I’m not sure how to answer that. I can’t really say until I receive more feedback from readers. I can only tell you how they have helped me. Their effect has been cumulative for the most part, but some specific questions have brought home vividly certain things I have needed to hear, such as God’s desire that I be more compassionate, just when I needed to hear them. As often happens when I’m writing a book, I become very conscious of his sovereignty along the way. Illustrations and anecdotes drop into my lap just when I need them. Other times something I’m learning is immediately applicable to my life at that moment.
I expect that the responses of readers will be as varied as they are themselves. The questions, like the rest of God’s word, are living and active and have a way of penetrating our defenses. And because they are questions, they demand our response. The questions will touch each of us in different ways, at different points in our lives. I think readers will come away with something new each time they consider the questions. But clearly our listening to Jesus ask his questions—which, when all is said and done—puts him in the driver’s seat, where he belongs, and where we need him to be.
How can Pastors and Christian Leaders benefit from thinking about the questions Jesus asked? Are there one or two ways in particular that you hope Pastors will grow as communicators of truth as a result of this book?
One of the things I was worried about when writing All That Jesus Asks was making more of the questions than is warranted. When I went to grad school, the hermeneutical phrase “context is king” was indelibly pressed into my thick skull. That is, to interpret a biblical verse or passage, we need to know the context: the surrounding chapter, the book, the place of that book in the flow of salvation history, and so on. Further, we have to remember that God uses many literary genres in his word to teach us: poetry, historical survey, epistles. I didn’t want readers to rip the questions out of context and miss other treasures in Scripture. So I worked extra hard to provide the context to the questions while being as clear as I could be about contemporary applications.
All That Jesus Asks will be ideal for Sunday school classes and Bible study groups to dig into the life and teachings of Christ. I have included discussion questions and an index of the questions for every chapter. I think believers and those still on the way will benefit from it, because Jesus questions all of us.
I hope pastors and other Christian leaders will benefit from the questions but will continue to dig deeply into Scripture for themselves. My book is definitely not the last word in understanding Jesus and us in relation to him, but if it helps us to see him in new and fresh ways, then all to the good. And perhaps the book will inspire people to look for other creative approaches to understanding and communicating Jesus also.
Do you anticipate this book being used evangelistically? Are there any of the questions of Jesus that you have found especially helpful in speaking to non-Christians about the gospel?
While I have had the privilege of leading a couple of people to faith in Christ, I’m naturally timid when it comes to sharing the gospel. But even when I am tongue-tied attempting to talk with others about Jesus, I can usually muster enough courage to hand them a book to read—particularly if that book is just what they are looking for. Just recently I was privileged to give a copy of Dinesh D’Souza’s superb apologetics book, What’s So Great About Christianity, to some loved ones. I would be thrilled if people did the same with All That Jesus Asks.
And I think they just might. The first section is an exploration of the identity of this unrivaled Questioner. The chapters attempt to answer the theme question—Who Is Jesus?—by looking at his forerunner, his teaching, his authority, his humanity, his mission, and his identity. There is a logical progression to them, and at the end of the section, non-Christians who have been grappling honestly with the questions will come face to face with the truth that Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” He asks us the same question today. Though the evidence is undeniable, the answer, in his sovereignty, is up to us.