Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus' Death and Resurrection - eBook
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Vendor: Reformation Heritage / Soli Deo Gloria
Publication Date: 2014
The Bible implores us to take a long look at Jesus, forcefully beckoning us to come and see through profound questions connected with Jesus' death and resurrection. These questions drive us to consider not just the events themselves but also their meaning as we take a long look beneath the surface and find more of the never-ending treasures of Christ. In Captivated, Thabiti Anyabwile invites you to set aside your early lessons on politeness and stare (yes, do stare) into the mystery of the cross and empty tomb.
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Pastor JoshMuskegon, MIAge: 35-44Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5This is an excellent and edifying book!April 3, 2014Pastor JoshMuskegon, MIAge: 35-44Gender: maleThabiti Anyabwile's latest work (published by Reformation Heritage Books) is both brief and theologically rich. Here, the author exhorts his readers to temporarily set aside the culturally established dictate that we shouldn't stare at others, and instead seize this opportunity to "take a long look at Jesus" (1).
He further explains that Scripture itself calls on us to regularly "behold" or "come and see" our glorious Savior - especially when it's raising profound questions about his crucifixion and resurrection. So, while people in our own day tend to become paranoid if we simply stare at them for too long, this book reminds us that - in Scripture - we are lovingly invited to consider the questions that are raised by and about Jesus, and by doing so to grow in our own love and appreciation for the one who accomplished salvation for all who trust in him.
The five questions that are raised throughout this 95-page book (not counting the last few pages of book advertisements) are as follows:
- "Is there no other way?" (Matthew 26:42)
- "Why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
- "Where, O Death, is your victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
- "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" (Luke 24:5)
- "Do you not know these things?" (Luke 24:18)
By contemplating each of these questions in turn, and offering a series of thought-provoking questions for personal reflection at the end of each chapter, the author reminds us that even in the questions of Scripture, God is still teaching us! Indeed, these verses, which are so often read yet so rarely reflected upon, are loaded with theological implications that should help us grow in Christ-likeness as we see what these profound inquiries actually mean for our lives.
When considering the question "Is there no other way?", which Jesus asks of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, Thabiti explains that, "As we ponder this question, we find that God's perfect will accomplishes far more than all our imagined alternatives. A no from God does more for our good than a yes to all our dreams" (6). He then proceeds to offer six biblical reasons why God the Father replied with a "silent no" to the Son, who raised this question to the Father three times while he anticipated his arrest and crucifixion.
One reason, according to Thabiti, is that "The one silent no in Gethsemane resounds in double duty in answer to the centuries-long question of whether God was fair to forgive. The cross proves that God is just in punishing sinners and in forgiving sinners who trust in Jesus Christ" (16-17). He then applies this to believers by reminding us that "Man owes God complete submission to His will. In Gethsemane, the only perfect Man bowed before God and concluded His prayer, Ã¢â¬ËNevertheless, not as I will, but as You will' (Matt. 26:39). Such is the heart mankind should have before God - a heart of complete submission and faith" (18).
When contemplating Jesus' cry to the Father from the cross - "Why have you forsaken me?" - Thabiti brings us back to the original context of that quote in Psalm 22, where we gain a much clearer understanding of what sorts of painful experiences cause us to feel "forsaken" by God. Specifically, we feel emotionally forsaken by God when our prayers seem to go unanswered (Psalm 22:2-3), when the righteous are forsaken and sinners are delivered (Psalm 22:4-5), when faithfulness seems to be repaid with abandonment (Psalm 22:9-11), and when our enemies seem closer to us than God (Psalm 22:12-21) (31-35). In all of these ways, our Savior experienced desertion from the Father as he hung on the cross, making atonement for sins that he had not committed, as an undeniable display of his love for us.
Truly, this is an inspiring and edifying book, reminding us of God's amazing love for us as it's demonstrated most clearly - through the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. By thoughtfully reading these pages, we should grow in our knowledge and understanding of the gospel, as well as in our love for Christ and in our desire to become more like him so that we, too, may honor God by the choices that we make. Though readers would do well to read this book in any season of the year, I believe it's ideally suited for use at Easter, when the Resurrection of Christ is most likely to be proclaimed with boldness from even the most timid pulpits!
