Studying Revelation (Free Study Guide)

This week I wanted to quickly draw your attention to another free eBook, because we all love books. This one is a helpful study guide on the book of Revelation by Vern Poythress.

If you have ever been interested in studying the book of Revelation in its historical and original context this is a fantastic little book. For all the fictional novels and hyper-dispensationalism that has taken over the fields of modern day eschatology, this little book helps us to see the original context and unpack how it would have been received and encouraging to the original audience, and as such how we too can find comfort in the truth of God.

The book can be found at the link below:

https://frame-poythress.org/new-resource-on-ebooks-page/

Here is a brief overview of the book of Revelation in regards to how Poythress will approach the book and help us to see its importance on the Christian life.

The Purpose of Revelation

Many people either fear the Book of Revelation or have an unhealthy interest in it. But God designed this book for a very different purpose. Revelation is meant to produce in you comfort, courage, hope, and praise. Do you believe that?

Look at the very beginning of Revelation. Rev. 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” God knew that many people would feel timid about this book—that many would say to themselves, “I can’t understand it.” So he gave you special encouragement to read it. Make a point of reading it once or more during the next few months.

In the verse I just quoted (1:3) we already receive a hint about the contents of Revelation. God tells us to “keep what is written in it.” Revelation does not give us information just to tickle our fancy. We are meant to “keep” it, to take things to heart. We ought to be transformed by what we read, to become more faithful servants of Christ. The Book of Revelation is a very practical book.

Note also what it says in 1:1: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.” To whom is the Book of Revelation written? Not to PhDs, to experts, to prophecy fans, to a narrow inner circle of specialists. God writes it to “his servants”—the servants of Jesus Christ. If you are a follower of Christ, this book is for you. You can understand it, because God knows how to communicate to you. In addition, let me say the obvious. The Book of Revelation is a revelation, “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1). “Revelation” means an unveiling, a disclosure, a display of who God is and what he promises to do. The Book is not a concealment, a puzzle, a riddle, as some people think. It is not a puzzle book but a picture book. Its message is so clear that a child can grasp it and be encouraged.

1. What is the purpose of Revelation?

2. In what way is it accessible to ordinary readers?

3. How might reading it be an encouragement?

 

Additional free books by Both Vern Poythress & John Fram can be found at their Website: https://frame-poythress.org/ebooks

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The Art of Turning (Review & Download)

This past week Kevin DeYoung Released a new book looking at the purpose and role of the conscience in a Christian’s life. This short book is available free to download at WTS bookstore. The link is provide below.

http://www.wtsbooks.com/art-turning-kevin-deyoung-9781911272212?pop=sample

First, this book is very much a primer on the ideas of the human conscience along with it’s biblical roots and function. At just 40 pages DeYoung unpacks why we should take the role of our conscience seriously, as it is both used by the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin as well as to give us assurance in the midst of trials.

Second, this book deals with the influences of the reformation and puritans as to how we often misunderstand and think about our conscience.  He shows us briefly and succinctly that these movements main point was never about a never ending source of introspection that leaves you in a constant state of gloom over sin and wretchedness. Rather both groups end was for us to sleep with a clear conscience by seeing our sin and our selves for what we were, but to also see our savior for who He is. While we have sinned greatly He has saved even greater. Our conscience should not be bogged down continual by our sin, but rather as we see sin in our lives we must turn them over in obedience, repent and walk in the grace of God.

Seriously if you have an hour to spare hop on over to WTS Bookstore and download this amazing book today, or order a few for some friends.

Books vs the Bible?

If there is one thing you may not know about me is my love of books.

If you saw my library you’d see I have lots of books, from many different generations, different styles, different genres, different authors, different denominations, and those don’t even cover the ones on my Logos collection. Beginning in my early days in college at an interdenominational school here in Florida we were taught to think outside the box and read from many different authors who challenge our presuppositions about ministry, theology, doctrine, and practice. I’m very grateful for those early days. It trained me to think outside of my own theological spectrum. Now, not only did my time there teach me to think outside of my boundaries, it also taught me to appreciate the value that books have in forming the Christian life.

In literature and books we have great wisdom from men and women that have gone before us. We have their application of Scripture and encouragement for times of sorrow and times of joy. We have their instruction on how to think through hard issues. We have their synthesis of Scripture to point us to a fuller understanding of the text of Scripture. However, it is important to understand those books should never take the place of Scripture in your spiritual life.

In too many cases it is easy to become overwhelmed by the knowledge of those who came after the apostles rather than the apostles, the prophets, and Jesus Himself. We must never overlook the importance of Scripture alone as the foundation for our spiritual health. You are grown most fundamentally through the Word of God. Therefore when it comes to reading apart from it, it is important that we choose books that will encourage and inform us on the truth of Scripture. Books that will encourage and push us forward in our spiritual journey. This is especially true when it comes to selecting devotionals.

Do we choose resources that encourage and inflame our love for the Scriptures? Do we choose resources that encourage and push us back to know more about what the Word of God says, or do we select devotionals that point us back to ourselves and what we think about things?

Do not be deceived by false teachers that would put their words above God’s Word. In our day and age it’s very easy to be misled by false teachers through the books that we read, especially from books sold in Christian bookstores. Just because a Christian bookstore sells it does not make it Christian or Biblical in its application of Scripture or its understanding of God’s word. But I guess the question remains what do we read?

First and foremost read the Bible.

It is the only thing that gives us hope, that truly reveals an understanding of who God is. This is not to dissuade you from reading, but rather to make sure that our foundation is set first and foremost on our understanding of God. We must read with an aim to know and see God in His Word and in the words of others.

Second, read books that will encourage you in your walk with the Christ

Now these are books that can range from daily devotionals to theological works.  Most of us since early days in our Christian faith were encouraged to do a daily devotional. Throughout Church history many great men have written their own devotionals, such as Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, which are still used by many even today. Aside from devotionals though you’d also find great spiritual encouragement through theological works such as J. C. Ryle’s classic Holiness, or even something slightly newer like Knowing God by J. I. Packer. 

On our own homepage we list the four theological works that each of us are currently reading. As you can see from the list currently both Adam and myself are reading books by Michael Horton. Adam, reading one of his newer works, Ordinary. This book encourages us to see that our lives, even though they may appear ordinary, are really the supernatural work of God. Myself, on the other hand, am reading a book that he wrote several years ago on our call to be disciple makers. Horton does this by walking us through the importance of the great commission and our job as believers to follow through with that call. You can see each of these books seek to further our knowledge of God and a reliance on Him through the Scriptures.

Third, Read a good biography

For many of you this third category seems obvious. Biographies are very common in our day and age so much so that their use to actually be a television channel dedicated to them. That should be no shock to you that we as believers should be encouraged to read good biographies especially about the lives of the saints of God who lived before us. You’d be amazed at the things that believers went through and how through the power of God they overcame their trials and temptation and found joy and contentment in Christ alone. Biographies are great blessing to the Christian as we see time and time again the work of the Lord in His saints. Now I am not saying to go out and buy the two volume George Whitefield biography collection by Arnold Dallimore, though it is a fantastic book series, but there are some great short biographies put out by Ligonier ministries, also John Piper on his website Desiring God wrote some short biographies on some great saints such as David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards that can bring great encouragement to your Christian walk. Mostly, biographies help us to know that we are not alone in our journey, we are not the first to experience the things that we’ve experienced, just as the Lord was faithful to them so too we can trust that he will be faithful to us.

Finally, (though not least in importance) enjoy a good work of fiction.

Now this being the last category that I’ll discuss for many of us it may be our favorite category. A good fictional novel  can range from some of the great works of the past like To Kill a Mockingbird, Oliver Twist or The Lord of the Rings to some of the newer works of fiction such as the works of Stephen King, Ken Follett, George R. R. Martin or maybe J. K. Rowling. Fictional works help to expand our imaginations. They can help us to see the world in a different light, especially for ministers, fictional novels help us to think differently about the world around us. Fictional novels can open our imaginations, broaden our visual vocabulary, and allow us to get a look into the way our culture thinks and acts by the way they write about the world.

