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Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life's Biggest Questions Hardcover – November 19, 2013
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Praise for Timothy Keller and Encounters with Jesus
"Keller's work belongs on the bookshelf of every serious Bible student. It is not a quick read, but, instead should be savored like fine wine, one sip at a time to glean the full impact of his life-changing message." —Examiner.com
"Keller has mined the gold from these texts of Scripture, and any Christian is bound to have their minds expanded and hearts stirred, even if they have read these accounts countless times." —Graceforsinners.com
"Tim Keller's ministry in New York City is leading a generation of seekers and skeptics toward belief in God. I thank God for him." —Billy Graham
"Unlike most suburban megachurches, much of Redeemer is remarkably traditional. What is not traditional is Dr. Keller's skill in speaking the language of his urbane audience. . . . It's easy to understand his appeal." —The New York Times
"Reverend Tim Keller [is] a Manhattan institution, one of those open urban secrets, like your favorite dim sum place, with a following so ardent and so fast-growing that he has never thought to advertise." —Newsweek
"The most successful Christian Evangelist in [New York City] . . . With intellectual, brimstone-free sermons that manage to city Woody Allen alongside Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Keller draws some five thousand young followers every Sunday. Church leaders see him as a model of how to evangelize urban centers across the country, and Keller has helped 'plant' fifty gospel-based Christian churches around New York plus another fifty from San Francisco to London." —New York
"Using literature, philosophy, and pop culture, the author gives convincing reasons for a strong belief in God. It is refreshing to read a book that presents a religious view without being overly critical of the secular side presented in other books." —Library Journal
"It's a provocative premise, in pursuit of which Keller—known for drawing cosmopolitan urbanites to his Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan—takes on nonbelievers from evolutionary biologists to the recent rash of atheist authors." —The Boston Globe
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Timothy Keller was born and raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Bucknell University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. His first pastorate was in Hopewell, Virginia. In 1989 he started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons. Today, Redeemer has nearly six thousand regular Sunday attendees and has helped to start more than three hundred new churches around the world. He is the author of Hidden Christmas, Making Sense of God, The Songs of Jesus, Preaching, and Prayer, as well as The Meaning of Marriage, The Prodigal God, and The Reason for God, among others.
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In this book of encounters with Jesus Tim Keller mines spiritual gold.The first five chapters are based on talks given by Keller to students – most of whom were spiritual skeptics – at the Town Hall in Oxford, England in 2012. These first five chapters reveal the foundational teachings of Christianity and the astonishing character of Jesus in particular as he encounters Nathanael, the Samaritan Woman and a Pharisee, Mary and Martha, Guests at a Wedding Party, and Mary Magdalene. In each of these encounters important questions are addressed to and by Jesus and one learns how to read the Scriptures copiously and glean the answers to life’s greatest questions. Questions such as: What is the world for? What’s wrong with the world? Can anything or person make the world right? How can we be part of the solution to making the world right?
Keller’s thesis is that “if you want to be sure that you are developing sound, thoughtful answers to the fundamental questions, you need at the very least to become acquainted with the teachings of Christianity. The best way to do that is to see how Jesus explained himself and his purposes to people he met–and how their lives were changed by his answers to their questions.” Therefore, the first half of this book is devoted to encounters “others” had with Jesus.
The second half of the book is devoted to how we can encounter Jesus today in the 21st century. How can we be changed by Jesus? How can we know Jesus intimately and personally? How can we discover what the people discovered in the biblical encounters with Jesus in my own life? The second half of the book is based on talks that Keller delivered at the Harvard Club of New York City over a period of several years. Keller was addressing business, cultural, and governmental leaders – highly educated individuals who shared their doubts and questions with Keller. Therefore, by highlighting pivotal events’ in Jesus’ life – his temptation with Satan, his sending of the Holy Spirit, his road to the cross, his ascension, and his incarnation – we learn of the significance of the Person and work of Jesus Christ in the Gospel.
