It’s popular today to hear people say, “You believe what you believe but I don’t believe that”. When you ask people to elaborate on what they believe and why they believe it, you are likely to get them to state something to the effect of “I feel this way”. Are our beliefs based on only on our feelings? Moreover, many people also state that religion is private and doesn’t need to be shared publically. Others earnestly contend that Jesus is just another religious teacher or prophet. So who is Jesus and what has He come to do? Does it even matter if we believe in Jesus at all? The historical Christian answer to that question is it does matter. It matters because Jesus came as the God-man to live a sinless life, to bled, to die, to rise, ascend, and serve as the Mediator of the New Covenant, Intercessor, and High Priest of His people. Since all of that matters what could be better than a book that tackles not only what our culture is saying about Jesus, but also what Jesus Himself said. Dr. Tim Keller’s book Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions, tackles these important questions.
Encounters with Jesus is essentially a collection of ten encounters of Jesus with people in the Gospels. As Dr. Keller examines these encounters, he takes both a wide and narrow lens. With a wide lens, he zooms out to see what the culture is saying about Jesus. On the narrow lens, Keller takes us into the world of the Bible. The combination of understanding what people are saying about Jesus and what Jesus Himself has said is a potent and explosive formula that will help both Christian and skeptics better understand the work of Jesus. Books like this are important for several reasons in our culture so as I conclude this book review, I’d like to focus on two specific reasons why I think you should read this book.
First, reading this book will help you understand that Jesus is not just some teacher or prophet. Conversely, He is the Son of God, Son of Man, and the Lord Jesus Christ. He was not defeated at the Cross, but rather rose from the dead and now serves as the High Priest and Intercessor over His redeemed people. This is especially important to understand because people are increasingly coming into our churches with limited to no biblical framework on how to understand how Jesus desires to invade their lives with His story of redemption and why he seeks reconciliation of them with Himself. It is precisely for this reason why Encounters with Jesus is so important.
Finally, many Christians, even those with a background in the Church, do not understand what our culture is saying about Jesus. Some of this is because they reject everything the culture says as unhelpful or ungodly, so they toss it out immediately never trying to interact with or understand the cultural perspective with a view to engage those views with the Word of God and the Gospel, demonstrating the superiority of the Christian worldview. Keller does a masterful job with keeping one ear to the culture and his eyes firmly entrenched on the Word of God. The culture today is rapidly changing, but the Church has a timeless message in the Gospel because behind that message is an unchanging God whose promises are yes and amen in Jesus Christ. As Keller engages the person and work of Jesus Christ, his model for how we engage others with the Gospel is noteworthy, demonstrating the need to not assume anything, to be as clear as you can, and above all, to be explicitly biblical and gospel-centered. Encounters with Jesus is an excellent book because it helps seekers and those who think Jesus is just some teacher or prophet to understand that He is in fact who He claimed to be, the Son God and the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ who bled, died, rose, and ascended for His people.
To read Encounters with Jesus is to step into a world where Jesus is King, to come to grips with who He is and what He has done, and His claims on all of our lives. The Puritans taught Jesus often divided the audience between those who were playing religious games and those who were serious about following Him. It is in this spirit that Encounters with Jesus shines the most and why I recommend you read it. Keller’s effort will help you understand the claims of Jesus, the person of Jesus, and why that matters. I recommend this book for seekers and for every lay Christian or scholar to read and digest so they can come face to face with the risen Christ. Even as a Christian of many years, I was challenged and blessed by this book and I pray the Lord will use this book in the life of His people. Furthermore, I pray Jesus would use this book to open the eyes of the blind to what He has done in His death, burial, and resurrection so they might come to know and serve the risen Lord Jesus.
Author: Tim Keller
Publisher: Dutton Adult (2013)
I received this for free from Dutton Adult book review program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”