Item description for Hear Him! by Peter Wittstock...
Overview Why do Christians believe different things concerning the way of salvation? Why don't all Christians believe the same things about what Jesus taught? Did Jesus teach that a plurality of interpretations was acceptable to him? Did Jesus allow his apostles to draw their own disparate conclusions? Is there one teaching concerning which all Christians must agree and conform? In Hear Him! The One Hundred Twenty-Five Commands of Jesus, Peter Wittstock addresses these and similar questions in this timely and indispensable resource. "A well-read, well-researched, and necessary restatement of Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship, flaying the pervasive pseudo-doctrine of 'cheap grace.'" -James E. Person, Jr., author of Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind Hear Him! The One Hundred Twenty-Five Commands of Jesus is an exposure of the apostasy plaguing Christian churches at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Facing powerfully deceptive forces of heresy from within, and moral seduction from the world outside, the churches are losing-at the crucial hour-their ability to hear their Savior's voice. Hear Him! amplifies the Lord's imperatives, providing a precise listing and individual paraphrases of Jesus' statements of command. Peter Wittstock provides biblical and historical analysis concerning the popular, albeit heretical, teaching of "unconditional eternal security," and he reestablishes the trusted, apostolic doctrine for Christians and their pastors-a new look at Jesus as "Lord-commander."
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Well Researched. Aug 17, 2005
The author of HEAR HIM! writes in the preface of the book that the book was written for several reasons: "(1)satisfying my own personal curiosity concerning the specifics of Jesus' commands; (2)unraveling doctrinal confusion being experienced at my local church on related subjects; (3)improving accessibility to the commands by simply listing them numerically; and (4)satisfying what has been an unanticipated, and unremitting, spiritual urgency for their publication." It is important to keep these reasons in mind as one reads HEAR HIM! because though the linguistics in the Gospels of Jesus' commands are heavily researched and the 125 different commands covered have importance, the book is very personal and at times reads more as a personal journal than a book for public consumption.
Though the book contains a preface, a couple of appendixes, a glossary, and other items, there are really two parts to the book: the introduction and the list of the 125 commands themselves. The introduction is rather lengthy; at 86 pages it's almost as long as the list of commands themselves. In the introduction the author explains how the book came to be and how all of Jesus commands mentioned in the Bible were narrowed down to the 125 listed and briefly unpacked in the book. The commands themselves are listed in no particular order. Each one of the commands listed includes a brief paragraph explanation, a clause on the context of the command, and scriptural references. Some of the enteries also include the original Greek words for the verbs of the commands.
As far as reading goes, HEAR HIM! isn't a book that just anyone would be interested in reading. Stictly as a source of reading, the book doesn't read all that well. I am very interested in the source material, but found myself quite bored at times when reading and instead of deriving pleasure or spiritual enlightenment felt I was forcing myself through some sort of difficult manual mental labor. However, though the book doesn't appear to be meant as a devotional, it is much easier to read one or two of the commands at a time rather than reading them in huge chunks. If one keeps this in mind before reading the book, I think they will get more out of it. Also, despite my difficulties in making it through the text, after reading the book I found it refreshing to have spent time reading the commands that Jesus spoke.
Overall, a very well researched book about some of Jesus commands that works better as a devotional rather than a source of free reading.
Excellent tool for personal spiritual exercises. Aug 3, 2005
Peter Wittstock calls the American church to awaken from cultural complacency and live out the reality of the gospel. Taking the message of Jesus Christ seriously, Wittstock offers a comprehensive catalogue of Jesus' commands.
While Christians often claim to trust in Jesus and worship him, Wittstock challenges us to listen to him and obey him. Instead of cute cliches and catchy slogans, he offers the words of Jesus.
I personally like to use a variety of spiritual exercises as part of my devotional life. While Wittstock does not neccesarily introduce this book as such, it lends itself to spiritual exercises. I would recomend readers read only one command a day. Then meditate on the command and reflect on the relation of the command to their own life. This time of reflection can naturally lead into a time of prayer and possible insight about how this might be realized in their own life.
While I appreciate Wittstock's work and recomend it, I do have one caveat. He comes down hard on "free grace" in his introduction. He even quotes a variety of Reformed writers (inlcuding John Calvin) to build his case for a life of holiness. Unfortuantely, he does not present a cogent argument on the relation of grace to the life of holiness.
From a Covenantal perspective, grace is a prerequisite for holiness and the only means to realize the life of holiness. Without a proper foundation of covenant and grace, a call to holiness can easily become another system of human centered righteousness. I would balance his introduction with covenantal perspectives from the writers he quotes like John Calvin or Francis Schaeffer or more contemporary works like Jerry Bridges' The Pursuit of Holiness or Joel Beeke's Overcoming the World.
Faith: Words and Actions Aug 1, 2005
When I was given the opportunity to read, HEAR HIM! several weeks ago, I was initially reluctant. As a lifelong Catholic, many aspects of non-Catholic writing do not appeal to me. One area in particular is the idea that salvation comes solely from a profession of faith alone - when one professes his or her belief in Jesus Christ, that is, in essence, the golden ticket, the lifetime pass...nothing else is required. If one has faith, many have written, one essentially has carte blanche to do anything going forward. Of course, scriptures do not teach that at all; those who take this view usually are practitioners of eisegesis (taking a word, phrase or passage from the bible to suit their own purposes).
