Christians buy books to fix problems, answer questions and grow in the grace of Christ. I have books today for you in all three categories.
BOOKS TO GROW IN THE GRACE OF CHRIST:
Guy Waters, BEING MADE RIGHT WITH GOD; Christian
Focus--a leading New Testament scholar and
specialist on the gospel of being justified by Christ
alone through grace alone by faith alone gives us
all a great primer on this most important subject.
Brian Vickers, JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE THROUGH
FAITH (Finding Freedom From Legalism,
Lawlessness, Pride and Despair); P & R--a great
book to give to anyone wanting to understand
what is the big deal about "justification by faith".
BOOKS TO FIX PROBLEMS:
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION (Its
Causes and Cures); Eerdmans--the classic study
of how and why Christians get stuck in a type of
Sinclair Ferguson, DESERTED BY GOD; Banner of
Truth--another book destined to be a classic. He
shows how and why Christians can have a felt
sense that they are not close to God or that,
horror of horrors, He seems to have deserted them.
BOOKS TO ANSWER QUESTIONS:
Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor; THE FINAL
DAYS OF JESUS (The Most Important Week of the
Most Important Person Who Ever Lived; Crossway--
Excellent tool for pastors or teachers or layman
wanting to study and explain the final chapters of
the four gospels or the person and work of Christ
Thabiti Anyabwile, CAPTIVATED (Beholding the Mystery
of Jesus' Death and Resurrection); Reformation
Heritage--5 chapters of sermons given to explain
Easter, prior to Easter.
1. Is There No Other Way?
2. Why Have You Forsaken Me?
3. Where, O Death, Is Your Victory?
4. Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead?
5. Do You Not Know These Things?
Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson, eds.; FALLEN
(A Theology of Sin); Crossway--11 chapters that
show biblically why Christ had to die. A truly helpful
study by 10 different authors as to humanity's
plight before the Holy God and why we need a
Savior! How far has mankind fallen and what
options are left to us?
Timothy Keller, WALKING WITH GOD THROUGH PAIN
AND SUFFERING; Penguin--in a fallen world (see
the note above), fallen men and women do not
recognize how fallenness has impacted this world
and they are repeatedly surprised by suffering.
Pastor and apologist Tim Keller writes to explain to
fallen folks what has happened and how to deal
with it. Keller does not simply explain the biblical
theology underlying suffering, he also helps the
reader to apply it to their life and suffering. Ever
the apologist for the Christian faith, Keller's book
is good for non-Christians as well as Christians.
May you prepare your heart for the forthcoming celebration of our Lord's being raised from the dead and may you glory more in His crosswork and resurrection.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM for more
book information and my new e-book, 21st CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES.
The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, wrote what is arguably the most "evangelical" book of the Old Testament. For Isaiah has so much to say about God, man, sin, judgment, atonement, repentance, forgiveness and restoration that so ably explains the gospel or "evangel". He is the evangelical prophet.
But like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he is a "major prophet", meaning that his collected prophecies are long and at times daunting. One must give oneself to careful thought and study (and gaining help) when trying to read Isaiah the prophet for profit.
In what may sound like shameless self-promotion, I have written an E-book covering the best commentaries on every book of the Bible (and the main introductory matters too). [You can access it at WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM and see samples from Genesis and Matthew.]
Below is what I recommend from all that's out there to help you read or study Isaiah and gain great good for your soul.
A=Introductory--requires no previous study of the
book on your part and no knowledge of biblical
B=Intermediate--requires some background know-
ledge and some knowledge of biblical languages.
C=Advanced--for pastors and seminarians and those
with some working knowledge of the issues and
INTRODUCTORY ISSUES TO THE STUDY OF ISAIAH:
A. Brian Beyer, ENCOUNTERING THE BOOK OF
ISAIAH; Baker Academic--useful for its clear
overview of the issues; a standard college level
textbook on Isaiah
A. Herbert M. Wolf, INTERPRETING ISAIAH (The
Suffering and Glory of the Messiah); Moody Press
B. David Firth and H. G. M. Williamson, eds.;
INTERPRETING ISAIAH (Issues and Approaches);
COMMENTARIES ON THE PROPHET ISAIAH:
A. Charles and Norma Ellis, THE WELLS OF
SALVATION (Meditations on Isaiah); Banner of
Truth--not a commentary per se but devotional
bites for those intimidated by Isaiah's length (66
chapters). They break the book into 98 short
studies which underline the greatness of God
and encourage us to rejoice in His salvation and
A. John Calvin, ISAIAH (Crossway Classic
Commentary); Crossway--edited and modernized
by Packer & McGrath. One of Calvin's best. See
also his three volume commentary in his
B. Barry Webb, ISAIAH (Tyndale Old Testament
Commentary Series); InterVarsity Press--a
reverent and warm treatment by a rising O. T.
scholar. One of the best in the series.
B. J. A. Motyer, ISAIAH (The Bible Speaks Today);
InterVarsity Press--more pastoral than his major
commentary on Isaiah and still a very helpful
addition to the literature.
B. Allan Harman, ISAIAH [A Covenant To Be Kept
For The Sake Of The Church] (Focus on the Bible
Series); Christian Focus--the work of a fine
exegete. Should be helpful to all who seek to
B. Paul House, ISAIAH (Mentor Commentary
Series); Christian Focus
B. Larry Walker; ISAIAH 1-39 (New American
Commentary); Broadman & Holman;
B. Gary V. Smith, ISAIAH 40-66 [New American
Commentary]; Broadman & Holman leading
evangelical Baptist Old Testament scholarS open
up Isaiah to great effect. Should be on your short
list of commentaries on this book
B. Geoffrey Grogan, ISAIAH (Expositor's Bible
Commentary:Revised); Zondervan--one of the
better volumes in the whole series. Grogan is an
insightful evangelical O. T. scholar.
B. David W. Baker, ISAIAH (Zondervan Illustrated
Bible Background Commentary); Zondervan
C. J.A. Motyer, THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH; Inter-
Varsity Press--a lifetime of study, teaching
and reflection on Isaiah is brought together for
us to enjoy. A vast amount of material by a
warm heart and diligent scholar. A must-buy!
C. J. A. Alexander, THE PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH;
Kregel--the theological reflections of one of Old
Princeton's greatest scholars.
C. John Oswalt, THE BOOK OF ISAIAH (2 Vol.);
Eerdmans--replaced Young's in the New
International Commentary on the Old Testament.
Exegetical spadework and historical acumen that
needs a better theological foundation for
interpretation. [see also John Oswalt, ISAIAH
(New International Application Commentary);
Zondervan (perhaps a wiser purchase than his
two volume set!)
C. Richard Schultz, ISAIAH (Apollos Old Testament
Commentary); IVP--forthcoming soon.
SERMONS AND SPECIAL STUDIES ON ISAIAH:
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, GOD'S WAY, NOT OURS
(Isaiah 1); Baker Books
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, A NATION UNDER WRATH
(Isaiah 5); Baker Books
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE ALL-SUFFICIENT GOD
(Isaiah 40); Banner of Truth (the greatest
preacher in the English language in the 20th
century shows how to preach these passages
for audiences removed by over 2500 years of
cultural change--but God has not changed and
human nature has not changed and God's
coming judgment has not changed, so his
sermons on right on target today!)
A. Raymond Ortlund, Jr.; ISAIAH (God Saves
Sinners); Crossway (Preach the Word Series)--
outstanding contribution to this series of
expositional commentaries on the Bible.
A. Darrell Bock and Mitch Glaser, eds.; THE
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ISAIAH 53
Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish
and Christian Theology); Kregel Academic
(Eleven contributions to the study and
application of Isaiah 53 by Christian and
Messianic Christian authors. One chapter is
even evangelistic. Two examples of how one
might preach from Isaiah 53.
Everything the average layman or pastor would need is available on Isaiah. Take the time to prayerfully study your way through these amazing 66 chapters of God's inspired Word.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Young men in the gospel ministry have many challenges. Any help we can give them increases their effectiveness in the ministry. God is glorified and we are edified when gospel ministers prosper. With these goals in mind, I wanted to show you some real helps for young pastors and their wives.
BOOKS FOR YOUNG PASTORS:
Tom Ascol, DEAR TIMOTHY ; Founders Press--letters
to a young pastor just beginning his ministry.
Wise counsel on a full range of pastoral issues
from a sterling collection of pastors with many
years in the ministry.
Charles Bridges, THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY (and the
causes of its ineffectiveness); Banner of Truth.
A classic which must be read slowly and prayer-
fully. It is without peer as an examination of the
kinds of things that would render a minister's
Martyn Lloyd-Jone, AUTHORITY; Banner of Truth--a
classic book of only three chapters. (1) The
Authority of Christ; (2) The Authority of the
Scriptures; and (3) The Authority of the Holy
Spirit which He gives to preachers and churches.
When a church lacks life transforming power,
when conversions are rare and people are not
being propelled to holiness
Kent & Barbara Hughes, LIBERATING THE MINISTRY
FROM THE SUCCESS SYNDROME; Tyndale--a
classic work that is not as well known as it should
be. Pastor Hughes, long time pastor of COLLEGE
CHURCH in Wheaton, Illinois and his wife, Barbara,
share their early struggles with being "successful"
in the pastoral ministry and how they came to see
that it is not a biblical category. And how that truly
liberated them to minister.
Jerry Bridges, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN
LIFE; Crossway Books--a most practical treatment
of the two things that can make or break your
personal life and ministry--trusting in the
righteousness of Christ AND the power of the Holy
Spirit to change a life. Your own life, let alone your
ministry, will be seriously impoverished if you do
not digest and practice this book.
BOOKS FOR YOUNG PASTORS' WIVES:
Pastor's wives are wives of pastors. They are not the wife of the church. Their calling is to their husband, not to their church. Helping, serving, praying for and otherwise enabling your husband to function well is your calling.
Sara Leone, HER HUSBAND'S CROWN; Banner of
Truth Booklet--a good place to start to see the
high calling of a pastor's wife.
Bethan Lloyd-Jones, MEMORIES OF SANDFIELDS;
Banner of Truth--once a doctor like her husband,
Martyn, Beth left the medical profession and
with her husband determined to live off of what
their little church plant could pay them. This is
her collection of memories of her fear and relief,
her prayers, her husbands early labors and God's
coming to visit their church with His life-changing
Catherine J. Stewart, LETTERS TO PASTORS WIVES
(When Seminary Ends and Ministry Begins);
P & R--an excellent collection of letters from
experienced wives (and one pastor's daughter)
Mary Somerville, ONE WITH A SHEPHERD (The Tears
and Triumphs of a Ministry Marriage); Kress
Christian Publishers--just what it says. And every
ministry has both.
Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD (Even When Life Hurts);
NavPress--a classic book on the providence of God.
If you do not "get" this material, your struggles
will be much more pronounced and you will not
glorify God as you should. This book is a true
Discerning laymen and senior pastors will want to pass along these important resources to their young
pastors and their wives. (And if they themselves have not read these books, will want to for themselves.)
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
My new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES, is geared to help pastors of all ages
know the best commentaries that are available. This can be a huge help in sermon preparation. There are over 2000 listings of commentaries and introductory Bible matters. It took me 20 years and is current up to January, 2014. Come see for yourself at my website
"THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM"
by Samuel Bolton
Banner of Truth
A. SAMUEL BOLTON--brief biographical background
Samuel Bolton (1606-1654) was a Puritan pastor, member of the Westminster Assembly, Master of Christ College, Cambridge and later vice-chancellor of Cambridge University.
He is described by James Packer as a "learned, exact, orthodox Puritan minister, not original or striking in print, but clear and warmly evangelical". The Puritan biographer, Benjamin Brook notes that Bolton was so burdened for the souls of the lost that he preached every day for free during his Vice-Chancellorship of Cambridge, having no church of his own at that time to give the gospel to. By his peers he was considered a man of much prayer, reading, meditation and temptation (trial), the four things which Luther said made a preacher.
During his final sickness, when being moved in his bed, he said: "Let me alone; let me lie quietly. I have as much comfort as my heart can hold." Later, as death approached, he cried: "Oh this vile body of mine! When will it give way that my soul may rise and go to God.? When will it be consumed that I may mount to heaven?" His will stated that he wished to "be interred as a private Christian and not with the outward pomp of a doctor" because he hoped to rise in the day of judgment and appear before God "not as a doctor but as a humble Christian." His funeral eulogy described him as "simple, other-worldy man whose preaching 'snatched our souls by vigorous sympathy'". Dr. Edmund Calamy preached his funeral sermon. [He is not to be confused with the older Puritan minister and author of the same last name, Robert Bolton.]
His great legacy to the churches is his classic THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM. It is in regards to this book that I have been asked to give a review and commendation to you today.
B. A WORD ABOUT THE BOOK AND IT'S PURITAN FORMAT
The Puritans have been described as wordy, verbose, fulsome to the point of weariness. I am sure that some of that criticism reflects the impatient, instantaneous fulfillment mindset of the age we live in. But it is true of some Puritans that they lacked a good editor! Thankfully, Samuel Bolton's THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM had S. M. Houghton of the Banner of Truth to edit this work into a workable format.
It is helpful to photocopy the elaborate Table of Contents and use it as a bookmark to keep one's focus clear on what point and sub-point and sub-sub point the author is making. That is my only caveat.
Please do not be put off by this. Do not begrudge the time and mental energy needed to work through this text. It is a goldmine of exposition and application of the right evangelical use of the Law of God. During the Puritan Revival, faithful pastors had to deal with both legalists on the one hand and antinomians on the other. Bolton has both in mind as he expounds the right use of God's Law in the Bible's scheme of salvation and Christian living.
Patrick Fairburn's THE REVELATION OF LAW IN SCRIPTURE and Earnest Kevan's THE GRACE OF LAW may be more scholarly and more clearly laid out, but they do not top Bolton's warm pastoral explanation of the right uses of God's Law. Bolton's book can be given to laymen who read good books and who need to be better grounded in the relationship of Law and the Gospel.
II. AN OVERVIEW OF "THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM "
(John 8:36--"If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.")
I. TRUE CHRISTIAN FREEDOM
--the nature of Christian freedom
--the quality of Christian freedom
--the branches of Christian freedom
A. FREEDOM IN ITS NEGATIVE ASPECTS (6 points)
1. freedom from Satan
2. freedom from sin
3. freedom from the Law
a. freedom from the law as a covenant
b. freedom from the curses of the law
--5 reasons the law cannot condemn the
--true and false appeals to the court of
c. freedom from the accusations of the law
d. freedom from the vigor of the law
4. freedom from obedience to men
5. freedom from death
6. freedom from the grave
B. FREEDOM IN ITS POSITIVE ASPECTS (7 points)
1. freedom from a state of wrath to a state of mercy and favor
2. freedom from a state of condemnation to a state of justification
3. freedom from a state of enmity to a state of friendship
4. freedom from a state of death to a state of life
5. freedom from a state of sin to a state of service
6. freedom from a state of bondage to a state of sonship
7. freedom from a state of death and to a state of life and mercy
II. THE MORAL LAW AS A RULE OF OBEDIENCE
A. ARE CHRISTIANS FREED FROM THE MORAL LAW AS A RULE OF OBEDIENCE?
(It was a controversy in Puritan days as it is today and Bolton admits of varying opinions.)
B.THE SCRIPTURAL USES OF THE WORD "LAW"
1. the O.T. Scriptures
2. the whole word of God
3. the 5 books of Moses
4. the pedagogy of Moses
5. the moral law alone
6. the ceremonial law
7. all the laws
C. THE LAW REMAINS AS A RULE OF WALKING FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD
1. the testimony of the Reformed Confessions
2. the testimony of the New Testament
3. Five proofs for the binding nature of the Law
4. Five additional reasons for the obedience to the Law
SAMPLE QUOTE, from page 71--"Just as the Papists set up the law for justification, so
the antinomians decry the law for sanctification. We claims to be free from the curses of the
law; they would have us free from the guidance, from the commands of the law. We say we
are free from the penalties of the law, but they would abolish the precepts of the law. They
tell us that we make a false mixture together of Christ and Moses, and that we mingle law
and gospel together. We cry down the law in respect to justification but we set it up as a
rule of sanctification. The Law sends us to the gospel that we may be justified; and the
gospel sends us to the Law again to inquire what is our duty as those who are justified."
III. LAW AND GRACE
A. THE LAW IS NOT INCOMPATIBLE WITH GRACE
1. Seven reasons for which the Law was given
a. to restain sin
b. to uncover and reveal sin
c. to humble men for their sin
d. a direction for walking/living
e. a measure to show our weaknesses
f. a reproof and correction of sin
g. to spur us to our duties
2. Five reasons why the Law is not incompatible
3. Three objections answered
IV. CHASTISEMENTS FOR SIN
A. ARE CHRISTIAN FREED FROM ALL PUNISHMENTS &
CHASTISEMENTS FOR SIN ?
B. DOES CHASTISEMENT PERTAIN TO THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. New Testament teaching on chastisement
2. Various objections answered
3. Main arguments against chastisement stated
4. Five reasons why God chastens His people
a. God may do it for the terror of wicked
men that they may read their destiny in
the saints miseries.
b. God may do it for the manifestation of
His justice, that He may show to the
world that He is just.
c. God may do it to remove scandal
d. God may do it for caution to others
e. God also chastens His people for their
own good here and for the furtherance of
their salvation hereafter.
5. Concluding considerations about God
chastening His people
V. PERFORMANCE OF DUTY
A. IF A BELIEVER IS UNDER THE MORAL LAW AS A RULE OF
DUTY, IS HIS LIBERTY IN CHRIST NOT INFRINGED OR
1. Christ has not redeemed us from the matter of
service but the manner of service
2. Christ has redeemed us from a slavish spirit
in service & brought us into a son-like
3. Christ has redeemed us from a spirit of
bondage to a spirit of liberty
4. He has broken the bonds of subjection to
other lords, that we might take upon
ourselves the yoke of service to Him whose
yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
B. 3 MISTAKES WITH REGARD TO THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY
1. the mistake of those who wait for the Spirit
to move them (E.g. Dr. Tom Ascol deal with
two argumentative antinomians by
photocopying pages from Joseph Fletcher's
SITUATION ETHICS [the "Bible of the 60's]
and giving it to them to read (with the title
2. four ways in which the devil cleverly seeks
to move Christians to do their duty
3. the mistake of those who think that they are
to do nothing else but pray
4. the mistake of those who think they are to
perform their duty because their own hearts
incline them to do it (in other words,
obedience must arise from within, not from
without from the compulsion or duty of an
C. FOUR WAYS IN WHICH THE BELIEVER IS FREE FROM DUTY
1. we are free from duty as our paid job
2. we are free from duty as our trade
3. we are free from duty done in the slavery of
spirit but are rather done in a son-like
4. we are free from duty upon the tenders and
terms commanded in the law
D. 9 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LEGAL OBEDIENCE &
1. the spirit to duty in legal obedience is
slavish; in evangelical obedience it is
2. the evangelical man obeys as his delight;
the legalist as his burden
3. the legal man performs duty from the
convictions of his conscience; the
evangelical man from the necessity of his
4. the legal one looks for satisfaction in the
performance of the duty; the other looks for
satisfaction in the duty as he finds Christ
5. the legal man contents himself with the
shell; the evangelical man is not content
without the substance
6. the legal man performs duty in order to live
by it; the evangelical mn looks beyond the
duty and lives by Christ alone
7. the legal man does things formally and
coldly; the evangelical man does it fervently
8. the formal, legal man does duty with a view
to serving other ends but the evangelical
man does his duty as part of his happiness,
a piece of his glory
9. the legal man does his duty without stomach
or desire for it; the evangelical man does
his duty because he delights, desires and
pleasures in it.
E. DELIGHTING IN DUTY
SAMPLE QUOTE, p. 147--"The freeness of the
Christian consists in this, that he obeys
the commands of God, not only because God has
commanded them; but out of principles of love
and delight, and because he has within his heart
a nature agreeable to the things commanded. He
prays because God commands prayer, but not only
so. He prays because there is a suitableness
between his heart and the work of prayer,
between his soul and the duty. He has desires
after God, and his soul delights in his
approaches to and his conversing with God."
VI. PARTIAL BONDAGE
A. CAN CHRIST'S FREE MEN SIN THEMSELVES INTO BONDAGE AGAIN ?
B. TWO KINDS OF BONDAGE
1. universal bondage
a. bondage to sin
b. bondage to Satan
c. bondage to the Law
2. partial bondage
a. a bondage in respect of comfort
b. the five-fold peace of the Christian man
c. a bondage in respect of the manner of
VII. OBEDEINCE FOR THE SAKE OF A REWARD
A. MAY CHRIST'S FREE MEN PERFORM DUTIES FOR
THE SAKE OF A REWARD ?
1. Three opinions respecting this stated and
a. some believe we perform duties quid pro
quo--to merit heaven and glory (e.g. the
Council of Trent)
b. some believe that we should never
perform duty with any eye toward a
c. some believe that we may perform out
duties with an eye on the recompense of
2. What is meant by "rewards"?
3. Is the eyeing of rewards an infringement
upon Christian liberty?
a. with reference to temporal blessing
b. with reference to spiritual benefits
c. with reference to eternal rewards
--the lawfulness of it
--the necessity of it
VIII. OBEDIENCE TO MEN
A. ARE CHRISTIAN FREED FROM OBEDIENCE TO MEN ?
B. TWO KINDS OF SUBJECTION
1st--subjection which may be yielded with the
preservation of Christian liberty
2nd--subjection which may not be yielded
without the loss of Christian liberty
C. OBEDIENCE TO THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE
IX. THE APPLICATION TO BELIEVERS AND UNBELIEVERS
A. THE MISERABLE BONDAGE OF THE UNBELIEVER
1. to sin
2. to Satan
3. to the Law of God
B. THE DUTY OF THE BELIEVER
1. to maintain Christian liberty
2. not to abuse Christian liberty
Psalm 119:32--"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (NIV)
I John 5:3--"This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome."
This BOOK REVIEW was first given at the Banner of Truth Pastors Conference at Messiah College in Grantham, PA in
In 1979, I moved to suburb Chicago to attend Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I had experienced ten years of gospel ministry with students. I had a very powerful subjective call to the gospel ministry as a pastor/preacher in a local church. My local church had objectively validated my subjective call. With great fear and trepidation I moved my family from Atlanta to a small town outside Chicago to attend seminary.
How did I choose Trinity? Because of two men primarily. David Wells and John Woodbridge had written a book, THE EVANGELICALS: WHO THEY ARE, WHAT THEY BELIEVE AND HOW THEY ARE CHANGING. I was fascinated with history, particularly Christian history. I applied, was accepted and moved in July of 1979. And when I began my first class at Trinity I discovered that David Wells had just left to teach at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston. How frustrating! One of my two hoped-for mentors had gone. And to my second choice for a seminary.
Trinity was good for me in many ways but I missed taking classes from David Wells. But he did not disappoint in that he wrote some of the most important books I have read in the past 30 years. Especially in the early 1990's, Professor Wells began a series of six books that would show him to be one of the most important Christian thinkers God has given to His church today. Let me list these books and add a word or two as to their importance.
1. NO PLACE FOR TRUTH (or Whatever Happened to
Evangelical Theology); Eerdmans--shows how the
so-called evangelical movements with its
para-church ministries and non-denominational
churches lost its soul by losing God and the
content of His Bible.
2. GOD IN THE WASTELAND (The Reality of Truth
in a World of Fading Dreams); Eerdmans--builds
upon the earlier volume to emphasize that we
must begin our recovery of truth with the
recovery of what the Bible teaches about God
3. LOSING OUR VIRTUE (Why the Church Must
Recover Its Moral Vision); Eerdmans--why there
is a scandal of the evangelical conscience because
there is by-in-large no "evangelical conscience".
4. ABOVE ALL EARTHLY POWERS (Christ in a
Postmodern World); Eerdmans--how Christ has
been defanged and needs to be restored to His
rightful place, the place the Bible gives Him.
5. THE COURAGE TO BE PROTESTANT (Truth-Lovers,
Marketers and Emergents in a Post-Modern World)
Eerdmans--a compelling synopsis of the earlier
volumes and a call to the truths that created the
These five volumes should be MUST reading for pastors and teachers. Where are we at, how did we get here and what it looks like when lived out in the churches and the wider culture!
Professor Wells has now written a superb capstone to his life's work, GOD IN THE WHIRLWIND (How the Holy-Love of God Re-orients Our World); Crossway. If there is one thing critical reviewers have repeated in an attempt to find something wrong with Wells volumes is that he is a great critic but a poor builder. In other words, he can point out the problems but fails to deliver the solution. He is a naysayer but not an uplifter. Well, in my estimation, Professor Wells has silenced his critics. His latest book is a powerful and compelling biblical theology meant to re-teach those who have lost the truth and teach those that never had it, that the God who is really there is a God of holy-love. God is holy, holy, holy and He is simultaneously love. To separate the too is to distort God and harm those who believe such a diminished deity.
CHAPTER 1--GOD OUR VISION; CULTURE OUR
CONTEXT--he shows us how the biblical
message of God gets changed when taken into
twisted hearts with a twisted cultural context
CHAPTER 2--THE GOSPEL ACROSS TIME--getting
the big picture of what God is doing by following
the gospel trajectory of the Old Testament.
CHAPTER 3--SO MUCH MORE--the New Testament
portrayal of Christ is so much more profound
than the types and symbols of the Old
Testament (which were true and compelling in
their own way)
CHAPTER 4--THE LOVE OF GOD (half of the prime
points he is making in the book come in here.
Love is not an inward feeling, a merely
subjective experience. God is outside us in the
person and work of God the Son and God the
Holy Spirit. Love comes to us from outside us in
Christ by the Spirit.
CHAPTER 5--THE SPLENDOR OF HOLINESS--God is
love is holy, holy, holy. We cannot make Jesus
into a love dispenser for His love is holy love
(and what that means). The God of holy love is
the God of holy justice and wrath.
CHAPTER 6--A SIGHT TOO GLORIOUS--the person
of Christ is inextricably bound up with the work
He accomplished. Wells has rich explanations of
substitution, justification, reconciliation, ransom
and incarnation. A truly rich banquet!
CHAPTER 7--WALKING WITH GOD--how and why
sanctification must not be confused with
justification nor separated from justification.
Another really rich chapter!
CHAPTER 8--COME, LET US BOW DOWN--how the
so-called "worship wars" reveal what has
happened to our doctrine of God and our
understanding of "worship". Recovery of the
holy-love of God is mandatory.
CHAPTER 9--AND, COME, LET US SERVE--those
who have recovered the holy-love of God in
Christ and who have begun to worship in Spirit
and truth are now in a place to serve God in
this fallen world. How the first and greatest
commandment is also worked out in the 2nd
greatest commandment, which is like unto it.
This is one of the most important books I have read in the past couple of years. It has the potential, if read prayerfully and thoughtfully, to change many a wrong headed ministry and keep on course those ministries that are faithful but under attack.
Pastor, take this book with you on a week's vacation or sabbatical and spend time in prayer over it.
It's teach is clear, refreshing and invigorating to the soul of faithful but hard-pressed pastors and teachers.
Thank you, David Wells, for your years of faithful labors. The Lord bless you!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM
and see my new E-BOOK, 21st CENTURY
COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES. It has over 2000 book citations of commentaries, introductory works and hermeneutics. I have spent 20 years on it. You can take the guess work out of your commentary buying.
One thing that a woman can learn from watching the 1941 Academy Award winning film for Best Motion Picture ("MRS. MINIVER"), is that spiritual warfare does not exclude her. In the total war which is spiritual warfare, women are not exempt from combat or being targeted.
The bane of the American South is William Tecumseh Sherman, the Union general who fought and burned a path 60 miles wide from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia, cutting the heart out of the Confederacy. Sherman reasoned that it was just not enough to kill soldiers in combat. Back on the home front, people were making and growing up more soldiers. So why not take the war to those officially listed as "non-combatants"? If they lost the will to fight, the war would be effectively over. No one else, soldier or non-combatant need be killed. But woe to those who are unprepared to be targeted in war!!
