Dr. Peterson gives four reasons for reading this book in his introduction: 1) The current debate over the meaning of Christ’s death; 2) The abysmal failure of evangelicals’ to teach that not only the death of Christ saves sinners, but also the significance of the resurrection in relationship to salvation (Scripture teaches that a literal bodily resurrection is absolutely ESSENTIAL to Christ’s saving work); 3) Jesus’ death and resurrection do not stand alone – but are part and parcel of the GREATEST STORY ever told – “His becoming a genuine human being and living victoriously are essential prerequisites for his death and resurrection. If he had not become one of us, he could not have died in our place. If he had sinned, his death could not have rescued others; he would have needed rescue himself.” And 4) Events (Christ’s death and resurrection) do not interpret themselves; they need words to explain them.
I would like to add a fifth reason to read this book: Christians need to go deeper in our understanding of the gospel and integrate this into our worldview of everything. Dr. Peterson’s book is not an easy read, it is lengthy, but well worth the effort because you will come out of reading this book with a greater appreciation of the central message of the Bible, of the depth of God’s love and work on our behalf, and you will have a greater appreciation of the person and work of Christ – especially how aspects of His present work (post-resurrection) impact our lives in the here and now. I can’t recommend this book highly enough – it is simply outstanding. He brilliantly integrates Systematic and Biblical Theology and balances this out with its practical ramifications for all of life with Christ at the center. My prediction is that it will be the new standard textbook replacing John Stott’s – The Cross of Christ – for 21st century students of the Person and Work of Christ.