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Have I shared the heart behind this book here yet, though? My prayers for it follow the three main parts of the book, plus two important additional sections near the end.
Part 1: To Know That Jesus is Greater Than You Knew
I loved researching for this book, especially Part 1, which is all about Jesus’ surpassing greatness. As a believer since college days, I’ve always “known” Jesus was great above all, just as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are great above all. What’s made the difference this time has been encountering him as the one person who’s lived a perfect human life.
In one sense, I could relate to Jesus more on that level; and naturally so, I think, since I live my own human life every day; my own imperfect human life, that is; in fact, my own wildly imperfect human life. I’ve never studied the comparison — or rather, the lack of comparison — between Jesus and the rest of us so closely. I’ve been stunned by it. It’s driven me from head worship to worshiping him with my whole being.
And apparently I’m not the only one to be surprised by it, judging from book endorsements and reviews. JP Moreland wrote, for example “I have never approached the gospels in this way and, with Gilson’s guidance, I have come to love, respect, and worship Jesus with renewed vigor and insight.”
So my first prayer is that this book will ignite more and more love and worship for our astonishing Savior, Jesus Christ, in thousands of Christian hearts.
Part 2: To Know That He’s Too Good To Be False
Still we have to face the question, It’s a great story, but is it true? I’ve been satisfied for years that it is, for many reasons ranging from history, to philosophy, to the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my life, to the lived experience of following Jesus in Christian community. Now I have one more. As Josh McDowell put it in his endorsement, “This book takes a fresh look at the uniquely great character of Jesus, and finds in his greatness a new and compelling case for the truth of his story as presented in the Gospels.”
Jesus’ character as presented in the Gospels, I’ve found, is too unique, too consistent, and too good to be explained as anything other than reality. Skeptics want to put the story aside as legend, but legends don’t create characters like Jesus. No great genius has done it; why should a story-scrambling legend-building process?
The case against skeptics’ legend theory is strong. So my second prayer is that this book will convince both seekers and skeptics to follow Jesus, and equip believers with more confidence in him.
Part 3: To Follow Jesus, No Matter What
Jesus is really that good, and he’s really real, which gives us all the reason we need to follow him no matter what. The world may criticize us for being sufficiently pluralistic, but we’ll follow him no matter what. We all struggle with life’s hard parts, but we’ll follow him no matter what. The Western world is turning newly hostile to Christ, but we’ll follow him no matter what.
You can guess my third prayer: that thousands of Christians will be emboldened to follow Jesus, no matter what.
Epilogue: To Encourage Pastors and Leaders in Their Teaching
The epilogue stands separate in a way, and in a way it also explains the rest of the book. It tells how I modeled Too Good to be False after the example of the Bible’s book of Hebrews. Hebrews was written to believers coming under pressure to give up their faith — a situation paralleling the direction Western Christianity is heading now. So how does a biblical writer encourage believers in that situation? By telling how great Jesus is. By giving reasons for confidence. By urging them to follow Jesus no matter what.
My fourth prayer is that Christian leaders will pay special attention to the second of those, reasons for confidence, which we’ve overlooked too often.
The Study Guide: To Grow Together
Finally there is the study guide. I wouldn’t overlook its importance for a moment. Individuals can use it for deeper understanding of the book, but my real hope (my fifth prayer for the book) is that groups will use it to grow in Christ together: to worship him more deeply, grow in confidence, and follow him no matter what.
Image Credit(s): Pixabay/Myriams-Fotos.