Last week's book blog, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, showed you four books that if you would prayerfully read them digest them, discuss them and live them out would free you to live a wonderful life, freed from the chains of today's legalistic persona of "radical".
The last book of the four, ORDINARY, by Mike Horton spend the most space diagnosing the disease and the most space showing the solutions to the problem. I want to continue an examination of this most helpful and pastoral treatment of a problem in the evangelical and Reformed sub-culture--the need to be "radical, epic, revolutionary transformational, impactful, life-changing, ultimate, extreme, awesome, emergent, alternative, innovative, on the edge, pushing the envelope, the next big thing, explosive breakthrough, etc. etc. etc.
Chapter One--The New Radical
Horton picks "ordinary" as the best antidote to the Christian cultural malaise of the need to chant: "I am somebody" and I have done "something significant for God". He shows clearly that ordinary is not complacent or comfortable but faithful. He shows what it looks like in the wider culture and our Christian sub-culture and says that he has lived it too and writes for his own cure.
Chapter Two--Ordinary Isn't Mediocre
Here Horton helps us see how the believer's pursuit of excellence is not the same as perfectionism. Perfectionism warps excellence. What's more, ordinary does not mean static and dead but alive and giving our lives to God and our fellow man in Christian love.
Chapter Three--The Young and the Restless
This chapter is not an analysis of the long running daytime soap opera but a study in how the focus on youth has impacted the church and twisted its priorities.
Rather than being a church run by God according to His Word we are regulated by Madison Avenue marketing strategies which divide up the congregation into smaller marketable groups. This focus on youth causes churches and their members to live in the moment, not with a long haul mentality.
Chapter Four--The Next Big Thing
This chapter helps us to see how our culture and increasingly the church becomes bored and restless with business as usual and is itching for "the next big thing.
Not only does that make our churches and their ministries unstable, it produces unstable believers. Horton shows how even good gifts of God, like God sent revivals from heaven (not man-made revivalism) can cause our hearts to be discontent and disgruntled with the everyday, every Sunday ordinary means of grace.
Weekly church can become a commodity to analyze rather than a means of grace to savor until next Sunday's installment.
Chapter 5--Ambition: How A Vice Became a Virtue
Dr. Horton takes us through the testaments to show that ambition is viewed as a sin in God's Word. It was that way too in much of the Christian west too. However western culture, learning from the Greeks, saw ambition as a sickness that could be cured or put in the device of society for its health and happiness.
Chapter Six: Practicing What We Preach: No More Super Apostles
America, the great experiment in government of the people by the people and for the people has experimented with the church too. Most Americans view church as a democratic institution run by the people. It never occurs to them that Christ is the head of the church and runs it for His glory and His peoples good.
American populism raises up demo-gods and super heroes to lead them toward the agreed upon goals for more numbers and more offerings. Horton shows the better way in Scripture of how Christ, the King, runs His own Kingdom through biblically revealed doctrines and servant leaders.
Part Two has more of an emphasis upon building and clarifying. The first section focused on the many ills of the contemporary church and the cultural ideas that infiltrate and negatively impact the church.
Chapter Seven: Contentment
At the heart of so much that is wrong with today's churches can be spelled out in the word: discontent.
Discontent with my lot in life has me chasing the "snipe" of being a radical, pushing the envelope Christian. Though we are the wealthiest culture in history, we are also grossly discontent as a people. In past generations and cultures, people knew that choice usually meant forsaking one thing for another. Not us! We want to have it all--a career and a family, demanding jobs and time with our children, etc. Because we are in a covenant with God and not a contract with Him where we earn our part of the bargain, we are free to be content with His providence and His ordinary means of grace.
Chapter 8--We Don't Need Another Hero
Faulty, man-centered theology has left our Bible full of heroes, people whose lives become morality plays for believers to emulate. We are not called to be "world changers", we are called to be faithful to God's covenant with us, faithful to His Law and faithful to His gospel. It is up to God how He chooses to use our faithfulness for His larger purposes.
Chapter 9--God's Ecosystem
Horton helpfully defines what he means in the first sentence: Ecosystems are webs of interdependent life.
He takes us by the hand and shows us that the church is not an institution with a systematic theology but an organisms with a form of life, spiritual life. God's Kingdom is like a garden. After showing us several organic metaphors for God's church in the Bible, Horton then asks: How Does God's Garden Grow? How the ordinary means of grace, the Lord's Day and personal disciplines fit together in God's family, God's church, are very insightful.
Chapter 10--Stop Dreaming and Love Your Neighbor
In short, Horton shows how it is easier to be in love with changing world, or at least the idea of changing the world than it is to be nice to our real next door neighbor, changing dirty diapers, sitting with an elderly person and listening to their story, etc.
Chapter 11--After Ordinary--Anticipating the Revolution
The real NEXT BIG THING is the return of Christ. Faith shall be sight. In the meantime, we are to faithfully take advantage of the ordinary means of grace until they are no longer needed in the presence of our Savior and King.
I would like to see churches adopt this book to read and discuss together. i would like to see parachurch ministries grow up and read this book and re-examine their principles and priorities. I would like to see Men's Discipleship Groups, Women's Groups, teens and collegians work slowly and faithfully through this book too. It's that important!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
My favorite movie is always played on television this time of year. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, directed by Frank Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, chronicles the life story of a man who must learn the painful lessons of dying to self and giving away one’s life in service for others.
He must learn what is important and what is only chaff. In the movie, we follow George Bailey from his present reality where he is contemplating suicide on a bridge while a God-sent angel grabs his attention and shows him his true life story. George Bailey feels a failure because he never achieved any of his life dreams and ambitions—college, New York City, big buildings and big bridges, world travel, a trophy spouse, fame, recognition and money galore—meanwhile financial ruin and public scandal are staring him in his face.
But George and the viewer are enabled to see by the grace of God that one’s life is only significant in being faithful, not being spectacular or showy or anything else. George wants to do something “significant” with his life not realizing that only the Eternal Creator God knows everything and knows what is truly significant and what is merely ephemeral. From childhood George had sacrificed his comfort, his goals, his dreams, his hopes, his ambitions, his life in service to others. Others moved ahead, others got rich, others went to college, others were “successful”, others lived “significant lives” while George Bailey stayed in little Bedford Falls, gave himself to a little broken down Savings & Loan, helped when he could, served when he could, invested in others when he could and inwardly died a thousand deaths.
As our Sovereign King has given us life and entrusted a length of time to us to live to His glory, the questions we face is 'What will we do with our lives ?" and 'Were our lives “faithful” to Christ and His Word ? Being only creatures and not the Creator, we cannot know what is “significant” and what is not. Only He knows what He sovereignly plans to do with our humble lives of obedience. Christians cannot and should not aim to be “significant” but instead we should aim to be faithful and let God be concerned about what He will do with our faithfulness.
Christian authors have been showing us these truths
about the biblical perspective on our lives if we would only listen to them and what they show us from God’s Word. A collection of Francis Schaeffer’s sermons entitled NO LITTLE PEOPLE (Crossway Books) shows us that God has no “littler people” and no “little places of service”. We are either faithful people or unfaithful and clamoring for success and privilege and notoriety are carnal remnants of our sinful nature that must be put to death. John Bunyan in Bedford jail, Robert Murray M’Cheyne dying of tuberculosis in Dundee, Eric Liddell choosing not to run on Sunday in the Olympics and later dying in a Japanese POW camp in China, Francis Schaeffer burying himself and his ministry in a small village that does not even appear on most Swiss maps—none of these men sought notoriety and fame. They sought to be faithful and God determined according to His will and eternal plan what significance their faithfulness would later have .
A couple of years ago, Matt Redmund wrote a tiny blockbuster—THE GOD OF THE MUNDANE (Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People); Kalos Press. I have trumpeted the book in this blog at least twice and given away many copies. Whole churches have read it and profited from it and enjoyed it together. Most who have read it have read it at least twice—its that good and that important. In a day when Christians are bombarded to be radical, take risks, act 'crazy like God', and altogether be “extreme Christians”, Redmond takes us to the Scriptures to show us that God’s consistent call in the Bible is to be none of these things but instead to be faithful Christians in our homes and marriages, our parenting, our work lives and our local citizenship. All rather humdrum and mundane it would seem. And that’s the point. Believers are not called to “push the envelope” or be awesomely creative and innovative. We are called to be faithful.
