My friends at Crossway continue to outdo themselves in the area of excellence. I sometimes think I should just issue a blanket recommendation—buy ANYTHING they print. But for some specifics, I thought I’d post some mini-reviews today. They have also recently started a book blog which has already had some great posts, so I’ve decided to award them a “Warnie Award,” which means that their headlines will appear in my sidebar from now on.
Here are a few Crossway books that have helped me as I have dipped into them in recent months:
THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST IN A POSTMODERN WORLD
Each year the Desiring God Ministries Conference seems to spawn a book. This is one of them, and in it John Piper, D. A. Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Voddie Baucham, and David Wells all interact with the vital issues of how we can be both faithful to Scripture and relevant to the culture. Avoiding the extremes of compromise and alienation, this book charts a course we would be wise to follow carefully. Here is a quote to whet your appetite:
“This culture basically says that there is no rhyme or reason, so we’re here to make the most of it. Consume. Enjoy. That’s why we’re here. That is the overarching mentality in our culture, both inside and outside the Church, resulting in an unquenchable materialism and causing us to look at children as a blight and as a burden. While many in the poorest nations of the world talk about the number of children with which they can be blessed, we talk about the number of children we can afford. We have houses that are larger than they’ve ever had and families that are smaller than they’ve ever had…. Why? Because they get in the way of our consumption and our enjoyment” (page 60).
WHAT JESUS DEMANDS FROM THE WORLD
For a religion founded on the God-man Jesus, it is amazing how little attention we tend to give to what he said. John Piper’s book goes a long way to correcting this omission. If you thought commands and demands were only found in the Old Testament, this book will surprise you. Far from making things easier for us, Christ actually lays out a set of demands that far exceed the Old Testament law in their reach and challenge to us. Of course, he does this to show us our need for him, but nonetheless, empowered by the Spirit, we are intended to live as Jesus tells us. After all, he commanded us to make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey whatever he has commanded us (see Matthew 28). This book will help you understand and obey these commands.
IN MY PLACE CONDEMNED HE STOOD
We can never have too many books helping us to understand the glory of the cross and everything it accomplished for us. Mahaney recommends reading a book on the cross every year, so it’s no wonder he encouraged his friends in this endeavor, which brings together short essays from Mark Dever and J. I. Packer.
One other fantastic thing about Crossway is that they have published 29 books by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I can’t comment on this author enough. Although based on sermons he preached decades ago, the books sound like they were written for the 21st century. More and more of his talks continue to be adapted for publication. They are supreme examples of what preaching should be like, but also function very well as books. If you haven’t discovered the Doctor yet, where have you been? His sermons are also available at mlj.org.uk. Here is an extract from one recent book, Compelling Christianity, based on Acts 8:
“The Christian message does not stop at the mere proclamation of the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God. It goes on to say say that this Gospel changes men and women. . . . Christ came into the world not only to bear my punishment and to reconcile me to God, but also to fit me for heaven. He came to do something to me that enables me to enjoy God even in this world. What is it? I must be “born again”….
That is it! We must be made anew, we need a new nature, a new heart, a new mind, we must be new persons. And he has come to do this for us. This is the wonderful, amazing, astounding doctrine of regeneration and rebirth.
This new creation is the act of God. The God who made the world and made man at the beginning makes us anew in Christ. Get rid forever of the notion that becoming a Christian simply means being forgiven or trying to be a little bit better than you were before; you cannot be….
He is there! I am not left to myself. I have a new nature. The Spirit is working in me, getting rid of the pollution, sanctifying me, preparing me for Glory; and even before I get there I have, in Christ, access to God” (pages 59-63).
Finally, I should not neglect to mention a commentary I found helpful when preparing my talks from Philippians earlier this year. It’s a slim volume that nevertheless manages to get to the pith of the message of this vital book. The “Preaching the Word” series deserves to be read.