In the great movie, MRS MINIVER, a typical English family, the Minivers, learned the hard way that modern warfare is "total warfare". No one is given a pass because they are not wearing a uniform and carrying a gun. Men, women and children civilians are nevertheless fair game. Germany bombed the towns and homes of Britain as well as the munition factories, ports and airbases of England. A faithful housewife and mother, homemaker and rose gardener, Mrs. Miniver finds herself thrust into the middle of World War II. I showed it to the women of my church then afterwards led a discussion based on hard questions.
--Do you think that spiritual warfare will spare you
since you are at home raising the children?
--Is your mindset such that you think spiritual
warfare something that only your husband or
those who leave the home to venture out into
the world have to contend with?
--How do you prepare yourself each day to fight the
fight of faith and stand having worn your spiritual
--If Satan is the world's ultimate "playground
bully", do you think he will leave you alone and
your children alone or exempt aged family
members living with you from spiritual attack?
--Do you regularly lived in a Disneyworld mentality
or in the world depicted in the Word of God?
Now that I have spent some time getting you to think about making sure you are prepared to battle for Christ each day, let me recommend some books that you women should find VERY IMPORTANT as you seek to be a woman of God in the 21st century. You should be seeking to be a biblical woman in all the phases of your life.
Edith Schaeffer, THE HIDDEN ART OF HOMEMAKING (Creative Ideas for Enriching Everyday Life); Tyndale
House--Mrs. Schaeffer shows how being a homemaker means building a home that is blessed by the God-
given creative actions of the woman who is building that home. Homemaking need not be dull and boring unless you are already a dullard and a bore!
Mark Chanski, WOMANLY DOMINION (More Than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit); Calvary Press--author of the great book for men, MANLY DOMINION, shows wives how their Job Description is is far more profound than sitting on the sofa with your hands folded looking nice and submissive. Eye-opening.
Michelle Graham, WANTING TO BE HER (Body Image Secrets Victoria Won't Tell You); IVP--outstanding analysis of how women are horribly manipulated about how they look--specifically how their body looks. Should be read and discussed by all mothers with their teen and collegiate daughters. Has specially good help for African-American women living in a majority culture of Caucasian beauty standards. Stop being manipulated and start taking control of your attitude toward your self and your body.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, LIES WOMEN BELIEVE (and the Truth that sets them free); Moody Press--a tract for the times showing various cultural lies that women believe and which harm them. Shows the biblical truth that frees believing women. (Also a sequel for high school and college women, LIES YOUNG WOMEN BELIEVE...)
Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; Crossway--the bookends on a bookshelf hold up the books on the shelf and keep them from falling over. This illustration is their way of helping the reader see that there are two vital biblical truths that keep our Christian lives falling over into despair or self-righteousness. Christians must learn and constantly apply two truths--The Great Exchange (My sin for His Righteousness--2nd Corinthians 5:21) and The Transformative Power of the Holy Spirit (real change is possible by the power of God). Great for a group Bible study or personal devotions or family devotions with teens.
Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura, SPIRITUAL WARFARE (A Biblical & Balanced Perspective); Reformation Heritage Books--a great primer on spiritual warfare and in the spirit of the great Puritans, a faithful exposition of Ephesians 6. They show how to wear your armor and not become a spiritual casualty in a time of battle. The authors avoid the bizarre and ultimately unhelpful "when in doubt, cast it out" mentality. And no, the "Pie Demon" did not make you eat that 3rd piece of pie!".
Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock, BECOMING A WOMAN WHO PLEASES GOD; Moody Press--two home economics professors at The Masters College in California (that's right, someone still teaches Home Economics) shows how to manage your home and they help empower you to fulfill your Job Description of assisting your husband in building a home. Great for those who were never taught how to manage a home or who grew up in terribly dysfunctional homes.
Aimee Byrd, HOUSEWIFE THEOLOGIAN; P & R--Aimee Byrd is a housewife, mother of three and a theologian. She shows how all believers are theologians and how we must be the best theologians if we are to think right and act right. Written for women who want to order their lives by the Word of God and not just fit it into their spare time!
And last but not least, KNOWING GOD by James Packer. We do what we do as Christians because we know God personally through His Son, Jesus. And it changes everything. KNOWING GOD is a large steak that cannot be eaten in one or two sittings. But it is the best steak--all about our God and His Gospel of His Son. It is beautifully written and stirs the soul with the best food.
Ladies, anchor your lives in Christ and His gospel and live out your calling to be Vice President to your husband in the calling of your lives. Single ladies, live out your calling to serve God as a consecrate single until such time as the Lord changes your status.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my website too:
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM for more book information and a sample about my new book,
21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES. Find over 2000 entries about the best commentaries on every book of the Bible, from basic to advanced. Find out the best reference books and supplementary materials to help you. Whether you are a pastor, elder, seminarian, church librarian, small group leader or faithful father wanting to do well at family devotional Bible reading, this book is for you!
I confess here at the beginning of this blog that I am ambivalent about Professor Frame's latest book, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. Why? P & R Publishers graciously gave me an examination copy to review for this blog. I would like to reciprocate by doing them good. But I am troubled about aspects of this new book that limit its value.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK
Professor Frame is a very clear writer and that makes reading his material easier and ensures that more true communication happens between writer and reader. Because Frame has studied the Scriptures so long, it is good that he can communicate so well about all that he has seen and thought about. Almost never is the reader at a loss to understand what Frame is saying. One does not have to be a seasoned theologian to grasp his writing.
Professor Frame is a biblical theologian. The Bible is the quarry from which he digs the doctrines God has revealed to mankind in the Bible. It is refreshing that almost always Frame cites the Bible as his source. This can be said to be a truly biblical systematic theology.
Biblical theology is like a natural display of nature in the woods and fields. The beauty of God's creation is on display "naturally", as it is found in nature. Systematic theology is doctrine arranged artificially, as humans approach the Bible looking for answers on what it has to say. It is like a botanical garden with all the plants and flowers on neat display.
Professor Frame is a humble theologian. There are several times when he admits that he does not know the answer to a question or there is not enough biblical evidence to come up with a good answer. That is refreshing; most theologians will hazard a guess even when they don't have biblical grounds to stand on.
Professor Frame is an evangelical and Reformed theologian. For the most part, he fits into the main stream of historic Reformed theology.
WHAT I DON'T LIKE ABOUT ABOUT THIS BOOK
Professor Frame's book is uneven--he spends a disproportionate time on issues he has already covered in his earlier well-received volumes (Prolegomena, The Doctrine of God, The Doctrine of Scripture, the Doctrine of the Christian Life). But he is disappointingly thin on the person and work of Christ! Some chapters that he covers in some depth seem like condensations of his earlier books. But he has not written on the person and work of Christ to an large extent and these chapters show the paucity of his study. And we are the poorer. With his clear mind and clear prose, we would have profited from Frame's study and exposition of the person and work of the Savior.
Professor Frame sends mixed messages about salvation, He is very clear that justification is by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, BUT then from time to time "covenantal nomism" appears. That is the view of the so-called "New Perspective on Paul" that teaches that we enter the covenant by grace and we stay in the covenant by our works. It has been taught for 35 years by some New Testament scholars (Krister Stendahl, E. P. Sanders, N. T. Wright, James D. G. Dunn, and others.) If one thinks about it for a minute, the so-called New Perspective on Paul is Roman Catholic theology--one enters the covenant through baptismal grace and stays in the covenant (and presumably God's favor) by one's own works. Should this perspective catch on in evangelical seminaries and colleges, it will only take a generation for discerning folks to ask: "Why don't we reunite with Rome? What is there to separate us anymore?" That would be a tragedy. Professor Frame disagrees with the New Perspective on Paul in some portions of the text, but the "covenantal nomism" (enter the covenant by baptismal grace; stay in the covenant by works) is sprinkled throughout. What's more, an unnecessary introduction of Norman Shepherd's aberrant views
of justification, which got him fired from Westminster Seminary Philadelphia are discussed with some agreement and disagreement. So is justification by grace through faith the final message or is it muted by a trailing theme in Frame's theology of human works?
The author is not as clear as he could be or should be.
Professor Frame has not framed his book in historical theology or church history. The book thus reads like his commentary on Scripture on the issues under discussion. But one might never know how a subject has been twisted, misunderstood, falsely taught, or neglected down through the centuries. Some subjects need historical reference to anchor them in reality and show their importance and how getting them wrong has negative consequences.
Professor Frame teaches at a confessional institution yet does not like confessions or catechisms as a means of holding on to orthodoxy. He dislikes strict subscription to a confession. He favors a more loose "system of doctrine approach" where the major doctrinal skeleton is adhered to but one is free to sit loose to the details. What's more, Reformed confessional denominations hold to the "regulative principle of worship", that is, God Himself regulates how He wants to be worshiped. Christians are not left up to their own devices as to how God might be worshiped. Professor Frame says that confessional fidelity is no sure guard against decline into heterodoxy and heresy. True, there are no human safeguards against walking away from the truth. Professor john Woodbridge of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School usually tells the students in their first church history class just the opposite. The greatest guard against going liberal and loosing the faith has been holding to one of the Reformed confessions, according to Woodbridge.
TO SUM UP:
John Frame's new SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY has so many good things that I felt a bit guilty finding fault. He says so many good things so well that the book is very accessible to laymen, But that's the rub. A laymen without a background in theology or historical theology might swallow what Frame says in areas where he is off plumb. There are dangers in the volume regarding lack of clarity in regards to how people are saved (classic justification or "Covenantal Nomism").
