“So that in everything He might have the supremacy.”
Christians have made the gospel about so many things—things other than Christ. Religious concepts, ideas, doctrines, strategies, methods, techniques, formulas, "its" and "things" have all eclipsed the beauty, the glory, and the reality of the Lord Jesus Himself. On the whole, Christians today are starved for a real experience of the living Christ. We know a lot about our Lord, but we don't know Him very well. We know a lot about trying to be like Jesus, but very little about living by His indwelling life.
JESUS MANIFESTO presents a fresh unveiling of Jesus as not only Savior and Lord, but as so much more. It is a prophetic call to restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ in a world—and a church—that has lost sight of Him.
Every revival and restoration in the church has been a rediscovery of some aspect of Christ in the process of answering the ultimate question that Jesus put to His disciples: "Who do you say that I am?"
Read this book and see your Lord like you've never seen Him before.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
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About the Author
Leonard Sweet is an author of many books, professor (Drew University, George Fox University, Tabor College), creator of preachthestory.com, and a popular speaker throughout North America and the world. His “Napkin Scribbles” podcasts are available on leonardsweet.com
Frank Viola has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. His mission is to help serious followers of Jesus know their Lord more deeply so they can experience real transformation and make a lasting impact. Viola has written many books on these themes, including God's Favorite Place on Earth, From Eternity to Here, and Jesus Manifesto (with Leonard Sweet). His blog, frankviola.org, is rated as one of the most popular in Christian circles today.
Read an Excerpt
JESUS MANIFESTORESTORING THE SUPREMACY AND SOVEREIGNTY OF JESUS CHRIST
By LEONARD SWEET FRANK VIOLA
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE OCCUPATION OF ALL THINGS
The center and the circumference of the Christian life is none other than the person of Christ. All other things, including those related to Him, are eclipsed by the sight of His peerless worth. God put an image in our galaxy to demonstrate what Christ is to us. We call it the sun. Without it, no life can exist on planet Earth. We are dependent upon the sun for everything. And just as the sun is the center of our solar system, Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of God's universe, and even our lives.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out in his seminal book, Christ the Center (German text, 1960), Jesus is the center of human existence, of history, and the center between God and nature. History is His story. Of this connection, British author H. G. Wells remarked, "I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history."
Yet Christ isn't just found in the center. He's also found in the corners and on the edges, just as the light of the sun hits all of planet Earth. Indeed, Jesus is not just the Lord of the middle and the margins; He's the God of the whole show. The Bright and Morning Star gives light to all that exists.
After two thousand years, Jesus' light shines ever brighter, and we can track His brilliant gleam into the shadowy realms of whatever gloom there is. Knowing Christ profoundly and in reality is the chief pursuit of the Christian life. The Lord is preeminently concerned about our knowing Him. We are "called into the fellowship of [God's] Son."
God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as He is about finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ. When Christ is not central and supreme in our lives, everything about life shifts out of orbit and moves out of kilter. So for Christians, our first task is to know Jesus. And out of that knowing, we will come to love Him, adore Him, proclaim Him, and manifest Him.
THE OCCUPATION OF THE HEAVENS
The entire heavenly realm-the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the angelic hosts-are occupied with Christ. The second member of the Trinity is no second thought of God, but His very forethought and first thought. There are only a few places in the Gospels where we find God the Father speaking audibly, and in each case, He points to His Son:
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"
Jesus once said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Whenever God the Father speaks, He speaks of His Son, for Christ is foremost on His heart. The Bread of Life can be tasted in "every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." In fact, when God expresses Himself, it is Christ. We can rightly say that God spoke Himself into human life in the person of the Lord Jesus. For this reason, John called Christ the logos, the living Word of God. God's Word is a person. The one true God has revealed Himself completely and finally in Jesus: "No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father's heart. He has revealed God to us."
In like manner, the Holy Spirit, the great Revelator, also reveals Christ. And Christ is the only thing that the Spirit reveals. He has no other revelation. The Spirit introduces Jesus, usually in some new way.
But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
Someone may object by saying, "But Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment." This is true. But Jesus makes Himself the reference point for these things. Therefore, the question becomes: How does the Spirit convict the world?
