November 2014

Hope RebornFor a long time I have wished there was a book that took the best of what the best gospel tracts had to offer and combined it with some solid post-conversion advice for new believers that was church centered and very accessible. When it comes to presenting the gospel, the meaning of Christianity and the basics of the Christian life simplicity is the key with unbelievers and new believers. While tracts are designed to be simple, their size can often cause them to be incomplete.

Adrian Warnock and Tope Koleoso have written that book with Hope Reborn: How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus. Both men serve at Jubilee Church in London which is a growing church that preaches and lives the gospel in their community.

There are three things that make this book shine. First, the book is gospel centered. I do not say this to drop a cliche – the book gets the gospel right. They have a Biblical understanding of the plight of mankind – dead, lost and alienated from God in their sins –  and the resulting need for Christ as the only one who can save us. In the first chapter they use the story in Luke 7:36-40 about the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with ointment and Simon the Pharisee to show the two kinds of unbelievers in the world in need of Christ: the unrighteous as characterized by the prostitute and the self-righteous as characterized by Simon the Pharisee. Since neither can save themselves, because they are both sinners, we need a righteous person – Christ. What makes the gospel possible is that Christ the righteous died and was raised for sinners (chapter two). What is necessary for a person to do is respond to the message of the gospel with a confession repentance and belief in Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf (chapter three).

Second, the book is church centered. Instead of ending at a profession of faith, the book continues onto the next steps a believer needs to take as a new disciple of Jesus Christ. These next steps rightly begin with baptism as a means of obedience and public identification with the one who saved you – Christ –  and joining a local church. The authors place a high value on church membership and involvement as obedience to Scripture and a necessary part of the Christian life.

Third, the book is Christian life centered. In addition to baptism and local church involvement, the authors offer some solid biblical advice about starting the Christian life. They have three areas of immediate growth: seeing change in your life in response to the changes the gospel calls for in your life, Bible reading and prayer. Chapter five deals with change in the believers life. The rational for change is that if the gospel message of salvation is real then it will really change your life. Similarly, if you really believe its message is true then you will want to live in conformity to its freeing message. Chapters six and seven close the book with some simple and practical guidelines for reading your Bible and praying.

I love everything about Hope Reborn. This is like a great gospel tract on steroids. This book would be great to walk a searching friend or co-worker through, great to use as a guide for a new believer looking to take the next step in their new faith and great as a training tool for teaching others about how to share the gospel. You should have copies of this in your house and churches should have stacks of these to give out.

I received this book for free from Christian Focus Publications for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 Peter by ForbesWith Murray Harris’ inaugural book on Colossians and Philemon the potential for success of the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series was looking bright – and it continues to be so. Though only in its third of twenty books, this series has already made its mark as a standard Greek text commentary series for serious students of the Greek New Testament.

The most recent installment is on 1 Peter by Greg W. Forbes who is the head of the Department of Biblical Studies at Melbourne School of Theology in Australia. In his contribution to the series, Forbes shows himself to be an able exegete of what many regard to be the some of the most difficult Greek in the New Testament.

In keeping with the aim of the series, Forbes book accomplishes two primary services for the reader. First, the commentary is solely based on the Greek of the New Testament primarily using the fourth edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament with some minor variations (xvi). 1 Peter is divided into pericopes by its Greek text, block diagrammed and then exegeted phrase-by-phrase. A good grasp of New Testament Greek is required to benefit from this book as well as an ability to understand the grammatical abbreviations used in the book.

Second, as a guide, the reader is presented with a number of helps in their own study of the Greek text. The purpose of the book is not to do all of the work for the reader, but, rather, to “provide all the necessary information for understanding the Greek text.” (xvi) Having a lot of the time consuming work done for you helps the reader to focus more on interpreting the information and developing the sermon. By breaking the book up into pericopes the reader already has a good idea as to how to lay out their sermons. There are suggested homoletical outlines (often giving more than one) as well as suggested further reading based on the subject matter of each verse or group of verses examined. When more than one suggestion is offered by commentators Forbes presents them along with his reasons for which one seems to fit the text best.

All of the books in The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament are must haves for every pastor, student and teacher who is a serious student of the Greek. Murray Harris started a remarkable series and I trust that each successive contributor will be able to follow suit in his ability to handle the Greek New Testament. Forbes book is a must have for preachers and teachers of 1 Peter who want to dig into the original Greek.

I received this book for free from B&H for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Can I really trust the Bible by CooperTrust is a high commodity among people today but it something that is not given as easily as it was a few generations ago. Almost gone are the days where a gentlemen’s agreement was all that was needed between two people. It was possible because people had more trust in one another. Now, trust among people is harder to acquire. This natural reaction to distrust others has effected how people view the Bible. In our post-Christian world people don’t just naturally trust the Bible as reliable, let alone as the Word of God.

Now, more than ever, people want reasons to trust things and they often put a higher demand on religious texts like the Bible. They want to be reassured that there are good reasons to trust the Bible and that it comes from God. In his recent book, Can I really trust the Bible?: And other questions about Scripture, truth and how God speaks, Barry Cooper answer these questions and more. This books is a mini-introduction and apologetic to the doctrine of Scripture for the believer and non-believer alike.

The book is divided into five chapters. The first two chapters answer the question, “Does the Bible claim to the God’s word?”, as in both from God Himself (the ‘word’) and revealing God through Christ (THE Word). Cooper does a great job showing the relationship between Scripture as God’s revelation to man both of His word’s to man of and Himself to man in Christ. Cooper states

God makes himself known through Jesus, who is revealed in the Bible…Jesus repeatedly points to Scripture: the Word points to the word. At the same time, Scripture points to Jesus: the word points to the Word. …We can’t know Jesus apart from the Bible because, as Jesus himself says, the Bible always and on every page testifies to him. (27)

This is perhaps the best statement in the whole book. The Bible tells us of Jesus and Jesus affirms His trust in the Bible.

Chapters three, four and five tackle different aspects of the Bible. Chapter three briefly discusses the issues of the Bible’s consistency and possible corruptions. Using Scripture itself, Cooper shows how the message of the Bible is internally consistent and how it does fit well with a conspiracy myth. Chapter four addresses the issues surrounding canonicity: how we got the 66 books of the Protestant canon. Due to the brevity of the book Cooper is only able to highlight the relevant answers to these questions. He does spend half the chapter on inerrancy and what it does and does not entail (58-63). The final chapter answers the question as to how the Bible proves to be God’s word. Using Scripture again as his basis, Cooper points to passages like John 7:17 and James 1:22 where people are called to live out the teaching of the Bible. It is those who live it in addition to reading it that really see the truth of the Bible in their lives. It is in living out the Bible that we see its truth fleshed out in our lives which in turn strengthens our trust in it.

Can I really trust the Bible? is a great book for a new believer who has questions about the Bible and needs some basic answer to get their feet wet. It is also a good book for Christians to take their non-Christian friends through who have questions and are open to answers. Cooper’s answers to these questions show his own trust in Scripture as God’s word. He is not ashamed to let Scripture have a say in what we are to believe about it.

I received this book for free from The Good Book Company through Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”