Josh Kelley has picked up the same themes and aimed at the same target—the idea that Christians have to be extraordinary and exceptional and radical and extreme for their lives to count. In his book, RADICALLY NORMAL (You Don’t Have to Live Crazy to Follow Jesus) from Harvest House Josh fleshes out what “normal” is and how it pleases God. This life is preparatory for the next and faithfulness is the criteria by which Christians will be judged. Believers do not have to sell their homes and move to rough, tough neighborhoods or Outer Slobovia to be real Christians. Being a faithful Christian man or woman, husband and father or wife and mother, neighbor and friend are not small things.
How much different our churches would look if everyone was simply faithful at these primary callings on our lives.
The newest title to address the false siren call for Christians to be radical is Mike Horton’S ORDINARY (Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World); Zondervan. I believe Horton shows conclusively that the New Testament calls Christians to be faithful,
not flashy, settled, not restless and to bloom where they are planted—not take the world by storm. There are calls for ministers of the gospel to take the gospel to the ends of the earth but ordinary laymen are called to live out the message of Christ and the gospel in their local communities as faithful men and women, husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, employers and employees. As another blogger has put it, just studying the book of Ephesians showed that God's goal for believers is faithfulness in our callings, not radical in our desperate desires to find “significance”.
Here are Horton’s chapter titles:
RADICAL AND RESTLESSS
1. The New Radical
2. Ordinary isn’t Mediocre
3. The Young and the Restless
4. The Next Big Thing
5. Ambition: How a Vice Became a Virtue
6. Practicing What We Preach: No More Super-apostles
ORDINARY AND CONTENT
8. We Don’t Need Another Hero
9. God’s Ecosystem
10. Stop Dreaming and Love Your Neighbor
11. After Ordinary: Anticipating the Revolution
I believe every American Christian should read Dr. Horton’s book for our bad practices are based upon bad theology and Horton shows us how we have gotten off the biblical path into a miry bog of self-fulfillment and self-aggrandizement.
I would like to challenge you to buy and read at least two of these excellent books and find someone to discuss them with. This 'radical' mind-set has become endemic to the Christian sub-culture and needs more than just a Christian tract and a prayer to excise it from our lives. When lived God's way, the Christian life truly is "a wonderful life".
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Find more than 700 devotionals, downloads, book reviews and a new ebook at my personal website, WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM
Of the making of new "study Bibles" there seems to be no end. Some are the work of a single individual who has a radio or TV ministry and some folks have become habituated to see and hear things from "the great man's perspective". Very few if any single individuals are capable of writing a competent "study Bible" or commentary on the whole Bible. So few have done it well that they stand out in church history (John Calvin in the 16th century, Matthew Henry and Matthew Poole in the 17th century, and Thomas Scott
in the 18th century).
The better study Bibles with their running comments on Scripture and theological insertions have been the Geneva Study Bible of the 17th century, (the NEW GENEVA STUDY BIBLE of the 1980's done by R. C. Sproul and Reformed scholars connected to Ligonier Ministries, the ESV STUDY BIBLE of the 2000's by scholars connected to Crossway Books and the Gospel Coalition; the ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE done by scholars connected to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the HOLMAN KJV STUDY BIBLE produced by mostly Baptist scholars and scholars connected to Broadman & Holman Publishing, the publishing arm of
the Southern Baptist Convention). Whew! That's a lot of study Bibles!! Is there room for another study Bible? Do we need another study Bible?
I believe we do and the brand new REFORMATION HERITAGE KJV STUDY BIBLE in particular deserves to be in print for several reasons.
First, the historic and classic KJV of the Bible is not going away any time soon. Many believers still use and study their KJV Bibles. A good study Bible geared to the KJV is a good thing.
Second, it is covenantal in its organizing view of Scripture. Some study Bibles are dispensational in how they view the structure of Scripture (SCOFIELD STUDY BIBLE; NEW SCOFIELD STUDY BIBLE, RYRIE STUDY BIBLE, MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE), other study Bibles are a mixed bag of covenantal and dispensational contributors (HOLMAN KJV STUDY BIBLE). Other study Bibles are a blend of loosely Reformed and Calvinistic contributors. Joel Beeke, pastor, author and seminary president at PURITAN REFORMED SEMINARY has assembled a team of scholarly contributors who are consistently covenantal in their understanding of how Scripture fits together. Besides Professor Beeke, contributors include Michael Barrett, Gerald Bilkes, Ian Goligher, John Greer, Andy McIntosh, Maurice Roberts, Malcolm Watts and others.
3rd, each portion of Scripture is commented upon both to understand the text AND for THOUGHTS FOR PERSONAL/FAMILY WORSHIP. They are a boon to the Christian who daily reasons his/her Bible to commune with their Savior. What a treasure trove of good things for the soul awaits the faithful user of this study Bible!
4th--scattered throughout the Bible are systematic theology/devotional notes from various Puritan worthies (Matthew Henry, Richard Sibbes, Thomas Watson,
Christopher Love, et al. as well as the scholars whose names are listed above. The Puritans used the KJV and this study Bible reflects that background. The basic outline of systematic theology outlined in study articles is superb--clear, warm, biblical and experiential.
5th--Dr. Sinclair Ferguson has a 2000 year overview of Christian history which has been edited and adapted, century by century, to a section at the end of the volume to give the reader the 'big picture' of what God has been doing since the 1st century and the times of Christ upon the earth and His disciples ministries. I have used Dr. Ferguson's overview before and found it quite helpful and succinct.
For those who use the KJV as their regular Bible for reading and study, this is the study Bible for you. For others like myself who use another good translation of the Bible (ESV, NKJV, NASB, etc) I will use this regularly in my studies because the notes and helps are so good.
I regularly use more than one translation and study Bible besides the Greek (sorry but true confessions, my Hebrew is gone) when studying my Bible. I plan to use this REFORMATION HERITAGE STUDY BIBLE myself regularly.
For yourself or for another person who uses the KJV, this is a great gift in whatever price range or style you choose.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
As one whose life has been transformed by the grace of God by reading good books, I give good books as gifts--Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, for wedding showers, baby showers, etc. etc. etc. I plan to give good books again this Christmas too, attuned to the needs of the various individuals on my list.
But one books stands out as a close to ideal Christmas advent gift to use year after year in preparing our hearts for the advent of our Lord. This is John Piper's new little paperback, THE DAWNING OF INDESTRUCTIBLE JOY (Daily Readings for Advent); Crossway. The advantages of this book are many: it is short (2 short pages per day), it is very readable, it is motivational, it is clear, it is Christ-centered (as it should be), it is based upon a Scripture text for each day. And it is a joy to read.
In a day when materialism and the cluttered lives and frantic pace of the cultural bacchanalia tends to ruin many of your personal experiences of Christmas, this book is different. It will actually draw your mind and emotions back to the 'reason for the season'. They originally were parts of Christmas Sermons preached by Dr. Piper over his many years at Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis, MN.
Here are the titles & Scriptures for the daily reasons:
INTRODUCTION--Praying for Fullness This Christmas (John 1:14-16)
1st--The Search and Save Mission--Luke 19:10
2nd--Prepare Your Heart for Christ--John 5:44
3rd--Draw Near to the Savior--Hebrews 13-20-21
4th--What Advent Is All About--Mark 10:45
5th--Why Christmas Happened--1st John 3:5. 8
6th--God's Passion for God at Christmas--John 12:27-28
7th--He Comes to Bless Us--Acts 3:22-26
8th--God Can Be Trusted--Acts 3:22-26
And so forth until Christmas Day! I plan to use it for my wife and myself this Advent season. Why not join me?!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
A few years ago, then reporter Colin Hansen authored YOUNG, RESTLESS AND REFORMED (Crossway), a survey showing resurgent interest in the doctrines of grace (a.k.a. Calvinism. Reformed theology, Augustinianism, and "Sovereignty") all throughout the various groupings of American Christianity. About the same time TIME MAGAZINE listed Calvinism as one of the top movements and ideations impacting America. No longer was American Protestantism controlled by fundamentalist Arminian and Semi-Pelagian theological categories or the Socinian categories liberal theology.
There was an old-new kid on the block. The Bible teachings that exploded the medieval Catholic church were again being understood, studied, taught, preached and published in American Christianity with real impact.
What has not received as much attention is the impact of Reformed theology upon the African-American religious community. Many African American seminary students, pastors and college students have begun to see the truth and experience the power of Reformed theology and have begun to earnestly contend for the truth.