He does it by showing Christ to the world. The Holy Spirit has come to reveal, to glorify, to magnify, to unveil, to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. He takes what is true of Christ and makes it real and alive in the lives of human beings. That's the occupation and preoccupation of the Spirit. It's what He does for a living.
But there's something more. The Father was so consumed with Christ that He was pleased to place all the divine fullness into Him:
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.
Finally, all of the angelic hosts live to worship and serve the Lord Jesus. They, too, are occupied with Christ: Hebrews 1:6 says,
When [God] again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him."
In a word, Jesus is heaven's passion and occupation.
THE OCCUPATION OF CREATION
Paul tells us that the entire universe was created by Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. In addition, all things in heaven and earth are held together in Christ and will one day be summed up in Him. Consequently, creation is also occupied with Christ.
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him.
If you explore the seven days of Creation in light of the New Testament, you will discover that everything in the visible creation is an image of Jesus. For example:
Christ is light. Christ is water. Christ is the life that emerged on the third day after the waters below the firmament were separated from the waters above. Christ is the true Vine. Christ is wheat and the bread of life. Christ is the sun, the moon, and the morning star. Christ is the true Lamb. Christ is the model man. Christ is the real Sabbath.
The Lord Jesus is written in the bloodstream of the universe. The Creator left an impression of Christ in everything. That which came forth from the lungs of God when the worlds were spoken into existence was Jesus. The entire cosmos bears His magnificent imprint.
In a matchless metaphor, Tertullian wrote that Christ (Logos) pervades the world in the same way as honey in the comb. This shouldn't surprise us, since the whole created order was created by, in, through, and for Christ. And the whole creation groans for Jesus to deliver it from the bondage of corruption and fill it with His infinite sweetness.
The Tree of Life
The tree of life my soul hath seen, laden with fruit and always green.
The trees of nature, fruitless be compared with Christ the apple tree.
His beauty doth all things excel. By faith I know but ne'er can tell the glory which I now can see, in Jesus Christ the apple tree.
For happiness I long have sought, and pleasure dearly I have bought. I miss'd for all-but now I see- 'tis found in Jesus Christ the apple tree.
I'm weary with my former toil. Here I will sit and rest awhile. Under the shadow I will be of Jesus Christ the apple tree.
I'll sit and eat this truth divine. It cheers my heart like spirit'al wine; And now this fruit is sweet to me, that grows on Christ the apple tree.
This fruit does make my soul to thrive. It keeps my dying faith alive, which makes my soul in haste to be with Jesus Christ the apple tree. -Eighteenth-century Christmas carol
THE OCCUPATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
And what of the holy Scriptures? Jesus Himself answered this question, declaring that the Hebrew Scriptures are also occupied with Him:
You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. ... Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Jesus Christ makes Scripture intelligible. He is the key that unlocks the entire biblical canon. When one reads the New Testament carefully, this becomes evident. For instance, the entire story of Israel is the story of the Messiah, Jesus. Christ is the new Israel, the new Jacob.
... and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord by the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son."
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.
Jacob had twelve sons, who became the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus also chose twelve disciples to follow Him.
Israel was tempted in the wilderness for forty years. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for forty days. In fact, the same temptations that Israel experienced in the wilderness were repeated when Christ was in the wilderness. To combat them, Jesus quoted the words of Moses to satan. Interestingly, they were the exact same words that Moses gave to Israel when she was tempted.
The book of Genesis further demonstrates the Scriptures' preoccupation with Christ. Chapters 1 and 2 were never intended to be the battleground for the Creation-versus-evolution debate. They are rather an unveiling of Christ and His church. Jesus is the new Adam. The church is the new Eve. And the gospel of John is the new Genesis (compare Genesis 1-2 with John 1-2).
Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.... The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Have you ever noticed how the New Testament writers quoted the Hebrew Scriptures? Go back to the Old Testament and read the quoted texts. You'll learn that the New Testament writers were using a method of interpretation that would drive most textual critics insane. It isn't at all modern. It's as if they were reading the texts out of context.
But they weren't. They were reading it through the lens of Christ. For example, consider Colossians 2:16-17: "Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ."
Consider the way Jesus Himself interpreted the Scriptures in light of Himself. Then combine that with the way the Gospel authors, Paul of Tarsus, and the writer of Hebrews saw Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures. By doing so, you'll be furnished with a new lens through which to read your Old Testament. Christ will leap off of almost every page. When viewed through the template of Jesus Christ, the Old Testament becomes a living piece of art. It gets transformed into God's picture book showing us the wonders of Jesus.
