What We're Reading
Knowing God, J. I. Packer
I picked up the audio version of this book and I'm glad I did. I like to listen to a good book when I'm in the car. I've found it to be more productive than listening to the news or music. The audio version also has an easy-to-use rewind feature that goes back in 30 second increments, custom made for those times when I discover I've allowed my mind to wander. It's also nice to be able to carry the book around with me, on my phone, to listen when I leave the car.
Packer's book is a classic, ranking right up there with Tozer's "The Attributes of God". "Knowing God" manages to be part systematic theology, part biblical theology, integrating both into a thoroughly engaging look at the character and nature of God.
The premise of the book is that one cannot enter into a deeper realtionship with the Father without the help of the Holy Spirit and an ongoing, deep acquaintance with the Scriptures. Packer makes his case by weaving practical approaches into a thorough examination of what God reveals about Himself in the Bible.
I highly recommend the book. This is my second time through it. The chapters build upon each other, each drawing the reader into deeper meaning and more exciting challenges. The final three chapters are simply beautiful. It's all the prep work done prior that makes them even more so.
One With Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation - Marcus Peter Johnson
This book is one of those rare books that has the potential to change your persepctive on nearly eveything, including your salvation. It is a deep dive on the nature and reality of our union with Christ. I have to admit to the necessity of reading the second half of the book twice in order to absorb all Johnson has to say. This is not casual reading.
Those who are willing to devote the time and concentration required to keep up with the ubject matter will be rewarded with an understanding of this important doctrine that has been largely abandoned by the modern church in favor of lighter fare. Johnson does a masterful job of bringing to the surface the foundational teaching of the Reformation and concepts that the Early Church Fathers assumed everyone could readily absorb and comprehend. It is a breath-taking examination of how diluted the teaching of the church can become when it convinces itslef that members of the Body of Christ have to be spoonfed a steady diet of milk in order to keep them engaged.
In the final analysis, we learn that our union woth Christ is far more than a metaphor or simile. It is a reality that tranforms our thinking about our election, justification, sanctification. faith and even about preaching, baptism and communion.
A highly rewarding, highly challenging read. I'm going back a third time!
God's Big Picture:Tracing the storyline of the Bible - Vaughn Roberts
I think we're going to use this book as a group reading project in the near future. Roberts is a fan and scholar of Graeme Goldsworthy's work (see Pastor Scott's review below). While Goldsworthy is well-respected among the academic crowd, he can be a difficult read for the more casual reader. Roberts had a desire to make Goldsworthy's most popular work, "Gospel and the Kingdom" more accessible. He's done a magnificnet job, giving us a book that can have an incredible impact on how the Scriptures are read. Starting with the premise that the Bible is one, cohesive story about God's plan of redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ, Dr. Roberts paints a beautiful picture of how each book fits within that storyline, what it contributes and how it advances the plot of the story.
By the end of the book, the reader has a new appreciation for how truly incredible the Bible is; one volume, written by, at least, forty authors, covering a time span of over 1700 years, utilizing multiple languages and multiple cultures...all telling one seamless, unified story about Jesus Christ. This book is a strong antidote to those who try to parse the Bible, minimizing some sections and over-emphasizing others. Without every book of both testaments, the story is incomplete. I can't recommend this easily read, relatively short book highly enough!
After Acts: Exploring the lives and legends of the Apostles - Bryan Litfin
An absolutely fascinating read that attempts to piece together the events sorrounding the Apostles and a few key characters in the New Testament after they disappear from view in the Scriptures. Making use of extra-biblical writings, historical data, cultural trends and the writings of the Early Church Fathers, along with a handy report-card-style summary, Litfin manages to compile a convincing picture of the final years of some of the pillars of our faith. I found his portrayal of Paul and his defense of Paul's mystery-veiled trip to Spain particularly interesting. The book is written in an easy-to-follow style and, while being thorough and academic in its examination of the materials available, an exceptionally easy read. When you see the reason why Nero was able to blame the Christians for burning Rome and make it stick, you'll not only gain a better understanding of how persecution of the early church became rampant in the culture, but you'll get some insight as to how those first-century Christians lived.
Taking God At His Word - Kevin DeYoung
We've enjoyed DeYoung's books ever since he was introduced to us in "Just Do Something", a practical guide to making decisions and determining the will of God without "hyper-spiritualizing" the process. "Taking God At His Word" is a well-written, easy read. It walks the reader through ann understanding of the Scriptures and how to apply them, in a realistic and practical fashion, to our daily lives. DeYoung is becoming known for how accessible his work is while maintaining theoligical integrity and a depth of meaning. What this means to the reader is a book that can be handed to a new believer and be easily understood. All the while, it has enough depth present a challenge to mature believers, daring them to read their Bibles objectively, with regard to the whole counsel of Scripture. In a day when false and wealk teaching is rising up in nearly every area of the church, DeYoung's book is an easy-to-digest reminder that the Holy Bible is knowable, necessary and enough to guide our lives and shape our futures. It's a great read and should be on all of our reading lists.
Goldsworthy Trilogy – Graeme Goldsworthy
One of the things you’ll hear us pastors often say is that the whole Bible is about Christ. 'The Goldsworthy Trilogy' is a wonderful, clearly and plainly written expression of that idea. The trilogy brings three of Goldsworthy’s books into one; “Gospel & Kingdom,” “Gospel & Wisdom” and “The Gospel in Revelation.” Goldsworthy contends that the Bible can only be understood through the eyes of the gospel. He follows the Bible chronologically to provide a complete overview of evangelical biblical interpretation.
Trusting God – Jerry Bridges
How do we trust God when nothing seems to be going the way we’d like it to? First, by understanding how worthy God is of our trust, and then by knowing that God uses all things for His glory. That’s the conclusion that author Jerry Bridges came to when he faced adversity in his own life, and realized his need to strengthen his trust in God. He writes clearly and plainly, walking us through a Bible study on God’s sovereignty. This is the kind of book that’s hard to put down, because it hits us where we live! Leslie and I are reading the book together and having long, edifying discussions about it.
Sanctification: The Christian's Pursuit of God-Given Holiness – Michael Riccardi
We can become confused about the doctrine of sanctification. If we're justified by faith alone (a gift from God) in Christ alone, how much do we participate in our becoming Christlike? Riccardi brings clarity and understanding to how we go about growing in holiness. The book's in the WBF bookstore, or you can order online by clicking here.
Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes - E. Randolph Richards & Brandon J. O'Brien
A keener understanding of the culture of the Mideast during ancient times will give us better insight to the Scriptures and the richness they bring. This highly accessible, well written book gives a brief overview of what the original authors wrote and how the original readers understood their writings. Highly recommended. The chapter on honor alone is worth the price of the book.
Son of Hamas - Mosab Hassan Yousef and Ron Brackin
A compelling, autobiographical story about the son of the founder of Hamas. Yousef documents his rise to leadership in one of the most notorous terrorist organizations of the world, his capture by the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bed and his recruitment to become a double agent, working for Israel while deeply entrenched in Hamas. His depiction of torture by the Israelis is unnerving at first. The tipping point of his story occurs when he realizes that his own organization is doing far worse to their own people than what the Israelis have done to him. Yousef is moved deeply and eventually converted to the Christian faith by what he reads in a Bible given to him while working for Shin Bed. This is a well-written, captivating book that exposes the secret motivations behind formative and world-changiing events in the Mideast, written from a perspective that only an insider can deliver.