The Message of the Living God (BST) by Peter Lewis

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Peter Lewis contributes this book in the Bible Speaks Today (BST) series. In addition to all the fine commentaries covering all the books of the Bible, there are several like this one that covers biblical themes. The approach to explaining these themes is still one of examining Bible passages. If you happen to be studying the doctrine of God, you might find this volume along with The Message of Creation by David Wilkinson and The Message of the Trinity by Brian Edgar to form quite a trilogy. In any event, this book on the Living God covers several key passages effectively.

The book is divided into three parts: God and His world with all Genesis passages, God and His people with passages over the rest of the Old Testament, and God in Three Persons with all New Testament passages. Believe it or not, that division is not stretched.

There are many outstanding expositions here, but I found the one entitled “Genesis for today” on Genesis 1 to be particularly perceptive. Several attributes of God are brought alive here. You’ll find many underlined sentences in my copy!

This book has great value because most volumes on this subject approach it in a systematic theology fashion. We sometimes need reminding that good systematic theology should come from Bible passages first.

I’m a fan of all the books in this series and mark this down as another title well worth your time.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Spirit-Led Preaching (Revised Edition) by Greg Heisler

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Most books on preaching, and I’ve read a lot of them, only give a cursory mention of the Spirit’s role in preaching. The better ones sometimes give a chapter. Besides a book by Tony Sargent on the preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, I’m not aware of any book like this helpful volume by Greg Heisler that probes the Spirit’s role in preaching. Even the Sargent book, as awesome as it is, doesn’t guide us through the whole sermon preparation process step by step with an eye on the Spirit as does this book. I somehow missed the first edition of this work, but this revised edition was a blessing and a reminder to me.

Chapter 1 challenges us to see that the most vital element, the Spirit’s help, may be missing in our preaching. What’s worse is that we may not have even felt the loss! Chapter 2 probes exactly what Spirit-filled preaching is. That aforementioned loss may mushroom for you in this chapter. If you somehow slip through without concern through chapters 1 and 2, chapter 3 will bring you before the tribunal. Jesus, the Prophets, and Paul all clearly highlight the essentialness of the Spirit in preaching. That must be the standard for us as well. Since there’s little doubt of being all in at that point, chapter 4 works through the doctrine of illumination. Here the nuts and bolts meet the Spirit. We who love the Word, and the exposition of it, find how complimentary Word and Spirit are to each other in chapter 5.

Chapter 6 looks at the Spirit and sanctification. Here the preacher himself and the Spirit are in view. The next chapter takes the preacher again through the sermon preparation process from text selection to ready to preach again with the Spirit. Chapter 8 glides into sermon delivery with the Spirit. Chapter 9 is a breath of fresh air as it takes the Spirit to the congregation. The value of listening is even probed. Chapter 10 is something of a challenging summary.

I’m impressed with this book. Its contents are desperately needed in our day of programmed, sterilized preaching that would rather give pointers for self-improvement than deliver the Word of God that throbs with life and has the power of the Spirit to bring it to life for you. Every preacher needs a library of key books on the ministry. Make sure this book is in yours.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

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Mark this down as one of the best books around on the Trinity. Don’t let the fact that it’s written in a popular style cause you to believe that it’s inferior to more scholarly volumes either. Michael Reeves has put the Doctrine of the Trinity on the high perch it deserves and uses it as a springboard to comprehend our faith. If you don’t go into the reading of this book with Mr. Reeves’ conclusions, you will likely leave it that way. Along with all that academic value, you will have your heart warmed too. This book succeeds at every level.

Instead of giving a chapter-by-chapter overview, let me tell you some of the things that jumped off the page for me. He reminded me how persuasive the concept of God as Father is all across Scripture. He demonstrated that because the Father loved the Son, creation is about Him sharing His love! He explained how our triune God “is the sort of God who will make room for another to have real existence”. That observation even explains the presence of evil in our world.

There’s more! He reveled in the explanation of grace being more than God giving out of what He had—He gives Himself. The Lord created familial relationships, he said, to extend the fellowship He loves. Isn’t this enough to hook you? If not, check out his discussion of holiness. I saw in the Trinity more than ever that God loves me.

If I could only have one book to explain the importance and practicality of the Trinity, this book would be it. Call it indispensable!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

The Triune God by Fred Sanders

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Fred Sanders does a fine job explaining our Triune God in this volume that’s part of the New Studies in Dogmatics series published by Zondervan. You may have heard about this series being in the tradition of Berkouwer’s Studies in Dogmatics. It’s fair to label it a success as it excels in theological penetration and is at times dogmatic! Scholars have lined up to praise it and it’s easily one of the better volumes on the subject of the Trinity.

He doesn’t consume himself with the historical development of the doctrine but approaches the doctrine head on instead. That is, to my mind, a great approach. Many books drown in the history and make little contribution to actual understanding so this book will be more effective for most readers.

