When Did You Die? –A Book Review with Observations

Here is a volume for when you seriously want to consider your spiritual life. The careless or unconcerned will not be able to stand reading it. As you might imagine by the title, the book addresses the concept of “dying to self.”

Crown Publications has brought this fine volume back in print. Its claim to fame is that it is the book that changed Lee Roberson’s life. As one of the prominent leaders of the Twentieth Century for Independent Baptists, many are fascinated by this practically lost volume. I actually had one the old copies that was more like a pamphlet. I read it several years ago, but was challenged in reading it again. In this lovely reprint, you actually get a bonus volume entitled “How To Die Daily”, also by B. McCall Barbour. An introductory chapter on Lee Roberson along with the volume’s appealing look makes this a fine addition to any library.

There has been some debate in recent years over the theology of these type writings. Particularly the phrase “let go and let God” has been under scrutiny (The phrase was mentioned in this volume). Some have thought to say “let God” implies giving God permission! But in this context it is about what you and I are going to do, not what the Lord may do.

Half way through my reading of this book, I did an online search and came across R. C. Sproul’s website that had an article on this phrase and theology. He raised a few points worthy of consideration. Some taught it as the “second blessing” and that is actually more than the Bible teaches. To make it all about one exact point in time rather than an ongoing process of sanctification is a mistake. If you remember that it is still a process, though with possible great breakthroughs, this volume will enrich your spiritual life. I see Mr. Sproul’s point to some degree (he seemed most concerned, sadly, only about adherence to confessional reformed theology), but no doubt there are special seasons of God’s dealings too. When that happens your self life is going to take some blows! Don’t be lulled into thinking you have crossed a threshold and now are safe, or beyond certain things. You could hardly be in a more dangerous place. Be cautious about thinking you are in the advanced Christian group–that is not the point of dying to self.

This is not a short cut to spirituality, but the real business of the Christian life. The idea of reckoning what Christ has done has sure helped me in some problem areas in my life. You will be helped by this volume’s discussion of that subject. No matter what anyone wants to criticize theologically, the subject of the self life fills many pages in the New Testament. It is worthy of our attention and revolutionary to our spiritual lives.

You can find this volume here.


4 thoughts on “When Did You Die? –A Book Review with Observations

  1. Thanks for the reveiw! Is there a danger in “let go” leading to passive sanctification (quietism) where we just sit back and wait for God to make us better?

  2. Whenever I hear the phrase “die to self”, I am reminded of something I read in C.S. Lewis’s The Eternal Weight of Glory. He wrote, “The negative ideal of unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of love.”

    The Bible without a doubt contains a principle of dying to self, but because of experiences and observations, I have seen the “negative ideal of selfishness” lived out and expressed as well as the “passive sanctification” that Matthew Lyon above mentioned. But as you pointed out as well, “letting go of strident self control is a good thing”.

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