Monday, March 05, 2012

Book Review: How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens

I have a number of books on my shelves that advocate interpreting Bible in a christocentric way. How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens does more than talk about interpreting christocentrically. Michael Williams has given us a book that actually goes through each book of the Bible and shows its Christ centered focus. This is especially helpful for those that have not been seminary trained. It is a book that is bound to be very useful in local church settings.

Michael Williams sets this book apart in two ways.

  • First he covers every book in the canon and shows how each author points to Christ. There are no shortcuts here, Williams has done the necessary spadework to ensure a credible focus on Christ.
  • The second way he sets this book apart from the pack is that he has written it on a level and in a length that makes it accessible to the average church member. Each chapter covers a single book of the Bible in four or five pages. Each chapter contains sections that give context for the book and express a theme for the book. The central section for each chapter expresses the Christ-centered focus of the particular book. He ends each chapter with contemporary implications and supplies some hook questions to aid teachers in their introduction to studying it.

This approach is very useful for Bible teachers who want to make sure that they fit their study into the entire storyline of Scripture. I would like everyone in my church to have a copy of this guide.

At the end of the book is a summary chart that is very helpful. By itself it is worth the price of the book.

As part of Zondervan’s How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens blog tour I specifically looked at the chapter dealing with 1 Peter.

The essence of 1 Peter is captured as he states that standing firm in the face of severe trials is Peter’s focus. He highlights Jesus’ faithfulness in going to the cross as the suffering Savior so that his followers can be freed from the power of sin. This enables them to stand firm even when troubles would seem overwhelming. The contemporary implication of 4:19 “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” is very relevant for every age.

His summary after his hook questions help to give a good conclusion to this chapter. In it he reminds us that Peter calls for alertness, hope in God, and faithful obedience.

Dr. Williams did a superb job distilling the complex message of each Bible book into some memorable paragraphs pointing to Jesus. I am pleased with the final result. I highly recommend this book, particularly for teachers in the local church that want to be faithful in teaching the message of the Bible and pointing their students to Christ.

[I received this book free from the publisher as a part of the Zondervan How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens Blog Tour. There was no expectation from the publisher of a positive review.]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: The Intolerance of Tolerance

By D. A. Carson

Is tolerance the highest ideal? What does tolerance mean and how can it be achieved? Can an evangelical Christian be tolerant?

Carson’s book deals with these questions as he probes western culture and its fixation on tolerance as the ideal that drives all social interaction. In his preface he states that there were two main incentives to writing this book. The first was the broad appeal and interactions in university settings when he lectured on this topic. The second was the overview that he had provided in his earlier book on culture, Christ and Culture Revisited. He wanted to explore the theme of tolerance and intolerance in more detail.

In the introduction Carson provides two similar but competing definitions for tolerance that become the basis for everything else that he says in the book. He calls these the old tolerance and the new. The old tolerance is defined as the belief that other opinions have a right to exist. The new tolerance is defined as the belief that all opinions are equally valid. He unpacks these ideas and demonstrates from interaction with many other authors that these two ideas undergird much of the confusion and ultimately disagreement that one encounters in trying to discuss differing belief systems.

The next few chapters cover how the shift in meaning of tolerance has occurred and then how it has been applied in today’s society. Carson demonstrates how the older idea of tolerance is vital to a free society, and how the newer definition is actually inconsistent and ultimately unsustainable. Truth claims by major religions including atheism, if taken seriously, all deny the idea of tolerance in the newer definition.

There is time spent on the interaction of evangelical Christianity with the culture at large and how the new tolerance seems to be intolerant of a serious Christianity. Many examples are given.

The final chapter outlines ten suggestions for Christians to interact with culture in a way that affects it in a positive direction. The suggestions are kind and compelling.

As always, I found Carson’s writing to be persuasive and thoughtful. He backs up claims with well documented sources and presents an articulate alternative to much of the rhetoric that has made up Evangelical interaction with culture over the last decades. I found this to be a book of ideas that are very helpful and I hope to implement his ‘Ten words’ for moving the discussion ahead.

[I received this book free from the publisher as a part of the LibraryThing Early Review Program.]

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Gospel Coalition-- Tim Keller

Here is the video from Tim Keller's session. A very helpful sermon on the Exodus 14

Getting Out

Getting Out - Tim Keller - TGC 2011 from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Share your thoughts on this sermon below.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Preacher's Task

I have been reminding myself of the vital necessity of proclaiming God's Word, not my word. Here is a quote that I have found helpful.
“Your task [as a preacher] is not to send people away from church saying, ‘That was a lovely sermon’ or ‘What an eloquent appeal!’ The one question is: Did they, or did they not, meet God today?
There will always be some who have no desire for that, some who rather than be confronted with the living Christ would actually prefer what G. K. Chesterton described as ‘one solid and polished cataract of platitudes flowing forever and ever.’ But when St. Peter finished his first great sermon in Jerusalem, reported in the book of Acts, I do not read that ‘when they heard this, they were intrigued by his eloquence’ . . . or ‘bored and impassive and contemptuous’; what I do read is, ‘When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart.’
The heart of man has a whole armor of escapist devices to hold off the danger when reality comes too near. But I would remind you that Peter’s theme that day – Jesus crucified and risen – is your basic message still, still as dynamic, as ‘mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,’ as moving and heart-piercing as when men heard it preached in Jerusalem long ago.”
James S. Stewart, Heralds of God (New York, 1946), pages 31-32. Italics added.

What do you see as the task of the sermon?

The Gospel Coalition-- Albert Mohler

The Gospel Coalition just posted the videos for the plenary sessions. I will begin posting them here so you can watch and here some of the better gospel preachers of today proclaim Christ from the Old Testament.
The first session actually begins with the Gospel of John as Al Mohler sets the agenda for the conference.

John 5:31-47
Studying the Scriptures and Finding Jesus

Studying The Scriptures and Finding Jesus - Albert Mohler - TGC 2011 from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Post your thoughts below.

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