When it comes to having a good book nearby that helps you understand the Bible or Christianity, you can spend just $150 and have help for a lifetime.
Good reference books answer your questions about the Bible and the people and doctrines found in the Bible. But good reference tools also help you how the churches of Christ have understand the history of Christianity and how we got to where we are today.
Tools help you solve problems. Tools help you fix things. Reference books, as tools, do just that.
Can I be so bold as to recommend the following books to last you for a lifetime of walking with the Savior and serving Him?
You may not want to purchase them all at once, but you could certainly purchase them over the span of a year or so and be set for life.
Whenever I am around a Christian publisher of good Christian books, I tell them "thank you" for putting the best armaments in my hands. I am a pastor out in the trenches of the Christian life and good armaments are my friends. I don't want bad armaments and faulty tools, I want things that will help me in the spiritual battles I face. And to live properly in peace time.
Here is my selection of $150 worth of great Christian armaments.
NEW BIBLE DICTIONARY from IVP--$31.50--the best
one volume Bible dictionary by some of the best
evangelical and Reformed scholars in the world.
YOUR FAVORITE STUDY BIBLE (cheapest edition)
ESV STUDY BIBLE from Crossway--$20:99 pb
REFORMATION STUDY BIBLE from P & R--$17.99 pb
SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES by Alan Stibbs and others;
InterVarsity Press--$15.50--a three year course
of study through the whole Bible. It proceeds by
asking questions of each paragraph and sometimes
each sentence. It has had a profound effect upon
many Bible students. A goldmine of good things!
CONCISE THEOLOGY by James Packer; Tyndale--
$10.99--a cargo ship of great theology packed into
a small space! Check yourself regularly by this
compendium of evangelical and Reformed under-
standing of what the Scriptures teach.
CONCORDANCE TO BIBLE:
YOUNG'S ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE; $17.99
STRONG'S EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE; $17:99
ESV CONCORDANCE; $31.99
HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY & ITS DOCTRINES
Earl Cairns, CHRISTIANITY THROUGH THE
CENTURIES; Zondervan--$23.25--a standard
textbook on Christian college campuses.
Louis Berkhof, HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN
DOCTRINES; Banner of Truth--$16.99--a
standard help to learn how God had the church
wrestle with the truths of Scripture and come to
conclusions on what it taught.
May the Lord equip you to walk with Him and serve Him faithfully all the days of your earthly pilgrimage.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
The God of grace whom believers serve is lavish in His gifts. None of us who are Christians can complain we have been short-changed by God and treated unfairly. We have been given loving treatment all out of proportion to what we deserve. Our sins deserve hell, but God has given us His Son, the Holy Spirit, heaven, new life, the Bible, the church and the promise of His presence forevermore. What a bounty is ours by the grace of God.
To learn about and come to appreciate more of this bounty, God has given us gifted brothers and sisters whose insights into the Word of God enrich, strengthen, stretch and challenge our walk with God.
If you knew that 2012 would be your last full year on this planet before Christ calls you home to glory, what books beyond the Bible should you read and master and be mastered by? What books would prepare you to finish well and glorify God in the remainder of your life? What books would strengthen you to face the final enemy, death, and its trappings?
What books would encourage you as you seek to glorify Christ in the remainder of your life and leave a legacy of righteousness pointing to the Savior for those who remain here?
Here are my choices for books you should master and be mastered by as you read them, reread parts of them, meditate upon them, share them with others and commit segments to memory.
THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS by James Montgomery
Boice; P & R
THE CHRIST OF THE EMPTY TOMB by James
Montgomery Boice; P & R
As Christians, we need always to start with the
foundation of our faith--the Lord Jesus Christ. We
can never go wrong gazing at Christ, marveling at
Him, learning more deeply of Him, drawing more
closely to Him. CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST ! These
two books count as one because in these we see
the Savior--Boice starts us off well !
THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE by Jerry Bridges;
Navpress--I know of no book, written for laymen,
but so helpful for teachable pastors, that so well
explains what Christ did for us in His life and death.
What is "the atonement" all about? What did
Christ achieve so that He could exclaim: "It is
finished!" ? There are a year's worth of sermons
for a pastor here and a lifetime of the Bible's
wisdom for all of us here.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT by Martyn Lloyd-Jones;
Eerdmans--when our Lord preached His most
famous sermon He was NOT telling His listeners
how to become Christians. He WAS telling them
what real CHristians look like, how they act, what
motivates them and what energizes them. What
a tonic for the Christian life! If you want to finish
well, pray through this book.
KNOWING GOD by James Packer; InterVarsity Press
One of the few 20th century classics! I have read
it many times, each time with growing appreciation
and understanding. Packer "packs" a lot into his
books and you will want to read this slowly and
thoughtfully as you would an expensive steak
(male readers) or an exquisite chocolate (women
readers). Pastors, there are years of sermons in
this book. Laymen, this is a four pound steak or
a one pound chocolate! This is theology at its finest.
THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS by John Bunyan; various
editions. Some books are famous for being famous.
This book is not one of them. It is famous, however
little read, because it is great. It is the Number 2
best selling book in the world after the Bible. After
the "Cultural Revolution" in China under Chairman
Mao, Mao's maxims for life were distributed to every
person in the nation in the format of "the little red
book". Clever Christians soon published there own
little red book of biblical wisdom, THE PILGRIM'S
PROGRESS. It took some time for the authorities
to catch on and by then, Chinese Christianity was
saturated with the biblical wisdom of John Bunyan.
It was Charles Spurgeon's favorite book after the
Bible. He read it to himself or has his wife read it
aloud to him every Sunday evening and he went
through it over a hundred times! A common man
with an uncommon genius, John Bunyan vividly
portrays the Christian life, from our escaping the
City of Destruction to our entrance into the
Celestial City of heaven. The battles and the people
we will meet are laid out for us in a striking way.
You will not forget you read this book. It sticks with
THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF HEAVEN AND HELL
by Ted Donnelly; Banner of Truth--as I pondered
what book in Christian history would prepare us
for death and glory, this had the first place. It is
biblical, clear, moving and exhilarating, sober and
awe-inspiring. Some of the most frightful and
fearful thoughts one can entertain are in this book
as we read of hell. Some of the most exhilarating
and mind-expanding thoughts I have ever had
come from this book.
THE HIDDEN LIFE OF PRAYER by David McIntyre;
Christian Focus Publications--I first read this little
gem some forty years ago. Praying is hard work.
It is hard to stop doing and running about "serving
the Savior" and quietly spending intimate time
with Him. Many books have been written on prayer
and praying. Many of them are very good.
Inadvertently (and sometimes intentionally), many
books on prayer make the reader feel very, very
guilty. And guilt can be a strong motivator--for a
short time. As many have pointed out over the
centuries, grace love and gratitude are stronger
motivators. This book always makes me want to
pray. While some guilt hangs over me for my times
when I do not pray as I should, the over-arching
message is 'come to the precious Savior and spend
time with this wonderful person--talk to Him and
spread your life before Him. I cannot do the author
justice but it is my favorite book on prayer. Try it;
I believe you will like it. We shall spend eternity
with the One who loved us unto death. What a
privilege to begin now to be alone with Him.
EXTRA CREDIT--Well, the books above will keep most of us busy if we really take the time to read them, pray through them and seek to work them into our lives. But if some of your are feeling extra energetic may I recommend THE INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION by John Calvin (various editions)?
You may balk at this, thinking that the book is old (almost 500 years) and Calvin is supposed to be a "great man". How can ordinary people like us learn from "the great men" of this world?
Well, the simple answer is that the so-called "great men" are great because they can communicate great thoughts about God in a way that we can understand them. This book is not a book for "brain surgeons" and "rocket scientists". It is a book for Christians who will take the time and dig deep and be overwhelmed at the glory and grace of God.
May 2012 be the year that we draw closer to the Savior and even if He does not come back or take take us home this year, our journey to draw closer to Him will have been worth it anyway because we did draw close to Him.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Since I first read Jerry Bridges THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS in 1978, he has ministered to me like few others. Reading that book (and the books of the men he footnoted in that book who helped him) has enriched and changed my life beyond what I can say.
I shall forever be in his debt.
