Book Review: I Am. The Answer to Life’s Biggest Questions, Marcus Nodder (IVP 2021).

Is Jesus what He says He is? Is He who He claims to be? That is the subject of this new evangelistic book from Marcus Nodder, I Am. The Answer to Life’s Biggest Questions. Taking eight of Jesus’ ‘I am’ statements from John’s Gospel, Nodder explores how the Christ alone offers the answer to the questions we have about our place and purpose in this world. Repeatedly urging the reader to open up the Gospel account for themselves, this book would be a helpful one to share with friends or family who are seeking the answers to life’s biggest questions.

Simple Gospel

This book offers nothing more than a simple Gospel presentation. Nodder does not try to hide the reality of the offence of human sin, nor does he play down the eternal hope of the believer. This short book merely simply shares the Gospel message; the black and white of a broken world in desperate need of a saviour. Through these eight ‘I Am’ sayings, Nodder seeks to introduce this saviour to his reader. But not in an academic or intellectual manner. This is not an apologetic book, or an empirical toolkit. Nodder does not try to present the scholarly case for each of these sayings being true, instead he encourages his reader to a personal response.

“So, acknowledging Jesus existed, or even that he is the bread of life, is not enough. We need to feed, receive, trust personally that Jesus is for each of us. He came for me.” (12)

The aim of the book is not to persuade the reader that Jesus truly lived and breathed in ancient Judea. It is to show that this historical Jesus was the Son of God, who came (and died) for you and me.

In doing so, Nodder does not shy away from the painful reality of sin and death. Heaven and hell are clearly shown as the only two ultimate destinations for humanity. It is not easy reading, especially for the unbeliever. (14) “But the question is not whether it is comfortable but whether it is true.” And if it is true, then on offer is a life of wonderful blessing. (34) “The life Jesus promises is one of spiritual abundance, enjoyed in the fullness of the life to come but beginning now.” This book offers the Gospel. In doing so there is no great intellectual presentation, there is merely the introduction of Christ. It is Christ who shines through most clearly in this book, and this is deeply refreshing.

Clear Presentation

As such, this book offers a clear presentation of the wonderful truth of Christianity. Though the author has a tendency towards slightly bizarre illustrations (feeling like a mushroom, for example, in chapter two) the message of the book is really clear. Who is our only hope for salvation? Christ alone.

Nodder does a good job of confronting the insecurities and questions of his reader, and even his wacky illustrations compliment his exposition of Jesus’ I Am sayings really well. The Gospel is not some feel-good philosophy, but a radically transformed life. I Am. The Answer to Life’s Biggest Questions makes that really clear. This is a question of life and death. (66) “We don’t just need someone who can get us through life successfully – we need someone who can get us through death and bring us out into life on the other side.”

Conclusion

One thing I have noticed in my friends and peers over the last few years has been not their explicit rejection of the Christian message, but the refusal to even ask these big questions of life and meaning in the first place. During the pandemic, I’ve noticed a slight softening in that attitude. May God use this time to help us ask big questions again! But if you, or someone you know, wants the answers to these big existential questions, Nodder’s book would be a helpful read. This would be a good book to offer a seeking friend, a young Christian, or even a wearied believer who would do well to be reminded of their saviour.

Nodder ends with the testimonies of two people, Jason and Mark. As the author points out – these two men come from completely different planets. Jason was in and out of prison, dealing drugs and gripped by violence. Mark was a successful lawyer, a Cambridge grad and a city high flyer. But both men can testify to the radical transformation of the Gospel in their lives. This good news is truly on offer to the whole world. This book is not aimed at a particular subset of society, but rather seeks to offer the Gospel to anyone who will give it a read. A helpful tool for our evangelism, and a compelling read as Nodder introduces the person of Christ through His own words.

I Am. The Answer to Life’s Biggest Questions is available from IVP (publishing Feb 18th 2021).

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