As John Calvin once said, "We ought to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding Christ in them. Whoever shall turn aside from this object, though he may weary himself throughout his whole life in learning, will never attain the knowledge of the truth; for what wisdom can we have without the wisdom of God?"
Charles Spurgeon underscored this point, saying, "For every text in Scripture, there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ. And my dear brother, your business is, when you get to a text, to say, 'Now what is the road to Christ?' ... I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it."
Note that we aren't expecting religious Jews to see Jesus in the Old Testament, although we wish they would. But it doesn't violate the Jewish faith if they do not. However, it does violate the Christian faith if we do not see Jesus in the Old Testament. Either the Hebrew Bible is a part of the Christian Bible or it isn't.
In short, Christians can only know the full meaning of the Old Testament by looking at the end of the story, which has dawned in Christ. The beginning cannot be understood apart from the end. Genesis cannot be fully understood without Revelation. We, therefore, should understand the Old Testament Scriptures in light of Jesus Christ. He is the Rosetta Stone of the Bible.
THE OCCUPATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament is also occupied with Christ. It goes without saying that Jesus is the subject of the four Gospels. Their pages are dominated by His amazing life, the horrors of His crucifixion, and the wonders of His resurrection.
In the book of Acts, Jesus-who is now ascended-extends His presence through His body, the church. Luke opened Acts by saying that his Gospel write-up (the gospel of Luke) was a record of "all that Jesus began both to do and teach" (emphasis added). The book of Acts is the continuation of what Jesus did and taught through His body.
The apostles' message throughout Acts is not the plan of salvation. It's not a theology or a set of doctrines either. It is a person-Christ:
... and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them.
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
In Acts 2:42, we read about something called "the apostles' doctrine." Following the day of Pentecost, the church in Jerusalem continued steadfastly in this teaching. But what exactly was it?
Before we answer that question, let's reframe it. Here's the scene. The Twelve have just baptized three thousand new converts. Tomorrow, they will begin teaching these new converts. What will they teach them?
Look across the landscape of contemporary Christianity and ask yourself what many of today's preachers would teach them. Here are some certain answers. They would teach them about ...
how to live a good, clean life
church multiplication strategies
the mark of the beast and end-times prophecy
the 613 laws of Moses, exhorting them to obey each one of them
the 614th commandment: "Thou shalt not forget"
the visions and dreams in Daniel and Ezekiel
signs, wonders, and miracles
how to build a movement
how to live by faith
how to save the lost
Creation versus evolution
how to memorize the Scriptures
the believer's right to "name it and claim it"
how to observe Israel's feasts
wealth and health
Excerpted from JESUS MANIFESTO by LEONARD SWEET FRANK VIOLA Copyright © 2010 by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: "Who Do You Say That I Am?" xiii
Chapter 1 The Occupation of All Things 1
Chapter 2 A Bottle in the Ocean 23
Chapter 3 If God Wrote Your Biography 43
Chapter 4 A Violin Called Messiah 61
Chapter 5 A Ditch on Either Side 79
Chapter 6 His Face or Your Face? 93
Chapter 7 A Collision of Two Empires 105
Chapter 8 The Forgotten Tree 123
Chapter 9 A House of Figs 141
Chapter 10 Who Is This Lord of Yours? 161
Afterword: A Personal Letter from Your Lord 175
About the Authors 205
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I've been wondering why the Christian walk seems so hard. I don't seem to know how to do everything I've heard and read that I should be doing. Are there enough hours in the day? I've asked close friends what I'm missing, why it seems impossible to do what I've been told I'm supposed to be doing. Then I received a copy of Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. I read the book, and it has changed my life. Now I understand what I'm missing. In the words of the authors, "When Christ is not central and supreme in our lives, everything about life shifts out of orbit and moves out of kilter. . . . Christianity is not fundamentally about following a book . . . . It's about following a person and living out of His life." What's fundamental and necessary is Jesus Christ. Jesus Manifesto is a call to return to relationship. Sweet and Viola present Christ in all His wonder and majesty and glory and invite the reader to relate to the living Christ. Are you struggling in your Christian walk? You need to read this book. Are you walking in intimate fellowship with God? You need to read this book. The truths in this book are both simple and profound. This book should be on every Christian's bookshelf and should be read regularly to make sure you haven't lost your focus! Note: I received a FREE review copy of Jesus Manifesto, courtesy of Thomas Nelson Publishers and Present Testimony Ministry. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I have never read a book so saturated with the Lord Jesus Christ as this one. We are often saturated with "things" and "its" of the Kingdom. This book is a cry screaming, "Let's put Christ back on the throne!" A must read no matter what age, tradition, denomination, etc. Hope you enjoy!
