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Review: High King of Heaven, ed. John MacArthur

As Christians, our faith can be summed up in one name: Jesus.

High King of Heaven: Theological and Practical Perspectives on the Person and Work of Jesus
High King of Heaven: Theological and Practical Perspectives on the Person and Work of Jesus

Without Christ, there is no Christianity. Without Christ, there is no Gospel. Without Christ, there is no hope of eternal salvation – and yet so many Christians have little beyond a surface understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for us.

It is in that vein that a book like High King of Heaven is heartily welcome. Arising from messages given at the 2017 Shepherd’s Conference, held at Grace Community Church in southern California, the book is an accessible, well-researched and well-studied presentation of the person and work of Christ as well as issues related to seeing Christ in the Scriptures.

The presentation unfolds in four parts: (1) The Person of Christ, (2) The Work of Christ, (3) The Word of Christ and (4) The Witness to Christ. Part 1 features stellar contributions from Dr. Michael Reeves on The Eternal Word: God the Son in Eternity Past (chapter 1), Dr. Mark Jones on The Son’s Relationship to the Father (chapter 3) and Dr. Keith Essex on The Virgin Birth (chapter 4).

Part 2 includes a powerful treatment of the Kenosis from Prof. Mike Riccardi (chapter 9) – a chapter that I believe is the price of the book as a whole 1, Dr. Michael Barrett on The Atonement (chapter 10) as well as The Second Coming from Dr. Michael Vlach (chapter 13).

Part 3 deals with the relationship between Christ and the Scriptures, which bear witness to Him (John 5:39). I found myself especially intrigued by Dr. Brad Klassen’s chapter on Christ and the Completion of the Canon – a subject that usually has very little written about it (chapter 15) – and Dr. Abner Chou’s treatment of Seeing Christ in the Old Testament (chapter 16).

The final section deals with The Witness to Christ – the final chapter (Do You Love Me?: The Essential Response to the High King of Heaven by Dr. John MacArthur) especially works as a fitting conclusion, calling for love for Christ as the heart of our faith.

My only gripe with this volume is that it felt too brief at points – it could have gone on a little longer and I still wouldn’t have been able to put it down.

I heartily commend this book to anyone seeking to grow in their love for Christ, our High King of Heaven. Tolle lege!

Reviews

Review: Power in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix

Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix, Power in the Pulpit: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2017).

Can you teach preaching?

It’s an audacious question if you think about it. Can you teach someone how to proclaim the Word of the Living God and do so powerfully and accurately? 

I believe you can and I would venture to say that Power in the Pulpit provides an example of just how to teach someone how to preach.

In 415 pages, pastors and preachers Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix provide a helpful map for chartering the wonderful waters of Biblical expository preaching in a fashion that will inspire, excite, encourage and challenge anyone who desires this noblest work.

The book divides into three parts. Part One covers the Preparation for Exposition – thinking through what is Biblical exposition, why we do it and what kind of man the Bible expositor is. It is on this foundation that Part Two builds, thinking about the “mechanics” of expository preaching in a section on The Process of Exposition – how one goes from a Bible and a piece of paper (or an open document) to a completed sermon before culminating in Part Three and its treatment of delivery and preparation in The Presentation of the Exposition.

A special touch are a number of “personal testimonies” scattered through the book which provide some flesh-and-blood examples of the principles exemplified. As an aspiring preacher myself, reading those personal insights provided some much-needed encouragement, both that I can faithfully handle and proclaim God’s Word and to pursue excellence in my ministry of preaching.

As good a book as this is, the book did have a couple of areas I would note as worth changing. Though there were a few examples in the appendices, a few worked examples along with the opportunity to think through and try one’s hand out at the varying steps of Biblical exposition would have been appreciated. I also would have appreciated having the bibliography at the end of each Part rather than relegated to an appendix but this is admittedly more of a personal scruple than something important.

All in all, Power in the Pulpit is a fine resource for budding preachers as well as more seasoned expositors seeking to keep the fires stoked and skills sharpened. I commend it unhesitatingly.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange of a fair and honest review. I was not obligated to provide a positive review.

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Review: Long Before Luther by Nathan Busenitz

Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther: Tracing The Heart Of The Gospel From Christ To The Reformation (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2017).

If you’ve spent any length of time talking with various non-Protestant groups, whether in Roman Catholicism or those who are part of the Eastern Orthodox tradition, you’ll know that a common sticking point is justification by faith.

Though those are two very disparate groups, what you find is that one of the core arguments leveled against the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone is that it is a new doctrine – a doctrine that is an innovation in the history of the church and definitely not something the apostles believed or told. 

As if this theological impasse is not difficult enough, there are Protestants and even “evangelicals” who call the doctrine of sola fide a recent development.

The question of the hour is a simple one: Was the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone an invention or a recovery?

It is this question that Dr. Nathan Busenitz seeks to answer in his excellent book Long Before Luther: Tracing The Heart of the Gospel from Christ to the Reformation. Busenitz serves as Dean of Faculty and Assistant Professor of Theology at The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles and has authored and contributed to such books as Reasons We Believe, Right Thinking in a Church Gone Astray, Men of the Word and Fools Gold.

Picking up the claim of historian Alistair McGrath in particular that no-one taught the doctrine of sola fide prior to the Reformers (pp. 25-29), Busenitz does the work of a historical detective, mining through the writings of various teachers and writers in church history, to demonstrate that the doctrine of Luther and the Reformers was, in fact, a RECOVERY and not an INVENTION.

With a faithfulness to the meaning of the authors he cites and a clear-headed analysis of their theology, Busenitz uses the three planks of McGrath’s argument to show that this teaching was understood by generations of believers before Luther – and thus is a doctrine that can be believed and trusted today.

Far from being an academic treatise, Busenitz succeeds in defending the Pauline teaching that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone. I encourage you to pick up a copy and have your confidence bolstered in the doctrine Busenitz rightfully calls the heart of the Gospel.

Reviews

Review: 2000 Years of Christ’s Power, Volume 4: The Age of Religious Conflict

 

As a bibliophile, one of the more regular experiences I go through is waiting for the next volume in a series.

Sometimes the wait isn’t too long – like starting the Harry Potter for the first time in 2016. The wait time was usually the next day, courtesy of Amazon Prime.

2,000 Years of Christ’s Power, Nick Needham, Christian Focus Publications, 2016

At other times, the wait is a long time. In the case of the fourth volume of pastor and historian Nick Needham’s church history series 2000 Years of Christ’s Power, it was twelve years since the last volume was published and six years since I read the last volume.

For those unfamiliar with the series, 2000 Years of Christ’s Power began when Dr Needham, lecturer in Church History at Highland Theological College and pastor of the Inverness Reformed Baptist Church, was teaching in Nigeria and found he couldn’t find an in-depth church history that was also readable. As is often the case, when you can’t find what you need, creating it is a good bet and so Dr Needham released the first volume, The Age of the Early Church Fathers in 2004.

The second volume covered The Middle Ages and the third dealt with the Renaissance and Reformation and now the series continues with this highly-anticipated fourth volume covering the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries.

So the question remains: was the wait worth it?

Having finished this fourth book, I can unequivocally say that it was worth waiting for! The series had a couple of great features which this fourth volume exemplifies:

It is even-handed: It is easy to use church history as something of a weapon to club opponents in a heated discussion but as folks who know church history tell me, church history is not quite so cut and dry. At times, those we think of as being on our team are often guilty of doing that which just isn’t right or (worse) doing that which is right for the wrong motivations. Needham does an amazing job of just reporting the news and not spinning it, especially when dealing with groups as contentious as the Puritans or the Covenanters or periods as fraught as the Calvinist-Arminian controversy or The Great Ejection.

I came away reading some sections both saddened at the behaviour of some of my theological forefathers yet thankful for the firm resolve and fearless faith of others of them. That was only possible because Dr Needham seeks to be even-handed in his dealings with this fractious time in church history

It seeks to provide modern lessons from our history: More than once, Dr Needham rather cleverly weaves together lessons we can learn from the strengths and weaknesses of the past – and even from theological traditions that differ from his own (and my own) Reformed and Baptistic roots.  Church history can often be the “stuff of the past” but Needham shows the relevance of our roots as 21st-century evangelicals and what can we do to avoid the same missteps.

I enjoyed volume four of 2000 Years of Christ’s Power (and in reality, the whole series) and would highly commend it to anyone looking to think critically about our roots as believers.

Reviews

Review: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

I believe self-reflection is a lost art. When it comes to the church, I think self-reflection is not just a lost art, it is a misunderstood art.

The ability to look back, to look in, to look up – these are skills that previous generations practiced to powerful effect, yet we sadly do not make much in the way of time for them.

If anything, there is an aversion to it. We like to convey the image that we have it all together, that we have no need to learn anything, that we have it all figured out. The only way you do that, frankly, is to deny reality because no one has it all together perfectly – we just aren’t self-reflective enough to know and admit it. 

That was one of the things that made The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith such a gripping and powerful read – the book is unreservedly self-reflective.

The heart of the book revolves around the conversion and early years of the Christian life of Dr Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, a tenured English professor at Syracuse who, prior to her conversion, lived in a lesbian relationship and had no interest in the Christian faith. Her career was booming, she was happy with her partner, owned two homes and was actively engaged in activism on a number of fronts.

That being the case, many evangelicals, either consciously or unconsciously, would think she was a total write-off, someone for whom salvation was just far too out of reach…except it wasn’t.

A riveting read from start to finish, we’re introduced to a story that, if we weren’t being told by a reliable source, sounds entirely implausible. As Dr Butterfield herself describes it, it was a ‘trainwreck’ – her life went from planned and normal to unpredictable and unconventional in what could only have felt as ‘overnight’. Dr Butterfield steps into the role of master storyteller, taking us on her journey unafraid to tell us what she was thinking and feeling at crucial points while also weaving in key theological points and piercing commentary at crucial junctures.

Therein lies the strength of this book – Dr Butterfield isn’t afraid to get self-reflective as a reformed evangelical about some of the issues and attitudes that hamper us in being effective witnesses in Christ. That alone makes the book worth the cost of buying.

I wouldn’t endorse everything about the book – for example, the subtle advocacy for exclusive psalmody at points – but this was a highly edifying read and I would gladly commend it to Christians seeking an ‘insider perspective’ on how to proclaim the Gospel, not just to the homosexual community, but into the chaos of our present culture more broadly.

My advice: go read it, think through it and then repent.

I know I did.

 

 

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Book Review: Passion and Purity (by Sophie McDonald)

It’s an honour for me to hand the proverbial steering wheel of Fiery Logic to my dear friend and sister Sophie McDonald for this book review. Sophie works as Assistant Editor for Real Truth Matters magazine, leads the girls ministry at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Paducah, KY (her hometown), blogs at Reflecting the Son and is also the organizer of the True Beauty Conference for young ladies. Aside from all she does, Sophie is a dear friend and probably one of the godliest ladies I know and so without much further ado, here’s Sophie!

How does one express in words why a particular book gripped their heart and has never let go? How can one accurately do his or her favorite love story justice, encouraging everyone to read it, while at the same time not giving too much away? How does one highlight the most influential book outside the Bible in their walk with the Lord in a short review?

I’m convinced it’s impossible.

But that is the task assigned to me. So here we go. passion-purity

Before Elisabeth Elliot was an acclaimed author and speaker, she was a wife. And before she was a wife, she was a missionary. And before she was a missionary, she was a normal college girl who learned to daily surrender her heart, mind, will and emotions to the sovereign Savior who fully captivated her heart.

In Elisabeth’s book Passion and Purity, we meet Elisabeth Howard in the year 1947. There, as a senior at Wheaton College, she is asking the Lord if singleness would be a permanent call and praying between a career in medicine or linguistics.

In the pages that follow, we meet Jim Elliot and read of two young people who seek the Lord with everything in them as He, unbeknownst to them, weaves together one of the most intense, pure and beautiful love stories ever written.

This book is for everyone, whether they be single, dating, longing to be married or already wed, as it is packed full of rich wisdom, timeless advice, solid truth, applicable lessons and the glorious Gospel.

Take a look at some of the quotes from the book:

“I write this for one reason. To show that it is possible for two young people, full of all the juices that youth is endowed with by the Creator, to resist temptation.

They can’t do it unless they have a motive that makes it worthwhile.

They can’t do it alone.

…A word of warning here. It is not a good idea to go into caves or to sit by driftwood fires in lonely places if you are not yet sure of your God. Paul advised the young Timothy to “turn from the wayward impulses of youth …” Don’t walk straight into them and then blame God if the temptation is too great for you.”

“‘But how in the world can I find out what God wants me to do if I don’t know what I want to do?’ The logic of this question escapes me, but it is one I have heard more than once. Why not start by simply telling God you’ll do anything He says? You’re the servant. He’s the Master. It’s the only reasonable approach, isn’t it? Furthermore, there is the possibility that what He says will be something you’d like.”

“A settled commitment to the Lord Christ and a longed-for commitment to Jim Elliot seemed to be in conflict. Disicpleship usually brings us to the necessity of choice between duty and desire. They are not always mutually exclusive, however.

When our hearts are set on obedience, we can be sure of the needed wisdom to tell the difference between a conflict and a harmony. It may be a slow and painful process.”

She pens those words, “a slow and painful process,” from an abundance of experience. She has been in the trenches of singleness and questioning God, the trenches of fighting for eternal holiness when desiring temporal happiness, the trenches of sacrifice and suffering, and the trenches of honoring God when His way is most unclear.

While this is an excellent book for every Christ follower, those who find themselves in the season of singleness will especially benefit from it. You’re not alone, and if you take a look at this book perhaps you’ll discover, as I did, that what Elisabeth faced and recorded in her journals in 1948 is the same thing we face and record in our journals in 2014.

No, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9), so the relationship struggles we face nowadays have not changed since Elisabeth and Jim faced them in the 1940s, but greater still, God has not changed. He is the same God who writes the love stories of those who give Him the pen and, because of Jesus’ atonement and sacrifice on our behalf, He deserves the glory from every one of our earthly relationships.

I cannot recommend this book in stronger language. I believe the story of Jim and Elisabeth and the way their commitment to Christ superseded their love for each other will be an encouragement to all who open Passion and Purity.

But whether you find as much treasure within these pages as I did or if you decide you never want to read it at all, remember that God’s ways (the ways of obedience, honor and purity) are not only right, they’re good and they will always lead to your ultimate joy.

Reviews

Review: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

I was privileged to write a review for my church’s newsletter, Charis, and figured I share it with all of you 🙂

So many of us cringe at the thought of a scene like this: a friend comes to you looking like they’re carrying the weight of the world. You ask what’s wrong and they start telling you every detail of what they’re going through. As they speak, you know you want to help but you’re clueless as to how to help. If you’re like me, you can’t help but think, “If only I knew what to do!”

9780875526072
Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (P&R, 2002)

Enter Dr Paul Tripp and this wonderful book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change!

Tripp’s approach is not exactly typical of so much of “Christian counselling” available these days. Most of what is written today comes from the perspective of mixing secular psychology with vaguely Christian principles. The end result is more Dr Phil than Paul, and you have secular principles without any spiritual power to change.

Not so with Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. For Tripp, the problem is not that we have ‘low self-esteem’. Actually the sad truth is that since the Fall, our actions and attitudes are all deeply coloured by sin. As Tripp powerfully points out, “Change only occurs on a real, permanent level when the one receiving counsel comes to realize that ‘sin is much more than doing the wrong thing. It begins with loving, worshiping, and serving the wrong thing.’” (67)

Once you grasp that, the work of real change can begin. Rather than falling into the errors of either focusing too much on the surface-problems, or wishing them away, Tripp rejoices in the reality that things can indeed change. Sinful attitudes and actions can be overcome, relationships can be restored, we can make it through trials – and all because the Gospel which works so powerfully in salvation works in the tough situations of life as well!

This is not a book for quick fixes, checklists and rules – but it is full of incredible insights, and thoroughly practical steps to see the Gospel bring about change in our own lives. While that happens, it is a relief to know that there are these simple, biblical tools to help others take steps towards such wonderful, Gospel-driven change.

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Review: “The Life of Edward Irving”

2013 was definitely the year of biographies for me – or the year of Dallimore biographies, I should say. Early in the year, I finished his two-volume biography of George Whitefield and really enjoyed his ability to just tell the story without embellishing or engaging in hagiography, so I was so excited to read this smaller biography about a character I didn’t know much about.

Born in 1792 to Scottish parents, Irving made a name for himself for his unusual ministry in London – a ministry which varied in theological positions to professing Presbyterians to an unusual premillennialism to (his most well-known position) a primordial form of charismatic theology. Tracing such an enigmatic figure is no mean man’s task but Dallimore handles it well, working the balance between honesty and understanding incredibly well.

Dallimore’s subtitle is Forerunner of the Charismatic Movement and as one reads the book, it becomes apparent that such a subtitle is indeed a worthy one. As a former Pentecostal, it was eerie to read a man in the 1820-30s espousing the same theology as you grew up under with the same artificial distinctions and multiplicity of excuses that follow when life diverges from theology as is often the case with poor theology.

I’m genuinely surprised that Edward Irving isn’t mentioned in more treatments of the history of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements. Granted you cannot prove a direct link between the two but the resemblances are so uncanny you cannot help but wonder. I would heartily recommend this to anyone working through historic claims of the charismata – as well as learning some life lessons about humility, what true ministry is and why, as with most things as Dr James White has so succinctly put it, theology matters.

Reviews

Review: “Strange Fire”

I spend a lot of time reading blogs. Kinda comes with the territory when you write for one. A while ago, The Gospel Coalition did a series of posts about people who changed their views on a number of issues – Sam Storms did a piece on why he abandoned premillennialism (lots of comments on that one – after all, who wants to be a dispensationalist in our enlightened age, right?), Gavin Ortlund, Liam Goligher and Sean Michael Lucas all chimed in on baptism (a discussion which is definitely worth having) – but the one article I hoped someone who write was one on the gifts – either from a continuationist perspective (namely the belief that the sign gifts are available today for the Church) or a cessationist perspective (the belief that the sign gifts passed with the passing of the apostles and their associates) – but alas nothing.

That for me sums up the nature of the discussion in professing evangelical circles when it comes to the issue of the work of the Spirit today. No one seems willing to have the tough discussions on this issue – it’s not that it cannot be done, there just seems to be little desire for it. As an ex-Pentecostal myself, I think on both sides, we need some robust discussion about the ministry of the Spirit today (thankfully I’m not alone in that assessment – Burk Parsons, editor for Ligonier Ministries’ Tabletalk magazine and co-pastor with R.C. Sproul at St Andrew’s Chapel in Florida, asked for the same in a message he gave at TGC’s conference earlier this year.)

Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (Thomas Nelson: 2013)
Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (Thomas Nelson: 2013)

Part of that robust discussion is going to have to deal with the issue of the charismata. But alas, you see little written on it and the little that is often comes from a non-committal position on the issue which sounds nice and conciliatory but doesn’t answer the questions. I sincerely believe John MacArthur’s latest work, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship, might just get the discussion going with some gusto at long last.

Strengths

In terms of the strengths of the book, there are several I found as I read it (most of it being on a flight back to London from Los Angeles):

Clarity: One thing I’ve come to love about reading anything from John MacArthur (and I’ve read a good dozen in the last few years) is that you never have to ponder what it is he is getting at. Pinpoint clarity – even if you disagree with him – has been a hallmark of his ministry and he brings that focused mind to this work. At several points, he’ll make a point for several sentences and then, with one line, will open up his point so clearly you’ll go, “Yup, I saw that coming.”

Brevity: Combined with that ability to be clear is an ability to get to the point quickly. I fear that part of the reasons that a lot of defenses of cessationism haven’t gotten the mass hearing they should have (like Thomas Edgar’s excellent Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit or Victor Budgen’s The Charismatics and the Word of God) is because they are frankly quite difficult to follow at point. MacArthur’s ability to be concise really comes through here and proves to be rather helpful

Theological and Biblical Focus: More important, the book is saturated with proper quotation from Scripture and incisive theological content. This isn’t some book-length rant which hasn’t been thought through but a careful, theologically-grounded treatment of the issues (albeit not all of them), grounded in the exposition of the Scriptures. I found myself pulling out my tablet and summarizing many of the arguments made in the talks in Evernote for future use.

The final third of the book – devoted to a positive presentation of the  ministry of the Spirit – was well worth the price of the book as a whole. A full-length treatment would prove invaluable if done someday.

Things That Could Have Been Better

I purposefully don’t call them weaknesses because these are somewhat subjective and open to discussion.

A Clearer Target: A common complaint throughout the conference (which I was present for) and in the time following it has been that MacArthur swept with too broad a brush and that reformed continuationists were swept along in the process. Now I don’t think that’s a fair argument to make but I do appreciate why one would come to that conclusion. In the book, it is not until chapter 12 that a distinction is made between the Charismatic Movement in toto and reformed continuationists – if I may be blunt, that’s a little long to leave it. Were I writing the book (and this is not intended as a slight on Dr MacArthur), I would have made that point every chance I got. With an issue this charged, I would take any and every opportunity in my discourse to diffuse that charge so that we can have the discussion without someone walking out because they had their feelings hurt.

More Time on the Positive Ministry of the Spirit: I loved chapters nine through eleven which dealt with the true work of the Spirit and would commend them to everyone but I couldn’t help but wonder where the chapters on the baptism and filling of the Spirit, what the Spirit-filled life actually looks like or even the differences between the Spirit’s ministry in the Old and New Testaments – since in my experience of discussing these issues, a lot of misunderstandings stems from not understanding these issues in their proper Biblical detail.

A Recommendation Before You Go and Buy A Copy

To those who haven’t read Dr MacArthur’s 1993 work Charismatic ChaosI want to make a bold suggestion: go and read that before you read Strange Fire. Having read both, I think the arguments in Charismatic Chaos are much more substantive and argued out plus it addresses many of the questions Strange Fire doesn’t address like:

  • What is the nature of the Baptism of the Spirit?
  • What does true spirituality look like?
  • What was happening in the NT?

What Strange Fire does so well is to deal with many of the modern problems that have arisen like the “fallible prophecy” hypothesis of Wayne Grudem or the errors of the New Apostolic Reformation using the same broad base of arguments set forth in Charismatic Chaos. But for an in-depth treatment, I probably wouldn’t start here.

My Final Verdict

While I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t as mammoth a defense of the cessationist position as I thought it would be. I still think Charismatic Chaos did that in ’93. However, in fairness to it, I don’t think it was intended to do that in the first place. This seems to be a “this is the state of play – what do we then say?” kind of work – and that it does well.

I loved the book for what it did and would gladly recommend it for those who always agree on the issue but would like a couple of silver bullets for those long, drawn-out conversations that tend to happen with folks who disagree as well as getting someone caught up to think about what they are involved in and whether what they are involved is indeed glorifying to God. After all, isn’t that all that matters in the end?

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Review: “Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic”

The Gospel is the heart of the Christian faith – gut that from Christianity and you’ll end up with a shell of good works and moralism which saves no-one. Unfortunately, the Gospel is the one thing that Christians are most to prone to either forget – or subtly redefine.

In our day, it’s never been more en vogue to talk about the Gospel. Christians proudly call themselves Gospel-centered, we are glad to critique every believer who doesn’t preach the Gospel in every sermon, books are piled up from floor to ceiling talking about Gospel-centered X and Y – and yet no one stops to answer the basic question: what does it mean to preach the Gospel? One of the most profoundly helpful books I have read on that subject is Pastor Walter Chantry’s little gem Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic?

Published in 1970 (my personal copy is a first edition published by Banner of Truth) and weighing in at 93 pages, Chantry works through the account of Jesus and the young rich man of Mark 10 to present six facets of true Gospel preaching:

  1. Preaching the Character of God
  2. Preaching the Law of God
  3. Preaching Repentance towards God
  4. Preaching Faith towards God’s Son
  5. Preaching Assurance of Acceptance with God
  6. Preaching with Dependence upon God

With a skill of a surgeon, he develops these themes powerfully and Biblically, along the way  asking the question, “Is the Gospel we preach the authentic deal or a synthetic knock-off?” – a question that makes a world of difference.

Now why would I recommend a book that is 43 years old to a generation steeped in books about the Gospel? Well, if I may wax polemical for a few moments, I’m not all that convinced we are as Gospel-centered as we make out. Think with me through some questions:

  • When was the last time you heard a teaching on repentance?
  • When’s the last time you heard preaching on the wrath of God – and not just from John Piper or Paul Washer?
  • When was the last time you heard a sermon on the implications of the Gospel or the call to discipleship?
  • Why do we feel the need to downplay the place of good works as a fruit of the Gospel? (a book review of The Hole in our Holiness is in the works where I will develop this further)

A book like Today’s Gospel proves itself very handy in regards to these questions, especially since being so old, it is free of the hangups that have been enshrined in “Gospel-centered” circles.

I would heartily recommend this book for a treatment of how to preach the Gospel as Jesus would have done it, which, when all is said and done, is the most important thing – after all, He is the One who called us to follow Him and be fishers of men, right?