The Mighty Weakness of John Knox

The Mighty Weakness of John Knox

By: Douglas Bond

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – December, 2016

Monthly Book Suggestion Dec 2016While not an in-depth biography of this Scottish reformer, The Mighty Weakness of John Know offers a compelling glimpse into the motivation and spiritual strength of this man of God. Though he was short in stature and often weak in body, Knox was instrumental in bringing the Reformation to Scotland. Fearing God rather than man or monarch, Knox was divinely enabled to withstand persecution, imprisonment and exile while preaching, writing, and praying in order to call Scotland to Christ.

This short work is a testimony to a man whose main desire was to see God glorified and worship in all of life. I highly recommend Douglas Bond’s enjoyable read to those who wish to see how God can use our weaknesses to bring about His mighty purposes.

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Ordinary Men Called By God, James Montgomery Boice

Ordinary Men Called By God

By: James Montgomery Boice

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – November, 2016

Monthly Book Suggestion November 2016It is so easy to picture the men and women of Scripture as larger than life characters with whom we have very little in common. When doing that, we often rob ourselves of understanding how God works with ordinary believers to accomplish His redemptive purposes in the world. In Ordinary Men Called By God, Dr. James Boice uses the lives of Abraham, Moses and David to demonstrates how God’s effectual call on an individual equips the person to serve Him even through failures and weakness. The author points out that contrary to how the world views success, those who are humble before the Lord find spiritual victory through the grace of God. This is a practical book for practical Christians.

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A Short Life Of Jonathan Edwards, George M. Marsden

A Short Life Of Jonathan Edwards

By: George M. Marsden

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – June, 2016

Monthly Book Suggestion June 2016What to read on summer vacation? … George Marsden is considered to be possibly the foremost living authority on Jonathan Edwards. His recent work, A Short Life Of Jonathan Edwards, is a nice introduction to the life and times of this important figure from colonial America. By weaving the life of Edwards together with insights about contemporary figures, such as Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield, the author presents a fascinating picture of the religious, social, and political landscape that lead up to the American Revolution and laid the groundwork for an evangelical tradition that continues to this day. In 145 pages Marsden offers a quick and enjoyable read about the man that many believe was the greatest theologian in American history. I highly recommend this as a book that may inspire as well as challenge the reader’s presuppositions about Christianity in America.

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Is Christianity in Crisis?

I recently saw another of those doomsday quotes on Facebook that started out by saying, “Christianity is now in crisis…” Over and over we are bombarded with statistics that indicate the demise of the Church and the downfall of Christianity. From dwindling numbers at youth group meetings to a shrinking number of people in the pews we are told that something needs to be done to rectify the situation. Well, I’m not buying it. Besides the reason for these statistics there is something else that Christians need to remember about their faith.

So, let’s set the record straight … Christianity has always been in crisis. It’s the nature of the Kingdom of God coming into contact with the kingdom of man. But for those who like to make statements about the dire condition of modern (or if you prefer, post-modern) Christianity, I’d like to point out the following approximate dates and circumstances…

  • Between 58 and 90 AD the church in Corinth was beset by schism, immorality, abuse of the sacraments, etc … Peter needed to be rebuked by Paul for encouraging the church in Antioch to play the hypocrite, and the Apostle John noted that many anti-Christs were already active in the world, denying the Son of God
  • Between 100 and 300 AD the Gnostic heresy was making inroads into the church
  • In the 3rd century the Sabellian heresy was prevalent
  • In the 4th century Arianism was splitting the church so badly that it took a council, called by the emperor, to rectify the situation
  • In the 5th century the pelagian, semi-pelagian, Nestorian, and Monophysite heresies were causing great trouble throughout the church
  • Between the 6th and 12th centuries there were too many problems to even name. However, one major incident and an illustration of one pope should suffice to evidence those problems…
    • 1) In 1054 there was the “Great Schism”, dividing east & west Christianity which still exists today…
    • 2) Between 1032 and 1044 Pope Benedict IX actually sold the papacy twice … After selling it the first time, he regained the throne, only to sell it again. One RCC saint called this pope, “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest.”
  • In 1409 there were three Popes … all at the same time, and all claiming to be the rightful ‘heir” of St. Peter, and all excommunicating each other
  • Between 1450 and 1650 there were the Borgia popes … enough said about that…
  • By 1517 things got so out of hand that the doctrine of justification was no longer recognizable in much of the church’s teaching, thereby causing the Protestant Reformation. Martyrdom of many protestant Christians took place for quite sometime thereafter.
  • In the 1600’s the English Puritans felt forced into a civil war and in 1649 they put to death their king
  • 1700 saw the advent of the enlightenment period that ushered deism and other heresies into the church
  • The 19th and 20th centuries saw the rise of theological liberalism and higher criticism…

So, is Christianity today in anymore of a crisis than it was in the past? Probably not. We just happen to be living now and therefore notice our current problems more.

All that being said, it would be helpful for us to remember the words of the founder and head of the Church … “Upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against itMt.16:15

Harmony of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, by Morton H. Smith

Harmony of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms

By: Morton H. Smith

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – November, 2015

Book Suggestion November 2015While ordering a number of books sometime ago I was mistakenly sent a copy of Morton Smith’s Harmony of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. The bookstore’s error turned out to be my gain. Once I began perusing the work I eagerly paid the extra cost and kept it for myself.

For those that have never read the Westminster Standards or who have only read a section of the three pieces that make up that work, Morton Smith’s volume is extremely helpful. By providing parallel columns for the Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism, he allows the reader to compare the specific doctrines taught in these historic documents. Helpful Scripture references are also provided so that the reader is able to see the biblical basis for the theology, ethics, and practices of the Reformed Faith.

I highly recommend Dr. Smith’s work as an easy to use guide for theological study or reference.

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Five English Reformers, By J.C. Ryle

Five English Reformers

By: J.C. Ryle

The Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – October, 2015

Monthly Book Suggestion Octocber 2015Every so often Christians can be blessed by being reminded of the struggles that previous generations endured for the sake of the gospel. In 1890 the Anglican bishop, J.C. Ryle penned a small but powerful book entitled Light from Old Times. This little work has been reprinted and released by Banner of Truth Trust under the name, Five English Reformers.

J.C. Ryle details the defense of the gospel and the martyrdom of five English churchmen during times of severe persecution in their nation. In my opinion, the first chapter entitled, “Why were our Reformers burned?” is worth the price of the book. The accounts of John Hooper, Rowland Taylor, Hugh Latimer, John Bradford, and Nicholas Ridley demonstrate the truth that although Christians may suffer and even die for the sake of Christ, they serve a God who will not desert them even in their darkest hours. I pray that all who read this work will be strengthened in their faith and emboldened in their conviction to stand for the gospel of grace. As we read the testimonies of these Protestant martyrs may we be reminded that God was faithful to ensure (as Bishop Latimer said to Ridley when dying at the stake) that their death would “light such a candle … (that) shall never be put out.” By God’s grace alone that small candle lit a gospel flame that still burns brightly in Bible believing churches throughout the world today

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