The single greatest lesson I've learned among the hundreds of lessons I've learned from J.I.Packer is that "theology must always lead to doxology". In other words, if what you learn about God doesn't cause you to praise God then your learning was mostly in vain. The focus of our faith is a Person, not a doctrine or any combination of doctrines. Jesus Christ is that divine Person and He is all in all. That's is the simple message of the Jesus Manifesto and in my opinion it is the finest volume ever penned about that one pure focus. Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola never swerve from that focus for the entirety of the volume and every page is an examination of the Savior and His glory and perfection. This is a singularly important book for that reason...it is the only volume in my library that is about nothing but Christ and that reminds me on every page that I am to be about nothing else as well. Today the Body of Christ is being continually torn by disagreements over doctrine and practice and diverted by the good from the Best. We are drowning in a sea of riches... constantly offered excellent volumes on doctrine and theology, incredible software to parse it all and the greatest teachings of the church available with the click of a mouse. We have been at sea so long we've lost sight of the Lighthouse. Sweet and Viola have done the church the service of pointing us radically back to Jesus and they have done so with great clarity, grace and style. The theology is sound and the effect is what Packer would approve...doxology on every page. From now on every new believer in my path will receive three books..The Bible, "Knowing God", and "The Jesus Manifesto". I re read "Knowing God" every year, this will now be read along side it on the same schedule. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Jesus Manifesto is a short book and quick read, but it is full of reflections about the basis of our Christian faith. It challenges the reader to define what each of us actually believes in. Writing this, it seems obvious that what we should believe in is Jesus Christ. And yet, the authors show examples of people whose faith is based on causes, ideas, and ways of life that are inspired by Jesus, even in imitation of Jesus, but that are not Jesus Himself. Reading along, I could hear Church meetings I have been part of and realize that as well-intentioned as those are, they were not focused on the basis of Christian Faith: the person of Jesus. And yet, in a number of places, I felt that the authors were setting up straw men and then shooting them down. Their perception that so many who call themselves Christians but who are in fact focused in the wrong direction may be a bit overstated. People may not be able to express the basis of their belief as eloquently as the authors, but that does not mean Jesus is not in their hearts. And at times the authors use too many quotes to support their simple point. But their simple point is a good one for all Christians to reflect on. I received the book from Thomas Nelson Publishers via a website called BookSneeze.com. They sent me the book to review for free in return for my honest opinion.
Who do you say that Jesus is? Where does He fit in your thinking, your life, your church? In Jesus Manifesto Sweet and Viola help the reader and thus the church flesh out freshness to our understanding of the Christ. Could it be that the church has become so occupied with Christianity that we miss Jesus? The authors believe it is so and so do I. Who does the world say that Jesus is? More important, though, is this question: who do you say that Jesus is? This book very directly and simply gives us the answer. Do we really need another book about Jesus? Surely the Bible itself and the countless thousands upon thousands of books written about The Christ is sufficient? Well, yes and no. Yes, the Bible is all that we need for life and godliness. Certainly out of the countless books written about Christ there are no doubt more than enough that are worthy to be read and enjoyed. However, like anything else in this life, seeing and savoring the savior through another set of eyes is always wonderful. Can one have too many pictures over the years of our children going through stages of life? Another book, a good book that is true to Scripture, is always needed. I believe this is one of those books. To start with, I like the premise behind this book even though the title threw me off and seemed a bit on a cultic twinge. However, the content is very much orthodox and helped me in my walk with God. I believe I need a constant freshness in my view of Christ and this book delivered that for me. This course correction for a modern church that is more interested in having a dialog about justice or going green than in the worship and exaltation of Christ is straightforward and long overdue. This book can reach into emergent, missional, moderate, conservative and even liberal churches in a way that some authors with great books about Christ might not reach. These two authors hand deliver and gift to our churches that is worthy of small group studies throughout Christendom. Here is the cool content that draws me to and helps me easily recommend this book to my friends. These guys get the questions right and even more importantly they get the answers right. "Who do you say that I am?" "Do you love me?" In these questions lies the premise of the book. The answers are just as profound and fill the pages as they flow over our souls like gentle waves lapping at the shore of our need. Here are a few of these little nuggets to capture your interest. Every scripture and every biblical story points to and is about Christ. "He is the Rosetta Stone of the Bible." Did you know that? Jesus, the son of man, is the human being, the way human beings were supposed to be before sin. He died the perfect death after He lived the perfect life and all this to please and magnify the Father as we reap the benefits. The book opens with this challenge and I will close this review with it. So what is your chief occupation in life and ministry? Here's a hint: Whatever you are occupied with comes out of your mouth. It's what you talk about most of the time." Is it Christ or something else? That's why you should read this book. I was given this book as a free copy to review and blog. I was not told in any way what to say by Thomas Nelson publishers.
