All posts by Terry Delaney

Making All Things New by David Powlinson

Powlinson, David. Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2017. 128 pp. $11.99. Purchase for less at Westminster or on Kindle.

Introduction

David Powlinson is a teacher, a counselor and the executive director of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Gary Shultz has reviewed Good & Angry also by David Powlinson. He has become one of the more authoritative voices in the Christian Counseling discipline.

Summary

At only 108 pages of text divided over 9 chapters, Powlinson offers an excellent introduction to the healing process for those who have sinned sexually. He first orients the reader to the biblical view of sex before showing how the renewal process is personal. This personal renewal is the core of the book as the next six chapters deal explicitly with renewal.

Chapter three, on of the longest chapters in the book offers a discussion on renewing all things that darkens sex. Chapters four through six explain that renewal is a lifelong, wider and deeper battle than we ever imagined. Chapter seven is the longest chapter appropriately as it explains how sexual renewal for the sexually broken will be an increasingly subtle struggle.

Chapter eight and nine help you to remember the goal of renewal and engaging the daily skirmishes that weaken or strengthen you.

Review

Sadly, most everyone today needs this book. Whether it is through our own sinfulness (how many of us have wrestled with pornography?!) or the sinfulness of others, I cannot think of a time when someone has not been affected by pornography or sexual sin.

As one who was saved later in life (age 23) and having served in the military, I was steeped in sexual sin. I have an entire book shelf of dealing with porn, lust, sexual immorality, and the like and still I struggle. Powlinson offers the greatest hope for those who are struggling. It is not his experience or his wisdom. Rather the hope he offers is in the Person of Jesus Christ. He makes it abundantly clear that this will be one of, if not the, hardest battles every believer will engage during their lifetime.

He makes it clear that you are not alone in your struggle but also that a support group really is limited in how it will help you. Sure, accountability is key, but the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is more so. He never removes the responsibility from the self, but does explain how living in a fallen world will set us up for failure more than it will help us succeed. In other words, we must always be on our guard.

For me personally, the money quote came on page 68 when he writes, “[Jesus] has staked his glory on the completion of that work [sanctification].” Yes, we are responsible for our sinful actions and thoughts, but Jesus will complete the work He began in you and that is the gospel truth.

Recommendation

As one who has been defeated in the past by sexual sin, I understand how depressing and wounded one can become when wrestling against this terrible sin. David Powlinson has written a sweet healing balm rooted deeply in Scripture to encourage and equip the believer to engage the battle of an already defeated enemy. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone wanting to better slay the dragon of sexual immorality.

I Shall Not Die, But Live by Douglas Taylor

Taylor, Douglas. I Shall Not Die, But Live: Facing Death with Gospel Hope. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2016. 360 pp. $22.00. Purchase at Westminster for less.

Introduction

Douglas Taylor (1948-2014) is not a well-known name in Christendom. He did serve as Assistant Editor at the Banner of Truth Trust for 14 years. He began a blog on 7 June 2011 and wrote 651 posts with the last one published on 8 May 2014. The blog was entitled Works Worth Declaring and can still be accessed today.

Summary/Review

Douglas Taylor died 2 June 2014 from an inoperable liver cancer. From the time of his diagnosis in June 2011, he wanted to keep a regular blog giving glory to God for what He has accomplished. In so doing, Douglas left a treasury of God-centered, Christ-exalting, Holy Spirit-empowered testimony to dying well.

While the blog is still available, this book brings together roughly 250 of the 651 published posts and offers an excellent devotional reading for any Christian seeking to meditate on the reality of life and death.

Though you might not agree with the theology or even the general perspective of the author of this resource, the reader will be challenged to better understand what living a life, even at the end of life, looks like when it is lived to the glory of God. Taylor’s eternal perspective on death is one that ought to be emulated by all Christians because Taylor’s perspective is upheld by the holy God of Scriptures.

Recommendation

It is easy to say this book would be an excellent resource to offer someone who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and it is definitely that, but it is so much more. This book is an excellent resource to offer to anyone, especially those who are in their 20’s and 30’s to consider the realities of death and what dying well looks like.

My prayer for a resource like this is that Douglas Taylor’s death and testimony to God’s goodness would bring sinners to salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ and that his death would not have been in vain.

 

 

Worldview by Marvin Olasky

Olasky, Marvin. Worldview: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2017. 200 pp. $17.99. Purchase for less at Westminster or for your Kindle.

Introduction

Marvin Olasky is the well-known editor-in-chief of World Magazine. He also holds the distinguished chair in journalism and public policy at Patrick Henry College and has authored more than 20 books. This particular work is a collection of essays penned by Olasky through the years.

