Visions from the Vincents

December 30, 2008

Joshua’s top ten books of 2008 (not necessarily in order).

Filed under: Books — Joshua @ 3:02 pm
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1. The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever—The most fruitful evangelist I have ever met personally wrote this book. This easy to moderate, short read is chock full of practical advice on how to evangelize faithfully (apprx 100 pages).

2. Prayer and the Knowledge of God by Graeme Goldsworthy—This work looks deeply at a full-orbed biblical picture of prayer. It is a moderate to difficult read, but is extremely helpful for the person seeking a deeper understanding of prayer (apprx 200 pages).

3. What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile—Thabiti preaches with power as a six-foot tall African-American man with the voice of a Lion. More importantly for this book, he writes with simplicity and clarity—much of this, I think, comes from the fact that all of his preparation for ministry came from the church. The book itself is brief and easy to read (apprx 100 pages).

4. Reasons why we believe: 50 lines of evidence that confirm the Christian Faith by Nathan Busenitz—This work can be used in a number of ways. The book is approximately 200 pages in length–an easy to moderate read–and offers 50 arguments for the existence of God. Ultimately, we know that belief requires a work of the Spirit, but truth is the seed that needs to be sown to reap its benefits. Busenitz does an excellent job of making difficult thoughts easy and short—most chapters are 3-4 pages. This is helpful for apologetics and evangelism (apprx 200 pages).

6. Reason for God by Timothy Kellar—Kellar is one of my favorite thinkers—mainly due to his brilliant mind and humble heart (I long for both!). This book addresses 7 of the most common arguments today against belief in God and 7 reasons for belief. I would say that this is a medium to hard read, and fun (apprx 240 pages).

7. When People are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch—the deacons read through this together. This book addresses the natural tendency we all have to seek to please man (or woman) above our desire to be faithful to God. Welch does an excellent job of grappling with heart issues in this work. It is an easy to moderate read and (apprx 200 pages).

8. Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll—Mark represents a respectable movement towards seeking to bring strong doctrine in relevant, fresh ways. This book takes a look at Jesus from a historical and biblical perspective and his full of excellent doctrine as well as fun turns of phrase. I hear this book quoted a lot. The younger crowd will love it. This too is an easy to moderate read (apprx 200 pages).

9. Resurrection of the Son of God by NT Wright—this book is a mammoth, 800 pages and a difficult read. I am not even done with it yet. But, Wright’s work on extra-biblical and biblical resources to understand what the resurrection meant in the context of the Ancient Near East is profound. Anyone willing to work at this book will be blessed.

10. Holding Hands Holding Hearts by Richard and Sharon Philips—the Philips communicate helpful thoughts on dating from a biblical perspective. Every person who is not married should read this book. Even though highlights dating, I even found helpful insights for married people. It is an easy read (apprx 200 pages).

December 16, 2008

The Fruit and the Root

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 6:48 pm
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This past week Larry Eisenfeld, M.D., and president of the Jewish federation of lee and Charlotte Counties wrote an article expressing his thoughts on the massacres in Mumbai. A concern for a rabbi and his wife and seven other Jews who were murdered prompted him to voice his concern. This is what he had to say, “At the end of the day, it does not matter how we practice our faith. It does not matter how we view the world, or what our politics are…The Rabbinic sage Hillel said that all the commandments can be summed up in “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the rest is commentary…May we all react to this vicious attack by being kinder to one another. It behooves us to look at our similarities rather than our differences.” Eisenfeld sentiments are actually popular these days. In fact, just yesterday, I read an article from the Associated Baptist Press, which quotes President Bush as saying that he is not so sure that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Is it biblical though?

This advice may sound really wise and even biblical. Galatians 5:14 says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In Galatians, Paul spends much of his time demolishing a temptation perhaps all of us face—Turning Christianity into a list of things that we do for God. The way this practically plays out is that we reduce Christianity to a list of values. We want to be good people so we go to church. We don’t want our children to go to jail so we go to church. This reasoning is like marrying a woman because we like her perfume. We don’t marry a woman because of one of her attributes, nor do we wed ourselves to Christ because of fruit for fruits sake. Paul has shown us that in reality, God has freed us to himself and he is our prize. All of the fruits of the Spirit come from the Spirit living inside of us, transforming us into the image of Christ–that is what makes them spiritual fruits. Our justification and freedom comes from Christ alone. This is the true gospel, God is good, and we broke his law and the only way to be made right with him is to turn from your sin and trust that Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, died for your sins upon a cross and that he is your king—not just a king.

It is dangerous to move from the fruit to the root

This is the dangerous gospel preachers preach and that Martin Lloyd Jones speaks of when he said, “They have all been accused of “antinomianism.” I would say to all preachers: If your preaching of salvation has not been misunderstood in that way, then you had better examine your sermons again, and you had better make sure that you really are preaching the salvation that is proclaimed in the New Testament.” Antinomianism is a belief that there is no law. That is the dangerous gospel we try to preach here. Nothing you do can save you. Salvation only comes from trusting in what Christ has done. This is the very issue that Paul is addressing in this last section of Galatians, and the reason Paul says people are not without a law; they are called to follow the “law of Christ” in 6:2. So, we need to understand the command to love one another within the context of the whole message of Galatians and–perhaps even more so–in the grand scope of the Bible’s redemptive history. Spiritual fruit does not exist without the seed of the gospel taking root in the heart of the believer by the power of the Spirit.

What about other faiths that do good things?

This doesn’t mean that we will not see evidences of grace in the lives of others. All good comes down from the Father who is in heaven. But, some of the good is common and some is special. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. That is a common grace. Only those who repent of their sin and turn to the gospel receive salvation. That is Special grace. So, even the good that we see those of other faiths do is from God. The scary thing is that common grace doesn’t save them. It is faith alone in Christ alone that does that.

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