Christianity, of all the world's religions, is historically rooted and based. God entered into the world He created and has acted in providence and through revelation by the prophets, the apostles and especially His Son, Jesus Christ. ("He suffered under Pontius Pilate" roots our faith in a certain part of the world in a certain time in history in a certain culture). [The other world religions are not dependent upon history and especially not the history of their founder because their founders are not that important. What is important is the good works of the person seeking to be saved (or whatever) by that religion.]
The devil, through the instrumentality of his assistants (lost human beings speaking out of their lostness), has repeatedly attacked God and His plan of salvation for lost sinners by attacking God's Word. One time the attack is "It's not true!". [Errors are alleged and supposed contradictions pointed out. Secular knowledge is put forward as inerrant and when the Bible contradicts that secular information, the Bible is said to be in error.]
Another time the attack is "It's not sufficient!" (we need psychology, anthropology, sociology, economic or whatever to buttress this less than adequate revelation from God).
Prior to my conversion in 1969, I had taken a religion class to meet a requirement for graduation from my Liberal Arts degree at a midwestern college.
I took the class on the Old Testament. Sitting there as a non-Christian in class each day, I listened to the professors from prestigious universities (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Chicago, et al.) tell us that the Old Testament was full of pious myths, legends, cultural stories, and the fertile imaginations of ancient Hebrews who extrapolated from their religious experiences to ideas about God. Layer upon layer was added by succeeding generations of editors (J, E, P, D) who gave us the final product--our Old Testament.
Our job was to pull the kernels of truth out of the mountain of chaff which was the existing Old Testament text. I can remember thinking to myself--"If these men don't really believe these things, that's fine, then why don't they go and get a real job instead of spending their lives debunking the Bible?" Who would give their lives to debunking IBM or Microsoft or General Mills? What's more, my philosophy and literature classes showed me that no man had the answers of life. No one was worthy of my allegiance. No man could tell me why I was born, what my purpose in life was nor where I would end up at death. Many men told the rest of us how to live, but their lives betrayed their teachings. One writer died of syphilis at 29. Another went mad at 35. Another drank himself to death. Another was addicted to laudanum (opium laced with alcohol). Other were womanizers. Some were outright perverts. Still others had no clue as to the meaning of life and gave up looking for it.
Not only did God spare me from believing the propaganda of these professors, He saved me at the end of that semester! I was no longer among the mass of people who were in the fast lane on the freeway to hell without a clue as to their destiny. I was a new creation in Christ, with a spiritual nature and indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. No longer was I the blind man of 1st Corinthians 2:14 ("The natural man does not accept the things of the spirit of God for they are are foolishness him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually appraised."). In rereading and studying for the final exam, I was given confidence that the Bible was the Word of God written. The inward witness of the Holy Spirt over and over again enabled me to put out the fiery darts of open attack and innuendo thrown against God's Word. Books such as James Packer's 'FUNDAMENTALISM' AND THE WORD OF GOD, Josh McDowell's EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT, Gleason Archer's A SURVEY OF OLD TESTAMENT INTRODUCTION and books and articles by Benjamin B. Warfield gave me confidence to stand and withstand attacks upon God's Word.
After all, I was basing my eternal destiny upon the written Word of God. What the Bible contained about God, His creation of the world, mankind's fall into sin, God's subsequent pronouncement of wrath upon unrepentant, unbelieving mankind, the promise of a Deliverer, the 'seed of the woman', the calling of a man to begin the Jewish people out of whom would come the Messiah; the coming of Jesus in fulfillment of the prophet's words about God's suffering servant. If this book was not true and trustworthy, I was hopeless. And without guidance.
A decade later, after student ministry, I was in seminary majoring in theology and church history. I took a church history course examining the then recent work of Jack Rogers and Donald McKim, BIBLICAL AUTHORITY. In this book they tried to sell the thesis that the idea of an inerrant Bible was NOT the classic position of evangelical Christians but was a recent invention. The villains in their revisionist historiography were Benjamin B. Warfield and Archibald A. Hodge, two professors at Old Princeton Seminary who had penned an article on Inerrancy for the PRINCETON REVIEW. Rogers and McKim wrote a book of several hundred pages and filled with copious footnotes. They combed the pages of church history and found out the "real story" behind what Christians have supposedly believed about the Bible. And their conclusion was that Christians had always believed the Bible had errors but got over it and did not regard it as a big deal. Just stick to the story line about Jesus and sit loose to the embarrassing details of history, science, etc.
My course was structured for students to take the various chapters of the book, look up all the quotations and citations in the book and check them for accuracy. There were less students than chapters so I took two: the chapter on the Puritans and the chapter on Old Princeton and Charles Hodge. I was shocked to discover that 75-85% of the quotes were inaccurate. Sometime the authors conflated one source quoting another source and pushing the two together to make them say what they individually did not. Other times they took a sentence out of the middle of a paragraph
that went against their thesis but they cherry-picked a sentence that was useful to them. Other times they flat out changed or mangled a quotation. I was shocked that professing Christian scholars would do such a thing. So were my classmates whose finding revealed the same gross errors Our professor told us that the two authors were attached to a seminary which had changed its stance on the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. They were seeking to re-write history to make their seminary seem to stand in a good place rather than being out of step with historic Christianity. Welcome to academia!
In the past twenty five years, other scholars who wanted to be known as evangelicals and even Reformed evangelicals have changed their positions and sought to attack the historic position of Christians on the Scriptures.
One recent avenue of attack has been the idea that the Old Testament is not that reliable because it was written long ago by men who borrowed from their surrounding pagan neighbors key elements of Israel's religion. The Bible reflects the worldview of ancient paganism as much as it does any revelation from God.
Answers to the recent skeptics among the evangelical flock have come from reliable evangelical and Reformed scholars who have done their biblical and scholarly homework. I highly recommend the following books as I show their Table of Contents:
John Currid, AGAINST THE GODS (The Polemical
Theology of the Old Testament); Crossway. 2013
Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, Currid gives us great help in showing how the Old Testament is confronting the false religions and gods of the pagan nations surrounding Israel. "Polemical theology" from the sub-title means theology which is aimed at refuting error and heresy and establishing the truth. Chapters titles help us to see where he is going.
1. A Brief History of Ancient Near Eastern Studies
2. The Nature of Polemical Thought and Writing
3. Genesis 1 and Other Ancient Near Eastern
4. Ancient Near Eastern Flood Accounts and the
Noahic Deluge of Genesis 6-9
5. Joseph, the Tale of Two Brothers, and the
"Spurned Seductress" Motif
6. The Birth of the Deliverer
7. The Flights of Sinuhe and Moses
8. Who is "I Am That I Am"? (Exodus 3 and the
Egyptian Book of the Heavenly Cow)
9. The Rod of Moses
10. The Parting of the Waters of the Red Sea
11. Canaanite Motifs
Every preacher who faithfully preaches from the Old Testament and wants to faithfully understand and preach the text must study this book. But there's more good writing yet to consider.
James Hoffmeier and Dennis Magary, eds.; DO
HISTORICAL MATTERS MATTER TO FAITH? (A
Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern
Approaches to Scripture); Crossway; 2012
Hoffmeier and Magary are professors of Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago. They have enlisted 22 Old Testament and New Testament scholars to show the abiding historical veracity of the Word of God. Let me show you the table of contents and you will see its value.
PART 1--BIBLICAL, SYSTEMATIC & HISTORICAL THEOLOGY
1. Thomas McCall--Religious Epistemology, Theological
Interpretation of Scripture and Critical Biblical
Scholarship--A Theologian's Reflections
2. Graham Cole--The Peril of "Historyless" Systematic
3. Mark Thompson--The Divine Investments in Truth:
Toward a Theological Account of Biblical Inerrancy
4. James Hoffmeier--"These Things Happened"--Why
A Historical Exodus is Essential for Theology
5. Michael Haykin--Fundamentum et Columnam Fidei
Nostrae--Ireneus on the Perfect and Saving Nature
of the Scriptures
PART 2--THE OLD TESTAMENT AND ISSUES OF
HISTORY, AUTHENTICITY AND AUTHORITY
6. Richard Averbeck--Pentateuchal Criticism and the
7. Robert Chisholm--Old Testament Source Criticism--
Some Methodological Miscues
8. Robert Bergen--Word Distribution as an Indictor of
Authorial Intention (A Study of Genesis 1:1--2:3)
9. John Hilber--The Culture of Prophecy and Writing in
the Ancient Near East
10. Richard Schultz--Isaiah, Isaiahs and Current
11. Alan Millard--Daniel in Babylon: An Accurate
12. Willem VanGemeren and Jason Stanghelle--A
Critical, Realistic Reading of the Psalm Titles:
Authenticity, Inspiration and Evangelicals
13. Jens Bruun Kofoed--The Old Testament as
PART 3--THE NEW TESTAMENT AND ISSUES OF
HISTORY, AUTHENTICITY AND AUTHORITY
14. Robert Yarbrough--God's Word in Human Words--
Form Critical Reflections
15. Craig Blomberg--A Constructive Traditional
Response to New Testament Criticism
16. Darrell Bock--Precision and Accuracy: Making
Distinctions in the Cultural Context That Give
Pause in Pitting the Gospels Against Each Other
17. Eckhard Schnabel--Paul, Timothy, and Titus: The
Assumption of a Pseudonymous Author and of
Pseudonymous Recipients in the Light of Literary,
Theological and Historical Evidence
18. Thomas Davis--Saint Paul on Cyprus: The
Transformation of an Apostle
PART 4--THE OLD TESTAMENT AND ARCHEOLOGY
19. John Monson--Enter Joshue: The "Mother of
Current Debates" in Biblical Archeology
20. Richard Hess--Yahweh's "Wife" and Belief in One
God in the Old Testament
21. Michael Hasel--New Excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa
and the Early History of Judah
22. Steven Ortiz--The Archeology of David and
Solomon: Method or Madness?
Crossway Books has already given us an excellent refutation of some recent attacks upon the full inspiration and authority of Scripture in 2008 with
Greg Beale, THE EROSION OF INERRANCY IN
EVANGELICALISM: Responses to New Challenges
to Biblical Authority; Crossway
Thank you Crossway and thank you CVBBS for making such important and helpful books available to those of us whose calling is to study, teach and preach the Word of God. May we be faithful in our lifetimes.
