Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Consider Him" by Sanders

Jen Ferg and I are beginning the daunting (but exciting!) task of spending a year studying the life of Christ. We're going to teach this topic to some ladies in a challenge group. So, I'll try to include all of the cg teaching notes when they become available as well as any book reviews of books I finish on the topic.

The first book I finished, I finished today. It's a J. Oswald Sanders book; but not his best book on the topic of Christ. I think it's pretty well-accepted by all that his best book about Jesus is "The Incomparable Christ". But, how is this book, the book called "Consider Him" ?

I have to say, I'm a huge fan of Sanders. I've never read a book by him that I didn't like. And while this book is no exception, I do feel like I should say (to be fair) - that I would not recommend this book if asked for recommendations. The reason, is that it is kind of all over the place. There is no way to follow his train of thought or there is also no way to really learn anything concrete. You can be inspired. You can be excited to begin a deeper study into the life of Christ. I certainly was. But, that alone does not a good book make. His other work is far more useful.

Having gotten that negativity out of the way, though, let me share some of the high points.

At certain points, he focuses in on small strange details about Christ. For example, he looks at Christ's hands. And quotes several verses about the hands of Christ, and then talks about what deeper meaning is represented in those verses and in Christ's hands themselves. And while this is not stellar interpretation practice (allegorical), yet, it does make my mind begin to race in new and creative directions.

And I think that's the point of this book. To "Consider Him". Sanders, (and God too, by the way) think that it is worthwhile in our Christian lives to pause and spend time thinking about Christ. He starts this short book by bringing up some of the verses that urge us to consider Him:

"Consider Jesus Christ...Consider Him who endured" (Heb. 3:1, 12:3)

Among the many benefits of this practice are: it will "cure our self-satisfaction", "deliver us from self-pity", be the "antidote for discouragement", and "prove a stimulant for lethargy".

"To many are vocally sorry for themselves and feel that life has given them a raw deal. They feel misunderstood and neglected. "Consider Him that endured". Was He misunderstood, badly treated, unappreciated, misjudged? He knew what it was to be misjudged by His family. Compared with His, our trials are trivial...His own intimates doubted, denied, and forsook Him. Yet He endured. Consider Him, and take heart again." (p.9-10)

He gives practical advice for making what is sometimes called "The second decision" - the decision to allow Jesus to reign as Lord in your life. He says, "We must do the following: 1. make a break with the past and vow that other lords shall no longer rule. 2. decisively renounce all known sin and disobedience 3. enthrone Christ alone, and refuse to acknowledge any other name; 4. depend on the Holy Spirit - "no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3)." (p. 103-104)

And he ends talking about being ambassadors for Christ. I'm excited to be doing this study, for sure. I can see how studying this topic will be life-changing.

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