Category Archives: Books

Top 10 Books to Read for 2014

I’ve made a list of books I want to read for 2014.

  1. Man in Christ: The Vital Elements of St. Paul’s Religion (Classic Reprint) by James S. Stewart
  2. Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study by Constantine R. Campbell
  3. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament by Christopher J. H. Wright
  4. The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist by Craig Groeschel
  5. Calvin’s Ladder: A Spiritual Theology of Ascent and Ascension by Julie Canlis
  6. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (New Studies in Biblical Theology) by G. K. Beale
  7. The Priesthood of Christ by John Owen
  8. The Doctrine of Jesus Christ by T.F. Torrance
  9. Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons by T.F. Torrance
  10. Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction by Michael F. Bird

Recommended Books for New Believers (for Anyone!)

Here are a few recommended books to read particularly if you are a new believer. However, these are good books for any Christian to read.

I have listed the books in an order that should build a solid foundation of the Christian Gospel upon which our faith is built. What books would you recommend?

What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert
Gospel by JD Greear
Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent
Gospel Deeps by Jared Wilson
Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson and Matt Chandler
Gospel as Center by various
Grace Transforming by Philip Ryken
A Hunger for God by John Piper
Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian
Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart by JD Greear
Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
Living the Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney
Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous
Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes
The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges
If God is Good by Randy Alcorn
The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges
The Transforming Power of the Gospel by Jerry Bridges
When People are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch
Who Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll
The Work of Christ by RC Sproul
You Can Change by Tim Chester

Other recommendations:
Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler
Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem
Basic Christianity by John Stott
Reason for God by Tim Keller
Reasons for Belief by Norman Geisler
Why Church Matters by Joshua Harris
Everyday Church by Tim Chester

[amazon asin=1433515008,1433673126,1885904673,1433526409,143353021X,143351561X,1433534002,0891079661,1433507781,1433679213,&template=carousel&live=1]

[amazon asin=1600061400,1590525787,1433677814,1581347588,1576835073,160142132X,0891099417,1617479225,0875526004,1400203856,0781407265,1433512319&template=carousel&live=1]

Other recommendations:
[amazon asin=1433678624,0310255996,0830834036,1594483493,0764210572,1601423845,1433532220&template=carousel&live=1]

If God is Good: Developing a Theology of Suffering

Sadly, suffering is a fact of life. At one point or another, to one degree or another, you will face suffering. Suffering will consume your being.

It is never too late to develop a theology of suffering. We all need a proper foundation because it is not a question of if but when we will suffer (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6; 2 Peter 2:9).

How do we develop a theology of suffering?

Read and study. Here are resources to help you in your pursuit of a good foundation in the theology of suffering.

  1. If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil by Randy Alcorn (Kindle edition)
  2. When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  3. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper and Justin Taylor (Kindle edition)
  4. Kindle edition)
  5. O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Richard Baxter, Nancy Guthrie and John Piper
  6. A Lifetime of Wisdom: Embracing the Way God Heals You by Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  7. Why, O God?: Suffering and Disability in the Bible and the Church by Larry J. Waters, Roy B. Zuck, Randy Alcorn and Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  8. Disability and the Gospel: How God Uses Our Brokenness to Display His Grace by Michael S. Beates and Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  9. The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus by Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  10. Glorious Intruder: God’s Presence in Life’s Chaos by Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)

Do you have other books and resources? Please share!

Update: 1/15/2013
Don’t You Dare Be Caught Rejoicing with Those Who Weep, an interview with Joni Eareckson Tada and Marvin Olasky.

Discussing Harry Potter

Regarding edification, things can only edify if we think rightly about them. To ask, “does it edify?” is simplistic at best. It is what we DO with the subject matter. Are we “thinking” in terms of what is right?

For instance, pastors must deal with people who struggle with a particular sin. That sin is definitely not good by any stretch, but what is edifying is that the Pastor helps the counseled person to think rightly about the issue, hence, he is edifying him.

It just seems to me that the issue of edification comes up as if the topic must do the edifying and we just sit back and be edified without much effort on our part. It is what we DO with the subject that it becomes edifying.

Paul commands us to “THINK on these things” – it is an effort, something we DO to establish edification.

I cannot shield my kids from every evil, however, I can address an issue to help them think rightly about it. When we watch a TV program they like and bad attitudes arise, I like to ask them, “Is this a right attitude? Why not? What kind of attitude must we have in a situation like that? How can we change our attitude from a bad attitude to a good attitude in a situation like that? What makes Jesus happy in this situation?”

THAT is edification. It’s engaging the worldly situations and rightly thinking and acting within those types of situations.

Sometimes it’s good and right to denounce something outright (NC+17 movies?), but to outright denounce something like Harry Potter yet you watch the Wizard of Oz every year, creates questions in your kids’ minds and shows inconsistencies.

With this in mind, let’s begin an edified conversation.

Years ago I struggled through this very issue– edification and Harry Potter. I decided to read proponents and opponents of Harry Potter, and there were some key points the proponents made, at least in my mind, that the opponents could not overcome.

  1. Scripture never condemns using innate ability. In the world of Harry Potter (Lord Of The Rings / Chronicles of Narnia, etc…) the wizards have an innate ability to do magic because their world is innately made of magic.
  2. Scripture condemns obtaining a “power” that is not innate nor from God – like real Wicca, which tries to obtain power outside themselves and God. The worlds of Harry Potter, et al, possess innate power.
  3. Quote: “While this may be considered a positive, one definite negative is that there is no higher power to answer to at all.” I don’t see this as a real point, unless there’s something I’m missing. I am thinking in terms of the book of Esther in Scripture.
  4. The magic in Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, Chronicles of Narnia are purely fictional. Can you make a patronus charm? Can you take a specific kind of stick and do wondrous things with it because IT has innate “power”? I believe there is a difference in make-believe and what Scripture condemns.

My points overlap with each other, but I wanted to show (at least try to show) different aspects of the same point.

What do you think?

Journey in Grace: An Interview with Mark Lauterbach

I have enjoyed and benefited from Mark Lauterbach and his blog- Gospel-Driven Life (for his old site here). I want to publicly thank Mark for his putting the time, effort, thoughtfulness and grace in his responses to some questions I posed to him via email. I have, once again, benefited from a man who has tasted and seen that the Lord is good most clearly in the Gospel and has committed himself to helping others to see and taste that the Lord is good most clearly in the Gospel.

For starters, would you tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and your ministry?
Thanks for asking. I am a native of Pittsburgh and a lifelong Steeler fan. I was there for the immaculate reception by Franco Harris (and if you don’t know what that is, look it up on google). My wife Rondi and I have been married for almost 29 years and she is my sunshine. We have three adult children, all graced by the Lord with faith. We have served church in the West primarily, since 1976. We have been in Oregon, Arizona, and California. I am currently the pastoral team leader for Grace Church in San Diego. I follow on the heels of a godly and gifted planter (Craig Cabaniss) who started Grace 11 years ago from scratch and laid some great foundations. I love ministry with my wife, and we cannot believe we have the joy of serving this body of people.

Q1. Would you explain your journey toward Gospel-Centeredness? Was there a watershed moment or sequence of moments?
That all began with an older man in our church in Tucson telling me one day that I did not preach Christ. Since I was in the middle of Romans I was quite perplexed. For a year or so he would make his point in various ways and I would try to understand him. I respected him greatly and thought I should hear him. About that time a friend moved to be near us. He had just completed his PhD, and when I asked him what it was about, he said he focused on the theme of the New Testament: “Jesus the Son of God came, lived a sinless life, died for sin on the cross, and rose again from death – now live in light of that.” I pressed him for more but that is what he kept coming back to . . . I was surrounded.

I set off on a journey of years. I started with the New Testament and circled or noted every reference to the achievements of the cross as I read and studied. I was shocked at how much the NT was blood stained and how I had turned it into a book of moral guidelines and rules. I was also reading Spurgeon, Charles Bridges, plus whatever I could get my hands on. I was being helped by the Lord to see that everything in the NT is a response to the Redeemer’s work. It took years. The final two “Wow” influences were Tim Keller and C J Mahaney. Keller showed me the Gospel everywhere and CJ showed me how to apply it and not just preach it.

I think the key was my re-reading of the entire NT. There are also more books coming out to help: Goldsworthy’s book on hermeneutics, and Dennis Johnson’s new book on preaching Christ.