In conclusion this is an encouragement to those of us who love books, who love our libraries, who love great authors and theologians, so much so that we spend great deals of time with them, to not lose sight of the truth of God in the midst of the words of others. And to those who don’t read as often, to see, in works of theology, works of Christian growth, stories of brothers and sisters who have walked the path before, an opportunity for you to grow in your understanding of the Scriptures and to grow in your understanding of the work of God through the lives of others.

Above all else again the Bible must be central to our understanding. While we can learn from great men and women through their writings as they have experienced the work of God in them, through them, and through their knowledge of Him, they are still but mortals. Their words are but temporary while the Word of the Lord is eternal.

My Recommended Reading list for 2016

If you’re anything like me you’re already thinking of what books you’ll be reading in 2016.  Perhaps you’re nothing like me and haven’t picked up a book in a long while, if ever.  Perhaps you’ve stumbled onto this blog and are curious about growing deeper with Christ in 2016.  Whoever you are, I want to persuade you to read more ‘quality’ books in 2016.  Therefore, below is my recommended reading list for 2016 (so far…).  Enjoy!

For the church member:

1) Knowing God, J.I. Packer

2) Desiring God, John Piper

3) The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul

4) The Prodigal God, Tim Keller

5) 9 Marks of the Healthy Church, Mark Dever

6) Taking God at His Word, Kevin DeYoung

7) Westminster Shorter Catechism

8) Everyone’s a Theologian, R.C. Sproul

9) Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis

10) Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

11) The Gospel According to Jesus, John MacArthur

12) Radical, David Platt

13) The Valley of Vision Prayerbook

 

For the new believer:

1) Who is Jesus? Greg Gilbert

2) What is the Gospel? Greg Gilbert

3) What is a Healthy Church? Mark Dever

4) What is a Healthy Church Member? Thabiti Anyabwile

5) Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, R.C. Sproul

6) Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper

7) The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

 

For the elder/deacon:

1) A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, Helmut Theilicke

2) What is Reformed Theology? R.C. Sproul

3) The Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin

4) Lectures to My Students, Charles Spurgeon

5) Prayer, Tim Keller

6) God’s Passion for His Glory, John Piper/Jonathan Edwards

7) A Dangerous Calling, Paul Tripp

8) Preaching and Preachers, Martin Lloyd-Jones

9) The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Walter Marshall

10) Systematic Theology, Louis Berkhof

11) Brothers We Are Not Professionals, John Piper

12) The Cross and Christian Ministry, D.A. Carson

13) The Valley of Vision Prayerbook

50 Books J.I. Packer Thinks You Should Read

The folks over at Crossway have compiled a list of 50 books that J.I. Packer believes we should read.  It’s hard to argue with Packer on most anything, and it’s no different when it comes to these suggestions.  If you’re like me you’re wondering what books are coming around the corner, or what you’ll be reading next.  This list will set your reading schedule for quite some time.


1

Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy: Three Essential Books in One Volume
Francis A. Schaeffer

“What is the long-term significance of Francis Schaeffer? I am sure . . . that I shall not be at all wrong when I hail Francis Schaeffer—who saw so much more . . . and agonized over it so much more tenderly than the rest of us do—as one of the truly great Christians of my time.”

2

Am I Called?: The Summons to Pastoral Ministry
Dave Harvey

“This is the fullest, most realistic, down-to-earth, and genuinely spiritual exploration of God’s call to pastoral ministry that I know. I recommend it most highly.”

3

Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity
John Piper, Justin Taylor, and Paul Kjoss Helseth, Editor

“Here is a weighty tract for the times, in which a dozen Reformed scholars survey the ‘open theism’ of Pinnock, Sanders, Boyd, and colleagues, and find it a confused, confusing, and unedifying hypothesis that ought to be declared off limits. Some pages are heavy sledding, but the arguing is clear and strong, and the book is essential reading for all who are caught up in this discussion.”

4

Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever
Michael Horton

“Learned and lucid, masterfully organized, and vigorously expressed, this full, solid, and exact study of Geneva’s reforming pastor is an outstanding piece of work. In all four sections Calvin comes to vigorous life. Calvin’s reputation for godly wisdom, and Horton’s for vivid writing, will certainly be enhanced.”

5

Charity and Its Fruits: Living in the Light of God’s Love
Jonathan Edwards; Kyle Strobel, Editor

“For Jonathan Edwards, the true Puritan understanding of Christianity as love-life in God through Christ was a lifelong theological-pastoral-devotional focus, and his fullest display of it is found here. Kyle Strobel’s comments help us appreciate this classic on communion with God.”

6

Choosing a Bible: Understanding Bible Translation Differences
Leland Ryken

“A masterful and convincing argument for literal, that is to say, transparent translation of the Holy Scriptures.”

7

Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election
Sam Storms

“Storms’s offensive against Arminian-type views of election among evangelicals is a very solid piece of work. The thoroughness of its arguments gives it conclusive force.”

8

Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader (2 Volumes)
William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint, Editors

“Understanding apologetics as explicating, affirming, and vindicating Christianity in the face of uncertainty and skepticism, Edgar and Oliphint have skillfully selected the best primary sources to introduce us to this ongoing task. Their work fills a gap in scholarly resources and highlights the strength, wisdom, and solidity of the prominent defenders of our faith.”

9

Church History: A Crash Course for the Curious
Christopher Catherwood

“Honest historian Christopher Catherwood informs us straightaway that he views the Christian story through the lenses of Protestant, Reformed, evangelical, baptistic, free-church spectacles. His telling of the tale, journalistic in style while scholarly in substance, then proves his point. You will find this book clarifying and invigorating.”

10

Communion with the Triune God
John Owen; Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor, Editor

“Here is a modern reader’s edition of a classic Puritan work by a classic Puritan author. It is a powerful Trinitarian profiling from Scripture of the truth that fellowship with God is and must ever be the inside story of the real Christian’s life. John Owen is a profound teacher on all aspects of spiritual life, and it is a joy to welcome this reappearance of one of his finest achievements.”

11

ESV Study Bible
Lane T. Dennis, Executive Editor; Wayne Grudem, General Editor

“I was privileged to act as General Editor of the English Standard Version, and now that I look back on what we did in producing that version, I find myself suspecting very strongly that this was the most important thing that I have ever done for the Kingdom, and that the product of our labors is perhaps the biggest milestone in Bible translation in certainly the last half century at least, and perhaps more. And now, as Theological Editor of the ESV Study Bible, I believe that the work we have done together on this project has set an altogether new standard in study Bibles.”

12

Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than 100 Disputed Questions
Wayne Grudem

“In a troubling debate, resolution of which is currently out of sight, this extended monograph is a must-read for all who care about biblical authority, Christian relationships, and well-ordered church life. Laboriously and exhaustively, with clarity, charity and a scholar’s objectivity, Wayne Grudem sifts through 118 current challenges to the Bible’s apparent teaching on men and women. This is the fullest and most informative analysis available, and no one will be able to deny the cumulative strength of the case this author makes, as he vindicates the older paths.”

13

Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue
Andreas J. Köstenberger

“Here is an excellent, searching, full-length study on the moral and spiritual requirements of being a professional, evangelical, biblical scholar. This book will do great good to those of us who ply this trade.”

14

Fallen: A Theology of Sin
Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, Editors

“These essays provide a very thorough mapping of sin’s ugly reality. Rarely do we meet such realism as we find here.”

15

From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective
David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson, Editors

“A massive product of exact and well-informed scholarship . . . with landmark significance. . . . I give this book top marks for its range of solid scholarship, cogency of argument, warmth of style, and zeal for the true glory of God. I recommend it most highly.”

16

God in the Storm
Marc Maillefer

“The thoughts and stories in this truly pastoral book give fresh luster to the precious truth that our God is indeed with his people in trouble.”

17

God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation
Andreas J. Köstenberger with David W. Jones

“In breadth of coverage, thoroughness of learning, clarity of analysis and argument and, I think, soundness of judgment, this solid, lucid, pastorally angled treatise has no peer. Evangelicals who research, debate, teach, and counsel on gender, sex, marriage, and family will find it an endlessly useful resource. The easy mastery with which the author threads his way through forty years’ special pleadings gives this compendium landmark significance, and I recommend it highly.”

