I can't believe it is already the end of 2013. Lot's a very good titles to choose from this year. These were not necessarily best-sellers .. or at least I did not take this number into account when compiling this list.. They were simply books we liked or thought were the most important in the last 12 months ... even if (on rare occassion) we did not agree with every detail ... lots of good reading here!!!
Visitor's Question: Why does the Bible condone genocide? Was that just the Old Testament "god" who demanded that? It is clear that in the book of Joshua, God commanded the Jews to utterly wipe out people groups that inhabited Canaan. If this is so, why didn't Jesus denounce him? Christians often try to avoid this question, it seems to me.
Response: Actually, I am surprised that it should be avoided as it gives us one of the clearest pictures of one of the most important truths in the Bible: That not only did God take the lives of those he ordered the Israelites to kill (the Canaanites) – He also takes the life of everyone on earth. The peoples of Canaan were perhaps dealt out the death penalty earlier than they may have expected; but in essence, their lot was no different than ours. We are all subject to death. Death, as the Bible reveals, is the just penalty exacted for Adam's disobedience in the garden (Genesis 2:16-17; Rom. 5:12-14). So not only may God take life as he sees fit – he does take the life of every last human on earth (see Heb. 9:27). We should not lose the shock of this fearful truth: death is not natural, it is not a normal process of time and chance, it is not a necessary mechanism of evolution. Humans were created to live, and the fact that they do not bespeaks a terrifying truth – we are all born under divine wrath and judgment.
In recent years, pastors and theologians in Evangelical and Calvinistic churches have laid a great deal of emphasis on two theological terms that seek to describe the two main categories of theological error into which professing Christians may fall. These categories, under which much theological error occurs, are legalism and antinomianism. These terms are certainly not novel (albeit, the latter has certainly been employed with much less frequency in our day than the former). Theologians throughout the history of Protestantism have used these two terms when addressing doctrinal error in the church—as their historical context demanded. That being said, it is right for us to understand that these two errors always pose a threat to true Gospel ministry. In his short essay on Antinomianism, James Henley Thornwell made the following illustrative statement about these two errors into which God’s people are ever prone to fall:
The natural vibration of the mind is from the extreme of legalism to that of licentiousness, and nothing but the grace of God can fix it in the proper medium of Divine truth. The Gospel, like its blessed Master, is always crucified between two thieves—legalists of all sorts on the one hand and Antinomians on the other; the former robbing the Savior of the glory of his work for us, and the other robbing him of the glory of his work within us. (1)
The following quotes come from, what Luther saw as his most important work,"The Bondage of the Will". "De Servo Arbitrio" is the classic statement of the religion of faith. It is solidly rooted in Scripture. If Luther is correct in his thesis, then all religions predicated on human ability are woefully mistaken.
For context, Luther, is responding to some of Erasmus' assertions in support of man's natural moral ability to obey the gospel. Erasmus presupposed that all of God's commands to obey proved that we had the "free-will" or moral ability to do so. Erasmus would often ask, "if we can do nothing, what is the purpose of all the laws, precepts, threats and promises in the Bible? All these precepts are useless if nothing is attributed to the human will. If it is not in the power of every man to keep what is commanded, all the exhortations of Scripture are of necessity useless," In response, Luther, with great wit and irony exposes why Erasmus position on free will is an erroneous, unscriptural doctrine which, ultimately, undermines the gospel itself.
The wisdom of the age has it backwards. Declaring that a person is a sinner does not make one a hater, but a lover of that person ... and of mankind. Do Christians point out sin to shame, bully or incite violence against someone? Absurd and a profound misapprehension of our intent. In calling someone a sinner do Christians think they are superior, more moral? May it never be! Most people's sin pales in comparison to mine. Fact is, it would only be hate or discrimination if we refused the gospel to someone because we thought their sin makes them somehow unworthy of it. The gospel declares that anyone who, by the grace of God, comes to Christ will be forgiven, no matter how abominable their sin. And such are granted a new heart which loves God and his law.
The gospel is offensive, and according to the Bible, a stumbling block (Matt 21:44; 1 Cor 1:23; 1 Pet. 2:8). If people were not offended by it then I would think we were doing something wrong. Of course, we should not make ourselves needlessly offensive in the process. But I thank the Lord he is forgiving, or I would not stand a chance on my own. And He will forgive you if, by grace, you come to Jesus. He has come to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim liberty to the captives. (Isaiah 61)
If God loves all people, why does he condemn gays? by John Hendryx
But God Made Me this Way! by John Frame
Duck Dynasty: ‘Going to shoot him? The woman? Me?’ by Marvin Olasky
by Rev. George Smeaton, D.D.
The present volume is intended to be the first portion of a larger whole, which if completed, will exhibit the entire New Testament teaching on the subject of the atonement. I purposed to survey the whole testimony of our Lord and of His apostles; beginning with the former as fundamental. But as the subject grew in my hands, it was found necessary to reserve, in the meantime, the consideration of the apostolic testimony.
by John Hendryx
The commandments of God were never meant to empower us but to strip us of trusting in our own ability so that we would come to an end of ourselves. With striking clarity, Paul teaches that this is the intent of Divine legislation (Rom 3:20, 5:20, Gal 3:19,24). A command or invitation with an open ended hypothetical statement such as John 3:16 ('whosover believes') does not imply the ability to fulfill it. This is especially true in light of texts such as John 1:13, Rom 9:16, John 6:37, 44, 63-65; Rom 3:11; Matt 16-26' 1 Cor 2:14 and many more which show man's moral inability to come to faith or believe the Gospel in their fallen state. In our unregenerate nature we do not want God but rather love darkness and "will not come into the light" * (John 3:19, 20).
If men are never found naturally willing to submit in faith to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ, then how can it be good news? (Rom 3:11; John 6:64,65; 2 Thessalonians 3:2) Because in Christ Jesus, God gives to us freely, what he demands from us. In the gospel God reveals the same righteousness and faith for us that God demands from us. What we had to have, but could not create or achieve or fulfill, God grants us freely, namely, the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) and living faith that unites to Christ. He reveals, as a gift in Christ Jesus, the faith and righteousness that was once only a demand. Faith is not something that the sinner contributes towards the price of His salvation. Jesus has already paid that price in full for us. Faith is our first gasp of breath in our new birth, so to speak. It is a witness of God's work of grace already haven taken place within us (Eph 2:5, 8; 2 Tim 2:25; 1 John 5:1; John 6:63, 65).
From time to time here at Monergism we plan on taking some good theological resources and making them available in a way that they can easily be read in a smart-phone friendly format. Of course these can also be read on your laptop or tablet, but many of these were previously only available in such a way that smart-phone users could only see them in tiny almost unreadable text.
The following are a few that I have been working recently on that I thought you would find helpful and edifying.
What is Covenant Theology? by J I Packer
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Mortality; Judgement; Heaven; Hell by J I Packer
Man's Own Character No Ground Of Peace by Horatius Bonar
The Present State of the World by Herman Bavinck
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - Each Part in Saving Sinners by James Buchanan
Five Arguments for the Unity of the Covenant of Grace by Robert L Reymond
The Knowledge of Christ Crucified by Stephen Charnock
Verifying The Resurrection: Six Evidences by James Montgomery Boice
The Virgin Birth and History by James Montgomery Boice
Both moral and immoral people are alienated from God. God is offended by both. This may be counter-intuitive but moral people are lost because of their "goodness". Why? It is often the case that goodness keeps people from God. In fact many people avoid Jesus by avoiding sin because they are trying to become their own saviors ... attempting to justify themselves. But the gospel is neither moralism nor relativism so it is equally offensive to the moral and the irreligious. But Christ calls us to repent of both our good and bad works, for we have no righteousness of our own.
As an example of Jesus dislike of people who trusted in their own morality, Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains." (John 9:41) Those who think God will accept us based on goodness actually understand only part of the truth. Yes, God loves what is good. But since He also loves the truth, we must confess that, in light of God's holy law, we are not good and have woefully failed to do what is pleasing to God, replacing God with worthless self-pleasing idol substitutes, and so we justly deserve to be punished for it. Those who think they have done enough to please God have not understood or considered the seriousness of their condition. John Calvin once said, "Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty." In light of the holiness of God all persons, even the best of us, would become undone. This was the case even with the holiest of the saints of the Bible. When it pleased God to reveal himself to them, they fell at his feet as though dead. God created us to enjoy and glorify Him, but humans voluntarily rebelled against God falling into the bondage of the self-centeredness of sin and cannot help themselves out of it.
To Download MP3, RIGHT CLICK and SAVE TARGET AS ....
The Morning Star of the Reformation… John Wycliffe (.Pdf) (Download MP3)