Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Walking with Jesus Through His Word:Discovering Christ in all the Scripture

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For the longest time in my Christian life, I had little use for much of the Bible.  That sounds terrible, but it was how I functioned and, sadly, how many others do as well.  It is too easy to become a “red-letter” Christian and, in doing so, to discount or discredit large sections of God’s inspired Word.  Walking with Jesus through His Word by Dennis Johnson is a great new release from P&R Publishing that will rewards all who spend time in its pages.  Actually, it will reward all who spend time using it to help them navigate through the pages of Scripture. Because that is exactly what it is intended to do.

Johnson serves as guide to help the reader in “Discovering Christ in All the Scriptures.”  As poor bible teaching and infrequent bible reading has increased, the great truths of the Scriptures find themselves farther and farther off the beaten path.  It is helpful to have a Christian teacher to guide us pilgrims as we progress through the Scriptures (sorry, that was bad…but I am going to leave it!)  Johnson leads the way in opening God’s Word and showing the reader how to find Christ on these pages; not just in the Gospels or the New Testament but from cover to cover.

Johnson recounts a famous story from C. H. Spurgeon’s life where Spurgeon was encouraged to “climb hedges and ford ditches” to travel from any text in the Scriptures to the resurrected and reigning Messiah.  A large benefit of this volume is that Johnson shows that, while the heart behind that admonition is laudable, it is not necessary to blaze paths through Scripture to find the Messiah.  Some paths may be more difficult to traverse, but all of the Bible leads to the Christ.  Johnson follows this travel/journey motif throughout the volume.  “I am suggesting that learning to trace the lines, to follow the paths, that link passages throughout the Scriptures to Jesus at the center is comparable to a traveler’s task of finding the way to a destined location.”  He helps the reader to recognize where we are, to learn how to read the “road signs,” get the lay of the land, and recognize the landmarks.  It is essentially a bible-overview with a focus on seeing how the Scriptures all pertain to the Christ (Luke 24:27).

The Bible helps us understand the Bible.  It is hard to read the New Testament and understand without the Old Testament, and it is hard to read the Old Testament without the aid of the New.  “We have reason to read the whole New Testament as the commentary given to us by Jesus, our risen Lord, to help us grasp the message of the Old Testament as it leads us to him.”

This book is perfectly written for small groups or a discipling relationship.  It is clear and engaging.  It is quite enjoyable.  Where it shines in reference to small groups is in the format.  Johnson offers a clear explanation of where the chapter is going and a great closing summary before helpful study questions.  Each chapter also recaps, succinctly but sufficiently, the material that has already been covered.  It is incredibly helpful to have a refresher each time you jump into a chapter, even if it is a bird’s eye paragraph or three.  Chapters discuss techniques for reading and interpreting Scripture, and they have a “putting it into practice” section that allows the reader some guided practice.

This is a great book, and it deserves to be used widely.  I am excited to use this book with my family and with others.  One of my great desires is to see many people, myself included, come to a greater understanding and enjoyment of God’s revealed Word.  Walking with Jesus through His Word will go far in fulfilling that desire.

I received a review copy from P&R Publishing.