When I began to pastor a confessional Reformed church in Atlanta in 1989, there were no known African-American churches of Reformed theology that anyone knew anything about. Now there are several quality African-American church in the greater Atlanta area. Like mushrooms popping up after a warm rain in late August here in the South, so Reformed churches have popped up by the sovereign decree of God in the past 25 years. Thousands of African-American pastors, deacons, elders and laymen gather each summer in Kentucky for their annual conference based upon Reformed theology. The Center for Early African Christianity [CEAC] was begun to teach the world the early heritage of African American Christianity.
Today I wanted to highlight some of the rich resources available to encourage African-American Christians from the Reformed tradition. The following books have ministered to many.
Thabiti Anyabwile, THE DECLINE OF AFRICAN AMERICAN
THEOLOGY (The Biblical Truth in Cultural Captivity);
IVP Academic—what passes for African-American
Christianity has been hijacked from its original
foundations. It has misled millions and dishonored
God. This ground-breaking book has opened the
eyes of many about what once was believed and
practiced in the African churches and what can still
be recovered to the glory of God and the
building up of His people. After being Assistant
Pastor to Dr. Mark Dever in Washington, D.C., Pastor
Anyabwile pastored the 1st Baptist Church of Grand
Cayman for eight years. He now is engaged in church
planting in Washington, D.C.
Thabiti Anyabwile, THE FAITHFUL PREACHERS (Lemuel
Haynes, Daniel Payne, and Francis Grimke);
Crossway—three of the great 19th century African
preachers are highlighted—Lemuel Haynes, David
Payne and Francis Grimke and their contributions to
their race and the American churches.
Thabiti Anyabwile, MAY WE MEET IN THE HEAVENLY
WORLD; Reformation Heritage—Lemuel Haynes has
become a subject of great interest the past 15 years
or so. Here the piety of the man is brought forward.
William Hatcher, JOHN JASPER; Sprinkle Publications—
in post Civil War Richmond, Virginia the largest
church was pastored by ex slave John Jasper. Here
a fellow clergyman, a white man, writes a
glowing tribute to the man who lived for 40 years a
slave and 40 years a freed man. John Jasper
preached some of the most powerful and
unforgettable sermons heard in Richmond during
THE AFRICAN PREACHERS; Sprinkle Publications—there
were giants in the earth in the 19th century African
community. Thanks to Sprinkle Publications, the best
of the African preachers of that period are preserved
for us and posterity.
Anthony Carter, ed.; THE GLORY ROAD (The Journeys
of 10 African Americans into Reformed Christianity);
Crossway—How encouraging to read about the
spiritual pilgrimages made by ten men who came to
see and savor Reformed theology. It was not
merely helpful theology, it was the Bible’s theology.
It was and is an exciting read for with those with
ears to hear! Anthony Carter pastors here in Atlanta!
Anthony Carter, ON BEING BLACK AND REFORMED;
P & R—what does it mean for an African-American
to embrace Reformed theology—the theology of the
Protestant Reformation? Pastor Carter does an
excellent joy showing the reader what all the fuss
Anthony Bradley, LIBERATING BLACK THEOLOGY (The
Bible and the Black Experience); Crossway—shows
us how the African-American churches have been
short-changed and led down a false path to their
own hurt. Professor Bradley teaches at THE KING’S
COLLEGE in New York City.
May the Lord bless you as you read these books and give them to your friends!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit my personal blog and check out my new e-book resource, 21st CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES which cover all 66 books of the Bible and many introductory matters!
November 2nd was Reformation Sunday. Many Reformed churches celebrated God's grace by marking that day and explaining in conferences, seminars and Sunday School classes just how brought about the great Reformation of the 16th century that split the church and ushered in one of the greatest movements of the Spirit since Pentecost. Europe and the world was changed forever and the gospel was freed from 1000+ years of encrustation by Roman church traditions. Martin Luther, a Roman monk, held up the Bible and said that it, not Rome or the Pope, was the final authority in all matters of Christianity.
When Martin Luther stood up to defend his writings at the Diet of Worms in Germany, he declared boldly that his conscience was captive to the Word of God. His bold stance was honored by God and the Word was printed, smuggled, read and debated all over Europe. In fact, Luther could claim that while he slept, the Word did it all! It is not surprising that SOLA SCRIPTURA, or the Scriptures alone are the final authority for Christian faith and practice.
Our examination of good books today reveals many good books which explain why SOLA SCRIPTURA is still the rallying cry of knowledgeable Protestants.
May our Lord give you grace to hold to the Word of God. May you read it and obey it daily. May you sit under its authority as it is read and preached on the Lord's Day.
May you cling to it in this dark and sad world. May it be your comfort as you face death.
THE SURE WORD OF GOD
INTRODUCTORY WORKS FOR BEGINNERS:
Richard Belcher, A JOURNEY IN INSPIRATION; Richbarry Press—long time professor and trainer of soon-to-be pastors contributes another volume in his series explaining various biblical doctrines by showing how they are misused and under attack in the modern
churches, especially Baptist churches. A good place of Baptist beginners to begin!
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, AUTHORITY (of Christ, the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit); Banner of Truth—powerfully shows that if the authority of Christ and His Word is upheld and preached in reliance upon the authority of the Holy Spirit (rather than Ph.D.’s or human scholarship), then powerful things can be expected to happen.
A.W. Pink, PROFITING FROM THE SCRIPTURES; Banner of Truth—asks hard questions of the reader or student of Scripture. What do you get out of your reading and study? Asks about your joy, holiness, wisdom, etc. as gleaned from the Word of God.
J. C. Ryle, IS ALL SCRIPTURE INSPIRED ?; Banner of Truth—classic sermon by one of the 19th century’s greatest men.
Charles Spurgeon, THE GREATEST FIGHT IN THE WORLD; Christian Focus—fighting to uphold the Scriptures as the fully inspired, and authoritative and inerrant Word of God is worth all our exertions, even to battle to hold on to the Bible.
Alan Stibbs, ed.; SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES; IVP—the best book to help you dig into the Bible and find out what it says. Tested over a half century of satisfied students, laymen and pastors in the English speaking world.
Geoff Thomas, THE SURE WORD OF GOD; Brynterion Press/Reformation Heritage
1. Trusting the Infallible Word
2. Satisfied with the Scriptures
3. Submitting to the Scriptures
4. Obeying the Scriptures
5. Understanding the Scriptures
6. Searching the Scriptures
THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE:
Paul Barnett, IS THE NEW TESTAMENT RELIABLE ? (2nd Ed.); IVP—updates the mid-20th century classic by F. F. Bruce, THE NEW TESTAMENT—IS IT RELIABLE?.
F. F.Bruce, THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON; IVP—classic late 20th century study showing the New Testament came into being.
Michael Kruger, CANON REVISITED (Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books); Crossway—by the foremost expert among evangelical and Reformed New Testament scholars on the questions regarding the canon of Scripture.
Michael Kruger, THE QUESTION OF CANON: CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO IN THE NEW
TESTAMENT DEBATE; IVP Academic (a more scholarly treatment than the volume above)
THE INSPIRATION, SUFFICIENCY, INFALLIBLITY, CLARITY AND AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE:
Greg Beale, THE ERROSION OF INERRANCY IN EVANGELIALISM; Crossway—shows how some scholars like Peter Enns reduce and change inerrancy. A helpful work.
L. Russ Bush and Tom Nettles, BAPTISTS AND THE BIBLE; B & H—the volume which showed Southern Baptists (and any other Baptist who would listen) how they have historically treated the Bible as the inerrant and authoritative Word of God.
D. A. Carson, COLLECTED WRITINGS ON SCRIPTURE; Crossway (compiled by Andrew Naselli)
Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD (Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me); Crossway
Sinclair Ferguson, FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD (Trusting, Reading and Applying The Bible);Banner of Truth
Gabriel Fluhrer, ed.; SOLID GROUND (The Inerrant Word in an Errant World) [The Best Messages From the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology]; P & R
John Frame, THE DOCTRINE OF THE WORD OF GOD; P & R—perhaps his magnum opus as he shows in 600+ pages what the Bible teaches about itself.
David Garner, ed.; DID GOD REALLY SAY ? (Affirming The Truthfulness and Trustworthiness of Scripture);
P & R
1. Because It Is The Word of God by Scott Oliphint
2. The Church a Pillar of Truth: B. B. Warfield’s Church Doctrine of Inspiration by Michael Williams
3. Deconstructing Canon: Recent Challenges to the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Writings by Michael Kruger
4. Inerrancy’s Complexities: Grounds for Grace in the Debate by Robert Yarbrough
5. God and Language by Vern Poythress
6. N. T. Wright and the Authority of Scripture by John Frame
7. Did God Really Say ? by David Garner
Louis Gaussen, THE DIVINE INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE; Christian Focus—one of the classic 19th century volumes that encouraged evangelicals in that day against the attacks of Enlightenment critics.
