Every Friday, I plan to share select quotes from a book I am either currently reading or have previously read. Few things have impacted my faith and life as much as reading has. This will be just one way I promote books and reading. These articles will be for the dedicated reader who loves to gain insight from as many books as possible. They will also be for the Christian looking for new books to read. I am always on the lookout for new books to read. Hopefully some things I share will lead you to pick up a new book. Finally, these articles will be for those of you too busy to read. Hopefully these quick quotes will provide you with easy access to books you would otherwise not have time to read. Each article will include a brief discussion of the author and his work followed by ten (or more) pertinent quotes from the book.
I seem to always be looking for books that are just hard to find. I really enjoy biblical commentaries, but would love to find some that are helpful for devotional style reading without forsaking robustness. They are hard to find. I also love concise theological works that may not address all the issues on a topic, but lay out the basics in a biblically and theologically rich manner. There are a few of these, but they are still difficult to track down.
One reason I love these concise theological works is that they are so helpful for non-believers and new Christians. I am always looking for books to pass along to curious non-believers and new converts. While John Frame and Wayne Grudem have written two of the best systematic theologies in the last 50 years, I would prefer a new Christian’s first look at Christian theology to be a little lighter than 1000 pages. Finding concise theological works is great for discipling children and youth as well. While even these shorter works are often too deep for most children, many teenagers can tackle them, especially in a group setting.
J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology is an excellent choice. It is the go-to work I pass along to new Christians and curious non-believers. It is comprehensive and gives a solid and trustworthy overview of Christian theology from a Reformed perspective. But for non-believers and new Christians, I believe it’s best to read one of these concise works on a particular topic: the person and work of Christ. Bruce Ware’s The Man Christ Jesus is helpful here. But one of the best short theological works on the death and resurrection of Jesus, specifically in the last few years, is Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, written by Thabiti Anyabwile.
Captivated is a short and steady meditation on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Anyabwile’s goal is for readers to “behold His face and be satisfied as we’re changed from one degree of glory to another in Him.” To be captivated by anything, we must gaze and behold the beauty of a thing. This is exactly what Anyabwile does in Captivated. He helps readers gaze into the beauty of Christ and behold him as an all-satisfying treasure.
If you are a non-Christian considering the claims of Christianity, a new believer, or a longtime believer, Captivated will help clarify your mind and captivate your soul to the heart of the Christian faith. Here are ten quotes to get you started:
1. Only Jesus ends the war between God and man with a peaceful solution. If Jesus does not go to the cross, then God will win the war with a final and terrible judgment against man for his sin. Sinners cannot fight God and win. Having Jesus as our Mediator is the only way for us to be reconciled to God.
2. God’s greatest motivation for all His actions is the revelation of His glory in the universe.
3. The only perfect Father found occasion to deny the only perfect Son because such denial achieved the only perfect goals: a perfectly qualified high priesthood, reconciliation through the only God-man Mediator, loving atonement for the sins of men, the vindication of the Father’s righteousness, and the ever-redounding glory of the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father.
4. Gethsemane’s silent answer rings eternally in the loud joyous praises of the universe.
5. But on that dark midday on Golgotha, when the sun refused to shine, the unimaginable and indescribable happened. That beautiful, shining, loving face of the Father withdrew into the dark, frowning, punishing face of wrath.
6. Death is dead. Jesus destroyed it in His death and resurrection. It was impossible that death should ever have victory over the Author of life.
7. Life lived in light of the resurrection includes radical sacrifices in faith.
8. The death, burial, and resurrection free us from having to keep the law in order to be reconciled with and justified before God.
9. The resurrection turns us from law-keeping to gospel-believing and from self-righteousness to an alien righteousness in Jesus Christ. It turns us from trying to earn God’s love by our good deeds to freely accepting God’s love as a gift through faith in His Son.’
10. Only one infallible way of knowing the truth about who Jesus really is and the power of His resurrection exists. We must have our eyes opened by God.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor of Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. They have one son, Jude Adoniram.