All posts by Terry Delaney

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.

The Imperfect Disciple by Jared C. Wilson

Wilson, Jared C. The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017. 240 pp. $14.99. Purchase at Westminster for less.

Introduction

Jared C. Wilson currently serves as the director of content strategy for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Consequently, he is also the managing editor of For The Church.  He has written numerous books and also blogs at The Gospel-Driven Church.

Summary

Divided into ten chapters over 240 pages, this book is written with the modern reader in mind. In true Jared Wilson form, the book is centered on the importance of the gospel in your every day life. Each chapter begins with the phrase, “My gospel.” Doing so helps the reader to understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ is your gospel if you have been born again. It is your gospel to use and abide by and run to when you fail. The opening chapter considers the importance of soul maintenance while chapter two hits close to home in discussing how the gospel is good news for losers.

He proceeds through eight more chapters that shows how the gospel impacts and speaks directly into your life.

Review

Wilson’s writing style is very much influenced by social media. He is full of quips and one-liners that keep the reader engaged in such a way that the pages seemingly turn themselves. Some of his one-liners are set apart in one-sentence paragraphs that scream to be shared on social media. This is not necessarily a negative but was extremely evident to me as a reader and reviewer.

The content of this book is what drives its readability, however. Wilson is able to dig in below the surface of superficiality and unearth the matters of the heart. Chapter six, “The Revolution will not be Instagrammed” should be must reading for any believer who attends worship services and has joined, or is looking to join, a local church. Chapter nine needs to be read by anyone considering the good news of the gospel to be out of their grasp.

Ultimately, Jared Wilson offers a wonderful work on the importance and messiness of discipleship in the context of real life. He confesses that we mess it up (more often than we want to admit!) but that only means that the gospel is that much more important to our daily lives.

Recommendation

There are many books on discipleship that have been used greatly in the lives of numerous Christians. The Imperfect Disciple will undoubtedly takes it rightful place on many book shelves. I recommend this book to anyone struggling with living out their Christianity in the context of everyday life. While it is a quick read, its truths are profound and will impact any reader for years to come.

Walking Through Twilight by Douglas Groothuis

Groothuis, Douglas. Walking Through Twilight: A Wife’s Illness – A Philosopher’s Lament. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2017. 176 pp. $17.00. Purchase at Amazon or Kindle for less.

Introduction

I have reviewed a couple of Dr. Groothuis’ works in the past including Philosophy in Seven Sentences and Christian Apologetics. He is a well-known philosophy professor at Denver Seminary as well as a Christian apologist. This particular book is a diversion from his normal writing genre and is more autobiographical in nature.

Summary

Divided into 19 chapters with 9 interludes, this work is organized somewhat chronologically though it is more free-flowing than that. While each chapter could readily stand alone, there is a richness in reading it cover to cover understanding that there will be moments of rich theological reflection mixed with human wrestling with the One who has deemed this the path of choice for the Groothuis family.

You will get to know, Becky, Dr. Groothuis’ loving wife as well as Sunny, their loving Goldendoodle dog. More importantly, you will see faith in action.

Review

Sometimes you pick up a book expecting it to challenge you and sometimes it meets those expectations. Often times it does not. Walking Through Twilight was both. This book did more than meet my expectations. It far exceeded any expectation I might have had. Having journeyed digitally with Dr. Groothuis via Facebook as he wrestles with God and the sweet hand of bitter providence in the life of his beloved Becky, I figured I would be treated to something profound. I was not prepared for what I read.

I picked this book up at 9:30 on a Friday evening. I finished it by 9:30 Saturday evening. I would have finished it by midnight Friday but sleep overtook me and the responsibilities of Saturday kept me from reading until later in the evening. Regardless, all I could think about was getting back to this book. It is raw and gutsy. Dr. Groothuis shows what it is like to have a deep-rooted faith in a loving God while still wrestling with Him.

Doug’s willingness to model biblical lament both incorrectly and as biblically informed is commendable and praiseworthy. Many Christians today do not know how to lament properly. Doug points out that he is still learning what it means to lament, but that is part of the process of sanctification and it is ok. He recognizes that God is still present and active and has not left him or forsaken him, but he also admits that he often feels at a loss to comprehend everything in light of what he knows to be true.

