It’s that time again! I couldn’t possibly read or review every good book (not to mention every bad book) that finds its way into my mailbox. However, I do like to look them all over and let my readers know about some of the new ones that are most noteworthy. So here are the new and notable books that appeared in my mailbox over the last month or so. In each case, I’ve included the publisher’s description to give you a sense of what it’s all about.
Assured: Discover Grace, Let Go of Guilt, and Rest in Your Salvation By Greg Gilbert
“Despite our professions of belief, our baptisms, and our membership in the church, many of us secretly wonder, Am I truly saved? We worry that our love for Jesus isn’t fervent enough (or isn’t as fervent as someone else’s). We worry that our faith isn’t strong enough. We struggle through the continuing presence of sin in our lives. All this steals the joy of our salvation and can lead us into a life characterized by legalism, perfectionism, and works righteousness–the very life Jesus freed us from at the cross!
But Greg Gilbert has a message for the anxious believer–be assured. Assured that your salvation experience was real. Assured that your sins–past, present, and future–are forgiven. Assured that everyone stumbles. Assured that Jesus is not your judge but your advocate. With deep compassion, Gilbert comforts readers, encouraging them to release their guilt, shame, and anxiety to rejoice in and follow hard after the One who set them free.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Saint Peter’s Principles by Peter Lillback
“In The Peter Principle, Dr. Laurence J. Peter argued that competent employees are promoted until they reach positions where they are incompetent. Any wise leader, then, can learn from Saint Petera man who knew his own incompetence, trusted in Christ, and met his deficiencies through the insights of God’s Word.
In this comprehensive handbook, Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary, uses the apostle Peter’s life and writings to guide men and women through the details and daily challenges of leadership in any arena. Readers will think through their relationships, productivity, management style, communication, decision-making, conflict resolution, integrity, and more. Practical spiritual exercises help to put the lessons of each short chapter into action.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle by Alistair Begg
“So many of us struggle with prayer. Many books have been written on the subject and there’s a reason for that. Prayer comes hard to most of us, in most seasons. And when we do pray, we often don’t know what to say. What is it that my Father loves to hear about? What are the best things I could pray for my family, my church, and myself?
I want to pray bigger, and better. And I want you to enjoy praying like that too. And to do that, we need to discover how to pray as the apostle Paul did. Paul clearly enjoyed prayer, and was excited about it. He expected his Father in heaven to hear what he said, and to act in other people’s lives accordingly. He prayed and then was “watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4 v 2), ready to see how God would be pleased to answer his prayers. This book focuses on Paul’s prayer for his friends in the church in Ephesus, that he recounts to them in Ephesians 1 v 15-23 and 3 v 14-21. The truths that underpin and shape his prayers for them will motivate us to pray and set us an example. So be inspired by the Apostle Paul to pray bigger and pray better as we look to our heavenly Father to do more than all we ask or imagine!” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Grace Defined and Defended by Kevin DeYoung
“Grace—a doctrine central to the gospel—ought to be clearly defined so it can be celebrated, relished, and consistently defended. In this book, Kevin DeYoung leads us back to the Canons of Dort, a seventeenth-century document originally written to precisely and faithfully define this precious doctrine. The Canons of Dort stand as a faithful witness to the precise nature of God’s supernatural, sovereign, redeeming, resurrecting grace—when so many people settle for vague generalities that water down the truth. In three concise sections—covering history, theology, and practical application— DeYoung explores what led to the Canons and why they were needed, the five important doctrines that they explain, and Dort’s place in the Christian faith today.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Hearers and Doers: A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples Through Scripture and Doctrine by Kevin Vanhoozer
“The value of sound doctrine is often misunderstood by the modern church. While it can be dry and dull, when it flows from the story of Scripture, it can be full of life and love. This kind of doctrine, steeped in Scripture, is critical for disciple-making. And it’s often overlooked by modern pastors. In Hearers and Doers, Kevin Vanhoozer makes the case that pastors, as pastor-theologians, ought to interpret Scripture theologically to articulate doctrine and help cultivate disciples. scriptural doctrine is vital to the life of the church, and local pastor-theologians should be the ones delivering it to their communities. With arresting prose and striking metaphors, Vanhoozer addresses the most pressing problems in the modern church with one answer: teach sound, scriptural doctrine to make disciples.” (Buy it at Amazon)
2 Kings by Philip Graham Ryken
“Despite the tragic events of 2 Kings, hope remains as God holds to his promise never to forsake David’s line. This historical book has everyday relevance as it shows both the consequences of idolatry and God’s concern for people in serious hardship. Most important, it prepares us to see our need for the true and greatest Prophet and King. Tracing the overarching narrative, Philip Graham Ryken connects it to Christ and explores its applications for ordinary Christians in today’s world.
As are all Reformed Expository Commentaries, this book is accessible to both pastors and lay readers. Each volume in the series gives careful attention to the biblical text, is doctrinally Reformed, focuses on Christ through the lens of redemptive history, and applies the Bible to our contemporary setting.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Maturity by Sinclair Ferguson
“Sinclair Ferguson shows that a deep-seated concern of the writers of the New Testament was to see Christians grow to spiritual maturity and if that was the concern of the first believers, then it should be our concern too. In clear and logical chapters that are rooted in the reality of the Christian life, the author, who has had long experience in pastoral ministry and seminary teaching, seeks to show what Christian maturity is, and how it is to be obtained.
It was the apostle Paul’s desire to present those to whom he ministered ‘mature in Christ’ for such a maturity would lead to stable, servant-hearted Christians, and healthy, fruit-bearing churches. All those who desire to live useful, mature, and consistent Christian lives will gain much wisdom from reading and reflecting upon the contents of this book.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
The Identity and Attributes of God by Terry Johnson
“The problem identified by the prophet Hosea in his day is still with us today – ‘There is no…knowledge of God in the land’ (Hos. 4:1). We were made to know God. We were saved to know God. Jesus said, ‘This is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (John 17:3).
Our chief end and purpose is to know God and thereby to honour and enjoy him. These pages explore God’s identity. The God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is also Creator, Governor, and Redeemer. This one true God is infinitely and unchangingly holy, just, good, and loving. This work is offered with the hope that it might promote the true knowledge of the true God. As Matthew Henry said, ‘To know the perfections of the divine nature, the unsearchable riches of divine grace, to be led into the mystery of our redemption and reconciliation by Christ, this is food; such knowledge as this is a feast to the soul.'” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age by Tony Reinke
“We often leave this question unanswered— because we don’t ask it. Maybe we don’t want to ask it. But viral videos, digital images, and other spectacles surround us in every direction—competing for our time, our attention, our lust, and our money. So we let our lazy eyes feed on whatever comes our way. As a result, we never stop to consider the consequences of our visual diet on our habits, desires, and longings.
Journalist Tony Reinke asked these hard questions himself—critiquing his own habits—and now invites us along to see what he discovered as he investigated the possibilities and the pitfalls of our image-centered world. In the end, he shares the beauty of a Greater Spectacle—capable of centering our souls, filling our hearts, and stabilizing our gaze in this age of the digital spectacle.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
More Love & Taking on the World by Christian Focus
These are the two newest titles in Christian Focus’s excellent series of biographies for children. More Love focuses on Elizabeth Prentiss while Taking on the World focuses on Francis & Edith Schaeffer. (Buy More Love at Amazon or Westminster Books; Buy Taking on the World at Amazon or Westminster Books)