Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: The Names of Jesus

The Names of Jesus. Warren W. Wiersbe. 1997. Baker Publishing. 159 pages. [Source: Bought]

I loved, loved, loved, LOVED Warren W. Wiersbe's The Names of Jesus. This one is so good, so wonderful, that I'd recommend it to just about everyone! I expected to like it, to benefit from reading it, to learn a few things. But I didn't expect to LOVE it so very much. Each chapter is so good, so rich, so informative, so thought-provoking.

The premise of this one is simple: names in the Bible matter: they are significant, they reveal much.
Why should we study the wonderful names of Jesus? For this reason: every name that he wears is a blessing that he shares. The better we understand the names of our Lord Jesus Christ, the better we will know him. The better we know him, the better we’ll understand what he’s done for us and what he can do for us today. The names of Christ are revelations of his glorious character and his gracious ministry to his own people, and we want to appropriate by faith every blessing that he has for us.It’s a mistake to profess to trust Jesus Christ to save us and then go on living the way we please. Either the profession is false or we have a faulty understanding of who Jesus is.
Wiersbe wants his readers to KNOW Jesus, to know who Jesus is.

Part one focuses on the Names of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6.

  • Wonderful
  • Counselor
  • The Mighty God
  • The Everlasting Father
  • Prince of Peace

Part two focuses on the Names of Jesus from the New Testament

  • The Nazarene
  • The Pioneer
  • The Carpenter
  • Our Surety
  • Alpha and Omega
  • The Lamb
  • The Firstborn
  • Immanuel
  • Jesus

It also has an introduction, "What's In a Name?" and a postscript, "What is Your Name?" These provide a very nice framework for the book.

I believe I could gush about every chapter in The Names of Jesus. I wish I could talk about every chapter, to give this book all the attention it deserves.

Favorite quotes:
Whatever Jesus touched, he blessed and beautified and made wonderful. He longed for people to open their eyes to see the world around them: the splendor of the lilies, the freedom of the sparrows, the miracle of the children, the message of the wind. He took everyday bread and wine and gave these necessities a depth of meaning that transformed them into luxuries of God’s grace. A little seed suddenly becomes a sermon: “The seed is the Word of God.” Water becomes a picture of the Holy Spirit. A lost sheep is a lost soul. He wrote in the dust and confounded the angry religious leaders. Perhaps the greatest wonder of all was his transforming a shameful cross into the meeting place of God’s love and man’s sin.
Why people have a difficult time directing their steps isn’t difficult to explain. To begin with, our hearts are basically sinful and selfish, and our motives are mixed. Jeremiah says it accurately: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). How easy it is to say, “Well, if I know my own heart!” But the plain fact is that we don’t know our own hearts! Peter looked into his heart and thought he saw courage and stability, but when Jesus looked into Peter’s heart he saw cowardice and failure. “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water,” warns Proverbs 20:5. Not only is the human heart desperately and deceitfully wicked, but the human mind is severely limited. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8). “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become his counselor?” (Rom. 11:34). As we yield to the Lord and allow his Word to “renew our minds” (Rom. 12:2), we gradually learn more about his character and his ways, and we find it easier to determine his will. But we never come to the place in life where we can ignore prayer and the Scriptures and depend only on our own thinking.
When you trust Jesus Christ to save you from your sins, you become a part of eternity; you receive the gift of eternal life. Jesus has “fathered” eternity in the lives of all who have trusted him, and this involves much more than simply having our sins forgiven and knowing that we have a home in heaven.
Jesus came to earth to reveal the eternal, and he died that we might share the eternal. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Sin is the great obstacle to our experiencing eternal life. Sin isn’t eternal; only God is eternal. Sin is outside God and therefore produces death, for God is eternal life. Our nature partakes of sin and therefore is a stranger to the eternal. We were created in the image of God, and there is a hunger for eternity in our hearts. Until we do something about our sins, however, we will never share his eternal life.
When Jesus Christ was born at Bethlehem, time and eternity met in a person, a gift that was given. When he died at Calvary, time and eternity met in a price that was paid, and that price met the demands of God’s holy law and opened the way for sinners to be forgiven and share in eternity.
It took God’s Son coming to earth to strike the final deathblow that conquered sin. At Bethlehem he was made flesh and entered the human race. At Calvary he was made sin and bore the iniquity of the human race in his own body. The cross is the great meeting place of sinners and a merciful God: “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed” (Ps. 85:10). It took the blood of his cross to make peace between sinners and God, and one result of this peace with God is peace with one another. Once you’ve settled the war on the inside, you can start to settle the wars on the outside. “For He Himself is our peace,” writes Paul (Eph. 2:14).
What does it mean to you and me today that Jesus Christ was called “a Nazarene”? This name speaks to us of the grace of God. When Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world, he didn’t identify with Jerusalem (the leading city of religion), or with Rome (the great city of law). Nor did he come to Athens (the most prominent city of philosophy). Where did he go? He went to Nazareth; he identified with people who were despised and rejected, the poor and the needy. But the remarkable thing is this: the Lord Jesus took that despised name “Nazareth” and glorified it! He was known as “Jesus of Nazareth.” Wouldn’t you be happy to have your name identified with Jesus? Nazareth, a place despised by many, was glorified by Jesus Christ because he identified himself with it. The sad thing is that the people of Nazareth rejected him (Luke 4:16–30). A prophet is always without honor in his own country and among his own people (see Matt. 13:57).
We need not be afraid of the future because Jesus goes before us. He’s the Pioneer of life and will guide our path. He’s the Pioneer of salvation and gives us new experiences of joy and blessing as we grow. He’s the Pioneer of faith who wants us to grow in our faith, become stronger, and claim new territory in the inheritance he’s assigned to us. How do we follow the Pioneer of our salvation? Through the Word of God. The Lord has spoken to us through his Word, and it’s important that you and I study the Word, trust the Word, and obey it. Do you read your Bible daily and meditate on what it says? Do you pray daily and claim his promises? Whatever your burden or problem may be, take time to get alone daily with Jesus Christ, the Pioneer of life, the Pioneer of salvation, the Pioneer of faith. If you follow him, you will start to move forward in an exciting new way in your Christian life and testimony.
Christ is our assurance to God. We make promises to God that we don’t always keep. Jesus Christ is our assurance to God. We can’t keep ourselves saved any more than we could save ourselves to begin with! But Jesus Christ represents us at the throne of God, saying to God the Father, “I am their surety. Whatever they owe you, I have paid. Receive them as you would receive me, because they are my children.” Because of this, we Christians have the wonderful assurance that we cannot lose our salvation. We have a High Priest in heaven who lives forever. He stands before the throne of God as the guarantee—the pledge, the security—for our salvation. He is our surety forever.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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