18

God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey
Andreas J. Köstenberger and Margaret Elizabeth Köstenberger

“Returning to a topic on which they both have already shown mastery, the Köstenbergers here round off their achievements with a full, lucid, and compelling demonstration that all Scripture treats male leadership as the creational pattern. Complementarians in particular will find here an invaluable resource, as indeed will any other open-minded Bible students.”

19

Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus
Jared C. Wilson

“Wilson labors to make us appreciate the greatness and grandeur of the gospel and its Christ. Again and again he succeeds.”

20

He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
Graham A. Cole

“This latest addition to the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series maintains the high standard already set. Graham Cole has written the widest-ranging textbook on pneumatology that currently exists. Meticulous and sharp in handling texts, and scrupulous on matters of method, he offers us cool, clear, sober answers to more questions about the Holy Spirit than probably any of us have hitherto thought to ask. New ground is not broken, but solid ground of a mainstream Reformed sort is set forth throughout. Well done, Dr. Cole!”

21

Holiness by Grace: Delighting in the Joy That Is Our Strength
Bryan Chapell

“In this study book, a wise man shows how the grace of God in Christ, and the holy joy of Christian living, go beyond what many think. Would you appreciate a fully biblical and Reformed demonstration of how the love-words and love-works of our triune God transform life? Then you should read and digest Holiness by Grace.”

22

Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals
Trevin Wax

“How should God’s American people put the lordship of Jesus Christ on display in their lives? Wax’s searching answer is biblical, basic, businesslike, and blunt.”

23

Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?
Margaret Elizabeth Köstenberger

“Dr. Köstenberger gives us a here a solid, sad, scrupulously fair case study of ideology deflecting exegesis over an entire generation. She shows conclusively that the attempts of a long series of scholars to find Jesus affirming women’s leadership in some way have entirely failed. Surely this is an important cautionary tale for our times.”

24

John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace
Jonathan Aitken

“A new life of John Newton is a fitting celebration of the bicentennial both of Newton’s death and of the abolition of the slave trade, Wilberforce’s triumph in which Newton played a key role. Master biographer Jonathan Aitken is in fine form, sympathetic, insightful, scholarly, and vivid, and his book, like its subject, must be rated spectacular.”

25

Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome
R. Kent Hughes and Barbara Hughes

“I recommend that every pastor first read the Hughes’s book privately and then go over it with his lay leaders. Doing this will not be less than a milestone and might well be a watershed.”

26

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books
Tony Reinke

“If you don’t read books as both a discipline and a delight, then you should; and if you need help here, as in truth all of us do, more or less, then this is the book for you. Don’t miss it!”

27

Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ
Tony Reinke

“Here is mastery! As the Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and reigning, was the life-giving focus of the Evangelical Revival, and as George Whitefield was its supreme awakener, and John Wesley its brilliant discipler, so ex–slave trader John Newton was its peerless pastoral counselor and perhaps the greatest Christian letter writer of all time. In his 768- footnote digest of the spiritual wisdom in Newton’s thousand-plus published letters, along with his published sermons and hymns, Reinke distills a vast flow of pure honey for the Christian heart. This is a book to read over and over again.”

28

No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God
John S. Feinberg

“Feinberg reads theology with a philosopher’s eye and writes it with a philosopher’s sensitivity to illogic and incoherence.”

29

Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith
Jon Bloom

“Vivid, nourishing sketches of Bible characters learning to live with their sometimes startling Lord.”

30

One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation
Marcus Peter Johnson

“Theologian Johnson is a Reformed thinker who restates for us Luther’s and Calvin’s Bible-based insistence that union with Christ is the framing fact within which, and whereby, all the specifics of salvation reach us. His book merits careful study, for he does his job outstandingly well.”

31

Overcoming Sin and Temptation
John Owen; Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor, Editors

“The editors of this volume have worked hard to make Owen’s unrivalled insight into the Christian’s inner war with sin accessible to all, and the result is truly a godsend.”

32

Prayers for People under Pressure
Jonathan Aitken

Prayers for People under Pressure is for those in the thick of things, and both the selection of prayers and the accompanying reflections are brilliant. Jonathan Aitken’s transparent, unassuming, down-to-earth, in-God’s-presence style as he speaks of God and ourselves has huge force, taking us often to the edge of eternity. This is an anthology I shall treasure and use.”

33

Preaching the Word Commentary Series
R. Kent Hughes, Editor

“Throughout the Christian centuries, from Chrysostom and Augustine through Luther, Calvin, and Matthew Henry, to Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Ray Stedman, working pastors have been proving themselves to be the best of all Bible expositors. Kent Hughes stands in this great tradition, and his exciting expositions uphold it worthily.”

34

Quo Vadis, Evangelicalism?: Perspectives on the Past, Direction for the Future: Nine Presidential Addresses from the First Fifty Years of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Andreas J. Köstenberger, Editor

“During its almost sixty years of life, the Evangelical Theological Society has grown in numbers and in intellectual vitality, spiritual vision, and a strategic sense of mission to the wider church and the still wider world. This selection, ranging from the bright to the brilliant, celebrates and will surely further the Society’s ongoing progress.”

35

Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times
Millard J. Erickson, Paul Kjoss Helseth, and Justin Taylor, Editors

“When evangelicals confuse an improper passion for novelty with a proper pursuit of academic and pastoral relevance, the results can be distressing. I cannot express how grateful I am for the well-formed wisdom with which this book points to the abiding and decisive relevance for future route-finding of the old theological paths.”

36

Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach
Vern S. Poythress

“Using the triadic analytical technique derived from the truth of the Trinity, Poythress continues his quest for an undistorted, biblical understanding of the sciences, this time zeroing in on linguistics and sociology. This is a work of first-rate thinking. Demanding yet enriching, this book is a major contribution to modern reformation and its intellectual renewal.”

37

Science and Faith: Friends or Foes?
C. John Collins

“Collins maps the entire interface between faithful biblical interpretation and questions of all sorts posed in the name of the sciences. Interesting, fair-minded, shrewd, and clear from start to finish, this will prove outstanding as a pastoral resource.”

38

Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God
Bobby Jamieson

“Scripture is for sound doctrine, sound doctrine is for real life, and real life is for real church growth. So says Jamieson, and he hits the nail on the head brilliantly every time.”

39

The Evangelicals: What They Believe, Where They Are, and Their Politics
Christopher Catherwood

“Bright, breezy, and wearing his learning lightly, historian Catherwood has crafted a most illuminating cross-sectional review of the global evangelical movement as it is today. I found it unputdownable; I think many others will too.”

40

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism
Mark Dever

“For most of us, personal evangelism is the reverse of easy, and so it becomes a task we evade. Mark Dever writes to shake us up about this, clearing our heads as to just what evangelizing involves and motivating our hearts to go to it realistically and responsibly. This is a word in season that will surely do a great deal of good.”

41

The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept
Mark Dever

“Here is a vigorous, juicy, engaging, life-centered, God-honoring set of sermons, brilliantly overviewing the entire New Testament: a truly rich resource from which to benefit and borrow. Dr. Dever is a Puritan in twenty-first-century clothing, and it shows.”

42

The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come
John Bunyan; C. J. Lovik, Editor

“If any smoothing of Bunyan’s seventeenth-century language plus new colored pictures can set Pilgrim’s Progress aglow in the hearts of today’s young readers, this lovely book will surely do it.”

43

The Shepherd Leader at Home: Knowing, Leading, Protecting, and Providing for Your Family
Timothy Z. Witmer

“With marriage and the family under present-day pressures, it takes a wise man to think and write well about being a husband and father under God. This book reveals Dr. Witmer as just such a wise man, and makes his wisdom available to us all. Highly recommended.”

