Life of Luther by Barnas Sears

April 11th, 2014 No comments

Life of LutherSears, Barnas, D.D. Life of Luther.  Green Forest: New Leaf Press, 2010.  496 pp.  $17.99. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

The Life of Luther was originally published in 1850 by the American Sunday School Union.  Tim Dudley, President of New Leaf Publishing Group discusses this book in the video below.

Summary

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was the catalyst the Lord used to begin the Reformation which led to the start of the Protestant church after being excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.  This biography is split into two parts with ten chapters.  The first part looks at Luther’s life from his birth to the eve of the Reformation which began with his nailing his theses to the Wittenberg Door.  The second part is comprised of the rest of his life from 1517 to his death in 1546.

Review/Recommendation

At 496 pages, this biography is no light reading.  It is fairly extensive in its treatment of Luther’s life.  I would have liked to see the 95 theses included in the book, but the reality is the life of Luther was more about conviction and a high view of Scripture than it was about an argument with the Catholic Church.  Sears does a masterful job of explaining as objectively as possible the life of Martin Luther.  He does not shy away from the controversy that Luther seemed to continuously find himself.

Ultimately, the allure of this book is found in its antiquity.  Unlike other books in the Life of series, this one was written over 300 years after the death of Luther. Nonetheless, it does not delve into the legends that have developed in the past years.  Truth be told, there is so much good to this biography that it is difficult to critique it more than I have.

While the Roland Bainton biography still stands as the standard for most, this particular biography, as lengthy as it is, ought to receive greater consideration than it does.  Sears offers one of the more complete and affordable biographies on Martin Luther.  For these reasons, I highly recommend this biography to anyone wanting to learn about the life of Luther.

Life of Andrew Jackson Edited by John S. Jenkins

April 9th, 2014 No comments

Life of Andrew JacksonLife of Andrew Jackson.  Edited by John S. Jenkins, A.M.  Green Forest: New Leaf Publishing Group, 2011. 400 pp. $19.99. Purchase from Amazon and on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

This book is part of a series of books from New Life Press under their Attic Books imprint which includes reprints of great biographies like George Washington and John Newton.

Summary

You can watch this video to gain a quick understanding of the importance of this book being reprinted:

As for a synopsis of the contents, this book is half biography and half historical papers. The first 194 pages is a biography of Andrew Jackson. The last 200 or so pages look at his eulogy, his inaugural address, his message in relation to Texas, and nine other works including his will and farewell address.

Review

Originally penned in 1850, this work is a bit dated as far as language is concerned as well as the culture of America.  It takes the reader back to a time when the Civil War had yet to be fought and we were once a debt-free nation.  If you can scale the barrier of the language, this book is worth reading though it is not a quick read.  The editor was not necessarily sympathetic of Jackson to the point of not discussing his problems, but he does paint him in a better light than many have in the past.

A bonus to this biography was that it was written merely 13 years after his death. On one hand, the legend of Andrew Jackson had yet to develop. On the other hand, history had yet to determine where he stood in the line of Presidents.  The history of the country was still being established and Jackson’s contributions had not been fully known.  Regardless, the information contained in this biography makes for a great starting point for anyone wanting to learn about the 7th President of the United States of America.

Recommendation

I really enjoy working through these older biographies.  The Life of Andrew Jackson is no different.  With the first half being a biography and the last half being comprised of either his speeches or papers dealing directly with his life, I highly recommend this biography of Andrew Jackson as an excellent starting point to delve into his life and his work.

 

I AM that I AM by Judy Azar LeBlanc

April 7th, 2014 No comments

I am that I amLeBlanc, Judy Azar. I AM that I AM: Tracing the Footprints of God.  Rapid City: CrossLink Publishing, 2012.  493 pp.  $29.95.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle starting at $2.99.

Introduction

Judy has written a number of resources including Theology 101 i Bite-Size Pieces. She currently resides in East Texas where she is blessed to be able to devote her time to writing and research.

Summary

At over 490 pages, this is no small book.  The promotional video below is a great introduction to the book itself.

The book is divided into four parts.  The first parts looks at the Covenants of God. The second part teaches on the parables of Jesus Christ while part three looks at the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.  The fourth and final part looks at the name of God (I AM THAT I AM) and how Christ is God Incarnate and identifiable as such because of these names.

