of the presence of God should not be an occasional experience” (page 56). And while I can say that I am definitely more sensitive to His presence, I see that I am so lacking in sensitivity that I must strive for more. I must pray to God and ask for more sensitivity.
That is only one example of many that I could share. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever doubted or is doubting or will doubt whether they are growing in Christ. It is nice to be convicted of a defect while at the same time be reassured that even where you are defective there is evidence of growth that only God can give.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” –1 Corinthians 4:5
Ten Questions is an excellent resource for any Christian looking for a “spiritual checkup.” Your answers to the questions will provide an excellent gauge as to where you are on your journey. It would be an excellent resource for a group study in Sunday School or in discipleship groups.