Saved By Grace, by Anthony Hoekema

Book Review December 2014Pastor Bill Mayk provides an introduction to Saved by Grace by Anthony Hoekema.

The study of salvation is known as the doctrine of Soteriology. To the surprise of many Christians, this subject covers much more than the idea that a person must believe on Jesus to go to heaven. Numerous believers are unfamiliar with topics such as the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation, regeneration, repentance, and the nature and power of faith. Others find it difficult to distinguish between justification and sanctification, or to know whether salvation is secure or if it can be lost. Due to a lack of understanding about these issues, the spiritual life of many Christians is a constant struggle for the assurance of God’s love.

In his well written book, Saved By Grace, Anthony Hoekema clears up much of the ambiguity surrounding salvation. Using a rich array of scriptural references, citations from Church History, and a writing style that makes his material easy to understand, the author provides scholarly insight into this important theological doctrine.

I highly recommend this easy-to-read, yet rewarding volume for anyone interested in understanding the fullness of our salvation.

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To End All Wars, by Ernest Gordon

To End Alll Wars, Ernest GordonForgiveness, grace and spiritual transformation are subjects about which every Christian studies and desires. Nevertheless, many of us find it not only difficult to receive these in their own lives, but to extend them to others.

To End All Wars is a book that demonstrates the power of God to touch individuals that are confined in the most horrid conditions humanity can devise and transform them into people that willingly love, forgive and offer grace even to their most brutal enemies. Written by Ernest Gordon and originally titled, Through The Valley Of The Kwai, this historical account of the famed Burmese railroad, that was built by prisoners during World War II, is a gripping record of men who had lost everything except God and came away transformed by grace.

The book opens with the author seemingly dying in a prison hospital known as the “Death House”. The story unfolds as Ernst Gordon recalls his life leading up to Scotland’s entrance into the Second World War, his decision to join the 93rd Highlanders Regiment, and his subsequent placement to Malaya. After the fall of Singapore and a foiled escape attempt, Gordon was captured and sent to work as slave labor for the Japanese.

While a prisoner, Gordon and the other British Commonwealth troops faced death by disease, brutality, and starvation. As he recuperated in the hospital, the author was befriended by two Christians. Through their influence he, along with others, began to study the Bible and experienced a truly amazing work of God in their lives.

Without either whitewashing the atrocities or damning his captors, this soldier relates how the love of God impacted hateful, abused, dispirited and hopeless men so that they overcame their animosities and experienced God’s transforming power.

The end of the book relates the permanence of this spiritual change as many of these former prisoners returned to serve Christ and their fellow man. Although the brutality in the book is sometime hard to read, I highly recommend To End All Wars as a magnificent reminder that forgiveness and grace are possible through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.

This account can also be found in a movie by the same title (To End All Wars), starring Kiefer Sutherland. It is rated R for the true life violence it portrays.

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The Glory of Christ, John Owen

Monthly Book Suggestion October 2014Banner of Truth Trust hit another home run when it updated the language and reprinted John Owen’s masterful work The Glory of Christ. Written near the end of his life, Owen penned this work from his own personal meditations on his Savior. Looking upon Christ from various theological angles, the author beckons the reader to see Jesus as being precious to the soul. Throughout each chapter he draws us closer to Christ so that we might gaze upon His glory by faith in the confident hope that, one day, we will gaze upon Him by sight. Having used this book as a devotional, I found it to be like cold water to a thirsty soul. I encourage anyone to read this short work (168 pages) so that by viewing the glory of Christ, He might “revive our souls and cause our spiritual lives to flourish and thrive.”

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King’s Cross, by Timothy Keller

Monthly Book Suggestion September 2014Tim Keller is a prolific author whose works never seem to grow stale. Although King’s Cross can be classified as a commentary on the Gospel of Mark, Keller avoids getting bogged down in overly technical jargon that might make for slow reading. Written to people in our contemporary culture the author applies the teachings of Christ in a manner that goes straight to the reader’s heart. Filled with excellent illustrations, pertinent historic observations, and relevant biblical references Keller brings out the essence of this Gospel, presenting Jesus (and our need for Him) in a fresh and compelling manner.

I recommend this book to those that need to know Christ as well as to those that wish to draw near to Him anew.

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Call The Sabbath A Delight by Walter Chantry

CBook Suggestion August 2014ertain books are sometimes purchased only to sit on a shelf for a long period of time. Such is the book being recommended this August. I bought Call The Sabbath A Delight a number of years ago but refrained from reading it because I had anticipated a legalistic approach to the Sabbath/Lord’s Day. However, due to circumstances, I recently decided to put away my prejudice and give this volume a read.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the way in which Walter Chantry chose to handle this topic. From the opening chapter the author addresses the doctrine of a Christian Sabbath in a refreshingly biblical and pastoral manner. Avoiding the extremes of legalism as well as those that would do away with the Sabbath, Chantry challenges the reader to take seriously all ten commandments while at the same time encouraging him/her to see the Lord’s Day as the delight it is meant to be.

Far from addressing the issue from a purely academic standpoint, the writer offers very practical helps in answering many questions people may have about the specifics of keeping a sabbath. The final chapter, Difficult Cases of Conscience, is a gem that ties the entire book together.

Due to its brevity (109 pages) this work will not answer every question a reader might have concerning the Lord’s Day. Nevertheless, I highly recommend Call The Sabbath A Delight as a refreshing and challenging read for all Christians living in our current culture.

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Getting the Blues by Stephen J. Nichols

Book Suggestion July 2014In this interesting work, Stephen Nichols points out that the musical genre known as the blues, specifically the Delta blues, might be “America’s only truly indigenous music form.” The popularity of the blues can be seen in the variety of musical styles that it has influenced. What many people don’t know is the background of the genre and the biblical significance imbedded in the fabric of the Delta blues.

After researching the history of various blues artists and drawing out biblical inferences from their music, the author merges these with the testimony of Scripture to demonstrate the themes of the fall, its subsequent misery and the hope of redemption that are implicit in the blues.

I’d recommend this enjoyable, yet theologically sound book to those who love the blues as well as those who are interested in understanding how the biblical narrative of redemption can be seen throughout Scripture.

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Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Book Suggestion June 2014As one of the most famous puritan works, this allegory of a man’s journey of faith should be read by every Christian. That being said, the unfamiliarity of 17th Century language does not make Pilgrim’s Progress and easy read for most 21st Century people. Nevertheless, it is a great literary classic that describes the Christian experience through the use of colorful characters and amusing metaphors. Our family has used this work as a devotional that brought the Christian journey to life for our children. For those that find Elizabethan English too tedious to tackle, I would suggest purchasing the 3 disc set narrated by Max McLean. This can be listened to on one’s way to work or even during those long vacation trips this summer. Working your way through Pilgrim’s Progress is well worth the effort.

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John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology

April 2014 suggestion from the Pastor

John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology  by Burk Parson, Ed.

Book Suggestion May 2014As a collection of essays that were written to celebrate the 500th birthday of John Calvin, this book is a great summary of the teachings and life of one of the most important figures in the Protestant Reformation. Written by some of today’s best known theologians, pastors and Bible teachers it gives a comprehensive overview of Calvin by appealing to his letters, sermons, commentaries and his Institutes of Christian Religion.

Rather than being a work that focuses on the many controversies that have grown up around Calvinism over the centuries, this volume focuses on the Reformer as a gospel-centered pastor, counselor and committed Christian. Although each article in the volume is well worth reading, my favorites were Calvin’s Heart for God, by Sinclair Ferguson and The True Christian Life, by Jerry Bridges.

John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology is great to read as a devotional book or for those wishing to gain an insight into the driving passions of a man that lived to give his heart to Christ.

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The Attributes of God

April 2014 suggestion from the Pastor

The Attributes of God, by Arthur W. Pink

Pastor’s Description

Monthly Book Suggestion April 2014The Apostle Paul prayed that the Colossians would increase in the knowledge of God. All Christians probably echo that desire for their own lives. A study on the qualities of God, as revealed in Scripture, can help us to reach that goal.

In this concise book Arthur Pink takes the reader through various divine attributes using ample biblical references and thoughtful insights. Combating what he refers to as a god of “human imagination,” the author presents God as high and lifted up, deserving of our praise, and worthy of all our trust.

I highly recommend this short, yet profound book, for anyone wishing to dwell upon the beauty of the Lord.

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