Confessing Jesus as Lord by Terry Chrisope

Confessing Jesus as LordChrisope, Terry. Confessing Jesus as Lord.  Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2012.  352 pp.  $19.99.  Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Dr. Terry Chrisope serves as Professor of History and Bible at Missouri Baptist University where he has also written Towards a Sure Faith: J. Gresham Machen and The Dilemma of Biblical Criticism. He also serves as a Sunday School teacher at First Baptist St. Peters, MO.  Finally, he was on my ordination council back in 2006 and never said a word!

Summary

Divided into four parts, Chrisope has rewritten his much shorter 1982 work, Jesus is Lord, to the point that this is an entirely new work though its roots run 30 years deep.  In the first part, he looks at the Old Testament’s anticipation of the Messiah.  In part two, he reviews the historical establishment of Jesus’ Lordship.

Part three looks at the apostolic proclamation of Jesus as Lord  while part 4 seeks to explain the implications and importance of Jesus’ Lordship. Three appendices look at the meaning of ‘Lord,’ John Murray’s explanation of they Hypostatic Union, and finally, the Scripture as an expression of Jesus’ Authority.

Review

Chrisope, in his meticulous style, leaves no stone unturned.  His writings rest solely on the Word of God thus making any argument on the topic of the Lordship of Jesus with the Bible and not with him.  Yes, one may argue against his opinions, but they will need to root their discussion in the Bible.

He engages some of the discussion against Lordship Salvation, but chooses instead to let the weight of the Word of God have its say.

In the end, I believe his best, and most pastoral chapter, is the final, and I believe the shortest, is the final chapter.  Here, Chrisope looks as the Practical Significance of the Confession of Jesus as Lord. In this chapter he looks at the application of this doctrine for the non-Christian (in other words, your evangelism) and the evangelical Christian. This includes a call to reconsider methodology and preaching styles.  Finally, he looks at the application to the impact on Western culture and theological liberalism at large.  Here, one finds a seed for yet another book.

Recommendation

If you call Jesus your Lord and Savior, I highly recommend this resource to you.  It is a bit technical, but well-written.  Understanding the deeper implications of Jesus as Lord offers us a lifetime of study.  Christendom is indebted to Terry Chrisope for writing this book.

Moses Leads the People – I Can Read! Adventure Bible

Moses Leads the PeopleGod’s Great Creation (I Can Read! Adventure Bible). Illustrated by David Miles. Grand Rapids: ZonderKidz, 2014. 32 pp. $3.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction/Summary

I recently reviewed God’s Great Creation, also part of this series and also illustrated by David Miles.  This particular story begins with Moses meeting with God at the burning bush and culminates with the crossing of the Red Sea.

The entire series draws from the the Adventure Bible – a best selling children’s Bible designed for kids age 12 and under. This book is for the reading level 2 group of children which is geared toward ages 4-8.

Review

I appreciate the folks at Zonderkidz adapting the Bible to a readable format.  I also appreciate how they are breaking them down into shorter stories so as to not intimidate children.

One criticism I have with the series is that it always seems as though God is asking for help.  For example, in this book, Moses hears God say, “Moses, I need your help!”  This is instead of “Do not come any closer…”  It might be splitting hairs, but we must always seek to make much of God and not too much of man.

Regardless of this criticism, Moses Leads the People is faithful to the Biblical account.  The illustrations bring the stories to life for the children and, I have found, they really enjoy hearing how God triumphs.

Recommendation

Being a parent of 5 children, 1 which just learned to read and 2 yet to still learn how to read, I am becoming a huge fan of this series.  Being a pastor of a church where we have 15 children under 8, I can see how this series will be a huge benefit for all parents.  While this series will never replace reading the Word of God, it does an excellent job of introducing the children to the Word of God.  I recommend this book to all children and all parents of children.

On Earth as it is in Heaven by Wyman Lewis Richardson

On Earth as it is in HeavenRichardson, Wyman Lewis.  On Earth as it is in Heaven – Reclaiming Regenerate Church Membership.  Cape Coral: Founders Press, 2011.  182 pp.  $13.95. Purchase at Amazon for much less.