Your Book Servant,
Visit my website for other reviews, articles and helpful information to pastors, teachers, elders and reading laymen:
America was born out of a war of rebellion and our nature as a people has not changed. While the early American colonists thought they had sufficient reasons to rebel, human beings are "rebels without a cause" when it comes to rebelling against God. And even after they are saved by the amazing grace of God, American still have a problem being under authority--even Christ's authority in the church. Our rebellion is couched in various quasi-religious ways, but it boils down to a refusal to submit to God-ordained reality and how it should function.
Today we will examine several books dealing with the doctrine of the church and several of its aspects.
(For the sake of brevity, we will not examine the God-given signs and seals of baptism and the Lord's Supper. We will save them for another time). Buy one or more of the following books and please God by reading them, putting them into practice and be a working part of God's church.
THE CHURCH IN GENERAL:
William Webster, THE CHURCH OF ROME AT THE
BAR OF HISTORY; Banner of Truth
Richard Phillips, Phillip Ryken and Mark Dever, THE
CHURCH (One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic);
P & R
Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, THE DELIBERATE
CHURCH; Crossway and 9 Marks
Mark Dever, 9 MARKS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH;
Crossway and 9 Marks
Edmund Clowney, THE CHURCH; IVP
Gregg Allison, SOJOURNERS AND STRANGERS (The
Doctrine of the Church); Crossway
Michael Milton, FINDING A VISION FOR YOUR
CHURCH (Assembly Required); P & R
LIVING IN THE CHURCH AS A CHRISTIAN:
Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, WHAT IS THE
MISSION OF THE CHURCH?; Crossway
Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, WHY WE LOVE THE
CHURCH (In praise of institutions and
organized religion); Moody Press
John Crotts, LOVING THE CHURCH; Shepherd Press
Joshua Harris, WHY CHURCH MATTERS; Multnomah
Earl Blackburn, JESUS LOVES THE CHURCH AND
SO SHOULD YOU; Solid Ground Christian Books
J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt, WOMEN'S
MATTERS IN THE LOCAL CHURCH; Crossway
Ray Penning, CHURCH & CAESAR (A Legal Primer
for Church Office Holders)
Steve Martin, ed.; BIBLICAL SHEPHERDING OF
GOD'S SHEEP (The Use and Abuse of Authority
in Christ's Church); Day One Publications
Don Whitney, SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES WITHIN
THE CHURCH; Moody Press
Joel Beeke, THE FAMILY AT CHURCH; Reformation
Sheila Stephen, PREPARING FOR CHURCH; Day
Thom Rainer, I AM A CHURCH MEMBER; B & H
Thabiti Anyabwile, THE LIFE OF GOD IN THE SOUL
OF THE CHURCH; Christian Focus
Wayne Mack, TO BE OR NOT TO BE..A CHURCH
MEMBER; Calvary Press
Jonathan Leeman, THE CHURCH AND THE
SURPRISING OFFENSE OF GOD'S LOVE
(Rediscovering the Doctrines of Church
Membership and Discipline); Crossway
Jonathan Leeman, CHURCH MEMBERSHIP; Crossway
and 9 Marks
Jonathan Leeman, CHURCH DISCIPLINE; Crossway
and 9 Marks
John Angell James, CHURCH MEMBERS GUIDE; Solid
Ground Christian Books--19th century classic
Edward Hiscox, PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES FOR
BAPTIST CHURCHES; Kregel--another older
John L. Dagg, MANUAL OF CHURCH ORDER (Baptist);
Guy Waters, HOW JESUS RUNS THE CHURCH; P & R
WHO RUNS THE CHURCH (4 views on Church
May the Lord make you and I better Christians and therefore bring more glory to Him as we come more and more to understand the Bible's teaching on the church and our place in it.
Your Book Servant,
Visit my website: www.thelogcollege.wordpress.com
John's Gospel has long been a favorite of Christ's people. It was written by "the disciple whom Jesus loved", a cousin in His humanity and especially close
to our Lord. John's gospel, more than the other three, pulls back the curtain on the eternal inter-relationships between the three members of the Holy Trinity. John's quotes our Lord speaking especially of His relationship with His Father and how the coming Holy Spirit would be His personal agent, representing and replicating Him.
John's Gospel is also appreciated for its clarity and straight-forward presentation of the truth of Christ's divinity. I can remember as a new Christian in 1969 reading John's gospel over and over again. It was full of our Lord's promises to His people (cf. P. B. Power's THE 'I WILLS' OF CHRIST below). But it is also full of His teaching and that of John as to the deity of our Lord. God had become flesh and the disciples beheld His glory. Christian faith is not in a great man but in God the Son, the Second member of the Holy Trinity.
Below I have listed good places to look for help in studying and perhaps speaking John's gospel. I have broken down the resources into three categories.
A=no prior knowledge of John's gospel or of the biblical
language are needed. Accessible to the layman.
Paints with a broad brush. Does not usually get into
the details of exegesis but gives a singular meaning.
Good for personal devotions and family worship.
B=some knowledge of biblical languages might be
needed. Requires more than a passing knowledge
of what is going on in John's gospel. May give more
than one exegetical option. Appropriate for S. S.
teachers, small group leaders, campus workers,
neighborhood Bible Study leaders, etc.
C=expects you to know some of the original languages
and how they work. Gives various exegetical options
and the authors own measured option. Appropriate
for pastors, seminarians, serious students of John's
A. J. C. Ryle, EXPOSITORY THOUGHTS ON JOHN (3
Volumes in paperback; or 1 volume hardback.);
Banner of Truth--vintage Ryle. First written for
laymen who had no local church to attend and
needed some of the meat of the Word of personal
or family worship.
A. J. C. Ryle, JOHN (Crossway Classic Commentary);
Crossway--abridged and modernized by Packer
A. John Calvin, JOHN; Crossway--edited and updated
by McGrath and Packer. Considered one of
A. Leon Morris, REFLECTIONS ON THE GOSPEL OF
JOHN; Hendrickson; originally published by Baker
as EXPOSITORY REFLECTIONS ON THE GOSPEL
OF JOHN. Professor Morris used his retirement
years to give his mature reflections upon this
book of the Bible upon which he has already given
the churches an outstanding commentary (see
A. Colin Kruse, JOHN (Tyndale New Testament
Commentary); IVP Academic--has also done the
excellent companion volume on John's epistles
for the series. Good place for the beginning
student to begin.
A. Arthur W. Pink, EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF
JOHN; Zondervan--stimulates thought and
A. Bruce Milne, THE MESSAGE OF JOHN (The Bible
Speaks Today Series); IVP--most helpful
exposition by the former professor at Spurgeon's
College and former pastor of 1st Baptist Church
of Vancouver, B.C., Canada. A good theologian
and good expositor.
A. R. C. Sproul, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN (St. Andrews
Expositional Commentary); Reformation Trust--
Sproul and the gospel of John--a winning
B. Gary Burge, JOHN (NIV Application Commentary
Series); Zondervan--good exegesis with thought
provoking attempts at application. He will not
reinforce your already existing prejudices in his
'bridging to today' applications.
B. F. F. Bruce, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, Eerdmans--
solid gold, especially for the beginning teacher.
B. Andreas Kostenberger, JOHN (Baker Exegetical
Commentary); Baker--just about everything one
could ask for about John ins found here and his
companion volumes (see below).
B. D.A. Carson, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN (Pillar New
Testament Commentaries); Eerdmans--One of
his best, reflecting his earlier doctoral work on
C. J. Ramsey Michaels, JOHN (New International
Commentary on the New Testament); Eerdmans-
a student and teacher of John's gospel for
decades, Professor Michaels brings years of his
lecturing, thinking and writing to this massive
study of John.
C. Herman Ridderbos, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN;
Eerdmans--theological exegesis at its best.
C. Leon Morris, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN;
Eerdmans--perhaps Morris' best.
C. Craig Keener, A COMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL
OF JOHN (2 vol.); Hendrickson--Keener gives the
serious scholar great help in knowing John.
INTRODUCTIONS TO JOHN AND HIS GOSPEL:
A. Robert Reymond, JOHN, BELOVED DISCIPLE (A
Survey of His Theology); Christian Focus/Mentor--
Professor Reymond gives us his mature reflections
on John and his gospel.
A. Robert Peterson, GETTING TO KNOW JOHN'S
GOSPEL; P & R--not a commentary but an
introduction to the various themes of John's
gospel. Quite helpful.
B. Craig Blomberg, THE HISTORICAL RELIABILITY
OF JOHN'S GOSPEL; IVP--Professor Blomberg
defends the historical trustworthiness of John's
gospel against its critics, ancient and modern.
B. Andreas Kostenberger, INTRODUCING JOHN;
Baker--the best place to begin for one wanting to
seriously study and understand John and his
B. Andreas Kostenberger, A THEOLOGY OF JOHN'S
GOSPEL AND LETTERS; Baker--a leading expert
on all things "John", this evangelical Baptist
scholar has put the church in his debt with so
many good things on John.
B. Andreas Kostenberger and Scott Swain: FATHER,
SON AND HOLY SPIRIT (The Trinity in John's
Gospel); [New Studies in Biblical Theology]; IVP
Academic--it is important for the Christian
communicator to get his theology from the Word
of God. The Trinity is a biblical concept though
not a biblical word.
HOMILETIC HELPS ON JOHN'S GOSPEL:
A. James Montgomery Boice, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
(5 volumes); Baker--one of Dr. Boice's best. He
did his Ph.D. work on John's gospel at the
University of Basel and yet preached John's
gospel for several years to his people at 10th
Presbyterian in Philadelphia.
A. R. Kent Hughes, JOHN (Preaching the Word
Series); Crossway--Hughes show how to preach
the text in this culture with effect.
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE PATH TO TRUE
HAPPINESS (John 2); Baker--classic expositions
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE ASSURANCE OF
SALVATION (Studies in Jesus' Prayer for His own-
John 17); Crossway--a modern Puritan and the
greatest preacher in the English language in the
20th century gives a rich and moving treatment
to our Lord's intercession for His first century
disciples and his disciples down through the
B. P. B. Power, THE "I WILL'S" OF CHRIST; Banner
of Truth--a rich meditation upon our Lord's
promises to His people of what He, Himself, will
be to them.
A. Charles Ross, THE INNER SANCTUARY (John 13-
17); Banner of Truth--warm devotional
treatment of passages rightly well-worn in
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace to read, study and speak of John's gospel with clarity, spirituality and faith.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
You can follow me also at...
This generation likes to speak about "the story" or "the meta-narrative", which is a fancy word for "big story". It is not a generation that like to speak of facts or objective reality or absolute truth or propositional revelation. Having given up hope of constructing a way of understanding the world beginning with mankind's collective wisdom, many no longer believe there is any rhyme or reason for why the world is the way it is or what we are to do in relation to it. That is not the Bible's portrayal of the way things are, how they got that way and what are we to do in response to it.
