Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler, Eric Geiger and Josh Patterson:

[We] have slowly lost our awe for Jesus and His finished work. Intellectually, of course, we still hold firmly to the gospel. [We] could easily share a snapshot of its truths without thinking hard— a brief, biblical presentation of Jesus and His gracious gift of salvation. Yet we’ve learned to rely on other things to form the center of our daily work, to motivate the life and activity of our churches. Our drift has not been one of overt rebellion but of an inner twisting of the heart, a loss of appreciation for the gospel and all its ramifications. We could articulate the gospel well, but we don’t view the essence of the gospel as the foundation for all of ministry.

And that’s a huge difference— the difference between knowing the gospel and being consumed by the gospel, being defined by the gospel, being driven by the gospel. It’s one thing to see the gospel as an important facet of one’s ministry. It’s quite another to hold firmly to it as the centerpiece for all a church is and does, to completely orbit around it.

Few days ago, I finished reading Justin Taylor and Andreas Köstenberger’s book The Final Days of Jesus. In between loads of laundry, I turned to the book and was gripped again and again with the events of the final week of Jesus.

I’ve probably read the gospels a few dozen times since I became a Christian and have studied some parts of it in detail but nothing prepared me for the sense of clarity that I got by reading the story again in chronological order. That, I think, is the biggest strength of this book. I have always tried to ignore the “inconsistencies” of the gospel accounts of the final week of Jesus because I could not figure out how to reconcile them. For example, Jesus’ triumphal entry in Matthew 21 concluded with him overturning the tables of money-changers in the temple. In Mark, however, he simply looked around and went home to Bethany. Which one is correct? Or take the resurrection story as another example. How many women went to the tomb? And how many angels were there? Matthew and Mark mentioned only one angel while Luke said there were two. The authors showed that these details are not inconsistencies but marks of authenticity of the accounts. Even in modern investigations, no two witnesses say the same exact things.

Nabeel Qureshi’s gut-wrenching prayer as he was on the verge of accepting the truthfulness of the Christian message:

“Who is my Lord? Who are You, Lord? Are You Allah, the God of my father and forefathers? Are You the God I have always worshiped? The God my family has always worshiped? Surely You are the one who sent Muhammad as the final messenger for mankind and the Quran as our guide? You are Allah, the God of Islam, aren’t You? Or are You…” I hesitated, fighting the blasphemy I was about to propose. But what if the blasphemy was the truth?

“Or are You Jesus?”

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes — that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens — that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence — the fall of...leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.
Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well [that the] maine end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ... and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and training.
"If you really understand Reformed theology, we should all just sit around shaking our heads going, ‘It’s unbelievable. Why would God choose any of us?’ You are so amazed by grace, you’re not picking a fight with anyone, you’re just crying tears of amazement that should lead to a heart for lost people, that God does indeed save, when he doesn’t have to save anybody."