Monday, June 29, 2009

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands

I'm re-reading Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands for my upcoming classes in August. Below is the book review I submitted for the Winter 2005 issue of EFCA Today (reprinted with permission). Excellent book!

Instruments in the Reedemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp
(©2002, P&R Press: Phillipsburg, NJ, 348 Pages)

Review by Rev. Matt Mitchell

Heading the list of “things I wish I had learned better in seminary” is how to help people change. It turns out that spiritual growth is not automatic, and neither is knowing how to help people grow. That’s why Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands was such a welcome book to me. The subtitle says it all: “People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change.”

Instruments is a manual on “personal ministry”–training the reader to help others to grow in Christlikeness. Paul Tripp artfully unpacks the doctrines of indwelling sin, progressive sanctification, and the priesthood of all believers, bringing it into the kitchens, living rooms, and mini-vans of everyday life.

He begins by painting the “big picture” in six inspiring chapters: Good News! The King has come and is restoring His people, starting in their hearts and working outward. And we, as His ambassadors, have the high calling of representing Him in each other’s lives. We, ourselves, are being changed by the King, and He calls us to be instruments of change in His redeeming hand.

In the last eight chapters, Tripp unfolds his model of helping people towards heart and life transformation with four key words: LOVE - KNOW - SPEAK - DO. Tripp teaches that we need to follow the “Wonderful Counselor” by incarnating His love and entering into the worlds of the people around us. Merely casual relationships will not do in the Body of Christ. When we have built each others’ trust, we begin to see where change is needed. Tripp then trains us in the art of asking good questions to get to the heart of things. Lasting change will not happen, however, until the truth is spoken in love and people are led in authentic repentance.

Instruments does have its weaknesses. At 350 pages, a reader can get lost pretty easily. Though engaging, it feels a bit like an academic textbook. And many of the colorful illustrations are drawn from the author’s intense counseling ministry leaving some readers overwhelmed with the severity of the problems being addressed. If more of the illustrations were taken from kitchens and mini-vans, it would strengthen his argument.

All in all, however, I strongly commend this book to you. Every page is saturated with Scripture and biblical principles that can be put right to work. Use it to train each of your members in face-to-face personal ministry. If wisdom is “the spiritual art of applying truth to life,” Instruments is a book to make you and your people wise.

For deeper study, Instruments has been adapted into a church-based discipleship curriculum: “Helping Others Change,” and is available with an array of similarly excellent materials from

I wish I had this book when I was in training for ministry. I’m glad I have it now. Spiritual growth may not be automatic, but it is possible because of Christ. And through His grace, God has called us to help people change.


Do you have a review of the church-based discipleship curriculum: "Helping Others Change"?

It's good; I know that.

But it's expensive, too. I don't know why it costs as much as it does to put on.

We did it at Lanse Free Church, and many of our folks learned a great deal about ministering to others. Some felt it was too "academic" and that the questions were harder to understand--others had no trouble following along.

It is tied directly to Instruments, so that if you get that, you'll get the other (and vicey-versey).

I've not been exposed to "How People Change" or the other one.

But everything CCEF does is good.