Introduction

Wyman serves as pastor of Central Baptist Chruch in North Little Rock, Arkansas.  His website is WalkingTogetherMinistries.com.

Summary

Divided into three parts, Wyman first offers a clear diagnosis of an issue plaguing many churches and most denominations today.  In so doing, he rips off a scab that has been plucked at before but has never healed properly.

In the second part, he offers the best balm and salve to the festering wound that is burgeoning church roles. He does this from the only source with any real authority in the church – the Bible.  IN this part he looks primarily at the New Testament and offers discussions on metaphors, membership, ekklesia, and the importance of one another.

In the third and final part, he offers 7 practical steps to help a pastor lead his congregation on the importance of having a regenerate church role and how to move from point A to point B.

Review

Written in 2011, this work is still needed today.  Yes, the SBC has worked towards renewing an understanding of regenerate church membership, but there is always much work still to be done.  His argument is rooted in Scripture and, as far as the SBC is concerned, historic Southern Baptist ecclesiology.

While one may disagree with his assessment, it cannot be said that he has arrived at his conclusions without studying Scripture.  Further, his writing style is easy to read and understand.  Dividing the work into three parts offers the reader a pyramid approach to understanding the urgency of the problem and the challenge of our pride as denominational and congregational leaders.

The third part, while not fool proof or guaranteed to effectively move a congregation toward an understanding of regenerate church membership does offer sound and practical advice that will more often than not facilitate a much needed discussion, and consequent action, on the subject at hand.

Recommendation

Regardless of denominational affiliations, I personally recommend this resource to all church leaders and members.  May the Lord continue to use this work to stir the hearts of believers to a fundamental understanding of church membership while at the same time challenge those who are not regenerate members of a local body to understand their need of Christ.

The Beginning and End of Wisdom by Douglas Sean O’Donnell

Beginning and End of WisdomO’Donnell, Douglas Sean.  The Beginning and End of Wisdom: Preaching Christ from the First and Last Chapters of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job.  Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2011.  240 pp.  $17.99.  Purchase at Westminster or Amazon for less.

Introduction

Douglas has served as senior pastor of New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois.  He is also the author of God’s Lyrics: Rediscovering Worship Through Old Testament Songs.

Summary

Divided into 7 chapters, the first six chapters are 6 sermons: 1 each from the beginning and end of Proberbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job.  Each sermon offers a Christocentric look at these wisdom/poetry books from the OT.

The final chapters serves as a lesson in hermeneutics concerning how one should preach the wisdom literature found in the Bible.  There are also two appendices that prove helpful for the pastor and lay leader.  The first looks at how to preach Hebrew poetry and the second offers book summaries of the three books of the Bible and even a suggested sermon series for each book.

Review

It must be realized that these chapters are sermons of a larger sermon series and serve as bookends to those particular series.  That being said, however, they are able to stand alone and offer guidance to the young pastor looking to preach these books or even stand alone sermons.

In his efforts, Douglas does a masterful job of pointing the reader, and presumably his congregation, to Christ in some difficult passages found in the Old Testament.  At roughly 13 pages each, these sermons can be read devotionally to great advantage for the reader.

Further, for the pastor who understands, they will be challenged by the Christ-centered hermeneutic used by Douglas.  After having read the six sermons, the final three chapters/appendices read more like a class on hermeneutics as stated above.

His writing style is simple and effective and enables others to learn a method of preaching that is often unknown today.

Recommendation

I can recommend this resource to all Christians.  To the lay person, i.e., non-clergy, you will begin to understand the OT wisdom literature in a new light.  To the pastor and aspiring pastor, you will have a good example of what Christ-centered preaching looks like.

The Invisible World by Anthony Destefano

The Invisible WorldDestefano, Anthony.  The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities that Surround Us.  New York: Random House, 2011.  210 pp.  $19.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

Anthony Destefano is no stranger to Christian Book Notes readers.  I have reviewed a couple of his children’s books in the past.  You can read more about his ministry at AnthonyDestefano.com.

Summary

Divided into 10 chapters, Destefano begins with a subjective experiential challenge he calls the haunt detector.  He claims that everyone has one.  From that point, he attempts to explain why we all seem to have this so-called haunt detector.  His second chapter lays the foundation for the rest of the book – it is the invisible God.

The rest of the book looks at various qualities of the spiritual realm from invisible helpers to invisible evil.  By chapter five, the reader begins to understand what is at stake as Anthony discusses the invisible soul.  From there he discusses the invisible warfare and grace as well as the power of suffering.

Toward the end of the book, Destefano offers an explanation of the invisible destiny of all….heaven or hell.  The final chapter attempts to make the unseen seen.

Review

First, it is important to know that Anthony is Roman Catholic.  Hence, his theology will be different than mine.  That being said, let me just say upfront, The Invisible World is a decent starting point for understanding the realities of the spiritual realm.

I would have like to have seen more Scripture references to the claims being stated.  Though there was nothing inherently wrong with what he wrote, I found it to be weak on biblical support within his own writings.  In other words, he offers his dogmatic assertions from what he knows but does not always support it with quotes from Scripture for the reader.

I appreciated that he discussed the truthfulness of hell and did not really shy away from the fact that this was  a legitimate place where people will go in the after life.  What I did not like is that he again did not really support this with Scripture.

Also, in the chapter on hell and heaven, he makes it a point that it is our free will that will save us.  He says that when a person “can’t bring himself to repent, even at the final hour, that person essentially condemns himself to hell” (p. 173).  This flies in the face of passages like Exodus 7:4; John 3:16-18; and Romans 9:17-18.  This half truth is perpetuated because we just cannot believe a good and holy God would ever send anyone to hell.

The fact is, God would still be good, loving, and gracious if He never saved anyone.

Recommendation

Again, as I said at the beginning, this is a decent introduction to the subject of the spiritual realm.  It should not, however, be the only book you read on the topic.  There are many other evangelical writers who support their claims with Scripture.  I can only recommend this book at the introductory level and with the caveat that you search out other resources to read.  I would highly recommend Randy Alcorn’s work entitled Heaven as the book to purchase.

Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung

Taking God at His WordDeYoung, Kevin.  Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me.  Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2014. 138 pp.  $17.99.  Purchase at Westminster for less, at Amazon for $12.46 and on Kindle for $8.57.

Introduction

Kevin DeYoung is no stranger to Christian Book Notes nor is he a stranger to Christian writing as a genre.  I have reviewed a number of his works here and have always found him to be spot on with his assessments.  This particular book looks at the sufficiency of Scripture for the believer.

Summary

Divided into 8 chapters over a scant 138 pages, Kevin looks at the importance of knowing that we can trust the Bible as being the Word of God given to us.  He offers a couple foundational chapters on believing and feeling and doing something and directs us to the reality that there is indeed something more to the Bible than meets the eye.  The next five chapters expound on the doctrine of the Bible that evangelicalism and Christianity at large has held to for 2,000 years.

We read about God’s Word being enough, being clear, being final, and being necessary.  All of these point us to the truth that the Bible we read today can be verified as being the inerrant and infallible Word of God handed down to us through the centuries.

The seventh chapter looks at Christ’s unbreakable Bible – the Old Testament. The argument is basically if Jesus believed the OT to be historically true, then we ought to believe this as well.  The final chapter is that we are to stick with the Scriptures.  This is nothing less that the Reformation’s mantra of sola scriptura…Scripture alone!

Review

I honestly hate that this book is even necessary today.  I say this because in reading it, I am reminded of how many attacks have been, and are, leveled at the Bible.  I am reminded as a pastor just how difficult the job of expositing Scripture can be in a world that seeks to undermine the authority of the Bible at every possible moment.  How do we compete with the world? We faithfully preach God’s Word as wholly true and trustworthy.  We also read books like Kevin DeYoung’s Taking God at His Word.

He writes from an exposition of Psalm 119 (not the entire Psalm) and looks at how God’s Word still speaks to us today.  It must be noted that while he is arguing for the clarity of Scripture, he is explaining this doctrine for the intended audience without assuming they know or understand the doctrine itself.

This works amounts to a rudimentary seminary class on the doctrine of the Bible.  A discussion that is covered in an hour in most seminary-level classes today is here treated in a 138 page book written for the lay leader.

His work is relevant and much needed today as the Bible continues to be attacked by those who claim to be Christian (anyone for rewriting the sin of homosexuality?).  In reading this work, you will have a better understanding of what has been believed and held by Biblical Christianity for 2,000 years.  You will begin to also understand the reasons why you can trust the Bible that you are reading today.

Recommendation

I recommend this resource to all who are interested in the discussion of why we can trust the Bible.  Will there be critics? Absolutely.  Will you agree with everything? Probably not, but the argument cannot be made that DeYoung is self-defeating by explaining the clarity of Scripture when he is in all actuality teaching about the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture.

ESV Reader’s Bible by Crossway Books

ESV Reader's BibleESV Reader’s Bible. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2014.  1840 pp.  $29.99.  Purchase at Amazon for $20.00, or Westminster books for $14.99.

Introduction

I have reviewed a number of ESV Bibles and have found each one extremely beneficial given its particular study notes or edition.  I also am one who reads the ESV regularly and preaches from it every Sunday.

Summary

This particular edition features  hardly any verse references (see review below) and is meant to be read as a narrative uninterrupted by artificial subheadings, verse interruptions, and large chapter subdivisions.

You can watch this video to gain a better understanding of what they are striving for in this particular edition.

 Review

To begin with, I was impressed with the packaging of the cloth over board edition.  It certainly is made to look like the classic that the Bible is and looks sharp sitting on any book shelf.

The two ribbons help in terms of reading plans especially since the verse numbers are not prevalent.  For example, I place one ribbon where I need to start and a second where I want to end for a given week.  Otherwise, you can have a ribbon for the OT and one for the NT.  Either way, the two ribbons prove to be beneficial.

My one criticism is even in the attempt to draw the reader into the narrative, they still use the verse numbers at the top of the page.  I understand this is for orientation purposes, but it is a bit distracting when they are not present in the main body.  Also, they are in red which draws your eye to the top of the page almost immediately.  Perhaps they could have been a bit smaller and set more like a page number rather than a page header.

The font size is perfect and the lack of footnotes is interestingly relieving to the reader.  The goal of “getting lost in the narrative” has been met and exceeded. One who reads this particular Bible will more than likely find that their reading time in the Word of God will increase substantially.

This edition will make a great family devotional Bible and one that can be handed down as an inheritance through the years.

Recommendation

If you are one who reads the Bible cover to cover each year, I recommend this edition to you heartily.  If you are one who studies for lessons and sermons, I would recommend this edition to you as well.  I have found that it helps to just simply read the Bible rather than try to study it.  Yes, studying is important, but so is simple Bible intake for the sake of familiarity.

Why Dogs Are…by Tana Thompson

Why Dogs Are...Thompson, Tana. Illustrated by Marita Gentry.  Why Dogs Are…  Talladega: Kendall Neff Publishing, 2014.  17 pp.  $14.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Tana worked in colleges for 30 years and, now that she is in retirement, she is pursuing her dream of writing.  In so doing, she is combining her love for dogs with her pursuit of writing.

Why Dogs Are is the first in a book series aimed at raising awareness of the various roles animals play in our lives that enhance and improve our physical, psychological and spiritual well-being.  This series is entitled Loved Unleashed.

You can read more at WhyDogAre.com.

Summary/Review

Why Dogs Are tells the story of how a dog teaches some life lessons to a very special child. It seeks to explore the concept of God’s unconditional love and how someone without the ability to see or hear can comprehend its scope and His impact in our lives.

I appreciated that the story involves a child, Brian, with a handicap.  So many children never understand the reality of life with difficulty except when they do not get their way.   The story is one of what God’s creation means to us as humans, the “jewel” of God’s creation.  I appreciated the interplay and the implicit example of God’s love for His creation.

I was a bit concerned when God needed help from His creation in order to show Brian how much He loved him.  My concern is that it will leave children with the idea that God needs help thus making Him less than who He is.  Yes, I can be accused of reading into this, but at the same time, we must do all we can to discuss God on His terms and according to His Word.

This concern notwithstanding, I really enjoyed the story and the truths that were proclaimed to a younger audience.  The love God does show through His creation to a young man that world often typically thinks of as less than perfect is to be understood in the context of our being created in His image.  That is where we find our argument for the sanctification of life and that is where Tana Thompson succeeds in telling a great story of love unleashed.

Recommendation

I feel I need to qualify this recommendation based upon the above comments.  Be prepared to explain to your children that God really does not need help but that it is part of this story in order to show His love for all of His creation.  I can recommend this book to all children and all Christians.  The layers of the message being shared in this book will have impact beyond the first reading.

 

 

God’s Great Creation: ZonderKidz Adventure Bible

God's Great CreationGod’s Great Creation (I Can Read! Adventure Bible).  Illustrated by David Miles.  Grand Rapids: ZonderKidz, 2014. 32 pp.  $3.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction/Summary

The Adventure Bible is a best selling children’s Bible designed for kids age 12 and under.  This particular I Can Read! book is for the reading level 2 group of children which is geared toward ages 4-8.

This edition covers the 6 days of creation and the Fall of man.  The pictures by David Miles are well done and explode off the page with color.

Review

This children’s book does a good job of getting the main thrust of the Creation story to the children.  It also does a good job of explaining the fall of man by listening to the temptation of the serpent.  I wished it would have added the line from the Scriptures where Eve states that God said they couldn’t touch it which is not what was said when God gave the original commandment.

I point this out only because it leads to a number of important lessons for us today.  It teaches that we must know exactly what was said.  It teaches us that we ought to keep the text in context.  It teaches us that God is not nearly as “harsh” as we are to ourselves.

Regardless of this one point, I really enjoyed reading this to my younger children and letting my stage 2/3 reader read it aloud.  The story is biblically verifiable and leads to actual gospel conversation.

Recommendation

While I rarely recommend children’s books about the Bible because they are typically watered down, God’s Great Creation is part of a series of I Can Read! books that I think will go a long way in beginning to lay a foundation of the importance of Scripture in a child’s life.  I recommend this book for all Christian parents and families.

 

The Name Quest by John Avery

Name QuestAvery, John.  The Name Quest: Explore the Names of God to Grow in Faith and Get to Know Him Better.  New York: Morgan James Publishing, 2014.  394 pp.  $24.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

John has been in the ministry over 30 years as pastor, small group leader, and missionary.  He has lived in Israel, England, Africa, and the USA.  He writes a regular Bible devotional at BibleMaturity.com.  You can also find out more about the names of God at NamesforGod.net.

Summary

Divided into 23 chapters over 394 pages, John Avery offers us a deeper look at the names, or as he correctly says, titles, of God in order to enable us to begin to understand our Creator at a deeper level.  This is not a simple work whereby the names or titles of God are listed.  Rather, this is a study that looks at the various names from differing perspectives and strives to link together the various names in order to give a more complete picture of God.

Review

Because this is not a simple exegesis of the names and titles of God, you are going to get much of John’s interpretation on the application and importance of the various names and titles of God.  This is not necessarily a bad thing as it does serve as a means for the reader to begin considering, as Paul says in part, “the depths and riches of God.”

You will probably not agree with everything he says but it will not be for a lack of biblical support.  In reading this work, you will need to have your Bible sitting open and at the ready.  As you progress through the (seeming) random assortment of names of God, you will begin to draw lines from one name to the other and, in the process, your knowledge of God and your awareness of your limited ability to understand the infinite will become crystal clear.

Recommendation

I can recommend this resource to anyone serious about studying the names of God.  In essence, you will be studying God Himself through His revealed Word.  In the end, you may disagree with some of John’s assessments, but you will have arrived at your own.  This is always for the edification of the believer.

 

Short, introductory reviews of Christian Books