Two great authors come together to make it plain and simple that Christianity is all about one thing: Christ. Too often we focus on one "thing" or another, and we treat Jesus as a guest, or as the starting point from which we move on to higher, deeper things. The only cure for every problem that plagues the church today is, quite simply, a larger view of who Christ is, and that there is nothing higher, nothing deeper. This book represents the kind of revelation of Christ that is essential for the foundation of the church. If we "move on," then we've missed the point.
Sweet (a Christian professor and prolific writer) and Viola (a best-selling author and church planter) offer a powerful and compelling first co-authored book. Jesus has been short-changed in the Christian church. Other things have supplanted his supremacy. The book is written primarily to Christians, showing them how great their Savior is, that He lives inside of them, and why he should be preeminent in their lives and faith communities. The book engagingly reintroduces Christians to the Jesus of the Bible as well as introducing those outside the faith to his stunning greatness. The writing is vivid, fresh, revealing and easy to read. Scores of quotes by past teachers of the faith from various denominations support the vision presented. Christians who seek greater insight into the founder of their faith will find "Jesus Manifesto" a welcome guide. The book has been endorsed by many top Christian leaders including Ed Young, Matt Chandler, Rowan Williams, Jack Hayford, Shane Claiborne, Ed Stetzer, Calvin Miller, Reggie McNeal, Gregory A. Boyd, Mark Batterson, David Fitch, Dan Kimball, Margaret Feinberg, Mark Chironna, Francis Frangipane, Todd Hunter, John R. Franke, Alan Hirsch, Chris Seay, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Anne Jackson, Steve Brown, Ken Ulmer, and Tommy Barnett.
I'll admit, I thought this would be just another book about Jesus and that I really wouldn't learn anything new. I was wrong. As I read each chapter, I kept thinking to myself "wow". Almost every page was an "aha" moment going off in my head. The chapters kept building and building almost magically until I came to the end. When I finished, I was blown away. There were times where I had to stop and worship. Some parts brought me to tears. This isn't just a book about Jesus. It's a reintroduction to him that stirs every atom and grabs every cell of your heart. The book is powerfully written also. Fiction books happen to be my favorite. This book wasn't fiction, but it reads a lot like fiction. It holds your interest and paints pictures in your mind while reading. If I could give it ten stars, I would. It's one of the most powerful and moving books I've ever read. It's not just good, it's epic.
Hundreds of Christian books are written about hundreds of different things. Self help and self improvement, leadership, how to be a better this and that, how to grow your church, how to read the Bible better, how to pray, how to be holy, and then the different attributes of God. "Jesus Manifesto" is a book that uniquely shows us Jesus and nothing but Jesus. Christianity and culture are stuck in battles over the left and right. This book gives a third way that's not left, not right, but forward. The book is phenomenal, a massive paradigm shifter because it totally resets the Christian faith into a new yet biblical perspective. One remark about style. The content of this book is profound but the way it's written is simple and a delight to read. Sweet and Viola are wordsmiths. Their voices combined together makes for a mirage of words, images, metaphors, and pictures that creatively bring Christ home to the heart. The back cover says "read this book and see you're Lord like never before." That statement is certainly true.
