This little book, from the 9 Marks series, is one of the most helpful books that I have read in recent years. It poses and answers that question, which, at first glance, may seem to be so obvious that it hardly bears discussion—What is the Gospel? Yet Gilbert quickly establishes just how urgent this discussion is for our day. He shows how the gospel is today in evangelicalism truly “surrounded by a fog of confusion”—how the good news has been all but lost in the house of God. Tradition, human reason, and/or experience have displaced the Bible as the foundation for determining and articulating the gospel. After describing the problem, then with great clarity and surprising brevity, the author lays out the true biblical message of salvation. He does so by accurately handling the New Testament. He shows how all the apostles are clear and consistent on the four major points of the gospel—1) God; 2) man; 3) Christ; and 4) the response of repentance and faith. The author’s presentation is one that will help you to be more sound in your understanding of, your communication of, and your contention for “the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
One of the curses of the modern day is what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.” That is, we live in a society in which “newer” is always viewed as “better.” While that may be true, more or less, in the arena of technology, it is certainly not true in the arena of ideas! Though the Christian in once sense already knows this, he often finds himself forgetting this important truth. One of the ways that we demonstrate this forgetfulness is in our choice of reading material. When was the last time we read a truly old book?
If you would like to pick up an extremely helpful, old book, let me recommend, The bondage of the Will, by the great German reformer, Martin Luther. This book addresses one of the great mysteries of Scripture, the antinomy between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility—God is absolutely sovereign and man is absolutely responsible. How can we hold these two seemingly contradictory truths together? That is the issue that this book masterfully addresses. Considered by many to be “the greatest piece of writing that came from Luther’s pen,” this book chronicles the debate between Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus concerning the nature of man’s “free will.” Erasmus articulates a man-centered approach to the question, while Luther continually and powerfully brings the word of God to bear on the issue. For him the ultimate issue is “what does the Scripture say?”
Though this book will require some earnest concentration as one works through it, the resulting fruit is more than worth it. This book enlarges the mind as it expands our view of the glory of God. It also provides a wonderful glimpse of the brilliance of the man God used to bring about the most glorious revival in church history.
In a survey of pastors recently they were asked to give the most influential books in their lives. This book was at the top of the list. In my own life this book had a tremendous impact on my spiritual growth. When I was a young man in college Packers book introduced me to a whole new way of thinking about God and the Scriptures. In my church experience I had not been exposed to biblical preaching; I had not sat under truly expository preaching. I had not been taught sound theology. Knowing God was like the first drops of refreshing spiritual rain on my thirsty soul. In Packers book, for the first time, I was introduced to the majesty of God. He unveiled the glory of the Trinity. In chapter after chapter he set before my eyes the marvelous attributes of God with astonishing clarity
But perhaps the greatest strength of this book is the emphasis that the author places on truly “knowing God.” Packer begins his book by helping us to understand the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. He reminds us that we must beware of the danger of learning about God without truly knowing God. or grow in our knowledge about God, we need to truly know God. That is, we need to know him personally. We need to let our knowledge about God become knowledge of God. He says that we learn something about God we need to go directly to God in worship, worshiping him for what we've learned about him. That is what makes all the difference. That is what it means to truly know the Lord.
October 31stmarks the 494thanniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the day on which Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Modern evangelicalism owes its very existence to the great spiritual awakening inaugurated by Luther and carried forward by the other reformers. One of the tragic realities of the present day is that so many evangelicals have spiritual amnesia regarding the issues at stake and the ground recovered by the reformers. The inertia today toward a blind ecumenism is endangering the church by leading us once again to forget the very gospel itself.