While there are certainly going to be theological points that Dr. Groothuis touches on in this book that you very well may disagree with, here is not the time or the place to engage those disagreements. Rather, now is the time to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). In this instance, we weep at the trials and tribulations and rejoice at the hope found in Christ all the while learning what it means to lament with hope.

Recommendation

Rarely have I picked up a book and not been able to put it down. Walking Through Twilight is one of those books that you will read through quickly only to find yourself wanting to go back and read again slowly. This book should be must reading for all hospice and in-home workers as well as pastors and anyone who is wrestling with long-term care of a loved one with dementia. As I said above, this book is raw and gutsy. It represents what I believe to be Dr. Groothuis’ greatest contribution to Christendom because of its practicality rooted in deep faith that has been on public display for decades.

Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 7

Sibbes, Richard. Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 7. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001. 604 pp. $27.00. You can purchase Volume 7 at The Banner of Truth for $24.30. You can purchase the complete set of 7 volumes for $162.00 at Westminster Books or for a mere $10.00 on Kindle.

Introduction

I have reviewed many of Richard Sibbes’ books in the past. This is now the sixth of seven volumes in his collection of Works produced by The Banner of Truth Trust. It has taken me almost a year to get this far for a myriad of reasons, but one thing I know is that this set of works has been invaluable to my personal walk with the Lord.

Summary

Volume 7 contains 30+ sermons of Richard Sibbes from throughout his ministry as well as a number of his extant “other writings.” Also included is a bibliographical list of all of his known writings as well as a glossary showing where particular words were used. The indices, however, prove to be invaluable for those who are doing research on the specific texts he preached as well as the many topics on which he wrote.

Review

While this final volume in the 7-Volume Works of Richard Sibbes is comprised of the indices and glossaries and end of work materials, do not be fooled. There are a number of sermons that today’s believer would do well to read and become familiar with. Most of these sermons are under 20 pages in length with quite a few under 15 pages, this volume makes for a great devotional of sorts.

One sermon on 1 John 3:3, The Pattern of Purity, offers excellent advice on how to live in an age where lust seems to rule the day. Then you recall that this sermon was preached in the 1600’s and you realize that Satan’s methods have not changed.

The 7-volume series as a whole provides an excellent snapshot of what a puritanical ministry looked like over the course of a minister’s life. The cumulative effect is to show that the Word of God was and is powerful and to show that the Word of God applies to all people at all times in all cultures. In other words, the message of God’s holiness and our need of salvation never changes.

Recommendation

Chances are you have either already purchased the entire set in which case buying volume 7 by itself makes no sense. If, however, you are looking for a lengthy introduction to the ministry of the Puritans, specifically, Richard Sibbes, you would do well to purchase this volume as it offers a number of lesser-known sermons with a wide array of subject matter.

The New City Catechism Edited by The Gospel Coalition

The New City Catechism: 52 Questions & Answers for Our Hearts & Minds. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2017. 128 pp. $7.99. Purchase at Amazon.

Introduction

Catechisms are making a comeback and The Gospel Coalition is helping in this endeavor. You can find out much more at newcitycatechism.com.

Summary/Review

Divided into three parts and 52 questions, this catechism is a simple as ask a question and give the answer. Part 1 looks at God, Creation & Fall, Law. Part 2 is dedicated to Christ, Redemption, Grace. Part 3 looks to the Spirit, Restoration, Growing in Grace. Each part has its own dedicated color: red, blue, and green respectively.

This little book is meant for family or personal devotions and can be used by any believing Christian regardless of denominational affiliation. Personally, I find the flow of the catechism to be well thought out as the writers assume unbelief of the reader and progresses toward belief and growing in Christ. Very simple in design, the questions are on the left page while the answers and biblical support are on the right page.

Also, they offer memorization tips (hint: consistent repetition) as well as some reasons as to why catechizing your children (and maybe yourself) will benefit them over the course of their lives. Overall, this little catechism is well designed and will easily slip into your Bible case or on your coffee table for ready access.

Recommendation

We have used other catechisms with our children which have proven extremely helpful. The New City Catechism offers an excellent family devotional resource. Its simple design makes this resource an excellent addition to any Christian family’s library and family worship time.