This is a wonderful book set up to recenter us on Jesus as the center of all things. It gives wonderful praise to our Lord God Jesus, as center of the universe and all that is!! The authors make a wonderful point; we often lose sight of the truth; the truth is that Jesus is the only real thing we have, the only real thing that is; we get tangled up in life and stress and big screen tvs and keeping up with the jones that we forget to keep our focus and our eyes on Jesus. One if the best points these authors make is to point out that unless we keep our hearts and fucus on Jesus, we live empty hollow lives. I have a permanent bookcase and only a few dozen books make it onto my case, but this one will stay with me. It is wonderfully inspirational and it will lead you back to Jesus if youve been waffling. if you just want a clean drink of cool water, this is it! This book takes us back to the basics, back to Jesus because we get so sidetracked like kids at circus shows. Even in our churches we get occupied with doctrine and dogma and traditions; we lose sight of the truth! This book pulls us together with Jesus and shows that He is more than just God, He is everything.
A classic---an essential read for any devout Christian wanting to enhance their devotion to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Push aside all other chaos and focus on the one and only Truth.
This book is all about Jesus, our First Love... and about returning to our First Love. It's a good book for small discussion groups.
The opening line from Publisher's review says, "The Christian church is falling apart and in desperate need of a revival." I read the same book and that was not the take away I got from Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola's new book, Jesus Manifesto. What I got from reading the book was just the simple fact that "the Jesus who is preached so often today is so shallow, so small, and so uncaptivating that countless believers are enthralled with countless other things." (page 20) What I liked so much about this book wasn't so much the "problems with the church" (which seem to be all the rave in publishing right now) but the challenging of popularly held ideas by modern Christians. For instance: the mantra "what would Jesus do." The authors here would argue that the question is in of itself flawed. A disciple of Jesus should understand that our lives are a result of being attached "to the vine" of Christ. So a better question is, "What is Christ doing through me." (page 68) So the Christian life should not about trying to "imitate Christ" (which is impossible and therefore self-defeating and leads to feelings of failure) but about having Christ "indwell" within the believer and allowing Christ to work through them. "The gospel is not the imitation of Christ; it is the implantation and impartation of Christ. (page 72) Much of the Christian walk becomes head knowledge. We try to learn and absorb the bible and facts about the bible. Because so much of the bible is taught "like school" from "teachers" we treat our salvation story like school and American learning. But Jesus taught in a mentor-style way, not a classroom style way. He didn't conduct lectures and test his disciple's knowledge - no, Jesus "lived" and "modeled" a way of living and asked his disciples to "follow him." "Jesus isn't a cause; he is a real and living person who can be known, loved, experienced, enthroned and embodied. Focusing on his cause or mission doesn't equate with focusing on or following him. It's all to possible to serve the god of serving Jesus as opposed to serving Him out of an enraptured heart that's been captivated by His irresistible beauty and unfathomable love. But Jesus led us to think about God differently, as relationship, as the God of all relationship." (page 94) I loved this book and felt it was a great companion to Andrew Farley's Naked Gospel. I don't think there is anything more important for the Christian to grasp than their identity in Christ and the nature of His message. Or as pastor Mark Driscoll is so fond of saying, "It's about Jesus."