44

The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary
Fred G. Zaspel

“Well before the transdenominational convergence of what we now call the evangelical church, B. B. Warfield spent forty years as the Presbyterian Horatius, holding the bridge that leads into the citadel of the Westminster Standards against those he saw as spoilers from the wastelands of liberalism. A heavyweight academic and a complete player in the fields of systematic, exegetical, historical, and polemical theology, he scattered his wisdom in hundreds of articles, which this book surveys and integrates with great skill. Warfield can now be seen in his full stature as the godly giant that he was, thanks to Fred Zaspel’s labor of love. Best thanks, and hallelujah!”

45

Their God is Too Small: Open Theism and the Undermining of Confidence in God
Bruce A. Ware

“Open theism supports its reducing of God’s sovereignty by denying his full knowledge of the future. If any doubt remains as to whether this falls short of the Bible’s teaching and waters down Christian faith and hope, Bruce Ware’s pastoral reasoning will surely dispel it.”

46

Things That Cannot Be Shaken: Holding Fast to Your Faith in a Relativistic World
K. Scott Oliphint and Rod Mays

“The authors make vivid the two-way street of our communion with God and God’s being with us. Their book is full of things that we today need urgently to take to heart.”

47

Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
John Piper

“Thinking—the alert, meticulous, probing, logical, critical use of the mind—will be a highway either to godliness or to its opposite, depending on how it is done. Taking leads from Jonathan Edwards, John Piper surefootedly plots the true path here. His book should be, and I hope will be, widely read.”

48

To Know and Love God: Method for Theology
David K. Clark

“Clark sets forth a wide-ranging, constantly centrist, moderately technical, analytically alert demonstration of the what, why, and how of the evangelical theological task, interacting at each stage with rival positions. No comparable across-the-board vindication of evangelical mental method exists; this is a landmark book.”

49

Truth with Love: The Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer
Bryan A. Follis

“The real Francis Schaeffer—Reformed apologist, youth evangelist, lover of God and of people—is here profiled and celebrated. The best appreciation of Schaeffer and his legacy yet written.”

50

Why We Belong: Evangelical Unity and Denominational Diversity
Anthony L. Chute, Christopher W. Morgan, and Robert A. Peterson, Editors

“Biblical evangelicalism must always be churchly, and churchly evangelicalism today cannot avoid being denominational. And denominational evangelicalism is a spiritual smorgasbord, offering more spiritual wealth and wisdom than any one person can possibly take on board. In these pages evangelical leaders become tour guides to their own denominational heritage. Authoritative? Yes. Absorbing? That too. Enriching? Very much so. Taste and see.”

Who is Jesus?

9781433543500-2m‘Who is Jesus?’ is a question that has been asked by many down through the ages.  Here are a few answers:

“…an historical figure for me, and also the bridge between God and Man, for the Christian faith.”  President Obama

“…most venerated reformer of human errors.”  Thomas Jefferson

“…no more than a messenger.”  The Koran

“…is there a greater stumbling block than this one?”  The Mishneh

“…a holy fable.”  Nietzsche

“…no mere man.”  Napoleon

“…the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.”  Gorbachev

“…You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  The Apostle Peter

Jesus draws for us a line here, and we must choose sides.  As C.S. Lewis famously wrote, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity, 52)

Greg Gilbert (author of ‘What is the Gospel?’) has just written a new book that many will find useful.  It is called ‘Who is Jesus?’  Here is the publisher’s description: “A famed historian once noted that, regardless of what you think of him personally, Jesus Christ stands as the central figure in the history of Western civilization. A man violently rejected by some and passionately worshipped by others, Jesus remains as polarizing as ever. But most people still know very little about who he really was, why he was really here, or what he really claimed. Intended as a succinct introduction to Jesus’s life, words, and enduring significance, Who Is Jesus? offers non-Christians and new Christians alike a compelling portrait of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, this book encourages readers to carefully consider the history-shaping life and extraordinary teachings of the greatest man who ever lived.”

This is a book you need to get, and for a limited time Westminster Bookstore is having a sale on it to make it more easily accessible for more people.  You can buy in bulk to for your churches, this book would make a great gift to your congregation and it would be a great way to begin 2015 for your church.

Here are the endorsements:

“Jesus asked his disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’ It’s a question each of us must answer. In a wonderfully readable and succinct manner, Greg Gilbert mines the pages of Scripture to consider the truth of Christ’s claims about himself. This is essential reading for the Christian and the seeker.”
– Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family

“Greg’s greatest asset is his ability to make profound things simple. As his book What Is the Gospel? helps us distinguish the true gospel from the false, so Who Is Jesus? helps us distinguish Christ as he presents himself from how we have remade him.”
–J. D. Greear, Lead Pastor, The Summit Church, Durham, North Carolina; author, Jesus, Continued…Why the Spirit Inside You is Better than Jesus Beside You

“There is no more important question in the cosmos than ‘Who is Jesus?’ Greg Gilbert, with brilliant mind and pastoral heart, unpacks that question step by step with both insight and accessibility. Whether you’re a skeptic looking into these things for the first time or a long-time believer, this book will drive you right to where we all need to go: to the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
–Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; author, Tempted and Tried

“Clearly Christian, but more than polite and respectful to the skeptic, this book helps you consider Jesus carefully. Gilbert throws fresh light upon familiar scenes, joining facts with their significance. It is artful, yet plain and full of beautiful biblical theology. Here is an invitation to you the reader to come to know Jesus yourself.”
–Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks

“This book does two things at once. It credibly places Jesus in the context of his own times, and shows why he cannot responsibly be left there. It is for those who have never thought about Jesus as well as those who think they know him all too well.”
–Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School; general editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture

“The two most important questions for anyone to answer concern Jesus the Christ. Who exactly is he? And how do I relate properly to him? Gilbert addresses these questions effectively in this important book. From the moment at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus asked his disciples about the opinions concerning his identity until now, no other question has had such eternal consequences. This perceptive volume is written with the touch of the Spirit of God in revealing Jesus the Christ.”
–Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This little book will be a great tool for introducing people, including the athletes I coach, to the most amazing person who ever lived!”
–Ron Brown, University of Nebraska Cornhuskers

“I am always looking for a short and clear book on the life of Jesus that I can put into the hands of someone wanting to truly know who he is and what he did. I now have it in Who Is Jesus? Greg Gilbert is right: ‘The story of Jesus is not the story of a good man. It is the story of a claimant to the throne.’ Consider the evidence presented in this work and see where it takes you.”
–Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Building Healthy Churches with 9Marks

Great post from Justin Taylor about the 9Marks books out currently, check it out below:

If you are looking for small books whose content outweighs their size, I would highly recommend the Building Healthy Churches series, from 9Marks and published by Crossway. These are outstanding authors talking in a concise but substantive way about issues crucial to the health of the church.

Here are the books published thus far.


 

ortlund

Ray Ortlund, The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ

[Foreword by J. I. Packer]

“Compelling. Convicting. Encouraging. Probing. And most of all, entrancing. What a beautiful vision of what the church can be through the power of the gospel. How evident it is that the gospel has penetrated Ortlund’s own heart. Read it. Pray through it. Ask God to use its message mightily in your church and in many other churches as well.”

—Thomas R. Schreiner

[See sample material and endorsements]


 

JamiesonBobby Jamieson, Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God

“If ever you’ve been tempted to think that doctrine is boring, divisive, or just plain pointless, this is a book for you. Bobby Jamieson shows that sound doctrine is beautiful, life imparting, and deeply desirable. I hope this message goes far and wide.”

—Michael Reeves

[See sample material and endorsements]


membershipJonathan Leeman, Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus

[Foreword by Michael Horton]

“Church leaders across many denominations will find this little book filled with practical ideas and good arguments that will help us cure Christians in our culture today of their allergy to church membership, pastoral authority, life accountability, and any limits to their personal freedom.”

