REJOICING IN CHRIST, by Michael Reeves

Published on March 29, 2018 by Joshua R Monroe

IVP, 2015 | 137 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

By Jenny-Lyn de Klerk


Table of Contents

Introduction: Christianity Is Christ

  1. In the Beginning
  2. Behold the Man!
  3. There and Back Again
  4. Life in Christ
  5. Come, Lord Jesus!

Conclusion: No Other Name Under Heaven



Reeves states that his book Rejoicing in Christ is about “enjoying [Christ], reveling in his all-sufficiency for us, and considering all that he is: how he reveals such an unexpectedly kind God, how he makes, defines—how he is—the good news, and how he not only gives shape to but is himself the shape of the Christian life” (9). Reeves shows this by examining Christ’s work before and in creation as the eternal Word and Son, on earth as a human being, beside God after his resurrection and ascension, united to the Christian by his Spirit, and as the returning King and Judge. Reeves repeatedly explains that Christ himself is the fountain of all goodness and life and thus should be the center of the Christian life.



Introduction: Christianity Is Christ

Reeves explains that though this book about delighting in Christ may seem like an odd topic today, it was a common theme in previous centuries from other Christians such as the Puritans. Though we often make Christianity about ourselves, it is really about Christ. When we forget Christ or relegate him to the sidelines, we are often led into serious theological errors. This book is about delighting in Christ and focusing on him instead of ourselves.


Chapter 1: In the Beginning

Reeves shows that in the beginning, God created through his Word, who is Christ, and that this Christ answers our deepest questions about who God is. In the Old Testament, the words of God were associated with his presence. This is seen, for example, in how the Israelites kept the Ten Commandments in the ark, which symbolized that God was with Israel. Thus, as the Word of God, Christ is “the one who belongs in the deepest closeness with God, and the one who displays the innermost reality of who God is” (14). More explicitly than the Old Testament, Hebrews says that Christ is the image and radiance of God. Furthermore, as recorded in John, Jesus said that those who had seen him had seen the Father. Later, the Nicene Creed affirmed this close relationship between Jesus and the Father by saying that Christ is God from God. Thus, Reeves repeatedly says, “there is no God in heaven who is unlike Jesus” (15). God cannot be villainous or unloving because of what we know about Jesus; Jesus shows us that God is merciful and gracious.

Christ as the Word of God shows that God is not only one who speaks, but one who has a Word to give; communicating is part of his very nature so that he could never be a God who is disinterested in his world. This separates the Christian God from other gods. For example, though Allah gives a word, he gives it in a book, not in himself as a person. On the other hand, Christians do not merely know about their God, they know him personally as one who reaches out to them and desires to be with them.

Furthermore, Christ is not only the Word of God, but the Son of God. Jesus as God’s Word shows he is one with God, but Jesus as God’s Son shows he has a relationship with God. During the meetings of the council of Nicaea, Nicholas of Myra passionately argued against Arius’ claim that Jesus the Son was not the eternal God himself. Nicholas took Arius’ error so seriously because it destroyed God’s love by removing the eternal relationship of love between the Father and Son. This also had implications for the Christian life—could the Christian, following what Jesus did, gain God’s love by fulfilling a job description? No, and thus Christ is God’s eternally loved Son who includes us into this unconditional family love.

Understanding who Jesus is as God’s Son will help us keep him at the center of our lives. First, the Father loves nothing more than his Son, and he shares his Son with us. Christ gives us never-ending joy; if we find Christ boring, it is because we are blind. Second, Christ’s sonship is the gospel in that the Son shares his relationship with the Father with us. Jesus’ yoke that he gives to believers is easy because of his relationship with the Father. Overall, the Father and Son share their loving relationship with believers.

Because Jesus as God’s beloved Son is Creator, this affects how we view the universe—he holds it all together and it all displays his glory. Jonathan Edwards lived with this perspective on life in that he saw “the tiniest details in everything, from spiders and silkworms to rainbows and roses, all pour forth knowledge about Christ and his ways” (25).

After saying that Jesus is the Word of God, John said that no one has seen God. Thus, appearances of God or the angel of the LORD in the Old Testament were appearances of the pre-incarnate Christ, who shows us the Father. Jesus himself said he is I AM or Yahweh; God has always revealed himself in Christ. Before the incarnation, Christ created the universe, appeared to his people, and did many great works. The temporary things of the Old Testament were pointing toward and fulfilled in God with us, the incarnate Jesus Christ.  


Chapter 2: Behold the Man!

Reeves explains the incarnation of Christ and its implications for the Christian life. When Paul said that Christ emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, he did not mean that Christ relinquished his divinity, but that he humbled himself to become a human being; he became God with us. The incarnation was necessary because Christ is the second Adam who was pictured in the first Adam—the first Adam ruled over the world, was created in God’s image, had a relationship with God as his son, and was married or united to another. However, Adam was unlike God in that he sinned, and we share in this sin. Though the idea of original sin is appalling to some, it does make sense of the fact that all die even if they have not sinned, such as a terminally ill child. Reeves explains that since we “live in a world of hyperindividualism” (42) it is difficult for us to think of having a representative head like Adam or Christ, but this should lead us to rejoice.

If the second Adam was to become the new representative head, he had to become human. From the beginning, the Messiah was prophesied to be a seed of a woman. However, he had to be born of the Holy Spirit, not just like every other human, in order to not inherit the sin of Adam. Thus, there are ways in which we cannot be like Christ because he was sinless. The virgin birth of Christ guards the gospel in that it shows that God has intervened to bring about salvation by his own means.

Jesus came not only to be God with us as a close friend, but to unite himself with us and thus share all he has with us. Jesus had to be truly human, not just appearing as a human or partly human, because he had to redeem every part of us as human beings. Because Christ took on a human body, we have. . .

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Rejoicing In Christ

IVP, 2015 | 137 pages

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