I really wanted to like Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. I really did. Unfortunately, like the other works by these two authors I just could not get into the groove of their prose. Leonard Sweet in particular writes in a style that does not resonate with me. I'm not sure what it is, but I find his prose more distracting than engaging, more 'hip' than helpful. (And let's be honest, anyone who writes a book called SoulTsunami is way too hip for a baptist preacher like me.) My exposure to Frank Viola has been limited, but the same seems to apply as well. There's just something about their approach to the material that I don't 'get.' I think I must be becoming more uncool or something. The core premise - to reinstate the supremacy of Christ in our theologies and lives - is something that I can give my whole hearted consent to. It is just the execution that perplexed me. All the same, that's not to say that Sweet and Viola won't resonate with you. The things about the book that did not work for me were entirely stylistic and preference-driven. Their content was excellent and worth at least exploring. I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 :"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Both Leonard Sweet, professor of evangelism at Drew University, and Frank Viola, perhaps best known for his commitment to church restoration, believe the church has lost its way, and the answer to one simple question may convince you that their premise is valid: How often has your pastor made Jesus Christ the focus of a sermon? If your experience aligns with theirs, your answer will likely be on the order of "Not very often at all." And that, the authors contend, is exactly why the wheels have come off the church. The only hope for restoring the lives of Christians and the life of the church is awakening to the "supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ" --- a truth that has been lost as followers of Christ have turned their attention to social, moral, political and psychological issues, to trite, misguided and inaccurate images of who Jesus is, to their own comfort, blessings and "goodness," and to so much more that distracted them from that truth. In 10 chapters and 200 pages, Sweet and Viola brilliantly and clearly reveal a truth that has been forgotten by --- or never fully understood by --- several generations of Christians: that their life is Christ, that in Him they "live and move and have their being," that He is "central and supreme." In keeping with their premise, the authors reveal who Christ is on every page, either through their own writing or through a magnificent selection of quotations about Christ from authors, theologians, philosophers, preachers, hymn writers, church leaders, poets, and of course, the Bible. Their own writing is so filled with apt metaphors, striking imagery, and such a rare measure of eloquence that to read the book and not see Christ with greater clarity seems utterly impossible. There's little question that JESUS MANIFESTO is on its way to becoming a classic work on Jesus Christ --- and on the sheer foolishness of trying to live as a Christian rather than allowing Him to live through you. By restoring the headship of Christ as a living experience in the life of those who claim to follow Christ, the authors write, Christians can become the "living epistles" (or "Jesus Manifestos") through which the grace, truth and love of Christ will be manifested to the world. For those who have trouble with that concept --- those who cannot imagine that they could ever reflect even the slightest glimmer of who Jesus is --- Sweet and Viola offer an elegant and powerful argument to the contrary in a chapter titled "If God Wrote Your Biography." Read it and savor the reality of Christ in you, the hope of glory. Breathtaking, awe-inspiring, worshipful, life-changing, delightful --- all are characteristics of the book itself and of the love for Jesus that the authors have and want their readers to have. If you suffer from what Sweet and Viola call JDD (Jesus Deficit Disorder), if you long for that "first love" for Jesus that you've lost over the years, if you realize it's time to shove everything else aside --- even those virtuous "churchy" things --- for the sake of knowing Christ, then JESUS MANIFESTO is the book for you. And very likely, the book for a good many people you know.
I guess I could have given the text the benefit of the doubt, and at least finished it -- but I had an issue with the position that Sweet & Viola put Christ. Too many times I felt that they read the supremacy of Christ in place of Christ's being seated at the right hand of the Creator, God. I truly do support the argument that the church today has put Christ in her peripherals, and she may wrongly put other matters in place of her, but I would argue that Christ came that we (humankind) would ultimately worship the Creator (who is Christ). This is a fine line, I understand that, but it is Christ who intercedes for us IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD (Hebrews 9:24). God ought be the church's focal point. All things are in God. Where do we draw the line? Do we draw the line? Are we truly to see the grand narrative as pointing to Christ ... or should His story cause His creation to worship Him?
Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola is a message of revolution to the Western church. The authors, well known for their many books, want to change the focus of our faith. As a church, we often pick and choose the aspects of Jesus we want to focus on like social justice or loving shepherd, and we forget about his more difficult sides, but in doing so, we lose the truth of who he is and what it means to follow him. We've turned faith into an being all about ourselves. Being better people, being successful or wealthy, being nicer to others, but all of those things are irrelevant if our focus isn't directly on Christ. The authors do their best to remind readers who Jesus really is, and that's not an easy task, but by using his relationship to the village of Bethany as well as other examples, they do a wonderful job of redirecting our focus to him. Christianity has become very vain and prideful, but Sweet and Viola dispel that illusion. It's not an easy book to read, but it's a necessary one for our times. If you are sick and tired of rudderless faith and watered down churches, this book will inspire you to worship the man in whom and for whom all things were created: Jesus. That alone is our purpose.
Jesus Manifesto:: Deeply Spiritual and Soul enriching. I have longed for such a book that will take my hear back to the real basis for my faith in God, that is, Jesus. It is a book, beautifully written and the assertiveness of the message added the urgent tenacity needed in a book that carries Christ Jesus as it's central theme. Of a truth, this book restored in me the main purpose of being in God. Jesus is all. That is the message, the grand summary. And Each chapter drives home the points in bits. I recommend the book to every believer. It's timely and it's needed