Book Review: The Gospel According to Paul

BLOG The Gospel According to Paul

In The Gospel According to Paul, John MacArthur aims to lay out the gospel message that the apostle Paul preached and embodied as Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles. MacArthur’s motivation to write the book is due to his concern that the gospel message is being increasingly eroded in our times especially in respect to the penal substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus. Thus, the book is a careful exposition of the good news of Christ as preached through Paul who was inspired by the Spirit to write the bulk of the New Testament. MacArthur focuses on the book of Romans but draws widely from the apostle’s other epistles while also comparing what Paul preaches to what Jesus taught in the Gospels. The chapters are systematically arranged to present the gospel using the five points of Calvinism as the underlying framework with a special emphasis on the atonement as the satisfaction of God’s wrath and justice. The author argues that as God is a righteous God who cannot overlook sin, it was necessary for a suitable sacrifice to be offered to propitiate the wrath of God. To entirely pay for the sum of the human race’s unrighteousness, only the Son of God who is the perfect God-man to atone for our sins fully. Christ’s death was necessary and sufficient in allowing us to be declared righteous in the sight of God. At the end of the book, there are four appendixes that further complement the author’s message and defense of the penal sacrifice of Christ.

I would recommend this book to believers and non-believers alike who want a biblical and succinct summary of the gospel. Many people today are looking for a revamped version of the gospel that tweaks its message to fit their ideologies and tastes. In this book, MacArthur masterfully defends the key aspects of the orthodox Christian faith by showing what is written clearly in Scripture by the apostle Paul. Furthermore, the author defends against contemporary attacks on the gospel such as the Emergent movement and the New Perspective on Paul. Christians need to hold firmly to what is taught in Scripture and remain vigilant against any false gospel that attempts to corrupt the good news of Jesus Christ.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I was provided a review copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers

Book Review: Reformation Theology

BLOG Reformation Theology

In Reformation Theology, Matthew Barrett along with a host of reformed scholars offer a summary of the major areas of reformation thought in the sixteenth century. Focusing primarily on the magisterial reformers, the authors paint a vivid picture of the multifaceted dimensions of the theologies of the main reformers such as Luther, Calvin, Bucer, and Melanchthon. However, the authors do also take efforts to interact with the thinking and influences of related parties including the early church fathers, the medieval Roman church, and the radical Reformers along with other reformation movements in England, France, and Scotland. The chapters explore key topics including justification by faith, union with Christ, and the sacraments while also looking at lesser considered areas such as the reformers’ views on eschatology and the image of God. Each topic is prefaced by an overview of the historical, social, and theological contours before delving into the core issues. Moreover, instead of examining all the different nuances of each subject, the authors chose to interact with the most influential voices such as Calvin’s Institutes and the Reformed confessions. In addition to the many useful footnotes at the bottom of each page, there are lengthy lists of primary and secondary resources at the end for readers to access for further information.  The one drawback of the book in focusing so narrowly on the first and second generation reformers is that there is substantial amount of informational overlap in the sources and ideas presented among the different chapters. Nevertheless, this book serves as an accessible introduction to both laypeople and students alike as the authors are largely successful in condensing the material to concentrate on the most essential aspects of each topic.

I would most definitely recommend this book to those who are unfamiliar with the key issues at stake in the Reformation. A good understanding of our Protestant heritage is important for contemporary believers who often are not even familiar with the history of their own denominations. By studying how the reformers worked out doctrinal issues in the sixteenth century, we can gain greater knowledge and perspective in how we can face challenges to those same controversies, albeit in a different form, in the twenty-first century. Furthermore, we can come to a greater appreciation of the massive struggles, tensions, and sacrifices of those who have gone before us to recapture the vital truths of the Christian faith.

