Posts Tagged ‘Book review’

The Truth of the Cross

Posted: May 19, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Christians actually do not celebrate Easter only once a year, but instead gather to worship Jesus Christ as our risen Lord, Savior, and King every Sunday. In addition to reading Scripture passages about the crucifixion and resurrection leading up to Easter, I have often found it helpful to read good books as well. One year, I read D.A. Carson’s book Scandalous and I highly recommend it. (It’s even on sale right now for $2.99 on Kindle.) This year, I picked up R.C. Sproul’s book, The Truth of the Cross. I have really liked previous books by Sproul and so I was excited to read this one as well…. I was not disappointed.

The book is really an explanation of the gospel with an emphasis on what was accomplished on the cross by Jesus. This is so important today because many people, even so-called Christians, do not believe in justification by faith alone. Sproul says, “It’s not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It’s assumed that all one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.”

Scripture teaches that all people are sinners and that we all deserve the wrath of God (Romans 3). This is just. Human beings pay lip-service to justice, but when we are the guilty party we cry out for mercy. God doesn’t ignore sin. God doesn’t avoid sin. God hates sin and He will pour out his wrath on sin. Sproul’s money quote is that we have committed “cosmic treason” against a holy God. Jesus Christ became sin for us on the cross so that we might become the righteousness of God.(2 Corinthians 5:21). That is amazing! Sproul puts it this way: “Christ’s supreme achievement on the cross is that He placated the wrath of God, which would burn against us were we not covered by the sacrifice of Christ.”

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It will help you see sin more clearly, which will help you appreciate the cross more fully, and in turn, you will worship God more fully.

I was reading a book that I picked up for free the other day, and this book was worth every penny. It’s called Ir-rev-rend, and it was written by a pastor of a large church in South Carolina. He had good intentions in writing the book. He says he wanted to tell stories and help people in their faith. I think he was trying let people know that pastors are real people by telling cute stories that were supposed to be funny. Overall, I did not think the book was funny, cute, or faith-building. It had a few good stories, but I don’t think it would help someone in their Christian faith because I don’t remember him talking about Jesus or the gospel at all. 

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One of the worst stories in the book was when he mentioned that he did not like to tell people that he was a pastor whenever they asked him what he did for a living. I can relate to what he was saying. It’s interesting because some people will clam up when they find out I’m a pastor, some will take a more defensive posture, and some will start sharing stuff with me that I never asked about. But no matter how people react, as pastors, we cannot apologize, gloss over, or even misrepresent what we do. The author of the book “joked” that his response to such a questions is to respond by saying that he is a “behavior modification specialist who does weekend lectures.” As I think about my calling as a pastor, I don’t even think for a second that I would come up with an answer (even jokingly) such as this. In my short time as a pastor, I have come to realize that I cannot change anyone’s behavior. Granted, maybe I could make a rule and force people to follow it for a short time. But I have not modified their behavior long term or have changed their heart at all. Only God can do that through the Holy Spirit. Secondly, when pastors preach they are not giving a lecture, but rather proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ through God’s Word. I understand that his answers and much of this book was written in a light hearted manner. But after reading this book, it makes me wonder if other pastors sincerely focus on changing people’s behavior by giving a lecture instead of preaching God’s Word to affect people’s hearts. 

What is Reformed Theology?

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Book Reviews
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My review of R.C. Sproul’s book: What is Reformed Theology: Understanding the basics: 
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Honestly, I can’t remember where I got this book. I didn’t even really plan on reading the whole thing when I got it. I looked at the table of contents and thought that the chapter on “Covenant theology” would be helpful as I have been learning how the role of covenants have played into God’s relationship with humankind. The first three pages caught my attention with a story that the author told about visiting a Christian college in the Midwest. He made a distinction between the study of “religion” and the study of “theology” and why it was important. I kept reading and am glad I did. This book is simple to understand, yet deep in truth. I stopped highlighting because there were two many succinct, profound statements here. 
 
Many people would begin an explanation of Reformed Theology with TULIP. However, Sproul used the first half of the book to build a foundation of Reformed doctrine. It begins with, and is centered on, God. Next, we build on that with God’s Word and the third stone is that it is committed to faith alone. The next two concepts begin to differentiate Reformed doctrine from others: It is built on the offices of prophet, priest, and king, and the covenants of the Bible. These make complete sense to me which is why the TULIP becomes a logical conclusion. However, he adjusts the acrostic, TULIP, to help explain it better. And his explanation was extremely helpful. 
 
All of the five points of Reformed theology rest on the “T” of TULIP: Total depravity. However, Sproul’s definitions make much more sense because we know that no one is as bad as they could be. Therefore, the distinction of man’s sinfulness (aka corruption) is not in degree, but in extent. The five points are then better understood as 1) Humanity’s radical corruption, 2) God’s sovereign choice, 3) Christ’s purposeful atonement, 4) The Spirit’s effective call, and 5) God’s preservation of the saints. 
 
The subtitle of this book is “Understanding the basics.” I completely agree and wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interesting in the study of God. 

A review of Heaven Is For Real

Posted: January 3, 2012 in Book Reviews
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Other than the writing being childlike and annoying (how many times did I read “my head was spinning”?), my biggest complaint about the book is the lack of the gospel. There was no mention of sin, man’s need for a savior, Jesus’ death as the penalty for sin, a person’s need to receive salvation by faith in Christ, or God’s forgiveness of our sins.

For example, according to chapter 13 (52% in Kindle) it appears as  if the author does not believe in the depravity of man. He says that childlike humility is “the time before we have accumulated enough pride or position to care what other people might think.” According to the Bible we are sinful from the time we are conceived (Psalm 51:5). Proverbs 22:15 teaches that that the heart of a child does not contain humility, but folly… which is also a good summary of this book. Therefore salvation, according to the author, would not come through the work of Jesus but in a return to child-likeness. He states, “The same un-self-conscience honesty…is what is required to enter heaven.” According to the Bible, entrance to heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23, John 17:3). From the book, it’s unclear where the author or his family stands with relation to salvation. Are they saved by works, by Colton’s experiences, or by Jesus’ death and resurrection? In the timeline at the end of book they say that in 1982 Todd heard and accepted God’s call into ministry. They do not mention when Todd became a Christian. In my opinion this book is a work of fiction. However, the truthfulness of the story is irrelevant because it is unbiblical. The Bible is the only thing necessary for faith and salvation (Luke 16:31).