Seeing Jesus (book review)

seeing-jesusB.B. Warfield once commented that the Old Testament is like a beautiful mansion, but the lights are turned off; with the Advent of Jesus, the lights have come on and we can now appreciate the beauty that was always there. In Seeing Jesus, Nancy Guthrie shows us the beauty of Jesus that is on full display from the opening words of the Bible, shining a bright light on passages that many may have previously missed.

Sadly, a lot people mistakenly believe that Jesus first shows up at His birth in Bethlehem, forgetting that Jesus Himself said that all the Scriptures point to Him. Nancy does just what Jesus said: She links together passages from both Testaments to show how all the Scripture finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Each chapter opens with a passage from the Old Testament and a passage from the New Testament. Then Nancy masterfully shows how Jesus links the two Testaments by the work He completed at Calvary. I appreciate how there is a satisfying conclusion to each chapter, but also how there is an open door to explore each particular topic more in my own Bible study time.

Especially for those who have thought the Old Testament is confusing, or outdated, or even boring, Seeing Jesus will bring a whole new excitement and insight into your Bible study time.

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

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What If Jesus Had Been Physically Weak?

physical-healthWe have been exploring the whole health of Jesus, as Dr. Luke recorded it in Luke 2:52. In this verse Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom (mental health), stature (physical health), in favor with God (spiritual health) and in favor with men (emotional/social health). Being unhealthy in any one of these areas will ultimately pull down the health in all of the areas.

The life of Jesus shows us that we, too, must strive to live wholly healthy lives.

Yesterday at Calvary Assembly of God, Scott asked a challenging question: “What if Jesus hadn’t been strong enough to make it to the top of Calvary’s hill?”

Think about the excruciating torture Jesus went through—

  • He was sleep deprived.
  • He was dehydrated from His intense prayer time in Gethsemane, where He sweat blood.
  • He was emotionally depleted from having all of His friends abandon and deny Him.
  • He was beaten multiple times by temple guards and Roman soldiers.
  • He was brutally whipped to the point that His back muscles and nerves were exposed.
  • He had thorns crushed into His scalp.
  • He had His beard ripped out.
  • He had to carry a 60- to 90-pound wooden crossbeam nearly 650 yards uphill.

All of this took place before He had metal spikes slammed through His wrists and ankles, and then was hoisted up rudely into the air to be suspended from His Cross.

Jesus went through all of that for you and me. In making it all the way to the point where He said, “It is finished,” He fulfilled every prophesy concerning His death.

The only way Jesus could have made it through this is if He was at optimal physical health.

If Jesus had died from exhaustion or heart attack or loss of blood before He was actually nailed to the Cross, how many of the prophesies would have been left unfinished? He needed to keep His physical body in tip-top shape throughout His entire earthly life in order to be ready for this one crucial moment.

Being physically weak makes it difficult for us to…

  • …think clearly (mental health)
  • …concentrate on the things of God (spiritual health)
  • …control our emotions and respond appropriately to other people (emotional/social health)

So we, like Jesus, must work on our physical health. God has a plan for your life. In order for you to fulfill all God has in mind, you must be wholly healthy. Are you taking care of your physical body? If you’re not, you are slowly robbing all of the other areas of your life of the strength they need.

If you’re not as physically healthy as you could be, what are you willing to do differently?

Check out this 3-minute clip where Scott asks us what physical health changes we’re willing to make for God’s glory…

What Child Is This Anyway?!

christ-the-kingA couple of years ago as we were setting up for our Living Nativity, I was wrapping a towel around the doll we were going to use for the infant Jesus. A young boy from the community was carefully watching me and he asked, “Is that baby Santa?”

“No, it’s not Santa,” I said. “See this manger? We’re getting things setup to tell the story about the very first Christmas, long before St. Nick came on the scene. Maybe you’ve heard about Mary and Joseph?”

The young lad’s eyes lit up as he seem to get the answer. “Oh! Is that baby Moses?!”

Clearly, people don’t know all the facts surrounding the first Advent of Jesus. Sometimes things in culture and church get jumbled—what belongs to which? Is Christmas a pagan holiday? Where do Christmas trees come in? Was the birth of Jesus actually on December 25? What does it all matter anyway?

Instead of running from these questions, Christians should use them to point people in the right direction. 

Have you heard the tune called Greensleeves? It’s been around longer than anyone knows. William Shakespeare referenced it in two of his plays and didn’t feel the need to explain it to his audience. The tune has been set to some pretty bawdy words about New Year’s Eve parties, and even as a mocking song to some folks about to go to the gallows. And then in the mid-1800s William Chatterton Dix used this tune to write words about Christ’s birth in What Child Is This?

What an excellent question! Who exactly is this Child? Is Jesus merely a line on the pages of history? Or is His birth something more? Oswald Chambers noted, “The tremendous revelation of Christianity is not the Fatherhood of God, but the Babyhood of God—God became the weakest thing in His own creation, and in flesh and blood He levered it back to where it was intended to be. No one helped Him; it was done absolutely by God manifest in human flesh.”

The first-century historian Luke simply records that Mary is pregnant with “a child.” That is, until Jesus is taken to the temple in Jerusalem eight days later, and we see that a man named Simeon didn’t just see this Child as any baby, but as a fulfillment of prophesy (see Luke 2:25-32; Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6).

This Child is much more than just a historic person. He not only split history into BC and AD, but He has changed my life, and countless others’ lives as well! That’s why the chorus of this Christmas carol joyfully announces, “This, THIS is Christ the King!”

People may be confused about what tradition belongs to culture or Christendom. You may even be confused about what belongs to which. But none of that should stop us from knowing the Child we celebrate this Christmas. None of that should stop us from helping seekers to find Jesus as their own Savior. None of that should stop us from enthroning Jesus Christ as King and giving Him the highest praise He deserves!

Jesus used common, everyday things—farmers, fish, trees, weather, children’s songs—to tell people about a Heaven that was prepared for them. Paul used the cultural idols and poets to point his community to Jesus. Philip used the Scripture a governmental official was reading to point him to Jesus.

So we, too, can use whatever is around us to point people to Jesus this Christmas! What Child is this? This, THIS is Christ MY King! Merry Christmas!!

Little Is Not Insignificant

gods-promise-to-youPastor Phillips Brooks visited Israel in the mid-1800s. While there he visited a small church just outside of Bethlehem. Listening to the worshipful songs being sung in that quiet countryside, he was inspired to pen the words to O Little Town Of Bethlehem.

Because of that quiet setting, notice how Rev. Brooks notices things we often miss—

  • little town on Bethlehem
  • in thy dark streets
  • while mortals sleep
  • no ear may hear His coming

But little does not mean insignificant. And just because we can’t see or hear something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or it isn’t important.

Sometimes we’ve looked and listened and waited and searched for so long that we have given up and we begin to drift off to sleep. We continue to live in our own “little town” surrounded by silence. And we are in danger of missing a miracle right in our midst!

We know today that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But did you know that this little town was still so obscure in Christ’s day that many people in Israel were unaware of what went on there? (See John 7:41-43). Even after King Herod had gruesomely killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem, scarcely anyone outside of that town knew about it or cared about it.

But God cared. And He knew exactly what He was doing.

But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son (Galatians 4:4)—the exact right moment—to be born in Bethlehem—the exact right place (Micah 5:2). Notice even Micah says of Bethlehem though you are small among the clans of Judah, giving birth to the title of Rev. Brooks’ poem.

How small was it? Look at the description of the territory for the tribe of Judah (in Joshua 15), and you can easily glossed over the names of all of the towns. But look more closely and you will see something you didn’t read in that list of towns. Take a close look at all 38 cities: it’s still missing.

There are a couple of very notable figures that dominate the Old and New Testaments, and they have something in common—King David and Jesus both come from the tribe of Judah. And both of them were born in Bethlehem. But in the list of towns in Judah’s territory, there is absolutely no mention of Bethlehem.

This town either didn’t exist, or it was so “insignificant” that Joshua didn’t even think to mention it. It would be almost another 500 years before David would be born in Bethlehem, and then another 900 years after that before Jesus would be born in this little town of Bethlehem.

God had in mind for the greatest earthly king in Israel’s history and the King of all kings to come from such humble origins… from a village that didn’t even make the list. Bethlehem was ready for these kings at just the right moment!

Jesus said heaven and earth will pass away, but His words will never pass away. What promise in His Word do you need to cling to? 

Just as those awaiting the Messiah clung to Micah’s promise until it came to pass, you must find God’s promise for you in His Word, cling to it, and don’t let go until it comes to pass in your little town.

10 Quotes From “Light & Truth—Revelation”

light-and-truth-revelationHoratius Bonar gives excellent insights into the themes in Scripture. Having him as a guide through a challenging text like the Book of Revelation is a precious resource. Check out my review of his commentary Light & Truth—Revelation by clicking here.

“The tendency of the present age is to set aside prophecy as specially belonging to the supernatural, and therefore the incredible and impossible. Let us stand aloof from this incredulity, and welcome the prophetic word as all the more precious because supernatural and specially divine. … Prophecy is a sure word, and it is as blessed as it is sure. Woe to him who slights it! Blessed are all they who meditate on it, seek to know it, and take it for guidance and counsel in the evil day!” 

“Have we realized our own dignity? Do we feel the honour, the privilege, the responsibility of being kings and priests? Do we act, live, speak, feel accordingly? Do our glorious prospects tell upon us now? Are we walking daily in the anticipation of what shall be? Are we working, praying, praising, giving, suffering, denying self, under the influence of that honour which shall so soon be ours?”

