Book Review: A Guide to True Peace

“A Guide to True Peace” by William Backhouse and James Janson, compiled and reset by Jim Wilson from the 1815 original (public domain). Ninety pages.

  • Critical read 
  • Must read 
  • Good read 
  • Read if you want 
  • Read something else

Why read this book: True disciples of Jesus, as described by Jesus Himself, will be those who love their God with all of their being. Love Him far more dearly than they love anyone or anything else in this life. According to Jesus, that love will constrain them and produce full obedience to His commands, not by human effort but by the surrender to love that will allow Christ to live life in us. These disciples must without exception surrender their entire living over to him in a way described in terms of self-denial, crucifixion, and in renunciation of all possessions and all competing loves. Their lives are to be considered as crucified and completely taken over by the Holy Spirit who indwells them.

Furthermore, these disciples walk in a kind of conversational communion with His Spirit. They hear what our God discloses to them by the speaking of the Spirit within them. The life of the disciple can be measured not primarily by behavioral performance but by union with Himself and therefore with the Father as well.

In this book, Backhouse and Janson explain how we can experience all of these descriptions of New Covenant living on a daily basis. They unpack the simple practices of those who are joined into Christ Himself and who are inhabited and enlivened by His life and Spirit within. The simple practices in the book can unlock surrendering and submitting to the union, conversational communion, and indwelling life of Christ as we go through each day.

The point of the book: Backhouse and Janson sought to write a guide into the deeper spiritual life, a life of unadulterated love for our God and total surrender to Him every day. In this they succeeded. I found myself able to read only two or three pages per day due to the need to carefully consider what was being said. Everything in the book is intensely practical to seeking to know, love, and surrender to the Spirit of Christ every day. It is in truth a guide to to the New Covenant life within. For those satisfied with the religiosity of the today’s institutional churches that passes for Christianity and who do not long for a Great Commandment love for our God and the life-changing influence of the Holy Spirit, the book may not make sense.

Impact: This book, written by two Quakers, has been continuous publication since the 1815 edition came out. It has been the inspiration for a deeper, more holy and committed life in Christ for millions over the last two centuries. Many of our greatest influences in this time frame have been influenced by this book, including Murray, Sparks, Nee, Simpson, and Tozer.

Quotes: (The following quotes are from the original format, which is not updated into more modern vernacular. This is considered by many the best format, and I found it to not be burdensome despite the 200-year-old style. One need only to adjust to reading long sentences with lots of commas and semi-colons.)

“It is certain from Scripture that the Spirit of God dwells within us, that a”manifestation of the Spirit is given to us to profit withal,” (1 Corinthians 12:7) and that this is “the true light that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). “This is the Grace of God, which bringeth Salvation, and which hath appeared unto all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” Titus 2:12). But we make too little account of this internal Teacher, which is the soul of our soul, and by which only we are able to form good thoughts and desires. God ceases not to reprove us for evil, and to influence us to that which is good; but the noise of the world without and of our own passions within, deafen us, and hinder us from hearing Him.”

“We must retire from all outward objects, and silence all the desires and wandering imaginations of the mind that in this profound silence of the soul, we may hearken to the ineffable voice of the Divine Teacher.”

Similar readings: Andrew Murray, “The Indwelling Holy Spirit” and “The Kingdom of God Is Within You.” A. B. Simpson, “Christ Life.” W. Ian Thomas, “The Indwelling Life of Christ,” “The Mystery of Godliness,” and just about anything else he wrote. Vance Pitman, “Unburdened.” Watchman Nee, “The Normal Christian Life.” A.W. Tozer, “The Crucified Life,” and “The Pursuit of God.” John Eldredge, “Walking With God.” Malcom Smith, “The Power of the Blood Covenant.”

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