Christian thinkers have long sought to help God's people understand the "big picture" which God is painting in the Bible. In coming to understand the "big picture", we can come to understand where we as individuals fit in--how our photo gets into the bigger picture that God is creating.
There are two ways of tracing the outline of this so-called "big picture" of God. One is to trace what God is doing in the progressive revelation in the Bible--what theologians call "biblical theology"--the unfolding plan of salvation revealed in the progressive stages of the Bible's narrative. A second way to understand the "big picture" is to look at the whole of what God has revealed in the Bible and put it into logical and discrete categories--like a gardener or botanist takes wild flowers and herbs and puts them into a botanical garden. Theologians call this organized way of showing God's truth "systematic theology". "Biblical theology" and "systematic theology" are complementary ways of showing what God has revealed in the Bible.
This week I shall be highlighting the various "systematic theology" works which are available and try to show you how you might use them. Next week I hope to show you some good "biblical theology" works and how you might use them.
SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY FOR CHILDREN & TEENS
Bruce Ware, BIG TRUTHS FOR YOUNG HEARTS:
Crossway--the whole gamut of systematic
theology for children aged 6-14.
INTRODUCTORY SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY FOR ADULTS:
Sinclair Ferguson, THE CHRISTIAN LIFE: A DOCTRINAL
INTRODUCTION; Banner of Truth--getting started
in the basics of the faith by a great
Bruce Milne, KNOW THE TRUTH; IVP--takes the reader
and unfolds the basic truths of Protestant,
Reformed Christianity; approving forward by James
Packer. Nicely laid out and communicated.
James Packer, CONCISE THEOLOGY; Tyndale--an
outstanding, compressed guide to basic theology.
Do not let its simplicity fool you. "Packer by name,
packer by trade". There is a wealth of good things
here. Each pastors and teacher needs to have a
copy of this handy to check oneself.
James Packer, 18 WORDS; Christian Focus--a most
helpful overview of eighteen key words in the Bible
and their profound meanings. Should also be kept
close at hand for preachers and teachers to check
James M. Boice, FOUNDATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN
FAITH; IVP--originally sermons to his Philadelphia
congregation, Boice was able to be clear, biblical,
historically accurate and always with a telling
illustration. One seminary graduate told me that
he could not piece together what he learned in
seminary until by God's providence, he read this
book. Then all things came together for him.
R. C. Sproul, ESSENTIALS TRUTHS OF THE CHRISTIAN
FAITH; Tyndale--clear, biblical, warm and expressed
in the warm clarity that is R. C. Sproul's teaching
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, GREAT DOCTRINES OF THE
BIBLE; Crossway--originally in three volumes, this
is a masterful overview of God's revealed truths
for today's Christians.
John Dagg, MANUAL OF THEOLOGY; Founders Press--
the first writing systematic theologian among
19th century Baptists in the South, Dagg's
theology is Calvinistic, clear and warm.
Archibald Alexander, BRIEF COMPENDIUM OF BIBLE
TRUTH; Solid Ground Christian Books--a warm,
clear and straight-forward work by the first
President of Princeton Theological Seminary. As a
pastor after the Revolutionary War, he preached
with power and preached in times of revival. A holy
man with unique gifts.
Louis Berkhof, SUMMARY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE;
Banner of Truth--a shortened and simplified version
of his much longer and more comprehensive work.
Charles Hodge, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY; Baker
(Abridged in 1 volume)--still a very good primer
as it stands--Hodge was one of America's greatest
theologians, teaching for over 50 years at Old
Princeton, when it was the bastion of evangelical
Archibald Alexander Hodge, EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY;
Banner of Truth--Friday evening lectures on
theology by the son of the great Charles Hodge.
The great Benjamin B. Warfield deeply admired the
younger Hodge's ability to take deep theology and
make it understandable to the man in the street.
Archibald Alexander Hodge, OUTLINES OF THEOLOGY;
Banner of Truth--going deeper than the volume
above, Hodge went over the whole corpus of
theology in the question and answer format.
Charles Spurgeon used Hodge's work as a textbook
at his PASTOR'S COLLEGE (only adding material on
baptism to reflect his own views on that matter).
MORE ADVANCED SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY WORKS:
James P. Boyce, ABSTRACT OF SYSTEMATIC
THEOLOGY; Founders Press--having studied under
Hodge at Old Princeton, Boyce went on to be one
of the bulwarks of The Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary in Louisville.
Louis Berhof, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY; Eerdmans--for
many years the classic Reformed systematic
theology for the mid-20th century. Berhof is
especially helpful with his history of the doctrine
section which puts the development of doctrine in
a clear light.
Gerald Bray, GOD IS LOVE; Crossway--leading
evangelical and Anglican theologian gives us his
understanding of how and what God has revealed
Himself to humanity and especially believers.
Robert L. Reymond, A NEW SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY;
Thomas Nelson--long time professor at Covenant
Seminary gives us the fruit of a lifetime of teaching
what God reveals of "the big picture".
Wayne Grudem, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY; Zondervan--
leading Calvinistic and Baptistic theologian gives
an overview of each branch of theology, comparing
his views with competing views. Well-organized.
Lacks a helpful understanding of the Holy Spirit.
Robert Culver, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY; Christian
Focus--leading evangelical theologian who has
taught at several seminaries write a very clear
"evangelical" systematic theology in the older
style. High marks from various evangelical
Robert L. Dabney, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY; Banner
of Truth--19th century Southern Presbyterian
theological giant, chaplain for General Stonewall
Jackson and such a good teacher that Princeton
tried to recruit him but he would not leave his
beloved South. Even neo-orthodox theologian Karl
Barth discovered that with Dabney there was more
Bible and less philosophy than with many other
Michael Horton, THE CHRISTIAN FAITH; Zondervan
a contemporary Reformed theologian covers the
various aspects of divine revelation in a
James Ussher, BODY OF DIVINITY; Solid Ground
Christian Books--classic Puritan systematic theology
which has stood the test of time.
MULTI-VOLUME SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY WORKS:
Charles Hodge, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY; Eerdmans;
3 volumes--a standard systematic theology;
written in the 1870's and still relevant because
God's Word is always relevant. (Until Hodge wrote
his massive work, Turretin's volumes in Latin were
the prescribed textbooks at Old Princeton.
William G. T. Shedd, DOGMATIC THEOLOGY; P & R--
three volumes in one giant sized volume, Shedd
rivaled Hodge in the 19th century. Still very useful.
(Quotations in Greek and Latin and German have
been translated in English.)
John Calvin, THE INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN
RELIGION; Westminster/John Knox Press--2
volumes--one of the greatest works in the history
of man or in the history of God's people. More
devotional than many people realize.
Francis Turretin, INSTITUTES OF ELENCTIC
THEOLOGY; P & R--[3 volumes] following in the
steps of John Calvin in Geneva, Turretin wrote
what has been a much used and highly praised
Herman Bavinck, REFORMED DOGMATICS (4
volumes); Baker--by the greatest of the Dutch
theologians of the past two hundred years. (Also
available in a one volume abridged edition.)
Douglas Kelley, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1 of 3
projected volumes is in print); Christian Focus
by one of the greatest theologians in the
contemporary Presbyterian Church. A noted
patristics scholar, this promises to be a much used
textbook written by a professor with a pastor's
heart, preaching every Lord's Day in a small church
in the country.
Begin with the simpler volumes and work your way into the more comprehensive and demanding volumes. As you come to more and more understand what God has done and is doing, you can better see your photo in God's big picture, and your story in His story.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my personal blog:
For many years, I have observed that just as my body craves certain things at certain times (water or sports drink after a workout; lean meat and a salad for a satisfying dinner; fresh fruit for sweet refreshment; dark chocolate for a little splurge, etc, so in a similar way, my spiritual health requires that I recognize my soul's spiritual needs and feed my soul what is appropriate.
Let me give you an illustration. Perhaps you are a no-nonsence kind of person who likes facts and objective data. Reading books about theology and church history might be your greatest interest. But if you are also assessing your spiritual condition rightly, you also should recognize that an unbalanced spiritual diet of "outside of me", objective truths must be balanced with "inside of me", subjective application of truth. Or to put it another way, a head full of data can fool me into thinking I understand a spiritual reality when I may only be understanding the idea of the spiritual reality. Perhaps I am not experiencing the power of that spiritual reality at all.
So a balanced spiritual diet of objective truths (outside of me) and subjective application of truths (experiencing the power of truth within me), may require reading different materials at different times.
Or we may have to learn to read differently, seeking to apply truths to ourselves when the author and volume in question do not. For example, when reading about the Protestant Reformation and the rediscovery of justification by faith alone in Christ alone, the author retelling the story may not stop and ask me, the reader: "Are you understanding and applying this truth to your own heart?" "Are you trusting in the finished work of Christ as your righteousness and the full atonement for your sins?" "Is God the Holy Spirit bearing witness to your soul that you are a child of God, accepted in the Beloved and His righteousness alone?"
To capitalize on the balance of objective truths and subjective experience of the truths, let me recommend pairs of books for you to read, ponder, pray over, come to understand and apply to your own soul.
THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION:
James R. White, THE GOD WHO JUSTIFIES;
Bethany--A good, no frills examination of what
the Bibles teaches on the believing sinner's sins
being counted to Christ and Christ's
righteousness being counted to the believing
Jerry Bridges, THE GREAT EXCHANGE; Crossway--
a parallel study with more emphasis upon one's
own experience of this most important truth.
THE DOCTRINE OF PROVIDENCE (The Hand of God in the Glove of Circumstances)
Paul Helm, THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD; IVP--works
through the issues one by one
Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD--EVEN WHEN LIFE
HURTS; NavPress--even when your wife is dying
of cancer, you lose your job, the lab's test comes
back positive, the squad car pulls up with your
child in the back seat, etc.
THE DOCTRINE OF SANCTIFICATION (growing as a Christian in Christ-like holiness):
A. W. Pink, THE DOCTRINE OF SANCTIFICATION;
Jerry Bridges, THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS;
NavPress--classic study by a man who practices
what he preaches and teaches.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:
Sinclair Ferguson, THE HOLY SPIRIT: IVP--a classic
by one of our best modern theologians.
Octavius Winslow, THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT;
Banner of Truth--a classic study of the Holy Spirit
in the believer's life.