Years ago at a Banner of Truth Pastors Conference in Pennsylvania, Pastor John Marshall from England spoke on the one thing needful that a minister owes to his congregation and that a congregation should expect. If he be a good teacher, a people person, good with the youth, a fine counselor, a careful organizer, a prayer warrior, whatever else he may be BUT IF HE DOES NOT EXPLAIN CLEARLY TO HIS PEOPLE HOW TO FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME, he has utterly failed his people!! John Frame's mixed signals on salvation are not a small matter. We may be a bit muddled on eschatology and the doctrine of last things, we may have strong and varying views on church government
or the two kingdoms. But we are horribly wrong if we are not biblical and clear about how a human being becomes right with God.
May the Lord give professor Frame time to clear up some of the mentioned weaknesses of his volume so that any laymen picking up his book with its wonderfully clear prose will be clearly taught the way of salvation (without ambiguities).
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
ANTINOMIANISM: REFORMED THEOLOGY'S UNWELCOME GUEST ? by Mark Jones; P & R
I was a nine month old Christian. I had traveled to the University of Illinois campus at Champaign-Urbana with the state leader of my parachurch ministry. I was eager to learn and zealous to be used by the Lord.
Traveling with a more mature Christian and a leader would give me valuable time to ask questions and learn. What happened and what we talked about on that trip has largely faded into the oblivion of old memories. What has not faded were the comments made by the song leader at that student gathering that night. Intertwining comment between songs he led, the song leader shared sometime of a brief "testimonial" and then floored me by saying that Christ was his Savior but not yet his Lord. But he was sure that would probably come later!
I could not believe it. In nine months of reading the New Testament and going to meetings and training seminars, I had never heard that you could submit to Christ piecemeal. Was Christ so easily divided? Or was that student deluded in his own mind and theology?
That was my first taste of the many aberrant theologies that float around Christianity under the general heading of "anti-nomianism". All such defective theologies are in some way "against the Law of God" and the person and work of Christ, but how they get there is a nuanced and at times a tortured story. Species of hyper-Calvinsim teach and promote antinomianism ("Since you were elect by God, it does not matter how you live.") So-called NEW COVENANT THEOLOGY says that the law of God is not a guide for living in the Christian life (and one recent 2nd generation teacher of that theology says that you can marry your sister because it is not forbidden in the New Testament!). Classic dispensationalism interjected a strong adversative (...but,,,) in John 1:14 to make for a dramatic cleavage between the purposes of God under the Old Covenant and Moses and the purposes of God in the New Covenant and Christ. (They neglected to note that in the Greek there is no adversative, no "but".)
There have been so many and so strident enunciations by antinomian teachers that one Reformed wag wrote this ditty; "Free from the Law, O Happy Admission; I can sin all I want and still have remission." But this is only one tentacle of the hydra that is antinomianism.
Now comes pastor and Reformed scholar Mark Jones to the rescue. You may recognize the man's name as the co-author of the hefty THEOLOGY OF THE PURITANS, co-written with Joel Beeke. Dr. Jones knows his history and historical theology. Since the coining of the term "antinomianism" by Martin Luther in disputes with John Agricola during the great Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, there have been identifiable and recognizable antinomian theologians.
Where Mark Jones is so helpful is that he shows how the many types of antinomians stem from similar defective roots--wrong notions of Christ and His person and work, wrong notions of law and grace,wrong notions of law and gospel, wrong notions of justification and sanctification, etc. etc. etc. Let's look at the chapter headings and see where he takes the faithful reader.
CHAPTER 1--LESSONS FROM HISTORY
(Painful lessons from the past that are still relevant today.)
CHAPTER 2--THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
(The first and best Christian is and was Jesus Christ.)
CHAPTER 3--THE LAW
(Good, bad or indifferent?)
CHAPTER 4--THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL
(Friends or enemies?)
CHAPTER 5--GOOD WORKS AND REWARDS
(Again, looking to Christ's person and work and example.)
CHAPTER 6--AMOR, AMOR (LOVE, LOVE)
(About fifteen years ago, a pastor friend in another state, a faithful pastor and trained theologian, found himself attacked by two young men after most sermons, They labeled the pastor a legalist and his teaching sub-Christian. Finally when his patience was pushed way beyond mine, he decided to once and for all deal with these two men. He took the text of Joseph Fletcher's 1960's SITUATION ETHICS. He photocopied two facing pages where Fletcher gave a telling illustration of his philosophy/theology of love fixes everything and that we should all live by the law of love rather than the law of God. My pastor friend whited out the top of the pages so that the source could not be seen. He then invited the two young antinomian wannabe's to come to his office. He had then sit down and read the photocopied material. When finished they both exclaimed that he had finally got it right and that this is what they had been trying to tell him all along. Then he calmly pulled out the heretical textbook from the 1960's and showed them the source. They were dumbstruck and their gasbag of theology collapsed.)
(Divorcing assurance from the example of Christ)
(How the truth is taught and spoken about--unguarded rhetoric can lead to exaggeration and poisonous application)
CHAPTER 9--TOWARD A DEFINITION AND A SOLUTION
(Revisits the argument of the book and the rather simple, I almost said simplistic, solution.)
Dr. Jones writes to persuade and not just attack. He is a fine example of the teaching theologian, not the polemical theologian ("take no prisoners"). He does one current pastor/teacher/author as an example of clear antinomianism and sloppy rhetoric. And I believe the label is hard-earned. Other popular "Reformed" and "young, restless and Reformed" authors might also have been noted.
If it was in my power, every pastor and lay elder would master this book. The problems are that widespread and often little understood. Some pastors and teachers might even be antinomian in their rhetoric and not even realize it.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
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The past two weeks I have tried to convince you that you need to read Francis Schaeffer. Every pastor, elder, and college student needs to read and digest Schaeffer. It will help you navigate through the culture and arrive safely at the other side. Though Schaeffer is dealing with ideas, books, plays, movies, art and culture issues that were rife in the 70's and 80's, they are still with us today even in a more entrenched form.
Where he said THEN that culture was going, he was right and it is here NOW. To understand how we got here, you need to read Schaeffer.
Today I wanted to go through Schaeffer's works and highlight what you will get out of each.
VOLUME ONE--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF PHILOSOPHY
Book 1--THE GOD WHO IS THERE--analysis of the men, ideas, and cultural issues that have changed our nation over the past forty years.
Book 2--ESCAPE FROM REASON--ditto--or why post-modernism and "everything is relative" controls popular thinking today.
Book 3--HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT--how the Bible teaches we are to understand knowledge. How do we know what we know?
Book 4--BACK TO FREEDOM AND DIGNITY--the loss of the Christian worldview has meant the loss of what it means to be human and special before the Creator-God. We are now viewed as chance configuration of atoms with no meaning or purpose.
VOLUME TWO--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE BIBLE
Book 1--GENESIS IN SPACE AND TIME--how all that we experience and know about reality is found in Genesis and how it must be read to be understood.
Book 2--NO FINAL CONFLICT--biblical interpretation and true science are not in conflict if they stay within their spheres.
Book 3--JOSHUA AND THE FLOW OF BIBLICAL
HISTORY--as the book of Acts connects the life and death of Christ to the apostles and epistles, so Joshua connects the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) to the rest of the Bible.
Book 4--Basic Bible Studies--basics of the Christian life as interpreted through the grid of Francis Schaeffer.
Book 5--Art and the Bible--how to understand the gift of art through its proper biblical lens.
VOLUME THREE--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF SPIRITUALITY
Book 1--NO LITTLE PEOPLE--a great book of sermons of which the first gives it s title to the book. Must reading for every Christian leader and worker. Clear and compelling biblical sermons on subject not always covered.
Book 2--TRUE SPIRITUALITY--the first book Schaeffer wrote but one of the last he published. He shares his own struggles as a young missionary pastor-husband-father-Christian who paid lip service to biblical doctrines but did not factor them into his life properly and how they ravaged his mind, heart, marriage, family and ministry until he came to grips with them.
Book 3--THE NEW SUPER-SPIRITUALITY--Schaeffer saw the 70's charismatic movement as a "new super-spirituality" that was unhealthy as well as unbiblical.
Book 4--TWO CONTENTS; TWO REALITIES--orthodoxy of doctrine must be paired with orthodoxy of community if we are to gain a hearing from the watching world. The world has had enough of talkianity--they want to see its reality lived out.
VOLUME FOUR--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE CHURCH
Book 1--THE CHURCH AT THE END OF THE 20TH
CENTURY--Schaeffer's assessment of the needs and challenges facing the Christian churches.
Book 2--THE CHURCH BEFORE THE WATCHING WORLD
What the churches needed to do to gain back their credibility before the watching world.
Book 3--THE MARK OF THE CHRISTIAN--love for one another!
Book 4--DEATH IN THE CITY--what has happened in the 20th century to the church is like ancient Israel of Jeremiah's time (read Jeremiah 1-2).
Book 5--THE GREAT EVANGELICAL DISASTER--giving up inerrancy leaves the church without a sure base.
VOLUME FIVE--A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE WEST
Book 1--Pollution and the Death of Man--why there is an ecological crisis (dating back to the sins of Eden) and how Christianity is not to blame but autonomous man ("a law unto himself") is to blame.
Book 2--How Should We Then Live ?--the best overview of the last 2000 years of Christian history in the West and how ideas formed the culture we now live in.
Book 3--WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN
RACE ?--how abortion on demand and infanticide along with forced euthanasia of the elderly are the results of fallen man's wrong thinking.
Book 4--A CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO--a call to make a stand for Christ before it is too late.
Please read Francis Schaeffer. If you do not read him, plan not to "get" our culture. Missionaries going to a foreign country want to learn the language in order to communicate. Digest Francis Schaeffer helps you understand this culture you are trying to penetrate for Christ.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM for more book information and details on my new ebook,
COMMENTING AND COMMENTARIES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY.