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

Book Review: Alive in Him

BLOG Alive in Him

In Alive in Him, Gloria Furman brings her readers on a journey to uncover the deep spiritual truths found in the book of Ephesians. Furman argues that the primary theme of Ephesians is that Jesus Christ is the one who unites all things in Himself both in the present age and in the age to come. Moreover, this theme unfolds with the first three chapters describing the basis of our new identity in Christ and the last three chapters addressing how to live out our new humanity in the light of the gospel. Instead of a verse-by-verse analysis, Furman chooses to focus on the major themes in each chapter thereby allowing readers to appreciate Ephesians as one cohesive letter as it was originally intended. The most important point that Furman makes is that everything in the universe has been subjected to Christ who will one day come and finally unite all things in Himself. When we view all things with this mindset, we gain great comfort and confidence that no matter what happens to us, victory has been secured through Jesus. We who were spiritually dead have now been raised through the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead and now inherit all the spiritual blessings that belong to Him. Furthermore, with Christ as the head, those who are redeemed, regardless of race, nationality, or class, are now one united body that wars against Satan through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.

I would recommend this book to all those who want to be introduced or re-introduced to the magnificence of Christ and His gospel. I personally love the book of Ephesians very much and Furman has further ignited my appreciation of the vastness and depth of the gospel truths found in this epistle. Even though we were enemies of God, we are now adopted members of His household through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Because of our new identity purchased through the blood of Jesus, we can find peace and assurance in life’s most difficult trials or most trivial moments. Not only has Christ defeated Satan, sin, and death on the cross, He continues to subject all things under His feet until He returns. Moreover, He does not leave us helpless as we wait for His return but gives us His Spirit to protect, teach, and guide us on our paths towards holiness and spiritual maturity.

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

Book Review: This Changes Everything

BLOG This Changes Everything

In This Changes Everything, Jaquelle Crowe hopes to encourage Christian teens to live all of life through the power of the gospel. Young Christians often think that what they do now is either insignificant or meaningless. However, Crow argues that the adolescent years are critical to the formation of a mature Christian life. The author reminds that all who have been saved and redeemed by God from death to life by the precious blood of His Son can no longer live the same way regardless of one’s stage in life. In each chapter, Crowe highlights a specific arena in life such as our community, habits, and relationships that need to be transformed in light of our blood-bought status in Christ. For example, in Chapter 8, Crowe discusses how our relationships with parents, siblings, and friends are no longer self-focused and self-serving but should instead be marked with humility and love for the other party. Even our relationships with the opposite gender is to be characterized by purity, respect, and honour. At the end of each chapter, there are dozens of practical suggestions that readers can try as they begin the process of submitting every thought, word, and deed to bring glory to God.

I would gladly recommend this book to young Christians looking for ways to genuinely live out their faith in all spheres of life. Although meant for a younger audience, the book’s challenge to live in a disciplined, Christ-centered way is applicable and necessary for all those who follow Jesus. As a young adult, Crowe’s honesty about her own struggles in following Christ faithfully makes the book relevant and attractive to teenaged Christians who face similar challenges. Instead of wasting those precious years of youth, now is the time for young Christians to take their walk with God seriously and develop godly habits to carry over into their adult lives. Even for those beyond their teen years, it is not too late to begin living abundant, gospel-driven lives as God always provides grace and mercy to those who seek Him. May we consecrate every moment of our lives to bring God all the glory that belongs to Him alone.

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings Collection

BLOG Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings Collection

In The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings Collection, Jan and Mike Berenstain writes five stories revolving around the Bear family to teach precious life lessons from a Christian worldview. Each story is prefaced by a Bible verse and concludes with a series of questions that recap the story’s main idea and suggestions for further action to reinforce the lessons taught. In The Perfect Fishing Spot, the story speaks to the need to heed wise advice. In Reap the Harvest, Brother and Sister take on a summer job and earn money from their hard work. In Faithful Friends, Sister learns the lesson of making new friends and treasuring old ones. In Kindness Counts, Brother meets a young friend and mentors him just as Papa did with him. In God Made You Special, Brother and Sister meet a new friend and learn how to accept each person’s uniqueness. The stories are suitable for young readers in the early elementary grades and toddlers reading along with their parents.

I would recommend this book to young readers who love reading the adventures of the Bear family. In addition to bright illustrations and well-constructed plotlines, the stories are embedded with valuable life lessons that are important for children to internalize at a young age. Instead of simply writing stories with Christian values, I appreciate how even the characters’ conversations include quotes from the Bible which helps children understand how God’s Word is integral to our everyday lives.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I was provided a review copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers.