Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk

Eric C. Reymond, Bill Curtis, and Ken Fentress, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus ahabin Jonah, Micah, Nahum, and Habakkuk Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2016, 224 pp. $14.99

The Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary is a welcome addition to the growing number of resources which help explain the biblical text and apply the truth of God’s Word to readers. This volume which that focuses on four minor prophets beautifully captures the essence of each book and ultimately points to the central figure in Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A predictable pattern occurs throughout this work as the authors present the main idea of the book under consideration. A brief outline is presented to give readers an overview of the biblical text. The major points are explained and highlighted. Finally, an application is presented which is linked to our current generation. Discussion questions are included for the benefit of readers at the end of each chapter.

I cannot speak more highly about the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary. A solid Reformed framework fuels this theological engine. Indeed, the gospel, in keeping with Scripture runs throughout, all for the benefit of the reader, and ultimately for the glory of God. These volumes are accessible to a wide range of readers and will no doubt encourage a deeper study of the biblical text.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

No Fear – Tony Perkins (2016)

no-fearTony Perkins, No Fear New York: Waterbrook, 2015, 187 pp. $8.92

God’s Word is clear: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”” (Joshua 1:9, ESV). In the pages of the New Testament, we are told, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Yet, we find ourselves in troubling times. The church is drowning in compromise and the culture applauds when believers cave in.

Believers who are unwilling to acquiesce to the demands of the world will be met with fierce persecution and be marginalized emotionally and even physically.

These times demand believers who are both firm in character but also minister to lost people with biblical fidelity. No Fear by Tony Perkins is the perfect book for Christ-followers who need encouragement in a day filled with compromise. Perkins makes a solid contribution in this work as he presents real-life stories of Christ-followers who endured persecution because of their strong stand for truth and the claims of the gospel.

The true stories that Perkins presents are linked to biblical stories that help drive home the point of each chapter. The writing is clear and compelling and is geared to a younger audience. Surely, these short and readable chapters will provide a wealth of inspiration to Christians who need a boost of encouragement as they brave the storms of adversity.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

God the Son Incarnate – Stephen J. Wellum

god-the-sonStephen J. Wellum, God the Son Incarnate Wheaton: Crossway, 2016, 496 pp, $40.00

God the Son Incarnate by Stephen J. Wellum is the latest installment in the Foundations of Evangelical Theology Series. This outstanding series, edited by John Feinberg was first introduced with the publication of No One Like Him back in 2001.

The author notes that “Jesus himself understood and taught that both Scripture and God’s plan of salvation are Christocenric.” J.I. Packer adds, “Christology is the true hub round which the wheel of theology revolves, and to which its separate spokes must each be correctly anchored if the wheel is not to get bent.” Thus, the stakes could not be any higher as readers wrestle with the weight doctrines that concern the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The book contains four sections, each with a specific topic that relates to the overall matter of Christology:

Part 1: Epistemological Warrant For Christology Today

The first part should be considered the theological rebar of the book. The author explores Christology and its relationship to the Enlightenment. After sufficiently exhausting some of the major challenges to a biblical Christology, Dr. Wellum presents a biblical epistemology that will serve readers well for the remainder of the book.

Part 2: Biblical Warrant for Christology Today

The biblical plot line is presented (creation, fall, redemption, consummation) which gives readers a helpful overview and places Christology in its proper theological context. The concept of “kingdom through covenant” is discussed which ultimately leads to a rigorous discussion of Christology.

Once the biblical and theological parameters are in place, the author moves forward and discusses the self-identity of Jesus. From there, some of the crucial Christological data is ready to be revealed, including the deity and humanity of Christ and the incarnation.

Part 3: Ecclesiological Warrant for Christology Today

Part three includes some of the weighty matters that surround the discipline of Christology including the nature-person distinction and the Ante-Nicene Christological formulation.

Part 4: A Warranted Christology for Today

The final section discusses some of the more recent Christological controversies, most notably the problem of the so-called kenosis. Dr. Wellum fairly evaluates kenoticism, alerting readers to the many problems it contains.

Conclusion

Dr. Wellum nicely summarizes his work: “Ultimately, the thesis of this entire work is one theological conclusion with many parts. Based on the warrant and critique of the previous chapters, we must confess that the identity of the Jesus of the Bible is that he is God the Son incarnate.”

God the Son Incarnate is a much-needed work as the doctrinal winds continue to blow in every direction, which threaten the biblical and historical Christological. This work is a bulwark of certainty and a prompter of praise. My prayer is that it receives a wide readership, both in the church as well as the academy.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life (2016)

alexJeff Wilser, Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life New York: Three Rivers Press, 2016, 314 pp. $11.55

The Founding Father’s were men of principle and courage. In Jeff Wilser’s book, Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life, he argues that Hamilton is the most underrated Founding Father. Indeed, Alexander Hamilton is likely the most qualified man to serve as President, yet never filled the office.

Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life is cleverly divided into nine areas of discussion. These areas include self-improvement, career advancement, romance, money, style & etiquette, leisure (!), friends & family, leadership, office politics, and honor. The author reveals the heart of Hamilton in each area and carefully unfolds the pertinent aspects of his personality, core convictions, and weaknesses.

