Commentary by Jack Kelley
As many of you already know, my newest book, The Redeemer, became available this week. Since it’s a little different from my previous efforts I want to give you some background on why I wrote it.
Why Did You Do That?
The current trend among ministries like ours is to tap into all the different social networking media in an effort to broaden their audiences. And while we’ve begun to do that as well, we’ve also been taking a look at what the world would be like if suddenly there were no internet ministries.
There are three reasons why I think it makes sense for someone in my position to consider this. First, of course, is the rapture of the Church. Without Christians around to maintain them, Christian websites would soon disappear too. And try as I might, I just can’t imagine asking one of my non-believing friends to take over in my absence if I should suddenly disappear, although that could certainly be the spark to ignite a conversation of a different sort. The problem is if the conversation resulted in the friend’s conversion I’d be right back in the same situation. I’d have to find someone who is not a believer now, but was guaranteed to become one right after the rapture. So far the Lord hasn’t revealed such a person to me.
The second reason is an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack. A nuclear warhead detonated in the atmosphere above the US would send an electromagnetic pulse hurtling to Earth at the speed of light. Depending on the height, the location, and the power of the explosion it could destroy all computers and other electronic devices in the US instantly. No more internet. No more electronics of any kind. Experts say this is where we are most vulnerable to terrorists because the capability already exists, it’s a relatively inexpensive weapon, and we have no defense against it.
The third reason is something that’s also in the works. The UN is persisting in their effort to gain control of and regulate the internet. One of their stated goals is to eliminate hate speech, but as we know in some people’s view hate speech includes Biblical Christianity. This is partly due to the fact that we’re opposed to homosexuality and abortion, and believe that non-believers will be condemned. If the UN gets the power it wants, Bible study websites like ours could soon be censored to the point of ineffectiveness.
For these reasons, I concluded that we should also pay attention to some of the more traditional means of mass communications, and that includes writing books. Books are more durable. Once they’re in circulation no one can push a button somewhere and erase them. In short they’re better suited to times of political uncertainty.
What’s It All About?
So then the question became what to write about. My experience answering Biblical questions over the past five years has taught me that a lot of Christians really don’t know very much about our faith. At some point in their lives they chose to become believers, but because there are so few opportunities for meaningful discipleship, they frequently just go on living as they had before. If someone asks them to explain their faith, they have a hard time doing so because what little knowledge they have is largely hearsay. And as for having a meaningful discussion with a curious non-believer, forget about it.
The majority of today’s believers are represented by the seed that fell among thorns in Matt. 13:7, which is part of the Kingdom Parables. Jesus described them as being unfruitful because they are too concerned about the things of this world (Matt. 13:22). According to recent surveys over 90% of people who call themselves Christians fall into this category. Now I’m not questioning their salvation. I’m talking about their fruitfulness. Salvation is not a fruit bearing event. It’s what we do after we’re saved that determines our fruitfulness.
An apple tree is born because the seed that was planted in the ground has germinated and produced a new life. It grows to maturity and begins to produce apples. Although the tree was alive from the moment it sprang forth from the soil it wasn’t considered to be fruitful until it produced more of its own kind. After all, apples aren’t just for eating. They’re also for producing more apple trees.
So it is with believers. We’re born again because the seed of the gospel was planted in our heart. But although we’re a new creation from the moment we believe we’re not considered to be fruitful until we produce more of our own kind. We’re not just for singing and praising God. We’re also for producing more Christians (Matt. 28:19-20)
From this I determined that three groups of people could benefit from knowing more about what Christians believe and why we believe it. In no particular order, they are curious unbelievers, new believers, and long time believers who want to become more fruitful.
After some prayer and reflection on this, I felt like the Lord had told me what to write about and who to write it to. I divided the message into eight parts, which became the book’s eight chapters. Eight is the number of new beginnings and it’s my prayer that many who read the book will be motivated to begin their life anew, whether by deciding to become a believer, or by having their faith strengthened through a deeper understanding of what the Lord has done for them.
Chapter 1. The Redeemer Is Promised
The book begins at the beginning, explaining how mankind became estranged from God and why we need a redeemer to bring us back to Him.
Chapter 2. The Redeemer Awaits
Chapter two is an overview of what God was doing between the time He promised to send a redeemer and the time of His actual arrival. Think of it as a very brief summary of the Old Testament as it concerns man’s redemption.
Chapter 3. The Redeemer Is Given
This is the Christmas story. To show that the Redeemer is the focus of the entire Bible I made liberal use of Old Testament prophecies that foretold of His coming.
Chapter 4. The Redeemer In Ministry
This chapter is devoted to a summary of things Jesus taught us about what He had come to do and why it was important for us to understand that He wasn’t starting a new religion. On the contrary, He was trying to re-establish a relationship.
Chapter 5. The Redeemer In Victory
This is the longest chapter in the book and gives a day-by-day description of His official presentation as the Redeemer, His final days of teaching, His crucifixion, and His resurrection, eight days that changed everything between God and man.
Chapter 6. The Redeemer In The Church
Following His ascension, the men He had trained and mentored began to build His Church. This chapter shows how the Church began, why and when the New Testament was written and what effect the Redeemer has had in the world. It ends with a prayer that allows those who began reading out of curiosity to become children of God.
Chapter 7. The Redeemer In Prophecy
Jesus didn’t die for us just so our sins could be forgiven. He died so whoever believes in Him can have eternal life. Chapter 7 explains why Christians have a right to believe there’s a future in store for us that exceeds our wildest expectations.
Chapter 8. The Redeemer Returns
We conclude with a summary of end times events that will take place after the rapture. It shows how God will fulfill the promise he made so long ago to reverse the devastating effects of sin and restore planet Earth to its origial condition.
I wrote the book in simple straight forward language so even people who are not believers could see the importance of changing their lives and becoming born again. I included hundreds of Bible references within the text so new believers could use the book as a study guide to help them understand what our faith is all about. After a few hours of diligent study with nothing but this book in one hand and and a Bible in the other, a new believer can come away with a greater understanding of our faith than most seasoned veterans have. These references will also help long time believers search the Scriptures to prove whether what I’ve written is true in accordance with Acts 17:11, and rekindle the flame of faith they had at the beginning.
As I did with my last book, I’ve included an appendix with eight of our most popular studies on prophecy, eternal security, and faith. These will facilitate continued growth and understanding.
All that said, I think The Redeemer will accomplish its stated goals in the life of anyone who reads it with a sincere desire to learn. I also think it will make an ideal gift for a person who has expressed interest in our faith, whether as a prelude to a personal discussion or to supplement one you’ve already begun.
Of course, you’d expect me to say something like that. After all, I wrote the book. The best way to see if I’m right is to get a copy and read it for yourself. Selah 01-26-13