Commentary on 1-2 Timothy & Titus by Andreas J. Kostenberger

Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation – Commentary on 1-2 Timothy & Titus. Andreas J. Kostenberger. General Editors, T. Desmond Alexander, Andreas J. Kostenberger, and Thomas R. Schreiner. Nashville, B&H Academic, 2017. 612 pp. $39.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

I reviewed the first volume to be published, Hebrews, back in 2015. Dr. Kostenberger is senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also is the founder of Biblical Foundations.

The Commentary Series

The Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation Commentary series explores the theology of the Bible in considerable depth, spanning both Testaments. Authors come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, though all affirm the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. United in their high view of Scripture, and in their belief in the underlying unity of Scripture, which is ultimately grounded in the unity of God himself, each author explores the contribution of a given book or group of books to the theology of Scripture as a whole. While conceived as stand-alone volumes, each volume thus also makes a contribution to the larger whole. All volumes provide a discussion of introductory matters, including the historical setting and the literary structure of a given book of Scripture. Also included is an exegetical treatment of all the relevant passages in succinct commentary-style format. The biblical theology approach of the series will also inform and play a role in the commentary proper. The commentator permits a discussion between the commentary proper and the biblical theology that it reflects by a series of cross-references.

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.

This format, in itself, would already be a valuable contribution to Biblical Theology. But there are other series that try to accomplish a survey of the Bible’s theology as well. What distinguishes the present series is its orientation toward Christian proclamation. This is the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation commentary series! As a result, the ultimate purpose of this set of volumes is not exclusively, or even primarily, academic. Rather, we seek to relate Biblical Theology to our own lives and to the life of the church. Our desire is to equip those in Christian ministry who are called by God to preach and teach the precious truths of Scripture to their congregations, both in North America and in a global context.

It is our hope and our prayer that the 40 volumes of this series, once completed, will bear witness to the unity in diversity of the canon of Scripture as they probe the individual contributions of each of its 66 books. The authors and editors are united in their desire that in so doing the series will magnify the name of Christ and bring glory to the triune God who revealed himself in Scripture so that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved—to the glory of God the Father and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and for the good of his church. To God alone be the glory: soli Deo gloria.

Summary

As with any commentary, there is an in depth introduction of each book looking at the author and date as well as its historical context. Also, there is a literary analysis and a look at the structure which offers a discussion of the genre and vocabulary used throughout.

After all of the introductory material, the author offers the occasion and purpose of each book as well as whom the opponents were. From there, the book offers commentary in such a manner that the reader will understand how the book fits into the larger scope of the overall context that surrounds the passage as well as how it fits into the overall flow of Scripture.

Review

As a pastor, I use a number of commentaries. Most of them are simply broke down by pericope and then verse. This series not only does that, but offers much greater detail and breaks down the passage into further subheadings. For example, each section includes a bridge which shows explicitly how the passage applies to a modern day context.

Regardless, the ultimate use of this commentary will be to help the student of Scripture orient himself (or herself) to the larger theme of the Bible. This is a great aid for so many who think that these three epistles do not apply to anyone except pastors. Kostenberger does an excellent job of exegeting the Scriptures and allowing each passage to be understood by the rest of Scripture. Sometimes this will present a challenge for the pastor and exegete but it shows that the authority of Scripture reigns in the mind of the author. Furthermore, it is abundantly clear that the series is based on an understanding of inerrancy as basic foundational approach to the Bible.

Recommendation

As a pastor, I cannot wait for the rest of this series to be published. As a Christian, I appreciate the accessibility and readability of the commentary such that anyone who wants to study the Word deeper can. I highly commend this resource to any thinking Christian or any pastor who wants to take his study to another level.

 

Resplendent Bride by E.M. Welcher

Welcher, E.M. Resplendent Bride: Essays on Love & Loss. Dubuque: ECS Ministries, 2016. 160 pp. $9.95. Purchase at Amazon or for Kindle.

Introduction

Welcher is a young man who married the love of his wife and hoped to grow old in the ministry together. He currently serves as pastor of First Christian Church, Glenwood, Iowa. You can follow him on Twitter.

Summary

Divided into three parts, Welcher offers a brief biographical look at his and Danielle’s life and marriage and the diagnosis of cancer in the first part. The second part looks at the first year following Danielle’s home going to the Lord while the third part offers reflections a couple years removed from the trial.