—Tim Keller

[See sample material and endorsements]


 

discipline

Jonathan Leeman, Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus

“Far too few biblically grounded, pastorally sensitive books on church discipline remain in print today. I know of none that is as exegetically accurate, practically relevant, and filled with real-life case studies of how churches should deal with a wide variety of common situations. On top of all this, Leeman is helpfully succinct and remarkably clear. Highly recommended!”
—Craig L. Blomberg

[See sample material and endorsements]

See my notes on the book here.


stilesMack StilesEvangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus

[Foreword by David Platt]

“Mack Stiles is one of the most natural, effective, determined, indefatigable evangelists that I know. I would want to know what he thinks about evangelism, whether it comes in a conversation, a letter, or an entire book. In this short volume, Mack conducts a clear and biblical exploration of how church fellowship multiplies individual evangelism. Every reader will be inspired, encouraged, and equipped to be a congregational evangelist. For the sake of the church, the gospel, and the world, this book belongs at the top of your reading list.”
—R. Albert Mohler Jr.

[See sample material and endorsements]


eldersJeramie Rinne, Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus

“Most unsolved problems in church life can be traced back to defective leadership. Jeramie Rinne unpacks what the Bible has to say about the identity and activity of the local church elder with a freshness and clarity that is profoundly helpful. This is a book that elders can read together to their profit and one that will help a congregation to pray for and support its leaders so that their work will be a joy and not a burden.”
—Alistair Begg

[See sample material and endorsements]


 

HelmDavid R. Helm, Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today

“David Helm has written the most helpful, concise, and useful book on expository preaching I have ever read.”
—Matt Chandler

“This little book is simply outstanding. It’s the best short book on preaching I’ve read. Helm’s advice is unfailingly wise, theologically informed, and extremely practical.”
—Kevin DeYoung

[See sample material and endorsements]

What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission

9781433526909mFor today’s on my shelf Monday I want to recommend a book that has helped me greatly.  It is by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, and it’s called What is the Mission of the Church: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission.

Westminster Bookstore:

Publisher’s Description:

Social justice and mission are hot topics today: there’s a wonderful resurgence of motivated Christians passionate about spreading the gospel and caring for the needs of others. But in our zeal to get sharing and serving, many are unclear on gospel and mission. Yes, we are called to spend ourselves for the sake of others, but what is the church’s unique priority as it engages the world?

DeYoung and Gilbert write to help Christians “articulate and live out their views on the mission of the church in ways that are theologically faithful, exegetically careful, and personally sustainable.” Looking at the Bible’s teaching on evangelism, social justice, and shalom, they explore the what, why, and how of the church’s mission. From defining “mission”, to examining key passages on social justice and their application, to setting our efforts in the context of God’s rule, DeYoung and Gilbert bring a wise, studied perspective to the missional conversation.

Readers in all spheres of ministry will grow in their understanding of the mission of the church and gain a renewed sense of urgency for Jesus’ call to preach the Word and make disciples.

About the Author:

Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He is the author of several popular books, including Just Do Something and Why We Love the Church.

Greg Gilbert earned his BA from Yale and his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is senior pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, the author of What Is the Gospel? and the co-author of What Is the Mission of the Church?

Endorsements:

“In what appears to be a growing tension over what the mission of the church encompasses, DeYoung and Gilbert bring a remarkably balanced book that can correct, restore, and help regardless of which way you lean or land on all things ‘missional.’ I found the chapters on social justice and our motivation in good works to be especially helpful. Whether you are actively engaging the people around you with the gospel and serving the least of these or you are hesitant of anything ‘missional,’ this book will help you rest in God’s plan to reconcile all things to himself in Christ.”
— Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Highland Village, Texas

“DeYoung and Gilbert have put us in their debt with their clear, biblical, theological, and pastoral exposition of the mission of God’s people. That mission, which they rightly understand within the story line of the whole Bible, is summarized in the Great Commission and involves gospel proclamation and disciple making. This superb book will encourage its readers ‘to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus’s commands now and in eternity, to the glory of God the Father.’”
— Peter T. O’Brien, Senior Research Fellow in New Testament, Moore Theological College, Australia

“A very timely and eminently engaging book for all those who care deeply about the church’s mission in our day. Again and again, I found myself nodding in agreement as the authors made a key point from Scripture or noted the missional relevance of a given biblical passage. I highly recommend this book, not just as food for thought, but more importantly, as a call to obedient, biblically informed action.”
— Andreas J. Kostenberger, Professor of New Testament and Director of Ph.D. Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Christ is the greatest message in the world, and delivering it is the greatest mission. But are we losing our focus? Are we being distracted, sometimes even by good things? Zealous Christians disagree sharply today over the church’s proper ministry and mission. Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert bring us back to first things in an age of mission creep and distraction. Offering balanced wisdom, this book will give us not only encouragement but discomfort exactly where we all need it. It’s the kind of biblical sanity we need at this moment.”
— Michael S. Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

“Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert have written an important book on an important topic. Fair, keenly observant, startlingly honest, this book is replete with careful exegetical work. Verses are not merely cited; they are considered in context. The length of an idea is considered, all the way from its expression in the local church back to its source in Scripture. The result is a book that is nuanced and clear, useful and enjoyable to read, and that is no small gift from two young pastor-theologians who have already become reliable voices. Open this book and you’ll want to open your Bible and open your mind on everything from justice to capitalism, from mercy to love.”
— Mark Dever, Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks

“DeYoung and Gilbert clear the fog that has settled over the nature of the church’s mission. Their tone is gracious, the style is accessible, but most importantly this book is marked by fidelity to biblical revelation and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The authors have succeeded in what they exhort us to do: they have kept the main thing as the main thing.”
— Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Among the many books that have recently appeared on mission, this is the best one if you are looking for sensible definitions, clear thinking, readable writing, and the ability to handle the Bible in more than proof-texting ways. I pray that God will use it to bring many to a renewed grasp of what the gospel is and how that gospel relates, on the one hand, to biblical theology and, on the other, to what we are called to do.”
— D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“DeYoung and Gilbert provide clarity to some of the most complex contemporary issues facing the church. Focusing us squarely on the redemptive nature of the gospel, they ultimately point us not only to the church’s mission, but to practical ways to understand and live it. The result is a book that will be of great help to pastors, missiologists, theologians, and practitioners.”
— M. David Sills, Faye Stone Professor of Christian Missions and Cultural Anthropology, Director of the Doctor of Missiology Program and Great Commission Ministries, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Every generation is tempted to augment or diminish, even nuance or redefine the mission of the church. Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert have provided a biblical corrective and protection for our generation in What is the Mission of the Church? With a gracious and kind spirit, this book reclaims the ecclesiastical concepts of mission, purpose, social justice, and the Great Commission from those who have redefined these words with a dictionary other than Scripture. Pastors should read this book with their elders, deacons, and leadership teams to wrestle with answers to the most pressing questions about the church in our day.”
— Rick Holland, Executive Pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; Director, Resolved Conference

God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-Love of God Reorients Our World

9781433531316mGreat read for today’s “On my shelf Monday.”  Fantastic author David Wells has come out with another book and it is going to be a good one.

Westminster Bookstore:

Building on years of research, writing, and cross-cultural ministry, renowned author and theologian David Wells calls our attention to that which defines God’s greatness and gives shape to the Christian life: the holy-love of God.

In God in the Whirlwind, Wells explores the depths of the paradox that God is both holy and loving, showing how his holy-love provides the foundation for our understanding of the cross, sanctification, the nature of worship, and our life of service in the world. What’s more, a renewed vision of God’s character is the cure for evangelicalism’s shallow theology, with its weightless God and sentimental gospel.

Written by one of evangelicalism’s most insightful minds, this book will help you stand firm in your faith despite the changing winds and raging storms of the modern world.

About the Author:

David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Distinguished Senior Research Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In addition to serving as academic dean of its Charlotte campus, Wells has also been a member of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and is involved in ministry in Africa. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including a series that was initiated by a Pew grant exploring the nature of Christian faith in the contemporary, modernized world.

