Terry Johnson has written this book to help us better understand these ‘earthly stories with a heavenly meaning’ that were purposely designed by Jesus to veil the truth. Recognising that the parables teach us how to live under Christ’s rule, Johnson has categorised and considered them under four headings – Entering God’s kingdom; Growing in God’s kingdom; Living in God’s kingdom; and Finishing in God’s kingdom.
Before the exposition and application of each of thirty story-parables, the biblical text (NASB) is printed at the head of the chapter. Each chapter concludes with study questions.
The author draws upon and interacts with the work of other commentators – page references are given to books listed in the bibliography – and there is occasional helpful interaction with the Greek text.
Throughout this readable book, the author seeks to apply the parables not only to their original first century context but also to contemporary life, thus demonstrating the timelessness of the teaching of Christ (though some of his illustrations and applications are more relevant to the American scene). The overall effect is to provide a fresh perspective on familiar parables.
On a number of occasions, Johnson emphasises how necessary is the Word of God to ‘kingdom life’, and warns that the biblical content of praise, prayer and preaching in worship services today is being drastically reduced. He believes that this betrays a lack of confidence in the Scriptures as God’s appointed primary means of growing his church.
In the course of his exposition of the parables, Johnson reminds us that salvation – being in God’s kingdom – both costs us nothing (everything is done by Christ) and costs us everything (we must hold nothing back). This is challenging stuff – the heavenly meaning has earthly application!
This is a book that is suitable as a resource for those preparing to teach or preach a parable, or as a workbook for a Bible study group, or for personal devotional use.