Summary

Divided into five sections, Worldview offers a compilation of 25 years of columns written for World Magazine. Section one looks at Basic worldview formation while section two shows how we should engage the ever changing culture with an unchanging truth. Parts three and four offer insight into understanding various institutions and causes. The final section is simply entitled conclusions and offers a pointed perspective on the Who has the final word in history.

Review

Bringing a few (57) columns together into one book offers great insight into the thinking of one of today’s most trusted magazine editors. The short chapters, by design because they are after all columns for a print magazine reprinted in book form, makes for a quick reading in the morning or evening. It is amazing what reading one chapter a day will do to help you better engage the modern news reports that are flooding our social media feeds.

At the end of each chapter there is a year in parenthesis to help orient the reader with perhaps a better context of what was being said. This is valuable for those who were alive during the 25 years of these columns. I do think, however, the book would have become more timeless if greater information was provided regarding the context of each column. Nonetheless, an astute student of history should be able to piece together the clues from each article and understand what prompted the piece.

Perhaps an unintended consequence (or given Olasky’s profession, it was completely intended), was to draw younger readers into the field of investigative reporting.

Recommmendation

Whether you are wanting to study journalism or simply want to better understand how to view the culture through a biblical lens, this little book will equip you to biblically engage the news of the world. This would be an excellent resource for high school students as well as college students in a Christian worldview class.

Reformation Commentary on Scripture NT Vol. VIII: Romans 9-16

Reformation Commentary on Scripture New Testament Vol. VIII: Romans 9-16. Edited by Philip D.W. Krey and Peter D.S. Krey. General Editor, Timothy George, Associate General Editor, Scott M. Manetsch. Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2016. 384 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster for less. You can purchase for Kindle.

Introduction/Summary

I have been blessed to review a number of these extraordinary commentaries. You can read those reviews here.

From the back of the book:

Writing to the early Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2 ESV).

Perhaps more than any other New Testament epistle, Paul’s letter to the Romans has been the focus of Christian reflection throughout the church’s history, transforming the minds and convicting the hearts of believers. Sixteenth-century reformer Martin Luther reflected the church’s longstanding emphasis on this portion of the canon: “Let the Epistle to the Romans be the door and the key to holy Scripture for you; otherwise you will never enter into a proper understanding and comprehension of the Bible.”

In this volume of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture, Philip Krey and Peter Krey guide readers with care through a diversity of Reformation-era commentary on the second half of Paul’s letter to the Roman church. Among the difficult issues addressed by Paul and commented on by early modern exegetes were the predestination of God’s elect, the destiny of Israel, the role of Gentiles in salvation history, the ethical demands of the Christian life, and the Christian’s relationship to the state.

Here, readers will encounter familiar voices and discover lesser-known figures from a variety of theological traditions, including Lutherans, Reformed, Radicals, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics. The volume draws on a variety of resources, including commentaries, sermons, treatises, and confessions, much of which appears here for the first time in English. Gathering together these Reformation-era reflections, it provides resources for contemporary preachers, enables scholars to better understand the depth and breadth of Reformation biblical commentary and aids the ongoing transformation of the minds—and lives—of people today.

As with most commentaries, this volume looks at each pericope of Scripture found in Romans chapters 9-16. This particular series allows the Reformers to give us their thoughts on the various passages.

Review

Romans 9. What fun can be had in Romans 9. What debates many Christians have today because of Romans 9. Twenty percent of the actual text of the commentary found in this book is devoted to Romans 9 while the remaining eighty percent looks at the final seven chapters! In other words, the Krey’s ably show that the debate on Romans 9 is not new nor will it be decided this side of eternity. In the end, while we must strive to understand how we understand this most important chapter in all of Scripture, we must do so with all humility.

The Krey’s show how vehement the arguments were, but also where charity was granted. There is much to be learned in this historical commentary, but to be able to say that one view over another is more right because more people held to it at an important time in church history is nonsense.

I appreciate their willingness to include the views of non-protestants like the Spanish Catholic theologian Domingo de Soto. Of great value to the modern reader is the brief 40-page biographical sketches offered at the end of the book that will explain to us who the likes of Domingo de Soto is.

Recommendation

While the value of this series is the historical perspective offered at the time of the Reformation, the value of this particular volume is to instruct today’s Christians and theologians in the right and wrong ways to disagree. We must understand that none of us have it truly figured out on the secondary and tertiary issues of the faith. What better place to begin understanding this than by looking at those theological giants from the Reformation and see how they often times agreed to disagree.

