Should Dangerous Places be Off-limits for Christians?

With the new attention fixated on the dangers in the Middle East over the last several months,  most would see it as unwise to go anywhere near that area of the world.  What would be so important, that we would be willing to go there?  ISIS is rounding up journalists, aid workers, and Christians so that they can imprison them for months, and then take them in front of a camera to cut their head off.   Why would we ever go to that area of the world?  What if they took us? Moreover, what about the Western Christians who are in Muslim areas right now who are in danger as well?  What about the local Christians? Shouldn’t we evacuate them to safety so that the radical Muslim groups can’t hurt them?  This is what my first reaction looked like;  with sadness, I think about all the suffering that they are going through, and think, we need to get them out.  I think about my dear Christian brothers and sisters in seminary who are training to be missionaries and I think in my head “don’t go, you may be next in line”. Though these reactions appear to make sense to our worldly western minds, they are actually quite non-Christian (in the biblical sense of the word).  Listen to the Words of Jesus:“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:16–18) Let these words become personal and real.  Jesus is telling you “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves”.   As Christians, the question should naturally arise in our heads; how are we intentionally being among wolves?  More than this, we need to think, should we be discouraging Christians from going overseas where they could be killed because they are sharing the gospel? No, we need to be encouraging them to go and preach the gospel!  Is that not what Jesus commanded them, and you to go and do?  We dare not discourage Christians from being obedient while we huddle at home failing to evangelize our local communities out of fear or harsh words and mean looks.  We as Christians are called to be missionaries.  There are only three options for the Christian no matter what the level of persecution.  Go overseas yourself, send and support missionaries overseas while you do evangelism and discipleship in your local context, or be disobedient.  For the sake of the kingdom of God and the eternal salvation of the nations, we as the church must choose the first two.

What is the Content of Faithful Proclamation?

As we think about preaching and evangelism, we want to have a biblical perspective of the content of the proclamation.  Whether you are a Mega-Church Pastor preaching to 3,000 people or a mother telling your neighbors about Jesus at a playground, you need to know what the content of your “proclamation” must be so that the words you speak can be more fruitful for God’s kingdom.

When we survey what the bible says about proclamation, one particular thing sticks out more than anything else.  That is the word euangelizō which means to proclaim the gospel.  It’s like a special word created to describe a certain type of proclamation.   A proclamation who’s content is the good news of Jesus.  This word is used 54 times in the New Testament!  So when we talk about the content of preaching we need to remember that the heart of the New Testament authors was to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Whether it was the apostles preaching in the temple and from house to house in Acts 5:42 or Paul desiring to preach to the Roman Believers in Romans 1:15, the heart of the content was the good news of Jesus.  The Gospel is the content of proclamation in evangelistic encounters and the content of faithful preaching in the local church.  A pastor is not being faithful to his task if he teaches about how to make life easier or how to reduce conflict without relating it directly to what Jesus did on the cross.  A well meaning christian is not being faithful in his task if he is telling people to go to church or to trust that God is real, if he does not clearly explain that there is forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ when the lost turn from their sins and trust in Jesus.   The gospel is the primary content of faithful proclamation.

Now that we have it established that the primary content of biblical proclamation, We need to consider how the authors of scripture give us more detail. The content of preaching is identified as the gospel of the grace of God, the kingdom, he whole counsel of God (Acts 20:24-27), Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1–5), the word (2 Timothy 4:2), repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3), repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations (Luke 24:47), the Christ is Jesus (Acts 5:42), good news of peace through Jesus Christ (Acts 10:36), not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:5), not man’s gospel (Galatians 1:11), the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8), the word of God (Colossians 1:25), Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David (2 Timothy 2:8).  Their are many other passages that speak about the content of preaching but I think this list is a good starting point.  What sticks out to you here?  What sticks out to me is the riches of the gospel of Jesus!  What an amazing task that we have been given by God!  May we be faithful in the content of our proclamation!