KyleAge: 25-34Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5Good Concise DevotionalMarch 12, 2014KyleAge: 25-34Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4So often we can allow profound truths to pass over us. In our fast-paced, busy world, it is easy to go about our days and only take a glimpse at Jesus during a hurried 15 minute devotional. Do you remember the last time you took a hard look at Christ. The last time you stared at his glory and bathed in the reality of who he is and what he has done? I'm not asking if you remember the last time you prayed, or the last time you lifted your hands during a worship service; I am asking you if you remember the last time you meditated heavily on the person and work of Christ. I think for many of us, the busyness of life can cause Jesus to become more of an afterthought than a person who captivates us.
Thabiti M. Anyabwile's new book Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus' Death and Resurrection is a work that seeks to assist the Christian in meditating on the death and resurrection of Christ. Christians can become so caught up with the busyness of life and so concerned with the daily affairs of life that they can neglect being captivated by God and gospel realities. Consider our triune God, for all eternity, the three persons of the Godhead have delighted in the presence of one another. The Trinity has always been eternally captivated by one another. This means, that without any risk of ever being exhausted, there is enough glory in the Son to eternally captivate any created being. This truth also applies to the Father and the often-neglected Spirit, as well.
Though far from exhaustive (95 pages) Captivated is an excellent addition to anyone's library. Captivated seeks to take the reader into deeper reflection concerning various truths that are often simply glossed over. Instead of simply glancing at glorious truths, Captivated seeks to help the reader take a harder look.
Personally, as a seminarian and lay-leader, I plan on giving this book to new believers as well as more mature saints that feel they are not getting as much from their devotional times as they would like. I think this book will be very helpful to saints who desire to make the most of their devotional time and who sense a lack of enthrallment in their Christian lives.
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank Cross Focused Reviews and Reformation Heritage Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Le GalloisFranceAge: 45-54Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5A Great book to buy for someone at Eastertime.March 11, 2014Le GalloisFranceAge: 45-54Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4This is a little book of five chapters which, it seems to me, first saw the light of day as sermons. The writing style is sermonic - rhetorical questions, repetition, the style is oral rather than literary, and that makes for a nice, gentle read.
But the subject matter is far from gentle. Anyabwile turns the focus on the sufferings and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That makes this book review timely. This would be a good book to buy for someone around Eastertime.
Anyabwile does look long and hard at the experiences of anguish, of desertion, of death itself. But not in an unbiblical way. I'll explain what I mean. Paul says "Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture". To focus simply on Christ's death and to recount the agonies of crucifixion under the Romans may evoke horror, shock, sympathy, pity - but that's to completely miss the point. The point is that he suffered for our sins. And it's there, rather than on the detail of the physical sufferings, that the Bible would have us centre our thoughts.
That's why Anyabwile's book is so useful. It avoids the big mistake of things like the Mel Gibson film. The cross isn't announced unless you say WHY he hung and suffered there.
It isn't a flawless book. I felt that certain parts could do with further reflection. For example the section on death said many good things, but under the heading "Agony", saying "Death is agony" he talks about the rich man and Lazarus. He continues "Death is not a peaceful sleep or a lights out... Death is torment." Well maybe so for the rich man, but not for Lazarus. For Lazarus it was a welcome homecoming.
OK. Maybe I pick nits, but it behoves an author or a preacher to be as clear as possible.
The odd shortcoming like that apart, this is a good book! Buy it for someone this Spring.
D WallaceColoradoAge: Over 65Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5Captivating truths touched upon...March 10, 2014D WallaceColoradoAge: Over 65Gender: maleQuality: 4Value: 3Meets Expectations: 4"O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" 1 Cor. 15:50-58
In five relatively brief, evangelistic chapters, with each one asking a profound question found in Scripture, Anyabwile helps us reflect more deeply on several key truths revealed in the death and resurrection of Christ.
Synopses by Chapter:
1. "Is There No Other Way?" In the events just prior to Jesus' crucifixion, the author discusses what Jesus went through and why in the divine plan of redemption accomplished (the central acts of human history) and what God's Ã¢â¬ËNo' means for his glory and our salvation.
"God's greatest motivation for all His actions is the revelation of His glory in the universe. Everything He does is to show to the creation His own perfect beauty and flawless attributes. This is supremely true with our Lord's cross. When Jesus asks if there is any other possible way, it is as if He is asking, Ã¢â¬ËIs there another way to reveal Your glory more perfectly?' The answer cloaked in silence is no."