James K. Hoffmeier and Dennis Magary, eds.; DO HISTORICAL MATTERS MATTER TO FAITH ? (A Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture); Crossway—twenty two chapters by various experts showing how historicity is intrinsic to the truth- worthiness and authority of the Bible.
Kenneth Kitchen, ON THE RELIABILITY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; Eerdmans--a massive defense of the historicity of the Old Testament that will last for years!
Peter Lillback and Richard Gaffin, eds; THY WORD IS STILL TRUTH (Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture From the Reformation to Today); Westminster Theological Seminary/P & R—a 1300+ page examination of how Reformed Christians and Confessions have understood the inspired and authoritative Word of God.
J. I. Packer, “FUNDAMENTALISM” AND THE WORD OF GOD; Eerdmans—the best short work in English in the 20th century and still today!
N. B. Stonehouse and Paul Wooley, eds.; THE INFALLIBLE WORD (A Symposium by the Members of the Faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary); P & R
1. John Murray—The Attestation of Scripture
2. Edward J. Young—The Authority of the Old Testament
3. N. B. Stonehouse—The Authority of the New Testament
4. John Skilton—The Transmission of the Scriptures
5. Paul Wooley—The Relevancy of Scripture
6. R. B. Kuiper—Scriptural Preaching
7. Cornelius Van Til—Nature and Scripture
Noel Weeks, THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE; Banner of Truth—since the late 1970’s, many of the attacks on the Bible have come claiming that it is not sufficient to address contemporary issues. Australian professor of ancient history writes a tour de force study of the various issues under attack showing the real sufficiency of Scripture. Weeks’ careful study and reverent handling of Scripture moved me to stop and worship more than
once while I read it.
Paul Wells, TAKING THE BIBLE AT ITS WORD; Christian Focus—long time professor at the French Reformed Seminary at Aix-en-Provence, France does a fine job of not only explaining the inspiration, clarity, sufficiency and authority of the Bible but answers Pentecostal and charismatic critics who want to add Scripture with contemporary revelations and tongues and prophets.
William Whitaker, DISPUTATIONS ON HOLY SCRIPTURE; Soli Deo Gloria—Puritan pastor and apologist explains and champions the Protestant understanding of the Bible vs. the Roman Catholic understanding.
James White, SCRIPTURE ALONE (Explaining the Bible’s Accuracy, Authority and Authenticity); Bethany House—White is a strong debater and accurately and winsomely
explains why we trust the Bible. The first order of the Reformation was SOLA SCRIPTURA:the Scriptures alone are our authority for doctrine and practice in Christianity.
John D. Woodbridge, BIBLICAL AUTHORITY (A CRITIQUE OF THE ROGERS/MCKIM PROPOSAL); Zondervan—in 1979 two professors connected with Fuller Seminary in
California wrote a book purporting that the church historically did not believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture until Benjamin B. Warfield and Archibald A. Hodge wrote on “inerrancy” and virtually invented the idea in the 1880’s. The Fuller Seminary profs claimed that the new position of an “errant but still somehow authoritative Bible” adopted by Fuller was the historic position of the Christian churches. John Woodbridge of Trinity
Evangelical Divinity School wrote this devastating rebuttal to show the shoddy scholarship and worse theology of the Fuller profs’ volume. This century by century critique almost single-handedly sank the credibility of the Fuller book. A model of scholarship in service to the churches!
E. J. Young, THY WORD IS TRUTH; Banner of Truth—long-time professor of Old Testament at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia positively explains the truthfulness of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and responds to critics of the Bible.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
One of many things Crossway Books had done well in its putting out the ESV Bible is to produce many helps and complementary books. Not only can one study the Bible well with an ESV Bible, one can also obtain many other books which supplement one's study of Scripture.
I am so thankful for both the translation theory and practice behind the ESV, I am also very grateful for the many good helper books to make my (or anyone's) study of Scripture more profitable.
ESV READER'S BIBLE
The latest tool for your edification is this edition meant for people to sit down and read longer chunks of the Bible at one sitting. How a Bible is physically laid out on the page has a lot to do with how it is approached and read. Most modern Bibles are broken down into chapters and verses for ease of reference. However, we tend to approach our Bibles in little pieces, reading a verses or two here and there. Even best of readers can get lost looking at the trees and never see the forest.
Using this Bible I have found it to be a read encouragement to read larger portions of Scripture at one time. (Yes,all of God's Word is God-breathed and important, and Yes, we should be sensitive to individual verses, BUT we should also be sensitive to the overarching themes and books of the Bible. This edition of the Bible will make you read more and look more at "big picture" issues. And it comes in attractive and inexpensive formats as well as more expensive ones.
ESV GOSPEL TRANSFORMATION BIBLE
This new Bible is geared to show you the gospel in each of the 66 books of the Bible. Various men and women commentators have their study notes to guide you in the study of the text. It achieves its aim to get you seeing and thinking about the overall flow of the Bible from the first announcement of "Good News" in Genesis 3:15 until the end of the Revelation of John.
As with any multi-author book, some contributors are stronger than others. Some are brilliant and unusually insightful. All are more than competent. For personal devotions and as an aid to Bible study and teaching, I heartily appreciate this edition of the Bible.
ESV LITERARY STUDY BIBLE
This study Bible has been out several years but has not had the acclaim that it should. If you are a pastor or regular Bible teacher, you should own and use this study Bible. The various kinds of literary genre that make up the Bible have so much to do with its proper interpretation. We don't read Psalms like Romans; or interpret Proverbs like Revelation. Long time professor of English at Wheaton College, Leland Ryken, and one of the main editors of the ESV, along with his gifted son, Philip Ryken (formerly pastor of 10th Presbyterian in Philadelphia and now President of Wheaton College) have gone through the Bible from Dan to Beersheba (to use a biblical figure of speech), from Genesis to Revelation, showing how the various literary figures and genres impact our interpretation of the text. A real boon to serious students of the Bible!
ESV GLOBAL STUDY BIBLE
This book should be given and used as a gift with international students and English-speaking immigrants.
It is the ESV STUDY BIBLE with 15 introductory chapters changed to reflect the different issues facing internationals and immigrants. The ESV STUDY BIBLE is more North American, Britain, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia focused--the English speaking world! But the rest of the world and its various cultures face differing problems in many regards. Marital customs, ethics, types and views of government, etc. The Introductory articles have been changed to reflect issues they face. The study notes are largely the same on the text though. A great gift to an international student and an immigrant who speaks/reads English.
ESV STUDENT BIBLE
A shortened and edited version of the ESV STUDY BIBLE that will minister to students who take their Bible reading and Christianity seriously. Not all professing Christian students would want such a serious Bible study help, but high school seniors and college students would find it a great encouragement to become a more serious Bible student.
ESV ENGLISH-GREEK REVERSE INTERLINEAR NEW TESTAMENT
This is a real help to laymen especially. It has the two lines of text, the Greek and the English, but it reverses the normal order of things. It gives the ESV text and then shows where they got it from the Greek text and its literal translation. It makes it easier for laymen and those not trained in the Greek to find their way more quickly.
ESV STUDY BIBLE
The mother of all study Bibles! I carry it in my coat pocket in case I am ever shot, the massive text will work like a Kevlar vest to protect me from harm! Seriously, there is so much information in this study Bible that one can use it for a lifetime of study. Reformed readers will appreciate the Calvinistic comments but the lack of a covenantal perspective mars the interpretation of the Lord's Day and the perpetuity of the moral law. But there is such a wealth of otherwise great information that one can only thank Crossway for seeing this project through.
(For the reader who cares about such things, The REFORMATION STUDY BIBLE is about to be re-released in early 2015 and it will be from a self-consciously covenantal perspective.)
May you cherish your Bible, read and pray about and meditate upon your Bible, and be more conformed to the Savior you see displayed therein.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my own book blog,
A pastor from Kansas City asked me to recommend resources for a women's Bible study. He was not looking for a particular theme; he wanted good Bible study for his ladies.
As I answered him, I thought that others might want to know of good resources for a ladies study at church.
So today I am recommending both Bible studies and subject studies for the ladies.