Review

The breadth and depth of this book is breath taking.  This is nothing short of a systematic theology on the covenant keeping God as revealed to us in His Son, Jesus Christ.  She lays a solid foundation in the first section when she describes in great detail the God who makes and keeps covenants with His people.  Her research is extensive and she uses many solid resources to aid her findings.  She includes maps and graphs to aid the reader in understanding what is being said, and perhaps more importantly, what is not being said.

I do not find this to be a book that you read cover to cover.  Rather, it seems to me, it becomes a commentary in and of itself.  As with any work of theology, you will not agree with everything, but Judy does a wonderful job of presenting various perspectives as well as not be dogmatic except on the essentials.  Keep in mind that the subject matter, God, is so infinite that even a book as seemingly exhaustive as this one is nothing more than a tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Perhaps the best thing a reader could do with this particular resource in the print and Kindle version is to become familiarize with the table of contents.  In so doing, you will have a ready resource as you seek to study the Word in these particular areas.

Recommendation

While Judy Azar LeBlanc is not a common name in theological circles, her work I AM THAT I AM is worth your time and your money.  I have placed her work on the shelf next to my other systematic theologies and will be using it as a reference resource in the years to come.  Also, at only $2.99 on the Kindle, there is hardly a reason not to purchase this resource and have it at your disposal.

Living into the Life of Jesus by Klaus Issler

April 4th, 2014 No comments

Living into the Life of JesusIssler, Klaus.  Living into the Life of Jesus: The Formation of Christian Character.  Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2012.  240 pp.  $16.00.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Dr. Issler is professor of Christian education and theology in the doctoral program in educational studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.  He also wrote Wasting Time With God.

Summary

Divided into three parts with eight chapters, Dr. Issler offers a basic primer on spiritual formation.  In part one he looks at how the formation of Christian character is more a life-long process than a one and one phenomenon.  His first chapter offers a much needed foundation repair to so much of the spiritual-formation thinking prevalent today.  Here he explains how we must look at our heart rather then seeking to change our own behaviors.

The second part offers three divine resources for formation.  Those are love, the Holy Spirit, and Scripture.  The final part looks at how we can follow Jesus in our own lives. Each chapter concludes with key points and a few reflection questions.

Review

Dr. Issler’s work centers on the importance of recognizing the gaps in our spiritual walk.  These include the disconnected gap (not regularly abiding in Christ), the distressed gap, the dismissive gap (resistance to truths that seem impossible), the discrepancy gap, and the distracted gap.  The value of this book will depend on your understanding and view of chapter two.  If, as I struggled with, these gaps seem to be more man-centered and an excuse, then you will struggle with the applications of this book.  If, on the other hand, his gap-theory (sorry, I had to!) resonates with you, then you will do well to heed much of the advice in this book.

I struggled with this resource only because of the seeming hat tip to the necessity of heart change while centering on what we can do to change the heart.  It is like the evangelistic resource that rails against all methods of evangelism and then, in the end, offers you yet another method of evangelism.  At any rate, I share this only as a personal bias I have when reading resources like this.

That being said, there is much in the way of practical application found in these pages that will leave you more the wiser than before you read it.  At first glance, I was wary of love being one of the divine resources of formation grace…until I read the chapter.  In the end, his points are worthwhile and ought to be understood in the context of our sinful thoughts about God.

In the end, each chapter is saturated with our need of the Holy Spirit as we seek to walk closer with Christ.  The important point is that spiritual formation is neither devoid of the Holy Spirit nor is a “Let go and let God” mentality.  We must always keep the balance that God is sovereign and we are to act.  I think Dr. Issler does a fine job of walking that narrow line.

Recommendation

I admittedly come from a Puritanical and Reformed stream of thinking when it comes to spiritual formation.  I did find, however, that Dr. Issler’s work was very well written and offers some legitimate advice in the realm of spiritual formation.  Again, read with discernment while being willing to put into action what the Spirit is laying on your heart.