2. "Why Have You Forsaken Me?" What is the meaning of the abandonment of Christ in His crucifixion in: the rejection of society and abandonment by followers, seeming emotional betrayal, especially the hellish suffering as the perfect bond of love in the Trinity seemed broken and forever lost?
"(At) the separation of Father and Son at Calvary, we stare into the deep mystery and meaning of the cross and the resurrection. But the Father's abandonment of Jesus leads to the sinner's adoption. God abandons one perfect Son (temporarily) in order to adopt millions of sinful sons (and daughters). It is the only abandonment with any honor and redemption_ We must remember and treasure that Jesus willingly suffered all this so sinners can escape it. Jesus' abandonment means the sinner's adoption. He took our place on the cross so we can take His place in the kingdom."
3. "Where, O Death, Is Your Victory?" This rhetorical question is meant to cause us to think deeply about the eternal impact of the death of Christ for the believer. The ugly, hateful fact of physical death is bad enough, but even that fades in the light of the horror of the eternal death of an unbeliever, the second death for which there is no remedy. The death of death in the death of Christ has forever removed the prospect of that second, eternal death for all those who have received divine mercy and been welcomed into God's eternal family.
4. "Why Do You Seek the Living among the Dead?" This is a scriptural question that redirects us from: emotions to Scriptural truths, current events to the providence of God, the cross and death to resurrection, the law to the gospel, and grief to joy.
"Providence teaches us that history is not a blind, aimless march into nothingness and meaninglessness. History is the recorded orchestration of God's work in redeeming mankind through the cross and resurrection of our Lord_ The resurrection turns us from law-keeping to gospel-believing and from self-righteousness to an alien righteousness in Jesus Christ. It turns us from trying to earn God's love by our good deeds to freely accepting God's love as a gift through faith in His Son_ It is our privilege to keep preaching the gospel to ourselves and to one another rather than listening to the condemnation of the law. Every day we get to look deeper and deeper into the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection so that we may live in the riches of God's grace through Christ. "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" reminds us that we live in the completed work of Jesus ChristÃ¢â¬âsins completely forgiven, atonement completely made, justification completely declared, adoption completely accomplished, and glory completely secured. It is finished!"
5. "Do You Not Know These Things?" In this chapter, the author gives some helpful insight into spiritual epistemology (how we can know things reliably and on solid authority). Helpful, but not wholly sufficient sources of knowing are: our physical senses, raw facts, even Bible study and religious activity. But there are three things we must genuinely embrace: that Christ has indeed come in the flesh (vs. any Ã¢â¬Ëspiritualizing' of that reality); that Jesus of Nazareth is God's unique, heaven-sent, eternal, divine Son; and that He is Lord of all creation.
Pros: Orthodox, believing, generally sound theologically, sticks close to Scripture, insightful, helpful questions at the end of each chapter.
Cons: Book format is not especially easy to use; at $10 the list price seems high; even though short, can be a bit wordy.
Target Audience: Believers and those whom God is infallibly calling into His family, i.e., those in both camps who want to learn something more about the two most central acts of God in human history.
Recommendation: This is a good and helpful book worth reading slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully in light of Scripture. 4 solid stars.
Note: I received an electronic and hard copy of this book gratis from Reformation Heritage Books (highly recommended) via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a review.
Charles Savelle3 Stars Out Of 5Good but not greatMarch 6, 2014Charles SavelleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3This book is basically a topical treatment of five questions drawn from five texts (Matt 26:42; 27:46; 1 Cor 15:50-58; Luke 24:5; 18) related to Jesus' death and resurrection. The acknowledged sermonic origins are evident throughout. Each chapter concludes with study questions to facilitate personal or group study.
On the positive side, this book is well written and is a quick read. I also appreciate the fact that material is theologically sound. I suspect that when these messages were quite powerful when originally delivered.
However, for me this book was just not very captivating. The truths unpacked within are spiritually exciting and powerful but I feel that these thoughts were probably better heard than read. This is not all that unusual for books developed from sermons. I would be glad to recommend the book (there is some good stuff here) but I would suggest that the potential reader might want to scan an excerpt first.
Thanks to Shaun Tabatt and the folks at Reformation Heritage for providing the review copy.
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