Beeke on God’s Majesty

“Too many of us today present God as more user-friendly than His own Word does. We want to make people feel comfortable, so we avoid telling them anything that will make them uneasy. We are so concerned about losing our young people that we never ask them to gaze on the holiness of God or challenge them to live out that holiness in the childlike fear of God. We condone materialism, worldliness, and triviality because we have so little sense of an ever-present, infinitely holy God.”

Joel Beeke in Living for God’s Glory

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Book Review: The Compelling Community

In The Compelling Community, Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop examine how the church is to be the testimony of God’s power to the world. Through Scripture and practical examples from Capitol Hill Baptist Church, the authors investigate how the local church can take steps towards becoming the community that God has ordained it to be. The book is divided into four parts: A Vision for Community, Fostering Community, Protecting Community, and Community at Work. In the first part, the authors invite readers to consider why the church is different from any other club or organization in the world. Dunlop and Dever argue that the church is a supernatural community so it needs to be empowered by God to be attractive and effective in the community that it serves. When we use our own methods, strategies, and initiatives to create community, we lose sight of the fact that the church body is not simply any man-made institution. Instead, we are to strive for transformation and growth both in depth and breadth that is only possible through God’s divine action. Flowing from this central theme, the other chapters illustrate the practical implications of this supernatural community of believers and how it can influence its surrounding neighbourhood. In the second part, the authors explore practical topics of church administration such as membership, diversity, preaching, prayer, and relationships. The third part involves tough areas such as addressing sin in the church and responding to discontentment. The last part offers advice on how a local church body can evangelize effectively and the topic of church planting.

I find this book to be a good reminder to church members in general and church leaders in specific. The illustrations and suggestions offered are intriguing though readers will need to exercise discernment in transposing these thought-provoking ideas into their own church community. Although the book’s concepts and findings may not necessarily be revolutionary, the helpful advice given by Dunlop and Dever is timely in our consumerist North American culture. As leaders, we are often anxious for results and success in our church ministries which oftentimes lead us to make decisions that are wise in our own eyes. However, the authors remind us that all of our church’s plans, strategies, and goals need to be empowered by God to be effective. It is only through His divine action that the church community can become and continue to be a shining display of the gospel to those walking in darkness. May we encourage one another to build a church that glorifies Him who not only calls us individually to be His children but also to thrive together as God’s household.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.

Dunlop & Dever on Patience in Ministry

“As we preach faithfully, pray, and model godly relationships, change will often happen. But as Christ’s servants, our job is not to ‘effect change.’ It is to be faithful. We work diligently to guide our churches in the right direction. And then as much as we long for change, we can rest content with whatever pace our Lord deems best. In fact, the richest harvest from our toil may only become visible long after our time on earth is finished.”

Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop in The Compelling Community

Book Review: What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?

In What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality, Kevin DeYoung writes a helpful guide for lay Christians on the Bible’s teachings against homosexuality, how to approach arguments by those who support homosexual practice, and how to witness faithfully to those who are unfamiliar or opposed to the Christian worldview. DeYoung divides the book primarily in two sections with the former part addressing Scriptural texts that are often debated and the latter part on answering arguments of those who favour same-sex marriage and homosexual practices. In the first part, the author carefully exegetes the relevant Scriptural texts to establish that God, as shown in His character and His Word, considers homosexual practice a sin. Furthermore, DeYoung points out that Christians throughout the centuries have embraced this fact as shown in the writings of the early church fathers, scholars, and other historical witnesses. In the second part, DeYoung offers responses to common questions from objectors who view the traditionalist view as being too strict, unloving, and contradictory. In this section, I found DeYoung’s answers to be logical and sound yet still retaining gentleness and respect to the opposing parties.

In this book, I believe DeYoung achieves his goal in introducing the lay person to what the Bible teaches on this topic and how to lovingly respond to those who oppose the Bible’s teaching.  Without going into deep theological arguments, DeYoung succinctly points out that the Bible and the historical orthodox Christian faith have always viewed homosexual behaviour as being a sin. He also provides insightful advice on how to respond to those common questions that Christians are bound to face sooner or later by those around them. Moreover, DeYoung writes with a pastoral heart that preserves Christian charity but without compromising integrity and commitment to biblical truth. This book aims to contribute to the much needed conversation that Christians should be prepared and ready to engage in and my hope is that our witness to God’s truth, grace, and love will prove faithful despite the costs and consequences of doing so.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.