Now that I have spurred your thinking a bit, what books have you discovered make a good pair for imparting great truths and making them come alive in your life? Email and let me know what you have found.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Join me also at my website,
INTERPRETATION OF PROVIDENCE IN HISTORY
I. EXAMPLES TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING ON PROVIDENCE & HISTORY
A. EXAMPLE # 1--TWO MEN, TWO VIEWS OF REALITY
--I Kings 18:17-18
1. King Ahab's, a rich and powerful man of the
world, interprets reality in his lifetime
a. Elijah had interrupted the peace and
happiness of the land by praying down God's
judgement in the form of a drought.
b. This 'sour chuch goer', Elijah, spoils life.
c. Israel was his kingdom to dispose of as he
2. Elijah's, the man of God, interprets reality in
a. Ahab's idolatry was the cause of ruin to the
land of Israel
b. It is the reckless sinner who ruins the world
by bringing God's curse upon a land.
c. Israel was God's Kingdom, Ahab was an
apostate ruler and a thorn in Israel's flesh.
3. Two men interpret the same data but interpret
it very differently
a. Israel was in the midst of a major drought,
ruining its economy and making life hard.
b. The people were confused and lacked
direction. Two powerful men had spoken out.
c. Which, if either, was right?
B. EXAMPLE # 2--DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS OF
1. Acts 22:22--"Rid the earth of him. He's not fit
to live!" is the analysis of religious men who
are unconverted (e.g. I Tim. 3:1-5) and who
glory in their own righteousness and shun the
righteousness that God gives in Christ (cf. Isaiah
66:1-2, 5 & Phil. 3:3, 9)
2. Hebrews 11:38a--God's interpretation was that
the martyrs were "men of whom the world was
3. Whose interpretation of reality ultimately
counts? Whose interpretation of events, men's
actions, and your life really counts?
II. LESSONS TO LEARN ABOUT INTERPRETING
PROVIDENCE IN HISTORY
A. A MAN'S THEOLOGY ALWAYS DETERMINES HIS
VIEW OF PROVIDENCE (If you were to ask the
question: "What is fundamentally wrong with our
nation? ", you would get various answers.)
1. Ecumenical spokesmen--"You need to lay aside
your doctrinal differences and 'heal the wounded
Body of Christ' before Christianity will again be a
force in the land.
2. Charismatic/Pentecostal spokesmen--
"Christianity will not be a force in the land again
as long as Christians will not seek the
charismatic and pentecostal gifts."
3. Liberal spokesmen--"Christianity will not be a
force in the land as long as narrow, obscurantist
fundamentalists and old-fashioned confessional
Christians are active. We must adapt to the
4. Confessional Evangelical and Reformed
spokesmen--"God's judgement is on our land
for our unfaithfulness to Christ, to His Bible, to
the gospel and its theology."
B. THE WAY A MAN INTERPRETS PROVIDENCE PROVES
1. I Chronicles 12:32
2. Esther 1:13-28, esp. vv. 13-14 and Esther
3. Daniel 3:16-18 and Daniel 9:1-3
4. Acts 2:22-24 and 4:23-28
5. Acts 27:9-44--God's sovereignty & human
responsibility in a providential view of history
III. WHAT WE NEED TO RECAPTURE TO PROPERLY
1ST--THE CONCEPT OF A 'MODEL AGE' OR 'GOLDEN
ERA' IS VALID
1. In a limited sense, there are 'model ages' or
'golden eras' in church history.
2. There are times when God is wonderfully and
powerfully at work in sending reformation
revival and powerful preachers of great
3. Other times show that God can give good and
orthodox preachers to the churches but
withhold a great outpouring of His Spirit on the
preacher or his usefulness. Ultimately, God
determines the 'usefulness' and 'significance'
of every man's ministry.
4. If we do not believe in times when God's grace
is poured out in reformaton and revival and
powerful preaching, then how can we desire it
and pray for it?
5. Times that most approximate the theology and
spiritual power of the New Testament are those
times most blessed of God.
a. the Reformation of the 16th century
b. the Puritan Era of the 17th century
c. the Great Awakening of the 18th century
d. the 2nd Great Awakening and the modern
missionary movement of the 19th century
2ND--THE BIBLICAL IDEA THAT GOD MUST BE
GLORIFIED IN THE EARTH
1. All professing Christians say that God should be
glorified. It is axiomatic.
2. But it is not common to find professing
Christians who believe that God is worthy to be
glorified now, in each person's lifetimes, through
each person's life by his holy obedience, faith-
fulness to God and His Word, and self-denying,
3. Most professing Christians today would say that
such lives are only for 'super Christians', the kind
who should become pastors and missionaries.
4. Examples of the issues at hand:
a. the Scottish Covenanters of the 17th
century--they would rather die that disobey
Q--"Why are you prepared to suffer such
'unnecesary' trials? I shall go to heaven
too as a Christian but I am not going to
suffer for such matters of conscience. So
what will you get that I won't? You will
only get heaven too."
A--"But yes, we will have more than you.
For we shall have God glorified on earth."
b. Puritan pastor John Preston to a persecutor
asking why he was such a precise man about
his Christian life and doctrine--"That is
because I serve a precise God."
c. Robert Murray M'Cheyne--"My people's
greatest need is...my personal holiness. A
holy minister is an awesome weapon in the
hands of Almighty God."
5. Today, most professing Christians are careless
and haphazard about their daily walk, their
marriage and family, their worship of God, and
their witness for Christ. It has been like that at
other times too--Paul admonished and warned
the Ephesians-- 4:1 and 5:1-15
6. What is lost by the masses of professing
Christians who do not live their lives purpose-
fully to be holy and careful and consistent is that
God is not being glorified on the earth.
7. And that is of incalcuable loss! Everywhere the
Bible teaches that God's greatest motivation is
for His own glory. It would be sin for God to be
whatever is 2nd.
8. cf. Psalm 115:1; Isaiah 42:8; 43:7 and 48:11;
9. Carelessness of walk, worship, and witness not
only forfeits God's richest blessings but robs Him
of His declared and demonstrated glory on earth.
10. Universal obedience to God's written Word
becomes more essential that life itself.
3RD--THE BIBLICAL PORTRAYAL OF THE CHURCH'S
HEALTH LIKE THE RISING & FALLING OF A
WAVE (Periodically Rising To New Spiritual
Heights and Then Falling to Spiritual Lows)
1. Scripture teaches that times of revival will be
followed by decline of varying degrees both on
a Church and a personal level. We must always
battle "spiritual entropy".
2. Psalm 44
3. Isaiah 63:7--64:12
4. Biblical and historical examples
a. there was a revival under young King Josiah
and people's lives and Israel's national life was
changed. But spiritual decline set in again.
b. 400 years of silence between Malachi's
prophecies and the coming of John the
c. the outpouring of grace & spiritual light at
our Lord's 1st coming and the preaching
of the apostles
d. the sputtering of darkness and light during
the first 500 years of the Church as it
battled persecution, heresy and the cultural
collapse of the Roman Empire
e. the flickering of light in the great darkness of
the "Dark Ages" from 500-1000 and the
gradual appearance of light during the
Medieval & Renaissance period (1000-1500).
f. the great burst of light at the Protestant
Reformation of the 16th century beginning
with Martin Luther in 1517 and running
through the Puritan period of 1689.
g. things declined spiritually again until the
great burst of light at the Great Awakening
under Whitefield, Wesley and Edwards and
the later 2nd Great Awakening.
3. Not matter how low the fortunes of Christ's
church may fall, God is able to revive it again,
even in a very short time in answer to believing
prayer. The wave that falls to its trough (lowest
point) is destined to rise up again to another
peak. We must keep this in mind if we are not
to fall into despair in such a day as this.
[POST TENEBRAS LUX]
4. God's question put to ancient Israel--Isaiah
66:8--"Can a nation be born in a day?"
4TH--THIS DISTINCTIVE CONCEPT OF THE CHURCH'S
HISTORY WAS RECAPTURED AT THE TIME OF
THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION
1. The Reformers and biblical Protestantism helped
us to recapture the Scriptures and the
doctrines they teach but they also helped
recover the view of history found in Scripture.
2. Watershed writings of Protestantism that shaped
the Church's understanding of history:
Martin Luther, THE FREEDOM OF THE
CHRISTIAN MAN, A LETTER TO THE CHRISTIAN
NOBILITY, THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY OF THE
CHURCH; John Calvin's INSTITUTES OF THE
CHRISTIAN RELIGION; and John Foxe's ACTS
AND MONUMENTS (popularly called FOXE'S
BOOK OF MARTYRS)
3. The Reformers saw God's providence worked out
in 3 distinct eras of church history:
a. the early church--(0-500) rise, battles and
b. the medieval church--(500-1500) millennium
of confusion, superstition, and darkness
c. the modern church--(1500-today) rise,
battles, decline, rise, battles, decline, etc.
4. If we do not let the theology of the Bible describe
what is spiritual health and what is spiritual
disease, then we will be unable to diagnose our
own spiritual health nor the times in which we
are living. That which most closely conforms
with Scripture is best!
5. Sola Scriptura is the doctrine that God's Word
alone is the final interpreter of reality. Only God's
Word can reveal to us the good guys & bad guys,
health & decline in history.
6. When in history we see serious departure from
N. T. teaching and practice, then we know we
are seeing God's wrath & curse (upon a person,
family, culture or civilization)
7. When in history we see the close adherence to
N.T. teaching and practice, then we may be
certain that we see the approval of God in His
providence (and grace).
8. Such biblical thinking drove the Reformers and
subsequent Protestants to the conviction that
the Middle Ages was a great departure from God,
and oppositely, that the Reformaton, by God's
grace, was a glorious returning to God.
9. Modern historians and sadly too many evangelical
leaders believe in "unbiased history". To assign
value judgements and labels is to be biased. To
treat everything and everyone as gray has left
church history without heroes and villains, and
secular history as a big ?
10. But if the religion which the N.T. presents is the
religion of a man and a movement, then it is
justifiable to regard them as the work of God
and opponents as the enemies of God.
11. A corollary to this is that peoples and nations
which embrace biblical and Reformation teaching
are under the blessing of God, and oppositely,
His displeasure follows nations which turn from
those teaching. (E.g. the history of various
a. Proverbs 14:34
b. Romans 1:18-32
c. the theology of the Reformation was
rejected about the time of WW I
d. the ethics and morality of the Reformation
was rejected about the time of WW II
e. the total rejection of Reformation/Protestant
beliefs & behavior came with the "New
Morality", the "permissive society" and the
"counter culture" of the 1960's
f. the current status of evangelical religion
comes perilously close to regarding every-
thing calling itself "Christian" to be equally
valid and good, whether cult or Catholic.