“The world scoffs at the message, and believes in no advent save the advent of gold and silver, of commerce and science, of luxury and pleasure. The Church has lost sight of it, and says, ‘My Lord delayeth His coming.’” 

“Is the Church ready for this glorious day? Has she put on her apparel? Has she trimmed and lighted her lamp? Has she filled her vessel with oil? Is she sitting loose from the world? Is she remembering her coming Lord, and seeking to be faithful to Him in His absence? He has entrusted to her His cause, His truth, His honour. Is she alive to her responsibility, and acting accordingly? Is she realizing His nearness and His glory? Is she daily influenced by His sure world of promise, ‘Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with Me?’ Is she labouring and suffering for Him? Or is she self-indulgent, worldly, indolent?”

“Be patient under wrong, and suffering, and weariness, and hope deferred! Fret not! He that believeth doth not make haste; the Lord is at hand; the kingdom is about to come; the tribulation will soon cease; the joy will soon begin; and once begun, it will never end.”

“Live, and act, and walk as sons of morning. Let the world recognize you as such. Let there be streaks of dawn seen upon you.”

“Pity a dark world, and its dark children, that have no hope and no morning before them. Point out the Morning-star to them; bid them look at it; tell them what its anticipated brightness has done for you. Win souls to Christ. Draw many into the kingdom by your words and by your walk. There is little time to lose; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”

“It is not lukewarmness occasioned by the cold passing gradually into heat, but that produced by the heat passing into the cold. … Church of the living God, beware of letting your temperature sink even one single degree.”

“Be separate from the world. Abstain from fleshly lusts. Lay aside all filthiness. Walk soberly. Beware of earth’s folly and idle laughter. Set your affection on things above. Be prepared for suffering. Endure hardness. Take up your cross daily and bear it aloft, and be not ashamed of it. The footsteps of the old saints are still visible on the sands of time. Follow them. Their voice is still heard, and their hand still waves, beckoning you to follow. Believe what they believed.”

“Watch, for satan tries to lull you asleep. Watch, for the world, with it riches, and vanities, and pleasures, is trying to throw you off your guard. Watch upon your knees. Watch with your Bibles before you. Watch with wide-open eye. Watch for Him Whom not having seen you love.”

I will be sharing more quotes from this powerful book in the near future. You can enter your email address by the box that says “Sign me up!” to be notified immediately when these quotes are posted. And be sure to follow me on Tumblr and Twitter for a daily dose of notable quotes.

9 Quotes From “Of Antichrist And His Ruin”

Of Antichrist And His RuinJohn Bunyan’s works are steeped in Scripture. His thoughts about the Antichrist and other end times events are either directly taken from biblical passages, or else his line of reasoning fits perfectly with the intent of the Scriptures. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some quotes I found enlightening.

“Coercion, in anything connected with religion, whether it imposes creeds, liturgies, or modes of worship, is Antichrist: whom to obey, is spiritual desolation, and if knowingly persevered in, leads to death.” —George Offor, editor

“As God therefore did put it into the hearts of the wicked kings of Babylon, to distress in His church and people for their sins; so He put it into the hearts of the kings of the Medes and Persians, who were to be, in a sense, their saviors; to ease them of those distresses, to take off the yoke, and let them go free.”

“This twenty years we have been degenerating, both as to principles, and as to practice; and have grown at last into an amazing likeness to the world, both as to religion and civil demeanor.” 

“Take heed in laying the cause of your troubles in the badness of the temper of governors. … God is the chief, and has the hearts of all, even of the worst of men, in His hand. Good tempered men have sometimes brought trouble; and bad tempered man have sometimes brought enlargement to the churches of God: Saul brought enlargement (1 Samuel 14:28). David brought trouble (2 Samuel 12:10).) Ahab brought enlargement (1 Kings 21:29). Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did both sometimes bring trouble (2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:35; 32:25). Therefore, the good or bad tempers of men sway nothing with God in this matter; they are the sins or repentances of His people, that make the church either happy or miserable upon earth.”

“Antichrist is the adversary of Christ; an adversary really, a friend pretendedly. So then, Antichrist is one that is against Christ; one that is for Christ, and one that is contrary to Him (and this is that mystery of iniquity [2 Thessalonians 2:7]). Against Him in deed; for Him in word, and contrary to Him in practice. … Christ prefereth His Father’s will above heaven and earth: Antichrist prefereth himself and his traditions above all that is written, or that is called God, or worshiped.”

“Nor can all the fallen angels, with all the members and limbs of Antichrist, cause that their brat should abide so much as one day longer than our God’s prefixed time.”

