Today is the official release date of Wayne Duncan’s book A Matter of Life and Death: How to Read the Bible through New Covenant Lenses. Wayne Duncan is a South African pastor who desires to see “the culture of the Gospel of truth, liberty and freedom preached, with a demonstration of power.”
The title of the book – A Matter of Life and Death – stems from the idea that the Bible is dangerous if handled incorrectly, that “the Bible can actually do harm rather than good if it is wrongly or partially understood.” This is because the old covenant is a ministry of death while the new covenant is a ministry of Spirit-life (2 Cor 3). If we fail to rightly divide between these covenants we may inadvertently partake from the death-giving ministry.
The first part of the book distinguishes the two ministries and introduces a number of filters or Biblical truths through which we should read the Bible. These filters help to ensure that the truth and purity of the Word is preserved. The author provides an example from the popular teaching that when you sin you give the enemy a legal right to interfere with your life. Breaking off this demonic access may require a special ministry or prayer and fasting. But according to Duncan if you filter this teaching through the lens of the cross, you will see that it cannot be true. Although it’s never a good idea to sin, all our sins have been forgiven at the cross. The devil has no legal demands on any Christian under any circumstances. He may accuse us and we may believe his lies, but lies they remain. The only way a Christian can be harmed is if they are unacquainted with the finished work of the cross: “Can you be cursed? If you believe you can, then I suppose you can! If you believe you cannot, then you cannot!” (p.78).
Much of the book unpackages what it means to be a Christian, to be made righteous, to be justified, to be qualified by God and to be in fellowship with others. Reading the manuscript for this book one thing which really struck me was how much the author makes of the Christian conversion. A Christian is “literally a new breed on the planet, something that did not exist before the cross.” Duncan says that the most underestimated aspect of the Christian experience is the transformation that takes place when we are born again.
It is the most significant event that can ever take place in a believer’s life. We are made new, we are made sons, we are made royal priests and we are made kings who were meant to reign. We are new creatures, something that has never existed on the planet before, born again, spirit-filled beings on sanctified steroids, supernaturally enabled with the power and righteousness of God running through our veins! (p.111)
When God qualifies as sons, He automatically qualifies us for ministry.
There are no levels; there are no favourites; there are no super heroes. We’re all qualified; we’re all heroes. (p.184)
So who is this book written for? It’s written for all who want to see the power of God demonstrated in their world.
This is not a book written for quiet reflection. This is a book written for action. This is a book for those who believe Jesus died to set people free in every sense of the word. The book has a rough and ready look to it which is consistent with this application. I can imagine a church leader buying copies of this book for everyone in his leadership team or congregation then saying, “let’s go through this and see what needs to change around here.” The church that does this will find itself growing in its confidence of God’s goodness and His willingness to use ordinary believers for extraordinary deeds.