Through a successive string of great books (TRUSTING GOD; THE JOY OF FEARING GOD, THE PRACTICE OF GODLINESS, TRANSFORMING GRACE, THE DISCIPLINE OF GRACE; THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE; THE GREAT EXCHANGE, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; IS GOD REALLY IN CONTROL? and more) he has ministered to me and my congregation over the years. He has ministered to tens of thousands of others also. He has ministered to our congregation by teaching person four times and been in our home several times. Yes, he practices what he preaches.
What a one-time reader of any of his books might wrongly think is that Jerry is a simple and clear writer and introduces material well. All well and good. But if a person knows historic Protestant theology, one sees that Jerry is a master of bringing the best of Protestant Reformed theology down to where the man in the street can access it. To appreciate Jerry's gifts, one has to only teach his books to others and see how clear the material is and how others can grasp it and grow from it. Teaching his books to others reveals the profundity of the material.
As anyone who has ever taught knows, to simplify without distortion is very difficult. One must know the material very well to make it simple and clear. Jerry has that gift. His gifts of simplifying and illuminating deep and sometimes complex truths have been recognized and brought him invitations to teach at more than one seminary. Many seminarians learn deep and sometimes abstruse theology but cannot come home from class and explained what they learned to their wives. When they take Jerry Bridges' course on the Reformed doctrine of sanctification, they learn the best theology in a way they can go home and tell their wives about and their wives can understand it too!
Jerry's latest book is THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF THE GOSPEL from NavPress. It is another example of explaining the Bible doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for life. A person begins the Christian life with the gospel and then grows as a Christian through applying the gospel and then keeps growing throughout their Christian life through the gospel. Without personally applying the gospel of Jesus Christ to my life daily, I shall soon lose my edge as a Christian and find myself no longer glorifying God nor enjoying my life in Christ.
The chapter titles help give a sense of the book:
1. TOO SOON OLD, TOO LATE SMART
2. THE HOLINESS OF GOD
3. THE SINFULNESS OF OUR SIN
4. THE GREAT EXCHANGE
5. A DAILY EMBRACING OF THE GOSPEL
6. THE MOTIVATION OF THE GOSPEL
7. UNDERSTANDING GOD'S GRACE
8. THE TRANSFORMING WORK OF THE
9. DEPENDENT RESPONSIBILITY
10. INSTRUMENTS OF GRACE
11. THE WORD OF GOD AND PRAYER
12. THE GRACE OF ADVERSITY
13. TRANSFORMED INTO HIS IMAGE
14. ALREADY, NOT YET !
What riches from the past does Jerry bring to the table for the reader to enjoy? Giants of evangelical and Reformed 20th century Old Testament scholarship, Alec Motyer and E. J. Young; 19th century giants of Reformed theology George Smeaton and William S. Plumer; the list goes on to include but is not limited to F. F. Bruce, Philip E. Hughes, Charles Hodge, J. C. Ryle, Richard Lovelace, Robert Haldane, John Owen, Archibald Alexander, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Iain H. Murray, John Calvin, and more! What a feast of good Christian literature helped Jerry write this book. What giant shoulders he is standing on!
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK ? !
1. Read it for yourself to gain the big picture and
his main themes.
2. Read it again and take notes so that what you
read can stick in your soul.
3. Read it aloud with your spouse and discuss it.
4. Read it aloud and discuss it for family devotions
(if you children are teenagers or above)
5. Teach it to a Sunday School class, work Bible
study, campus Bible study, small group study.
6. Identify the key issues and biblical doctrines
that are especially important to your life at this
7. Pray and ask the Lord for grace to put the things
you are learning into practice in your life.
8. Thank God that He gives gifted men to His
church to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians
Try it; you'll like it.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Many readers of this Blog and visitors to the CVBBS.COM website already know some or much about the Puritans and buy their Puritan books from here.
Others , perhaps like me in the mid-70's (not my age but the time four decades ago!), sniffed around them but were a bit cautious. I had heard so much about the Puritans, good and bad, in college and in my early religious training. I had heard that the Puritans were legalists and curmudgeons (Baltimore newspaper columnist and social wit H. L. Mencken once maligned the Puritans as people who feared that "somewhere someone somehow was having a good time"). That's the image I had.
But as I continued to grow as a Christian, I realized that more and more of the men and movements of God I respected loved the Puritans and were blessed mightily by the Puritans. James Packer called the Puritans "the Redwoods of Christianity", overtopping all the trees in God's forest of the Church. The great evangelist George Whitefield read the Puritan Bible commentator Matthew Henry on his knees each morning along with his English Bible and his Greek New Testament. The great 19th century tract writer and author, pastor and later bishop. J. C. Ryle, was
a Puritan to his fingertips. Charles Spurgeon was a Puritan born out of due time and had read them since childhood, even before his conversion. The great Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a lover of the Puritans and profited greatly from reading them. He encouraged young Iain Murray in the beginning of the Banner of Truth to reprint the Puritan greats from the past. Hence the modern birth of the Puritan reprints.
As I decided to delve into the Puritans for myself, I found a body of Christian work which was profoundly biblical and spiritual, deeply thoughtful and affective, thorough and fulsome. To read them refreshing, convicting and challenging. You found yourself read by them and moved to do something about the truth, not simply skimming over the truth bug engaging with it. I have kept on reading the Puritans and from that time in the 1970's I have not not looked back.
HOW TO GET AN OVERVIEW OF THE PURITANS:
A BOOKLET !
Don Kistler, WHY READ THE PURITANS ?; Soli
Deo Gloria--a fine booklet to motivate you and
help you get started plunging into the Redwood
A SHORT PAPERBACK !
Erroll Hulse, WHO ARE THE PURITANS ? (and
what do they teach?); Evangelical Press--a great
introduction to the Puritans, their times, their
beliefs and practices; where to begin and how
to read them.
MORE SUBSTANTIAL HELPS FOR PASTORS/LAYMEN
Leland Ryken; WORLDLY SAINTS (The Puritans
As They Really Were); Crossway--perhaps the
best introduction to the Puritans. It is hard to
fully appreciate a man or movement apart from
the times in which they flourished. Gives their
strengths and weaknesses. Cleans off much of
the mud cast upon them by their enemies.
James Packer, A QUEST FOR GODLINESS (The
Puritan Vision of the Christian Life); Crossway--
Packer at his best with the theologians and vision
of the Christian life he knows best. One of this
past generations best theologians, writers, and
teachers shows us the richness and depth of
Kelly Kapic and Randall Gleason, eds.; THE
DEVOTED LIFE (An Invitation to the Puritan
Classics); IVP--a wonderful smorgasboard of
the best of the Puritans by a galaxy of lovers
of the Puritans. Contributors are men like
Sinclair, James Packer, Leland Ryken, Mark Noll,
Ligon Duncan, Joel Beeke and many others.
Shows you the best of the Puritans with an
expert helping you to know why you should
treasure this Puritan and their contribution.
SAMPLING THE PURITANS FOR YOURSELF:
Mark Deckard, HELPFUL TRUTHS IN PAST
PLACES; Christian Focus/Mentor--what if
someone put the best of the Puritans on display,
showed you their strengths and how they could
help you live a more faithful and biblical Christian
life? That's what pastor and biblical counselor
Mark Deckard has done is this goldmine of
goodness from Puritan authors. Here's a sampling
based upon the chapter titles and contents:
1. NEW IS NOT NECESSARILY BETTER--our need
of the Puritans and their biblical wisdom
2. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?--John Flavel
on THE MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE
3. ANXIOUS AND DISSATISFIED--Jeremiah
Burroughs, THE RARE JEWEL OF CHRISTIAN
4. WHAT DOES SIN HAVE TO DO WITH MY
PROBLEM ?--John Owen, THE MORTIFICATION
OF SIN IN BELIEVERS
5. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS MY PROBLEMS--John
Bunyan's PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
6. I MUST NEED TO STOP FEELING, CORRECT ?--
Jonathan Edwards, RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS
7. HOW CAN I FIND JOY AGAIN?--William Bridge,
A LIFTING UP FOR THE DOWNCAST
8. THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT--Thomas Brooks,
PRECIOUS REMEDIES AGAINST SATAN'S
PURITANS TO SAMPLE OR BEGIN WITH:
Thomas Watson, THE LORD'S PRAYER
, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
, A BODY OF DIVINITY
, ALL THINGS FOR GOOD
Richard Sibbes, THE BRUISED REED
, A TENDER HEART
John Flavel, FACING GRIEF
, SINFUL SPEECH
Thomas Case, WHEN CHRISTIANS SUFFER
John Owen, INDWELLING SIN IN BELIEVERS
Richard Rushing, VOICES FROM THE PAST (Puritan
Devotional Writings); Banner of Truth
Richard Bennett, THE VALLEY OF VISION (A
Collection of Puritan Prayers); Banner of Truth
I imagine that if you read all of the above books, you would embark on a lifetime trip of reading the Puritans. I hope you do. They will do your soul well. And when we meet in heaven, you shall thank me profusely!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
WHY BOOKS ARE NOT GOING TO DISAPPEAR and
WHY YOU NEED TO BE A READER and
WHY YOUR CHURCH NEEDS A BOOK TABLE !
Recently there have been dire predictions that reading books was going the way of the land-line phone, the typewriter, and other devices we once used and many depended upon BUT ARE BECOMING RARE. It is said that with the modern I-phone and its knock offs, and their various apps, that no one will be reading books soon.
And people can drag out evidence like the demise of BORDERS BOOKSTORES which filed for bankruptcy as seeming proof. And rumors have swirled for some time that Barnes & Noble Booksellers is not so healthy either. Some point to the explosion of the sale of E-books by AMAZON and various internet book dealers. You can read John Piper, Jerry Bridges and the ESV Study Bible on a tablet or on your phone so why buy the paper book.
Biblical Christianity is a religion of the book. God has chosen to reveal Himself through nature (but Romans 1 says that our sinful natures botch the interpretation). God has chosen to reveal Himself in history (to Abraham and his descendants in the O. T. and to believers in Christ, Jew or Gentile, ever since).
He pre-eminently has revealed Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1). Our Lord could rightly say that if you want to see what God the Father is like, take a long, hard look at the Son. He who has seen me has seen the Father. God has also revealed Himself in His written Word. Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles were inspired as they took pen to paper (or velum or papyrus) and infallibly and without error recorded the words of God.
Old Testament and New Testament believers have always been people of the book. The book read by a rabbi aloud and memorized by the folks in synagogue and then meditated upon and memorized. The Old Testament encourages literacy and reading of God's Word however one can get it. The New Testament also, coming into the 1st century Roman Empire, encourages believers to be Bible knowers, through reading, hearing read, hearing preached, memorized and meditated upon.
When the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Protestant Reformation revolutionized Europe, people were encouraged to have a "Berean spirit"(Acts 17:11) and check on whether the preachers and evangelists were really teaching God's Word accurately. Protestants became pre-eminently people of the book.
When Protestants (Anglican, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Bible churches, etc) have been healthiest was when they were Bible centered.
The rise of "Bible churches" in the 20th century came about because of the perceived decline in Bible reading, Bible preaching, Bible hymnody, and biblical principles in the local churches and long standing denominations. As in the times of the 1st century Pharisees (Matthew 15:1-9) and the Middle Ages, churches and whole denominations were man-centered and tradition trumped the Bible. Do you the reader of this Blog know that in the Roman Catholic religion, a Catholic laymen does not even have to know what he or she believes about Christ and the Bible's way of salvation! They have only to trust that their local priest, the representative of the "true Church" knows the truth and by "proxy faith", what he believes is what they believe! How far from the Bible's account of true religion.
To avoid losing the biblical notion of a "Berean spirit" that knows the Scriptures and lives upon the Scriptures and checks what is being taught against the Scriptures, we must be and remain knowledgeable Bible readers, Bible studiers and Bible meditators! Psalm 1, Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 are enough to convince a CHristian that he or she must hide the Word of God in their heart and feed upon it constantly.
Beyond reading one's Bible, we should thankfully appreciate that God the Holy Spirit has not left Christ's Church for the past 2000 years but at various times and in various ways has given great gifted Bible students to the church to build it up in its holy faith. To refuse to read anything but the Bible is a denial of Christ's promise to always be with His church and always give the Holy Spirit to His church. A growing Christian begins to learn about the gifted authors Christ has given His church.
A humble Christian might think himself/herself too simple to read "the great men" or the "mighty heroes" of the faith. That would be exactly wrong! One reason why the great authors are great is that they know the truth of God's Word AND can communicate it so that people can understand what they write. A faithful reader soon learns that Calvin and Spurgeon, Thomas Watson and Jerry Bridges, J. C. Ryle and Elizabeth Prentiss, Martin Luther and Elizabeth Eliot are great because they have something important to say and say it well.
While the average adult reads little after graduation from high school, Christians are not like "average adults". Christians are people of the Book. The average adult reads only to solve problems (hence the "How To" sections of local bookstores). Christians read to know Christ and understand His Word. We have more glorious motives and the indwelling Holy Spirit to impel us to read.
How can we help Christians get started at reading more? By giving them books to read that will thrill and build up and inform and challenge them. When people discover the wonders available through reading, you are making progress! What could be offered them to help them? Let me suggest starting a BOOK TABLE in your church. If you are not he pastor, get the pastor's permission before you start. Those entrusted with the oversight of Christ's local flock, the pastors and elders, ought to have ultimate oversight of the BOOK TABLE. They can weed out any books which are not appropriate for your local congregation and which not not make for the health of the congregation.
WHAT KIND OF BOOKS TO HAVE ON A BOOK TABLE ?
EVANGELISTIC AND APOLOGETIC BOOKS (for unbelievers and people with questions about the faith)
John Blanchard, ULTIMATE QUESTIONS;
Evangelical Press--available in many languages.
John Stott, BASIC CHRISTIANITY; IVP--classic
evangelistic treatment for half a century.
Peter Jeffery, SEEKING GOD; Evangelical Press
John Blanchard, IS GOD PAST HIS 'SELL BY' DATE:
Evangelical Press--various chapters deal with
various questions unbelievers have.
C. S. Lewis, MERE CHRISTIANITY; various
publishers--a classic piece of evangelism and
E. H. Andrews, WHO MADE GOD ?;
Evangelical Press--deals with apologetic
questions touching on science and the faith.
INTRODUCTORY LEVEL BOOKS (for new Christians and people new to the Reformed faith)
Peter Jeffery, ALL THINGS NEW--what happens
when a person is born anew?
" " , WALK WORTHY--basic steps in the
" " , STAND FIRM--spiritual warfare (from
the Puritan and Reformed perspective)
Stuart Olyott, THE GOSPEL AS IT REALLY IS (The
Book of Romans Simply Explained); Evangelical
THE BASICS OF THE FAITH (solid doctrinal books
that people can build their Christian lives upon)
Jerry Bridges, THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE;
NavPress--the atonement and all Christ
accomplished for His people
Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD; NavPress--the Biblical
and Reformed doctrine of providence applied to
Jerry Bridges, THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS;
NavPress--the best starter book on the biblical
doctrine of sanctification.
Jerry Bridges, THE GREAT EXCHANGE; NavPress--
the profoundly important doctrine of justification
followed through the New Testament--the
believer's sins are imputed to Christ; Christ's
righteousness is imputed to the believing sinner
(2nd Cor. 5:21, et. al)
Jerry Bridges, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN
LIFE; NavPress--the twin truths of justification
and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit
applied to the Christian's everyday life.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE CROSS; Crossway--what
Jesus was doing on the Cross and why He had
Cesar Malan, THE CROSS: WHERE ALL ROADS MEET;
Evangelical Press--an outstanding historical
account of an evangelistic and apologetic
conversation between an unsaved religious man
and French Reformed pastor Cesar Malan.
R. C. Sproul, THE HOLINESS OF GDD; Tyndale
A. W. Pink, THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD; Banner of
Truth--two classic that should be read at least
once by every Christian.
James Packer, CONCISE THEOLOGY; Tyndale
James Packer, EIGHTEEN WORDS; Christian Focus
James Packer, KNOWING GOD; IVP
James Packer, KEEPING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS;
James Packer, EVANGELISM AND THE
SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD; IVP
James Packer, GOD'S PLANS FOR YOU; Crossway
A classic evangelical and Reformed theologian's
gold mines of good theology.
DOCTRINAL BOOKS PERTINENT TO YOUR CHURCH
(books on the sacraments, or hymnody, or church
Your church's CONFESSION OF FAITH
Copies of your church's hymnal should be available
for purchase so that laymen and their families
can sing at home in private and family worship.
T. David Gordon, WHY JOHNNY CAN'T SING
HYMNS; P & R--how pop culture has captured
so many churches and what to do about it.
HERE WE STAND; P & R--the original addressed
given at the formation of the Alliance of
Confessing Evangelicals--participants include
Mike Horton, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey,
James Montgomery Boice, R. C. Sproul, and
Joel Beeke, THE FAITHFUL CHURCH MEMBER;
Evangelical Press--a fantastic little booklet that
covers most everything. Also a great review for
old time church members.
Earl Blackburn, JESUS LOVES THE CHURCH AND
SHOULD YOU; Solid Ground Christian Books--a
easy read that speaks to the heart of the
importance of the church to God and His plans.
Should be read by every church member.
BIOGRAPHIES AND CHURCH HISTORY OVERVIEWS
(Past believers whose lives inspire greater devotion to Christ; surveys of how the church has developed from the book of Acts to today)
S. M. Houghton, SKETCHES FROM CHURCH
HISTORY; Banner of Truth--well-written and
well-illustrated; it is a history book that gets
John Hannah, OUR LEGACY; NavPress--how has
Christ taught His Church over the centuries?
How have the churches and its leaders wrestled
with the Scriptures and the doctrines it contains?
FIVE PIONEER MISSIONARIES; Banner of Truth--
stirs the blood and enlarges the vision for the
spread of Christ's glory throughout the earth.
Roland Bainton, HERE I STAND (The Biography of
Martin Luther); Hendrickson--still the best for
most people. Shows you why there needed to
be a Protestant Reformation and how God
worked in Martin Luther's life.
John G. Paton, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN G.
PATON; Banner of Truth--gospel truth is stranger
than fiction and far more inspiring. One of the
truly great missionary biographies by the man
who lived it.
Courtney Andrson, TO THE GOLD SHORE; Judson
Press-the amazing missionary biography of
Adoniram Judson, the first American foreign
missionary. Incredible but blessedly true.
Arnold Dallimore, GEORGE WHITEFIELD; Crossway
Arnold Dallimore, SPURGEON; Crossway
Two men who have become household names
(or should be) among Reformed Christians--and
Iain Murray, HEROES; Banner of Truth--why
Christians need heroes and a sample of little
known but great heroes/heroines.
Erroll Hulse, WHO WERE THE PURITANS?;
Evangelical Press--great short introduction to
the "Redwoods" of the Christian life. James
Packer called them this because the "tower over"
lesser groups of believers.
BIBLE STUDY HELPS
Philip Ryken and Leland Ryken, RYKEN'S BIBLE
HANDBOOK; Tyndale--in my view, the most
helpful small Bible handbook.
ESV STUDY BIBLE; Crossway--thousands of helpful
notes and hundreds of pages of informed studies
to help the diligent Bible student. (Generally
Calvinistic without being covenantal and
REFORMATION STUDY BIBLE (ESV)--formerly known
as the NEW GENEVA STUDY BIBLE when it was
keyed to the NKJV version. More thoroughly
covenantal, Reformed and Puritan in its notes.
Contains the peerless theology blocks of study by
James Packer (which were later separated out
and became the book CONCISE THEOLOGY).
NASB STUDY BIBLE--the notes from the NIV STUDY
BIBLE were adapted to the New American
Standard version. Broadly Calvinistic and
generally very good notes of general Bible
SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES; IVP--an outstanding
tool that has stood the test of over a half
century of usage. Slightly updated. Takes the
reader through the entire Bible by asking
questions of each section and paragraph. By
answering the questions, you are studying and
learning God's Word.
Mark Deckard, HELPFUL TRUTH IN PAST PLACES;
Christian Focus--selected excerpts from Puritan
classics that bear on our trials and troubles
today. Hear Thomas Watson, Jeremiah
Burroughs, Jonathan Edwards, John Owen,
John Bunyan and others as they counsel you
how to live as a Christian in your trials.
Richard Bennett, THE VALLEY OF VISION; Banner
of Truth--wonderful, heart searching and heart
warming collection of prayers from giants from
Elizabeth Prentiss, STEPPING HEAVENWARD; Solid
Ground Christian Books--a 19th century classic
made available to the 21st century churches. I
would make it mandatory reading for every
woman and teenage girl in my church if I could.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION (ITS
CAUSES AND CURES); Eerdmans--a 20th
century classic that should be read and mastered
by every believer.
Doug Kelly, IF GOD ALREADY KNOWS, WHY PRAY ?;
Christian Focus--outstanding encouragement
Undoubtedly you have your favorites which should be included in the above list. But I have included these because I personally have profited from them and used them with others.
Read for your life. Teach your people to read for their lives by exposing them to the best Bible helps and Christian classics. Form reading clubs and read books together. Discuss the great issues of the Bible and your faith. If we give up reading and thinking for ourselves, and have no true depth in our CHristianity, we will soon become easy pickings for mindless religion that does not even require one to know what they believe, just trust that your priest knows the truth and trust him. God help us from becoming like that now or ever!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Everyone has been afraid at one time or another. Fears and phobias have plagued our race since our first parents fell into sin and plunged the whole race into sin. Sinful fear is a by-product of our fall into a condition of sinfulness.
Our first parents became afraid of God in a craven way, as a slave fears its master. Since then sin has no massaged and manipulated our race that by and large, "there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:20).
But when we no longer fear God, it is not as if we are immune from fears. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, when man abandoned fear of God, he was not afraid of nothing, but rather was now afraid of everything else!
Fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of public speaking, fear of man, fear of death, on and on it goes ad infinitum!
How are we to face and conquer our fears? The Bible speaks about fear some 438 times. It has a lot to say about fear. The following resources give us significant help in conquering sinful fear.
THE BIBLICAL FEAR OF GOD:
Jerry Bridges, THE JOY OF FEARING GOD; NavPress
Jerry Bridges, THE JOY OF FEARING GOD
WORKBOOK; NavPress--the least read of Jerry's
great books because of the ignorance of our
Arnold Frank, THE FEAR OF GOD (A Forgotten
Doctrine); Nordskog Publishing--a clarion call.
John Bunyan, THE FEAR OF GOD; Soli Deo Gloria--
a Puritan classic.
Jeremiah Burroughs, GOSPEL FEAR; Soli Deo Gloria
also a Puritan classic.
John Murray, THE FEAR OF GOD (The Soul of
Godliness); Solid Ground Christian Books--a
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, LET NOT YOUR HEART BE
TROUBLED (on John 14:1-2); Crossway--more
gold from the ministry of "the Doctor" of souls.
Edward Welch, WHEN I AM AFRAID (A Step by Step
Guide Away From Fear and Anxiety); New
Growth Press--a speciality of Dr. Welch
Elyse Fitzpatrick, OVERCOMING FEAR, WORRY AND
ANXIETY (Becoming a Woman of Faith and
Confidence); Harvest House
Stuart Scott, ANGER, ANXIETY AND FEAR; Focus
Wayne Mack and Josh Mack, FEAR FACTOR; Hensley
Publishing--a great workbook to help you really
get to the root of the matter.
Denise George, FIGHTING FEAR WITH FAITH;
THE FEAR OF DEATH
Ligon Duncan, FEAR NOT; Christian Focus--pastorally
Sinclair Ferguson and Scott Oliphint, IF I SHOULD
DIE BEFORE I WAKE; Christian Focus--good
book on this subject.
THE FEAR OF MAN
Ed Welch, WHEN PEOPLE ARE BIG AND GOD IS
SMALL; P & R
Lou Priolo, PLEASING PEOPLE (How Not to be An
Approval Junkie); P & R
Wayne Mack and Josh Mack, FEAR FACTOR; Hensley
Publishing--covers this too.
If a person really wants to deal with crippling fear,
their are rich resources in the Word of God which the
above mentioned authors have begun to plumb.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Yesterday I preached on a portion of God's Word that is surprising to readers, Christian or not. Numbers 11 deals with the complaining and craving of the Israelites leaving Mt. Sinai where they received God's Law, to embark on the six week journey to inhabit the Promised Land. It was land personally promised to give them upon their going their and faithfully occupying the land.
They only marched for three days before they enraged God and began to ruin their own hearts. Beginning with the sins of murmuring, complaining and discontentment revealed in this chapter and their refusal to deal with these sins, it is the beginning of the end for this generation of Israelites. They never would enter the Promised Land. A six week journey became an forty year ordeal. God made that unbelieving generation march until they all died (except the faithful spies, Caleb and Joshua). Everyone else over twenty was accountable for their murmuring and complaining and discontent and God let them die without ever reaching the Promised Land. The book of Numbers is certainly a display of the goodness and the severity of God.
