Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

41qbl4zea4l-_ac_us218_One of the most famous books and oft-used texts on preaching is Between Two Worlds by John Stott. First published in 1982, it contains some thoughts on the future of technology that we might snicker at in 2018. To hear Stott ‘prophesy’ about computers and the Internet is a bit amusing.

However, I give him some credit. His assessment far exceeded that of one of my instructors in college, who said in 1986 that with the 386-processor, technology had reached its max because any further ‘speed’ would cause the processor chip to melt due to the heat it generated, and further, the size of the chip was maxed out, allowing no room for expansion. I am not sure that instructor is still instructing… and that Stott outlasted him in ministry!

But amusement aside, Stott was certainly prophetic with the following statement concerning the importance of the local church in the technological age, an age we now know far exceeded his projections – projections that lacked understanding of the social media age of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

It is difficult to imagine the world in the year A.D. 2000, by which time versatile micro-processors are likely to be as common as simple calculators are today. We should certainly welcome the fact that the silicon chip will transcend human brain-power, as the machine has transcended human muscle-power. Much less welcome will be the probable reduction of human contact as the new electronic network renders personal relationships ever less necessary. In such a dehumanized society the fellowship of the local church will become increasingly important, whose members meet one another, and talk and listen to one another in person rather than on screen. In this human context of mutual love the speaking and hearing of the Word of God is also likely to become more necessary for the preservation of our humanness, not less. [Between Two Worlds, p. 69]

Meet and speak to one another — real words, not Tweets. Meet and see one another — in person, not on screen. Meet and love one another — in action, not just a Facebook greeting. I am thankful for the opportunity that social media provides us – but it can never replace the importance of community – where we gather together in the name of Christ and fellowship/commune together with Him. Necessary – for our humanness – and for our Christianity.


The Church: Witness-oriented

Posted: Thursday, February 8, 2018 in Books, Church, Preaching

Here is the third of J. I. Packer’s three requirements regarding the necessity of preaching in the church, along with a summary, 51gpy8n94bl-_ac_us218_taken from his Introduction to The Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art edited by Samuel T Logan, Jr. The first was that the church is to be Word-oriented and the greatest means given by God for that to be accomplished is through the preaching of that Word. The second is that preaching is central to the worship of the church. And finally, the church is to be witness-oriented.

Finally, the church must be witness-oriented: that is, God’s people must always be seeking to move out into the world around them to make Christ known and disciple the lost, and to that end they must “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give a reason for the hope that [they] have” (I Pet. 3:15). Apart from the preaching of the Word, however, the church will never have the resources to do this; it will constantly tend to forget its identity as the people charged to go and tell, and may actually lose its grip on the contents of its own message, as it has done many times in the past. History tells us of no significant church growth and expansion that has taken place without preaching (significant, implying virility and staying power, is the key word there). What history points to, rather, is that all movements of revival, reformation, and missionary outreach seem to have had preaching (vigorous, though on occasion very informal) at their center, instructing, energizing, sometimes purging and redirecting, and often spearheading the whole movement. It would seem, then, that preaching is always necessary for a proper sense of mission to be evoked and sustained anywhere in the church.

Thus preaching is able to maintain the church’s sense of identity and calling as the people charged to attend to God’s Word, to obey it as His children, and to spread it as His witnesses. But there seems no way in which without preaching the eroding of this awareness can be avoided. [pp. 20-21

The Church: Worship-oriented

Posted: Friday, February 2, 2018 in Books, Church, Preaching

51gpy8n94bl-_ac_us218_Today I offer the second of J. I. Packer’s three requirements regarding the necessity of preaching in the church, taken from his Introduction to The Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art edited by Samuel T Logan, Jr. The first was that the church is to be Word-oriented and the greatest means given by God for that to be accomplished is through the preaching of that Word. The second is that preaching is central to the worship of the church.

The church must also be worship-oriented: that is, God’s people must regularly celebrate what God is and has done and will do, and glorify His name for it all by their praises, prayers, and devotion. The preaching of the Bible is the mainspring of this worship, for it fuels the devotional fire, constantly confronting Christians with God’s works and ways and saving them (redeeming, regenerating, forgiving, accepting, adopting, guarding, guiding, keeping, feeding), and thereby leading them into paths of obedience and adoring response. Indeed, from this standpoint biblical preaching is implicit doxology throughout; the biblical preacher will follow Scripture in giving God glory for His works, ways, and wisdom at every turn, and will urge His hearers to do the same. This is the first reason why preaching should be regarded as the climax of congregational worship. From this flows the second reason, namely that congregations never honor God more than by reverently listening to His Word with a full purpose of praising and obeying Him once they see what He has done and is doing, and what they are called to do. But it is precisely through preaching that these things are made clear and this purpose is maintained. [p. 20]

Have this in mind, proclaimer and listener, shepherd and sheep, as you prepare for the Lord’s Day this Sunday.

Packer on Expository Preaching

Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 in Books, Church, Culture, Preaching

51gpy8n94bl-_ac_us218_The following is from J. I. Packer’s introduction (Why Preach?) to and excellent resource on preaching, The Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art. His third point is that preaching focuses and identifies the calling of the church as no other activity does. He rightly asserts that this is an argument drawn from the nature of the church, as we learn it from Scripture. He goes on:

In every age the church has had an identity problem, and in some ages and identity crisis. Why? Because the world always wants to assimilate the church to itself and thereby swallow it up, and is always putting the church under pressure to that end; and to such pressure the church, at least in the West, has constantly proved very vulnerable. The results of it can be seen today in the extremely weak sense of identity that many churches have. Their adherents think of them more as social clubs, like Shriners, Elks, Freemasons, and Rotarians, or as interest groups, like political parties and hikers’ associations, than as visible outcrops of one supernatural society, and they are quite unable to give substance to the biblical thought that God’s people, as the salt and light for the world, are required to be different from those around them. The problem is perennial, and there is always need to proclaim the Bible, its gospel, its Christ, and its ethics, in order to renew the church’s flagging awareness of its God-given identity and vocation. Preaching is the only activity that holds out any hope of achieving this; but preaching can do it by keeping before Christian minds God’s threefold requirement that His people be Word-oriented, worship-oriented, and witness-oriented. [p. 19]

He goes on to reflect on those three requirements – and I will provide those in the three blogs that follow.

For today, preacher, be reminded that we are not called to solve the world’s problems in the world’s ways or issues of today in the wisdom of the world. We are to preach the Word and the Christ of the Word in the power of the Spirit for the sake of our own flocks, the greater Church, and for the world. That, and that alone, is our hope of glory!

The Christian Armor (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Posted: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 in Books, Puritans

If you keep up with me on Twitter or on Facebook you know I have been reading numerous works in preparing for Ephesians 6:10-20—The Christian Armor. I thought you might be interested in a few inexpensive items to ask for Christmas and wanted to pass along a few titles for you to consider. There are numerous books published on spiritual warfare that are not biblical so I wanted to steer you in a right direction.

515687The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (3-volumes, modern abridgment)

I am usually a stickler for the original but this one can be trusted (thank you Banner of Truth). Note the following endorsements from some fairly influential men:

John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” said, “If I might read only one book beside the Bible, I would choose The Christian in Complete Armour.” Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Gurnall’s work is peerless and priceless; every line is full of wisdom; every sentence is suggestive.” David Wilkerson, author of The Cross and the Switchblade, wrote, “The Christian in Complete Armour should be in the library of every man and woman of God.”

Daily Readings from The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall, ed. James Bell, Jr.

5143mb29zdl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks

‘Not only did the book help me in the area of dealing with Christians in my own soul – relating to doubt or assurance – it also helped me in application, in preaching. In fact, [Precious Remedies] may have helped me in application in preaching more than any other book I’ve ever read.’ – Ligon Duncan

Brooks treated the seductive influence and terrible power of Satan in a way greatly more full and suggestive than in the literature of the present day.

Brooks lists seven reasons for writing this book. The first reason is enough…Brooks says, Satan hath a greater influence upon men, and higher advantages over them than they think he hath, and the knowledge of his high advantage is the highway to disappoint him, and to render the soul strong in resisting, and happy in conquering.

51hvqz1g1gl-_ac_us218_The Christian Soldier by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This is vol. 8 in the 8-volume set of sermons that Lloyd-Jones preached at Westminster Chapel on Ephesians 6:10-20. The previous volume, The Christian Warfare, is a series of expositions on Ephesians 6:10-13. Combined, 52 sermons on the Christian armor!


Stand Firm by Peter Jeffery

This little gem is out of print but used copies are plentiful.



587830Stand: Putting on the Full Armor of God by Warren W. Wiersbe




That should get you through the holidays…

Luther on Christ as Bridegroom

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 in Books, Gospel, Marriage, Reformation

51jhmpyz8ql-_ac_us200_The following is quoted by Sinclair Ferguson in The Legacy of Luther, chapter 7:

“Faith unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom… it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil. Accordingly the believing soul can boast and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were its own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as his own. Let us compare these and we shall see inestimable benefits. Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s; for if Christ is a bridegroom, he must take upon himself the things that are his bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are his. If he gives her his body and very self, how shall he not give her all that is his? And if he takes the body of the bride, how shall he not take all that is hers?… Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace?” (R. C. Sproul, Stephen J. Nichols. The Legacy of Luther (Kindle Locations 3570-3576). Ligonier Ministries, Inc. – USA.)

The bride got the better deal… Glory be to God!

Book Review: The Martyrs of Malatya

Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 in Book review, Books, Missions

We live in dangerous times in the West. The attacks of ISIS and radical Islamists around the world are real. These attacks are born out of a misguided understanding of Christianity and the Word of God. These misunderstandings are brought to light in this excellent biographical work on the martyrdom of three men in eastern Turkey city of Malatya. This is the story of Necati, Uğur, and Tilmann, three men who gave their lives to Christ and for Christ in the land they loved.

James Wright (pen name) gives to us a valuable tool for evangelism to Muslims through the testimonies of these men. First, he reveals the key tenets of Islam against Christianity. Many in the West think the Islamic animosity is founded solely on the Crusades centuries ago where ruthless men took the lives of thousands of Muslims “in the name of Christ.” However, the Crusades are only mentioned once in this book, and then indirectly. The major disagreements of Islam over against the Christian comes from what they are taught – a teaching that is incorrect and if compared to the Scriptures are found to be so. They are taught that the Scriptures have been changed from the original writings, that Christians worship three gods, and that the Christians real agenda in missions is to “undermine the political and social unity of the state by setting religious sects against one another and partnering with the PKK and Israel” (p. 184 – part of one of the murderers “defense”). These are things that children are taught in their textbooks (at least the first two) at an early age. Radical Islam would take these things to an extreme and embrace the falsehood of evil intentions of missionaries from the West, as illustrated by the “onion” (p. 96 – you will need to see for yourself!). Wright also offers a good historical background for how these beliefs came to be. As part of that history, however, Wright shows how the seeds of faith were planted along the way in the very region where this tragic event took place.

Wright also shows how these men came to faith in Christ. Tilmann, being a German, had what we might consider a more typical testimony whose heart for the Muslims was formed while in Indonesia and further by his future wife. Necati, a Turk, came to faith in Christ as a young woman patiently listened to his questions about Christianity and led him to Christ. She also became his wife! And Uğur, a Turk, who followed Christ after a self-study about Christ and the Word of God where he determined that what he had been taught as a child about both were incorrect. In all three men, we find the power of God at work.

Their martyrdom ranks with all the great saints whose lives were taken because of their testimony in Christ. Faithfulness, Jesus said, will come with suffering and persecution in this world – to test our faith, the faith of others, and to provide and example to others of the love of Christ. While the lives of these three men might fade from the pages of history, they will never fade from the book of life and the pages of eternity. And the mark they left in Turkey needs today, 8 years after this tragedy, to be remembered not just in Turkey, but around the world. May we learn to love our enemies as they loved theirs…

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.