Book Review: Conscience: What it is, How to Train it, and Loving Those Who Differ

Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who DifferConscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ by Andrew David Naselli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read a few books on conscience and they all have their strengths. The strengths of this book are that it is brief, not academic, a good mix of doctrinal and practical, and includes some cross-cultural missions perspective. The authors address the relevant texts and use some surprisingly concrete examples. The authors are not asking readers to agree with all their convictions, but they were open about specific examples that helps readers work through the issues. The book focuses on training, or calibrating, the conscience and gives a good bit of space to dealing with conflicts of conscience. It’s a book that can benefit every Christian.

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Book Review: Understanding Baptism

Understanding BaptismUnderstanding Baptism by Bobby Jamieson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a clear, concise, and readable book. Jamieson does a good job explaining baptism. I greatly appreciated the emphasis on the Gospel in connection to baptism, how baptism is a public profession, and the connection with church membership. I disagreed with his take on the lone Christian and baptism. He overworked the Acts 8 passage on the baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch. If he had just left that out, this already strong book would’ve been stronger. Overall the book is helpful and worth reading.

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Book Review: When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man

When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of ManWhen People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man by Edward T. Welch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is encouraging, challenging, and deeply convicting. I appreciate how Welch brings the Gospel to bear on these issues and gets to the root sin in our fears. He distinguishes between needs and lusts, revealing the idolatry of the latter. I also greatly appreciated the emphasis on discipleship, or the role of the church body in discipling one another. I cannot imagine anyone reading this without having the author put a finger on some of their own root sins.

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Book Review: Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus

Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (9marks: Building Healthy Churches)Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus by Mark Dever
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The core message in this book is simple. The logical deductions from Scripture are simple. The common-sense factor in this book is simple. You might say it’s mostly intuitive. Despite all that, few churches seem to be doing this well, or at all. Discipling a person is aptly explained by the subtitle: “How to Help Others Follow Jesus.” That’s it.

It is not about elaborate systems or programs. It is about following Jesus in your life and helping another to do the same. I think we can make it complicated, but consider jesus’ approach, as Dever writes: “The most famous discipler of all, of course, is Jesus Christ. Christianity did not start with a mass-market product rollout. There was no 24/7 media coverage surrounding his travels. It began with a series of personal engagements among a small group of men over a three-year period.” It’s not hard to understand, but we might say it’s hard to do.

I can’t think of a more accessible or concise place to point you than this book.

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Book Review: The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance–Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters

The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still MattersThe Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters by Sinclair B. Ferguson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had heard of the Marrow Controversy, though knew little about it before reading this book. Ferguson acknowledges that an eighteenth century controversy that arose among Scottish Presbyterians in an obscure village in rural Scotland hardly seems to arrest our attention today. He is right about that and he is also right about the fact this controversy should get our attention. He deals with some of the historical issues and persons involved, which was interesting and informative. However, he focus on the issues at stake in the controversy since the issues of legalism, antinomianism, and assurance of salvation are such issues as are common to all men.

Ferguson’s insights into the root of both legalism and antinomianism are keen. Both at root are a separating of Jesus Christ in the fullness of his person from the benefits received by faith in him. The point may seem subtle, but the issues are enormous. Failure to grasp them leads us into one or the other of the two errors mentioned, which ultimately obscure the person of Christ and, at best, hinder the Gospel of God’s free grace. We are often flippant in our thinking of both legalism and antinomianism, and consequently fail to grasp core issues and fail to see how they negatively affect the ministry of the word.

This book needs to be read carefully and thought through. Some of the history may fail to grip and there are also some issues of intramural Presbyterianism and covenant theology debates that weren’t unexpected. I think every Christian should read this book, though I know they won’t. I don’t say this often, but I believe every pastor, preacher, and teacher must read this book and grapple with the issues raised. If you are ministering the Word, then you have already dealt with these issues to some degree. Ferguson will help clarify and get to the root of the issues. I would also recommend reading The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur and God is the Gospel by John Piper. Those two books deal more explicitly with the Gospel issues of separating Christ from his benefits.

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