“Now, by ordinances of Antichrist, I do not intend things that only respect matters of worship in Antichrist’s kingdom, but those civil laws that impose and enforce them also; yea, that enforce that worship with pains and penalties, as in the Spanish Inquisition. … What could the king of Babylon’s golden image have done, had it not been for the burning fiery furnace that stood within view of the worshipers (Daniel 3)? Yea, what could that horrible command, to pray for thirty days to neither God nor man, but to the king, have done, had it not been for the dark den and the roaring lions therein ready to devour those that disobeyed it (Daniel 6)? … For as the furnace would have been next to nothing, if void of fire; and the den as little frightful, if destitute of lions; so these laws will be as insignificant, when Christ has slain that spirit that is in them; that spirit that causes that as many as will not worship the image of the beast, should be killed.”

“What say ye now, ye sons of God! Will you learn to make a judgment of things according to the mystery of the wisdom of God, or will ye longer conclude according to sense and reason?”

“Cold blasts in November are not received with that gentleness as are colder in March and April; for that these last cold ones are but the farewell notes of a piercing winter; they also bring with them the signs and tokens of a comfortable summer. Why, the church is now at the rising of the year; let then the blasts at present, or to come, be what they will, Antichrist is assuredly drawing towards his downfall.”

40 Questions About Your Religion

The Mathematical Proof For ChristianityDan Delzell wrote a very thought-provoking book—The Mathematical Proof For Christianity—which gives skeptics a lot of evidence to contemplate. As I said in my review of this book (which you can read here), this is a good book for Christians to read with a skeptic as a great conversation-starter about the Christian faith.

Dan also presented this list…

“The true religion is a match to all 40 questions:

  1. Which religion was started by a prophet who never did anything wrong?
  2. Which religion produces scores of people who speak out against injustice and work hard to correct it?
  3. Which religion fulfills hundreds of prophecies that were written down hundreds of years before the prophet fulfilled them?
  4. Which religion produces followers who have established thousands of hospitals, orphanages, and homeless shelters?
  5. Which religion, when practiced correctly, empowers followers to turn the other cheek when being mistreated?
  6. Which religion began with a leader who died, but then came back to life?
  7. Which religion, when practiced correctly, produces followers who do not judge others or look down on them?
  8. Which religion produces a tender love for God in heaven, rather than lingering fear and trepidation?
  9. Which religion do people turn to in tough times and when disaster strikes?
  10. Which religion has done the most to advance the rights of women?
  11. Which religion details historic events that are supported by plenty of archeological evidence?
  12. Which religion is based upon documents that are better preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writings?
  13. Which religion began with a prophet who is loved and even worshipped by millions of followers?
  14. Which religion has been around for thousands of years and continues to expand around the world?
  15. Which religion teaches that eternal life in paradise is a free gift through faith in its prophet?
  16. Which religion has millions of followers who experience tremendous peace as a result of their prophet?
  17. Which religion, when practiced correctly, produces followers who are quick to forgive rather than to seek vengeance?
  18. Which religion offers the forgiveness of sins based solely on the goodness and sacrifice of the prophet?
  19. Which religion, when practiced correctly, produces genuine humility before God and man?
  20. Which religion teaches that you cannot earn your way to heaven?
  21. Which religion produces men and women of justice who speak out when others are committing atrocities?
  22. Which religion, when practiced correctly, lines up with the humble and compassionate attributes of the prophet?
  23. Which religion seeks to bring help to the hurting, comfort to the sorrowful, and encouragement to the downcast?
  24. Which religion, when practiced correctly, produces genuine love, joy, peace, and patience?
  25. Which religion requires divine revelation in order to understand it?
  26. Which religion rules not by force, but by love, as demonstrated by the prophet?
  27. Which religion has produced the most freedom of religion in the world?
  28. Which religion turns man’s body into a temple where the Spirit of God comes to reside?
  29. Which religion, when practiced correctly, has done the most to advance the rights of minorities?
  30. Which religion gives followers the grace to say ‘no’ to ungodly passions?
  31. Which religion produces people who long to improve the lives of those from other religions?
  32. Which religion cares as much for the unborn and elderly as it done for the youthful and strong?
  33. Which religion has done more than any other to help turn communities into places of freedom and safety for all?
  34. Which religion provides a personal assurance of salvation based solely on the sacrifice of the prophet?
  35. Which religion has a prophet whose name is used by many as a curse word?
  36. Which religion, when practiced correctly, produces followers who focus on their own sins rather than the sins of others?
  37. Which religion can turn a terrorist into a loving peacemaker?
  38. Which religion teaches that your works become ‘good’ in God’s eyes only after you accept the prophet through faith?
  39. Which religion will you wish you had followed on Judgment Day?
  40. Which religion is the answer to all 40 questions?”

To read some of the other quotes I shared from this book, please click here.

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