BIBLE STUDIES FOR LADIES:
1.) SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES; IVP--a time tested and valuable study of the whole Bible. The method is to ask questions of each paragraph of the Bible. Valuable not only for ladies studies, of course, but men and teens and collegians and careful pastors! Those who contributed to this study were largely British evangelicals and Reformed scholars and church leaders. Highly recommend!!
2.) LET'S STUDY... series from Banner of Truth. Theologically accurate and experiential pastor/scholars write user friendly small commentaries on many books of the Bible. Great for inquiring Christians of all ages.
3. TWELVE WEEK STUDIES ON THE BIBLE from Crossway Books. Many of the books are completed (e.g. TWELVE WEEK STUDY OF ROMANS) thought not all the books of the Bible. Introductions and input from the ESV STUDY BIBLE.
1. Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD (The Doctrine of God's Providence); NavPress--a sanity saver and a real gem!
2. Stuart Olyott, WILL SOMONE EXPLAIN HEBREWS TO ME?; Banner of Truth--winsome and clear study of Hebrews.
3. Jerry Bridges, THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE; NavPress--all that Christ accomplished on the cross to save His people. (A 21st century reworking of 19th century Scottish theologian George Smeaton's THE ATONEMENT ACCORDING THE APOSTLES. (If I was able, I would make all pastors/elders/deacons and Bible study leaders master this book. It is gold!
4. S. M. Houghton, SKETCHES FROM CHURCH HISTORY; Banner of Truth--clear and motivational study of God's working in history to build His church. Much art work and photographs to enhance the study. Not dry and dust history but history that is clear and moving. Very good. There is now a workbook that you can purchase to aid your study.
5. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, WHAT IS AN EVANGELICAL?; Banner of Truth--clear and important study of what it means to be a Bible-believing evangelical. A classic!
6. Nancy Leigh DeMoss, LIES WOMEN BELIEVE (AND THE TRUTH THAT SETS THEM FREE); Moody Press--shows the various lies that our culture inundates women with and the biblical truths that will set them free. (There is also a newer edition, LIES YOUNG WOMEN BELIEVE that would be suitable for a high school or college study.)
7. Michelle Graham, WANTING TO BE HER (Beauty Secrets That Victoria Won't Tell You); IVP--important book for women beginning with junior high and running into old age, she shows how the culture is brain-washing women about their looks and how to combat its lies.
8. Jerry Bridges, THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS; NavPress
, TRANSFORMING GRACE; NavPress
, THE DISCIPLINES OF GRACE;NavPress
, THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF THE
, THE JOY OF FEARING GOD; NavPress
, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN
(R. C. Sproul once said that Jerry Bridges was the best communicator of the Reformed faith to laymen. He puts the cookies down where we can all reach them. I agree with his assessment.)
9. R. C. Sproul, THE HOLINESS OF GOD; Tyndale--his best and destined to be a classic. Puts God and mankind in their rightful places. You cannot understand sin unless you understand who God is--holy, holy, holy. You cannot understand Christ and salvation until you understand the holiness of God and sin. You cannot understand Christianity or why you need a savior unless you understand the holiness of God.
10. Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD; Crossway--the Bible's teaching about itself and what it means to everyday life and eternity.
11. Kris Lundgaard, THE ENEMY WITHIN; P & R--the best place to study the presence, on-going activities and defeat of indwelling sin in believers. It is a 21st century redo of John Owen's majestic volumes on TEMPTATION AND INDWELLING SIN AND MORTIFICATION.
12. Kris Lundgaard, THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS; P & R--the beauties and wonder that is Christ and now gazing upon His glory transforms us!
May the Lord give you grace to study His Word and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my website for more book reviews and devotionals:
One of the signs that the evangelical and Reformed movements are coming into more maturity is the growth of the biblical counseling movement. People thoroughly trained in the Bible as well as people skills are having an important contribution to the spiritual growth of American Christianity. Lives, marriages and families are being transformed by the Word of God as it is skillfully applied to everyday, real life situations.
It was not so long ago that people with severe emotional, mental or social problems were told to visit psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, social workers or other secular health care professionals. The Bible was considered and spoken of as “not competent to counsel” and as a book from a by-gone time and cultural situation which “did not speak to contemporary problems”.
Dr. Jay Adams began the rethinking of the Christian position on counseling with his COMPETENT TO COUNSEL in 1970. Taking issue with the secular psychological mantra that the Bible had little or nothing to offer hurting people today, Adams showed convincingly that in fact the Word of God powered by the Spirit of God was the ONLY HOPE FOR TRUE CHANGE. With the power and tenacity and steel forehead of an icebreaker, Dr. Adams broke up the “pack ice” of conventional thinking and allowed so many men and women counselors to come along behind him in their smaller boats and add to the analysis and discussion of the biblical counseling movement. (Those wanting to read an excellent account of the movement are encouraged to begin with Dr. David Powlison of the CHRISTIAN COUNSELING AND EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION (CCEF) and Editor of THE JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL COUNSELING who has updated our knowledge and understanding of this movement with his history and analysis of THE BIBLICAL COUNSELING MOVEMENT: History and Context; New Growth Press.)
Today there are many practitioners of “biblical counseling” with definitions that vary slightly from counselor to counselor. Dr. Tedd Tripp who did his doctoral studies under the CCEF at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and who authored the best selling SHEPHERDING A CHILD’S HEART began SHEPHERD PRESS to manufacture and distribute his book. Now this same publisher is publishing more than 25 very helpful booklets about various problems that Christians and non-believers face. This “HELP” series looks to be a boon to local churches, pastors, counselors, church tract racks and concerned Christians helping their friends. Let me help you sample a few of these booklets.
HELP—MY TODDLER RULES THE HOUSE by Paul and Karen Tautges
The authors, a pastoral counselor and his wife, divide up their treatment into four sections: (1) Sad Results of Child-Centered Parenting; (2) Are You Raising a Cain?; (3) Cultivating Plants and Directing Arrows; (4) The Seven Laws of Correction along with Personal Application Projects and a helpful bibliography of more resources to help you.
HELP—I WANT TO CHANGE by Jim Newheiser
Dr. Newheiser divides his material into the following sections: (1) Unbiblical Methods Lead to Failure; (2) The Gospel is the Key to Change; (3) Your Responsibility Toward Change; (4) When Will Change Take Place? Along with a helpful Personal Application Projects and Bibliography for more resources.
HELP—MY SPOUSE HAS BEEN UNFAITHFUL by Mike Summers
Pastor Summers has been married for over 30 years and a pastor for over 25 years. He and his wife have six children and six grandchildren. He has seen and helped many couples where one or both have been unfaithful. His four chapters are (1) What Does God Want me to Do ?; (2) First Steps; (3) What’s Next ?; and (4) What if My Spouse Continues in the Infidelity ?. Like the other booklets in this helpful series, there are projects for the reader to apply what they are learning and a list of resources for further help.
HELP—SOMEONE I LOVE HAS BEEN ABUSED by Jim Newheiser
Pastor Newheiser has been a licensed counselor and pastor of a local church for many years. Sad to say, pastors see far too many cases of abuse in their lifetime. And they are only the tip of the iceberg. Pastor
Newheiser breaks down his treatment into four chaptes: (1) What is Abuse ?; (2) A Biblical Understanding of Abuse; (3) Helping the Victim of Abuse; and (4) How Victims Can Become Overcomers. So that the victim and their loved ones don’t have their lives permanently stigmatized by their abuse, there are helpful application projects and a list of further resources.
HELP—SOMEONE I LOVE HAS CANCER by Deborah Howard
Deborah Howard is a very rare person—a hospice nurse who has taken care of literally thousands of cancer patients and ministered to many with her other publications: SUNSETS: REFLECTIONS FOR LIFE’S FINAL JOURNEY, IT’S NOT FAIR! WHERE IS GOD IN ALL THIS?; and HELP—SOMEONE I LOVE HAS ALZHEIMER’S. She covers her material in four chapters: (1) Let Me Walk With You; (2) Knowledge is Power; and (3) What Are The Options? and (4) When I Am Afraid, I Will Trust God.
Her Personal Applications Projects are quite helpful as is her bibliography of other resources.
HELP—MY TEEN HAS SAME SEX ATTRACTIONS by Ben Marshall
Ben Marshall practices and teaches biblical counseling. His has been married for 16 years and has five children. He sees the problems of the family every day. His study is broken down into (1) The Magnitude of the Problem: What We Are Up Against; (2) Religious Modifications: Changing the Meaning of Scripture; (3) Momentum Downward: The Biblical Perspective on Homosexuality; and (4) How to Help Your Teen. As with all the booklets, he has a helpful Personal Application Projects section and bibliography.
HELP—I HAVE BREAST CANCER by Brenda Frields
Mrs. Frields, married to an ob-gyn doctor, begins with the chilling words of the doctor, “You Have Breast Cancer” on to “Is God Punishing Me?”, to “A Change of Heart” and ending with “A Gift Wrapped in Brown Paper”. She also has Personal Application Projects and a select and helpful bibliography of additional resources
HELP—HE’S STRUGGLING WITH PORNOGRAPHY by Brian Croft
Pastor Croft who mentors pastors and teaches them pastoral skills has four sections: (1) The Problem: A Defiled Heart; (2) The Consequences: Wrecked Lives; (3) The Solution: A New Heart; and (4) The Transformation: The Local Church. He also concludes with Personal Application Projects and places to find more help. His material on being actively under the means of grace and involved in personal accountability in the local church is particularly valuable.
As good as they booklets are, it is important to remember that this nuggets of biblical counsel are not meant to be fully functional apart from being under God’s appointed means of grace in the local church.
These gems are not meant to be “Silver Bullets” for Lone Rangers; they are meant to be strong truths to be applied in the context of a real and living Christian life of a someone faithfully utilizing the means of grace in a local church.
Thank you SHEPHERD PRESS for making these gems available!
Check out the other 20+ booklets and get a set for your church tract racks and counseling ministry.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Our God fulfills His promises and fleshes out His intentions in ways we can scarcely imagine. Too often, sad to say, we limit what He is doing, about to do or has been doing to what we can see or take the measure of.
God's Word says that Christ is seated at His right hand until He (the Father) makes His (the Son's) enemies to be His footstool (a picture of absolute submission). He says that the gospel shall be preached until all the elect are gathered in and then the end shall come. But you and I don't know what God is doing in Uzbekistan or irian Jaya or Senegal or Trinidad and Tobago and so we don't really think God is that much at work. Only what we personally know about limits our sense of what our covenant making, covenant keeping God is doing around the corner or around the world.
Are you aware that the imans of Islam in Egypt and the Middle East are infuriated because 6 million Muslims a year are turning to Christ and they angrily preach against such conversions? Do you know that there is an awakening going on in Iran with hundreds of thousands coming to Christ? Did you know that theological training is going on in Cuba for scores of pastors wanting to learn the Reformed faith? That 1500+ pastors gather in Brazil each year for a Reformed conference, seeking to learn and grow in the faith? That Korea has a higher per capita percentage of missionaries than even the United States?
God is working in amazing ways all over the globe and He is showing Himself faithful to His covenant promises to His Son. Christ did not die in vain. He got what He came to purchase--a people for God from every tribe, tongue and people group on the face of the earth
Today's blog is about missions and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20 and many other passages). Let me thrill your heart and inform your mind with the following books showing different aspects of what God is intending to do and actually doing around the world.
I have had my heart warmed, my vision enlarged, my lifestyle challenged and my small faith rebuked by Dr. Tim Keesee's DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT (Stories of Gospel Advance in the World's Difficult Places); Crossway. As Ernie Pyle was the great boots on the ground war correspondent during World War II (he was killed by a sniper at the end of the war on Okinawa) so Dr. Tim Keesee may well be the Ernie Pyle of what the Lord is doing in the holy war of King Jesus to take captive those already ensnared by the devil. Keesee goes to obscure places among little known peoples at the side of missionaries and national pastors who are unknown and unheralded. But a real work of God is being done as the gospel is gossiped by laymen and preached by young pastors and survivors of persecution. Small churches are being planted and the Day shall show it. Robert Murray M'Cheyne once said that it is not so much great gifts that God blesses as great likeness to Christ. You will read of Christ-like pastors and laymen making a difference around the world. Be encouraged; be challenged; be rebuked; be on your knees thanking God what Who He is and What He is doing--read this book prayerfully!
Michael Haykind and Jeff Robinson have just given us TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH (Calvin's Missional Vision and Legacy); Crossway--this book should forever shut the mouths of the uninformed that John Calvin was largely uninterested in evangelism and missions. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The authors examine Calvin's missional exegesis, his dynamic when it came to taking the gospel back into France or to Brazil, his legacy among his fellow Calvinists, Presbyterian, Congregational, or Baptist, who followed his exegesis with their own boots on the ground. A must read!
Seven years ago, Trinity Evangelical Divinity Scbool hosted a conference to honor Professor John Woodbridge for his 30 years of teaching at the school. A church historian with a burden for France, the inerrancy of Scripture, gracious Christian speech and conduct, he is also known for his heart for the Great Commission. Professors Martin Klauber and Scott Manetsch compiled and edited the messages given at that conference into a
most illuminating and encouraging book, THE GREAT COMMISSION (Evangelicals and the History of World Missions); Broadman & Holman. As with all compendiums, the essays are only as good as their authors and usually uneven. The chapter on the Reformers, for example, would have profited from the insights of the book on Calvin mentioned above. But the chapters by Timothy George ("Evangelical Revival and the Missionary Awakening"), Tom Nettles ("Baptists and the Great Commission") and Don Carson ("Ongoing Imperative for World Mission") stand out and should be studied carefully.
One other book comes to mind as helping us understand and stand upon the shoulders of those who have gone before regarding the Great Commission. In one sense, all peoples of European extraction owe a debt that cannot be repaid to God's working in and through Paul and his associates. They were stymied in their attempts to reach certain places in their mission trip and subsequently went down to the port city of Troas to await further insight from their Lord. At Troas in the Roman province of Asia, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia (on the European mainland) asking for Paul's help in giving them the gospel. Paul and his associates honored the vision and crossed the small bit of water to mainland Greece and attempted for the first time to make the dreaded European Gentiles their missionary focus. If pagan Asian Gentiles were considered a problem, the thought of reaching pagan European Gentlles was even more daunting. Two thousands years later, we are still reaping the uncountable blessings from their obedience to the vision.
Thus let me commend Professor Eckhard Schnabel's PAUL THE MISSIONARY (Realities, Strategies and Methods); IVP. Formerly professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Schnabel was called to Gordon-Conwell a few years ago. His focus as a biblical scholar has been on evangelism and missions for many years. His two volume study of missions in the New Testament will be a standard for years to come.
But more accessible is his study of the Apostle Paul, THE GREAT MISSIONARY CHURCH PLANTER of the New Testament. After a most fruitful introduction describing the issues involved in writing such a book, Schnabel presents THE MISSIONARY WORK OF PAUL, THE MISSIONARY TASK, THE MISSIONARY MESSAGE, THE MISSIONARY GOALS, THE MISSIONARY METHODS and THE MISSIONARY WORK IN THE 20TH CENTURY. A most important study!
May our Lord give us His heart to seek and save the lost through our prayers, our giving, our witness, and our going if we are so called, and our sustained personal encouragement for those already called.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
The history of God's actions upon earth is marked by periods when God sent His Holy Spirit to renew, revive and otherwise reform His people into more of what they were saved to be.
Since the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, there have been subsequent times when God has sovereignly. mysteriously and truly worked in ways similar to an individual's conversion but among many people eat one time. Such periods in church history have been called reformation, revival, times of refreshing, renewals and other things.
Across America today, many churches still hold "revivals" each Summer or early Fall. What they mean is not a biblical revival or even an historical (that is, pre-Charles Finney) revival, but a special series of evangelistic meetings where they plan and hope to see the unconverted saved and the unchurched churched.
I was converted by the grace of God during a time of revival and renewal that lasted from roughly 1967 to 1975, give or take a year or two. Students of American church history are beginning to see that hundreds of thousands of students and laymen trace their spiritual birth to that time period. By the grace of God, I have persevered (as have most of the people I know who were converted during that time). Since then I have been privileged to participate in many evangelistic meetings and regularly preached the gospel from my pulpit as a pastor/preacher. But I have not seen the impact that was recorded during those halcyon years mentioned above.
What is a "revival"? Are revivals a sovereign work of
God alone? Is a true revival man-man like Charles Finney and his supporters argued in the 1st third of the 19th century and most Arminian/semi-Pelagian preachers and strategists have argued ever since? Does God send revival in answer to believers' prayers? Can revivals be hindered by men?
These and many other questions have been wrestled with for the past 150 years and the best answers and most biblical responses are listed below. Let me begin with sources that do not suppose that you have great exposure to the discussion about revivals and move from there to the most comprehensive and sophisticated.
Geoffrey Thomas, THE HOLY SPIRIT; Reformation
Heritage Books (Chapter 19 is given over to a great
explanation of revival and beginners should begin
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, REVIVAL; Crossway (with an
Introduction by James Packer)--arguably the
greatest series of sermons preached in the 20th
century on what a revival is, what it does, where it
comes from, what to do in the meantime, etc. A
foundational work on the subject and sure to stir
the hearts of the readers.
Iain Murray, D. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: THE FIRST
FORTY YEARS; Banner of Truth--Dr. Lloyd-Jones
left his medical practice, his wife left hers too, they
moved from London to a small coastal town in Wales
with a 40% unemployment rate among its dock
workers, coal miners and steel workers. Alcoholism
and prostitution were rife. Spiritual life was nil.
Lloyd-Jones want to preach the gospel in a place
where there would be no sociological reason why it
should succeed except that there was power in the
gospel unto salvation. He began preaching and saw
his first convert six months later. In two years, God
was pleased to send a mini-revival to that area
which changed it and the pastor forever. Read the
chapter on "Revival" and weep and pray!
Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge, A GOD-SIZED
VISION (Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir);
Crossway--an historian of the "young, restless and
reformed" movement along with a seasoned
church historian have put together a primer on
revivals in America and around the world to stretch
our vision of revival and to stir us to pray!
Iain Murray, PENTECOST--TODAY? (The Biblical Basis
for Understanding Revival); Banner of Truth--in
this writer's view, this is the best biblical and
theological explanation of what a revival is, what
brings it about and what it does. It addresses such
questions as human responsibility and God's
sovereignty, preaching and praying during revivals,
etc. There is such a thing as a false or spurious
revival and Murray helps you to examine biblically
the claims of those who say there is a revival down
the street or in the next state. Outstanding!
Iain Murray, REVIVAL AND REVIVALISM: THE MAKING
AND MARRING OF AMERICAN EVANGELICALISM;
Banner of Truth--THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY of how
America went from Reformed theology and a biblical
view of revival to Arminian/semi-Pelagian theology
and a man-centered view of revival. You cannot
understand how American religion got in the mess
that it has been in without mastering this book!
THREE THEOLOGICAL WORKS OF PREVIOUS CENTURIES THAT HELP CLARIFY SOME OF THE ISSUES:
Jonathan Edwards, RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS; Banner of
Truth--'THE THEOLOGIAN of revival, Edwards studied
the Scriptures and compared the workings of the 1st
Great Awakening of the 1740's with what he saw in
the Bible. A classic study of the true, the false and
the mixed. A manual of discernment of the workings
of the flesh, the demonic and the Holy Spirit.
William B.Sprague, LECTURES ON REVIVAL; Banner of
Truth--explains and catalogs what revivals are, how
they come about, what they do, etc. etc.
George Smeaton, THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT;
Banner of Truth--since it first appeared in the late
1880's, it has been acknowledged as a biblical and
May God the Holy Spirit be sent from heaven again and revive the churches of Jesus Christ for His eternal glory and our good. May the division between the true and false churches be clarified and the glory of God settled upon the true churches again.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit my website which includes 600+ devotional articles, a score of longer downloads and dozens of other goodies at WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM
The last 24 years I pastored, we had a Reformation weekend Bible conference. Visiting speakers were invited to highlight some feature of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century. Sometimes it was just a Sunday--Reformation Sunday. We always had a Reformation Book Table to provide the best free materials for folks to read and study. When folks learn that reading can do them good, it encourages them to become readers. Here are my suggestions for a Reformation Book Table;
INTRODUCING THE REFORMATION TO BEGINNERS:
Michael Reeves, THE UNQUENCHABLE FLAME; B & H
An outstandingly clear and motivational study of
the great Reformation of the 16th century.
Stephen Nichols, THE REFORMATION (How a Monk
and a Mallet Changed the World); P & R--a great
book that is also easy to read.
Robert Godfrey, REFORMATION SKETCHES; Crossway
short bios of several of the Reformers
S. M. Houghton, SKETCHES FROM CHURCH
HISTORY; Banner of Truth--the best short history
of the churches and what God was doing. Easy to
read with great illustrations. Puts things in
Roland Bainton, HERE I STAND; Hendricksen (the
best introductory life of Martin Luther)
Steve Lawson, THE HEROIC BOLDNESS OF MARTIN
LUTHER; Reformation Trust--inspiring account of
Martin Luther and his courage to speak and write
Simonetta Carr, JOHN CALVIN: Reformation Heritage
A short book, brilliantly illusrated, which shows
the man to the whole family.
AMAZING GRACE DVD; leading modern pastors and
scholar explain why Reformation is needed and what
are the doctrines of the Reformation.
MIDDLE LEVEL STUDIES OF THE REFORMATION
Michael Horton, CALVIN ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE;
Crossway--a great introduction to John Calvin's
Terry Johnson, THE CASE FOR TRADITIONAL
PROTESTANTISM; Banner of Truth--why there was
a Reformation in the 16th century and why it needs
to be on-going today.
Andrew Atherstone, THE REFORMATION; Lion
Publications--outstanding treatment of the
Reformation with great photos, paintings and
R. C. Sproul, FAITH ALONE; Baker Books--why
a person must believe in Christ alone by grace
alone through faith alone to be a real Christian.
R. C. Sproul, WHAT IS REFORMED THEOLOGY?
Reformation Trust--just what it says--by a master
Timothy George, THE THEOLOGY OF THE
REFORMERS; B & H--the best overview of the
various Reformers and what they believed and
May the Lord bless your book table and all those who purchase books. May another Reformation get started by some of today's men who are jealous for Christ's glory and the repristination of Christ's church.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my website
for more book information and a commentary on today's commentaries on the books of the Bible.
Biographies have played a large role in my growth as a Christian. Biographies are meant to give us insights by peering over a person's shoulder as their life is chronicled and learning from their victories and defeats, their strengths and their weaknesses, and the judgment of history. Arnold Dalimore's biography of the 19th century Scot's pastor, Edward Irving, goes a long way towards showing the weaknesses of he charismatic movement. It accomplishes this not through being preachy but by simply showing what happened to one man and one movement over time. It was a disaster not only to Edward Irving personally but also to the whole movement he spawned.
Other biographies can inspire men and women to aim higher, put more sin to death, trust Christ more, believe the Father for more than we have. Biographies of George
Whitefield, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, Corrie Ten Boom, Joni Eareckson, Rosaria Butterfield, Amy Carmichael, Elizabeth Prentiss, Dwight Moody, John Wesley and those who followed, and the list could go on and on.
Today I want to highlight two need biographies that I believe everyone should read. They are both very encouraging because they are the stories of ordinary men whom God chose to save and glorify Himself in doing so. Neither man is a famous athlete or politician, neither was in jail or led a Fortune 500 company. Neither came from wealth or privilege.
Jerry Bridges GOD TOOK ME BY THE HAND (A Story of God's Unusual Providence) from Navigators is a singular delight to read. Jerry bends over backwards to show that he was just an ordinary boy growing up in an ordinary (or below ordinary) Depression era home in Texas. Looking back at his life (and the Puritans said that God's providence was best learned the same way one learns the Hebrew language, from back to front),
Jerry takes us from his hardscrabble home on the wrong iside of the tracks, his near poverty, his strict upbringing, the death of his mother when he was 14, his physical defects which impacted his whole life, his stint in the Navy, coming to assurance of salvation by Christ,
early years with the Navigators ministry, learning and memorizing his Bible, practicing faithfully the disciplines of spiritual growth (Bible reading, prayer, memorization, meditation, church attendance, etc)--all give us insight into the man. But his interpretation of God's providence by the use of various verses which God applied to his life with power help us to gain his understanding of how God was leading him. There are successes and failures,
heartaches and triumphs, but through it all we see a faithful God. Jerry Bridges was God's ambassador to first show me the glories of the Reformed faith, particularly the Reformed doctrine of sanctification. I shall always be grateful. And the footnotes to his early books introduced me to the Reformed Hall of Fame--John Owen, John Calvin, William Bates, John Flavel, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and many others. This biography was so sweet and compelling that I read it in two afternoons!