IV. APPLYING WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED ABOUT
PROVIDENCE AND HISTORY
1. How we interpret providence determines how
we evaluate history, especially church history.
And that determines the way we look at the
great figures of church history and those who
right and speak about them.
2. "History" is the study of events that unfold in
this world when looked at from the limited
vantage point of mankind. It is human
knowledge, scholarship and interpretation
3. "Providence" looks at the same data from a
theological point of view. It is just history
as God has ordained it and watches over it. It
is history viewed through the Bible lens.
4. Someone writing or speaking about history or
the significance of cultural events may be
knowledgeable about certain details but not be
competent to interpret God's providence.
a. Pagan scholar Celsus attributed the fall of
the Roman Empire to the abandonment of
paganism and the rise of Christianity!
b. He was decisively answered by Augustine's
THE CITY OF GOD who puts forth the
opposite interpretation of reality (for us,
"history") from providence's point of view.
c. Edward Gibbon's, THE DECLINE AND FALL
OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, picks up the ancient
pagan logic of Celsus in his famous 18th
century attack on Christianity.
5. It is the duty of Christ's Church to explain
history. The Lord Jesus Himself rebuked the
Jewish leaders for their sin of failing to discern
the providence of God in their day:
a. Matthew 16:3--"You hypocrites, you can
discern the weather but you cannot
discern the signs of the times."
b. People's lives & events have a meaning
which we ignore only to our loss or our peril.
c. True, there are a vast arreas of providence
which we are not qualified to interpret.
d. But that does not excuse us for the failure
to interpret men & movements of history.
(This material was adapted from Maurice Roberts'
excellent devotional essay, "The Interpretation of
Providence in History" originally published in THE
THOUGHT OF GOD; Banner of Truth; pp. 30-47)
See his two other excellent series of devotional essays,
THE CHRISTIAN'S HIGH CALLING and GREAT GOD OF WONDERS, also published by the Banner of Truth. They are appropriate not only for personal devotions but also for devotionals among couples, for Elders Meetings and Deacons Meetings.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
When the history of this past thirty years is written, one thing observant Christians will have to do is to give thanks to God for the effulgence (i.e. overflowing, outbursting, outshining, overwhelming display) of great Christian books that are available. A happy confluence of Christian book buyers, available money to buy books, publishers that are willing and eager to publish Reformed literature, and a host of excellent authors has made this past three decades a boom time of Reformed publishing.And all of this is fueled by readers, laymen and pastors, who WANT to read Reformed literature. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Now let's look at some of the great new (and newly republished) books that are available and beg to be read.
BANNER OF TRUTH REPUBS:
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, KNOWING THE TIMES (Addresses Delivered in Various Occasions 1942-1977)
[First published in 1989 and again in 2001. we praise God that such a volume full of wisdom and vision is again available!] Here are the chapter titles:
1. The Presentation of the Gospel
2. Religion Today and Tomorrow
3. John Calvin
4. Maintaining the Evangelical Faith Today
5. A Policy Appropriate to Biblical Faith
6. Conversions: Psychological and Spiritual
7. Remembering the Reformation
8. How Can We See A Return to the Bible?
9. The Basis of Christian Unity
10. 'Consider Your Ways': The Outline of a New
11. The Weapons of our Warfare
12. Westminster Chapel (1865-1965)
13. Evangelical Unity: An Appeal
14. What is Preaching?
15. How to Safeguard the Future
16. What is an Evangelical?
17. A Protestant Evangelical College
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the great tool in God's toolbox for the reintroduction of the Reformed faith in the British isles in the 20th century. He was the greatest preacher in the English language in the 20th century according to the most astute observers (from conservative Dr. Wilbur Smith to neo-orthodox Emil Brunner). He was a man of vision and broad perspective. After reading his biography first (newly condensed by Iain Murray into one helpful paperback volume, LIFE OF MARTYN LLOYD-JONES), then read this volume prayerfully.
J. C. Ryle, OLD PATHS (Being Plain Statements on Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity) [below are the chapter titles]
2. Our Souls
3. Few Saved
4. Our Hope
5. Alive or Dead?
6. Our Sins
9. The Cross of Christ
10. The Holy Ghost
11. Having the Spirit
13. The Heart
14. Christ's Invitation
17. Christ's Power to Save
Ryle was to the written word what his contemporary, Charles Spurgeon, was to the preached word. Ryle's chapters are really tracts compiled into one coherent book. Each just about stands alone. I can remember reading ALIVE OF DEAD? as a young minister and learning to to plead with souls in the manner Ryle did.
NEWLY PUBLISHED BY THE BANNER OF TRUTH
Garry Williams, SILENT WITNESSES (Lessons on Theology, Life and the Church from Christians of the Past) Having just read this important books, I find it an important read to inform, humble, enlarge, challenge and comfort God's people, especially pastors, teachers, elders and seminary students. Dr. Garry Wliiams is head of the John Owen Center at London Theological Seminary and Visiting Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary. I have read few books like it. Here are the chapter titles:
ON THE ESSENTIALS:
1. Prizing the Bible--William Tyndale
2. Who is Jesus?--The Council of Chalcedon
3. The Cross and Its Caricatures--John Owen
4. The Infinite Love of the Dying Christ--Jonathan
5. The Grace of God--Augustine of Hippo
6. Justified Before God's Throne--John Calvin
ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE:
7. Loving God with All Your Heart--The Puritan
8. Trusting God in Trials--John Calvin
9. Identity and Loss on the Edge of the World--
10. Working for Christ--John Laing
PRIMARILY FOR PASTORS AND ELDERS:
11. Priorities for the Church--John Calvin
12. Preaching the God-Man--Chalcedon Revisited
13. Preaching the Word--Martin Luther
14. Feasting with the Lord--Nicholas Ridley
15. Making the Case for Christian History
Iain Hamilton, THE FAITH-SHAPED LIFE; here is another new book from the Banner of Truth. The subject is the role that faith is to play in our Christian lives from beginning right on through the end. A fresh and refreshing reminder of a subject we think we know but little apply.
NEW FROM P & R PUBLISHERS:
Dennis Johnson, PHILIPPIANS (Reformed Expository Commentary)--one of the two best sets of expository commentaries available. Professor Johnson was a professor of New Testament who became a Professor of Preaching at Westminster Seminary California. Here is one of our favorite New Testament books by one of our best scholars and preachers. What a happy providence!
NEW FROM CROSSWAY:
David Allen, 1-3 JOHN (Fellowship with God's Family)
[Preaching the Word Series] this is the other of the two best series of expository sermons/commentaries.
Unlike exegetical commentaries which seek exact meanings and available exegetical options, this series shows how one might actually preach the text once one ascertained the meaning of the text. This is a very good resource.
James Packer, TAKING GOD SERIOUSLY (Vital Things We Need to Know); one of God's best gift to the churches the past 60 years has been Jim Packer. His theology (with the exception for his blind-spot on Roman Catholics) has been the protein that has fueled many an evangelical's heart. Adding to KNOWING GOD, CONCISE THEOLOGY, KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT and other great titles is his newest. The chapter titles are as follows:
1. Taking Faith Seriously
2. Taking Doctrine Seriously
3. Taking Christian Unity Seriously
4. Taking Repentance Seriously
5. Taking the Church Seriously
6. Taking the Holy Spirit Seriously
7. Taking Baptism Seriously
8. Taking the Lord's Supper Seriously
Believers across denominational lines can savor the wisdom and biblical application from this senior saint.
It would make a good small group or Sunday School study!
Church librarians, these would each be a prudent buy for your church library.
May the Lord prosper your soul and your life for Him as you read and prayerfully digest these books.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my website:
Few Christians have had the impact that C. S. Lewis has had on Christians and non-Christans alike since World War II (1939-1945). Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and educated in England, Lewis became a tutor and lecturer at Oxford University. Later in his life he became full professor at Cambridge University. He served in the British army in World War I and was wounded by shrapnel. He was already an atheist and the war did not change his views of God or man or himself.
But "the hound of heaven" was after him and he would be converted in the early 1930's and solidify his faith over the next decade. How was C. S. Lewis useful in God's plan for the 20th century. From his war time "broadcast talks" given on the radio in Britain during the war (which became MERE CHRISTIANITY in print) to his books of Christians apologetics (THE PROBLEM OF PAIN; MIRACLES; THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS; THE GREAT DIVORCE) to his books of science fiction (OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET; PERELANDRA; THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH) to his fantasy books for children and discerning adults (THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA) to his cultural analyses (THE PILGRIM'S REGRESS; THE ABOLITION OF MAN; THE WEIGHT OF GLORY), Lewis was a great gift to the 20th century church (and still is to the 21st century church).
Now Professor Alistair McGrath has written what is the most complete biography of Lewis, using all the biographies which have been written but also the complete letters of Lewis and some other sources which have been newly discovered. McGrath's C. S. LEWIS: A LIFE (Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet); Tyndale House will show readers that Lewis was indeed a rebel and a sinner and some of his sins are on display. Lewis had struggles at home when his mother died when he was eight and his father, though well-intentioned, sent him off to boarding school for what proved to be Lewis's lifelong resentment. How did Lewis relate to his father? How did Lewis get along with his peers at Oxford? What was his path to conversion? How did he develop as a Christian? What was the deal with his strange marriage to the American woman romanticized in THE SHADOWLANDS movie? How did he handle his fame and fortune? Why was he never accepted at Oxford? What was his relationship with J. R. R. Tolkien and how did they profit each other? How did Lewis put up with his alcoholic brother, Warnie? All these and many other questions are answered in the book.
For years to come, this will be the definitive biography of Lewis which covers all the basics and enough other material to keep Lewis fans happy for decades.
But there are other materials on Lewis that are extremely profitable too and CVBBS carries them too
(besides the titles mentioned above).
Andrew Wheeler, C. S. LEWIS: CLARITY AND CONFUSION; Day One Publications--Lewis had his theological weaknesses and areas where he was just wrong. Wheeler shows what these weaknesses were and how wise readers will enjoy Lewis' "meat" but spit out his "bones".
Ronald Bresland, TRAVEL WITH C. S. LEWIS; Day One Publications--this excellent series takes great and good Christians and helps us to put them in their proper geographical and cultural context by taking us to the places where they lived, taught, preached, grew up, etc. If you ever visit the United Kingdom, this series would be invaluable to gain good out of visiting the places where God saved and used a man.
