My to-read-soon stack of books is an embarrassment of riches. So many great Christian books already bought, paid for, and waiting to be read when Rev. Dr. Matt Richard sent me an advanced reader copy of his new book, Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?
Is this book important? John wrote:
Truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30)
What we believe about Jesus is vital to belief and life in his name. Jesus asked, “Who do men say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15) This question still is before all people. It is before you and me. It is before everyone you care about.
But what do you mean, “real Jesus?” Don’t we already know the real Jesus? Well, maybe, but maybe not. Jesus said false christs would come and “deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22) John said, “even now many antichrists have come.” (1 John 2:18)
In his introduction, Pastor Richard identifies and explains three major reasons why there are false christs, why we invent false christs, and why we are prone to accept false christs other people offer us. These reasons and their dangerous fruit do not afflict only unchurched people. They plague the church.
That makes this book important on two fronts:
- to strengthen the faith in your family and church; and
- to give you a good ear and a few words fitly spoken in evangelism to those people outside the church that you care about, whose minds are held in bondage under false notions about Christ.
I was not expecting the evangelism side of this. But it turns out, besides the Small Catechism, this book could be the most important and practically useful book you read in a decade to help you proclaim Christ to those you would be sorry to see miss heaven. The day this book came in my mail, I had just been in a conversation with two unbelieving colleagues that was riddled through and through with the third reason Pastor Richard says people have false christs. Wow, I thought, I wish I had read this before that conversation.
Have you felt a deficiency in knowing what to say or how to say it? This book teaches in easily learned ways the recurring faulty views of Jesus that people have, how to identify what is going on with people’s thinking about Jesus, and how with patience and scriptural truth to introduce people to the Jesus of the Word.
People really do see Jesus as just a moral example, a good teacher, one option among many, a mascot, a therapist, a giver of bling, a national patriot, a social justice warrior, a new Moses, a mystical friend, a teddy bear, and the feminized. They really do. This book can help you recognize these views infecting people you know and give you a confident word to say to them. This book not only identifies and exposes the false christs, but in it, the real Jesus does stand up.
Pastor Richard has met and talked with many people under the sway of these false christs. He presents typical conversations as they really happen. Each chapter has a section on how to respond to people in such conversations. Each chapter is followed by thought or discussion questions. A leader’s guide at the end of the book gives a guide to answering the questions.
It is easy to see that this book could be used:
- By fathers with their teenage and college-age children.
- As a marriage enrichment tool that provides ready-made conversation starters for husband and wives to talk about the most important thing in life, our Savior. Men, it’s husbandly and manly to talk about Jesus with your wife. Your wife will love and admire you for it, and gain a new sense that you love her.
- In a high school Sunday School class.
- In a men’s reading group. (Yes, men should be in reading groups. It’s a manly thing to do. Real men talk with each other about Jesus.)
- As a core around which pastors could plan retreats.
Probably the widest use of this book will be simple reading by individuals who know that “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3). This book proclaims the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, that you may be strengthened unto eternal life.
Do yourself and everybody in your life a favor. Buy this book now, and prioritize reading it.