Christ did not (ultimately) come to earth for sinners. Sinners were put on earth for the sake of Christ, so that He might manifest His glory by saving them. Our salvation is subservient to Him and His glory, not vice versa. So yes, Christ came for sinners—and did so for the sake of His own glory. In Himself, simply considered as a person, He is more glorious than all the benefits of redemption He offers could ever be.
So says Mark Jones (a Presbyterian Church in America minister in Vancouver, British Columbia), and he is absolutely correct. Without hesitation, I can say that this 76-page gem is the best book I have reviewed this year.I graduated from a theological seminary two months ago, but found that A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Jesus Christ (Christian Focus Publications, 2012) is literally what its subtitle promises: An Introduction to Christology. I felt like I was shaking hands with Christology for the first time.
Jones takes the Bible’s teaching on the person and natures of the Son of God as gospel truth. When he says Jesus was fully man, he means it. As a man, Christ did not have any communication of power from His divine nature; rather, His ministry was empowered entirely by the same Holy Spirit who empowers our daily Christian life. On earth, He walked by faith, not by sight—just as we do. At the cross, He depended not on His own divine power, but on His Father by the Spirit.
Do you behold by faith the glory of Christ as God, as one person in two natures, and as the great mediator between God and men? It is that sight of Christ’s glory by faith that the Spirit uses to actually change His people and make them holy. If you want a glimpse of your Savior, read Mark Jones’ book.
The latest entry in his Bold Men of God series, Steve Farrar’s Real Valor: A Charge to Nurture and Protect Your Family (David C Cook, 2013) masterfully presents high-octane theological truth in a highly accessible style. This is the kind of book that a man who wants to follow Jesus but who doesn’t read books could read and profit from.
Farrar, a Promise Keepers speaker and chairman of Men’s Leadership Ministries, quotes Puritan theologians and the New Living Translation. His main point is that Elimelech (Ruth’s original father-in-law in the biblical book) abandoned God’s promises by moving to Moab when famine struck. There, he set his family up for failure by letting his sons marry foreign wives. He should have stayed in Bethlehem, working as an ordinary guy doing ordinary work during difficult economic times. That’s what Boaz did, and that’s why he prospered. But because of Elimelech’s foolish decision, he and his sons both died, leaving three widows. Naomi, Elimelech’s wife, brought Ruth, her daughter-in-law, back to Bethlehem, where Boaz was ready and waiting to protect these two helpless women.
Real Valor is rich in illustrations men can understand—things like Area 51, white bread, and the San Francisco earthquake. Above all, it seeks to instill in readers a confidence in the providence of God. No matter where you are, God has put you there. Be faithful in your tasks, because character matters far more than circumstances, locations, or opportunities.
What keeps Real Valor from being a moralistic tract (“Imitate Boaz; don’t be like Elimelech”) is its strong presentation of the good news that Jesus Christ (the Son of Boaz’s descendant David) obeyed God in the place of those who never could. Farrar’s book on Boaz deals mainly with Elimelech and Jesus Christ—because every Christ-bought, Spirit-transformed Boaz started as an Elimelech.
You can’t help but like the guy. Chad Norris is so down-to-earth, friendly, and real, he simply can’t be a crazy faith healer. Except that he prays for blind people, and they receive sight. He tells knees to be healed, and they get completely better. It’s weird, and as an upstanding, attention-evading Southern Baptist, Norris would be the first to agree. But it keeps happening, and he finally decided to write about it in Signs, Wonders, and a Baptist Preacher: How Jesus Flipped My World Upside Down (Chosen Books, 2013).
As pastor of life transformation at City Church in Simpsonville, S.C., Norris believes passionately that his parishioners—and all Christians—need to experience deeper intimacy with their Father. The point is not the signs, or the wonders, or the power; the point is humbly walking with the God who delights to work through His servants to bless His children.
In his youth, the death of a beloved grandfather, combined with pre-existing panic attacks, sent Norris spiraling into depression. He was there for years, a professing believer who loved Jesus but hated God the Father. Jesus always seemed merciful; the Father was mean, sending afflictions on His children. A godly counselor and a good church changed that view, and Norris learned that Jesus is the ultimate expression of the Father’s love. Now he asks suffering people, “If Jesus were here in the flesh right now, would He heal you?”
Very few say, “No.”
Clearly, Norris’ Christianity has a strongly experiential component that many Christians will find highly suspect. Charitable interpreters will appreciate his strong focus on prayer as the uniquely blessed means through which God tangibly loves and heals His children, a truth all Christians can endorse: Personal communion with God is not optional. As for the wacky healings—well, ask God. He answers prayer.