Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners

Posted by Naomi Vacaro on

By Dane Ortlund
By Danielle Dammeyer


In 2021, the Lord used the book, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund to point out some misplaced beliefs I had concerning God’s disposition towards me. Reading that book changed my life and sparked a level of spiritual growth that I hadn’t experienced since my conversion. So, when I saw that Dane had written a follow-up book, I was eager to read it.

In Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners, author Dane Ortlund explores nine aspects of the Christian life that are not taken advantage of by most believers. He argues that a lack of understanding in these areas can stunt spiritual growth. Ortlund points out these flaws with utmost gentleness. There is no sense that he is approaching the reader with a judgmental attitude, shaming them for not knowing more. His posture is that of a compassionate teacher who desires the believer to experience the full benefits of life with God.

The first chapter focuses on Jesus as the foundation of the nine aspects explored in the book, as Ortlund maintains that the only real way to grow is to look to Christ. The author spends a large portion of his book developing a robust Christology, and his introductory chapter provides a strong foundation for such a goal. In the following chapters) Ortlund invites the reader to consider the role of self-despair, our union with Christ, God’s steadfast love for His children, the doctrine of justification, confession, suffering, God’s Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s growth.

Ortlund’s greatest plea is that the Christian would look to Christ. “If you do not look to Jesus, no amount of techniques or strategies will finally help you; all will be for nothing. Peel back every layer of distraction and look to Christ” (Ortlund, p. 172). Each doctrine Dane investigates is intended to remind the reader of the Gospel. The Gospel is not only the means by which we are saved but also the means by which we are sustained day by day, growing up into Christ-likeness.

My Thoughts

Deeper is thoughtfully written with the intention of magnifying Christ. Ortlund Scripture and references to prominent theologians, in order to provide a biblical foundation for his own beautiful words. His analogies and word pictures are thought-provoking and add clarity.

This meaningful book is not an easy read. There are some sections that are more academic and could be difficult for newer believers to understand. Deeper seems to be written for more mature believers, as it assumes that the reader has an understanding of more complex Christian doctrines such as justification and sanctification.

If you enjoyed and benefited from Gentle and Lowly, you will likely enjoy Deeper as well. Although Deeper is not technically a sequel, I would suggest reading Gentle and Lowly first. Deeper accomplishes a similar feat to Gentle and Lowly in that it compels the reader to find Christ more beautiful. It is in Jesus Christ alone that our hope is found. We do not simply add Christ to our own efforts, but it is Christ’s atoning work and the Spirit’s illumination that work together to accomplish our justification and life-long process of sanctification. Deeper releases the believer from any type of works-based sanctification and points us to look to the Gospel: the good news of Jesus Christ.

A stay at home mom and youth pastor's wife in Fort Wayne, IN. She holds a Master's of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and loves all things cozy, learning new things and making to do lists.
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