Carson on Christian Identity

“From darkness into light, from ‘no mercy’ to mercy, from ‘not God’s people’ to ‘God’s people.’ Such an identity is not established by banging a drum, declaring we are Christians, preaching unity as an end in itself, and singing ‘Kum Ba Yah.’ It is grounded in what God has done in Christ Jesus, and as a result, we become, so help us God, so God-obsessed, so Christ-obsessed, so cross-obsessed, so truth-of-the-gospel-obsessed that all of our diversities, all of our other corporate identities, however pleasurable, ephemeral, attractive, or interesting they may be, though in any other framework they may serve to push us apart, now become part of the spectrum that brings glory to our Creator and Redeemer—this holy diversity in the church of the living God.”

D.A. Carson in Holy, Holy, Holy

Sproul on God’s Grace

“The minute we think that anybody owes us grace, a bell should go off in our heads to alert us that we are no longer thinking about grace, because grace, by definition, is something we don’t deserve. It is something we cannot possibly deserve. We have no merit before God, only demerit. If God should ever, ever treat us justly outside of Christ, we would perish. Our feet would surely slip.”

R.C. Sproul in Holy, Holy, Holy

Book Review: Holy, Holy, Holy

In Holy, Holy, Holy, notable preachers Thabiti Anyabwile, Alistair Begg, D.A. Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, R.C. Sproul, R.C. Sproul Jr., and Derek Thomas provide unique perspectives on understanding the divine attribute of God’s holiness. Of all God’s attributes, the crowning one is the holiness of God which sets Him as infinitely greater than anything we as human creatures could ever become. From cover to cover, the Bible conveys to us God’s holiness and His requirements for those who belong to Him to walk in His holy ways.  This short 100 page book is a compilation of the lectures delivered at a Ligonier Ministries conference on the topic of holiness and the call to be holy as our God is holy. Each chapter is filled with pithy advice and carry a strong pastoral tone that warms the reader’s heart. It would be a very long review if I were to summarize the wealth of wisdom that can be found. Perhaps it would be best to highlight a couple of quotes that I found helpful as a sample of the weighty content found in this book:

“The minute we think that anybody owes us grace, a bell should go off in our heads to alert us that we are no longer thinking about grace, because grace, by definition, is something we don’t deserve. It is something we cannot possibly deserve. We have no merit before God, only demerit. If God should ever, ever treat us justly outside of Christ, we would perish. Our feet would surely slip.” (pp. 87)

“Since no man can see God and live, the only way we can do this (for that matter, the only way the seraphim can ever do this) is by indirect means—by seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We cannot look into the eyes of the Father and hold our gaze, as though we had access to His eternal being. Rather, we must, as it were, stand on the circumference and watch the eyes of the God-man Jesus Christ as He gazes on His heavenly Father.” (pp. 20)

Although the approach of each writer is different, every one of them highlights holiness as being something that we should strive to attain (albeit imperfectly in this life). The book’s aim is to strike the heart of the reader to take seriously the fact that holiness is critical to the Christian life.

I would highly recommend this book for Christians in all walks of life. Reflecting on North American churches today, it seems that we would much rather teach superficial self-satisfaction through following a set of morals and good behavior rather than the power that comes from a life of holiness. Moreover, holiness has become more like a lofty ideal that we need not worry about in this life. Thus, this book was a helpful reminder to me that holiness is not an option for the follower of Christ.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Reformation Trust in exchange for a book review.

Thomas on Judgment and Holiness

“What ever happened to the judgment of God in evangelical churches? What ever happened to the notion that for the redeemed of the Lord, there will be a judgment according to works, that we must give an account of all the deeds that we’ve done in the body, and that there are rewards in the new heaven and new earth. Somehow, in the past twenty or thirty years, the idea of egalitarianism has crept into the evangelical church’s concept of the new heaven and the new earth. But that is not what the New Testament seems to be teaching here. One of the motivations for holiness is that we must give an account, that a day of reckoning is coming.”

Derek Thomas in Holy, Holy, Holy

Godfrey on Sin and the Cross

“Do you begin to see the love of the Savior in this? Do you see the cost of the cross? Do you see what it takes for sin to be forgiven? Remember that quote from Robert McAfee Brown: ‘I like sinning and God likes forgiving, and the world is well put together’? What a tragic lie. What a demeaning of the Savior. But we tend to live like that, don’t we? I’m a Christian, so I can sneak in a little sin, because it’s all been paid for. Sin upon sin upon sin upon sin upon sin, all laid on the Savior on the cross. It is no trivial thing.”

W. Robert Godfrey in Holy, Holy, Holy

Book Review: Why Trust the Bible?

In Why Trust the Bible?, Greg Gilbert invites both Christians and nonbelievers alike to reflect on the historical reliability of the Bible. The author’s premise is that the entire Bible as the Word of God is authentic, authoritative, and accurate in the form that we have today. The book’s focus is primarily on proving the case for the New Testament canon which would also serve as the foundation for defending the Old Testament canon. Unlike other books on the subject, Gilbert’s approach lies in showing readers that if we can trust the New Testament as being historically accurate, we can also come to believe the New Testament’s claim that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Furthermore, if Jesus has power over death then He is indeed the living God and thus we should put our faith in Him. Based on this argument, we can see that this book serves chiefly as a tool for evangelism by illustrating to nonbelievers the reasons why the Bible is a trustworthy collection of historical documents. To prove his case, Gilbert uses seven chapters to examine how the New Testament were written by eyewitnesses and close contacts who wanted to convey the factual events that they saw and experienced. Moreover, the author shows how the church has carefully authenticated, compiled, and handed down the Bible throughout the centuries. Being a subject that has been studied for decades, the author draws heavily on the research of many scholars who have explored the various angles in determining the veracity, accuracy, and reliability of the New Testament. Fortunately, Gilbert avoids making readers tread through technical information but instead employs understandable illustrations and logical arguments that can be easily followed by a wide audience. For example, the author uses his father’s conversation with his son as an illustration of how translating the Bible from its original text can be a necessary but nonetheless accurate exercise. For those looking for more in-depth analysis, the author includes a detailed appendix at the end of the book for further study.

I would recommend this book to both nonbelievers and Christians who seek to learn more about this important topic. For the former, Gilbert’s book helpfully discusses popular objections regarding the New Testament’s reliability thereby clearing some of the common misconceptions that many nonbelievers may have. More importantly, I believe this book would be a great starting point for Christians looking to engage nonbelieving friends in friendly dialogue about the Christian faith. Without a grasp of how Scripture is reliable historically, nonbelievers may simply view the Bible as being a compilation of moral stipulations and intriguing stories or, at worst, a collection of fables and fairy tales. For those who have been Christians for some years but are unsure how to start such conversations, this book enables us to discuss and answer this important subject in a logical and convincing way. On this point, I especially appreciated the many examples and illustrations that Gilbert utilizes throughout the book as I find myself at a loss for words when I try to avoid using Christian jargon when explaining to nonbelievers. Why Trust the Bible? is not only an informative introductory guide for those who want to know more about the Bible but also a helpful tool for Christians who want to effectively evangelize to those around them and defend the authority of Scripture.

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