The second biography I read was of a man I had never heard of, who has written no books, published no articles, graced no conferences--Douglas Higgins, a 100 year old Reformed believer from the Yorkshire dales of the United Kingdom. The Yorkshire dales or valleys of the United Kingdom are most familiar to Americans who have enjoyed the books and BBC adaptations of James Herriot's ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL, the story of a Yorkshire veterinarian from the 1930's to the 1960's. Douglas Higgins has written no books nor was a TV series made about his life and adventures. What is so enticing about this autobiography is that Higgins is a humble and ordinary man who became a Christian and who persevered at walking with Christ from school age, through World War II, marriage, struggling to support his family and find a career in the post-war British depression, growing as a Christian, growing in usefulness to God, becoming a churchman, becoming a church officer, giving his life away to others, burying his wife, finding a surprising work among Chinese students, and on and on. An ordinary man with what outwardly seems like an ordinary life but one which points to the kind Father-care of his heavenly Father through the overarching providence of a life.Only 87 pages long, I read it in one delightful afternoon. In heaven we will discover that there are far more men like Douglas Higgins in God's Hall of Fame than George Whitefields, Martin Luthers, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, or other "great men". Like Mary at the feast and celebration of the raising of her brother Lazarus from the dead, she gave what she could though forgotten by most of us. Douglas Higgins was not a great man with great gifts and a great impact--he was an ordinary man who plodded faithfully and persevered and was faithful in the so-called "little things". May God give us more men like Douglas Higgins!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
If you are like me, the idea of first reading the Puritans can be daunting. Weren't they supposed to have been spiritual giants? Doesn't James Packer and Martyn Lloyd-Jones speak of them as God's giant redwood trees among the smaller trees in God's forest?
Who am I to approach a giant of the faith when I often feel like a dwarf or pygmy tree like a Japanese banzai tree than a strong, leafy tree in the yard?
C. S. Lewis disabused me from reading old books written by spiritual giants years ago. The reason why we should read older writers was because they knew our God deeply but they could also communicate deeply about knowing Him.
And few sub-groupings among Christians are more blessed than the Puritans, both in England and America.
In the ancient days before emails, phones, twitter and selfies and text messages, there was relative peace and quiet and time to think and meditate upon the great truths that God was teaching His people during the 17th century Puritan revival. Names like John Owen, Matthew Henry, John Bunyan, John Flavel, Matthew Poole, Richard Sibbes, and a galaxy of other Reformed luminaries graced the churches of England and its colony, America.
And few Puritans were more blessed and useful than Thomas Watson. The Banner of Truth is to be thanked for publishing most of the important works of Watson--THE BEATITUDES, THE LORD'S PRAYER, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, and a commentary on the Westminster Confession, A BODY OF DIVINITY.
Why is Watson a much read and much appreciated writer? He was biblical, warm, clear, full of metaphors and illustrations that stick in the mind, and thick with heart-tugging application. He could not be vague or boring if he tried. What's more, the great 19th century Baptist, Charles Spurgeon aided the modern rediscovery of Watson by himself editing of a couple of the volumes mentioned above. (I think I would be a much better writer if Charles Spurgeon was my editor!)
Like all the Puritans, Watson was not in a hurry. He wanted to do his best to master his subject and be mastered by it. So he takes no short cuts and rounds off no corners.He is thorough, and thoughtful and clear and biblical and takes the reader by the hand to make sure none of the message of God's Word can be missed if he can help it!
The Puritans understood that God had come to them in Christ and saved them to know Him deeply and make His glory visible in their generation. They pursued holiness and universal obedience; they were men of prayer; they studied and meditated upon their Bibles; they withstood persecution for the truth; they said Good-bye to their homes and livings when thrust out of the churches, they ministered when hirelings would leave the masses because of the black death that scourged 17th century Europe.
I enjoy reading them because like few others, they make me become more of a man of God. Too many of today's authors help me to become a boy of God, but few provoke me and teach me and entice me to become a man of God. All the Puritans provoke me to godliness and holiness. And I shall be eternally grateful.
Start out with the newly reprinted THE BEATITUDES (An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-10). After that try THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, then maybe THE LORD'S PRAYER. If you want to become a man or woman of God, you will not begrudge the effort expended in reading a Puritan and you certainly will not be disappointed with Thomas Watson.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit my website at WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM for more book information.
Each generation of Christians discovers that the next generation wants to re-invent Christianity and especially the "normal Christian life". The status quo is shown to be "defective and dishonoring to Christ" and a new paradigm suggested to replace the status quo. Eventually, that new paradigm is shown to be defective and another paradigm put forward to replace it. So it goes in broad evangelicalism...and to many Reformed Christians also.
John Piper rattled the cages of Christian by his book, DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE. Why not consider missions?
Why not lose your life as a missionary in Burundi rather than plod along as a plumber in Cleveland or a computer programmer in Silicon Valley? I believe Piper was right to address the American cultural obsession with making money and living the affluent lifestyle (what Francis Schaeffer earlier named the culture of "personal peace and affluence"). But I believe he was seriously wrongly in making it seem that only those who lived on the edge and "pushed the envelope" were going to have lives that really counted.
Authors like Francis Chan followed with books like CRAZY LOVE which touted the extravagant ways of God and encouraged Christians to live out this view of God with a commensurate lifestyle.
The jackpot was David Platt's RADICAL which called upon Christians to shun the American dream and instead live a radical life for Christ. Leave the suburbs and move to the inner city! Leave comfort and personal peace for life on the edge in Zambia! More than a million copies of Platt's book were sold and countless more Christians left under the impression that Green Beret Christianity was the norm and they were sub-par believers if they did not do something radical.
Since the Middle Ages, when splinter groups tried to change the moribund Roman Catholic Church, there have been Christians who tried to call the church out of complacency in the culture and captivity to the status quo and to live more faithful biblical lives for Christ. In the Early Church and the Middle Ages, these various monastic groups were eventually absorbed back into the Church and little changed permanently.
The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century gave lay Christians back the biblical understanding that living an ordinary life as a plumber or housewife or computer programmer or teacher in fellowship with Christ was not sub par but the normal Christian life. All Christians had a calling to walk with Christ, live a holy life and do all to the glory of Christ. All biblically lawful work was invested with dignity and purpose. All believers could serve Christ right where they were. Only some or a few were called to be ministers/missionaries.
These tensions are still with us today as evidenced by the titles I mentioned earlier in this article. Let's look at some other books available today which deal with these issues of the normal Christian life, calling (vocation), and living out the Christian life.
Matt Redmund, THE GOD OF THE MUNDANE; Kalos Press
A short but powerful book showing how wrong it is
to berate laymen for living a quiet existence in
fellowship with Christ. Redmund shows convincingly
that Christian are called to live quiet lives at home,
and not to fall prey to the scheme that only "radical"
Christian lives count for Christ.
Josh Kelley, RADICALLY NORMAL (You Don't Have to
Live Crazy to Follow Jesus); Harvest House
Publishers--though not Reformed in his theology,
evangelical Kelley has good things to say to keep
believers from beating themselves with false guilt.
Francis Schaeffer, NO LITTLE PEOPLE; Crossway--
sermons with a punch! Schaeffer's first sermon
powerfully shows that there are no "little people"
and no "little places" in God's Kingdom. Rather he
shows the importance of cultivating faithfulness
in communion with Christ.
John Frame, THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
in his THEOLOGY OF LORDSHIP SERIES from P & R
Publishing. Professor Frame's massive volume shows
what Christians ought to be doing in living out the
Christian life BUT shows little of the dynamic of
cultivating one's relationship with God the Father
and Son by the Spirit. It is very strong on the WHAT
but in the view of this reviewer, sadly short on the
HOW. Perhaps his volume on the CHURCH will show
more of how the means of grace, prayer, the
sacraments, etc.show what our participation in the
life of God looks like. Frame is especially strong on
the role of the Ten Commandments for the
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT;
2 volumes in 1; Eerdmans Publications
The premier preacher in English in the 20th century
Lloyd-Jones takes our Lord's primer on living in the
Kingdom of God (the Sermon on the Mount) and
thus shows what the normal Christian life is like to
Christ. Magisterial preaching by one of the truly
great men of God in the 20th century.
Other books on Christian living and calling to mark and read would be:
Lester DeKoster, WORK: THE MEANING OF YOUR LIFE;
Christian Library Press
Gene Veith, GOD AT WORK: Crossway
May our Lord help you to see that the calling of the Christian is not to be radical but faithful, not to be doing dramatic things but being faithful to what the Lord has entrusted us to do--our walk with Him, our marriage, our family, our job, and our resources--for His glory.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin