WILLIAM TYNDALE: A MAN OF ROCK-SOLID INTEGRITY

Today  marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of William Tyndale.  This faithful man was born in 1494.  He attended Oxford, Magdalen Hall and Cambridge University.  A student and adherent of the Protestant Reformation, Tyndale engaged in numerous debates with Roman Catholics.    One leader in the Roman Catholic church mocked Tyndale: “We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope.”  Tyndale, never one to mince words replied, “I defy the Pope and all his laws.  If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy who drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than you.”

Tyndale was a confident, bold, and fearless theologian and scholar who translated the Bible into an early form of Modern English, likely with Luther’s help in Wittenberg.  But Tyndale was arrested and imprisoned for 500 days in a kangaroo court, and ultimately convicted.  He was sent to be strangled and burn at the stake in the prison yard on October 6, 1536 – the same year that Calvin published the first edition of The Institutes of the Christian Religion.  His last words were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”

May God raise up a new generation of leaders like William Tyndale – courageous and bold; men with a theological backbone and rock solid integrity.  May God raise up  a new generation of men who say what they mean and mean what they say; men who are unashamed of the gospel; men who are utterly unwilling to compromise the truth; men who are willing to be burned at the stake for the sake of truth.

Semper Reformanda!

Good and Angry – David Powlison

David Powlison, Good and Angry Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2016, 246 pp. $17.99

Anger is a subject that most people can relate to. Many people battle a problem with chronic anger that lashes out at others and demands that specific needs be met or this high-toxic anger will continue to escalate. David Powlison address the problem of anger in his most recent book, Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness.

Powlison’s primary objective is to teach readers how to more fruitfully and honestly deal with their anger. The book is comprised of four sections, each of which help contribute to the stated objective above.

Section One: Our Experience

The author carefully introduces readers to different kinds of anger that emerge in people. At the end of the day, the descriptions become self-portraits, requiring each reader to examine any anger that may be smoldering in their hearts.

Powlison identifies a wonderful paradox and acknowledges that God blesses people who admit their brokenness and their need for help. The author adds, “Sanity has a deep awareness, I need help. I can’t do life right on my own. Someone outside me must intervene. The sanity of honest humility finds mercy, life, peace, and strength. By contrast, saying we don’t need help keeps us stuck on that hamster wheel of making excuses and blaming others. The end result isn’t life and peace; it’s self-righteousness, self-justification, alienation, and bitterness.”

So like a seasoned surgeon, Powlison identifies areas of need that readers need to acknowledge and confess. This is the first step in the right direction and prepares the humble for section two.

Section Two: What is Anger?

This section uncovers the essence of anger. At its core, anger expresses, “I’m against that.” Anger is seen to be comprehensive in scope. Powlison observes:

  1. Your body operates in agitated mode.
  2. Your emotions operate in the hot displeasure mode.
  3. Your mind operates in judicial mode.
  4. Your actions operate in military mode.
  5. Your motives operate in Godlike mode.

But anger is not what some think it is. Powlison notes that anger is a combination of good and bad: “Your anger is worth brilliant and appalling. The shifting line between good and evil plays out when it comes to your anger, like everywhere else. Your anger is God-like to the degree you treasure justice and fairness and are alert to betrayal and falsehood. Your anger is devil-like to the degree you play god and are petty, merciless, whiny, argumentative, willful, and unfair.”

Section two also contains an excellent treatment on the wrath of God. The author demonstrates the necessity of wrath and shows how wrath is an essential attribute in God. He observes four powerful principles that concern God’s anger:

  1. God’s anger falls on Jesus.
  2. God’s anger disarms the power of sin.
  3. God’s anger delivers us from the pain of others’ sin.
  4. God’s anger protects us from ourselves.

“These realities nourish our hearts,” writes Dr. Powlison. “God’s loving anger resolves the entire problem of evil in a way that brings him inexpressible glory and brings us inexpressible blessing … The truth is that you can’t understand God’s love if you don’t understand his anger.”

Section Three: How to Change

Section three focuses on practical ways to move from sinful anger and lives in ways that promote peace and glorify the Lord. The author includes a very helpful list of eight question that helps readers shift their focus on eternal things. The questions include:

  1. What is my situation?
  2. How do I react?
  3. What are my motives?
  4. What are the consequences?
  5. What is true?
  6. How do I turn to God for help?
  7. What are the consequences of faith and obedience?

Section Four: Tackling the Hard Cases

In section four, the author continues to wrestle with practical cases that readers will resonate with. He makes it clear that God expresses righteous anger. It is at this point that the book drives home the reality of the gospel: “He is angry at all injustice, every betrayal, any time wrongs are done to another … His response to evil is to do the greatest good thing the world has ever seen. He sends his own Son as a man of sorrows who enters and knows our suffering. He sends his own Son as the Lamb of God to die for the sins of his people. God doesn’t want you to ‘just get over it’ or to gloss over what you have suffered as if it didn’t really matter. He wants to help you become good and angry as well. He wants you to become merciful, purposeful, hopeful … It takes courage to face the evil done to you and to then turn toward your God, who suffered unimaginable evil on your behalf.”

Summary

Good and Angry is a terrific book that is forged in the fire and bathed in the Word of God. The gospel runs throughout, urging the followers of Christ to follow his example and treasure him above all things. My prayer is that Powlison’s work will be a blessing to many; that the promises and purposes of God would be clearly revealed and that his people would be served well as a result of this excellent work.

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

Purchase your copy today at https://www.amazon.com/Good-Angry-Irritation-Complaining-Bitterness/dp/1942572972/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473699555&sr=8-1&keywords=good+and+angry

The Bride(zilla) of Christ

kluckTed Kluck & Ronnie Martin, The Bride(zilla) of Christ: What To Do When God’s People Hurt God’s People. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2016. 198 pp. $10.15

Anyone familiar with the writing of Ted Kluck knows that he’s an expert at keeping real, sharing from the heart, and applying the truth of the gospel to everyday living. In his new book, The Bride(Zilla) of Christ, Kluck teams up with Ronnie Martin to answer an important question that is also the not so subtle sub-title of the book: What To Do When God’s People Hurt God’s People.

Both authors have a fair amount of experience in the local church and have many stories to tell. Anyone who has been around the church for any length of time will no doubt, have similar stories to tell. Honest people will admit that some of these stories are bad ones: Church splits, gossip, adultery, division, and a host of other sins have a tendency to emerge in the church, just like any organization.

Kluck and Martin write from different perspectives – but are both settled in the fact that the gospel speaks to every hurt. It is the gospel that has the power to reconcile severed relationships. And most of all, the gospel reconciles a holy God with a sinful people.

Writing a fair and honest review is difficult for me because I have been a big fan of Ted Kluck for several years now. Having said that, I must admit that the book is written in a rather haphazard way. Perhaps the intent was to write a book from the heart that didn’t read like a theological treatise. If that’s the case, mission accomplished.

The “scattered feel” of the book does not, however, detract from the overall message. Kluck and Martin clearly describe some of the church hurts and heartaches but are quick to prescribe the healing balm of the gospel.

A few quotes made the book worth reading for me. My hope is that these citations will motivate readers to give the book at try:

“Every time we use our hurt as a reason to disconnect, isolate, disassociate, or abandon, we’ve not understood the forgiveness we have in Christ and how it needs to manifest itself to others.”

“Whenever we let our minds gravitate to the heart that’s been leveled at us, we are simultaneously forgetting the hope that Christ extended to us on the cross.”

“The shocking thing to come to grips with is that we’re not any better than the people who have hurt us, even when that hurt has been a one-way bullet fired right into our heart.”

What stands out in this work is the hope that Christ offers us in the gospel. Kluck and Martin should be commended for writing such a transparent book that has the power to encourage many people. Their book is recommended, especially for pastors who have endured a “dark night of the soul” or had the unpleasant experience of being beaten up by the sheep.

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

The Lordship of Christ: Serving Our Savior All of the Time, In All of Life, With All of Our Heart – Vern Poythress

Vern Poythress. The Lordship of Christ: Serving Our Savior All of the Time, In All of Life, With All of Our Heart. Wheaton: Crosswaypoy
Books, 2016. 224 pp. $14.49

The Dutch statesman, Abraham Kuyper famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine.’” Such is the theme of the recent book by Vern Poythress, The Lordship of Christ: Serving Our Savior All of the Time, In All of Life, with All of Our Heart.

Poythress attempts to show readers that the Lordship of Christ extends to every area of life, including politics, science, art, the future, education, and work. Nothing is excluded.

The author sets the stage by making the crucial assertion that the lordship of Christ extends to believers and unbelievers alike. No one is excluded. Every atheist, agnostic, neo-pagan, gnostic, new ager, evolutionist, and every Christian is subject to the lordship of Christ. The general tone of the book is to help readers understand the implications of living in a world where Christ is Lord over all.

Poythress carefully establishes the basis for a Christian worldview which is grounded in absolute surrender to Jesus Christ: “To confess Jesus to be Lord is to confess him to be God, the same God who is the God of Israel and who created the world.” Poythress continues, “Jesus is therefore worthy of absolute allegiance. In giving allegiance to Jesus we are at the same time giving allegiance to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, because the three persons are God.”

At the end of the day, every person who stands under Christ’s lordship also recognizes that glorifying him brings the highest measure of satisfaction. Poythress observes, “We find our deepest satisfaction and the deepest fulfillment of who we are – who we were created to be – when we serve God: ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.’”

One of the most helpful aspects of this book is a basic repackaging of Cornelius Van Til’s apologetic method. Standing with Van Til, Poythress demonstrates the principle of antithesis (which was also popularized by Francis A. Schaeffer). The author demonstrates how knowledge is always derived from God and is therefore, never autonomous: “We must not seek knowledge autonomously, in independence from or isolation from God’s words. That is a form of rebellion, which dishonors God’s way of living. When there seems to be a tension between God’s word in Scripture and what we are learning from other sources, Scripture has the priority because it is the word of God.”

Some books are meant to be nibbled at; others are meant to be devoured. The Lordship of Christ is of the later sort. This is a serious book for anyone who is serious about pursuing Christ and glorifying him in every arena of life. College students and Seminarians should devour this wonderful book and find great freedom in living under the authority and lordship of Jesus.

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

Designed for Joy – Owen Strachan and Jonathan Parnell, Ed

joyOwen Strachan and Jonathan Parnell, Ed. Designed For Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015. 144 pp. $10.92

Designed For Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice is an important book with a message for our generation. The editors, Jonathan Parnell and Owen Strachan team up with a well-seasoned team of writers that address the matter of gender from several different angles.

Topics range from masculinity and femininity to singleness and marriage. The subjects of parenting and purity are dealt with along with matters of gender and maturity. In one sense, this is a broad book designed to reach many people. In another sense, the book is very targeted as it subjects each subject to the gospel message.

The writing is clear and biblical. Each chapter hits the bullseye dead on, with stunning biblical accuracy. Each of the writers bring a perspective of complementarianism which views men and women as equals with specific roles to carry out to the glory of God.

It never ceases to amaze me that the most important books these days receive reviews that are critical and mean-spirited. One reviewer says this about the book: “This book is well-intentioned, but I feel it’s worth noting that the scholarship, particularly in the women’s sections, is very sloppy. There is little reference to biblical principles for the assertions they make around women’s roles …” To the contrary, the scholarship is commendable and designed to reach a popular audience.

Designed For Joy is a book for our day. May God raise up a new generation of Christian writers who bring a depth of clarity and God-centered wisdom to bear on these matters.

ARE YOU A BOLD REFORMER?

boldBold Reformer: Celebrating the Gospel-Centered Convictions of Martin Luther is available now!

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed the ninety-five theses to the castle door in Wittenberg. One act of courage sparked a theological firestorm in Germany that set the world ablaze in a matter of days. Spreading like wildfire, thousands were introduced to the gospel which is received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Bold Reformer: Celebrating the Gospel-Centered Convictions of Martin Luther takes readers on a journey through a remarkable period of church history. It will challenge contemporary readers to learn the lessons of courage, and perseverance. It will inspire a new generation of people to follow Jesus, obey Jesus, and worship the Savior with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. It invites a new generation of Christ-followers to recover the gospel in their generation and make their stand as a bold reformer.

Bold Reformer is born out of personal pastoral turmoil and inspired by the courage of Martin Luther.  My hope is that many pastors, Christian leaders and Christ-followers will be encouraged as a result of reading this book; that God will propel them into the future by his grace and for his glory.

Endorsements:

“David Steele’s Bold Reformer is a book for our times! As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, how appropriate to look afresh at ways the bold faith and action of Martin Luther can inspire and instruct our own faith and work. Christians today need strength of character and boldness of conviction. Steele’s presentation of Luther’s life moves readers to live bold lives that adorn the gospel of grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone.”

Dr. Bruce A. Ware, T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology, Chairman of the Department of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Pastoral ministry is often mingled with both blessing and despair. Many pastors experience seasons of opposition that result in discouragement and even depression. David Steele’s new work, Bold Reformer is an exploration into the gospel-centered convictions of the stalwart reformer, Martin Luther. Luther faced many pastoral hardships during his ministry, but emerged victorious because of his unwavering faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I encourage you to drink from the refreshing waters of this book and use the life of Luther as an example that emboldens you to stand strong in the midst of the fiery trial.”

Dr. Steven J. Lawson, President, OnePassion Ministries, Dallas, Texas

 

HAPPINESS by Randy Alcorn

1414389345_bRandy Alcorn. Happiness.  Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015.    480 pp. $14.45.

Randy Alcorn is an author who consistently places strong, biblical challenges before his readers. His newest work, Happiness, is no exception. The book is arranged in four parts and is arranged as is summarized below.

Part 1: Our Compelling Quest for Happiness

Alcorn lays the groundwork here by making the biblical case for happiness. He confronts the typical evangelical notion that God is only concerned with our holiness but disregards the need for happiness. Such views are not only unbiblical but harmful to Christian growth and progress.

The author argues that happiness is a part of the warp and woof of the Christian life. “Every man,” says Augustine, “whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy.” Ultimately, Alcorn reminds readers that their happiness is grounded and rooted in a relationship with God through Christ: “Longing for the happiness of humankind once knew, we can be drawn toward true happiness in Christ, which is offered us in the gospel.”

Part 2: The Happiness of God

Part two explores a theme that has been largely neglected in the church, not to mention, most works of Systematic Theology. Alcorn says, “Some people suppose happiness is uniquely human, unrelated to God’s nature: as he gave us a body and hunger, which he doesn’t have, he gave us a capacity for happiness, which he also doesn’t have. I believe. Something radically different – that God wants us happy because he’s happy.” Jonathan Edwards adds, “It is of infinite importance…to know what kind of being God is. For he is…the only foundation of our happiness.”

The author builds an unshakeable case for the happiness of God by pointing to key texts in Scripture (Zeph. 3:14, 17; Ps. 2:12; 16:11; Deut. 30:9; Ps. 35:27; Isa. 62:5).

At the heart of section two is the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity. For in the Trinity, we find a God who is eternally happy. Alcorn cites Michael Reeves who says, “The Trinity is the cockpit of all Christian thinking.” Indeed, as Alcorn writes, “The only way God’s happiness or love could be without beginning is if there exists within God himself a reasons for and object of his happiness and love.”

The author helps readers understand the earth-shattering consequences of a happy God and the impact this reality has on our worldview: “But God is fully happy, one day we will be fully happy.”

Part 3: The Bible’s Actual Words for Happiness

Part three is the most technical part of the book as Alcorn includes a detailed word study of happiness and all the related words in Scripture. One section is especially significant as the happiness which emerges from Scripture is set forth in vivid detail. A few samples include:

Happy are those who believe in Jesus.

Happy are those facing trials for Jesus’ sake.

Happy are those who see and hear Jesus for who he is.

Happy are those who serve God faithfully.

Happy are those who trust God’s promises.

Happy are those who obey God’s Word.

Happy are those who help and serve others.

Happy are those who have been forgiven by the Lord.

Happy are those who see unhappiness as a warning sign.

Happy are those who are also holy.

Ultimately, our joy is not optional. Rejoicing in the Lord is a command (Phil. 3:1; 4:4).

Part 4: Understanding and Experiencing Happiness in God

The concluding section includes several chapters that include practical ways to pursue happiness. The culmination of the book includes several meditations on the essence of our existence on the New Earth where we will experience unvarnished happiness in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Happiness is a breath of fresh air in a world that tends to minimize happiness. Alcorn aggressively confronts the popular notion that God is only interested in our holiness but has not interest in our happiness. He advocates the radical pursuit of joy, which by definition, necessitates holiness. Indeed, on cannot have one without the other.  The pursuit of joy and the commitment to holy living are not at odds!  Randy Acorn’s work is loaded with encouragement that lifts readers out of the clutches of mediocrity, discouragement, and complacency. He urges readers to pursue a higher calling, namely, happiness.  Such happiness is found in the gospel, in a relationship with the God of the universe and his Son the Lord Jesus Christ!

Highly recommended!