He begins with doxology which is the perfect approach for such a far-reaching doctrinal subject about our God. He describes trinitarian doctrine as “a doctrine about God, spoken in the presence of God, to the end of praising God.”

Next, he looks at the revelation of this doctrine. He probes deeply, interacts with other scholars, and explains “mystery”. The following chapter on the communicative mission of Each Person of the Trinity is key to his overall argument. There’s plenty of help here.

Chapters 4 and 5 look at the Incarnation and gets into procession within the Trinity. As you will see, there are plenty of ways to go off the rails here. Chapters 7 and 8 look at each Testament and its contribution to trinitarian doctrine separately. Chapter 9 is a wonderful summary of what we learned.

You will want at least two or three books in your library on the Trinity. Make this one of them!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

God the Trinity by Yarnell

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This book takes a unique approach in presenting God the Trinity. There are several outstanding conservative volumes on the Trinity in print today, but Malcolm Yarnell gives us one that’s organized unlike any other. The conclusions found in this volume are conservative, baptistic, and supported by some of the finest theologians today.

On the downside, I had trouble following the logic of the flow of the presentation of the material. At times, it seemed random, conversational, and something of a flow of consciousness. Finally, I figured out that he was just addressing some of the most important biblical texts on the Trinity. All the arguments given showed scholarly depth and theological perception, it’s just at times they didn’t always seem the most persuasive tracks to prove the author’s point. In fairness to Mr. Yarnell, it could have been that I just didn’t personally connect with his design. Probably it’s best for you to check it out as it might be just what the doctor ordered for you.

The key Scriptures discussed are Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Deuteronomy 6:4-7, John 1:18, John 16:14-15, John 17:21-22, Ephesians 1:9-10 and Revelation 5:6. Without doubt, these are crucial texts in grasping what the Bible has to say about the Trinity.

The glowing recommendations that come with this book mean that despite my personal tastes about it, you will want to check it out if you’re trying to collect a study library for the Trinity.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Conformed to the Image of His Son by Jacob

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I’m convinced we will be hearing about this book that probes what being “conformed to the image of His Son” means for many years to come. It’s clearly a scholarly work, but anyone who has an interest in theology will see that it projects itself as paradigm shifting. Whether you agree with all the conclusions found in this volume or not, you will almost without fail find yourself thinking some thoughts you’ve never thought before. Right off the bat, you will notice in the forward by N. T. Wright that even major scholars will wrestle with it and some may be convinced.

In the introduction, we are introduced to the author’s premise. The six common viewpoints on Romans 8:29b are set forth along with an explanation of why the author finds them wanting. There’s also a brief outline and an overview of what you will find in each section of the book.

Part one of the book redefines the meaning of “glory” as found in Romans 5-8. There’s a look at Jewish literature, further probing of usage in Romans, and an explanation of what participation in Christ’s glory means. For me, I was fairly well convinced of the conclusions found in these first chapters.

Part two digs deeper into the text of Romans 8:29. There are three chapters that look at what the image of the Son means, what participation in the firstborn Son’s glory entails, and why we are purposed for conformity to Jesus Christ. I was less convinced of the conclusions found here, though I’m not sure I fully made up my mind. In any event, there’s plenty here to think about.

The criticism that I might offer for this volume was that the author made it sound like every scholar had failed by carelessness in their dealings with this passage and phrase. Further, some of the previously offered explanations that can be found in print are not quite as threadbare as Jacob would have us believe. Maybe we can overlook these negatives by seeing them more as passion than censure.

I’ll recommend this book for its importance. If you love theology, you’ll want to see this book and decide for yourself.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Middle Knowledge by John Laing

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John Laing makes a strong case for the concept of middle knowledge as an explanation of the providence of God. In doing so he upholds both human freedom and divine sovereignty. No doubt he writes in a highly divisive category among theologians and will probably get some pushback, but in my view has done well in writing a detailed, scholarly examination with careful biblical and logical accuracy.

Though he uses a lot of down-to-earth examples, this work will still be tough for newcomers to the debate. The logical analysis has not an ounce of fluff and so I suspect this work will be more appreciated by those with some theological background.

In a lengthy introduction he discusses what the doctrine of providence is, he examines the various models of providence, and he addresses the assumptions that are in play in arriving at a position. This information is extremely helpful in grasping the theological landscape. In chapter 1 he defines the doctrine of middle knowledge. He introduces the specialized vocabulary involved and shows several examples.

Chapter 2 is on the grounding objection, which he feels is the most important element in explaining middle knowledge. In chapter 3 he reviews the circularity objection before getting into the more debated chapter 4 on divine foreknowledge and free will. By chapter 5, he enters the most explosive battleground when he addresses predestination and salvation in regard to these theories.

Chapter 6 addresses the problem of evil and how it impacts each of these viewpoints. There’s a chapter on inerrancy and inspiration and its effect on this debate as well as one on science and theology. Since middle knowledge comes from Molinism, he addresses the biblical evidence for it in chapter 9. Chapters 10 is a conclusion upholding middle knowledge.