Q2. Has your understanding of “the Gospel is for Christians” altered other facets of your theology? Why? Why not?
It has changed everything. I think all theology needs to be read through the Redeemer’s work. I think the character of God is most clearly seen through the cross and the empty tomb. I think the church is valued because Jesus died for it. I think eschatology is Redeemer centered not Israel centered (oops, that will get me into trouble with some). I could go on. There is no reason to fear that we lose something if we are focused on the cross and the resurrection. I am careful with theology that makes people feel burdened and heavy (that seems to be a side effect of Calvinism) and look for God-glorifying joy in a great salvation that brings us to God.

I now measure my own life by how much I live in the good of the Gospel every day. I measure my preaching and counseling by how clearly I help people grasp the full salvation achieved by Jesus and rest in it. Are they seeking to commend themselves to God? Are they defending themselves? Are they living under condemnation?

I have a sixth sense now for moralistic preaching. Anything preached that instructs, exhorts, admonishes, convicts – all the stuff we think makes it good – anything that does that but does not lead people to the cross seems to fall short of the apostolic pattern of ministry.

Q3. In your opinion, why do many Christians view the Gospel as only for unbelievers?
I would guess because we are all slow of heart to see the Gospel clearly. Luther said we have to remind ourselves of it all the time and beat it into our heads continually. I am so deeply self-righteous and self-reliant that it takes effort to remind myself of the grace of God. Take that tendency in all of us and mix it with lack of reading the Bible where we see the Gospel everywhere, and you have all that you need to have a “front door to salvation” view of the Gospel. I also think God is doing this work of making us Gospel centered in a new way in our day.

Q4. How do you stay Gospel-Centered in your preaching without allegorizing?
Who needs to allegorize? Most texts are Gospel centered – but there are lines to the Gospel everywhere. One of the key lines is to show how any law-demand cannot be met by us but is met in Christ. Another line is to show the sinfulness of the people in the situation and how they need a Savior. I think I read the passage praying for eyes to see Gospel issues – sin, redemption, grace, self-righteousness, etc. I think the link is often in application in its best form.

So, for example, the other day I read in Luke 22 what I have looked at a dozen times but never noticed before. Jesus tells the 11 that they will abandon him. He celebrates the Lord’s Supper with them. They immediately start fighting about who is the greatest! It is shocking. There they are in the presence of the Son of God who humbled himself for them – and they are arguing for pre-eminence in the group. So, Jesus teaches them about servanthood. That is Gospel-rich by itself. They need a Savior before they need moral teaching about humility. Luke makes that clear. But then the next verse bowls me over – he looks at these 11 who have been bickering and contending for honor and he says, “You are they who have continued with me in my trials.” Wow, — that is not what I am thinking. I am thinking they ARE his trials. But he, in grace, anticipating the cross, points out grace in their lives. I can use that passage to show how we all need a Savior – and how grace-filled eyes see people differently – and Jesus is the example for us. I can also point out to people that this is how Jesus sees his own – including them.

Q5. What is the most challenging aspect for you in preaching? What have you done to overcome these challenge(s)?
The biggest challenge is my own dull heart and my tendency to think that I am done with preaching after I have preached – and to miss application. It still takes me 14 hours a week or so to do a sermon. It all depends on if it is a new series (takes more time up front), a topical series (more work), and if the passage is simple or complex. Half of my time is spent on the sermon itself and most of that is trimming and ordering the flow. Seeing Gospel connections is often helped by the other pastors, who will go over the passage with me. And even when we are all committed to the Gospel as central, we still have differences!

Q6. What advice would you share with people who are aspiring Pastors/Elders/Counselors within a church?
The first issue is to put yourself under the oversight and evaluation of your pastors – and if they are not willing to do so, find a church where they will. Proven character and careful evaluation of character is so important. And it can only take place where you are known. Getting a “call” means nothing unless it is tested and you are evaluated. The second is to give yourself to serve the church. Don’t worry about preaching. Find a place to serve. Change diapers. Help in the parking lot. Teach children. Serve because you love the church. This will test your heart motive too! Third, find ways to care for people. Initiate care, friendship, hospitality. Don’t wait until you have an official ministry to do ministry! Fourth, find some avenue for practice and growth in preaching. Get evaluation as you go. Fifth, be more trusting of how other people see you than how you see yourself. Don’t think you have certain gifts if no one else sees it. But they will see where your gifts are and will serve you.

