Review: The excellence of exposition

The excellence of exposition
The excellence of exposition by Douglas Malcolm White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good book. This was the first book I read on expository preaching. It was many years and many books ago now. Some of the particulars are irretrievable. I do remember it being practically bracing. I had begun to preach expositorily and this book reinforced it. I do recommend it for young preachers in particular.

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Review: A Display of God’s Glory

A Display of God's Glory
A Display of God’s Glory by Mark Dever
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good, concise treatment of the polity or organizational structure of the local church. I appreciate Dever’s approach to this subject that it is not left to personal preference or creativity to order the church, but that we must search and submit to the Scriptures in all things as supremely authoritative and finally sufficient. Though Dever does bring some different references in history to bear, he exhorts that we not look to history but to the Bible.

He undertakes to present a simple, biblical view of deacons, elders, congregationalism, and church membership. He looks at the pieces while keeping the whole in view. He justifies his title and consummates his argument by showing that the local church is to display God’s glory and the biblical order is a reflection of the nature of God.

I am a local-church Baptist and so there are places where I am more apt to rally around and some where I can’t scotch. Overall I found the brief book refreshing and am thankful for these issues to be seriously considered. The order of the local church is not just a polemical issue for some cantankerous, nineteenth century Baptists in America. It is an extremely important issue from the time Jesus founded His first church as part of His work on earth before His death. A part of His final revelatory words to us are letters to seven of His churches that had been planted through the commission He gave to the first one.

I recommend reading this book carefully and thoughtfully. These are not trendy topics today and too few treat them with the seriousness they deserve.

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Review: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent book. I don’t know why I haven’t read it before now. This book has been around quite a while and I have heard good things about it from many people. I wondered how these truths would be handled together as I started reading. One type of error downplays the sovereignty of God and leads to a man-centered, pragmatic approach to evangelism. The other type of error overplays the sovereignty of God and renders evangelism meaningless. Packer points out these errors and held both in a biblical balance.

The last chapter also does much to help us see how understanding God’s sovereignty motivates evangelism and helps keep us from the errors of pragmatism. The book is very readable and not long. Aside from some of the references to the Book of Common Prayer and such, I recommend it as a worthwhile read.

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Review: Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary

Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Greear
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Given the book’s premise, I was eager to read it and wanted to really like it. Mostly I did with only a couple of complaints. First, this book is very practical and that is both good and bad. The point was to be practical and that was good, but at times the reader would have been better served by going a little deeper into the text of Scripture and providing solid foundation for the practical application. Second, some of the jokes and cultural references felt a little forced and distracting. This is mostly a stylistic issue that just didn’t work well for me. The aim of the book would have been better served without them.

So much for the grumpy Trueman-esque critique, let’s get to what was good about Greear’s book. The assertion that the Gospel is lost to many today is insightful. My experience concurs with the missionary observation that we are not dealing with Gospel hardness but rather Gospel ignorance today. That almost seems impossible. To talk about the Gospel and use terms such as Gospel-centered is trendy right now. Just look at the Christian books being published and major conferences being held where Gospel is almost always in the title. It seems we are saturated with the Gospel. Talking about the Gospel and knowing, understanding, and preaching the Gospel are not the same things. Greear acknowledges and deals with this well.

This book is not just a word to broader Christendom though. Greear has much to say to the individual Christian and our ongoing need for the Gospel. Greear’s Gospel prayer at first seemed formulaic and potentially kitschy, but as he goes through the phrases and explains them in terms of the Gospel, it is quite helpful. Whether you actually use it as a prayer or not, it will help you think about the Gospel practically.

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Review: Final Word

Final Word
Final Word by O. Palmer Robertson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent book. Robertson traces the foundation and development of prophecy from the Old Testament Scriptures, demonstrating the prophecy of the New Testament to be the same gift. He focuses on the purpose of the revelatory gifts, shows that purpose fulfilled, and thus demonstrates those gifts are no longer operative nor needed. Robertson also gives a careful response to specific objections and arguments from a continuist perspective. Well worth the read to sort this knotty subject.

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