Commentary on Romans by David G. Peterson

Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation – Commentary on Romans. David G. Peterson. General Editors, T. Desmond Alexander, Andreas J. Kostenberger, and Thomas R. Schreiner. Nashville, B&H Academic, 2017. 616 pp. $39.99. Purchase from Amazon for less or for Kindle for under $10.

Introduction/Summary

As they are released, I am reviewing The Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series and continue to find the series extremely valuable.

According to bhacademicblog.com:

The major contribution of each volume, however, is a thorough discussion of the most important themes of the biblical book in relation to the canon as a whole. This format allows each contributor to ground Biblical Theology, as is proper, in an appropriate appraisal of the relevant historical and literary features of a particular book in Scripture while at the same time focusing on its major theological contribution to the entire Christian canon in the context of the larger salvation-historical metanarrative of Scripture. Within this overall format, there will be room for each individual contributor to explore the major themes of his or her particular corpus in the way he or she sees most appropriate for the material under consideration.

Thus, the summary is simply a commentary on the book of Romans seeking to place the book in its historical and cultural context. Specific to the series, however, the authors and editors strive to place the book in the theology of the Bible as a whole.

Review

Romans is an enigmatic book for many as it was used largely of the Lord to launch what later became known as the Protestant Reformation when Luther sought to understand the importance of “the righteous shall live by faith,” a quote from Habakkuk 2:4. It is also enigmatic in the current debate concerning Calvinism and Arminianism (I am using terms loosely that most will understand though there is much baggage for each).

Peterson’s even-handed approach allows the Book of Romans to speak for itself as he wrestles with the Greek text while relying on the Christian Standard Bible recently published by B&H for his English translation. He offers explanations that help the student of Scripture to peel away the layers of Scripture in order to dig down deep and plumb the depths of Paul’s most magnificent writing on the Christian faith.

Perhaps of more assistance to today’s reader is Peterson avoids the thorny conversations throughout history that have bogged Christians down. For example, He merely deals with the text in Romans 7 without entering into the debate of whether Paul is talking about himself as a Christian or before he was a Christian. He merely allows the text to speak for itself in all of its intricate details. And for that, I find that this commentary on Romans is a breath of fresh air.

Recommendation

This series continues to impress. This particular volume on Romans is, in my estimation, now the best commentary to begin one’s deeper study on this book as it seeks to wrestle with the text instead of also offering historical understandings. (Not that those are not important!) I highly commend this series, but of the three volumes published to date, I believe this volume on Romans stands above them all.

Biblical Doctrine – Edited by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Biblical Truth. MacArthur, John and Richard Mayhue, General Editors. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2017. 1026 pp. $60.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for less or for the Kindle.

Introduction

John MacArthur needs no introduction to anyone who has been a Christian for very long. He is world renown for his ministry Grace to You and his expositional style of preaching. I have reviewed a number of his works in the past.

Richard Mayhue served in numerous roles at the Master’s Seminary from 1989-2016. He has written or edited more than 30 books. You can find a few of them here.

Summary

As with most systematic theologies, they begin with an introduction to the importance of theology and the benefit of systematizing one’s theology into distinct topics in order to better understand what the Bible says on any given subject. The second chapter introduces the Bible as the source for all information about God and Christian theology. Chapter three begins to look at theology proper and starts with God the Father, and then God the Son (chapter 4), and God the Holy Spirit (chapter 5).

After laying the foundation of who the Triune God is, they move on to man and sin in chapter 6. From man and sin they move to the need for salvation. Chapter eight begins to look at other subject matter like angels and then the church (chapter 9) and concludes with the final chapter (10) on the future.

Each lengthy chapter concludes with prayer and a bibliography that proves to be extremely beneficial for those looking for further study specifically from other theological perspectives.

Review

As far as systematics go, this is a standard resource. As far as who wrote it and why they wrote it and the experience and wisdom behind it makes this systematic worth reading. Knowing that this is an edited systematic theology, the reader is not going to get one man’s perspective throughout. Yes, you will get an overarching theological perspective (more Reformed and more dispensational) but that is balanced by the multiplicity of contributors and even-handedness in Biblical application and understanding. In other words, they still allow the Bible to speak for itself and allow room for disagreement on the non-essentials.

Another element that sets this systematic apart is the intentional and explicit treatment of modern controversies. For example, in dealing with man and sin, they use four pages dealing with gender issues – a subject that has not truly had to be dealt with before the last decade or so. Also, they look intentionally at the matter of personhood. Specifically, when is the beginning of personhood.

Again, this is a matter brought to light due to the abortion debate.
What clearly stands out about this particular systematic theology is that it is meant to be a helpful resource for the pastor and student of Scripture. Yes, all systematics will help the student, but I don’t believe all are written with the pastor in mind. MacArthur, a pastor for over 50 years, obviously wanted this to be a resource that will benefit the local pastor. As you read through this resource there are key exegetical insights and contemporary applications sprinkled throughout.

Recommendation

While I personally own over a dozen systematic theologies, I have already found this one to be of great use pastorally. My greatest problem is a lack of familiarity with the contents and the location of everything. That being said, I highly commend this systematic theology to all Christians, and to pastors. Even if you have a systematic theology, you would do well to pick up a copy of Biblical Doctrine.

ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible

ESV Systematic Study Bible. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2017. 1904 pp. $39.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for less.

 

 

Summary

Theology should, first and foremost, be rooted in God’s Word. The goal of the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible is to demonstrate how all Christian doctrines arise from the pages of the Bible. Created to help readers understand how Scripture forms the basis for our understanding of God, humanity, sin, salvation, and eternity, this study Bible features over 300 short in-text doctrinal summaries connecting Christian beliefs to specific Bible passages, 25 longer articles explaining important theological topics in greater depth, and introductions to each book of the Bible that highlight the unique ways each book contributes to the whole of Christian theology. Created by an outstanding team of contributors, this resource was designed to help Christians better connect what they believe about God with the very words of Scripture.

Features

  • Double-column, paragraph format
  • Footnotes
  • Book intros
  • Topical index of sidebars
  • Cross-references
  • 300+ doctrinal summaries explaining core doctrines and connecting them to specific Bible passages
  • 25+ longer articles on key theological topics
  • Smyth-sewn binding

Contributors

  • Gregg Allison
  • Bruce Ashford
  • Gerald Bray
  • Bryan Chapell
  • Graham Cole
  • David Dockery
  • John Frame
  • Michael Horton
  • Kelly Kapic
  • Michael Kruger
  • Robert Letham
  • Donald Macleod
  • Chris Morgan
  • Stephen Nichols
  • J. I. Packer
  • Michael Reeves
  • Fred Sanders
  • Sam Storms
  • Scott Swain
  • Stephen Wellum
  • David Wells

Review

Each book of the Bible has a standard introduction along with the theological message of that book.

What makes this particular study Bible valuable are the many articles interspersed throughout the text that look at various theological doctrines. For example, Ezra 3:1-13 has an article on the Christian Life: Worship. It is a very quick explanation of what is taking place as regards worship in Ezra. There is a question for the reader’s consideration at the end of the article along with various passages of Scripture that discuss worship. These articles serve as introductions meant to drive you further into the text of the Bible to better understand what the Word of God says about a particular topic.

The gold is found in the twenty-eight articles written at the back of the Bible. These look at the importance of doctrine, apologetics, and why we should read the Bible theologically. In addition, there are articles on God, creation, grace, election, the gospel, and eschatology. Again, these serve as introductions to the topic, but by following the various texts referenced in them, the student of Scripture will begin building a robust theology rooted in the Bible.

Finally, the indices will serve a greater purpose than most given the nature of this study Bible. For example, there is a canonical index of the sidebar articles but also an index of sidebar themes organized in alphabetical order. To complete the invaluable index section is a fairly lenghty concordance.

Recommendation

If you are a student of Scripture, then you have undoubtedly heard of systematic theology (as opposed to biblical theology). If you have not been to Bible college or seminary, then you may very well have never been introduced to systematic theology. The ESV Systematic Study Bible will do more than introduce you to this very important aspect of theology. If one were to use this study Bible and trace the various texts to their logical conclusions, he will discover that the Bible is concise, congruent, and consistent in its message of God and man.

I recommend this study Bible to those Christians who are serious students of Scripture or those who want to be more serious.

Hidden Agenda by Steve Brown

Brown, Steve. Hidden Agenda: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2016. 224 pp. $19.99. Purchase for less at Amazon or on Kindle.

Introduction

Steve Brown is a radio broadcaster with shows like Key Life and Steve Brown, Etc. He is also the founder of Key Life Network.  He currently sits on the board of Harvest USA.

Summary

Divided into 14 chapters over 200 pages of text, Hidden Agenda offers a frank look at how we all have hidden agendas that prevent us from genuine relationships. Often times we hide our true motives with masks, what the Bible calls a hypocrite, to the point that we no longer can identify the real us.

Each chapter concludes with discussion questions designed to get “behind the mask.”

Review

In this day of Internet personalities and the ability to make yourself into someone you are not, this book comes as a breath of fresh air. Steve does not pull any punches in helping the reader to remove the layers of masks we have created. He offers gospel hope to the reader by pointing to God’s grace and mercy that is freely offered to all sinners.

Designed to be read alone or in a small group study, Brown will help the reader engage with the Scripture in order to be made more like Christ. Furthermore, in a group study, students will learn what it means to be in genuine fellowship where the “stained-glass masquerade” falls by the wayside and the real person is unveiled.

Recommendation

Hidden Agendas makes for a great group study as well as a resource to be read by anyone looking to better understand what genuine fellowship looks like with genuine people who can’t help but be real with one another because they know that God has begun, and will complete, a marvelous work in their lives.

The CSB Spurgeon Study Bible

The Spurgeon Study Bible. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017. 1,824 pp. $49.99. Purchase at Amazon or on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

I have reviewed a number of Study Bibles in the past. While I am not a “fan” of the Christian Standard Bible in that I prefer to preach and read from the English Standard Version, this is a study Bible I am grateful to be able to review. You can learn more at CSBSpurgeonStudyBible.com.

Summary

This three and a half minute video featuring Alistair Begg will help to introduce this Study Bible to you better than I could.

Review

This study Bible is pure gold for the student of the Scriptures. The notes come straight from Spurgeon’s sermons, which comprise the largest single collection of writing from one author in the history of the world. Each book is introduced by Spurgeon’s thoughts accumulated from his own writings.

Spurgeon was known for his illustrations. Many of these have been interspersed throughout the text as well in order to bring to your mind the gist of the text. Also included are a collection of lost sermons (20) as well as a short biography of Spurgeon and many of his own quotes. This study Bible does a masterful job of introducing Spurgeon, the greatest preacher of the 19th century to Christians in the 21st.

Understand that this Study Bible is about Charles Spurgeon and while that might upset some people, if you spend any time at all reading what he wrote, you will quickly understand that Spurgeon was all about Christ. This Study Bible is an excellent resource not only to introduce Christians to Spurgeon, but to also show them what a Christ-exalting, Christ-meditating life really looks like.

Recommendation

If you have learned from Spurgeon or enjoyed his sermons at all, this Study Bible needs to be in your library. It brings together so much information and becomes a launching point not just for information on Spurgeon, but of the salvation and lordship found in Jesus Christ of whom he loved and cherished more than anything else in his lifetime. With the Kindle version less than $10, you really should purchase this Study Bible today.

 

The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon, Volume 2 Edited by Christian George

The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, Volume 2. His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854. Edited by Christian George. Nashville: Broadman and Holman Academic, 2016. 560 pp. $59.99. Purchase at Amazon or for Kindle for less.

Introduction

I reviewed the first volume back in February 2017 and have been eagerly anticipating the second volume ever since. George is a renowned Spurgeon scholar and serves as the curator of The Spurgeon Library as well as assistant professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. You can read more at Spurgeon.org.

Summary

Again, divided into two parts with an introduction and then sermons 78-134, this time from “Notebook 2.” These sermons are arranged in the order in which they are found in the notebook and contain sermons with titles like “Self-Deception” (Galatians 6:3), “Final Perseverance Certain” (Philippians 1:6), “Wise Men and Fools” (Proverbs 3:35).

Review

As these volumes continue to be published, the modern reader is learning much about how the Prince of Preachers prepared his sermons. In the introduction, George offers keen insight into Spurgeon’s thinking and shows how Spurgeon evolved in his sermon prep.

The breakdown of the sermon selections and books, especially since C.H.S. did not preach verse by verse is fascinating and could very well be telling of what he himself, or his congregation was dealing with at the time of this particular notebook. For example, of the 57 sermons in this notebook, he preached 6 from Isaiah and Luke and 26 of the 66 books of the Bible were used over the course of these 57 messages.

As a pastor, I love seeing how another man thinks and organizes his material. We have long had the finished sermons, but to be able to see how he organized and changed his thoughts is a treasure. Comparing this what he writes in Lectures to My Students, one begins to see the master craftsman in action.

Recommendation

Not everyone is going to want to read these Lost Sermon collections of Charles Spurgeon, but everyone should read at least one volume. Doing so will show many modern Christians and pastors what a solid sermon looks like from start to finish. For those who have gleaned much from Spurgeon over the years, do yourself a favor and get a copy of this volume of his lost sermons as we get to watch (almost first hand) the evolution of a pastor in his craft.