May the Lord continue to use the literary and spiritual gifts of C. S. Lewis to his honor and glory in the lives of His people and those not yet His people.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me also at my website:
Being a pastor is a lifelong pursuit of an impossible goal--to be an under-shepherd like the great Shepherd of the Sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the sanctification of the believer is a lifelong growth in grace toward a goal not fully attainable in this life, so the maturation of a pastor is a lifelong growth in the graces of pastoring.
Think of all the areas that a pastor must grow in during his lifetime (in no particular order): (1) personal sanctification; (2) knowledge of the Word of God; (3) systematic theology; (4) biblical theology; (5) apologetics; (6) church history from the apostles to today; (7) American church history (and the unique cultural milieu American Christians grow up in); (8) expository preaching; (9) evangelistic preaching; (10) pastoral counseling; (11) keeping up one’s knowledge (or gaining it in the first place) of Greek and Hebrew; (12) intimacy with God through prayer; (13) leading in public worship; (14) biblical exegesis; (15) Christian marriage and family......to name but a few! Being a pastor is like drinking from a fire hose--for a lifetime! (That may explain why I look the way that I do--but that’s another story!)
Here are some titles I can heartily recommend that helped me, encouraged me, opened my eyes, challenged me, stretched me, and kept me in the gospel ministry.
Iain H. Murray, DAVID MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (The First Forty Years) [1899-1939]; Banner of Truth
This book is my all-time favorite study of what it means to be a pastor and gospel preacher. When I was younger, I read it twelve years in a row! Why? Because just as he was a green rookie starting out in the pastorate in Wales in the late 1920’s, so I was a rookie minister pastoring in Atlanta in the early 1980’s. What was a call to preach the gospel and shepherd the flock of God? What did it mean to preach? What is the source of a preacher’s authority? How can I lead my men to grow? How should I view the people? How come I am taking my church in this direction when all the other churches around me are going in a different direction? What might a local revival look like should God be gracious and bring one? Why is my preaching so different from the other pastors who are instead popular? Why do so many people in today’s churches seem to be tares and not genuine wheat? How should I preach to them? How can I make truth come alive? How can I emphasize both evangelism and doctrine? How can I use church history to help my people grow? Prepare to be humbled, thrilled and moved to pray!
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, AUTHORITY; Banner of Truth
I read this volume after reading about MLJ’s life by Iain Murray. MLJ gave these lectures at a Christian leaders conference in the 1950’s and they are directly on target still today. I was coming out of broad evangelicalism and into the Reformed understanding of the Scriptures and the Christian life and ministry and wondered what Calvinist was there who knew God and was used of God in a big way. (Note my need to see something “big”. Evangelicalism does not encourage us to find God in the small, mundane things.) I was astounded and humbled by what I read. MLJ shows the authority of the risen and ascended Christ, God the Son and the authority of His Word, the Scriptures. It was a good retelling of truth I had already assimilated. BUT I was unprepared for the 3rd chapter--the authority of the Holy Spirit. MLJ chronicles how the Holy Spirit gives life and joy and power and authority to Christian preachers and churches. What should we do if the preacher lacks these and the church lacks these things? MLJ then shows the tragic-comic (a carefully chosen phrase) things evangelicals have done to recapture what is missing from the pulpits and the churches. God arrested me and my pursuit of the “authority” of the Ph.D. or D. Min. (David Wells has called the past thirty years the “D-Min-ization” of the pastorate as preachers have become “D-Min. possessed”,) I was moved to repentance over my desire to have the authority of a Ph.D. or a D.Min. or some accolade of man that would confer credibility to me. It was my own unbelief and fear of man/man pleasing that led me to so grieve the Holy Spirit. (While one needs a Ph.D. as a union card to teach in a seminary, it is not required by Scripture or sanctified common sense for pastors of local churches. We are life long learners at the knee of Jesus.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE PLIGHT OF MAN AND THE
POWER OF GOD; Eerdmans (with a new forward
by Mark Dever); Eerdmans.
In some of the darkest days for Britain in World War II, MLJ was speaking in Scotland to a group of seminary students and ministers at New College, Edinburgh. And he was at his best in assessing the war time situation, opening up the Scriptures in Romans 1 (and other places) to show the coming wrath of God and the importance of God sending preachers to preach the gospel as the only remedy for the wrath to come. Even if you have been in the pastorate for some time, this book can function like “blowing the bugle charge at the Old Soldiers Home”. It re-awakens a man to our holy calling.
Thomas Ascol, ed.; DEAR TIMOTHY (Letters On
Pastoral Ministry); Founders Ministry
It’s hard to believe this most useful tool is now almost a decade old. Many have not heard of it nor used it but it has many helps for teachable pastors. The chapter titles and authors will alert the reader to the good things to follow:
1. Tom Ascol, Establish Priorities
2. Conrad Mbewe, Watch Your Life
3. Tedd Tripp, Love Your Family
4. Ted Christmas, Love Your Flock
5. Andy David, Memorize Scripture
6. Martin Holdt, Pray Always
7. C. J. Mahaney, Cultivate Humility
8. Bill Ascol, Be Courageous
9. Mark Dever, Do the Word of an Evangelist
10. Fred Malone, Do Personal Work
11. Raymond Perron, Watch Your Doctrine
12. J. Ligon Duncan, Keep Studying
13. Joel Beeke, Learn From The Puritans, Part 1
14. Joel Beeke, Learn From the Puritans, Part 2
15. Roger Ellsworth, Preach the Word
16. Terry Johnson, Worship in Spirit and Truth
17. Steve Martin, Train Other Men (every chapter
can’t be great !)
18. Phil Newton, Care for the Nations
19. Ray Ortlund, Jr., Don’t Neglect Revival
20. Geoff Thomas, Find a Place to Settle
Some of these names you recognize right off and want to read their contribution. Others (whose biographies are included) you will want to get to know too. There is a lifetime of pastoral wisdom included between these covers.
SOME FURTHER BOOKS TO READ AND DIGEST OVER THE FIRST DECADE OP YOUR MINISTRY...
1. Derek Tidball, MINISTRY BY THE BOOK (New
Testament Patterns for Pastoral Leadership); IVP
Dr. Tidball takes us by the hand and proposes plausible life-settings behind each of the New Testament books. It is in this kind of world that we must minister, preach, counsel, and live out our lives as faithful ministers of the New Covenant. A thought-provoking read.
2. John MacArthur, Jr. and the Masters Seminary
Faculty; PASTORAL MINISTRY (How to Shepherd
Biblically); Thomas Nelson
Dr. MacArthur pastors a large church and leads a seminary. Here he and the faculty of the seminary share their lifetime of learning with the discerning pastoral student.
CLASSIC STUDIES WHOSE STATUS GROWS, NOT DIMINISHES, OVER TIME:
1. Martin Bucer, CONCERNING THE TRUE CARE OF
SOULS; Banner of Truth--16th century classic
2. Charles Spurgeon, LECTURES TO MY STUDENTS;
Banner of Truth--19th century classic from “the
Prince of Preachers”.
3. Charles Spurgeon, AN ALL-AROUND MINISTRY;
Banner of Truth--ditto
4. Charles Bridges, THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY; Banner
of Truth--a 19th century classic that deserves a
greater popularity. Perhaps the sub-title, “And The
Causes of Its Inefficiency” have intimated some.
But it is full of truly great things in a convicting
and enlarging sort of way!
5. James Garretson, ed.; PRINCETON AND THE WORK
OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY; Banner of Truth
Old Princeton wanted men to become preachers
and pastors. Let this volume take you back to the
Golden Era of 19th century Princeton.
A minister of the gospel could not spend $100-125 in a better way. There is a lifetime of good things here for the man of God.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me also at my website,
The fallen angel, Satan, called "the devil", "the accuser", "the serpent of old", "the evil one" and other names in God's holy Word does not take the summer off. I say this not to be cute or clever but to be deadly honest. The view we Christians have of reality looks too much like the worldview of our American culture..with church added. Ease and comfort, ready attainment of our goals, steady progress and eventual accomplishment are the expectations we all live with and live for. And a couple of weeks of being irresponsible!
As finite creatures, we become tired and need food, water, and rest to proceed in life. Students need a summer break from their tedious studies. Workers in the factory or the mill need a break from their tedious labors. Soldiers need "R & R" (rest and recovery) from their labors. It just "seems American" to think that when we go away on vacation or head into the summer, the devil, the nemesis of every believer, is taking the summer off too. After all, it would be un-American for him to bear down on us all the time with his nefarious schemes, evil intent and despoiling ways.
Such is the false thinking and dangerously naive mental state too many of us have when it comes to our approach to spiritual warfare each summer. In World War II, the Allied armies (American, British, Canadian, Free French, et al) invaded Normandy in June of 1944 and began to sweep successfully towards Paris. Things went so well, despite the carnage in the hedgerows in Normandy, that the motto soon became, "Berlin by Christmas". It was not to be. The soldiers and their leaders became complacent. They relaxed a bit. When suddenly the worst battle in the whole European theater of war was launched by the Nazis--"the Battle of the Bulge". The Nazi army took advantage of the relaxed attitudes, and the expectation of relaxation in the Christmas season and counter-attacked. Before the Nazis were finally pushed back, more than 65,000 Allied troops had died.
The lesson we can learn from this is that perpetual vigilance is the price of spiritual health and survival. We can thank our God that He stands supreme over the affairs of men and the devil. We are never allowed to feel the Evil Ones full wrath. Our God sees to it that no one and nothing can separate us from the love of God is Christ Jesus. But like other areas of Christian growth in Christ-likeness (sanctification), God expects His people to cooperate with Him in this great work.
The books we will be highlighting today are meant to be digested and put into action. The Word of God says: "Why Word had I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11). Today we often fall into something very different. "Thy Word have I put on my hard drive that I might have ready notes."
The historical Reformed and Puritan view of spiritual warfare looks nothing like the crazy patchwork of contemporary evangelicalism's view of how to deal with the enemy of our souls. For four decades, charismatics and Pentecostals have been saying, "When in doubt, cast it out". But the "pie demon" did not make me eat that extra piece of pie. The "lying demon" did not make me cheat on my taxes. The "lust demon" did not make me double click on the pop up porn that came on my computer. Just as their is the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. So there is a lesser, unholy trinity of the world, the flesh and the devil.
The Reformed and Puritan view of spiritual warfare taught believers to use discernment as to which enemy they were fighting and to use the biblically prescribed methods for dealing with them.
Let me suggest that you digest the material in these excellent books then put them into practice.