Endorsements:

“Almost fifteen years ago, I enrolled at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, in large part so I could learn from David Wells. His books opened my eyes to a host of ecclesiastical problems and to a lost world of glorious truth. As a student, I continued to learn from his deft analysis and careful theological critique. Now it’s my pleasure to commend this terrifically unique book, a fitting capstone to all that he has been building in the last two decades. Part biblical theology, part systematic theology, and part cultural reconnaissance, this is a powerful work that my generation—really any generation—cannot afford to ignore. After years of pointing out the shallowness of evangelicalism, this is Wells’s masterful summary of what should be our depth, our ballast, our center. What the world needs, and what the church needs, is a fresh encounter with the holy-love of God. This book will help you start down that path.”
– Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, MI

“In this important book, David Wells begins the process of bringing his influential critique of late modern culture and the church down into practice. Here we have a ‘practical theology’ for conducting the church’s life based on the reality of a God of ‘Holy-love.’ This particular way of understanding and preaching the doctrine of God, Wells believes, protects the church from either being co-opted by the culture or becoming a ghettoized subculture. Decades of teaching theology is boiled down here into accessible, practical chapters. I’m glad to recommend this volume.”
– Timothy J. Keller, Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City; author, The Reason for God

“Rich, deep, and faithful—God in the Whirlwind invites us to come before the very heart of God. No theologian understands the modern world better than David Wells, yet no theologian uses the modern world more powerfully to wrench us back to truths that are foundational and never to be superseded by the latest anything. To be read slowly and with prayer.”
– Os Guinness, cofounder, The Trinity Forum; author, The Call

“A timely and necessary antidote to the spirit of the age which is manifested in the prevailing man-centeredness of contemporary evangelicalism. Wells calls for the recalibration of our lives by a clear understanding of and a devout musing on the holy love of God. This book provides a fitting finale to the story line that began with No Place for Truth. Stott taught us how to preach between two worlds, and Wells teaches us to live there, at the intersection of faith (Christ) and culture.”
– Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Cleveland, OH

“Drinking from the fire hydrant that is David Wells’s writing is worth the rush. The water is not only bracing but sweet. God in the Whirlwind, his latest, is such a torrent, first showing how we postmoderns have put ourselves at the center of the universe—and the center doesn’t hold. We have more of everything and less satisfaction with it. But Wells takes us to a place where God is at the center of the universe, where God’s ‘holy-love,’ the unique union of God’s holiness and his love, defines better what we need and provides more abundantly for it. Comprehending the ‘holy-love’ of God and its culmination in the life of Jesus Christ reinvigorates our walk with God, our worship, our service, and our work in a fallen world. Wells shows the way, and it’s a whirlwind indeed.”
– Mindy Belz, Editor, WORLD magazine

“David Wells has long been one of our most penetrating analysts of the cultural confusions that Christians today must contend with and that sometimes distort the Christian message. This book, as he says, emphasizes the ‘Christianity’ part of ‘Christianity and Culture.’ Here Dr. Wells models how to communicate the holiness and love of God—as manifested in the gospel, worship, and the Christian life—to a culture that has forgotten what they mean.”
– Gene Edward Veith Jr., Provost and Professor of Literature, Patrick Henry College; Director, Cranach Institute, Concordia Theological Seminary

“David Wells is like a most-valued guest who after several earlier, eye-opening visits has now stopped back by to sit down and share with us the heart of the matter. Having in previous books shown a world that makes no place for truth, in this one he lights up truth. Theological discourse here becomes a powerful call to the church to see God who stands before us—full of overwhelming holy-love shown finally at the cross.”
– Kathleen B. Nielson, Director of Women’s Initiatives, The Gospel Coalition

What’s It Like to be John Piper’s Son? “The Pastor’s Kid” is Here

Out today on Justin Taylor’s blog:

Barnabas Piper’s new book is on being The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity (David C. Cook, 2014)

You can find out more about the book here.

Barnabas’s father, John Piper, wrote the foreword to the book, and with permission I’ve reprinted it below:

* * *

PK-Cover-flatYou will ask, “Was it painful for me to read this book?”

The answer is yes. For at least three reasons.

First, it exposes sins and weaknesses and imperfections in me.

Second, it is not always clear which of its criticisms attach to me and the church I love.

Third, this is my son, and he is writing out of his own sorrows.

Writing this book has been hard. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that a lot of hardship went into writing this book, some of it in my own family and some of it through the pain of other PKs I connected with along the way. So many PKs carry so much pain and anger and sorrow with them. Some of them have fallen into bitterness, and others are rightly doing the hard work of trust in Jesus to help them through.

I am overwhelmingly thankful that Barnabas is in that last category. It took trust and courage to write this book. The road has been hard. And sometimes, as he says, “We need to pour out what is boiling in us.” When that happens, pressure is relieved and people get burned.

But Barnabas is not out to burn. Not me or any pastor. His aim is healing. “That is part of why I wrote this book,” he says, “to help PKs make sense of, sort through, and express those bottled-up frustrations and pains.” Frustrations built up from carrying an “anvil-like weight,” of being the most “watched”—”the best known and the least known people in the church.”

But the boiling over does burn. “I have been hard on pastors throughout this book. I have pointed out weaknesses and tendencies and failures. I have prodded and demanded and pushed them to be different, to change, to become aware.” My suggestion for the reader is that, if it gets too hot in the boiler room, you take a break from the heat and jump in the pool of chapter eight.

There is a stream of grace that runs through this book. You taste it along the way. But it becomes a pool at the end. A soothing. Barnabas is honest about his own struggles and failures. He has drunk deeply at the fountain of grace. He knows from experience the ultimate solution for all of us:

I desire to point to Jesus as the turner of hearts and the lifter of all burdens. . . . Grace, the undeserved favor of God, through Jesus, is the source of life and personhood and identity. . . . It is in the freedom of Jesus’ overwhelming love that the PK can break out of false expectations and see what it is that makes Jesus happy.

As it turns out, when the boiling is over, and the burns begin to heal, there is hope for PKs and pastors and churches.

“It’s not all bad news for PKs.” Through it all they have been unwitting, and sometimes unwilling, apprentices. They have seen—and many have benefited from—the bad and the good.

We have seen the pleasures of ministry. . . . Helping mend a broken marriage, praying with a heartbroken widow, serving the destitute man who knocks at the door . . . the close fellowship of a united church staff or . . . the deep, humbling satisfaction of seeing God use faithful ministry over time to right a sinking ship of a church.

Boiling over because of painful experiences may be unavoidable at some point, but Barnabas beckons his fellow PKs not to “wallow and bemoan them. Rather we must own what responsibilities are ours: to honor Jesus, to honor our fathers and mothers, to love and support the church, and to go about our lives not as victims but as the redeemed. Grace is here for all of us.”

And that includes the sinful and wounded pastors. “No man is adequate to be a pastor . . . That is a job no person is up for, not alone, not without profound grace. And that is the key to all this: grace.” And, of course, it is true for the wife and mother, watching, with tears, the drama play out between her son and husband, or bearing the weight of her daughter’s rejection.

And finally there is grace for the church. “The church is our family, it’s the family that God gave us, so don’t give up on it. There isn’t a better place out there to be restored.”

When I received the manuscript of this book and read it, I gave a copy to our seventeen year-old daughter. “Would you read this, and then talk to me about how I can be a better dad?” She did. It was a good talk. It’s not over. I suspect she will have ideas about that when she is 30 and I am 80. I hope she will be spared some sorrows because of her big brother’s book. Of course, most of that hangs on me. And, as we have seen, on grace. Which is why I appreciated Barnabas’s encouraging conclusion:

But now I want to express thanks. I want to say that PKs are blessed to have parents who devote their lives to serving Jesus. . . . So thank you, pastors (and spouses). You have given your lives to serving Jesus and His church , and that is a blessing.

What’s Your Worldview? An Interactive Approach to Life’s Biggest Questions

9781433538926mFor “On my shelf Monday” I want to recommend a book that has recently won World Magazine’s Book of the Year in Popular Theology – What’s Your Worldview? from James Anderson.

What is it and why did it win the book of the year?  John Frame calls it “the most creative apologetic book in many years” and Michael Kruger says is simply “one of the best apologetics books in years.”  Marvin Olasky said this:

THE ORIGINALITY and conciseness of James Anderson’sWhat’s Your Worldview? An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions (Crossway) make it our Book of the Year in this category. Structured like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” interactive story, the outcome depends on the choices readers make. What’s Your Worldview? should appeal especially to teens and college students.

For example, answering yes to a question about the existence of objective truth takes the reader to the Knowledge question: “Is it possible to know the truth?” A yes answer there leads to the Goodness question: “Is anything objectively good or bad?” That yes answer leads to the Religion question, “Is there more than one valid religion?” A no answer leads to “Is there a God?” followed by “Is God a personal being?” and “Is God a perfect being?” Answering yes to both leads to questions about God communicating with humans, then to questions about Jesus, and eventually to Christianity.

Other answers start the reader down paths to many other worldviews, including atheistic dualism or idealism, deism or finite godism, Islam or Judaism, materialism or monism, mysticism or nihilism, pantheism or polytheism, relativism or skepticism, Platonism or Unitarianism, and so forth—21 options in all. When readers hit the end of the trail they have chances to think again: For example, those whose answers bring them to deism may reconsider the Communication question by going to page 34, the Perfection question by going to page 32, or the Personality question by going to page 29.

Some “Choose Your Own Adventure” storylines do not end happily—choose poorly and belligerent goblins await. What’s Your Worldview? demonstrates that most endings are self-contradictory or hard to live with. For example, Anderson asks readers who end up at pantheism, “Are you willing to say that ultimately everything is good and nothing is evil? Perhaps you are. But can you walk the talk as well? Can you live consistently with that result of your worldview?”

Here is what Westminster Bookstore says about it:

Publisher’s Description:

How do you view the world?
It’s a big question. And how you answer is one of the most important things about you.

Not sure what you’d say? Join James Anderson on an interactive journey of discovery aimed at helping you understand and evaluate the options when it comes to identifying your worldview. Cast in the mold of a classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” story, What’s Your Worldview? will guide you toward finding intellectually satisfying answers to life’s biggest questions—equipping you to think carefully about not only what you believe but why you believe it and how it impacts the rest of your life.

About the Author:

James N. Anderson (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is associate professor of theology and philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, and an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Before studying philosophy, he completed his doctoral work in computer simulation. Anderson is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers, the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

Listen to an interview with James Anderson entitled What Is Your Worldview?.
Source: Sermon Audio

Endorsements:

“I can think of readers to whom I would not give this book: they like their reading material to be straightforward exposition. The notion of an interactive book, where readers are forced to choose distinguishable paths and interact with discrete lines of thought, finding their own worldviews challenged—well, that does not sound very relaxing, and it may be a bit intimidating. But James Anderson has written something that is as creative as it is unusual: he has written a book in clear prose and at a popular level that nevertheless challenges readers to think, and especially to identify and evaluate their own worldviews. If the style is akin to ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books, the content is at least as entertaining and far more important.”
– D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“This book will become ‘the book’ that will be used by campus ministers, students, and a host of others who are constantly being drawn into conversations concerning worldviews. The layout of this book is ingenious, helpful, and engaging. The information found in these short pages will provide accurate long-term care for those on a ‘worldview journey.’”
– Rod Mays, National Coordinator, Reformed University Fellowship

“James Anderson’s What’s Your Worldview? is a delightfully innovative apologetic. I know of nothing like it. It gets the reader to interact by asking crucial worldview questions. Depending on the reader’s answers, he is led to further questions, or to a conclusion. Animating the journey is a cogent Christian apologetic, showing that only the Christian worldview yields cogent answers to the questions. Anderson’s approach is both winsome and biblical, as well as being the most creative apologetic book in many years. I pray that it gets a wide readership.”
– John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

What’s Your Worldview offers a uniquely interactive approach to finding answers to life’s biggest and most important questions. It makes identifying your worldview, and perhaps replacing it with a better one, an enjoyable adventure.”
– Tim Challies, blogger, Challies.com; author, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment

“There has been a plethora of books written about worldview in the past 25 years, but Dr. Anderson has done something much better—he has written a book that helps you discern your worldview, and then ask yourself some penetrating questions about it. Is all as it should be in your worldview? Read on, and find out.”
– William Fullilove, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Assistant Academic Dean, Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta

“For some time now, the church has been in desperate need of an accessible and practical tool that would help people evaluate the cogency and coherence of their worldviews. Finally, with this new book, that need is being met. James Anderson is one of the brightest new voices in the world of philosophical theology. You will not want to miss this book.”
– Michael J. Kruger, President and Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte; author, Canon Revisited

“Not the last word on worldviews, but quite possibly the first! What’s Your Worldview? is creative, clear, and fun, but with some ‘nice’ and necessary sharp edges. I hope and pray it will have the desired effect of making all those who read it stop and think (Isa. 44:19).”
– Daniel Strange, Academic Vice Principal and Tutor in Culture, Religion and Public Theology, Oak Hill Theological College, London

“Dr. James Anderson has provided the church with a unique new tool to help the next generation be prepared to give the reason for the hope that is within them.”
– Hugh Whelchel, Executive Director, The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics; author,How Then Should We Work?

The Shepherd Leader at Home: Knowing, Leading, Protecting, and Providing for Your Family

9781433530074m
Westminster Bookstore:

Husbands and dads play a crucial role in the health and survival of the family. That’s why leadership expert Tim Witmer has written this book—to strengthen our efforts to lead well. He applies a biblical framework to the role of leadership in the home, showing how effective shepherding involves “knowing, leading, protecting, and providing for your family”; all the while communicating solid principles with a down-to-earth, relatable tone.

Find in this book the wise counsel and practical direction that is sure to make a difference in your family today.

Includes questions For Further Reflection at the end each chapter

More Free Media:

Listen to a lecture by Tim Witmer entitled Shepherding in the Home.
Requires a free account at Westminster Theological Seminary

About the Author:

Timothy Z. Witmer (DMin, Reformed Theological Seminary) is professor of practical theology and coordinator of the practical theology department at Westminster Theological Seminary. He has served as senior minister of Crossroads Community Church since 1986 and is the author of The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church.

Seeing Beauty & Saying Beautifully

Did you know John Piper has loads of free books on the Desiring God website?  Did you know he just released a new one, that is, again, FREE?  Gotta love it.  The new book is called Seeing Beauty & Saying Beautifully.  It’s in the series The Swans are Not Silent, and in this next offering Piper gives us a look into the hearts of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C.S. Lewis.  Click here to get it for FREE.

Desiring God:

full_1400523950Read John Piper’s article on why he thinks this particular book of his is “the one most different from all the others.”

Herbert. Whitefield. Lewis.

In the sixth volume of The Swans Are Not Silent series, John Piper celebrates the importance of poetic effort by looking at three influential Christians whose words magnificently display a commitment to truth and a love of beauty.

Examining the lives of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis, Piper helps us appreciate the importance of carefully crafted words by exploring how Christians can use them to testify to God’s glory, wonder at his grace, and rejoice in his salvation.

Whether exploring Herbert’s moving poetry, Whitefield’s dramatic preaching, or Lewis’s imaginative writing, this book highlights the importance of Christ-exalting eloquence in our praise of God and proclamation of his gospel.

First Edition 2014
Crossway Books (Wheaton, Illinois)

Him We Proclaim – The Core of Our Message

1596380543mFor this “On My shelf Monday” I want to recommend one of my favorite reads in the past few years.  It’s called Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All of Scripture, by Dennis Johnson.

As the twenty-first century dawns, the global church needs a rebirth of Holy Spirit-illumined, apostolic proclamation of Jesus Christ from every text of Scripture. The weakening church in the West finds itself marginalized by a culture that increasingly manifests indifferent pluralism and hostile paganism strikingly similar to what the apostles encountered in the Greco-Roman world two millennia ago. Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere the church’s rapid numerical growth frequently is accompanied by converts” superficial grasp of Scripture and fragile connection to the faith, giving little evidence of the gospel’s power to create communities of disciples distinguished by purity, integrity, compassion, and hope.