Review

Many times, congregations want to know how a pastor handles a tragedy like death in an accident with an elektrische scooter. Evan Welcher shows how he did so in this very intimate book. Full of various essays, Welcher points the reader to God at what can only be described the most difficult time of his life. Furthermore, his sense of humor is on full display throughout the book. For example, chapter 12 is entitled ‘The Leader dies in Christianity’ with a footnote explaining, “This was adapted from a sermon…because I’m a preacher.”

Not meant to be a deep theological study on death and a proper biblically-influenced response to the trials of life, it is abundantly clear that Welcher does have a depth of faith and knowledge of doctrine that has supported him throughout the entire ordeal.
As you follow Welcher’s remembrances of his bride and growing faith in Christ, you will be challenged to a deeper faith yourself. You will laugh and cry (sometimes on the same page!) and through it all, you will see a mature faith, forged in adversity and death, on full display. These essays can be read devotionally and meditatively, but they should not be read lightly. Though he grieves publicly, he does so with the hope of eternity in heaven and knowing that he will see his bride again in all her glory.

Recommendation

Granted E.M. Welcher is not a “household name,” but that is what makes this book so appealing and commendable to you. Being able to see how a regular believer with faith in the Lord walks through the valley of the shadow of death is a blessing from the Lord. I highly commend this book to anyone facing the loss of a spouse or loved one as an example of what Christian grief looks like.

Prayers for Trump by Charles M. Garriot

Garriot, Charles M. Prayers for Trump: Petitions for the 45th President. Washington D.C., Riott, 2017. 95 pp. $18.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

I have reviewed Charles’ previous book, Prayers for Obama. With a new President comes a new round of prayers. You can find out more at MinistryToState.org.

Summary

Divided into 12 chapters, Garriott offers a devotional-esque commentary on a passage of Scripture and then offers a written prayer for the President specific to the topic of the chapter. For example, there is a chapter entitled petition for truth and another entitled petition for family. By the end of the book you will have prayed for most every area of the President’s life public and private and will have done so from the Book of Proverbs.

Review

This may be a dangerous book to write today given our current political climate. Garriott is not concerned with that perception, however. His overarching concern is that we pray for “kings and all who are in high positions.” While President Trump is not a king, he is most certainly in a high position. As Christians, we are commanded to pray for our secular leaders who have been put there by God (Romans 13:1).

Garriott offers objective, Biblically informed and saturated prayers for the President. For that, we should be thankful. Not only do these prayers become a sound starting point for praying for the President, but they become a diving board from which you can also jump into deeper prayer for the leader of the USA.

Recommendation

Regardless of your political leanings or whether you like the man who is the President of the United States, as a Christian, you are mandated to pray for him. Charles Garriott is concerned for Biblical fidelity over and above political affiliation. Every Christian would do well to read this book if they struggle to pray for the President…especially if they struggle because they disagree with him.

Face Time by Kristen Hatton

Hatton, Kristen. Face Time [Your Identity in a Selfie World]. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2017. 130 pp. $15.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

Kristen is a pastor’s wife and mother of three teenagers. She leads a small group Bible study for teens. She has also written Get Your Story Straight. You can find out more at KristenHatton.com.

Summary

Divided into two parts, Kristen first lays the foundation of what are true identity is in light of who Christ is. She spends five chapters detailing the problems every teenage girl faces and points them to Jesus Christ who took on all of our sinful problems and offers us the gift of salvation…or, more importantly, His identity in exchange for our own.

The second part looks at twelve common false identities every teen-aged girl faces. From issues of comparison to materialism to drinking and sex and self-harm, Kristen explains how Jesus offers a better identity.

Review

Kristen’s experience with teenaged ministry is obvious on every page. She offers sound advice and keen insight into how the Bible speaks to the teenaged girl today. Her stories offered in the second part of the book are real-to-life and will certainly resonate with the reader. Her counsel is clearly rooted in Scripture.

She offers excellent reflection questions and offers great journaling prompts to help the young women wrestle with the Biblical truths and compare those to the lies Satan would have us believe. What I love the most about this book is that the veneer is beginning to crumble on the social media world. Kristen is dealing with an epidemic in the church of identification crises that are plaguing just about everyone…perhaps no group more than teen-aged girls.

Recommendation

Written for teen-aged girls, I actually found that this book would be great for teen-aged boys as well. That being said, I highly commend this book to parents of young women entering, or already in, their teen years. Youth pastors would do well to pick up this book and assign it as a group study (probably with a woman leading) for teen-aged girls.