Thomas Brooks, PRECIOUS REMEDIES AGAINST SATAN'S DEVICES (Puritan Paperback); Banner of Truth--the classic study that you should visit and master and then revisit periodically over your life.
Robert Spinney, PEEKING INTO THE DEVIL'S PLAYBOOK; Tulip Books--a shortened and modernized version of Brooks', PRECIOUS REMEDIES.
William Gurnall, THE CHRISTIAN IN COMPLETE ARMOUR; Banner of Truth hardback--another classic.
This tonic for your soul closely examines Paul's teaching in Ephesians 6:10-20, the longest passage in the epistles dealing with how to combat the devil and win.
William Gurnall, THE CHRISTIAN IN COMPLETE ARMOR (modernized and simplified); 3 volumes;
Banner of Truth; paperback
William Gurnall, THE CHRISTIAN IN COMPLETE ARMOR (Daily Readings in Spiritual Warfare); Moody Press--excerpts from Gurnall are made into a daily devotional reader.
William Spurstowe, THE WILES OF SATAN; Soli Deo Gloria-- a very helpful examination of how the evil one seeks to deceive the believer. Paul could say about the devil, "We are not unaware of his schemes" but we too often must say instead--"Well, I am not aware of hardly any of his schemes"!
Fredercik Leahy, SATAN CAST OUT; Banner of Truth
a sane and biblical treatment of allen angels (demons) and their work in the world today. Not to be confused with the sensationalistic teaching of the charismatic and Pentecostal movements.
Stanley Gale, WHAT IS SPIRITUAL WARFARE?;
P & R--this booklet is a good place to start your study.
May the Lord give you your best summer yet with the least "down time" in the spiritual hospital recovering from spiritual attack that you proved not to be ready for.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my website
Because the book of Psalms is such a large compilation of material, much has been written and preached about smaller, discrete units of the psalms. There are psalms of praise, songs of lament, war psalms and a host of other sub-topics addressed in the psalms.
Today we want to look at some of the vast wealth of good things now available for God's people as they approach various psalms.
James Sire, LEARNING TO PRAY THROUGH THE
PSALMS; IVP--the man who helped evangelicals to
learn to think about "world-views" and HOW TO
READ SLOWLY, and who as an editor at
InterVarsity Books brought Francis Schaeffer to
our attention shows us how to pray through the
psalms. A most helpful book on prayer!
Michael Ross, THE LIGHT OF THE PSALMS; Christian
Focus/Mentor--sheds the light of the Trinity upon
the Psalms and helps them thus to glow even
Dick Belcher, MESSIAH AND THE PSALMS; Christian
Focus--a leading Old Testament scholar helps us
to see Christ in the book of Psalms.
Dale Ralph Davis, THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS IN
THE MUCK OF LIFE (Psalms 1-12); Christian
Focus--one of our best scholar/preachers gives us
these psalms to help us persevere on the road to
the Celestial City.
Walter Chantry, PRAISES FOR THE KING OF KINGS;
(various psalms) Banner of Truth--his favorite
book to write and my favorite of his to read.
Edward J. Young, THE WAY EVERLASTING (Psalm
139); Banner of Truth--one of the favorite psalms
of believers opened up by one of the giants of
20th century evangelical and Reformed scholarship
THE PSALMS OF ASCENT (So named because Jerusalem is on top of a mountain and no matter where you started from in your pilgrimage to the Holy City, you had to always "go up" or "ascend" at the end. Psalms written to be sung by pilgrims on the journey are called "psalms of ascent", psalms 120-134.
Rhett Dodson, THIS BRIEF JOURNEY (Loving and
Living the Psalms of Ascent); Day One
Rhett Dodson, TO BE A PILGRIM (Further
Reflections on the Psalms of Ascent); Day One
Josh Moody, JOURNEY TO JOY (The Psalms of
Charles Bridges, COMMENTARY ON PSALM 119;
Banner of Truth--Bridges was one of the leading
lights of the 19th century English church, giving
us great works on THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY,
PROVERBS and ECCLESIASTES. Here he devotes
his great talent to following the line of thought
of the psalmist in Psalm 119.
Charles Spurgeon, THE GOLDEN ALPHABET (PSALM
119); Christian Focus--Psalm 119 is composed
of stanzas where each line in that stanza begins
with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and
on down through the alphabet. Here we see
Spurgeon at his best.
Thomas Manton, PSALM 119 (3 volumes); Banner
of Truth--one of the greatest of the Puritans
opens up the riches of one of the greatest
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES ON VARIOUS PSALMS:
FAITH ON TRIAL (Psalm 73); Christian Heritage/
Christian Focus--with a new introduction by
pastor/author Kevin DeYoung--Asaph, the
psalmist, is tempted to bitterness and envy
because the ungodly do not seem to suffer
and struggle like the godly. MLJ at his best!
ENJOYING THE PRESENCE OF GOD (Selected
Psalms); Crossway--a heart-warming, mind-
informing set of studies to raise your spiritual
TRUE HAPPINESS (An Exposition of Psalm One);
Christian Heritage/Christian Focus--a great
work which is evangelistic and edifying at the
OUT OF THE DEPTHS (Psalm 51); Christian
Heritage/Christian Focus--David's record of his
heart repentance and turning back to the Lord
after his adultery with Bathsheba. Both
evangelistic and edifying.
THE IMPRECATORY PSALMS--that is, psalms that are asking God to kill and destroy the enemies of God and the enemies of the psalmist.
James Adams, THE WAR PSALMS OF THE PRINCE OF PEACE; P & R--a uniquely helpful book in opening up these difficult and at times terrifying psalms.
May the Lord bless you as you study the portion of
His Word we call THE PSALMS.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my website,
The most read portion of the Old Testament is the book of Psalms. Your own experience probably vindicates that evaluation. Your have read the psalms, gone to them for comfort, pleasure, encouragement, help, assurance of God being "for" you, hoping to sense the presence of God, etc. Probably every emotion experienced by the believing sinner is in this book of the Bible.
The Psalms were also ancient Israel's songbook or hymnal. They are still sung in some denominations and called "The Psalter".It has been the way so many of God's people down through the centuries have praised and thanked God in song.
If a person really wanted to study the psalms, how might they go about that? Whether you want to lead family devotions on the Psalms or lead a campus or neighborhood Bible study or preach through the psalms in your church, what tools are available to really help you grasp this portion of God's Word?
Let me give you truly helpful studies of the psalms at different levels, from introductory to advanced, for faithful laymen and faithful preachers.
GENERAL OVERVIEW STUDIES OF THE PSALMS:
Geoffrey Grogan, PRAYER, PRAISE & PROPHECY
(A Theology of the Psalms); Christian
Focus/Mentor--I have used it for seminary
classes and the great Old Testament expositor,
Dale Ralph Davis highly recommends it.
C. Hassell Bullock, ENCOUNTERING THE PSALMS;
Baker Books--an overall feast of good things
about the Psalms.
Mark Futato, INTERPRETING THE PSALMS; Kregel
Academic and Professional--a leading scholar on
the psalms helps us learn how to enter the world
of the psalms and study them.
Tremper Lomgman, HOW TO READ THE PSALMS;
IVP--a tool to help you understand the kind of
literature that makes up the psalms and how
to interpret them.
Gordon Wenham, THE PSALTER RECLAIMED
(Praying and Praising with the Psalms);
Crossway--one of the greatest living O. T.
scholars who is also evangelical and Reformed.
Bruce Waltke and James Houston, PSALMS AS
CHRISTIAN WORSHIP (An Historical
Commentary); Eerdmans--Professor Houston
was one of the founders of Regent College in
Vancouver, British Columbia and a leading writer
on evangelical spirituality. Bruce Waltke is a
leading Reformed Old Testament scholar with
world class commentaries to his credit. Here they
combine their talents and look at how the psalms
have been used in history to aid God's people in
John Ker, PSALMS IN HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY;
Solid Ground Christian Books--God has used
various psalms and various portions of individual
psalms to impact His people. This 19th century
classic shows us how God has used the psalms in
men's lives. It provides great illustrations for
preachers and teachers.
ENTRY LEVEL STUDIES OF THE PSALMS:
Roger Elsworth, OPENING UP PSALMS; Day One
Publication--a good starter study of psalms.
Henry Law, DAILY PRAYER & PRAISE; 2 volumes;
Banner of Truth--a 19th century gem with
daily studies of the psalms and their application.
James M. Boice, THE PSALMS (3 vols.); Baker Books
one of the great Reformed preachers of the late
20th century, Boice has left a legacy of biblically
faithful, pastorally rich studies on several books
of the Bible. This is one of his best.
John Calvin, COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS
(abridged); Banner of Truth--a great place to
study the Psalms and learn about John Calvin.
The original is five volumes long.
Steve Lawson, THE PSALMS (2 volumes); Holman
A great short commentary on all the psalms.
INTERMEDIATE LEVEL STUDIES OF THE PSALMS:
Charles Spurgeon, THE TREASURY OF DAVID ( 3
volumes set); Hendrickson--Spurgeon's gift to
the church of Christ. He culled the best of
previous studies on the Psalms over the centuries
and added his own unique insights. A treasure
trove repaying a life of study.
William S. Plumer, PSALMS; Banner of Truth--a
massive, oversized volume. Plumer was a
Southern Presbyterian pastor/theologian of the
19th century and a contemporary of Charles
Spurgeon, listed above. Like Spurgeon, he
gleaned the best from the past and added his
own considerable scholarship and spirituality.
Derek Kidner, PSALMS (2 volumes); IVP--one of the
greatest studies on Psalms; by a Hebrew scholar
and commentator who was also a musician.
Eric Lane, THE PSALMS (2 volumes); Christian
Focus--up to date and focused on application.
Allen Ross, A COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS (3
volumes--2 yet to be published); Kregel
Academic & Professional--a great commentary
by a great O. T. scholar who has put preachers
and students with his earlier commentaries/
expositions on Genesis and Leviticus.
Michael Wilcock, THE PSALMS (The Bible Speaks
Today Series); IVP--2 volumes--a great study
showing how the Word of God still speaks today.
Allan Harmon, PSALMS; Christian Focus/Mentor--
Well-known evangelical and Reformed Australian
O. T. professor lends his scholarship to an up to
date study of the Psalms.
Gerald Wilson, NIV APPLICATION COMMENTARY:
PSALMS (2 Volumes); Zondervan--uses the
helpful format of studying the ancient text and
then bridging to the modern world for application.
MORE ADVANCED STUDIES FOR PASTOR-TEACHERS:
Willem Van Gemeren, PSALMS (Expositors Bible
Commentary: Revised); Zondervan--one of the
best commentaries in this series and one of the
best on the psalms.