Him We Proclaim argues that today, twenty centuries after the good news of Jesus the Messiah first burst like lightning across the ancient world’s global cultures, pastors and evangelists must rediscover the Christ-centered way of reading and preaching the Bible that the apostles learned from Jesus and practice the apostolic hermeneutic that God’s Spirit used to capture the hearts of ancient peoples by the world-shaking power of divine grace. (WTS Books)

Endorsements:

This is an important book, a timely book much in need of being written and one that will be read with the greatest profit. This is especially so for those who, committed to a redemptive-historical or covenant-historical reading of the Bible, recognize and seek to honor and proclaim as its central theme, Old Testament as well as New, Christ in his person and work as the consummate revelation of the triune God.
Read the entire review
– Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Charles Krahe Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

Him We Proclaim is by far the most comprehensive study of what the Bible says about preaching. Through a very wide-angle lens, Johnson is able to show that none of the popular theories of preaching says everything that should be said; but each has some insights and can be seen as an aspect of the biblical picture. The book also gives a clear and full account of the hermeneutical questions that preachers must deal with. Johnson’s arguments are cogent, his evaluations sound. If I could have only one book on preaching, this would be the one.
– John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is truly worth reading, and Dennis Johnson’s meaty volume, Him We Proclaim, is one of them. Although this work is indeed about preaching, it is no mere homiletics manual, for Johnson provides rich exegetical fare and incisive theological reflection in an understandable, literate style. In an area where considerable disagreement exists, the author’s commitments are clear, but he refuses to be drawn to extreme positions, and his irenic treatment of competing views can only affect the discussion in a positive way. Even those who may not be fully persuaded by Johnson’s arguments will be deeply grateful by what they have learned.
– Moises Silva, Formerly Professor of New Testament Westminster Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Dennis Johnson has written a magnificent book that magnifies Christ in all of Scripture. Every preacher and teacher of the Scriptures should read this gem of a book. Johnson convincingly explains and defends the thesis that Christ should be proclaimed from all of Scripture. But he also illustrates with specific examples what it looks like to proclaim Christ in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. This book is exegetically faithful, theologically profound, and practically helpful. I wish I had a read a book like this when I started my theological education thirty years ago.
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Apostolic hermeneutics? Dare we read the Scripture backward as well as forward? Dennis Johnson’s answer is a marvelously informed, and convincing “yes!” Yes, we can read and interpret and teach as the apostles did. Him We Proclaim is sure to be widely read and discussed both in the academy and by groups of serious-minded preachers of the Word. Sure to become a staple in the homiletical discussion of the twenty-first century.
– R. Kent Hughes, Senior Pastor Emeritus, College Church, Wheaton, Illinois

This book is dedicated to the memory of Edmund Clowney, who inspired many of us to find and preach Christ in all the Scriptures. Clowney was a brilliant practitioner of Christocentric preaching. The question for the rest of us is how to do it well. In a wide-ranging discussion, Dennis Johnson brings his deep knowledge of the Bible and hermeneutics together with his experience and teaching of preaching to reflect on just this question. One need not agree with all his arguments or assumptions to appreciate the value and importance of what Johnson offers as the fruit of years of wise reflection and practice. The first part of his work defends the whole enterprise of Christological interpretation and preaching in the light of issues in present-day biblical scholarship and homiletical debates. Not content simply to theorize, he provides extended expositions of apostolic preaching and teaching, samples of Christological readings of OT and NT passages, and an appendix proposing basic procedures for moving from text to Christological proclamation. There is much, then, to stimulate thought and to give practical help in this major contribution. Not the least part of that contribution is Johnson’s persuasive argument that preaching that makes Christ its primary focus should at the same time be preaching that addresses the needs of its hearers in their particular cultural setting.
– Andrew T. Lincoln, Portland Professor of New Testament, University of Gloucestershire

Him We Proclaim is a masterful work that should help preachers to understand the necessary interplay between hermeneutics and homiletics that results from a comprehensive biblical theology and a deep commitment to preaching the Word of God. This book holds the promise of the recovery of biblical preaching for those who will give themselves to the demanding and glorious task of setting each text within the context of God’s redemptive plan. This is a book that belongs on every preacher’s bookshelf.
– R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Rediscovering Eden – The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes

9781596384682mWestminster Bookstore:

“The Preacher” in Ecclesiastes reminds us that life under the sun does not play out according to neat and tidy rules. He asks us to see the world around us in all its messiness and explores what that messiness reveals about us, our world, and God. The Preacher is plainspoken, because people live in the midst of this mess and we have to talk about it. Zack Eswine gives us a meditation that engages people where they are and invites them to draw near to God who enters their world to redeem it and them.

About the Author

Zack Eswine (PhD, Regent University) is lead pastor at Riverside Church in Webster Groves, Missouri. Zack was an Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Director for the Doctor of Ministry program at Covenant Theological Seminary and has also written many books on preaching and Christian living.

About the Series

Iain M. Duguid (PhD, University of Cambridge) is Professor of Old Testament and Religion at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, and Co-pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Grove City.

Endorsements:

“There are books that are theologically significant, books that are pastorally relevant, and books that are beautifully written. But it is rare to find all three in a single work. Zack Eswine’s masterful treatment of Ecclesiastes will feed your mind, heart and soul in a unique way. This is probably the best volume in the Gospel According to the Old Testament series so far.”
– Iain Duguid, Professor of Old Testament, Grove City College; author, Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham

“When you are leading a Bible study, or preaching on a text, one thing you look for in extra-biblical resources is a trustworthy approach that can also help the text sparkle with new connections to the rest of the Bible’s grand narrative. It seems a popular thing for commentators to argue over the nuances of Ecclesiastes to the point where it becomes disjointed—your study can easily get lost in what seems to be conflicting detail. Zack Eswine will bring you a clarity to the themes of Ecclesiastes that can literally make you stop, slap your forehead, and exclaim ‘Ah! That makes sense.’ If you are leading a Bible study on, or preaching from Ecclesiastes, you need this book to orient your study.”
– Ian Thompson, Vice President, P&R Publishing

“In Recovering Eden, Zack Eswine has provided a pastorally poetic guide to the endlessly ‘wild and strange wonder called Ecclesiastes.’ He reliably reminds the reader that a search for life’s significance begins with a trustworthy God who fills life with meaning throughout life’s seasons and ends with this One who makes all things new in Jesus Christ. Be sure to reflect on the weighty questions that Zack provides after each chapter. They offer the reader a timely opportunity to respond to the author’s thoughtful observations of an ultimately hopeful text.”
– Donald C. Guthrie, Director of the PhD (Educational Studies), Professor of Educational Ministries, The Jeanette L. Hsieh Chair of Educational Leadership, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“While very few of us are professional philosophers who deal with the abstract problems of meaning, all of us are daily dealing with the functional problems of meaning. We all want our lives to count for something. Every one of us craves meaning—it’s human nature to yearn for it. The question is, where are we looking to find it … What are you depending on to make life worth living? What keeps you going?

“Ecclesiastes won’t allow for pat answers to these deeply existential questions—it forces us to look beneath the surface…. The writer of Ecclesiastes is not interested in pious platitudes and theory. He’s not some ivory-tower pontificator. Rather, he’s slogging his way through life on the ground, desperately looking for something to make him feel alive, something that will satisfy, something to give him the meaning he longs for. Ecclesiastes is an honest look at life without God. It explores the ways in which people try to save themselves apart from God, and in doing so, it blows our cover—it removes our fig leaves. It leads us to the abyss and drives us to despair. It reveals the meaninglessness of life ‘under the sun’ and causes us to cry out, ‘Who will rescue me?’

“My friend Zack Eswine helps us to see that all the answers sought for by the writer of Ecclesiastes (and us) under the sun come to us from above the sun, in the person and work of Jesus. Reading Ecclesiastes in the light of Christ’s finished work tells us that ultimate meaning is found in God through Christ, who defeats death and brings meaning to life. Jesus subjected himself to the curse of a meaningless world in order to free us from it.

“For those who see no end to their laborious search for meaning and satisfaction, Jesus promises rest…. Only in Christ are we freed from the bondage of vanity. Christ has completed our labors, he’s secured our meaning, he’s rescued us from futility. Thank you, Zack, for reminding me of this. I keep forgetting.”
– Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL