Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Review: No One...

The shock-value of the big red hand and white font inscription combination on the cover of J.D. Wetterling’s book No One… (Christian Focus Publications, July 2006 in the UK, September in the US) portrays well the type of effect a book like this has on the thinking of today’s secular culture. It isn’t that this book is overly negative. It’s that this book is Biblical, and today’s culture has grown to despise the claims of the Bible. But in the Kingdom of God, the negative precedes the positive; the gospel is not good news until it is first bad news. First you must be made aware of your need for a Savior, and then you can accept him.

Mr. Wetterling’s book focuses on 6 “No One” statements made by Jesus that are recording in the gospel of John. These are the “unshakable certainties” to which a Christian may cling in a world that rejects the absolute. Indeed, these principles, while stated by Jesus in the negative, are the very spinal chord and foundation for a gospel that wholly and completely saves those whom God grants eternal life. And Mr. Wetterling accurately portrays for us Christ’s meaning in these phrases.

In the preface, Wetterling does an excellent job of setting up the urgency of the gospel. It establishes those “unshakable certainties” found in God’s Word that are so necessary to our uncertain world. Wetterling states, “This little book is an effort on the part of a sinner saved by grace to witness to the power of a handful of the most important of them [unshakable certainties].” He continues, “They are unshakable certainties that can, God willing, open your eyes to his truth, fill you with the peace that transcends all understanding, and show you the way to the unimaginable joy of life, both now and forever, with him.”

In the introduction, Wetterling tells us, “This brief witness to Christ focuses uniquely on just six statements Jesus uttered that can profoundly affect anyone regardless of race, religion, or lack thereof. The subject of all six sentences consists of two simple monosyllabic words that are beyond argument in their clarity. Some parts of God’s Word are not easy for the human mind to grasp, but the subject of these six sentences is not among them. The subject of these unshakable certainties is ‘no one.’”

Wetterling expounds upon each of these six “no one” statements, including No one can see the kingdom unless he is born again (man is completely passive in regeneration, and prior to regeneration man is altogether dead in sin and unable to believe), No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him (man’s salvation initiates with God’s sovereign action), No one comes to the Father except through me (Christ is the only way of salvation), No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down on my own accord (Jesus gave his life freely that he might satisfy God’s wrath in our place) No one can snatch them out of my hand (Christ’s sheep are forever secure in his sovereign grip), and No one can take away your joy (the joy that results from the gospel is eternal, ever-increasing, and ever-sustained). Wetterling very wonderfully proclaims, “The cross of Christ is at the heart of Christianity, and the grace by which Christ’s atonement covers his people.” He exclaims, “I live in joyful wonder and amazement at a holy God who hates sin yet loves this sinner so much he has rescued me from my hell-bound madness!” This is the gospel. Each chapter concludes with the phrase, “These are unshakable certainties in an uncertain world,” which very appropriately concludes Christ’s teaching that is previously exposited.

Wetterling concludes his work with the statement, “You can take these ‘no one’ statements of Jesus and torture their syntax and redefine words and perhaps say something else so they will fit into your preconceived worldview, but they will not be God’s unshakable certainties.” This is the “chose life” plea found in the teachings of Christ.

The book is partly theological, partly exegetical, partly evangelistic, and partly devotional. And it is wholly gospel truth. The extremely minor exegetical disagreements I have with the author are not worth mentioning. I recommend this short book to all to read, enjoy, and learn.

Evan May.

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