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Book Review: Jesus: A Theography

Let’s face it. The Bible is often viewed as a disjointed array of stories, events, laws, propositions, truths, ethical statements, and moral lessons. But as we will demonstrate in this book, the sixty-six books of the Bible are woven together by a single storyline. One of the best ways to look at the twenty-seven books of the New Testament may be to see them as a commentary on the Old Testament. The entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are unified by a common narrative. And once our eyes are opened to see that narrative, everything in both Testaments gels into a coherent, understandable, and amazing story. And what is that story? Well, it’s not enough to call it “salvation history” as many people do. No. It’s the story of Jesus Christ. The end product of biblical Christianity is a person— not a book, not a building, not a set of principles or a system of ethics— but one person in two natures (divine/ human) with four ministries (prophet/ priest/ king/ sage) and four biographies (the Gospels). But those four biographies don’t tell the whole story. Every bit of Scripture is part of the same great story of that one person and that one story’s plotline of creation, revelation, redemption, and consummation.

Sweet, Leonard; Viola, Frank (2012-10-02). Jesus: A Theography . Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Jesus: A Theography, by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, is quite a book at 409 pages. A significant number of those pages consists of footnotes for each chapter. This immense “theography” of Jesus covers Christ, from eternity past to His second coming (and everything in between). It’s not only an objective study of Christ, but also very practical at times.

Honestly, Jesus: A Theography is a difficult book to review. I found some parts of the book very enjoyable, but other parts somewhat tedious. There are different perspectives taken throughout the book and I think that this ensures that every reader will find some enjoyment of Christ within its pages.

If you enjoy reading the Scriptures, there are references. If you enjoy types and symbols, these are considered. If you enjoy a historical view, historical aspects are presented. Plus, I think you will find much, much more. But, you can find all of these things in many books.

What makes Jesus: A Theography unique, is that it’s entirely focused on Christ. Not only Jesus of Nazareth, but the eternal Christ Jesus. Our Lord Jesus is so lovely, so vast, and so all-inclusive, there is no single book that can fully express Him. But, Jesus: A Theography gives us a wonderful view of Him, and it is rooted in the Scriptures.

I recommend this book to all saints, who desire to know our Lord more deeply.

Although, I received this book for free from Booksneeze, but I also purchased an electronic version, so that I could read the footnotes more easily, and so that I could share it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with theFederal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Encountering Christ in Colossians by Frank Viola

Today, Christ has lifted my sorrowful face. He has encouraged me. He has been my Peace. On top of that, through Frank Viola‘s podcast, I have enjoyed a fresh sighting of the vastness and fullness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Check out His recent podcasts:

Encountering Christ in Colossians: Part I

Encountering Christ in Colossians: Part II

Encountering Christ in Colossians: Part III

Encountering Christ in Colossians: Part IV

Encountering Christ in Colossians: Part V

Here is my favorite quote from the second part:

Christ’s inexhaustible fullness is humanity’s sufficiency.

May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened to truly see and enjoy the reality of this immeasurable Christ!

“Revise Us Again” by Frank Viola

Are we living by the script of Jesus Christ, or have we strayed from the script given to us by God? In “Revise Us Again”, Frank Viola points out some of the problems that he sees in the script, by which, many modern Christians are living. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this book. Adam Verner is the narrator. He narrated the book well and had an enjoyable voice. The book was quite short and I was able to listen to it several times.

In my opinion, the major issue in this book is overcoming the differences that separate us as Christians. These differences have formed denominations and have hindered unity. Two of the differences mentioned in the book are: how God speaks through us and our spiritual conversation styles. If only we saw that many of our differences are given to us by God and reveal to us a fuller image of Christ. Other differences, the ones that are born of ourselves, should be laid aside if they hinder unity. Unfortunately, we are too focused on ourselves and not focused on Christ and His eternal purpose. If we were, we would be united in Him. Lets embrace our differences as Christians and learn to see Christ in others that are different from ourselves.

In my opinion the last chapter of the book is the most important. This chapter describes three gospels that people believe in. These three gospels are: libertinism, legalism, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Libertinism is attractive to the flesh, because you are free to sin. Legalism is attractive to the will, because it is your will accomplishing the work. Neither libertinism, nor legalism, are real gospels. Instead, they are false gospels. The true gospel, which the apostle Paul preached, is Christ. He is the narrow path, our highway of holiness.

The chapter on the dark night, was one that I wish I had read before I experienced it. This is a time when it seems as if God has walked off the stage. The dark night is like removing the spiritual training wheels. When you are reliant on the felt presence of God, He removes that feeling of His presence, and it can be world-shattering. We must keep faith in Him, even when we can’t feel His presence.

I enjoyed “Revise Us Again”. Not everything in the book moved me, but I think there is something in it for everybody. I am sure that, if you read it with an open mind, you will learn something from this book.

I received this book free from christianaudio.com through the christianaudio Reviewers program.

Ministries and Occupations

Watchman Nee

Image via Wikipedia

Watchman Nee once pointed out that when the Lord called people to His work, their God-given ministries were often prefigured by their secular occupations.

For instance, when the Lord called Peter, he was casting his net and bringing fish onto the shore. What was true in the natural ended up being true in the spiritual. Peter’s ministry centered on fishing for men. His emphasis was evangelism, and he brought many lost people to Christ (just think of Pentecost in Acts 2).

When the Lord apprehended Paul, he was building tents. And his future ministry reflected this. Paul was more of a spiritual builder, a “master builder” as he put it in 1 Corinthians 3. His emphasis was to build the church into the fullness of Christ. So Paul spent most of his time grounding and enriching the believing communities to gather under the Headship of Christ, establishing them deeply into Christ, unveiling to them God’s eternal purpose – or “the whole counsel of God” as he once put it.

When the Lord apprehended John, he was mending a torn net. We see in John’s later writings (1 John, 2 John, and 3 John) that he is bringing the church back to center . . . back to first things . . . back to “the beginning” of Christ as life, love, and light in a time when these elements had been lost. The tent that Paul built was falling apart during John’s day, so John prophetically began to repair it by restoring God’s original thought, bringing His eternal purpose back into view.

So Peter casts the net, Paul builds the tent, and John mends the tent. All three men were Christian workers in the Lord’s vineyard, but each had a different emphasis and disposition.

In my observation, Neil is a lot like Peter. His major focus seems to going out to the sea, casting the net, and bringing the fish on dry land and encouraging God’s people to do the same. Some have described my on-the-ground ministry to be more like Paul’s – the building of the tent – the constructive work of building the house of God to fulfill the eternal purpose “from eternity to here.” By contrast, my writing ministry in books like Pagan Christianity and Jesus Manifesto are very much along the lines of John’s ministry of repairing the torn net.

Whether that’s accurate or not, here’s my point. The ministries of Peter, Paul, and John are not to compete with one another. Instead, they are to complement one another. The body of Christ needs the ministries of Peter, Paul, and John. And each person needs the other.” – Frank Viola, Neil Cole & Frank Viola Discuss Missional Organic Church

In my opinion, this is a very interesting idea. How does your God-given ministry correspond to your secular occupation?

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