Broken Down House: Live Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp

Paul David Tripp.  Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad.  Wapwallopen, Penn.: Shepherd Press, 2009.  223 pp.  $12.99 (paperback).

Ministry can be a very frustrating endeavor, especially when it is unclear where the ministry is heading.  In one of his latest books, Paul David Tripp makes the case that all Biblical ministry is headed towards the restoration of fallen sinners and maybe even more than that.  In his own words,

Sin has ravaged the beautiful house that God created.  This world bears only the faintest resemblance to what it was built to be.  It sits slumped, disheveled, in pain, groaning for the restoration that can only be accomplished by the hands of him who built it in the first place.  The Bible clearly tells us that the divine Builder cannot and will not leave his house in its present pitiful condition.  He has instituted a plan of restoration, and he will not relent until everything about his house is made totally new again (10).

The remainder of Tripp’s book discusses what this restoration process looks like.  It looks like Christians evangelizing non-Christians and ministering to one another. 

In fact, both of the main sections in Broken-Down House carry this theme of ministry.  Part One, entitled “Knowing,” includes chapters encouraging the reader to “Know Where You Are,” “Know Who You Are,” “Rest in God’s Sovereignty,” and “Listen to Eternity.”  Part Two, entitled “Doing,” includes chapters with the same kind of exhortation: “Pursue Community,” “Be Determined to Love,” “Minister Everywhere,” and “Examine Your Legacy.”  Each chapter builds on the one before as the author explains that ministry is not just for ordained clergy, but for every believer in the church.

As for a positive criticism of this book, Tripp does a good job of encouraging the reader to look at the big-picture perspective of the Christian life.  It is easy to want to quit serving others when no change is observed in their lives.  It is tempting to want to quit evangelizing the lost when they reject the Gospel again and again and again.  But when it is realized that the Lord is the one who changes the hearts of sinners and that that change is in his timing and in his hands, the disappointments are lessened and the believer is encouraged to continue the fight of faith.

As for a negative criticism of this book, it is not clear what Tripp means when he says that the Lord is in the process of restoring this broken-down house.  Is the Lord restoring this broken-down house in preparation for a golden age that will come about as a result of the work of the church?  Or is the Lord restoring this broken-down house by drawing sinners to himself in preparation of the day when the earth itself will be resurrected after the rapture and the millennial kingdom?  In other words, does this book teach postmillennialism or premillennialism?  Are we helping to restore this broken-down house to prepare it for Jesus’ return or are we just helping to restore broken-down sinners or does the author mean something else when he speaks of restoration?  Although the book is encouraging in many respects, these questions are left unanswered.

Reviewed by Jeremy Cagle

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