By Christopher VanDusen
Is the Bible first and foremost about the Lord Jesus Christ? Most Christians would answer “yes” to that question, but could they explain why and how? Furthermore, does their understanding of the major parts of the Bible reflect that profession?
In The Priority of Jesus Christ, pastor, prolific writer, and theologian Tom Wells masterfully explains that Jesus is the main theme of every major element of the Bible, including its message for people today, both Christians and non-Christians.
Should Jesus Be Emphasized More than the Father and Holy Spirit?
In his introduction, Wells introduces his subject by presenting the multiple answers from Christians to the above question. While some Christians say that the Father should be emphasized over Jesus and the Spirit, still others say that the Spirit should be emphasized. In contrast to these two views, Wells states the main point of his book by saying that Jesus should be emphasized over the Father and Holy Spirit.
The New Testament Presents Christ as the Revelation of God
In the first chapter, Wells demonstrates from the New Testament that our thinking about God should center around the character and work of Jesus. He begins by analyzing the relationships of each Person of the Trinity to One Another, and then to the believer. From an explanation of Scripture, he proves that Jesus is the Revelation of God, and our Mediator to God, thus showing that the only way to know God is to know the Lord Jesus.
Christ’s Relationship to the Old Testament Prophets
In the second chapter, Wells compares Christ’s role as God’s Revelation with the Old Testament (OT) prophets’ role as God’s spokesmen. He introduces this discussion by explaining Hebrews 1:1-2, in which the author makes a distinction between the revelation that was given to people through the OT prophets, and the revelation that is now given to people through Christ. He then shows from several passages, such as the account of the mount of transfiguration and Peter’s Pentecost sermon, that Christ’s revelation is superior to all the revelation that was given by the OT prophets.
Christ’s Relationship to the New Testament Writers
In the third chapter, Wells explains Christ’s relationship to the New Testament (NT) writers. He answers the question of where their authority comes from. Is it from themselves, from the Spirit, or from Christ? He begins his answer by showing that the Holy Spirit, who gave the New Testament writers the revelation they wrote down, is the Agent, or Representative, of Christ. Therefore, the revelation they received is revelation from Christ Himself. Further, he demonstrates that Christ Himself vested them with authority to speak for Him, so they are His human representatives. Hence, their authority properly comes from Christ, not from themselves, or even the Spirit.
Faith in God = Faith in Christ
In chapter four, Wells examines the relationship of faith in God to Christ’s preeminence. He begins his analysis by taking a survey of faith in God in the Old Testament. Then, he shows from the New Testament that, with the coming of Christ, the only true faith in the true God is faith in Christ Himself. He makes special note of the Gospel of John, which emphasizes this fact multiple times.
The Old Testament is About Christ
In chapter five, Wells tackles a possible false conclusion that people may make from his arguments — since Christ in the New Testament is the best and final Revelation of God, then the Old Testament is no longer beneficial, since it’s a inferior revelation. Wells strongly affirms that the Old Testament is still beneficial, and has a legitimate place in Christians’ lives. He does so by arguing that the Old Testament is about Christ, and can now be interpreted in such a way to show its relevance for Christians today. This requires using the New Testament to interpret the Old Testament.
The Mosaic Law is About Christ
In the next chapter, Wells gets more specific in his defense of the relevance of the OT. He does so by answering the question, “What place does the Mosaic Law have in the Christian life”? The Mosaic Law is the Law of Moses that God gave to Israel in the Old Testament as a covenant establishing the nation. Wells explains that the Mosaic Law is now to be interpreted, just like all of the OT, in the light of Christ’s coming, work, and teaching. He also proves that the Mosaic Law isn’t the Law for Christians to obey, since it was God’s covenant with Old Testament Israel, and isn’t the covenant that God has made with Christians.
The Ten Commandments Aren’t the Eternal Moral Law of God
In chapter seven, Wells deals with one of the most controversial issues in Christian theology — the nature of the Ten Commandments. While many Christians believe that they are the eternal, unchanging, moral law of God that all are obligated to obey, he clearly demonstrates that both the Old and New Testaments teach that this is false. On the contrary, he shows that the Ten Commandments were part of the national law for Old Testament Israel, and simply don’t come close to the radical nature of Christ’s teaching and new covenant people. He closes this chapter by explaining the true purposes of the Mosaic Law.
Jesus Introduced a Completely New Era of History
In the eighth chapter, Wells supports all that he’s been saying by showing that the coming of Jesus brought in the climactic stage of God’s work in history. He first shows that with this coming came God’s kingdom — His prophesied new reign over a new people through Christ’s reign over the universe. Second, he presents this new era as that which fulfills the new covenant God promised in the Old Testament, such as Jeremiah 31.
The Law of Christ
Finally, Wells finishes the book by presenting a detailed explanation of the new law for God’s people — the law of Christ. He says that this law is found in the New Testament in several ways, and isn’t confined to commands that Christ gave His disciples while on earth. In fact, he asserts that all of the commands for Christians found in the New Testament are part of Christ’s law.
Writing Quality and Verdict
This book is easy to understand, and can be read in a few hours. I’d recommend it to any Christian who doesn’t see the Bible as a book that’s first about the Lord Jesus Christ. You can get it for around $12 (US) on Amazon. If you’d like to listen to Wells’s teaching on this topic for free, he has 2 sermons at http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=593 (WARNING: this site isn’t secure, so use it at your own risk)
I’ve also written at least one article on here that addresses this issue, entitled “Are You Teaching Your Brethren to Obey Christ Christocentrically?”
Just a question to close: Does the Lord Jesus Christ have first place in your life? Do you desire to please Him and to know Him? If not, then you are in rebellion against Him, and are one of His enemies. He offers you terms of peace. God sent Him from heaven to become a man, to have Him be hung on a cross to suffer the punishment we deserve from God, to raise Him from the dead, and to take Him back into heaven as the King of the universe. He now commands everyone to change their minds about Him and trust in Him as their Savior and King to have His forgiveness and be reconciled to Him. Please make sure you’re trusting only in the Lord Jesus who died and rose again for God’s forgiveness, since God has promised to judge everyone perfectly through Jesus for everything they’ve done, said, and thought, and to punish His enemies forever for their sins. He promises to forgive and save everyone who trusts in the Lord Jesus as King and Savior.