I can see myself referring to this book in the future any time the subject of providence in these debated areas comes up. I imagine the reader’s viewpoint may impact the rating of this work by reviewers more than the work itself. Again, it may be a little too strong for students due to the subject, but that’s not to say it’s written too opaquely. It’s the subject that’s tough. For me, it will likely be my go-to book on this lively subject.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Old Testament Theology by Paul House

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This volume on Old Testament theology by Paul R. House has been so popular for 20 years that it has warranted this paperback edition. The Preface leaves no doubt about what you’re going to find in this book. First, you’ll find that its audience is for college students, though it has enough depth to be appreciated by scholars and teachers. Second, you will find an emphasis on historical context with a canonical approach. Most importantly, you will find that the author unapologetically holds to an evangelical outlook. Old Testament volumes available today particularly run toward a critical outlook. In a word, this book is refreshing.

The first chapter gives the history and methodology of the study of Old Testament theology. You will see that that history has run willy-nilly through many ditches over the last couple centuries. He ends that overview by mentioning some of the important conservative works that have finally come out. You might check out a conservative counterpart to this volume in Eugene Merrill’s Everlasting Dominion though neither of these important volumes renders the other obsolete.

I love how House approached the subject of Old Testament theology. For the most part, he takes the books of the Old Testament individually to see their contribution to the overall picture of Old Testament theology. For that reason, this book would be quite handy for its theological background if you’re doing a study on a particular book of the Old Testament.

This book is a winner. To my mind, it’s not out of date and is worthy of this new paperback edition. I know I’m glad to have it at hand.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity: Counterpoints

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Here’s a volume in the Zondervan’s popular Counterpoints series. Because a proponent of each view presented debates others of varying viewpoints, these volumes can be particularly effective. A single author often has trouble fairly presenting opposing views, but here every chapter is presented by someone who strongly believes in the position described. Knowing that others will debate every point keeps each contributor on his or her toes.

This book describes two views on the doctrine of the Trinity: classical Trinity and relational Trinity. Each of those viewpoints is divided yet again by two contributors who hold slightly different perspectives within the model. The only thing that strikes me as odd about this volume as compared to others of its type that I have seen is that the four contributors, Stephen R. Holmes, Paul D. Molnar, Thomas H. McCall, and Paul S. Fiddes, are not that far apart in what they believe. If you have not been deeply immersed in Trinitarian debate, the differences in these four contributors may almost seem like splitting hairs. Fortunately, there’s a lot to learn by working through their interactions.

The style is the same as the others in the series. First, a contributor presents his perspective, the other three contributors offer responses, and the original contributor gives a final rejoinder. It’s a quite fair method as every contributor gets to give the last word on his own perspective. The general editor, Jason S. Sexton, also gives a 10-page conclusion reflecting on what was presented. For the most part, this is just a nice summary. Additionally, there’s a glossary which can be quite helpful as this subject has a lot of specialized vocabulary.

Usually when I peruse one of these volumes I find myself gravitating most closely to one of the presenters, but in this case, I agreed with great portions of all four of them. That’s not to say that they don’t disagree on a few points, but they are an essential agreement about the importance and main facts of the Trinity.

Though it’s a little different than what I expected, I still found it to be an overall nice resource well worth consulting if you are tackling the doctrine of the Trinity.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Approaching the Study of Theology by Thiselton

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Here’s a successful introduction to the study of theology by the revered scholar Anthony Thiselton. He has written major commentaries and highly-respected theological works including the companion volume Approaching Philosophy of Religion. With that body of work, Thiselton is the perfect candidate to write this type of overview to help students before they dive into larger theological tomes.

The Introduction introduces readers to the great categories of theology: the doctrine of God, humankind, human alienation from God, Jesus Christ: Redeemer, Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit, and the church and sacraments. You might call them by different names, but these are the great categories of doctrine. Broad and brief, this section makes for a great review. The rest of the introduction is taken up with a history of theology from the church fathers through modern times. You might quibble over what’s left out versus what got in, but again it works as an introductory overview.

Part one discusses approaches to theology in nine categories. This will help students realize the many angles by which theology can be approached. Some are obvious like biblical theology, hermeneutical theology, historical theology, and systematic theology while others like political theology and theology of religions are not so well-known.

Part two looks at concepts and issues and shows us how fragmented the study of theology has become. It strikes me as along the lines of the good, the bad, and the ugly, but a student needs to understand these concepts that show up throughout the scholarly world.

The final part is a discussion of key terms in alphabetical order. This section is wonderful for browsing or reference. You might define certain words differently, but again, this section perfectly works as an overview for students.

Thiselton continues a prodigious output in his later years. You almost wonder if he’s reflecting on his career and writing to fill in where he feels there are gaps. In any event, he has succeeded in giving us a quite handy volume here.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.