My next BOOK BLOG will cover more specialized studies of the Psalms.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit my website-- WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS. COM
These words have come down to us in the early 21st century as the counsel we shout to those in the path of tornadoes, atomic bombs (yes, as a child in the Chicago suburbs, I practiced that in the early 50's) and incoming mortar fire/RPG's in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sometimes it works and one is delivered from harm's way.
Today I want to warn you that if you spiritually read and digest the following books, you had better "duck and cover" because these books are devastating to the American way of life and the Christian sub-culture within it. Even the so-called evangelical and Reformed folks will find themselves thrown down. Why? Well we are always people of our times even when we work very hard not to be people of our times. The surrounding culture seeps into our pores, our minds and our hearts. So after this startling introduction, what books are so powerful and truly explosive?
J. I. Packer, "WEAKNESS IS THE WAY" (Life with
Christ Our Strength); Crossway--from being hit by delivery van at age 8 to suffering a heart attack during a heart check up, to hip replacement and the ravages of aging (he's 87), noted and loved Reformed theologian James Packer shows us the reality of 2nd Corinthians 4 and 5 and what Paul meant in 2nd Corinthians 12:1-10 when he said that when he was weak, he was strong. How could any statement be more "un-American"? As Americans, we value strength of mind (brighter, smarter, more learned, more degrees, etc), strength of body (Arnold Swartzenager is not rich and famous for his Shakespearean acting abilities), strength of personality (the forceful and powerful who can control every situation rise to the top) and power of money (as noted psychologist and culture warrior James Dobson observed "if one can't be beautiful or brainy, if one has bucks, one can go far in American culture"). Packer brilliantly follows God's logic in Paul's epistle to the proud Corinthian church to show that God always works in the way that brings Him the most glory--and that usually involves our glory taking a back seat if not being invisible! Read it once for the shock value and once to take notes and to pray over.
Matt Redmund, THE GOD OF THE MUNDANE; Kalos
Press--don't let the relatively obscure publisher
fool you. Matt Redmund has served as a pastor in three churches. Selections from his sermons are peppered through the book. But this book is dynamite on the playground of the young, restless and Reformed evangelicals because of its message. The powerfully made point is that everyday life carried out faithfully
by God's people is radical, kingdom building and pushing back the darkness. A great writer and a biblical theologian, Raymond has rescued us all from the pathological need to be dynamic, radical, missional, restless and risk taking. Rather he shows us that the Bible's message is to be faithful where you are planted, to bloom without most of us every leaving home or family. Women and men, mothers of small children and men who feel they are doing "secular", meaningless work need to read and savor this book!
Dave Harvey, RESCUING AMBITION; Crossway--most
men and women in the American work force have a good bit of ambition. If and when they become Christians, do they throw "ambition" away and become drones in the workplace hives? Dave Harvey shows that Christians are to be very ambitious--for God's glory. Carnal ambition is for my own glory--for having my name in lights, for my being well thought of, for my being looked up to and my reaching the highest pinnacles of power and success. Let the chapter titles show you what's in store.
1. AMBITION CONCEIVED
2. AMBITION CORRUPTED
3. AMBITION CONVERTED
4. AMBITION'S AGENDA
5. AMBITION'S CONFIDENCE
6. AMBITION'S PATH
7. AMBITION'S CONTENTMENT
8. AMBITIOUS FAILURE
9. AMBITIOUS FFOR THE CHURCH
10. AMBITIOUS RISK
11. AMBITIOUS PAID FORWARD
I would make this mandatory for all men's groups and all college men's groups.
Prepare to have your life turned upside down if you take these books to heart. And thank the Lord that people are still writing books like these.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
The revolution that came about in Christian counseling the past 35 years had to do with the sufficiency of the Bible to deal with mankind's problems. Prior to the 1980's, many pastors referred counseling cases to local secular psychologists and psychiatrists. Pastors were thought to be ill-equipped to handle the problems of life, armed only with the Bible and the Holy Spirit. The Bible was not seen as a sufficient tool of wisdom to help people out of their sinful and hurtful behavior patterns into God-glorifying, healthy living. The Holy Spirit was not seen as a sufficient power source for life change.
By the grace of God, a more biblical outlook on biblical problem solving has emerged and gained the confidence and blessing of the churches. Likening what Jay Adams did to psychology to what Karl Barth did to liberal theology, James Packer said that Adams (through his book, COMPETENT TO COUNSEL) was a bomb on the playground of the psychologists. One cannot study the history of Christian counseling without knowing the critical role that Jay Adams played in the turn around.
But one name that is often overlooked is Wayne Mack. A Wheaton College graduate who went on to seminary studies at Philadelphia Theological Seminary, Wayne Mack had done a wonderful service for Christ's churches and pastors in building upon the work of Jay Adams and making it even more accessible to pastors and laymen.
Wayne is nothing if not practical. He knows his God and his Bible and he brings both to bear in his Christian counseling workbooks and manuals. He gets the reader in to the Scriptures. If I am to change my life, I want to do it because God says I should have it changed and by knowing the resources I have in Christ to actually change.
Wayne's many books have put the truth of the Bible and its eternal wisdom down where God's sheep can profit from the truth. I commend the following:
Anger & Stress Management God's Way--just what it says. Angry Christians and their spouse should both read this. 15.95 / 11.50
Christian Growth and Discipleship Manual (Homework Manual For Biblical Living) 19.95 / 13.99
Counseling (How to Counsel Biblically) by MacArthur, John & Mack, Wayne--John MacArthur gets top billing here but Wayne did the "heavy lifting". Dr. MacArthur is a champion for the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Dr. Mack shows how to use it as your most valuable tool in helping others.
Down,But Not Out 12.99 / 8.99--You may have just had a bomb dropped on your head but God is still on His throne. Here's how to see yourself, your problem and how to proceed.
Fight To The Death 10.99 / 7.99 You may have never heard of the Puritan giant, John Owen, but here Dr. Mack shares the same biblical material on hot to put your remaining sins to death that John Owen taught
Homework Manual For Biblical Living Vol. 1; Personal And Interpersonal Problems; 10.99 / 7.99--just what it says about dealing with yourself and those who relate to you.
Homework Manual For Biblical Living; Vol. 2, Family And Marital Problems; just what it says too!
Humility (The Forgotten Virtue) 10.99 / 7.99--a great place to begin your study in humility and meekness.
In-Laws: Married with Parents (Resources for Biblical Living) 4.99 / 3.50--a small book on a big problem. When you get married, you marry into a family. How to be married to your spouse within the larger context of his or her family.
It's Not Fair! 11.99 / 8.35--hard things happen to God's people. Sinful self-pity has us whining "It's not fair!". Dr. Mack shows you a better way to deal with hard times and a gracious God.
Life In The Father's House by Wayne Mack & David Swavely 12.99 / 8.99--a great primer I highly recommend on how believer's are to behave in Christ's church.
Maximum Impact; Living and Loving for God's Glory
15.99 / 11.50
Out of the Blues 10.95 / 7.99--what to read when you are in the dumps and are tempted to go into a depression.
Reaching The Ear of God 13.99 / 9.99--a great book on prayer. Very practical.
Strengthening Your Marriage 11.99 / 7.99--how to deal with marital conflict and communication as Christians.
Sweethearts For A Lifetime; 14.99 / 10.99 Wayne and Carol have been married for a half-century. How can any two people live together in love, harmony and joy all those years? Read this book and find out.
To Be Or Not To Be A Church Member 8.99 / 6.25--
shows what the Bible says about becoming a church member and not a church bee, flitting from church to church.
True Success and How To Attain It 6.99 / 4.99--Do you know what "true success" is and could you teach it to your children or grandchildren?
The Twin Pillars of the Christian Life; 14.99 / 10.99
a workbook showing how personal prayer and Bible reading is essential to become a growing Christian.
YOUR MARRIAGE GOD'S WAY--God invented marriage and planned for what it was to do in His eternal plan. Mankind has shaved the truth off until there is nothing left of God's original design. This workbook is how to build your marriage and life on God and His Word and not just fit God into your spare time!
I cannot recommend Wayne Mack's material highly enough. Try them; you'll like them.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
You can visit me also at my ministry website
Father's Day provides an opportunity to give good spiritual gifts to the fathers in our lives. Let me recommend the following gifts to give to fathers who fit in various categories.
YET UNCONVERTED FATHERS WHO ARE READERS:
Laura Hillenbrand, UNBROKEN (A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption); Random House--New York Times Bestseller about a young tough guy from inner city Los Angeles who learns that running track is better than running from the cops. Goes into World War II as an Airmen in the Air Force, his plane crash lands in the Pacific and he and seven others are in a four man raft for seven weeks! Then the Japanese capture them and things get REALLY BAD. How does he make it? How does he struggle with with is now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the War? Have your loved one read this page turning true story.
CONVERTED FATHERS WHO ARE READERS:
THOSE FATHERS UNDER 30...
Gerard Chrispin, THE BIBLE PANORAMA; Day One Publications--a great gift for a lifetime of Bible reading. It takes the reader through every book and chapter of the Bible and helps you get good for your soul. What's more it answers questions about the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible along the way. I use my copy
as I read through the Bible.
Don Whitney, SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; NavPress--basic training for the maturing Christian. A best seller for a very good reason, it is very good.
THOSE FATHERS FROM 30 TO 50...
Sinclair Ferguson and Alistair Begg, NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES; Crossway--noted pastor-theologians give us the names of Christ and show how they explain our Lord and all of His works. Helps the believer to follow the Bible's injunction to fix your eyes upon Jesus and who He is. A great read.
THOSE FATHERS OVER 50...
James Packer, WEAKNESS IS THE WAY (Life With Christ as our Strength); Crossway--noted theologian
J. I. Packer (author of KNOWING GOD and CONCISE THEOLOGY) writes out of his life of knowing God, the Scriptures and personal weakness. As an 8 year old
boy he was hit by a bread truck and almost died. A permanent dent in his head and a metal plate restricted active pursuits of most boys his age. The next Christmas he got not a bicycle as he desired but a typewriter! Not what every 8 year old wants but providentially a gift that would serve a lifetime. Now Dr. Packer in in his mid-80's and struggling to get up the stairs. Is God who promises "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" still meeting His promises? I plan to buy and give away several.
May the Lord give you grace to honor the fathers in your life this Father's Day. No father is perfect and worthy of being the earthly representatives of God the Father to our children, but we can honor them for the office that God Himself has given them.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my website too,