Let us go out and Proclaim the Gospel!  To our neighbors, our friends, our grocery store clerk, our coworkers, our spouse, our kids, and everyone else we come in contact with. Read these two passages to yourself out loud and may God help you see the mission that he has called you to do.

1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

Romans 10:13–15 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

This is blog two is a series on Biblical Proclamation.  Check part one: The All Day Sermon About the Law: The Example of Ezra for Preaching 

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The Insanity of Obedience: Walking with Jesus in Tough Places

By: Nik Ripken

The Insanity of Obedience is a book, that when read by a Christian cover to cover, is likely to change his life.  The reason that this book is so powerful and insightful, is that God clearly prepared Nik to write it.  He has been involved in foreign missions for over twenty-five years mainly in Africa and the Middle East.  After leaving Somalia, where he witnessed the loss of over 100 believers, Nik was devastated and embarked on a mission to learn about the persecuted church.  In The Insanity of Obedience we can see the fruit of Nik’s journey of interviewing over 600 believers who live in environments of persecution in over 70 countries.  This book is a priceless resource that will have an impact on missions for years to come.

Summary

Nik starts with an introductory chapter laying out the reality that Christians are called to be “sheep among wolves” (2), and then splits it up into five parts.  In part one, God’s Command to Go to the Nations, the author goes into detail about God’s calling on each and every Christian as a worker for the kingdom.  This part of the book explains how the reader ought to think about missions, while defining terms and tearing down any false ideas about persecution and the Christian’s mission.

In part two, The Birth of Faith in Persecution Environment, Nik seeks to explain how God has worked in the unreached persecuted setting to bring about a church much like he did on the day of Pentecost (118). The reader is able to learn individually about the conversions of Muslim Background Believers (MMB) and Hindu Background Believers (HBB) in this section.  This part is not focused on technique but is simply an observation of how God works to bring lost people to himself.

Part three, Reaching Grandma and the Rest of the Family, focuses on the continuing birth of the gospel among the unreached.  Nik gives special attention to common barriers to the spread of the gospel, circumstances that get in the way of the gospel including betrayal, as well as decisions of overseas workers that can end up destroying a believing community and increase persecution unnecessarily.  He then wraps up the section with case study comparing the situation and results in China and the USSR, and two chapters dealing with the dynamics and roles of baptism.

After the many chapters on barriers to the Gospel in part three, Nik jumps into practical help and wisdom in part four, Practical Matters.  This section deals with the many things that the overseas worker needs to watch out and things they need to consider such as matters relating to support for locals financially, training leaders, and staying focused on evangelism even when a group of believers begins to form. The book comes to a worshipful ending in part five, A Victorious Faith with an inspiring story of a persecuted Christian in Russia and a list of important truths to wrap up the book.

Evaluation

It is nearly impossible to describe what Nik Ripken has provided for God’s people in this book.  In parts of the book, the reader is full of joy as he reads about the way challenges overseas can be overcome through practical guidance and real life examples.  Other times, he is led to repentance and sorrow while reading about the tragic fruit of fear and unfaithfulness both overseas and in the West.  With the different feelings and thoughts that this book stirs in the readers mind, tears are practically unavoidable.  Yet through all of these emotions, the thoughts, and the tears, come a better understanding of  how Christians are to have victorious faith, both in the relatively safe Western countries, and in the harsh areas of the unreached and unengaged.  The result of this understanding is that God’s mission may go forth in the darkest areas of our world with less failure and more victory.  This is Nik’s aim in the book.  His goal in this book is to equip Christians and Churches with the tools they need to not just survive in difficult places, but to thrive.  Every single section in this book succeeded in this mission.