Disrupted by Gayla Cooper Congdon

April 2nd, 2014 No comments

DisruptedCongdon, Gayla Cooper.  Disrupted: Cultivating a Mission-Focused Life.  Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 2013.  224 pp. $14.99. Purchase for less at Amazon.

Introduction

Gayla and her husband, Scott, founded Amor Ministries in 1980 as a response to need in Mexican orphanages.  Gayla oversses the staff’s spiritual health and communicates Amor’s mission to everyone who will listen.  She has more than thirty years of cross-cultural experience.  She enjoys disrupting people’s lives and challenging them to see the world through the eyes of Jesus Christ.

Summary

Disrupted is a 52-week devotional designed to center your thoughts and life on becoming more mission focused.  The goal, as I understood it is two-fold.  First, Gayla seeks to cultivate this mission-focused mindset for anyone looking to take a short-term mission trip.  To that end, she offers practical advice leading up to, during, and after the mission trip.  Second, the 52-week devotional is meant to prepare the reader to view life as one big missional opportunity.  In other words, you are a always a missionary if you are a child of God, born again of the Spirit.

Review

The advice at the beginning is very practical and is a great starting point as you plan on going on your first short-term mission trip.  The devotional, however, is the main focus of this resource.  In being 52-weeks long, it is meant to engage the reader for an entire year in order to cultivate the mindset of missions.  Each devotional is only a few pages and could therefore, in theory, be finished in 52 days.  They are full of stories from the field as well as passages of Scripture meant to encourage one’s thinking toward the mission field and the necessity of the gospel for salvation.

The clincher in this resource are the “Disruptive Questions” found at the end of each devotional.  These aid the reader in genuinely engaging and meditating on the necessity of missions.  Further, each month offers a life-challenge designed to help you continue living a mission-focused life.

If there is a criticism it is that there appears to be more hope in this book to disrupt the reader’s life for missions than the Holy Spirit.  While that is not necessarily the case, there are comments throughout the book along the lines of the reader allowing God to use this book to disrupt their lives for missions and the like.  This is not to say that Gayla thinks to highly of herself. It is to say, however, that the book publishing industry has once again influenced an otherwise solid book.  Anytime I personally read a book that winds up promoting itself in order to sell more books, I generally lose interest.  Instead of pointing us to more books and studies written by the author or published by the publisher, please point us to the One who will disrupt our lives as He did Paul’s on the road to Damascus.

Recommendation

Even with the above criticism, I can recommend this resource to anyone thinking about serving on a short term mission trip.  Understanding, of course, that you should read with discernment, there is some excellent advice by one who has spent a life seeking to live out the Great Commission.

Acts of the Spirit-Filled by Johnnie R. Jones

March 31st, 2014 No comments

Acts of the Spirit FilledJones, Johnnie R.  Acts of the Spirit-Filled – A Novel of the First Century. Volume 1.  Rockwall: CrossHouse Publishing, 2013.  322 pp.  $19.95.  Purchase at Amazon and for Kindle for much less.

Introduction

Johnnie Jones currently serves as a revivalist preacher traversing America exhorting thousands to call out to Christ and trust in Him for salvation.  He as authored several other books though his greater joy is spending time with his bride, Diane, two children and eight grandchildren in McKinney, Texas. You can learn more at his website, HisAboundingGrace.

Summary

From the back of the book:

Martyrdom. Fraud. Stoning. Beheading. Miracles. The early church experienced it all!

The Bible’s Book of Acts includes page after page of high drama, yet the average reader can’t help but be struck with the gaps that exist in this New Testament account of the early believers. What happened to those individual, unsung followers who risked their lives to participate in the birth of the church? What pain and crises occurred among those who gave their all to advance the cause of Christ?

In his dramatic novel, Acts of the Spirit-Filled, Johnnie R. Jones helps the reader envision how common, oppressed people became empowered by God’s Spirit and turned their world upside down with a powerful Gospel. Interweaving fictional dialogue, narration, and historic events, Jones paints a graphic picture of the struggles, trials, and passions that propelled Christianity forward during a dark and dangerous time.

This theatrical account of the early church is the first volume in Jones’ Acts series and is based on events described in Chapters 1-12 of the New Testament Book of Acts.

Review

One must keep in mind that this is a work of historical fiction.  It is divided into 12 chapters and covers the Book of Acts from 1:1 through 12:2.  Johnnie does not claim to have any personal knowledge of the characters he develops other than what he has been able to learn from historians about the time period.  What he does attempt, however, is to add depth to the characters and personalities found in the Scriptures.  He offers thoughts and actions and conversations that could have legitimately taken place “in the gaps” in the Book of Acts.

While not adding to the Word of God, Jones does add to our ability to relate in a more understanding way the lives of those found in first century Israel as the followers of Jesus grow from a movement to a sect to a full-fledged, recognizable faith that is to be reckoned with by all.  He develops different characters not mentioned in the Bible in order to remind us that this is indeed a work of historic fiction.

Perhaps the most questionable element would be the prayers of the Apostles and the “talking” of Christ with them through these prayers.  It is always a difficulty to place words in the mouth of Jesus Christ and not ruffles feathers.  Johnnie does this in a manner that I believe will not upset many.  Yes, there will always be those who decry such practices, but one can tell that Johnnie does not do this to detract from Biblical doctrine or to add weight to his won theological convictions.  Rather, he is offering an interpretation of what very well could have happened.

Furthermore, he offers the resources from which he based his characters in the bibliography section.  In other words, this is not something just made up in his own mind. Rather, this is something he has researched and attempted to base his characters and story telling on historical fact.

Recommendation

If you enjoy historical fiction, you will enjoy Acts of the Spirit-Filled.  I can recommend this resource to all believers and even all those who enjoy works of history.  There is much here that will help the 21st century reader better understand the 1st century Christian.  Kudos to Johnnie Jones for writing this novel.

John Knox by Simonetta Carr

March 28th, 2014 No comments

John KnoxCarr, Simonetta. John Knox. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 64pp. $18.00. Purchase at Westminster books for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is no stranger to readers here at Christian Book Notes.  I have been blessed to review most everything she has written as well as interview her.  You can find all of our interactions together here.

Matt Abraxas, the illustrator for a number of the books in this series, is renown for his work on display at the SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder, Colorado.  He has traveled from California to France, studying different approaches to art.  You can watch many of his videos on his YouTube channel.

Summary

From the back of the book:

From armed bodyguard to galley slave, from loving husband and father to fiery preacher, John Knox was moved by a relentless passion for the honor of God and the purity of His truth and worship. Yet when he was a schoolboy growing up in the small Scottish town of Haddington, he could never have imagined that he would become a major leader of the powerful movement that transformed Scotland into one of the most committed Protestant countries in the world. Simonetta Carr tells the story of how this great Reformer, whose life began humbly, in a faraway, mysterious part of the world, influenced the church and its beliefs far beyond the borders of Scotland, shaping our thinking still today.

Review

What child knows about John Knox? For that matter, how many adults know about John Knox? After reading this biography, they will not only know the pertinent information about one of the more fiery men of church history, but it is almost certain they will want to know more about the man.  Furthermore, this particular edition in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers will reinforce the reality of the bloodiness that was the Reformation.

If the reader would take the timelines from the various biographies previously published in this series, they will begin to see just how much overlap there was in the many lives that constituted and directed the Protestant Reformation.  For example, Lady Jane Grey, was born, rose to become Queen, and was executed all within the lifetime of John Knox.

Recommendation

Here is yet another winner in this very important series.  Given the wide swath of men and women included in this series of biographies, a child will have an excellent understanding of the giants in the faith who have gone before them.  Also, these biographies are quickly becoming a clarion call to a new generation to stand fast in the faith and fight for salvation of lost souls through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Every Christian home should have these biographies available to read.

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible

March 26th, 2014 No comments

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Introduction/Summary

Note: I am basing this review off a sampler edition sent to me by Reformation Heritage Books.  The study Bible is due to be released in November 2014.  

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible seeks to incorporate the rich history and tradition found in the Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries.  This study Bible will not only emphasize the deep theological truths rediscovered and promoted during the Reformation, but will also exhort the reader to the personal standard of holiness the Bible calls for and was lived out by the Reformers and later the Puritans.

They have used the King James Version for this study Bible to keep with what was basically used by the Reformers and Puritans.  Furthermore, they have added a dictionary to explain the antiquated words to a new generation.

The contributors include Joel R. Beeke (I have reviewed a number of his works here), world-renowned Puritanical scholar who is serving as the general editor.  The  Old Testament Editor is Michael Barrett – Aca­d­e­mic Dean and Pro­fes­sor of Old Tes­ta­ment at Puri­tan Reformed The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary. He also serves as a min­is­ter in the Free Pres­by­ter­ian Church of North Amer­ica.  The New Testament Editor is Gerald Bilkes – Pro­fes­sor of New Tes­ta­ment and Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy at Puri­tan Reformed The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary.  Other contributors include Michael Haykin, Geoff Banister, Charles Barrett,  Brian DeVries, Ian Goligher, John Greer, Jerald Lewis, Alan MacGregor, Andy McIntosh, Pooyan Mehrshahi, Colin Mercer, Gerald Procee, Maurice Roberts, David Silversides, John Thackway, and Malcolm Watts.

Some of the features included are typical of study Bibles.  Below are a couple images of what the pages will look like:

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You can view a pdf sampler here which includes the books of Hosea, Jonah, Ephesians, and the Letters of John. Also, you will be able to read articles on God’s Mercy, Spiritual Warfare, and World Missions.

Review

From all I can tell, this promises to be a rich resource for anyone interested in studying Scripture more deeply.  Personally, what sets this study Bible apart from all others are the “Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship” for each chapter of the Bible.  One cannot underestimate the power of this feature to equip the families to engage in meaningful family worship.

The notes are a bit different in that they read more like sermon notes than explanatory notes giving reasons for interpretation and exegesis.  Many of the notes, however, are explanations of the words used in the KJV to help the modern reader understand more accurately what is being said. The articles also offer little sermons rather than theological treatises (though they could be!).  For example, the article entitled “God’s Mercy” is adapted from Richard Sibbes’ exposition of 2 Corinthians 1 but is placed before the book of Jonah (in the sample edition).

Recommendation

Personally, I am not a fan of the KJV for no other reason than how I was raised (long story).  While I understand many of the criticisms of the translation, one can never underestimate the importance of this particular translation on the English speaking world.  That being said, the particular translation should not stand in your way of acquiring this beautiful study Bible.  You can learn more about this Bible at KJVStudyBible.org.  Though not completed yet, you will also be able to find more at HolyBible.com.

Given the rich traditions and heritage all Protestants have benefited from that are rooted in the Reformation and consequent Puritanical time frame, The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible promises to be one of the greatest additions to the choice of Study Bibles.  Very few study Bibles have exceeded, or will exceed. the usefulness of this one.  I heartily recommend it.

 

Lady Jane Grey by Simonetta Carr

March 24th, 2014 No comments

Lady Jane GreyCarr, Simonetta. Lady Jane Grey. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012. 64pp. $18.00. Purchase at Westminster books for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is no stranger to readers here at Christian Book Notes.  I have been blessed to review most everything she has written as well as interview her.  You can find all of our interactions together here.

Note: I am reviewing this book now instead of nearly two years ago because I lost it while working as a retail manager and then packing as I took a call to pastor a church in Mexico, MO.  We just found it!  Sorry.

Summary

For a great summary and introduction to the book itself, check out this video:

Review

I am excited about this volume of the Christian Biographies for Young Readers because it introduces a revolutionary young woman to both boys and girls.  More importantly, Simonetta was able to capture the magnitude and greatness of what genuine faith in the Lord may cost a believer.  In this case, Lady Jane Grey had it all yet gave it up because of her faith in Someone greater.  Truly, she embodied the importance of not storing up wealth on earth where moth and rust destroy.  As the story unfolds, the reader will be hooked by the intrigue and the infighting (all in the name of Christ).  In the end, there is not a worldly happy ending, but there is a happy ending–Lady Jane Grey stood by her convictions and faith.

The illustrations by Matt Abraxas are colorful and enjoyable and certainly keep the attention of the young reader.  You can see many of the illustrations in the above video.

Recommendation

This entire series is worthy of your attention especially if you have children.  This particular biography of Lady Jane Grey stands above the rest in the series, however, because it looks at a female who had a major role during the Reformation political battle between the Catholic and Protestant churches.  Read this to your children.  Read it to your daughters. In so doing, you will teach them what it means to genuinely die to self for the sake of the Kingdom of Christ.

From Heaven He Came and Sought Her Edited by David and Jonathan Gibson

March 21st, 2014 2 comments

From HeavenFrom Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective.  Edited by David and Jonathan Gibson.  Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2014.  709 pp.  $50.00.  Purchase print at Westminster for less or on Kindle for less than $20.

Introduction

There is really no hotter topic within orthodox Christianity than the subject of the extent of Christ’s atonement.  This discussion has taken place from the days of Augustine to Calvin to Edwards to Spurgeon to Lloyd-Jones to Piper to now.  This is a conversation that will never end until Christ returns.  That being said, it remains a conversation worth having and, as evidenced by this 700 page tome edited by Jonathan and David Gibson, is a very deep conversation.

Contributors include men like scholars and pastors alike.  Some of the more recognizable names include Michael A. G. Haykin, Paul Helm, Lee Gatiss, Carl R. Trueman, Paul R. Williamson, J. Alec Motyer, Thomas R. Schreiner, Donald Macleod, Robert Letham, Stephen J. Wellum, Henri A. G. Blocher, Sinclair B. Ferguson, John Piper, and more.

Summary

The book is divided into four parts with twenty-three chapters.  The first part looks at the definite atonement in light of church history.  Dr. Haykin, perhaps the foremost scholar on the Patristics, begins the sound scholarly essays that comprise this work.  The second part looks at the doctrine of definite atonement as found in Scripture.  Here, each of the five contributors to the six chapters that comprise this part, look at various elements and arguments for and against an understanding of definite atonement.

The third part begins the shift to the more practical side of understanding the definite atonement.  In this third part, the contributors wrestle with the definite atonement in theological perspective.  In other words, what does it mean, academically speaking, to hold to this view.  These essays lead directly to the importance of the fourth part where the contributors explain how the definite atonement impacts pastoral practice.  It is in this section that we find a “rubber meets the road” understanding of this important doctrine.

Review

I realize first and foremost that my website is not designed to engage in heavy theological discussions.  I simply right reviews to introduce quality Christian resources and offer a reason why you would want to purchase the book spending your time and money on these resources.  That being said, if you are looking for a deeper discussion of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, I would recommend you check out reviews by The Gospel Coalition or SBC Today. Both are lengthy and both are well-reasoned.

As for my thoughts, it must be noted that this book is in no way an “arm-chair theologian” book.  Rather, it is a work of scholarship and heart-felt conviction concerning the work of Christ for the salvation of souls.  To that end, I can honestly say I have read no other resource that comes close to the depth and breadth of work that From Heaven He Came and Sought Her does.  I believe the contributors to have done a masterful job of engaging the discussion from many different perspectives within the group of believers that hold to a definite atonement view.  It must be noted that the purpose of this resource was to argue for the Definite Atonement and therefore one should not expect a work of this magnitude to include other views except when there is an attempt to refute them.

For me, as a pastor, I found the fourth part of this book to be the most helpful.  While the first three parts can come off as “iv0ry-towerish,” it is this fourth part that shows how holding to this view of the atonement should positively impact your pastoral ministry.  This includes, but is not limited to preaching, evangelizing, and missions work.

One other important factor to be mentioned is that while these men write with conviction, they do not come across as many of the “young, restless, and reformed” pastors and writers do.  That is, they are humble and write with understanding that this is a debatable though extremely important conversation.  As you read through this work, you will find that you need a pen in hand and a Bible at your side.

Recommendation

While I would love to recommend this resource to every Christian (and I do), I realize that there are very few who will want to read a 700 page book on the definite view of atonement.  It is my contention that anyone who claims to be Reformed or Calvinistic ought to read this work – especially the fourth part on the pastoral implications.  Also, I believe if anyone is genuinely wanting to understand the historicity and biblical understanding of a definite atonement, there is no other contemporary scholarship that will compare to what is found in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.  If you are interested in this subject, then I highly recommend you begin here and build your library on this topic through the works cited and select bibliography.