Q7. What are some of the challenges you face as a Pastor in California?
Same as everywhere – sin is real, Satan blinds the unbelievers to Jesus, sanctification is partial, and I am my own biggest problem. I actually think more of about the specific people I serve and know than about statistical averages. I have never met a statistical average.

All that aside, in my opinion the unique features to California are 1. Climate, 2. Cost. Our sunny weather means people are always on the move and rarely at home. The cost of housing affects everything. People have to spend a larger portion of their income to be in a home, even rentals. I may add a third: we are the rootless coast. Mark Dever described it this way. England is made up of the people who stayed. The Eastern USA is made up of the people who left. And the West is made up of the people who left the East. People here are fairly independent and rootless. That is why they came here. So, we call people to apply the Gospel to all these areas of life.

Q8. Who are your past/present heroes of the faith? What draws your attention to them?
I was very influenced by Tozer-Spurgeon-Packer early on. They drove my heart into the grace and glory of God. I have also been very influenced by Piper, Keller, Mahaney. I would say Eugene Peterson kept me sane when I was trying to be a pastor in churches that wanted a CEO. I do not recommend anyone anywhere without encouraging discernment. Only the Bible is infallible.

But I would say my real heroes are people I know and not just people I read. I admire my wife for 26 years of burying her life into our children when she had many desires to do other things besides. She has followed me through many tough times. I admire my children for their love of Christ even though they have seen some painful times in churches I have served. I admire CJ Mahaney for his humility and joy. I admire Steve Shank (who is on the Leadership team of Sovereign Grace) as he has moved so many times for the Gospel I cannot count them. He does it with joy and leads his family to the same. I admire John Piper for living in the city near his church and living simply. I admire my friend Drew because he is more kingdom focused than self-focused and gave me an opportunity to serve short term a few years ago. I admire a whole variety of folks for their love of the church, their teachability, their pursuit of godliness, their grace filled living. I admire people for their lives more than for their books.

Q9. You have written a book called The Transforming Community: The Practice of the Gospel in Church Discipline. Can you explain why you wrote it and what your hopes are for the book?
Well. I wrote it because when a friend asked me what God had taught me most deeply in twenty years I discovered I had been through a huge number of church discipline cases. It is a reflection on those lessons and how I grew to see that the Gospel informs how we do discipline. I wish I could redo all those years of ministry as I made so many mistakes. I also wish I could re-write it as I do not think it is well written – but I try to set out the grace motivated, careful process of dealing with sin that I think we find in Scripture. What is funny is that it was published as I went to the Pastors College for Sovereign Grace! As I re-read it during my first year with this family of churches; I found that I was seeing it lived in some clear ways. I am convinced that if the church will humbly and graciously deal with sin and encourage each other, we will see significant grace in our lives. But it takes faith and courage and humility. And that comes from the Gospel.

You can purchase the book from Amazon: The Transforming Community: The Practice of the Gospel in Church Discipline.

UPDATE: Mark’s sermons are now online!

Twenty-One Books on the Gospel

1. A Gospel Primer: for Christians by Milton Vincent

A Gospel Primer is a handy guide designed to help Christians experience the gospel more fully by preaching it to themselves every day.

2. Living the Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney

What Really Matters – Have the extremities taken over and left the core of your faith forgotten? Do you get confused by what you feel versus what is real? Let dynamic pastor C. J. Mahaney strip away the nonessentials and bring you back to the simplest, most fundamental reason for your faith: Jesus Christ.

3. The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

Bridges invites Christian believers who are pursuing holiness to pause for a moment to consider the role of God’s grace in making such pursuit possible. Bridges urges the discernment of grace and the subsequent practice of the disciplines of commitment, conviction, choices, watching, and adversity.

4. Preaching Christ in All of Scripture by Edmund Clowney

Voicing one theme for the entire Bible and structuring all sermons around that idea may seem to be an impossible challenge. For veteran pastor and preaching professor Edmund Clowney it will not do to preach a text from either the Old or New Testaments without fully preaching its ultimate and primary focus—the person and work of Jesus Christ. He writes, “To see the text in relation to Christ is to see it in its larger context, the context of God’s purpose in revelation.”

5. Christ-Centered Preaching,: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell

This complete guide to expository preaching teaches the basics of preparation, organization, and delivery–the trademarks of great preaching. Chapell shows how expository preaching can reveal the redemptive aims of Scripture and offers a comprehensive approach to the theory and practice of preaching.

6. Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation by Graeme Goldsworthy

Graeme Goldsworthy examines the foundations and presuppositions of evangelical belief as it applies to the interpretation of the Bible. He then surveys the hermeneutical history of the Christian church in an attempt to see where alien approaches have deconstructed our way of reading Scripture. Finally, he reconstructs an evangelical hermeneutics rightly centered in the gospel and rightly influenced by the method of biblical theology.

7. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones

“I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian … I’d urge ministers to buy it and read it for themselves. It will improve their preaching.” ~Tim keller

8. Ethics, Preaching, and Biblical Theology (online) by John Frame

The tension between the already and the not-yet is the setting of New Testament ethical reflection. God has justified us in Christ and has given us his Spirit; yet sin remains and will not be completely destroyed until the final day. Nevertheless, the “already,” the definitive accomplishment of redemption in Christ is our motivation for obedience.

9. Machen’s Warrior Children (online) by John Frame

From 1923 to the present, the movement begun by J. Gresham Machen and Westminster Theological Seminary has supplied the theological leadership for the conservative evangelical Reformed Christians in the United States. Under that leadership, conservative Calvinists made a strong stand against liberal theology. But having lost that theological battle in the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., they turned inward to battle among themselves about issues less important—in some cases, far less important—than liberalism. This essay describes 21 of these issues, with some subdivisions, and offers some brief analysis and evaluations. It concludes by raising some questions for the Reformed community to consider: Was it right to devote so much of the church’s time and effort to these theological battles? Did the disputants follow biblical standards for resolution of these issues? Was the quality of thought in these polemics worthy of the Reformed tradition of scholarship? Should the Reformed community be willing to become more inclusive, to tolerate greater theological differences than many of the polemicists have wanted?

10. The Drama Of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach To Christian Theology by Kevin J. Vanhoozer

Observing a strange disappearance of doctrine within the church, Kevin Vanhoozer argues that there is no more urgent task for Christians today than to engage in living truthfully with others before God. He details how doctrine serves the church—the theater of the gospel—by directing individuals and congregations to participate in the drama of what God is doing to renew all things in Jesus Christ. Taking his cue from George Lindbeck and others who locate the criteria of Christian identity in Spirit-led church practices, Vanhoozer relocates the norm for Christian doctrine in the canonical practices, which, he argues, both provoke and preserve the integrity of the church’s witness as prophetic and apostolic.

11. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen

The Bible is way more than a big book of isolated verses to claim for helping oneself spiritually. The Bible is the “story” of God’s unfolding plan of redemption throughout history, from creation in Genesis, and its fall into sin, and then climaxing in the new creation vision of Revelation ch. 21 and 22. This wonderful book shows this story from start to finish and shows how the biblical story of God’s salvation unfolds and holds together. This book has some truly eye opening material about what the Bible is all about, it should be required reading for anyone wanting to understand the Bible according to the Bible’s own thematic structure. Don’t miss this one!

12. God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Story-Line of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts

Sixty-six books written by forty people over nearly 2,000 years, in two languages and several different genres. A worldwide bestseller published in countless sizes and bindings, translations and languages. Sworn by in court, fought over by religious people, quoted in arguments. The Bible is clearly no ordinary book. How can you begin to read and understand it as a whole?In this excellent overview, Vaughan Roberts gives you the big picture–showing how the different parts of the Bible fit together under the theme of the kingdom of God. He provides both the encouragement and the tools to help you read the Bible with confidence and understanding. And he points you to the Bible’s supreme subject, Jesus Christ, and the salvation God offers through him.

13. Prayer And The Knowledge Of God: What The Whole Bible Teaches by Graeme Goldsworthy

Is it really possible to talk to God?
Does he listen to us?
How do we know what to say?
Will it make any difference if we pray?Prayer is central to Christian faith and life and such questions are fundamental. While much teaching on prayer adresses practical issues and is experience-oriented, Graeme Goldsworthy’s conviction is that good practice comes from a foundation of good biblical understanding.In this accessible and wide-ranging study, Goldsworthy explores the reality of God, the ministry of Jesus Christ, and our experience of being his redeemed people as the grounds for prayer, which he defines as “talking to God.”Using a biblical-theological approach, he examines the principles that lie behind particular texts in Scripture, and he maps out the “progress” of prayer from Genesis to Revelation. He explains the basis for prayer, its role in our fellowship with God, and what is involved in Christian prayer.Above all, Goldworthy’s desire is to encourage Christians in their praying, through a better understanding of, and reflection on, the “big story” of the whole Bible.

14. Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching by Kevin J. Vanhoozer

While strong, gospel-centered preaching abounds, many Christian pastors and lay preachers find it difficult to preach meaningfully from the Old Testament. This practical handbook offers help. Graeme Goldsworthy teaches the basics of preaching the whole Bible in a consistently Christ-centered way.

Goldsworthy first examines the Bible, biblical theology, and preaching and shows how they relate in the preparation of Christ-centered sermons. He then applies the biblical-theological method to the various types of literature found in the Bible, drawing out their contributions to expository preaching focused on the person and work of Christ.

Clear, complete, and immediately applicable, this volume will become a fundamental text for teachers, pastors, and students preparing for ministry.

15. Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road by Timothy Keller

There’s a lot of books out there on being missional. Most of them laud the theory of being missional. This one provides a good example (on a local and urban scale) of how to move toward being missional. Keller provides a strong theological case and some practical examples of how to live out ones faith.

16. Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking by TF Torrance

Torrance presents a creative plea of genuinely fresh paleo orthodoxy addressing the way of preaching Jesus Christ and his message by returning to Christ centered teaching. Torrance is an advocate of biblical wholeness, through a renewed appreciation of a New Testament approached as an inseparably tuned evangelism and a theology based on the good news of the incarnate, crucified, and risen redeemer.

17. Holiness by Grace: Delighting in the Joy That Is Our Strength by Bryan Chapell

Although his purpose is “to explain the role of grace in sanctification,” Chapell, president of Covenant Theological Seminary, not only explains fundamental theological concepts, but gives them passion and life through colorful, often poignant illustrations. Chapell argues very carefully that God’s grace is the necessary foundation and source for all spiritual growth in the Christian life. He thoughtfully explores the deeply rooted human tendency to turn away from grace, seeking favor and blessing through our own efforts. But he also deals with tougher issues asking, for example, “Can the preaching of grace become an excuse for lawlessness?” He honestly confronts how church leaders are tempted to de-emphasize God’s grace in order to prevent chaos. Chapell gives new meaning to the idea of repentance, offers practical and helpful teaching on temptation, shows the often-overlooked role of grace in spiritual warfare, explains the positive role of suffering and paints an inspiring picture of God’s love and mercy.

18. The Mediation of Christ by TF Torrance

The continued attempt to make Jesus relevant to modern ways of thought has had the effect of obscuring him, for all the time we have been engaged in plastering upon the face of Jesus a mask of different gentile features which prevents us from seeing him and understanding him as he really is, as a Jew … We must go to school with Israel and share with it the painful transformation of its mind and soul which prepared it for the final mediation of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, if we ourselves are to break free from our assimilation to the patterns of this world and be transformed through the renewing of our mind in Christ, for only then will we be in a position to recognize, discern and appreciate what God wills to make known to us.

19. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification: Growing in Holiness by Living in Union with Christ by Walter Marshall

That we may acceptably perform the duties of holiness and righteousness required in the law, our first work is to learn the powerful and effectual means by which we may attain to so great an end.

20. Worship, Community & the Triune God of Grace by James B Torrance

Here is a book that sets our worship, sacraments, communion and language of God back on track. In a day when refinement of method and quality of experience are the guiding lights for many Christians, James Torrance points us to the indispensable who of worship, the triune God of grace.

21. Renewal as a Way of Life: A Guidebook for Spiritual Growth by Richard Lovelace

Lovelace makes a good point about the theological integration of revealed truth and cultures. Too often, our spiritual growth models are very western in its approach without being in the context of our pluralistic Asian cultures.

More to come…