Wilser’s work is a mixture of history and suggestions for personal improvement. Sections of the book of really funny. Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life is a quick read. It is a fun read, to be sure. But it is also a serious historical work. Never intended to match the scholarship of books like Ron Chernow’s, Alexander Hamilton, Wilser’s writing clearly depends on Chernow’s scholarship. In that respect, the work under consideration is truly unique. It is a fitting introduction to Alexander Hamilton and will likely motivate readers to dig deeper into the life of this Founding Father.

The closing words demonstrate Wilser’s respect for the man:

After writing this book, I’m convinced that Alexander Hamilton is one of the main reasons – maybe the reason – that we are the United States, not just some united states. He’s the reason that we do more in America than just plant cabbage and herd sheep. With astonishing foresight that eclipsed every other Founding Father’s – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, all of them, Hamilton envisioned the future of the United States. Then he made it happen.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Joy Model (2016)

joyJeff Spadafora, The Joy Model Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016, 181 pp. $14.94

The Joy Model by Jeff Spadafora is a step-by-step resource that seeks to guide readers to lives that are filled with peace, purpose, and balance. The author contrasts his model with the frustration that many people experience.

The basics of the joy model involve a simple grid with a horizontal axis which represents Being: Who is God? and Whom am I? The vertical axis represents Doing: What should I do with my time, talent, treasure, temple, and tribe.

Balancing being and doing is the basis of moving forward and living a life of joy. With this model in place, the author presents a M.A.S.T.E.R. plan, an acronym which is spelled out below:

  • Margin
  • Abiding
  • Self-awareness
  • Treasure
  • Engagement
  • Relationships

The bulk of the book discusses each of the above elements and ultimately shows how readers find joy in their union with Christ.

The advice in The Joy Model is practical and biblical. Principles may be immediately applied. I would like to see a greater adherence to Scripture and the centrality of the gospel but my suspicion is that the author is aiming for a more general audience.

Overall, the book is helpful and is a welcome addition to the growing number of personal improvement books.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Greek For Everyone – A. Chadwick Thornhill (2016)

greeA. Chadwick Thornhill, Greek For Everyone: Introductory Greek For Bible Study and Application Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2016, 251 pp. . $16.23

Greek for Everyone: Introductory Greek For Bible Study and Application by A. Chadwick Thornhill sets out to accomplish two lofty goals. 1) Laying a foundation for those who lack formal training in the biblical language to gain insights from the original language of the New Testament, and 2) Provide an exegetical framework to help guide the way in which those insights are developed.

Thorn hill begins with the basics by introducing the Greek alphabet and giving readers a brief introduction to Koine Greek. After reviewing  the big picture of language, the author builds incrementally, allowing the reader to digest and assimilate new material along the way.

The book reads like a modified first-year grammar and works hard to define terminology that may be new to some readers. Various parts of speech are explained, essential vocabulary words are offered, and a host of Greek idioms are set forth.

The author concludes by showing how a working knowledge of Koine Greek is an invaluable aid with word studies and contextual analysis. Such an approach will surely prove to be a helpful tool for Bible students.

I found Greek For Everyone to be a useful tool. The author does succeed in achieving the goals set forth above. However, this book may prove to be too difficult for some first-year students. Readers who struggle with the material may be better prepared to tackle Greek to Me by J. Lyle Story.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

FINALLY FREE – Heath Lambert (2013)

heath

Pastoral ministry is filled with unique challenges.  One challenge that is growing exponentially, is the sin of pornography.  Pastors must deal with this issue directly – with grace and biblical authority.

I tend to pass on most books that address the topic of pornography these days.  The reason: Many Christian books miss the target all-together.  They either focus on addiction, make excuses for men trapped in the sin of pornography, minimize the sin, or offer graphically explicit “help” that does more harm than good.  Frankly, most books that deal with this topic are drowning in psychological nonsense that ignores the plain teaching of Scripture.  So I pass on most of these books.

However, Heath Lambert’s book, Finally Free is different.  Here’s are several themes I see emerging from the pages of Lambert’s book:

  1. A supreme allegiance to Scripture.
  2. A passion for holiness.
  3. A clinging the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. An intense hatred of sin.
  5. A longing to help men trapped by the sin of pornography.
  6. A long list of biblical strategies for defeating sin.
  7. A commitment to exploring themes of sanctification which are grounded in God’s forgiving grace and his transforming grace.

The main point of the book serves as the foundation for this excellent piece of writing:

To alert readers to the grace of God which forgives and transforms.  Grace that forgives is greatly needed and will of course, bring a great deal of encouragement to men who struggle with sexual sin.  

But forgiving grace does not go far enough.  Struggling sinners also needs grace that transforms.  This kind of grace brings healing.  This kind of grace bring hope, and health, and life change.  This kind of grace destroys the pull and power of the sin of pornography.

Lambert does a terrific job of blending gospel-centered hope, admonition, and rebuke.  Men who struggle in this area should turn to this resource as a source of deep encouragement which will lead to victory over sin.  Frankly, Heath Lambert’s work is the best contemporary help available in dealing with this kind of sin.  The book would be suitable for one-on-one discipleship and would also serve readers well in a small group setting.

Highly recommended!