Last week I told you that we were going to take an excursion into the works of Francis Schaeffer, the 20th century Presbyterian evangelist, apologist, author and founder of the L'Abri study centers around the world (Switzerland, Holland, England, the United States, et al).
I asked you to purchase his wife, Edith's, account of their early years, simply titled L'BRI (means THE SHELTER). You can learn about his growing up in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the working class part of south Philadelphia in a moral but unbelieving home. You can read about Edith growing up in China with Presbyterian missionaries as parents. You can read about Francis becoming interested in ideas, life, eternity and spirituality in late high school and subsequent conversion in reading in the Bible. You can learn about his college years, his matriculation at the young Westminster Theological Seminary and later transferring to Faith Seminary. You can read about his early pastorate in St. Louis and visiting Europe on behalf of his mission board to assess the spiritual needs of the war torn continent. You learn about their going to Switzerland, being forced to move because they were Protestants ministering in a Catholic canton (state). You can learn about their faith ministry and learning to trust God. You come to see L'Abri take shape as God shapes Francis and Edith Schaeffer. They were always a team. One observer noted that Edith'S hospitality and homemade cinnamon rolls won as many to Christ as Francis closely reasoned evangelism and apologetics!
Francis died in 1984; Edith died just last year in 2013. But their ideas and work live on in their books. (Edith was an author too--L'ABRI; AFFLICTION; THE HIDDEN ART OF HOMEMAKING; THE TAPESTRY; LIFELINES; WHAT IS A FAMILY; CHRISTIANITY IS JEWISH; 10 THINGS PARENTS NEED TO TEACH THEIR CHILDREN; etc.)
I am having you read HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? next because it is fairly easy for a beginner to digest. His early books, THE GOD WHO IS THERE; ESCAPE FROM REASON; HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT, and BACK TO FREEDOM AND DIGNITY are more densely written. To make his ideas more readily available, he produced a movie (and later DVD series, HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?) which if you could purchase that (CVBBS.COM carries it) and watch it while reading the book, you would glean so much more understanding and application. It is like taking a helicopter ride over European and American history and philosophy (our way of thinking and looking at the world) from the 1st century to the 20th century. You can see how ideas came and went; ways of thinking changed and the culture changed with it. You can better see how and why we think the way we do at the beginning of the 21st century.
The book has art and photographs and charts to make things clearer. See why the Christian movement upset the thinking of the Roman Empire. Learn how the "Christianization" of Europe made for the Middle Ages. Learn about the rebirth of learning and the cry "Ad Fontes", back to the sources, that made the Renaissance a watershed in western intellectual history. Scholars went back to the original Greek and Roman works themselves rather than read Medieval discussions about them.
Learn about how the Renaissance set the stage for the rebirth of Christianity in the Reformation as Luther and Calvin knew their Bibles and the early church fathers better than the Catholic theologians. Read about how medieval thought caused a log jam in intellectual history that was broken up by the Reformation's return to the Bible as the source of authority and truth.
Schaeffer shows how the post-Reformation period gave rise to the Enlightenment--read "endarkment". Scholars in the West began to throw off the Bible as the source of final truth and placed man and his intellect on the throne as the supreme standard of truth and knowledge. It was not long before science, the handmaid of theology, threw off what it perceived to be the shackles of the Bible and struck out on its own, untethered by the Word of God. Scheaffer shows how science and philosophy began to have real problems because beginning with man himself, humanity could not come up with a way of knowing and seeing that worked and that was not destructive.
Schaeffer liked to use the example of the hundreds of small Roman hump backed bridges over streams and ditches all over Europe which stood for almost two millennia. They stood the test of time when it came to human road traffic and ox carts. But they were never designed to carry a modern 18 wheeled truck with its heavy loads. The bridges began to crumble and break apart under the great weight now being placed upon them. So the ideas and philosophies that rest upon man and man alone could not bear the weight of human life placed upon them. Modern philosophy and modern science began to break down under the stresses of their own arrogance.
Schaeffer, leaning on the work of Dutch Christian nd art critic, Hans Rookmaker, shows how ideas percolate down from the philosophers and educators to art, music, literature and cinema. Schaeffer is brilliant in showing how modern art, modern music, modern literature and modern cinema disseminated the ideas
of the philosophers and academics throughout western civilization.
Ideas have consequences. Western Society is the way it is because of the ideas spread throughout them by the "thinkers" and their disciples (the men and women who write and publish books, make movies, produce paintings and sculptures, make music and write novels. In reading Schaeffer one can come to understand how our nation changed from World War II until today. He even shows how the media often controls our perspective on reality by how it films and covers a story for the evening news.
Take the time, make the effort, turn off the TV and take out your earbuds and read HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE? and learn how we got into this mess and begin to pray that God would be merciful and changes multitudes of hearts before final judgment rains down upon us.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM
He lectured and showed his movies in Indianapolis in 1976 and 1980. When not standing up front lecturing or proctoring his moves (HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE ? and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE ?), he sat in the front row next to his wife, Edith. My wife and I sat in the 2nd row and I was close enough to touch him. (But I did not.). But his work touched me deeply and permanently.
I never managed to screw up my courage to go and meet him. I was a young Christian student worker and he was the man who re-introduced me to the thought world of Western Civilization. I had studied philosophy and Western Civilization not that long ago in college. But there was no thinker or position that made himself or itself to seem to be true or compelling. I knew something of the lives and works of Kant, Leibnitz, Spinoza, Camus, Sartre and all the other big names in western thought, but I could never put their teachings and lives together and have them mean anything to me nor my world.
When I became a Christian in 1969 and had a year and a half of college left, the world began to make sense. Then coming to the doctrines of grace and the Reformed faIth in 1976, Christianity made sense. To use today's language, I learned the meta-narrative that made sense of everything. That is, I had an overarching way of making sense of not only the Bible but the history of mankind and that included western intellectual history.
Francis Schaeffer had become my teacher during 1974-76. After college, I read little that was substantial or mind-expanding. I had 12 books on my bookshelf and my co-workers thought that I was becoming an intellectual! Such was student ministry in the 1970's. But then the name and impact of Francis Schaeffer began to make itself known and I determined I needed to read what this man had to say. As I lay on my sofa each evening trying to read this new author with new words ("true truth", "the mannishness of man", "lower story", "upper story", et al.) and concepts I had forgotten since college (epistemology cosmology, nihilism, existentialism, et al.) I literally got a headache! My brain had gotten lazy and I had not stretched it for years and now it was responding to an author who was opening the world of thought to me. It was thrilling and head-aching at the same time.
It was not long before reading Schaeffer was not a chore nor a headache. And it remained exhilarating and educational. I grew to understand the world I lived in and moved in and had my being in. Schaeffer was a Presbyterian minister turned missionary to Europe turned apologist/evangelist to thousands of disoriented students who visited his little cluster of homes and dorms in a Swiss village so small it did not appear on most maps. But God drew the people there and they came to see two things demonstrated. First, there was Christian love worked out in warm hospitality and respect for others. Next there was the evening discussions and daily lectures, interspersed with working around the place, which opened to these students the wonders of Christianity, the gospel and why the world was the way that it was!
Hundreds of students became Christians and had their lives and outlook on the world changed forever.
While Francis Schaeffer did not coin the term "worldview", his works made the term a household term for reading Christians and taught us what it meant and why it was important. One cannot be a missionary unless one understands the language and thought forms of the people and culture you are seeking to reach with the gospel. So 21st century Christians cannot understand and reach the people of today without some understanding of how people think and what they understand. Francis Schaeffer, though he died in 1984, lives on in his writings.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will try to introduce you to the man and his teachings on Christianity, the Bible, the thought world of modern man and how it works itself out in daily life, motion pictures, art, music, drama, views of the unborn and the elderly, etc. You will learn about hot to put ambition to death, how to listen to music, how to view art, how ti discern the tragic weaknesses of the thinkers who have told us to listen to them and follow their ideas.
And you will come to see, perhaps for the first time, how only biblical Christianity, expressed in the evangelical and Reformed faith, makes sense of the Bible, the world and your life.
To begin, you will need to purchase two books:
L'ABRI by Edith Scheaffer--tells the story of how they met and married, went into the gospel ministry, and ended up in Switzerland with a ministry to students that eventually reached around the world. Shows their human side, living by faith in the promises of God, learning to trust God as they sought to peel back the layers of wrong thinking and show the truthfulness of the Bible and its realistic answers.
HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE ? by Francis Schaeffer
(available as an audio CD or as a paperback book). This is perhaps the simplest way into the works of Scheaffer and he works hardest to explain terms and use illustrations (and photos) to make his points come alive.
In later weeks, we shall look at other of his works and if you like what you read, save up and buy his complete works in 5 volumes from Crossway. (Thank you, Crossway, for keeping these volumes in print.) They are gold.
So, next week we will begin a several week excursion into the life and ministry and writings of Francis (and Edith) Schaeffer and if you stay with me, you will grow as a Christian and more effective tool in the hands of your Savior.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my website,
As I have said in earlier BLOGS, I do not find great help in devotional books as a daily diet. I prefer to read the Scriptures and books of substance and then pray over them and think about them.
But I do use devotional books for my wife and I when we have our devotional time together. We each have our personal devotions at length each morning. But in the evenings we have them together (or during 'crunch time", we might have them anytime). At such times, certain "devotional books" have proven helpful.
For one thing, it is better that I not be the teacher all the time and share the "pearls of wisdom and deep spirituality" that flow from my being (hyperbole). In short, it is better that I too am under the teaching of the Word and not always in the position of being the perpetual teacher who had nothing to learn with my hearers.
So I read aloud the works of others and we discuss them and pray over them together. I have found the following very good.
FOR EVERYDAY READING:
Charles Spurgeon, MORNING AND EVENING; edited
by Alistair Begg; Crossway--this edition has the
advantage of being in updated English and it reads
more smoothly to modern ears. Faithful to the
Scriptures and Spurgeon. Very good. Since we only
read together at night, we can choose which
reading we want for that day.
Jerry Bridges, HOLINESS DAY BY DAY; NavPress--
very helpful readings by the best communicator
of Reformed theology for laymen in America--and
one of my personal heroes!
Richard Rushing, ed.; VOICES FROM THE PAST
(Puritan Devotional Readings); Banner of Truth--
great selection of readings from the cream of the
DAILY READINGS DURING HARD, DARK TIMES:
Charles Spurgeon, BESIDE STILL WATERS; edited by
Roy Clarke; Thomas Nelson--great selection of
Spurgeon to quiet and strengthen the soul during
the darkest of times
L. B. Cowan, STREAMS IN THE DESERT; Zondervan--
one of the most cherished devotional books by
those who are in a desert time in their lives. If you
or a loved one are going through it right now, both
this book and Spurgeon's would be advisable
reading to keep your head and heart above water.
Nancy Guthrie, ONE YEAR BOOK OF HOPE; Tyndale--
a grieving wife and mother found solace for her
soul and shares it day by day. Highly
recommended by those who have used it.
There are many other devotional books available, some better than others. There are books that take you through a particular author (Martin Luther, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones) or sub-group (like the Puritans) that you can use. I wanted to share with you the ones I have found personally most beneficial.
May the Lord bless your devotional times with Him, your spouse, and/or your family.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit my website for more "book things" at:
WHY BOTHER TO STUDY THE BOOK OF REVELATION ?
What do you do with a book that promises a blessing just for reading it, even though you don't
understand it all. (Answer: Read it!) In an age when some can speak with confidence about the ten toes of the beast but not understand how the Ten Command-ments of God function today, or cannot explain justification by faith alone in Christ alone, these works shine as lights in the darkness.
INTRODUCTORY WORKS (Suitable for self-study, small group studies, Sunday School or campus studies)
Geoffrey Wilson, REVELATION; Banner of Truth--fine
place for beginners to study.
Matthew Henry, REVELATION (Crossway Classic
Commentary Series); edited and modernized by
Packer and McGrath. [Henry died when when
commenting on Acts and this along with every-
thing after Acts was done by Puritan peers. Still
Derek Thomas, LET'S STUDY REVELATION; Banner of
Truth--Both a Pastor and a Professor Thomas is
always good and this is a good series to be good in!
Leon Morris, THE REVELATION (Tyndale New
Testament Commentary Series); IVP--one of the
very best in the whole series--thorough, clear,
Richard Bewes, THE LAMB WINS! (A Guided Tour
Through The Book of Revelation); Christian Focus--
D.A. Carson highly recommends Bewes ability to
make the central theme clear and relevant.
Paul Gardner, REVELATION (The Compassion and
Protection of Christ); Christian Focus--Former
seminary lecturer and now pastor, Dr. Gardner
gives us beginners real help.
Michael Wilcock, THE MESSAGE OF REVELATION (The
Bible Speaks Today); IVP--very helpful treatment.
J. Ramsey Michaels, REVELATION (IVP New Testament
Commentary); IVP--one of the very best in this
series. Michaels understands how to treat and
Vern Poythress, THE RETURNING KING (A Guide to
the Book of Revelation); P & R--a helpful
introduction to the "recapitulation" view of
Amillenialism, popularized by William Hendrickson's
MORE THAN CONQUERORS.
Jay Adams, THE TIME IS AT HAND (Prophecy and the
Book of Revelation); Timeless Texts
INTERMEDIATE LEVEL HELPS ON REVELATION (for those who want to go deeper and gather more details and theology)
Marvin Pate, ed., FOUR VIEWS OF THE BOOK OF
REVELATION; Zondervan--contributions by partial-
preterist (Kenneth Gentry); Idealist/Amillenial
(Sam Hamstra); Progressive Dispensationalist
(Marvin Pate) & Classical Dispensationalist (Robert
Steve Gregg, ed., REVELATION: FOUR VIEWS, A
PARALLEL COMMENTARY; Thomas Nelson--surveys
historicist, preterist, futurist and ideal (amillenial)
William Hendrickson, MORE THAN CONQUERORS;
Baker Books (partial preterist amillenial)
Dennis Johnson, TRIUMPH OF THE LAMB (A
Commentary on Revelation); P. & R. --a fine
commentary with just enough details but not
enough to get really bogged down.
Craig Keener, REVELATION (NIV Application
Commentary); Zondervan--excellent help
for the communicator here. I am very keen about
Keener's work (Sorry, but I had to say it some
time. He is a very good evangelicaL scholar!)
Simon Kistemaker, REVELATION; Baker (amillenial)--
great on theology for the teacher.
Robert Mounce, REVELATION (NEW INTERNATIONAL
COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT);
Eerdmans (historical pre-millenial)
Alan Johnson, REVELATION (Expositors Bible
Commentary: Revised); Zondervan--a good
handling of Revelation in a small space. (Historical
George Ladd, REVELATION; Eerdmans (historical
George R. Beasley-Murray, REVELATION; Eerdmans
Phillip E. Hughes, THE BOOK OF REVELATION (PILLAR
COMMENTARY; Eerdmans (amillenial)
Mark Wilson, CHARTS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION
(Literary, Historical and Theological Perspectives);
James B. Ramsey, REVELATION (Geneva Commentary
Series); Banner of Truth--stopped by the author's
early death, it only covers the first eleven chapters.
Charles Hodge and Charles Spurgeon both liked
what they read. Hmmmm.
Andrew Fuller, "Expository Discourses on the Book of
Revelation", THE COMPLETE WORKS OF ANDREW
FULLER (3 vol.); Sprinkle Publications-- or one
volume, edited by Michael Haykin, Banner of Truth.
There are larger and more detailed commentaries (e.g. Greg Beale's REVELATION (New International Greek Commentary Series) and expositions (e.g. A. James Hamilton, REVELATION (The Spirit Speaks To The Churches) [Preach the Word Series]; Crossway--Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor/ pastor shows how we might preach Revelation to folks today.)
You should have enough to keep you busy and keep you in Revelation for some time.
May the Lord bless your studies.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit my website for more book and spiritual info:
Wow! How's that for promotion bordering on hyperbole! But I am dead serious. Reading the right things with the right attitude can truly change your life forever.
How does this happen? God the Holy Spirit uses the reading of the right books, on top of reading your Bible and hearing your pastor's sermons (with a humble, teachable attitude) as means to transform your mind.
Paul urges Christians to be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1-2). Proverbs says that "as a man thinks in his heart, so he is". The mind is the captain of the soul. It is meant to guide and lead the believer. The informed mind enflames the heart. And the informed mind and enflamed heart move the will. Ideas really do have consequences, for good or for ill.
Some of you may already be wondering why I am not recommending "devotional books". Well, I whole-heartedly agree with C. S. Lewis that reading a book of biblical or systematic theology or applied theology with a pencil in one's hand (to take notes) and a pipe between one's teeth (optional in light of the Surgeon General's warnings about tobacco smoke) was the best way to grow and learn and be transformed by reading. Reading a "devotional book" may aim for your feelings (and a bit of your will) but by-pass your mind and only give you momentary feelings ("a quiver in the liver") and fleeting commitments rather that deeper transformation.
I challenge you to humbly, prayerfully read the following books in 2014 and see if you are not transformed in the process.
A YEAR'S WORTH OF READING FOR LAYMEN:
1. Geoff Thomas, THE SURE WORD OF GOD;
Reformation Heritage--a great primer on the Word
of God and its rightful place in our hearts and our
lives and our churches.
2. David Clodfelter, SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF A
GOOD GOD (Reconciling Divine Judgment and
Mercy) ; Moody Press--the author, a pastor,
explains how he came to see and embrace what
the Scriptures teach on the plight of all mankind
and the gracious God who sovereignly saves sinners.
A sweet and gracious presentation of biblical
3. Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, THE GREAT
EXCHANGE (My Sin For His Righteousness);
Crossway--the great popularizer of Reformed
theology for laymen tracks the doctrine of
justification by faith alone by Christ alone through
the New Testament epistles. Sinclair Ferguson's
Forward is worth the price of the book!
4. Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, THE BOOKENDS
OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE; Crossway--takes the
above cited book and applies it to everyday life
along with the power of God the Holy Spirit to
transform the believer. Ought to be mastered by
5. Geoffrey Thomas, THE HOLY SPIRIT; Reformation
Heritage Books--who He is and what He does and
why you should know this material thoroughly.
6. Jerry Bridges, THE GOSPEL FOR REAL LIFE;
NavPress--shows what Christ did in His atonement
and its everyday applications which are so profound.
Should be mastered by every professing Christian,
laymen or pastor!
7. Kevin DeYoung, THE HOLE IN OUR HOLINESS;
Crossway--think of this book as an updating of
Jerry Bridges' THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS but
in more contemporary idiom. A fine book on the
subject that remaining, indwelling sin would never
have us study!
8. Paul Miller, A PRAYING LIFE (Connecting with God
in a Distracting World); NavPress--one of the half
dozen best books on prayer that exist. And the
seminar which you can bring to your church is
outstanding--think of it as jumper cables for a
cold heart! Imagine studying prayer that does
not so much produce guilt as it produces prayer!
9. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION: ITS
CAUSE AND CURES; Eerdmans--THE CLASSIC
WORK on why Christians get down and sidelined
and how to regain spiritual health. A masterpiece!
10. Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD (Even When Life
Hurts); NavPress--the first treatment (in the 20th
century in English) and for my money the best
and most practical book on the providence
of God (the hand of the sovereign God in the
glove of my circumstances). A true sanity saver!
11. S. M. Houghton, SKETCHES FROM CHURCH
HISTORY; Banner of Truth--imagine a history
book that you will read, understand and enjoy!
It even has many excellent pictures and photos.
What happened to Christ's church after the death
of Christ's Apostles? How did we get from Paul to
today? Here's the best place to start.
12. Ted Donnelly, THE BIBLE'S TEACHING ON
HEAVEN AND HELL; Banner of Truth--contains
the most thrilling and the most sober thoughts
you may ever think! Heaven is seen to be
amazingly wonderful and hell is seen to be
unthinkably terrible. Such will be the reality for
the sheep and the goats at the end of time.
A YEAR'S WORTH OF READING FOR THE PASTOR:
1. Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson, eds.;
FALLEN: A THEOLOGY OF SIN; Crossway--
Presbyterian and Baptist theologians give us one
of the best treatments in print about sin--what it
is, where it came from, what it does, etc. Proper
diagnosis precedes faithful application of the cure!
2. Matthew Barrett, SALVATION BY GRACE (The Case
for Effectual Calling and Regeneration); P & R--
if God did not elect and call sinners there would be
no salvation. Revisit why the grace of God is
absolutely necessary if anyone is to be saved.
3. Robert Peterson, SALVATION BY THE SON (The
Work of Christ); Crossway--fall in love with the
Savior all over again!
4. David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson, eds.; FROM
HEAVEN HE CAME AND SOUGHT HER (Definite
Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological and
Pastoral Perspective); Crossway--for now THE
DEFINITIVE TREATMENT of definite or limited
atonement. Why its too simple to say: He got
what He paid for!
5. Mark Jones, ANTINOMIANISM (Reformed Theology's
Unwelcome Guest ?); P & R--what are the various
manifestations of antinomianism in history and
today and why they are exhibit a profound loss or
misunderstanding of the work of Christ.
6. Carl Trueman, THE CREEDAL IMPERATIVE;
Crossway--written for non-creedal churchmen
but still very applicable to churchmen from
confessional churches who don't quite get it.
As my church history professor said at the
beginning of our first church history class at an
evangelical seminary: "Arminians always go
liberal first--they are already down the road to
giving up the gospel" (paraphrase). And find out
why confessional Calvinistic churches are the devil's
keenest objectives to overthrown!
7. Brian Vickers, JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE THROUGH
FAITH (Finding Freedom from Legalism,
Lawlessness, Pride and Despair); P & R--just what
the title says. Do I believe these precious truths?
Do I practice these precious truths? Do I preach
these precious truths?
8. G. K. Beale, WE BECOME WHAT WE WORSHIP (A
Biblical Theology of Idolatry); IVP--THE DEFINITIVE
BOOK on how idolatry dishonors God, deceives
God's people and ruins men's lives!
9. Christopher Morgan & Robert Peterson, eds.; THE
GLORY OF GOD; Crossway--a stellar selection of
noted scholars shows what the Bible teaches about
the glory of God and its personal, pastoral and
missional applications. You know the verse: "For all
have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God"
(Romans 3:23). What does it mean?
10. Christopher Morgan & Robert Peterson, eds.;
THE KINGDOM OF GOD; Crossway--again, the
editors give us gold as they gather several
Presbyterian and Baptist and free church scholars
to look at what Christ came to establish and which
requires the new birth to enter.
11. Kenneth Stewart, TEN MYTHS ABOUT CALVINISM
(Recovering the Breadth and Width of the
Reformed Tradition); IVP--confronts and confutes
four myths that Calvinists should not be
circulating, but are and six myths non-Calvinists
should not be circulating, but are. A very
important book for Calvinists and non-Calvinists
12. TWO SMALL PAPERBACKS COUNT AS ONE BOOK
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, AUTHORITY (of Christ, of the
Scriptures and of the Holy Spirit); Banner of Truth
a unique book of just three chapters. The authority
of the Lord Christ, the authority of His Word, the
Bible, and the authority of God the Holy Spirit
which He gives to preachers and churches (and
which can be lost). Ought to be read annually by
all church leaders!
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE PLIGHT OF MAN AND THE
POWER OF GOD; Eerdmans (Forward by Mark
Dever); Preached in Scotland to divinity school
students during World War II, Dr. Lloyd-Jones
shows fallen man's condition in Romans 1 and the
only cure according to the Word of God. This too
ought to be read annually by church officers!
May the God of all grace meet with you this year and transform you more and more into the likeness of Christ.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my website for more information about
books, God and the glory of belonging to Christ:
It is a couple of days before Christmas and not even UPS is going to get your gifts to you in two days in this chaotic and cluttered time of the year. So I am recommending that you plan now to get your pastor or pastoral intern or seminary student or assistant pastor a gift in 2014. Why would I do this when you are thinking of ways to be creative to pay for your 2013 Christmas buying?
There are two reasons you should give your pastor (or one of the other men mentioned above) a good gift in 2014.
The first is that you owe so much to this man, your pastors, under God. We don't often see or think this. Why? American Christians, steeped in individualism and humming Frank Sinatra (or Elvis) singing, "I Did It My Way" (which by the way is the # 1 song on the jukebox in hell) have it backward in the following sense. Christianity is not about us. Christianity is about God and the Being that He is in Three-Fold Unity. Christianity is not about us BUT it includes us. We think our private devotional time with God is most important and the Sunday services of the gathered church are but icing on the cake. This is backwards. According to the New Testament (and the Reformers and the Puritans), the meeting of the gathered church on the Lord's Day is even more important than our private devotions. Why? In a faithful church. there is the preaching of the Word of God by a man called by God for just this purpose and also equipped by God to do it! The average layman is not going to see as much in his/her Bible as a called and gifted and trained pastor. On the whole, the faithful layman with their private devotional time does not as see as much of the riches of the Word of God as the faithful pastor. Nor will the truths be brought to bear on the hearts and lives of the all the saints as the faithful pastor will bring the Word to bear.
Second, the New Testament teaches that faithful pastor-teachers are God's good gift to His churches (Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 13:17). One way to express your faith and trust in God is to thank Him for the good gifts He gives to you, as you become aware of them (James 1:17). And surely one of his best gifts is a faithful pastor. He has probably spent years getting training to go along with his calling from God to be a shepherd of souls. He has spent tens of thousands of dollars getting trained in seminary for his calling--money that will not be repaid to him in this life. A faithful man thinks about you and prays for you during the week--not just when you have a crisis. Your understanding of God and His eternal purposes and where you fit in as a faithful churchman are so colored and filled in by your faithful pastor.
Having given faithful pastors a plug, let me give you some truly helpful and edifying books that you can give to your pastor (or other men in training).
Bryan Chappell, ed.; THE HARDEST SERMONS YOU
WILL EVER HAVE TO PREACH; Zondervan--25 sermons on the toughest situations one will face in the ministry at a funeral by many of the top evangelical and Reformed preachers today. A goldmine for the faithful shepherd. Awful things can happen in this fallen world and preachers are expected to bring the Word of God to bear upon them at funerals. A great idea faithfully carried out.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, AUTHORITY (of Jesus Christ, of
the Scriptures, and of the Holy Spirit); Banner of
Truth--the greatest preacher of the 20th century
shows in three short chapters where "authority"
in the pulpit comes from, how a preacher has it or
doesn't have it, how it is lost and how it is regained
Should be read every year by every minister of the
gospel ! It is an altogether unique book.
Michael Haykin, THE REFORMERS AND PURITANS AS
SPIRITUAL MENTORS; Joshua Press--Professor
Haykin has a heart for the church and the
academy. He teaches at The Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Louisville. He teaches
Church History and Christian Spirituality. He is
rightly concerned to understand how Christians
relate to their God and how this relationship is
carried out. This book shows various Refomers and
Puritans and what they can teach the humble and
William Tyndale--father of the English Bible,
Thomas Cranmer--setting forth Christ's glory,
John Calvin--praising the Father, Son, H.S,
John Knox and James Ussher--regeneration and
Richard Greenham--Puritan soul care,
Oliver Cromwell--secret refreshment,
John Owen--teaching biblical piety,
Richard Baxter--how to grieve the loss of your
beloved wife and
John Bunyan--prayer in the Holy Spirit.
And the King James Bible can teach us too.
A most valuable book.
Iain H. Murray, HEROES; Banner of Truth--much
like the above mentioned book by Haykin, this book
both stirs the soul and instructs the teachable.
Valuable for ministers and missionaries and the
reading Christian. Some of Murray's heroes are
somewhat familiar to you, but some I bet you
never heard of. Heaven will be full of people like
the unsung pastors and missionaries Murray alerts
Arthur Bennett, THE VALLEY OF VISION; Banner of Truth--a priceless collection of Puritan and Evangelical Awakening preachers and pastors' prayers put in the form of a devotional. And what a devotional! Acclaimed by all and in three formats: paperback for yourself and leather to give as a gift. And audio CD's to listen to in the car--for yourself on the way to work and for your pastor too.
May the Lord give you discernment as to how much good you have gained from the gifted men he has put in your life and may you be big hearted and generous in giving them a lasting gift of thanksgiving.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my website with other material on books and lots of devotional encouragements for pastors and elders and engaged laymen