Why is God so angry about the murmuring, complaining and craving of the Israelites? Why do the resentful attitudes, bitterness and harsh gossip against Him incite His holy chastisement?
To complain about God's providential dealings is to question God's infinite wisdom, to question His unsearchable goodness, to question His sovereign power, to question His eternal love and to question His superlative holiness! To complain and murmur out of a heart of discontentment is to reject God, frankly.
Of all Christians today, American Christian ought to be the most thankful, the most grateful, the most praise-giving citizens in God's kingdom and the most effusive children in His family. But we are not. We have most of the world's Christian resources, most of the world's Christian literature, most of the world's Christian organization, churches everywhere, Bibles everywhere--and yet we are infected with the virus of discontent.
The Serpent enticed Eve to discontent in Eden
("...then you shall know good and evil"). Eve believed that God was not being good to her and her husband, not giving all that was best for them to have, God was withholding the best from His creatures because He was that kind of a 'miser king'. And Eve believed the devil's gossip about God--and history has never been the same!
What is the cure for discontent? How does a person become content? God's Word has ample resources to help the sincere Christian to put to death discontent and to learn contentment. I have listed some prime helps to open God's Word to you about discontent and equip you to triumph over it by the Spirit of grace and become a contented Christian.
PURITAN GIANTS WHO TACKLED DISCONTENT:
Thomas Watson, THE ART OF DIVINE
CONTENTMENT: Soli Deo Gloria--a fine treatment
by one of the most readable Puritans
Thomas Watson, THE ART OF DIVINE
CONTENTMENT; audio CD's from Christian Audio
(unabridged with six hours of audio)
Jeremiah Burroughs, THE RATE JEWEL OF
CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT; Banner of Truth--
justly famous because it is so helpful.
19TH CENTURY GIANTS WHO TACKLED DISCONTENT:
J. C. Ryle, SHALL WE KNOW ONE ANOTHER (and
other addresses); Charles Nolan Publishers--
Ryle's helpful treatment of discontent vs.
contentment is one of the "other addresses".
William S. Plumer, VITAL GODLINESS; Sprinkle
Publications--a 19th century Presbyterian
pastor/scholar, Plumer is not as famous as he
ought to be. He was both a pastoral scholar and
a scholarly pastor. All his works are excellent.
Contentment is an aspect of "vital godliness".
21st CENTURY WORTHIES WHO TACKLE DISCONTENT
William Barcley, THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT;
P & R Publishing--a contemporary scholar
(Professor of New Testament at Reformed
Theological Seminary) and pastor (Sovereign
Grace Presbyterian Church in Charlotte). Bill
Barcley has put us all in his debt by distilling
the best of the past authors with his own
insights into God's Word on contentment.
Mark Deckard, HELPFUL TRUTH IN PAST PLACES
(The Puritan Practice of Biblical Counseling);
Christian Focus/Mentor--a goldmine of goodness
taken from the Puritan greats Jeremiah
Burroughs (THE RARE JEWEL OF CHRISTIAN
CONTENTMENT), John Flavel (THEY MYSTERY OF
PROVIDENCE), John Owen (THE MORTIFICATION
OF SIN IN BELIEVERS), John Bunyan (THE
PILGRIM'S PROGRESS), Jonathan Edwards
(RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS), William Bridge (A
LIFTING UP FOR THE DOWNCAST) and Thomas
Brooks (PRECIOUS REMEDIES AGAINST SATAN'S
DEVICES). Here is a library of biblical counseling
in a small space.
May our Lord impress us freshly with the reality that discontent is rebellion and cosmic treason and grant us hearts of repentance and faith in putting discontent to death and becoming content for our happiness and His glory!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Again I am listing some of the better of the new titles about to come out from various publishers. You will want to save up your pennies and take advantage of these excellent titles.
FOR THE FAMILY:
R. C. Sproul, THE DONKEY WHO CARRIED A KING;
Reformation Trust--another great book by
Dr. Sproul for children and their parents.
Stuart Scott, BIBLICAL MANHOOD; Focus Publishing
Much needed help for men who grew up in our
confused culture, with men having no fathers,
mothers who tell them what to do all their
lives, and media and education telling them
that they should get in touch with their
feminine side. Thank you Stuart Scott.
Milton Vincent, THE GOSPEL PRIMER (now in
Leather)--Focus Publishing--a modern work in
a Puritan way of expressing the gospel.
John Flavel, KEEPING THE HEART; Christian Focus
A Puritan classic back in print.
Thomas Boston, THE CROOK IN THE LOT; Christian
Focus--one of the best of the treatments of
why God's people suffer.
Allan Harman, MATTHEW HENRY (His Life and
Influence); Christian Focus--the best selling
commentary series in church history is by
Matthew Henry. While tens of thousands have
profited from his work, few know much about
the man. This should fill in our gaps and help
us to know that late Puritan giant.
Tom Grass, F. F. BRUCE; Eerdmans--the leading
evangelical (and Calvinistic when it was in the
text) New Testament scholar of the last half of
the 20th century. Many modern evangelical
and Reformed leaders trained under him and
all pastors are in his debt for his commentaries.
Here is the first biography of the man.
Steve Lawson, THE GOSPEL FOCUS OF CHARLES
SPURGEON; Reformation Trust--find out why
Spurgeon still ministers today and is read by all
Bible lovers and Christ lovers today.
Michael Bentley, BILLY BRAY (Saved From The
Deepest Pit); Christian Focus--Cornish tin miner
who was gross and blasphemous comes to
Christ and becomes outspoken lover and
preacher for Christ.
FOR PASTORS AND TEACHERS:
Rob Roy McGregor, JOHN CALVIN'S SERMONS ON
GENESIS, Vol. 2); Banner of Truth--we
continue to be in Dr. McGregor's debt for
making the riches of John Calvin's preaching
Danny Hyde, GOD IN OUR MIDST (The Tabernacle
and Our Fellowship With God); Reformation
Trust--some of the riches of the Old Testament
unveiled in the teaching of the whole Bible.
Ian Shaw, CHURCHES, REVOLUTIONS AND
EMPIRES; Christian Focus--shows what
happened to Christianity in Europe from 1794
to the end of the 19th century. How Europe,
its empires and the churches of these nations
William Barrick, ECCLESIASTES (Philippians of the
Old Testament); Christian Focus--see if he's
D. A. Carson, CHRIST AND CULTURE REVISITED
(now in paperback); Eerdmans--a perpetual
struggle for Christians and churches to under-
stand. Carson weighs in from his New
Testament scholar and Free Church perspective.
D. A. Carson, THE INTOLERANCE OF TOLERANCE;
Eerdmans--cuts at the root of the modern
shibboleth of "tolerance" which is ruining
people's discernment and ability to speak out.
May the Lord bless you as your "read for your life" in 2012 !
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
One of the sins that is so prevalent and gets little attention from the pulpit or from many Christians is the sin of anger. The first murder in recorded history comes in Genesis 4 when Cain kills his brother Abel in a rage of envy and bitterness...about acceptable worship to God.
Since the Fall of Cain and Abel's parents, Cain has not been the only son of Adam who was afflicted with anger, seething, boiling, simmering, burning, Christ-dishonoring, people scalding anger. The Bible speaks about anger, gives examples of anger (beginning with Cain), tells us to put sinful anger to death (Ephesians 4:17-32) and instructs us that anger flows out of our sinful hearts. We are to put sin to death by the power of the Holy Spirit through prayerful, trusting obedience in the promises and power of God (Romans 8:13).
For all those who struggle with bouts of anger, out of control anger, ugly, sinful, Christ-dishonoring, soul-defiling, people scalding anger, this BLOG is for you. There are many good resources to help you to face anger fully and put it to death and put on the Lord Jesus Christ and the fruit of the Spirit.
Let me recommend the following initial steps before listing the resources on anger. FIRST, you must face anger as the sin that it is before God; SECOND you must face anger for the sin it is against your fellow human beings created in the image of God. THIRD, you must fact anger as the soul defiling enemy of your Christian life. Men are disqualified from serving from elders if they have out of control tempers. Anger which controls a person leads to so many hard words, bruised loved ones, spousal and child abuse, murder and manslaughter, etc, etc. etc. Anger is an terrible sin and must be faced as such, never sugar-coated and renamed in some polite way such as "I was beside myself", or "I have a temper problem", or "That's just the way I am sometimes". No, it is sin and it must be confessed as such, put to death as such and the resources of God used to bring out its death and covering with the pardon and righteousness of Christ.