The biggest strength of this book is the way it is applicable to all Christian readers.  Most would expect a book like this to be for overseas missionaries, not ordinary American Christians but this is not so.  Every single chapter can be life changing even for those who are not overseas missionaries.  Nik makes clear early on that all Christians are called to missions and the book is mainly about overseas missions but has an almost equal application for non-persecuted Christians.  This reality becomes clear in his subtle statements about the western church.  For example, when talking about a Pentecostal Environment in Persecuted people-groups, Nik says, “God desires for such movements for every unengaged and unreached people group globally.  Does He not also desire such a movement in the West?” (126).  Also, while talking about the causes and effects of persecution, Nik points out that when Christians fail to share their faith,  they are choosing to identify themselves with persecutors of Christians and the lack of obedience brings the same result of persecution: “people are denied access to Jesus” (29).  These kinds of motivating statements are spread through the book and each chapter even ends with a set of questions that helps the reader to ponder and think about the material in their context and situation. This strength is what makes the book convicting and life changing.

Conclusion

This book is for every Christian, and every Christian should read it.  I completely agree with what Brother Andrew says in the forward, “Warning: this is a difficult book.  Not because it is hard to read, but because it makes me uncomfortable.  Radically uncomfortable!” (xix). I do not know about Brother Andrew, but the reason this book made me uncomfortable is because it opened my eyes to see challenges and barriers involved in reaching people for Jesus in difficult places while I was failing share Jesus with people I know.  Nik opened my eyes to help me see how most of us in the west are failing.  Our perspectives are off.  Our zeal for the mission of God is often waning.  For many churches, boldness in the faith is almost nonexistent.  Our un-willingness to give up what we want is causing us to be unfaithful in our mission to lead hell bound people to Jesus for life both in the states and overseas.

On top of this, I am much more equipped to reach Muslims and Hindus for Jesus and to work, through the spirit to bring about church Planting Movements in the hardest to reach areas of the world.  I understand with more clarity how to thrive in a place with intense persecution.  Equipped with the insight of this book, we as Christians can be smarter and more effective in bring the unreached to the gospel so that they may be saved.  What an amazing book this is!

Book Review by Pastor Jonathan Ahlgren

You can buy this book here.

You can buy his book, The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected here.

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Restorative Church Discipline: The Reasons for the Biblical Mandate

Why are churches biblically required to exercise restorative discipline in some situations?

1. For the Purity of the Church.  1 Corinthians 5:6-8 says “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  Paul here is making an illustration using the Passover feast.  At this feast, leaven was not to be present but was to be “cast out”.  The church, just like the Passover feast, must be free from that which defiles it, in this case it is the unrepentant sinner.  When a Church allows those in it’s fold to continue in sin without addressing it, there is shame and defilement.  

2.  For the Salvation and Restoration of the Unrepentant Sinner.  1 Corinthians 5:5 says, “you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”  It is clear in the text that the reason the sexually immoral person in the church of Corinth is to be “handed over to Satan (referring to the realm outside the church) for the destruction of his flesh (referring to the consequences of no longer being part of the church)”, is so that “his spirit may be saved”.  The goal of excluding an individual is for the sake of their eternal salvation so that they can be included in the worship of Jesus when he returns.  This reality is clear in every step laid out in Matthew 18:15-18.  The goal of each step is that we would “gain our brother” through their repentance. These two reasons I gave are not the only two but they are the main concerns given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5.  Mark Dever, in his book What is a Healthy Church, gives five biblical reasons for practicing discipline. “1. the good of the discipline individual, 2. other Christians as they see the danger of sin; 3. the health of the church as a whole; 4. the corporate witness of the church and, therefore, non-Christians in the community; 5. and the glory of God.”¹

But let’s now ask why do churches fail to watch over the congregation through Restorative Discipline? Here is Dr. Gregory Wills answer,

“There are powerful trends running counter to all that discipline entails. Our [Southern Baptist] local church ecclesiology [the structure and organization of the Church primarily in the Leadership] is weak in theory and practice—that is, we can not find a scriptural ecclesiology, so we substitute whatever seems to promote conversion and denominational loyalty. We lack spirituality—we fear humans more than God. We are worldly. We surely have a large percentage of unregenerate church members. We do not trust God to accomplish his will in his way. We refuse to insist upon a scripture teaching that affects anyone other than ourselves. We do not have that confidence in interpretation that is willing to take responsibility for it.”²

I think that Dr. Wills is right on in his assessment.  The topic of church discipline is one that historically has been avoided in many churches (including Southern Baptists) yet is essential to the health and perseverance of the church.  I am thankfull for the renewed concern by many Southern Baptists pastors and professors made evident by the wealth of books, articles, and blogs that have been published over the last ten years. We must understand clearly what the Bible says on this issue and ensure that we are actively and lovingly holding each other accountable.  Speaking of Biblical authority, listen to what Victor Masters, a southern Baptist Editor in the early 1900’s says about Sentimentality getting in the way of obedience.  His words are as true today as they were when he wrote them in 1902:

“Sentimentality is an enemy of church discipline. Sentimentality is the love of man divorced from the love of truth. Under the specious guise of broadened sympathies it cloaks a big lot of hypocrisy and moral decay. The church sentimentalist is so kind to his fellow church member that he is willing to ignore the plain instructions of the Book of his faith rather than bring him to account for unchristian conduct. ‘Judge not that ye be not judged,’ he quotes, but he forgets to quote (1 Cor. 5:12, 13) ‘Do not ye judge them that are within, whereas them that are without God judgeth.’”³

May God give us his grace to pursue love and faithfulness in watching over each-other.

¹Dever, Mark. What Is a Healthy Church? Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007. 106. Print. ²Wills, Gregory A. “Southern Baptists and Church Discipline.” (2000). Southern Seminary Publications.  Read it here. ³Victor Masters, “Church Discipline,” Baptist Courier, 21 Aug. 1902, 1-2.

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The All Day Sermon About the Law: The Example of Ezra for Preaching

One of the best examples of preaching in the OT is in Nehemiah 8:3-8, “3And Ezra read from it (the law) facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose…5And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7Also [several] Levites helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”

I want to point out three main things.

  1. The content of the preaching is completely from the scriptures.  Ezra does not go up there and tell the people what comes to his head.  He does not go up there and give them some teaching that he feels God is calling him to give. This is not the case at all.  He is reading from the scriptures and explaining it so that the people can understand it clearly.
  2. Ezra (the “preacher”) lifted God high. He did not simply read the text or simply explained the text.  He lifted God up for the people to see him and worship him.  “Ezra blessed the Lord the great God.”  And notice the result of the heralding of God’s word.
  3. The preaching and teaching led to worship. The people responded by saying “’Amen, Amen’, lifting up their hands and they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”  This is the result of true biblical teaching.  The reason they were worshiping though was not because they were encouraged by Ezra’s words or the message was done in an entertaining way.  He was preaching the Law!  That includes primarily Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  They worshiped because God was speaking to them through the Bible.  The heralding of God’s word leads God’s people to worship!

This is blog one is a series on Biblical Proclamation.  Check part two: What is the Content of Faithful Proclamation?

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Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible: A Guide to Reading the Bible Well

Edited by Wayne Grudem, C. John Collins, Thomas Schreiner

Having a proper understanding of the Bible as you read it is of extreme importance.  The bible is “breathed out by God”.  This means that when you open up your bible, you are not opening up a book mealy written by man, but a book written by God.  The words of the scripture make you “wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” and “complete, equipped for every good work”.  (2 Timothy 3:15, 17).  This is why Paul says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth”. (2 Timothy 2:15) The proper understanding of scripture is a matter of eternal life and death. If you don’t understand the Bible as the author intended, it will not make you “complete, equipped for every good work.  But there are challenges to reading the bible.  God chose to speak in a certain cultural context using certain literally genres.  Without understanding the context of the writers, the nature of the genre, or the big picture of the bible, the Christian will often be left to his own imagination, interpreting the text in a way that is unfaithful and often dangerous.

This helpful book is for the Christian who wants to grow in his understanding and knowledge of God’s perfect Word.   Faithfulness is not easy, yet the reward is more than worth it.  That is why this book is worth its weight in gold.  A newer Christian will struggle to follow along at times, but it is well worth the read.  The book starts with an overview of the Bible’s story line which is worth the price of the book by itself and then is split up into three main parts, Part 1 The Old Testament, Part 2 Background to the New Testament, and Part 3 New Testament and a fourth section having helpful timelines. Each chapter is written in an accessible way by bible scholars who are experts in the chapter’s topic.  Each author is biblical faithful and does an amazing job highlighting the beauty of the scriptures both in its unity and in its diversity.  By reading this book carefully, you will understand each section of the bible with more clarity and will be more equipped to deal with the challenging parts of the bible with more joy and ease.

This book review was written by Pastor Jonathan Ahlgren

Buy the book here.

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Does God Desire All to Be Saved?

By: John Piper

Does God Desire All to Be Saved? The answer to this question clearly yes.  It is in the bible (1 Timothy 2:4) and therefore it is true. But after preaching John 6:44 which says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day”, I received a very important question from a Godly Christian who was struggling, (as most of us do) to understand the issue of God’s election.  How is it that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world” and how is it that he “predestined us” (Ephesians 1:4,5 cf. Romans 9) yet did not “choose” those who perish  How does this fit with the truth that God “desires that all people would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”? (1 Timothy 2:4 cf. 2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:23, Matthew 23:37)  If God desires that all people would be saved, why are there so many who are still resistant to the good news of Christ?

This is the great question that John Piper seeks to address in this book. He states, “My purpose in this book has simply been to show that God’s will for all people to be saved is not at odds with the sovereignty of his grace in election.” (54) The book is free and is only 55 pages (you could read it in one sitting) yet is packed full of scripture and clear biblical truth.  I must warn you though not to be fooled by the shortness of the book.  This book is not a picture book and will require some careful reading and some real contemplation.  As John Piper says in the introduction, “I admit that some of the paths in this book are steep. And some of the steepest places are through the thickest clouds. The climb is not for everyone. We all have different gifts, and not everyone is called to this kind of intellectual climb. Nevertheless, some of us are wired to make this climb.” (9)

I am thankful for Piper’s clarity and emphasis on the reality that all who come to Jesus are saved and will be raised to be with Christ.  He says “God’s plan from all eternity was to magnify his glory in creation and redemption. He aimed to make the glory of his grace the highest revelation of himself (Eph. 1:6). To that end, he sent his Son into this creation and made Christ—crucified for sinners and conquering death—the climax of the display of the glory of his grace…Christ invites everyone to come. And everyone who comes is saved. Everyone who receives Christ has been chosen from the foundation of the world and is an heir of an infinite inheritance.” (52)

Piper closes the book by saying this: “I affirm with John 3:16 and 1 Timothy 2:4 that God loves the world with a real and sincere compassion that desires the salvation of all men. Yet I also affirm that God has chosen from before the foundation of the world those whom he will save from sin [Eph 1:3]. Since not all people are saved, we must choose whether we believe (with the Arminians) that God’s will to save all people is restrained by his commitment to ultimate human self-determination or whether we believe (with the Reformed) that God’s will to save all people is restrained by his commitment to the glorification of the full range of his perfections in exalting his sovereign grace (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; Rom. 9:22–23).This decision should not be made on the basis of philosophical assumptions about what we think human accountability requires. It should be made on the basis of what the Scriptures teach.” (53)

I pray that this is book helpful for you in your mission to understand the Glory’s of God and your desire to be faithful to God’s word.

Book Review by Pastor Jonathan Ahlgren

Get the e-book free here

Get a paper copy here.

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How Should we React to God’s Choosing of us?

John 6:44 says “No one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws him.” In other words, apart from God drawing us, we would reject Jesus eternally and would be without hope. What effect should this reality of God’s adoption and election have on us?

  1. It should humble us. Titus 3:5 says “he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”. You did nothing to earn a right standing with God. You can do nothing. This reality aught to lead us to the throne of God in humility.
  2. It should cause Thankfulness. When you realize that you did not save yourself, that God did all the work, you will be thankful. I think of Ephesians 1:4-5, “God chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace.”
  3. It should bring Hope. Because of that fact that salvation does not depend on man’s ability, because of that fact that it is God who is in charge of salvation, you can have hope for those who are lost. No matter how dead in sin they are, no matter how resistant they are to the gospel, all it takes for them to come to Jesus is God drawing them to himself by opening their eyes to the beauty of the gospel. Salvation is rooted in God’s mercy and God’s power, not man’s ability.
  4. It should lead to Prayer. If no one can come to Jesus apart from the father drawing them, then praying is the most powerful tool in evangelism. You can prepare all you want. You can have all the right bible passages memorized. You have all of the most “effective” evangelism techniques. But if you are not falling on your face before God asking him to open the eyes of your lost neighbor, asking him to change the heart of you family member or coworker, you will be working with your own ability, witch is useless without the power of God.
  5. All glory goes to God. Biblical texts that deal with God’s choosing, election, and predestination say that it is all for the sake of God’s praise and Glory: “ChosePredestined…to the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6), “Predestined…to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12), “God’s purpose of election…to show my (God’s) power… and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Rom. 9:17 & Ex. 9:6) “to make known the riches of his glory…which he has prepared beforehand for glory- even us whom he has called” (Rom. 9:23)
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Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace

By Heath Lambert

Pornography, lust, and sexual immorality are enemies to the church.  They creep into a Christian’s life and into the life of the church only to leave devastation, destruction, and heart-ach.  This is why I am overjoyed to tell you about a book that was written to provide freedom through God’s word for those who struggle with pornography and lust.  Paul says to the Ephesians, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3).  Do you want to be freed from the grip of Pornography?  This book will point you in the right direction.

Heath Lambert makes clear from the start that the book that it is not ultimately about pornography.  Rather, the book is about the “amazing power of Jesus Christ to free you from pornography.”  He goes on to say that “Jesus’ power is extremely practical, and so this book is practical as well.”  Lambert goes about providing eight biblical strategies to help those struggling with lust and pornography have freedom.   One of the radical strengths of this book is its emphasis on grace being the power to change.  Many books of this kind leave you discouraged and overwhelmed.  This book leaves you encouraged, empowered, and dependant on Jesus, the only real provider of freedom.  Lambert says “Every strategy you employ in your fight for purity must be grounded in the grace of God in Christ if it is to lead to lasting freedom.”  This is the main reason I recommend this book.

Chapter 9 is my personal favorite chapter.  This chapter leads the reader to see victory overpornography as more than just not looking at pornography.    The real victory comes when you desire and seek to look at Jesus more than you desire and seek to look at porn.   As Lambert says, “you cannot look at Jesus and look at porn at the same time.  You have to stop doing one to do the other.”  This understanding of desire is central and beneficial.

Each chapter ends with a set of main points and exhortations.  This helps readers go from knowledge to action in practical ways.  Moreover, this book is not just for those who have a struggle with pornography.  This book provides help for addiction in general and provides a helpful tool when helping others through this challenge.  I pray that if you deal with this death causing sin, you would find the magnificent power of God’s grace by reading this book.

Book Review by Pastor Jonathan Ahlgren

You can buy this book here.

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Socrates Meets Jesus

By Peter Kreeft


Socrates Meets Jesus is a short book with a creative story-line and a miraculous ending. The thesis of this book is that the claims of Christ are not false or absurd. When you pick the book up, you will have trouble putting it down until it is done. While reading the book, you will see how the bible and the claims of Christ are so robust and true that even history’s greatest questioner, Socrates, would have great reason to reject deism, open theism, and other worldviews through the reading, testing, and examination of the Word of God. This philosophical work is a collection of fictional interactions between Socrates and students at Have it Divinity School ending with Socrates’ acceptance of the gospel through philosophical and logical reasoning and God’s Word.

Peter Kreeft’s story line is simple, Socrates comes back to life in this age to discover the modern day beliefs of many professing Christians and then evaluate the Scriptures in order to come to a final, rounded understanding of Jesus. Through the book, Socrates seems to realize slowly that the miracle of his return to earth years after his death was an act of a higher being and he even eludes to the fact that this higher being may be more than the god’s that were worshiped in his day, but rather a single God who is Sovereign. Socrates does this using thinking and methodology that Socrates has in Plato’s writing. He comes to this realization through a presentational idea that he has a porpoise in being back on earth, most likely the discovery of a new idea or a more rounded understanding of the “Unknown God”.

Peter Kreeft does an amazing job portraying the historical Socrates living in a modern context in a way that puts his historical method of learning on display and applies it to the claims of Christ as well as The Scriptures. The Socrates displayed in this book used the Socratic method of asking questions in a way that makes this imaginary Socrates come alive in a philosophically accurate portrayal of what would actually happen. It’s hard to open to a page of this book without reading some kind of clever and eye-opening question that displays the effectiveness of the Socratic method in a theological and Christian context. An example of this is when he is talking to Bertha about how love and justice correlate. “Why could God not be both a loving God and a just God?… Does not love make its own judgments? Has love no eyes? And is love not like an earthquake as well as like a still small voice? In fact, is not love the greatest earthquake?” (56).

Socrates Meets Jesus is filled with eye-opening truths and ideas that challenge the liberal perspective of religion. Socrates uses his method of asking questions in order to challenge the liberal idea of miracles (59-76), ethics (91), essence of religion (88-98), and being open minded (79-83). In Kreeft’s section What is the point of being open minded?, Kreeft helps the reader realized how irrational it is to be open minded without a desire and goal of coming to understand a truthful idea or logical, truthful conclusion. Kreeft uses Socrates to help drive the point home that being open minded is similar to the point of opening ones mouth; to bite down on something, in this situation, a dependable truth. The book can also help readers understand the problem with the Open-Theist idea of love. Socrates shows that if the Scriptures are true, the loving thing to do is not shut up and let the ones being lied to parish, but rather speak up about what is true and help others see it. The largest strength of this book is the effect it can have on world view. Everyone has a world view but not everyone has a correct one and Kreeft helps challenge so many ideas and bring false ideas to their logical conclusions by bringing out contradictions that some people overlook.

Socrates uses a presuppositional approach to thinking about the ideas on love, truth, joy, and many other topics. Using this form of logic helps in showing the contradictions that appear all over different worldviews, ending in the acceptance of Jesus and God’s Word in the Bible as the only reasonable explanation of everything. The book did defend it’s thesis, the claims of Christ are not false and absurd but are so robust and true that even history’s greatest questioner, Socrates, would have great reason to reject all other worldviews through the reading, testing, and examination of the trustworthy Word of God.

Socrates Meets Jesus helps readers have a better understanding of the Socratic method and the Christian faith. The book is easy to read yet great at capturing Plato’s writing on Socrates with scholarly precision. The way that almost every page of this book is full of all kinds of clever and eye-opening question that displays the effectiveness of the Socratic method in a theological and Christian context makes the book perfect for anyone who loves philosophy and theology yet does not want a difficult read. Even though the book is fictional, it is quite enlightening and relays the message of the Christian faith with clarity. I would recommend this book to someone who wants an easy and entertaining read that wants to think more deeply about philosophy, logic, and liberal theology.

This book review was written by Pastor Jonathan Ahlgren.

You can buy the book here.

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