Book Review: Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship

Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as WorshipExpository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship by John Piper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a fantastic treatment of the task of preaching. Piper aims to bring together the rigors of exposition with the beauty of Christ’s Gospel from Genesis to Revelation. He gives careful attention to various texts throughout the Bible to show how every good promised to believers in Scripture is bought by Christ’s work on the cross, so the preaching of Christ from all Scripture is not some tacked on mask or afterthought. This book is helpful on a number of levels and will help you think about the aim of preaching and how that aim is accomplished through faithful exposition.

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Book Review: The Archer and the Arrow: Preaching the Very Words of God

The Archer and the ArrowThe Archer and the Arrow by Phillip D. Jensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a treasure of experiential wisdom. Books on preaching come in a lot of different ways. I would categorize this one as practical, though it does have a helpful touch of theology. Every preacher ought to read it. I would encourage young preachers especially to read it. Young preachers will get immediate help from but won’t have the real-world experience to recognize some of the wisdom it has. That’s okay. This is one of those books that is worth reading once and reading again every few years.

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Book Review: By Whose Authority? Elders in Baptist Life

By Whose Authority? Elders In Baptist LifeBy Whose Authority? Elders In Baptist Life by Mark Dever
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This brief book takes up the question of multiple elders in Baptist churches. Dever approaches the answer from Scripture, Baptist history, and practicality. The scriptural arguments section is a survey of the instances of elder(s) in the New Testament. He notes the interchange of elders, overseers, and pastors to describe the same local church office of leadership. Dever also references the use of the plural for this office in reference to a singular church in the New Testament. It is worth noting that the New Testament does not use the singular for the office with either the singular or plural for churches.

Dever quotes from historic Baptist confessions of faith as well as the writings of various Baptists in history that refer to the practice of multiple elders. He may not have put it in quite these terms but I believe Baptists in history have a unique polity from other groups where Baptists have upheld independent, autonomous churches that practice elder-led congregational polity. Not only are Baptists historically distinct in this, but also biblical.

The last section seemed the briefest of the three. Dever succinctly touches on practical aspects of plural leadership. This section wanted a more extensive treatment. The book is probably a good introduction to the subject. It can be read in less than an hour and does touch on major points. Again, it’s concise and not an extended treatment, but helpful.

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Book Review: Preach: Theology Meets Practice

Preach: Theology Meets PracticePreach: Theology Meets Practice by Mark Dever
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seldom does any book stand as a definitive and exhaustive treatment of its subject. Looking for such a book is often a futile effort. Typically, the value of a book will lie in the way it fits into the gaps and contributes to a larger subject. That is why I think this book is so worthy of attention. It is certainly not an exhaustive treatment on preaching, nor a technical how-to in preparing and delivering sermons. It is a good practical discussion on preaching.

This book is particularly helpful in the realm of preaching application. Most preaching seems to be one of two extremes on application. Some preaching tries to be all application all the time and fails to preach the contextual meaning of passage. This results in very man-centered preaching, consoling and cementing people’s natural tendency to think the Bible is primarily about them. Sitting under that sort of preaching over time will not mature a person in the faith, nor it will it increase their knowledge of God through what his word actually reveals about him.

The second extreme is either a sort of spiritual meditation out loud in front of people, or a mere doctrinal lecture that remains abstract and ultimately disconnected from real life. Even when true things are said with this method, it fails as any actual preaching of God’s word. People are not matured in the faith, but are only entertained or intellectually stimulated.

When a preacher gets up to preach, he has two things primarily in front of him–the Bible and people. His job is to explain what the Bible says and means and then apply that to the actual lives of the actual people in front of him. This kind of preaching is founded first on an accurate explanation of the biblical passage and then a processing of its meaning to the real flesh and blood people in the seats. The preacher must first know what the passage means in its original context and then must work through what it means to unbelievers present, new believers present, mature believers present, the local church membership present, men present, women present, etc.

How many times have pastors been frustrated by poor attendance only to get up and preach against miss church and the poor attenders, true to form, are not there? Preachers have to think about who will be there and take care to preach to them. I could say more, but I highly recommend this book. Every preacher ought to read it, and he ought to start right away.

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Book Review: The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel

The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the GospelThe Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel by Mark Dever
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a practical, ground-up look at a healthy church. Elements of church structure and operation may not seem the most interesting concepts to read about, but they are vital to the health of a local church. I highly recommend “9 Marks of a Healthy Church,” and this book is a perfect companion to it. The first communicates the vision and direction and the second helps see how to get there.

Pastors are responsible to care and watch for all the flock they serve. At the very least, this book will help pastors identify holes in their pastoral care and give some practical advice on how to fill them in.

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