R. C. Sproul’s book, Faith Alone, was written in response to this uncritical and potentially deadly loss of discernment that found expression in the efforts to bring Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) in the mid-90’s. Sproul in his own inimitable way lays down one of the clearest explications of the gospel I have ever seen. He demarcates and distinguishes the Roman gospel from the true, biblical gospel which the Reformers recovered and shows how the efforts at ecumenical reunification are indeed dangerous to the life of the church and to the gospel itself. His mastery of the true gospel alongside his grasp of Roman Catholic doctrine enables him to provide the reader with a clear understanding of the faith “once for all delivered” –justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
One of the most practically helpful books that I have every read! In it Wayne Mack answers the question: How can I make the most difference in the lives of others for the glory of God? Every believer longs to know that his life is making a real difference in the lives of others. The author answers this question from God’s word with a powerful and thorough exposition of the 13thchapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. From that text we see that we can only make our “maximum impact” for the Lord as we learn to express God’s love in our everyday lives. What does that love look like? To understand and apply our hearts to this kind of love Dr. Mack carefully unpacks all fifteen descriptive characteristics of biblical love found in 1 Corinthians 13. Each characteristic is brought before our eyes and then masterfully applied as we are challenged by the searching questions at the end of each chapter. This book will revolutionize your relationships and ensure that you will indeed make your maximum impact!
Tedd Tripp’s book is truly the standard bearer on Christian parenting. In it the author calls us away from a shallow view of parenting and leads us to see God’s perspective on the ultimate goal of parenting—reaching your child’s heart. Too often Christian parents have been fed a steady diet of methods aimed at controlling behavior without addressing the heart. While guidance in administering biblical discipline and maintaining biblical standards of behavior are essential, they miss the mark if they are not founded on a model of parenting that truly examines the root goals and objectives of biblical parenting. Tripp calls us to see it all from God’s perspective and to aim it all at God’s glory starting with our own hearts as parents. Are we using techniques to manage behavior so that we can meet our own selfish goals of “peace and quiet”, clean house, well behaved children that reflect well on us, etc. Or are we aimed at leading our children to see in every situation that God is most interested in their hearts. The Lord’s primary objective for us for every day and every situation is to shepherd our childrens’ hearts to see themselves as people who need a Savior and who find their hope only in the light of the gospel.
This 17thcentury pastor/theologian has made many enduring contributions to the biblical and theological well-being of the church, but none has had greater practical impact than his writing on the nature of indwelling sin. Owen writes with astonishing insight into the conflict that rages within the soul of every child of God—the battle with the flesh. Personally, this book has been a source of both comfort and motivation to me in my Christian life. The comfort came from seeing that my own struggles were normal and to be expected. The motivation arose from a new awareness of the clear and present danger that this deadly enemy poses tomy spiritual health. Owen’s work is a wonderful guide on how to take up the weapons which “are mighty through God” in the fight with sin. This fight must be undertaken, for as the author warns: “Kill sin, or sin will be killing you.”
Author, R.C. Sproul, is without doubt one of the great preacher/theologians of our time, and this is surely one of the treasures that has come out of his ministry. I still vividly remember the effect that The Holiness of God had in my own life. After I finished college back in 1986 I began work that Summer as a Youth Minister. I struggled to prepare Bible studies and plan activities and provide discipleship to the young people I served. And I certainly found myself tempted to follow the prevailing trend of orienting the ministry around the “felt needs” of people, rather than the glory of God. But then, in God’s gracious providence, I got a copy of this book, and as I began to read it I felt as though someone had removed a canopy from over my head. For the first time I was able to see unimpeded the majestic splendor of God. This book truly revolutionized the way I saw God and the way I saw my life and my ministryin relation to Him.
To see God as He is, “high and lofty” (Isaiah 57:15), is the beginning of seeing ourselves as we truly are—sinful and needy. It is the beginning of getting our lives into proper focus and it is also the beginning of finding in the Lord the satisfaction of our deepest desires. Another author has said, “people are starving for the greatness of God.” If you are hungry, this book is a feast.
“Be all that you can be!” That motto, used for many years in U.S. Marine Corps TV commercials, serves as a helpful restatement of the call we find in the pages of the New Testament. Again and again the apostles call believers to “be all that you can be!” This call takes many forms: “Discipline yourselves for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7); “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:17); “pursue…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), etc. Once we have come to know the grace of God in justification, as Christians we are commanded to pursue our progressive growth in sanctification (experiential holiness).
This extremely helpful book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp, addresses a critical, and too often overlooked, element in the process of sanctification—the need for open and transparent relationships where we are free to “speak the truth in love” to one another. God has created every Christian to need others if he is to grow in grace to become all that he can be. This means that we need to change the way we see ourselves and other believers; we need to change the way we see our relationships. We must work to develop deeper relationships in our churches and we must learn to offer and receive loving correction in the context of those relationships. Only then will we be able to reach our true potential in Christ.
“If you believe that God is absolutely sovereign in salvation won’t that diminish your evangelistic zeal?” Or “Isn’t it true that Calvinism undercuts evangelism?”
In this classic work author J.I. Packer powerfully answers these common objections to biblical Calvinism, showing that, rightly understood, Calvinistic belief does not hinder evangelism, on the contrary, it truly strengthens and undergirds a fervent witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This concise discussion of the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility is thoroughly biblical, imminently logical, and surprisingly readable. Packer breaks down this complex subject matter in a way that is also intensely practical.
This book, first published in 1962, has been a great help to many Christians who have wrestled with the interplay between the biblical doctrines of election and evangelism. Personally, "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God" was a landmark book in my own spiritual pilgrimage, paving the way for me to embrace the doctrines of grace.
This book is one of the most important books that I have ever read. In fact, it is truly one of the most important books that has been written in the last hundred years. In it author John McArthur exposes the heresy of “easy-believism.”
Easy believism is the widespread notion that you can truly be saved by accepting Christ as Savior but not as Lord. Proponents of this view misunderstand completely the bible’s portrait of conversion. In the Scriptures conversion to Christ consists of both repentance and faith. These two acts: repentance, turning from sin, and faith, turning to Christ, are the two essential components of true salvation.
The Bible teaches that if a sinner is to be saved he must turn from (repentance) being the master of his own life and surrender himself to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
In spite of the clarity of this doctrine in Scripture and the fact that it has been consistently taught throughout church history, nevertheless, the church of the 20th century nearly abandoned it altogether. The doctrine of easy believism swept across the evangelical world like a wildfire. It was the publishing of this book in 1988 that proved to be pivotal in stemming the tide of error. For in The Gospel According to Jesus, John McArthur takes us back to the Bible to answer the question—“What does true salvation look like?”
Chapter after chapter he unfolds for us in his marvelous expositional style the teachings of Jesus himself regarding salvation. When we see the nature of salvation from Jesus’ teachings we see that true salvation is nothing less than the transformation of a human life, and true salvation consists of a radical reorientation of the soul:
“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
This book is a great source of encouragement as it demonstrates the sovereignty of God over all of history. In it Piper presents a compelling portrait of the extraordinary contributions of three ordinary men: Augustine, Luther and Calvin. These three men lived at decisive moments in church history, moments where the future of the church literally hung in the balance, and each man by God's grace rose to the challenge. Aurelius Augustine confronted the rising tide of Pelagianism in the fourth century and prevailed, upholding the biblical doctrine of salvation. Martin Luther stood up against the ecclesiastical and political might of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church, igniting the Protestant Reformation on October 31, 1517, by nailing his famed 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. John Calvin, a contemporary of Luther, carried on the work of the Reformation amid intense opposition from Rome, ministering the word of God from Geneva, Switzerland and laying the foundation for the Protestant church for centuries to come.
In these three excellent biographical sketches the author distills the essence of each man's abiding contribution to the church of Jesus Christ. Augustine, writes Piper, had a “peculiar slant on grace;” he saw that “grace was the free gift of sovereign joy in God that frees us from the bondage of sin.” Before God's grace touches fallen man's heart he is in utter bondage to sin and must choose in accordance with his own nature to run from God. Sovereign grace alone can free man from this bondage and liberate him to seek Christ through repentance and faith. Luther's fundamental impact on the church lay in his grasp of the authority of the external word. That is, God has given us a perfect revelation which is entirely objective and can thus be relied upon as a completely sufficient guide in all matters of faith and practice. Calvin modeled for us the art of expositional preaching, preaching week by week (even day by day) through the Bible—book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse. This great reformer saw that the Sciptures themselves are the one place where man is able to view the majestic glory of God, and thus they are the key to true worship.
After reading this book I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God in raising up men like these to stand in the gap at crucial crossroads in the flow of history. My heart was filled with both gratitude and humility realizing that we all owe a tremendous debt to the men of God who walked with our Lord in the past.
This book, written by Bridges in 1994, presents one of the most helpful portraits of progressive sanctification in modern Christian literature. In it the author provides clear and practical guidance for how on a daily basis Christians are to seek to grow in holiness. That growth comes only through rigorous spiritual discipline; there is no other path. We must “discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Bridges calls us to train as an athlete for the prize of holiness, but at the same time he demonstrates that the foundation for the entire process is God′s marvelous grace. If a believer is to make progress in the Christian life he must, at every point, be assured that he stands in grace. He must know that God accepts him perfectly and loves him unconditionally whether he performs well or not. It is the knowledge that in Christ we are already “accepted in the Beloved” that frees us from the snare of legalism. We obey God not to be accepted, but because we are accepted. Understanding that the miracle of God′s love has become ours through the saving work of Christ, then motivates us to a passionate pursuit of holiness. This means we ought to, as Bridges says, “preach the gospel to ourselves every day;” every Christian needs to be continually reminded of the amazing grace of Jesus Christ. This excellent book has been a great blessing to me and to many others in our church.
This book written in 1994 by John McArthur serves as a clarion call to the modern day church to return to the Bible. The author warns us that, despite the evangelical church’s commitment to the inerrancy of the Scriptures, we are in danger today of forgetting the equally important concept of the sufficiency of the Scriptures. This departure from the sufficiency of the Bible is seen clearly in the way the modern church has determined its methods for doing ministry. That is, how are we to do to build God’s church? How are we to worship? How are we to do evangelism? How do we determine what we should preach? Assuming that we still believe that we should preach! McArthur warns that more and more the modern church has turned away from biblical methods for doing ministry and has turned to the world for answers to its questions of how we ought to do ministry. One way many have been led away from seeing the Bible as sufficient is through the rise of the modern church growth movement. Church growth philosophy has led pastors and church leaders to look away from the Bible to business and marketing principles as the key to making the gospel relevant today. A second area of departure for the church has in recent decades is in the area of "Christian Counseling." Most counselors have abandoned the Bible as a sufficient guide to counsel church members through their difficulties in favor of the world’s methods of psychology and psychiatry. McArthur warns that in looking away from the Bible and to the world for its methods the modern church has both feet firmly planted on a slippery slope that leads inevitably to the loss of the true gospel.
This book was used by the Lord in a powerful way in my life and in the life of our church almost a decade ago. We found ourselves at a crossroads; the church had become stagnant, our numerical growth had stalled. The question that confronted us then was, how should we respond? Should we follow the prevailing trends of church growth philosophy (that at that time seemed to work) or should we instead return to the Bible for the answers to how we are to build God’s church? By God’s grace we were led to do the latter, and Ashamed of the Gospel helped to galvanize our commitment to the absolute sufficiency of the Bible.
Since the writing of this book the trends in ministry have changed; the church growth movement has been replaced by the emergent church movement. Though the ideas and concepts have changed, the common denominator remains the same: the quest is still for relevance at the expense of the Bible. McArthur’s book still provides the antidote to this dangerous trend—the Bible is still, as always sufficient!
“For all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and training in righteousness that the man of God may be equipped, thoroughly furnished for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16,17
This book is one of the most practical and insightful books that I have ever read. In it author, Ken Sande, comprehensively applies the teachings of the Bible to an important area of need in all our lives — dealing with conflict.
The book begins with the foundational premise that every conflict really ought to be seen as an opportunity to bring glory to God! Once we make that mental adjustment, we are then taught how to apply the teachings of Scripture, precept by precept and step-by-step, toward the goal of true Christian restoration.
This book provides answers to a whole host of difficult questions touching our relationships with the Lord and with one another. Among them, "What does true, biblical confession of sin look like?"; "How do I get the log out of my own eye before I seek to help my brother?" "When should I overlook an offense and when should I go to my brother to address his sin?" This is a book we have used in a small group bible study to great profit, and one I truly think we ought to use again and again!