I think this book is an especially good book to give to spiritual skeptics. With the holidays coming upon us it would make a great gift for friends, people you work with, and loved ones whom you desire to know Jesus personally and intimately. Keller writes cogently, concisely, and compellingly. He wisely interprets and applies each encounter with Jesus and highlights why we all need Jesus in our lives. For each human being there is no greater encounter that we can have than with the person and work of Jesus in and on our behalf. I highly recommend this book to quench your thirst for the only One who can satisfy our thirst – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tim Keller has established himself as one of the top evangelical writers of today, especially in writing to an audience of skeptics and unbelievers. He has been given a unique gift and ability to interact with the intelligent skeptics on their level, which is most clearly seen in his bestseller, The Reason for God. Because of his church's placement in the middle of Manhattan, surrounded by the young, intellectual-type, Keller has honed his ability to interact on their level with the truths of Scripture and Christianity.
In his new book, Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life's Biggest Questions, Keller is at it again. The book comes out of two series of lectures that Keller presented a couple of years ago. The first series of lectures was given at an Oxford Town Hall in Oxford, England in 2012. Over 5 nights, Keller spoke to a group of students — most of them skeptics — on the various encounters that individuals had with Jesus in the Gospel of John (xii). These make up the first 5 chapters of the book, where in each chapter Keller looks at a different interaction that Jesus had with people in John. These include the conversation (1) with Nathaniel in John 1; (2) with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman in John 3-4; (3) with Mary and Martha in John 11; (4) with Mary, Jesus' mother, in John 2; and (5) with Mary Magdalene in John 20.
In each of the five conversations, Keller looks at a different fundamental life-question that Jesus is addressing in his conversation with the individual.
Chapter 1 - Where should we look for answers to the big questions of life? Where shouldn't we look for answers?
Chapter 2 - What is wrong with the world the way it is?
Chapter 3 - What, or Who, can put it right?
Chapter 4 - How can He put things right in the world?
Chapter 5 - How should we respond to what He has done?
As you read each chapter, Keller exegetes the passage at hand in the clear and concise way that we have all come to expect from Keller, which is what makes reading his books so profitable and enjoyable.
The second section of the book transitions from the conversations Jesus had with individuals in the Gospel of John and moves to how we, today, can encounter Christ — how we can encounter Him as savior. The basis for these chapters was a series of talks that Keller gave at the Harvard Club of New York City, where he "spoke at regular breakfast meetings to business, government, and cultural leaders over the period of several years" (xv). In these final five chapters, Keller looks at some of the pivotal events in the life of Jesus as they are presented in the Gospels.
Chapter 6 - He overcomes evil for us
Chapter 7 - He intercedes for us
Chapter 8 - He obeys perfectly for us
Chapter 9 - He leaves earth to reign for us
Chapter 10 - He leaves heaven to die for us
Now, you may be thinking, "Why didn't Keller include the 3 best-known event in Jesus' life — His birth, death and resurrection??" Keller addresses this on page 104, saying that these events are more familiar to us, and generally more clearer to us. It is not, by any means, that he does not view these as "pivotal events" in the life of Jesus. Rather, he focuses on 5 pivotal events that are less known to us, and because they are less known to us, their significance to the Christian faith is less clear to us.
Not really knowing what the book was all about when I first got a copy of it, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was written, as I've already said, in a very clear and concise manner, as well as in a very engaging manner. As with many of Keller's other books, I think I could use this for a variety of contexts. I could use it with a believer to think more deeply about the truths of Christ, who He was, and what He has done. But I could also use it with an unbeliever. Because of Keller's writing and teaching style, I think that the book would not be, on the surface, intimidating and threatening to an unbeliever. But I think that as an unbeliever worked through the book, he would come face to face with the Jesus of the Scriptures and the truths of the Gospel. Keller says, as he ends the introduction, that his hope is that "whether you are looking at these accounts for the first time or the hundredth, you will be struck again by the person of Christ and what he has done for us" (xvii). His hope certainly became a reality for me as I read the book, and I trust it will for you as well. I would definitely recommend you getting a copy for yourself, and if you have an unbelieving friend who would be willing to read this with you, get them a copy too. You'll be glad you did.
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank Dutton Publishers for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.