This book, as its title suggests, is a brief exposition of what Christians often refer to as “the person and work of Christ.” Its focus is on some of the different ways in which the Bible portrays Christ’s identity and describes his ministry. The chapters are by no means exhaustive. They cover only seven of the many descriptions of Jesus found in the Bible, and none of those descriptions is treated exhaustively. So these pages are meant as a taster, a beginning exploration. Our joint prayer is that they will help some who are not yet Christians, be an eye-opener to those who already are, serve as an encouragement for mature believers, and be a pleasure for all who love Christ.
We cannot claim that this is a “special” book. But there are two special things about it that may lend interest to reading it.
For one thing, it is a concrete expression of a friendship, begun in the 1970s when we were both very young ministers in Scotland, that now spans five decades. We were born and lived the first years of our lives in the same city. We knew the same places, were taught the same psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, heard the same preachers, developed a network of mutual friends, and, yes, even supported the same soccer team and played on some of the same golf courses. We both came to minister in the United States within a few months of each other, in 1983.
Of course we are different personalities and live within our own worlds (one has become an American citizen, the other hasn’t; one plays the guitar, the other doesn’t; one is a Baptist, the other a Presbyterian; one lives in Cleveland, the other in Columbia; and so on). We both have our own circle of friends as well as intersecting circles of friends. But over these many years we have enjoyed the kind of friendship, esteem, and affection for one another that has made us feel we are brothers. One of us never had a brother; the other lost his brother. So in part this book and its theme are expressions of our joint gratitude to the Savior in whom we have enjoyed such friendship and the love for his people we share in common.
But in addition, Name above All Names gives us the opportunity to do something we have talked about over the years: express in some tangible way our joint gratitude for Derek Prime, who has been to us model pastor, friend, and encourager. That would be true especially for Alistair who served with Derek Prime at Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh, from 1974–1976. Our sense of gratitude for the measure of Christ-centeredness and Christlikeness we have seen displayed in his life and ministry makes it very natural for us to dedicate to him this little book on our Savior and Lord.
The material in these pages began to come together in its present form as we prepared for a conference at The Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. We are indebted to that congregation and to its senior minister, Sandy Willson, for giving us the opportunity to serve them together and to share some of the material here in spoken form. We are also indebted to Mrs. Eve Huffman for the secretarial help without which this project would never have been completed.
We hope these pages will encourage, instruct, refresh, and challenge every reader. In order to make it more practically helpful to those with only a beginning knowledge of the Bible, we have included references to the Bible passages or texts to which we refer. These references are in footnotes so that the book may be read without the constant interruption of bracketed material.
We ask one favor from our readers. Standing in various pulpits in our native land of Scotland we have often seen words visible to the preacher but hidden from the congregation: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (John 12:21). We ask you to make that your prayer as you begin to turn these pages.
Sinclair B. Ferguson
Alistair Begg and Sinclair B. Ferguson, Name above All Names (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013).