Peter Wittstock offers a refreshing reminder of what faith really is all about: words and actions - a turning over of one's life to Christ. Quoting liberally from the "New Revised Standard Version" of the Bible - in my opinion, a premier English translation used by learned Catholics and other Christians - the author warns us of the danger of departing from the Gospel message of Christ. His message is similar to that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote of, lived, and died for his Christian beliefs. Bonhoeffer distinguished between cheap grace and costly grace: the former being grace without discipleship; the latter being the complete surrender of one's life to God. Wittstock echoes this teaching, reminding us that the profession of faith does not "eternally secure salvation if one does not live the faith. Our lives are lived through actions and not just words. Otherwise we are hypocrites, not unlike the Pharisees of Jesus' time. One turns over one's life to Christ by obeying his commands.
Scripture is consistent in this as the author points out in referencing a point made by theologian, Millard J. Erickson. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the results of works so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2: 8-9). Taken in isolation, Saint Paul may be interpreted. However, to continue, "For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life" (Ephesians 2:10). Peter Wittstock emphasizes faith as a following of Jesus' commands, of total surrender to his will and his way. As Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, we cannot follow Jesus and then pick or choose only those commands we find most convenient. However, we are not merely legalists; we are called to the highest of ethical and moral standards. The cost of discipleship is high. It is total surrender to God through Jesus Christ.
Unlike other books which often get lost in archaic terminology and complicated structure, the author has structured the Gospel message around 125 sections corresponding to Jesus' teachings. This enables the reader to easily read and embrace the message. The prose is straightforward and provides great insight.
One area in which I do not agree is Appendix A. Here, the author shares a revelation regarding the events of September 11th. As one connected to this event, I do not see the events of that day as divine retribution for specific sins of certain members of society. Rather, I see it as a wake-up call for all those who doubt the existence and presence of evil or who seek to minimize the Gospel message as a clarion call to action in a secular world. Perhaps this is my reaction to a specific style or interpretation. Nevertheless, HEAR HIM! offers great wisdom, challenging us to a faith of words and deeds - a challenge to which we all must rise.
Great to See it All Spelled Out Jul 13, 2005
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I appreciated seeing a listing of so many of Christ's commandments along with easy-to-read explanations coupled with exegesis of key Greek words. I had no idea that Christ gave 382 commandments! (The author reviews 125). And, yes, this is a call against compromising, lukewarm Christianity that is so common today.
I was somewhat surprised, though about what seemed to be a slight inconsistency in the beginning. Wittstock, taking a strong Arminian stance, rails against the position of unconditional eternal security and couples it (unfairly in my opinion) with an antinomian "it's okay to sin" attitude. He then advocates Lordship Salvation and vehemently condemns the "no-lordship school" which "should continue to be exposed; be rebuked; and be discarded..." The irony is that Lordship Salvation is advocated largely by Calvinists. Who does Wittstock cite as a leading Lordship proponent? John MacArthur, who, like all Calvinists, also believes in unconditional eternal security.
Getting down to Christ's commandments listed in this book, we are reminded that many of the Savior's statements are very challenging. But it is necessary for Christians to be reminded of them. It is not easy to read that if we say "You fool!" to a Christian brother, we will be in danger of hell. (Matthew 5: 22), but Christ said that! Wittstock's list also includes Christ's commandment to "turn the other cheek" if slapped. Wittstock says this means "offer yourself for additional abuse!" Actually, I believe a better explanation is-- do not retaliate when injured but try to de-escalate the conflict in love.
Wittstock covers a broad spectrum of Christ's commands. Issues include forgiveness, being on guard against false teachers, repenting of sin, avoiding hypocrisy, etc. The author then gives good basic elaborations. This type of book is quite valuable for Christian living and pastoral counseling.
And although I am not a Pentacostal or charismatic, I did find his "revelation" from God--about coming judgment in response to abortion to be thought-provoking. We know our Lord is an awesome God of judgment!
A Timely Book with a Profound Message Jun 26, 2005
Unique and inspired, "Hear Him!" is a scholarly work that will be appreciated by anyone who wants to understand in depth what Jesus told us, and by following those words, implement them to make the most of our earthly lives.
The introduction is lengthy, and explains how this book came about, the author's view of the modern world, and how best to live in it as a Christian. It has many quotes from theologians like Francis Schaeffer and John Knox, and expresses thoughts on marriage, as well as the church accepting new teachings "for the sake of private human interests," "faith vs. works," and whether the commands of Jesus are an "obligation or option." The introduction also has the "criteria for inclusion" the author used when choosing the commands that are part of the 125 in the book, explained with graphics, and includes a list of the commands that were excluded.
The 125 commands of Jesus are written in bold type (the New Revised Standard Version Bible is used), often with a Greek translation for better understanding, and then analyzed with great clarity by Peter Wittstock. His knowledge is equaled by his insight, and I was inspired as well as illuminated by his penetrating wisdom. There are many books on the market that analyze Scripture, but I found this one to be exceptional in its lucidity and purpose. Whether one simply reads one of the commands and meditates upon its meaning, or takes in several at one sitting, one will invariably gain discernment, and more invaluable than anything, the commands will bring one into a closer relationship with the Lord. The writing is profound, yet simple and easy to understand, and the book itself is of fine quality, with a nice large font size.
There is much of value in the back of the book, with a glossary, bibliography, command category index, and much more. Of very special interest is appendix A, a poetic revelation received by the author on the morning of September 11, 2001. It is intensely moving, with a searing reality that some would rather not face. I applaud the author for his courage, and for putting a lamp of truth in a dark place.