Category Archives: Reviews

Noah, the movie summarized by Dr. Mohler

tl;dr: Dr. Mohler encourages us to know the Bible better, know Christ throughout the Bible better, and spread the message of God’s story that He might bring His sinful image-bearers to Himself by grace through faith in Christ alone.

Dr. Mohler published a movie review of “Noah” today. There are two insightful quotes I’ll draw out. Beyond that I’ll encourage you to read the whole thing.

There is both the helpful and the harmful in the movie. Mostly the point of God’s saving grace is horribly distorted. It should be a picture of Christ saving sinners from the just judgment of God against His enemies.

The movie is not without its brilliance and moments of penetrating insight. But it gets the story line wrong, indulges in eccentric exaggeration, and distorts the character of both Noah and God. That is what surprised me. I expected to be irritated by the movie – but I found myself grieved.

But we should not grow dull in telling the story of Christ as it appears in every part of the Bible.

Perhaps the main lesson Christians are to learn from this movie is that if we do not tell the story, others will.

The most disturbing part of “Noah” that Dr. Mohler mentioned is the presence of the Noah’s arch rival (in the movie), Tubal-cain as being on the boat. The ark is a picture of Jesus Christ saving His people from the just judgment of God against sinful, unrepentant humanity. To put Tubal-cain on the boat is a denial of that.

Ordinary

OrdinaryOrdinary rockExplosion, radical, risky, insane … Where are the ordinary Christians? One of the problems I have is to join the latest craze without thinking it through. Why does Biblical evangelism have to involve an explosion? Why does Biblical faith have to be radical? Why do I have to risk as a Christian? Why does God’s gracious, saving sovereignty have to be insane?

I think these words, and many like them, appeal to the worldliness of Christians. A Christian is not exploding with evangelism, radically obeying by faith, etc. A Christian is obeying the Bible and therefore pleasing God. Continue reading

Kutless, “What faith can do”: Why faith in faith is crippled

I enjoy Christian music, especially when it focuses on worship. But recently one song has been grating on me, Kutless‘ “What faith can do.” I’ve expressed my reasons to my wife who shared them with some of her students. All said, it’s time to write down those reasons and explain a little more.

The lyrics of the song are clear and straight forward. The tune is kind of catchy, depending on your tastes. But the important thing is the message. Most Christians get their theology (their knowledge/understanding of who God is) from the music they listen to. As I encourage my readers to do often with my own work I’m hopeful Kutless would join me in encouraging you to read your Bible and apply what you learn about God to your music instead of the other way around (Acts 17:11). Continue reading

Review: 2008 National Founders Conference audio

Founders Ministries“Lengthening the Cords and Strengthening the Stakes: Renewing and Planting Local Churches” was the 2008 National Founders Conference title.

As their logo says, Founders is committed to Historic Baptist Principles. During their conferences they highlight those priniciples with solid biblical teaching. That proves true again in this conference. As I listened to it I kept thinking of people that I wanted to give it to.

There are nine parts to the conference. There is slightly more emphasis on church planting than church renewal/reform. Most of the presentations are exceptional. As with any conference, there are a few things that over extend themselves enough to be questionable. But as with any good conference. The encouragement, instruction and direction far outweigh what might be questionable.

Ed Stetzer gives the two main addresses, Lengthening the Cords and Strengthening the Stakes.  He arrouses the need for church planting, especially among those who can propagate sound teaching. Although his sections are the ones I tended to think streched Scripture too far, He still proves that much more focus on church planting is needed in churches today.

Voddie Baucham focuses on Building a Solid Doctrinal Foundation. As much as we can separate the church planting section of this conference from the church reform part, Baucham’s lecture is heart of the church planting section.

Andy Davis’ and Don Whitney’s presentations are the highlights of the conference. They give practical, insightful, experiential application of God’s word. They focus on the reform of the church which easily translates into new church planting as well. These three messages are the reason I recommend this conference so highly.

Audio for “Lengthening the Cords and Strengthening the Stakes: Renewing and Planting Local Churches” is on the 2008 National Founders Conference title webpage.

The Creation Museum, Coal and the First Adam

Some friends, my wife and I visited the Creation Museum this past Saturday. It was a great experience. I enjoyed how much effort and planning and detail they put into the exhibits. For instance, Cain was modeled as a boy with a flute nearby – a hint at Cain’s great-great-great-great-great grandson Jubal who was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe (Genesis 4:21).

Two things that impressed me the most were floating forests and Adam’s age. One explanation for the formation of coal involves forests that floated before the global flood (see also other articles like this). Also, Adam lived for so long that he actually knew Methuselah for 243 years of his life. Imagine the great treasure of revelation this provided. The first man created could have recounted so much information about God. Then Methuselah lived 600 years while Noah was alive, leaving only one person between Adam’s knowledge of God and Noah’s. This is a great testimony to the godly line of descendants God sustained to make sure His word and revelation was secure.

Book Review – “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God” by D. A. Carson

This is an excellent book. I often struggle with cultivating love. So, it was very helpful to see the depth and differences in the love of God.

Carson explores 5 types of love existing in God: 1) love within the Trinity; 2) love for creation; 3) love for fallen humanity; 4) love for those who are/will-be saved; 5) love for those who are obedient. Carson also reflects on how God’s love interacts with the rest of God’s character. Each section is backed with Scripture and helpful for the cultivation of your own love, especially of God, your spouse, the church, the unsaved and creation.

I would recommend this book to everyone who is familiar with the Bible and seeking to discern what it says about the love of God.

Audio Review – Hebrews series by John Piper

I downloaded this series about two months ago. It is overwhelming to listen to almost 2 years of teaching in 2 months. John Piper does an exceptional job in Hebrews (as elsewhere).

The teaching is different than a word-by-word study. Piper takes the text in sections and draws out the overall teaching. It it not a series to answer every question you have about the book of Hebrews, through he does answer many (especially the hard ones). Instead, Piper acts as a pastor desiring to take his church through Hebrews, highlight the driving force of the book and encourage his congregation to read and study the book too.

The best parts, or the ones I remember most vividly, are chapter 6 (the difficult section), chapter 10′s section on the church and small groups, chapter 12′s discipline by God and chapter 13′s need to go outside the camp.

I would encourage you to listen to this series to take a mature look at some of the great themes of Scripture.

Book Review – “According to Plan” by Graeme Goldsworthy

I read this for my Systematic Theology I class during Spring semester. Mostly, I’d like to recommend it for everyone, especially non-theologians.

This book is great for everyone who wants to know how the Bible fits together, centered around Jesus Christ. The closing couple chapters could be improved by showing more specifically how Jesus’ life and teaching fulfills the themes that are built up through the book but overall a great and worthwhile read.

I recommend it specifically for the every-week church-goer because of how many people are losing sight of the purpose and focus of the Bible. Reading the Bible can become a segmented phenomenon, a compilation of stories based around the theme of moral goodness. The Bible is so much better than that! By centering your reading of the Bible around Jesus Christ and recognizing the themes that Goldsworthy highlights (along with others), you can greatly improve your knowledge of God and what He’s doing, and thus increase your love for Him, His plan to glorify Himself and your participation in it.

Book Review – “The Truth of the Cross” by R. C. Sproul

The Truth of the Cross“If you take away the cross as an atoning act, you take away Christianity.” (p. 15)

As many have said, R. C. Sproul is excellent when it comes to describing orthodox Christianity in words that can be understood by all. He does so again in The Truth of the Cross.

The centrality of the atonement is assailed in our day. And most church members cannot explain their own faith. Sproul does a great job starting from ground zero to make sure the atonement is properly understood. He starts with the human inability to be perfect and challenges us to evaluate ourselves.

The second chapter focuses on the character of God. God must be just in order to be morally good. God has to hate sin and punish the disobedient in order to uphold His own righteousness.

The third chapter relates the previous two calling the chapter “Debtors, Enemies, Criminals”. He delineates the Bible’s presentation of what sin is, who sinful man is, who righteous God is and what role of Christ mediates between God and man.

In chapter four Sproul makes sure that the idea of the ransom paid, is actually paid to the right person – to God. The old fallacy that a ransom was paid to Satan is put soundly to rest.

Chapter five is entitled, “The Saving Substitute”. Sproul explains the necessity of Jesus Christ being the believer’s substitute to suffer God’s wrath in the place of the believer. And, he writes, “if somebody argues against placation or the idea of Christ satisfying the wrath of God, be alert, because the gospel is at stake”. It is refreshing to know not only the essentials of the faith but what makes them essential.

The sixth chapter, “Made Like His Brethren”, explores Jesus’ humanity and how He was without sin, fulfilling all righteousness so it might be imputed to sinners.

Sproul uses the seventh chapter to explain the role of the Old Testament prediction of “The Suffering Servant”, where “God provided clues about His intention to send One Who would take the place of His people in order to make satisfaction to God”.

“The Blessing and the Curse” is the eighth chapter. Sproul shows the necessity of Jesus being “cursed” for us (Galatians 3:13) because of the curse God places on those who disobey Him and the blessing He provides for those who obey, which was established in the Old Testament.

The ninth chapter, “A Secure Faith”, may be difficult for some. R. C. relates the importance of definite atonement to our understanding of the cross. As always, he uses the pages given well. He brings out the security of our salvation and how it was secured in the work of Christ on the cross.

The last chapter is titled “Questions and Answers”. R. C. uses it to review misconceptions like what value each drop of Jesus’ actual blood had, whether God is present in Hell, whether God died on the cross and others.

This is an excellent book. I would especially recommend it to new believers or as a gift for them. Others, if you are not sure how the atonement fits together or why it is necessary then this book is perfect for you too.

Book Review – “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald S. Whitney

I’ve decided to add a “Book Review” category so I can recommend some of the books I read in seminary. I hope to update it frequently, even during semesters, as I start and finish new books. I’ll start with my first semester recommendation from the class ‘Personal Spiritual Disciplines’ with Dr. Whitney

“Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald S. WhitneySpiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney (NavPress, 1991). One group of things protestant Christians have lost sight of is spiritual discipline. Roman Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus and others all give practices for the followers of their false religions. If there is one things we know about Christianity, it is that God saves visibly. We are saved then expected to walk in the good works God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:8-10). This book focuses on how we can train ourselves for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). These exercises are lacking and we need to devote ourselves to them again so we will be diligent while awaiting our Lord’s return (Matthew 25:13).