Now let me name what I think would be the best arrangement of resources to help any person with their sinful anger.
Wayne Mack, ANGER & STRESS MANAGEMENT GOD'S
WAY; P & R--a great resource from a biblical
counselor with many years experience helping
Wayne Mack, HOMEWORK MANUAL FOR BIBLICAL
LIVING (Personal and InterPersonal Problems);
P & R--great material dealing with anger and how
to replace angry thoughts with biblical thoughts.
And an important word: DO THE HOMEWORK !!!
Stuart Scott, ANGER, ANXIETY AND FEAR; Focus
Publications--deals with the underlying causes of
Paul David Tripp, WAR OF WORDS; P & R--how anger
does not have to be a part of how we speak to
others. Ending angry speech and argumentative
Chris Lundgaard, THE ENEMY WITHIN; P & R--a very
fine treatment of the reality of indwelling,
remaining sin in believers and how it works
Jerry Bridges, THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE; NavPress
Jerry Bridges, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN
These two books should be mastered by every
Christian and certainly every pastor. How does the
gospel apply to my daily sinning? How to keep from
becoming a victim of despair because of my sinning
or a victim of self-righteousness when I see some
WHAT ABOUT THOSE YOU ALREADY HURT ?
William Smith, HOW TO STOP LOSING IT WITH MY
KIDS; New Growth Press booklet
Edward Welch, LIVING WITH AN ANRY SPOUSE;
Michael Emlet, ANGRY CHILDREN; CCEF booklet
WHAT ABOUT MY LOCAL CHURCH ?
What about it? You do not sin in isolation. You do not live your Christian life in isolation. You should be a part of a local Christian fellowship, a church of Jesus Christ. You are no longer a loose election in a universe of your own making. You spent enough time living in that elusion. Speak with your pastor or an elder you trust and tell him of your sins, your need to put this sinful habit to death and ask for his prayers as you seek to follow Christ's word in putting sins to death.
Sin thrives when hidden. Sin never wants to be exposed to the light of God's truth. Having Christian leaders praying for you, holding your accountable and interfacing with you is what you need though remaining sin will resist it.
As you read through the epistles of the New Testament, have you ever realized that most of the times when the word "you" is used, it is used in the plural, "you all" we like to say in the South versus the singular "you" (just you and no one else). The Spirit inspired the biblical writers to address the local body of believers and their need together.
Do not try to live with your sins as a Lone Ranger facing down the enemies of truth, justice and the Christian way. Face your problems honestly, before God, before your family and before mature leaders in your local church.
May God give us all grace to put sinful anger to death and put on the fruit of the Spirit in its place.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
While religious freedom still exists in the West, God is allowing many great and many good books to be published for the building up of Christ's Body and for the evangelism of the lost. Here are some books coming out in early 2012 to be on the lookout for and purchase and read.
BOOKS FOR PASTORS AND ELDERS:
Gerald Bray, GOD IS LOVE (A Biblical and Systematic
Graeme Goldsworthy, CHRIST-CENTERED BIBLICAL
James Bell, FROM THE LIBRARY OF CHARLES
SPURGEON (Selections From Writers Who
Influenced His Spiritual Journey); Baker
G. R. Evans, THE ROOTS OF THE REFORMATION
(Tradition, Emergence and Rupture); IVP
Carl Beckwith, EZEKIEL, DANIEL (Reformation
Commentary on Scripture); IVP
Allan Harman, PSALMS, 2 volumes; Christian Focus/
Allen P. Ross, THE PSALMS; Kregel--covers Psalms
1-41; the first of a projected 3 volume set.
IVP DICTIONARY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
Stanley Porter, ed.; BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICS:
FIVES VIEWS; IVP
Kelly Kapic and Bruce McCormack, eds.; MAPPING
MODERN THEOLOGY; Baker Academic--various
contributors examine how modern or liberal
theology impacts each facet of theology.
John Olney, THE MESSAGE OF KINGS (The Bible
Speaks Today Series); IVP
Robert Kolb, LUTHER AND THE STORIES OF GOD
(Biblical Narratives as a Foundation for Christian
Living); Baker Academic
Tim Meadowcroft, THE MESSAGE OF THE WORD OF
GOD (The Bible Speaks Today Series); IVP
John Hannah, THE KREGEL PICTORIAL GUIDE TO
CHURCH HISTORY (Vol. 6--The Church and
Eckhard Schnabel, 40 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE END
James Hamilton, REVELATION (The Spirit Speaks to
the Churches) ; Crossway--from the PREACHING
THE WORD expositional series
Michael Kruger, CANON REVISITED (Establishing
the Origins and Authority of the New Testament
Thabiti Anyabwile, FINDING FAITHFUL ELDERS
AND DEACONS; Crossway
BOOKS FOR EVERYONE
J. I. Packer, GOD'S WILL (Finding Guidance for
Everyday Decisions); Baker
Jerry Bridges, THE TRANSFORMATIONAL POWER OF
THE GOSPEL; NavPress
Thomas McCall, FORSAKEN (The Trinity, The Cross
and Why It Matters); IVP
Sean Lucas, DANIEL: TRUSTING THE TRUE HERO;
James Emery White, A TRAVELER'S GUIDE TO THE
KINGDOM (Journeying through the Christian
Jeffery Burton Russell, EXPOSING MYTHS ABOUT
CHRISTIANITY (A Guide to Understanding 14
Viral Lies and Legends); IVP
R. C. Sproul, A WALK WITH GOD; Christian Focus--
daily devotions from Luke's gospel.
John Keddie, ERIC LIDDELL:FINISH THE RACE;
Philip Graham Ryken, IS JESUS THE ONY WAY?;
Timothy George, THE GREAT TRADITION OF
CHRISTIAN THINKING (A Student's Guide);
Jonathan Lehman, CHURCH MEMBERSHIP (How
the World Knows Who Represents Jesus);
Dave Harvey, AM I CALLED ? (The Summons to
Pastoral Ministry); Crossway
Ray Ortlund, PROVERBS (Wisdom That Works);
Nancy Guthrie, THE WISDOM OF GOD (Seeing
Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Literature);
Kent Hughes and Carey Hughes, DISCIPLINES OF
A GODLY YOUNG MAN; Crossway
Richard Winter, WHEN LIFE GOES DARK (Finding
Hope in the Midst of Depression); IVP
Philips Graham Ryken, LOVING THE WAY JESUS
These and many other treasures will be coming out in the first three months of 2012. Read for your life in 2012--our God promises no blessings for the willfully ignorant.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
An important doctrine in the New Testament has been under-studied, distorted or over allegorized. It is the doctrine of 'union with Christ'. One can find near centuries when the doctrine was not examined. One can find many books where the doctrine of union with Christ is distorted by allegorizing (e.g. one book called VINELIFE ends up teaching mysticism because of the distortion of the doctrine of union with Christ in Christ's analogy of the vine and the branches in John 15).Other authors push examples to unbiblical positions (for example some theologians connect union with Christ to water baptism leading to presumptive regeneration among those baptized). Still others teach that believers become 'in-godded' through union with Christ. Surely there must be carefulness and clarity for this biblical doctrine.
Of late, evangelical and Reformed authors have sought to rectify the situation with several meaty and truly helpful studies on the New Testament doctrine of the believer's union with Christ. I can recommend the following materials.
Robert Spinney, NOT THE WAY I USED TO BE (The
Bible's Large Doctrine of Regeneration); Tulip
Booklets--a great primer on the profound nature
of regeneration. Along the way, Dr. Spinney shows
the relationship of regeneration to union with
Christ and why believers are inwardly compelled
Anthony Hoekema, SAVED BY GRACE; Eerdmans--a
contemporary classic by a theologian who was
never less than clear. Shows in chapter four how
union with Christ is a major part of our salvation.
John Murray, REDEMPTION: ACCOMPLISHED AND
APPLIED; Eerdmans--one of the greatest Reformed
theologians of the 20th century has a great
chapter on 'Union with Christ'.
John Stott, LIFE IN CHRIST; IVP--a very helpful study
of the New Testament's teaching on the believer
being 'in Christ', 'with Christ', 'from Christ', etc.
The various prepositional phrases that show that
the believer has a vital union with Christ are
Edward Donnelliy, LIFE IN CHRIST; Evangelical Press
originally sermons given at the annual evangelical
movement of Wales summer conference. Very
good sermons showing the interconnectedness of
union with Christ and our salvation.
Maurice Roberts, UNION AND COMMUNION WITH
CHRIST; Reformation Heritage--Scottish minister
who was formerly editor of the BANNER OF TRUTH
MAGAZINE whose monthly devotionals were gems.
Shows the interrelationship between union with
Christ and communion with God.
John Owen, COMMUNION WITH THE TRIUNE GOD;
Crossway--edited with updated language and
outlined by Kelly Kapic--a Puritan classic made
more accessible by Dr. Kapic's editorial work.
John Owen, COMMUNION WITH GOD; Banner of Truth
(edited by R. K. Law); a Puritan classic made
accessible by Dr. Law's skillful editing.
Robert Letham, UNION WITH CHRIST (in Scripture,
History and Theology); P & R--very helpful work by
by a very helpful contemporary Reformed
J. Todd Billings, UNION WITH CHRIST (Reframing
Theology and Ministry for the Church); Baker
Academic--also very good but aimed at a more
Other classic studies to be consulted by the diligent student are:
Thomas Boston, HUMAN NATURE IN ITS FOUR-FOLD STATE; Banner of Truth--see the chapter 'Mystical Union Between Christ and Believers'.
Jonathan Edwards, "Safety, Fulness and Sweet Refreshment to be Found in Christ' in THE WORKS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS (2 VOLUMES); Banner of Truth;
2:929-936 and included in JONATHAN EDWARDS ON KNOWING CHRIST; Banner of Truth; pp. 156-182
John Flavel, 'The Union of the Believer with Christ a Principal Part of Effectual Application'; THE WORKS OF JOHN FLAVEL; 2:33-49
John Flavel, 'The Method of Grace in the Gospel of Redemption' ; THE WORKS OF JOHN FLAVEL; 2:3-474
Richard Sibbes, 'A Christian's Portion...'; THE WORKS OF RICHARD SIBBES; Banner of Truth; 4:1-38
John Newton, 'On Union with Christ'; THE WORKS OF JOHN NEWTON; Banner of Truth; 1:322-323
Benjamin B. Warfield, "Communion With Christ'; FAITH AND LIFE; Banner of Truth; pp. 415-427
One can also examine the systematic theologies of the Hodges, Shedd, Strong, Berkhof, Grudem and Horton for further treatments in a larger context of theology.
May the Lord enrich your life and your understanding of the profundity of your salvation with your study of this marvelous doctrine and reality.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
With Christmas almost upon us, our minds frequently turn to the children in our lives (and grandchildren). The cultural trappings of Christmas are a delight to most adults and all children. How many children go to bed with dreams of toys and sugarplums dancing in their heads!
With Christmas comes travels to relatives. With Christmas comes extra church services. With Christmas comes an avalanche of temptations for greed, selfishness, envy and jealousy over toys, clothes, techno-gadgets and almost everything else. With Christmas comes changes in schedules and late nights. With Christmas comes a tsunami of sweets and desserts. And with Christmas comes displays of sin by our children.
What are we to do about that? Write it off to the season and just put our heads down and persevere? Write it off to late nights and too much sugar? Write if off as remnants from our spouses side of the family?
Disciplining our children so that they learn self-dsicipline is a job that continues with variations until they leave home. And then we must pray for them as they are still in a learning mode as they go out into the world we have tried to prepare them for. Our goal for our children should be that each child is independently dependent upon Jesus Christ.
We have no power to give any one the new birth but we can regularly have them under the means of grace as we discipline ourselves to be in church faithfully, to have family devotions faithfully, to pay special attention at baptismal and communion services, to winsomely and straight-forwardly discuss the things just experienced in church. We need to do these things faithfully and winsomely and we must!
But when it comes to discipline as chastening, discipline as corporal punishment, discipline as training, we often struggle to be faithful, to become weary and give in ("I've spanked Reginald now 17 times and he still won't stay in bed; I'll just let him stay up until he falls asleep.").
But Proverbs 25:28 says that "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." In the biblical world right up to our so-called Middle Ages, cities were protected by great walls that surrounded them. That is why the book of Nehemiah is so focused on rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. The city was defenseless until the protective wall was rebuilt. The Proverbs says that a person who has reached manhood without learning significant self-control or self-discipline is facing life defenseless. The temptations of this fallen world will ravish his soul unless he learns self-discipline. And the best place to learn to discipline oneself is in the home with loving discipline applied faithfully by parents who love one another and practice self-discpline.
Today's Blog is about those books in print to help you learn to discipline your children. Hebrews 12:11 says that at the time of learning (applying the board of education to the seat of learning), no discipline is pleasant. It makes it plain. "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness TO THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED BY IT (emphasis mine)."
Let's see some of the tools available to instruct and motivate the faithful parent who dares to discIpline.
1. PRAYER--You thought you were going to raise your
children without laboring over them in prayer?
2. BIBLE STUDY-- You thought you were going to
raise your children without searching the Scriptures
to make sure you were on track with God's way of
3. MODELING THE TRUTH--You thought you could live
differently than you want your children to live and
they would still, somehow, get it?
4. BOOKS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU
SHOULD BE DOING AND HOW TO DO IT
a. Eric Lane, SPECIAL CHILDREN? (A Theology of
Childhood); Evangelical Press--what the Bible
says about all aspects of childhood, including
b. Ann Benton, DON'T THEY LOOK LOVELY WHEN
THEY'RE ASLEEP ?; Christian Focus--a good
complement to Lane's book.
c. Tedd Tripp, SHEPHERDING A CHILD'S HEART;
Shepherd Press--has become something of the
gold standard among Reformed evangelicals.
d. Tedd and Margy Tripp, INSTRUCTING A CHILD'S
HEART; Shepherd Press--follow up with more
information to the above book.
e. Bruce Ray, WITHHOLD NOT CORRECTION; P & R
a classic book on child discipline that should NOT
be overlooked by parents.
f. Gardiner Spring, HINTS FOR PARENTS; Shepherd
Press--19th century biblical insights applied to
21st century learners.
g. Ginger Plowman, DON'T MAKE ME COUNT TO
THREE; Shepherd Press--personal tips of how
to apply SHEPHERDING A CHILD'S HEART.
h. Paul David Tripp, AGE OF OPPORTUNITY: P & R
What to do with teenagers.
**Gary Brady, PROVERBS; Evangelical Press--the
book of wisdom for life as a believer, especially
important in raising children and disciplining
These books do not have everything, but they do have more than enough to equip the faithful parent who stays engaged at the high calling of raising human beings to the glory of God.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
One of God's best gifts to humanity is the gift of speech and language. Through language we can formulate and communicate ideas and the issues of our hearts. God has communicated to humanity in His written Word that we might not miss what He has promised, planned and done for us sinners in His Son Jesus.
When the first books were published on moveable type, books became much less expensive and literacy became the aim of enlightened government and church leaders. Protestants have always been people of the book and have always encouraged their people to read. To have the Word of God in your own language and not read it is a sin.
We live in the nation with the greatest access to good Christian books in the history of the world. Reading the best books and praying through them and seeking God's grace to put into practice what you learn makes for a growing, faithful Christian.
BOOKS FOR YOU TO PURCHASE & READ IN 2012
(You don't have to read them in the order listed, BUT
it might help.)
1. Sinclair Ferguson, GROW IN GRACE; Banner of
Truth--paperback that packs a whallop!
2. Philip Ryken, OUR TRIUNE GOD; Crossway--learning
to live in fellowship with the Three in One God.
3. R. C. Sproul, THE HOLINESS OF GOD; Tyndale--a
powerful book that goes to the heart of what our
God is essentially like. To not get this book is to not
get sin, judgement, the need of Christ, the work of
Christ nor the calling of the believer to be holy!
4. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE CROSS; Crossway--a
simple yet profound classic.
5.Jerry Bridges, THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE;
NavPress--the best overview of the work of Christ
for sinners in print--I wish all pastors would master
6.James Packer and Mark Dever, IN MY PLACE
CONDEMNED HE STOOD; Crossway--profound
treatment of the substitutionary work of Christ
for His people, every one of them!
7.Joel Beeke, HEIRS WITH CHRIST (The Puritans On
Adoption); Reformation Heritage--a subject that we
cannot study too much.
8.Geoff Thomas, THE HOLY SPIRIT; Reformation
Heritage--a great new book that is biblical, clear and
9.Earl Blackburn, JESUS LOVES THE CHURCH AND SO
SHOULD YOU; Solid Ground--a sweet book about
that which is close to the heart of the Savior--but
sadly far from the hearts of so many Christians.
10.Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD (Even When Life
Hurts); NavPress--the best book on the doctrine
of God's providence ("the hand of God in the glove
11.Geoff Thomas, THE SURE WORD OF GOD;
Evangelical Press--a great place to learn why you
trust your very life to the Bible and all that it does
in your life.
12.S. M. Houghton, SKETCHES FROM CHURCH
HISTORY; Banner of Truth--imagine a history
book that you will thoroughly enjoy and profit
**13. (A Baker's Dozen) Ted Donnelly, THE BIBLICAL
DOCTRINE OF HEAVEN AND HELL; Banner of Truth
the most exhilarating and the most fearsome book
I have ever read.
May our Lord grow you in grace as you read and digest and seek to implement the truths contained in them by God's grace.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
In my last blog I listed several titles one could give as gifts at Christmas and these gifts were Christmas themed--the book had something to do about Christmas!
What other books could you give that would make great gifts, even life changing gifts, that were not Christmas themed? Let me list some of my favorites.
BOOKS FOR MEN AND TEENAGE BOYS
Mark Chanski, MANLY DOMINION--why and how Christian men are to be Christian MEN. Much needed and well conceived. Every Christian man or teenage boy should read and digest this book--then put it into practice!
Rick Philips, MASCULINE MANDATE--DITTO
Stuart Scott, THE EXEMPLARY HUSBAND--
Laura Hillenbrand, UNBROKEN--the amazing true biography of a young man from Los Angeles who was always in trouble with the law when he was not winning track meets! He ran for American in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, impulsively ran over and shook Hitler's hand when receiving a medal, stole a Nazi flag to take home as a souvenir, enlisted in World War II, his plane crashed in the Pacific and he was adrift at sea for weeks--only to be rescued by the Japanese--and things really got ugly. Men will be challenged and horrified to read about life in a Japanese POW camp,
his liberation at the end of the war, his descent in alcoholism to deal with his post-traumatic stress, his amazing conversion and subsequent return to Japan to forgive his brutal captors. You could not make this story up, but it is all blessedly true and a testimony of God's sovereign grace!
Jerry Bridges, THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE--if I had the power I would make every pastor in America read this book and then preach it to their congregation. It is that good. Great for small groups to work through. It covers all that Christ did for us on the cross and thus why the gospel is what is needed every day.
Jerry Bridges, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE--applies the book above on an everyday basis and helps you climb out of defeat and despondency into trust and obedience in the finished work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
BOOKS FOR WOMEN & TEENAGE GIRLS
Sharon James, MY HEART IN HIS HANDS--the challenging and encouraging and stretching life story of Ann Judson, wife of the first American foreign missionary, Adoniram Judson. She was as amazing as her husband and brought great glory to Christ in her life.
Elizabeth Prentiss, STEPPING HEAVENWARD--the biblical and Reformed doctrine of sanctification worked out in a woman's diary and life. (It has a glowing recommendation in the forward from Elizabeth Elliot.) Gripping!
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, CHOOSING GRATITUDE--how to avoid being an old grump (or a young cynic). A true mind and attitude changer.
Peter Jeffery, BITE-SIZED THEOLOGY--just the right size bites of biblical truth to help a young Christian of any age to grow.
Mark Chanski, WOMANLY DOMINION--the right complement to his book listed above for men.
Jerry Bridges, THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE--ditto above!
Jerry Bridges, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; mega-dittoes!
BOOKS FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN:
Sinclair Ferguson, THE MAGNIFICENT, AMAZING TIME MACHINE--tells the whole flow of the biblical story of getting ready for Jesus' arrival.
R. C. Sproul, THE BARBER WHO WANTED TO PRAY--draws from Martin Luther's little book on how to pray which he taught to his barber who asked Luther how he prayed!
R. C. Sproul, THE LIGHTLINGS
R. C. Sproul, THE PRIEST WITH DIRTY CLOTHES
R. C. Sproul, THE POISON CUP
R. C. Sproul, THE KING WITHOUT A SHADOW-- great children's stories that teach biblical truth in a winsome way.
FOR SLIGHTLY MORE INTELLECTUAL READERS ON YOUR SHOPPING LIST:
D. A. Carson, THE GAGGING OF GOD--shows how God is moved to gag and also how God's Word is gagged by today's "everything is relative" mindset (commonly called "post-modernism").
John Piper, THINK (THE LIFE OF THE MIND AND THE LOVE OF GOD)--small book that packs a punch and challenges to bring your mind into conformity with Christ.
Steven Lawson, PILLARS OF GRACE (A.D. 100-1564)--A LONG LINE OF GODLY MEN--the second volume of his history of the best men in the first 1500 years of Christian history and what they did.
Roland Bainton, HERE I STAND--the best life of Luther to read to understand why the Reformation was needed and how it happened and why we are glad we are not under Roman tyranny.
These should get you started and bless those you give the books to.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Christmas is perhaps THE TIME OF THE YEAR to communicate to others about the coming of Jesus Christ. It really is THE REASON FOR THE SEASON! The gospel of Jesus Christ is begging to be told at this time of year. There is no other reason to even have the holiday and exchange of presents if there were not the historical reality that God visited this planet that first Christmas.
Why does Christianity even exist ? (Because God really did visit this planet.) What is the central theme of the Bible (HINT--the promise and the fulfillment of that promise in the coming of Christ). Why do millions around the world celebrate Christmas ? (Because it shows that God cares about sinful human beings AND that our sins and Satan shall not have the last say about our lives--forgiveness of sins and new life and eternal life and knowing God are now all possible because Jesus was born that first Christmas!)
Have you thought of having your neighbors in for coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cookies, breads and stuff and a cookie exchange? Have the time be low key and then close with sharing your testimonies and give out copies of ULTIMATE QUESTIONS or WHY IN THE WORLD DID JESUS COME ? to those who attend. Tell them warmly that you want to be a good neighbor to them and that involves being transparent about who you are and where you have come from. Tell them that if they don't want to read the booklet, they can just leave it behind. Don't have the speaking time go on too long (20 minutes is a long time in our culture).
Tell them how Christ changed your time (the details of life that have changed) and your eternity (forgiveness of sins, peace with God, new spiritual life, eternal life, adoption into God's family, etc.) Have a second round of refreshments available for any who might want to stay and mingle. And pray, pray, pray. Before, during and after the event. (Let me know how it goes!)
I have used good literature for 35 years to give to people at Christmas. Immediate family, distant relatives, neighbors, co-workers, school friends, frequently visited store workers (cleaners, grocery store, convenience store, BOOKSTORE (!) , gas station, etc--all are great places to find people to need to look again at Christmas.
What would I recommend for the different categories of people in our lives? Here are my recommendations...
CHRISTMAS FOCUSED EVANGELISTIC MATERIALS
ESV NEW TESTAMENT--paperback Christmas edition
a great give-away New Testament that is
Christmas themed in its cover decoration.
John Blanchard, WHY ON EARTH DID JESUS COME ?
booklet--why did God become a man is answered
as only John Blanchard can do. Very good.
Peter Jeffery, THE TRUTH ABOUT CHRISTMAS;
booklet--with a rosy Santa on the cover, this
booklet beckons the reader to look beneath the
Christmas glitz and superfluous cultural wrapping
and find Jesus Christ--God's greatest gift.
James M. Boice, THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS; book
Answer in more detail why Jesus came and who
He is and why WHO He is matters.
Kent Hughes, THE GIFT OF CHRISTMAS; book--
Another great gift book on God's gift of His Son
for guilty sinners.
CHRISTMAS FOCUSED DEVOTIONS FOR BELIEVERS
COME THOU LONG EXPECTED JESUS; Crossway;
compilation of great articles by famous Christian
communicators down through the centuries.
Tom Houston, CHARACTERS AROUND THE CRADLE
great historical and biblical study on the various
people in the foreground and the background
of the Christmas story.
Roger Ellsworth, CHRISTMAS PICTURES (Devotional
Thoughts for Christians)
Ray Rhodes, FAMILY WORSHIP FOR THE CHRISTMAS
SEASON--real helps to faithful parents.
Noel Piper, TREASURING GOD IN OUR TRADITIONS;
HANDEL'S MESSIAH (2 CD set)--what else could you
listen to at such a time as this?
May the LORD Himself fill your soul with greater visions of His glory and worthiness this Christmas season and the New Year.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin