For some, the thought of reading the Bible can be quite daunting. Many view the Bible as a collection of books they just cannot seem to relate to due to the strange language, events, and people it describes. In an effort to help those who fall into that category as well as people who may even feel they have a good handle on what Scripture has to say appreciate the overall message God has provide in His word, Dr. Mark Dever has written What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible.
This little book is indeed a very quick overview of the entire Bible. Dever’s intent is not to engage every single nuance found throughout Scripture. Conversely, his approach is to provide the reader with a solid background of and insight into God’s message to humanity as revealed in Scripture, namely one of promises made, promises fulfilled, and promises yet to be fulfilled all wrapped up in the great hope we can have in God and His faithfulness to His people.
The three studies provided in this book came about from a series of sermons Dever gave to his church that have been edited into book format. Dever divides this book into “The Message of the Whole Bible”, “The Message of the Old Testament”, and “The Message of the New Testament” with the first two sections further divided into a quick overview, discussions on the particular history being addressed, the passion for holiness exhibited by God, and the promise of hope contained in Scripture. The final section takes a slightly different approach with the focus being the promise of redemption kept through the coming of Christ with additional discussion taking place on the body of Christ, concluding with a notation of the future promise of the final redemption of all things which will take place when Christ returns.
As one who has had the opportunity to read a number of large and small introductions to the message and contents of Scripture, I will submit that despite its somewhat diminutive size in comparison to the larger and more extensive insight of Scripture available on the market today, Dever’s effort is one of my favorite biblical overviews. It is a favorite not due to the number of footnotes (for which there is none), the extensive bibliography (for which there is none), or the interaction with other scholarly works (for which there is very little if any). It is a favorite because of its simplistic profundity, meaning Dever brilliantly captures the overall flow of Scripture in a way that reminds everyone from the most seasoned brilliant theological minds to the newest believer of what exactly God has been up to since the beginning, namely the movement towards redemption. That is the crux of all of Scripture and Dever ably drives home that message at every opportunity.
What is also useful is the overview Dever provides of each book of the Bible. There are many books Christians unfortunately never take time to read and many of those reside in the Minor Prophet section of the Bible. Dever shares a short yet informative overview of every book of Scripture in a way that helps people appreciate how the message of that particular book fits into the greater overarching message of Scripture. If you have never thought about reading Nahum or Habbakuk, after reading Dever’s book I submit you will suddenly find an interest in those oft neglected books.
I highly recommend this book for all believers and I especially recommend that churches keep a large stash of this book available to provide to new believers. This is an excellent tool for new believers to have as they begin their lifelong journey reading God’s Word and appreciating its message of hope.
This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.
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The issue of origins and how to interpret the message of Genesis is for some low on their theological radar and for others a source of great concern. The question of whether how one views the issue of origins being important for their overall understanding of Scripture and the theological truths subsumed therein, whether it impacts the authority of Scripture, or whether it bears any importance at all continues to be the subject of much debate. Ken Ham, in his latest book Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church asserts there is a connection to be made between one’s approach to origins and the decline we are seeing occurring within the church, in particular to issues such as the aforementioned affirmation of Scripture as the fundamental source of where truth is found to include truth about the origin of all things.
Ham is a rather prolific author on the subject of origins having written a number of books for kids and adults on this particular subject matter. In all of Ham’s writing efforts, whether that is through published books or blog posts on the Answers in Genesis website, one reoccurring message rings through and that is the necessity of Scripture as the believer’s authority for all matters in life to include origins as well as the negative impact rejecting Scripture as the authority will have both on the church and society at large. While Six Days may not bring to light any new issues not already covered in Ham’s other books, it does compile a very worthwhile and effective discussion of what happens when people move away from the solid foundation of Scripture.
The pernicious influence of evolution according to Ham is one of the culprits for the decline of the modern church. Acceptance of evolutionary dogma to include millions of years, death before sin, a rejection of Adam and Eve as historical figures, the rejection of a global flood, and the perspective that Genesis does not contain the actual historically accurate account of how God created all things has permeated the church, its seminaries, and the perspective of God’s people regarding origins. This has all transpired under the guise of their possibly being a middle ground that can be toed on origins, something Ham rejects as being valid. He aptly notes “Christians need to wake up to the fact there is no neutral position and their students are really being indoctrinated into an anti-God religion in the public schools.” Furthermore, this anti-God agenda is noted by Ham as occurring in the halls of Christian institutions as well noting the words of teachers and professors at Christian schools, colleges, and seminaries who have called for a reevaluation and reformulation of the church’s stance on Adam and Eve or original sin in order to accommodate modern evolutionary based scientific dogma.
Ham does an excellent job of reminding the reader exactly what doing good science is all about. There is a difference between observational and operational science and Ham goes into great detail about how each functions in order to demonstrate to the reader that the study of evidence from the past is greatly influenced by one’s presuppositions. He also correctly notes that when we apply the rules of operational science for example to the study of fossils and rock layers, “it confirms catastrophism consistent with the Flood of Noah’s day. It does not confirm millions of years.” Thus, what we are left with is a battle between worldviews, one that affirms the truth of Scripture and one that rejects God as being part of the equation. It is this rejection of the authority and truth of Scripture that again is disturbing to Ham as it involves the element of compromise, namely allowing man’s fallible opinion to supersede the truth found in the pages of God’s word.
Understanding the truth of what is contained in Scripture is another issue discussed by Ham in this helpful book. For those who aver that science conflicts with Scripture or that somehow Scripture must bow to the will of modern and ever changing scientific dogma, Ham reminds them of how to properly approach Scripture to include engaging context, noting the absolute clarity of Scripture on issues such as the days of creation, and the need to compare Scripture with Scripture to obtain the overarching and consistent message it contains. Those who stray outside the confines of sound biblical exegesis will indeed find themselves questioning the validity of Scripture, something that Ham notes is happening at an alarming rate within the Church at large regarding the issue of origins.
What origins book would be complete without a discussion of the days of creation, specifically how to understand the Hebrew word yom? Ham does his usual excellent job of outlining the perspicuity of Scripture on this issue and how the word yom when understood within context can mean nothing other than six literal days with no hint of millions of years or long ages to be found. He rightly comments “You will find that all the various compromise positions on Genesis have one thing in common – attempting to fit millions of years into Genesis.” For the evolutionary minded individual, long periods of time are vital to their theory. The reality is that long ages or millions of years are absolutely absent from the Genesis account of creation thus requiring one to insert something into Scripture that does not belong. Interestingly, these same people who play fast and loose with the days of creation affirm a literal three day period of time for Jesus to be laid in the grave even though that context, as well as the context of the creation account, both without a doubt note actual and literal days.
If the opening chapters of Genesis cannot be trusted, one must certainly ask what impact that has on the remainder of Scripture. If we insert death and decay before sin, that damages the biblical message that death and decay are a product of sin and not a product of God’s original perfect creation thus impacting the entire redemption and restoration message found in Scripture. This and many other issues are addressed with great zeal and insight by Ken Ham in this excellent book. I highly recommend this work to all believers as the issue of origins is of vital importance to our understanding of the greater message of Scripture. In an age where compromise positions seem to be the new norm, this book will provide the reader with tools by which to have that needed conversation with those who have succumbed to inserting into Scripture what does not belong, namely an evolutionary based agenda that seeks to erode the foundation of God’s Word in the life of believers and in the Church. Ham’s book is a clarion call to return to Scripture as the foundation for truth.
This book is available for purchase from Answers in Genesis by clicking here.
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One of my favorite type of Christian literature is biographies. I love reading about the work God did through men and women of God throughout church history. This love was developed in my early teens as I consumed biography after biography and devoured church history. To this day if it were up to me I would read a church history book with every stack of books I’m reading. Sadly that isn’t the case. Fortunately though, a new series A Long Line of Godly Men has come out that aims to introduce readers to the giants of the Christian faith and how they used their particular gifts, and talents to the glory of God. One of the latest biographies in this series is The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts.
Isaac Watts is known as the Father of English Hymnody. He wrote some 750 hymns including “Joy to the World” and “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.” In his latest book The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts, Doug Bond writes to help Christians discover rich biblical and theological hymns that Watts produced. The book looks at Watts’ legacy, his experience as an educator, his sermon hymns, and his work as a poet theologian, hymn writer, children’s poet, and psalm interpreter. The book concludes with a look at how Watts can influence worship today. The book also includes three appendixes which explore the life of Watts, favorite hymns by Watts and books by Watts.
The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts is a truly wonderful biography on Watts. As I read this book I was drawn by how Watts longed to lead people to the fount of living water in Jesus in order to worship and delight in Him. I listen to a lot of hymns every day as I work. I love singing them (when nobody else is around) and reflecting on the truth they teach. It’s been said that the best biographies are those that help you understand the figure being considered. The very best biographies not only look at the figure but also help you understand how that figure was shaped and how they continue to influence people today. Bond does all of this very well and he helps his readers understand how we need Watts today. As I read this book I was instructed, lead to worship and edified by Bond’s writing. This very accessible biography should be read by every Christian. I highly recommend it.
Title: The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts
Author: Douglas Bond
Publisher: Reformation Trust (2013)
I received this book for free from Reformation Trust for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Very few authors have had such a powerful influence on my thinking about a topic as Dr. Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life. Few topics are as full of challenges on every side. We can often overemphasize grace to the neglect that we die to self. Often times the spiritual disciplines are taught as a list of do this and do that but that misses the point. Thankfully, Dr. Whitney avoids all these pitfalls while emphasizing the sovereign work of God’s grace in the life of the Christian. The spiritual disciplines as you’ll learn in Dr. Whitney’s book aren’t drudgery but designed to draw us closer to Christ.
Some people object entirely to the spiritual disciplines. Following the Reformers and Puritans, Dr. Whitney classic book Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life is the best book in this genre. The book emphasizes the old paths as the best paths for growth in the grace of God. This book is saturated in the Word, practical and full of help for your spiritual growth. I remember the first time I read this book in high school over a decade ago and how much I learned and benefited it. Reading it again after many years I was just as helped and instructed as when I read it for the first time..
The book covers reading, and meditating on the Word of God in chapters two and three. In chapter four through twelve, Dr. Whitney looks at prayer (chapter 4), worship (chapter 5), evangelism (chapter 6), serving (chapter 7), stewardship (chapter 8), fasting (chapter 9), silence and solitude (chapter 10), journaling (chapter 11), and learning (chapter 12). The final chapter concludes with a call to press in and persevere in using the spiritual disciplines.
Whether you’re a new or mature Christian, Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life is a must read book. This book will help you understand not only what the spiritual disciplines are but how to engage in them. I highly recommend this classic book on the spiritual disciplines and pray it will bless you as it has blessed me.
Title: Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life
Author: Donald Whitney
Publisher: NavPress (2014)
I received this book for free from NavPress for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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The Good Book Company continues its devotional/commentary series, God’s Word For You, with 1 Samuel For You by Tim Chester. This series of books follows a threefold pattern: first, a person can read the book for greater insight into a book of the Bible; second, reading the book allows the reader to be fed by applying the text to life and third, it gives you guidance to lead others through the book of the Bible for greater understanding and growth.
The book of Samuel is a transitional book from the depressing and defeating days of the judges to the beginning of the kings of Israel through the rise and fall of Saul and his replacement David. 1 Samuel is also a narrative/historical book which gives an account of part of the history of Israel. Tim Chester likes to refer to it as “preached history” because it does more than just give an account of the history of Israel. Through the accounting of history “we are being shown who God is and how he rules his people; and we are being shown Jesus, his Christ.” (9)
Like with all narrative, in order to extract the theology of the text one must be willing to do some digging in the text that is beyond just a surface reading. When you begin to examine the Hebrew language and the literary elements of the narrative, the text and story begin to come alive. This is one thing that Chester does so well. He picks up on the nuances and details of the text just enough to bring the text to life without drowning the reader with too much information in too short a space. For instance, Chester picks up on the theme of barrenness with Hannah that has been preceded by Rachel, Sarah and others (12-13), the judgment irony of the kings of Israel that looks back to the time of the Judges (66), Saul as a type of Adam instead of a true redeemer-king (87) and of course the forward-pointing focus on Christ that runs from beginning to end.
As with all of the books in the God’s Word For You series, 1 Samuel For You is exactly the kind of book that gets you right to the heart of the text by getting you into the text without overwhelming you with it. Like John Stott, Tim Chester writes with his own unique style that is engaging and penetrating. 1 Samuel For You should be on the book shelf of every Christian.
I received this book for free from The Good Book Company through Cross Focused Media for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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One of my favorite commentary series for pastoral insight is the Reformed Expository commentaries series. This series combines biblical-theological knowledge with a pastoral flair. While the entire series takes a devotional tone—it doesn’t compromise serious engagement with the text or with theological issues raised in it. This makes the Reformed Expository series perfect for pastors but and lay Christians alike to help them study the Word.
Description of Reformed Expository Commentary Series
The Reformed Expository Commentary series is for people who want to experience the Word of God in all its power. Scholarly yet practical, its expositions are accessible to both pastors and lay readers. Each volume in the series provides exposition that gives careful attention to the biblical text, is doctrinally Reformed, focuses on Christ through the lens of redemptive history, and applies the Bible to our contemporary setting.
With Logos, you can use these volumes more efficiently for research and sermon preparation. Every word from every book has been indexed and catalogued to help you search the entire Reformed Expository Commentary series for a particular verse or topic. With Logos, this series will integrate into the passage guide. Whenever you enter your passage and click go, results from this commentary series will appear on the text you’re studying. This gives you instant access to exactly what you’re looking for in less time than it would take you to walk over to the bookshelf and begin flipping through a print volume. To find out more information about this series see here.
I’ve long used the Reformed Expository commentary series in my own studies. I’ve found this series to be not only focused on the text but also helps me to understand a variety of issues that surround the text. Using the Reformed Expository series in Logos further enables its usefulness with its digital format. Having access to the entire series has helped me whether in my writing or other responsibilities to be able to write/speak on the issues the text raises.
While I still prefer to have a commentary in my hands, I like the functionality Logos offers the user when reading the Reformed Expository series. I can search for a verse or scroll through a particular passage and gain insight into what the author of the particular commentary thinks on it. Not only is the functionality helpful but the content is top notch.
Whether you are in Bible college, seminary or you’re not teaching at all, the Reformed Expository commentaries series on Logos has something for you. This series combines the best of Reformed scholarship by some of the top pastor-theologians God has given the Church. This series will provide helpful guidance for Sunday school students on up to pastors looking for pastoral insight into not only the application for their messages but also into the text. I highly recommend not only this resource but in particular getting it on Logos. Using this commentary series on Logos makes it easy to find a particular point or passage rather than leafing through page after page. The Reformed Expository series is an excellent series and one I will return to time and time again as I continue (like you) to grow in my knowledge of the Word of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. To find out more information about this series see here.
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