Come, Lord Jesus – John Piper

John Piper, Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2023), 304 pp.

The second coming of Christ is a critical theme that emerges in the New Testament. Tragically, the blessed hope is often eclipsed by love for things of the world. John Piper sets out to challenge this problem in his new book, Come Lord Jesus. The book’s goal is to help readers love the second coming of Jesus Christ. Piper stands with Paul the apostle who wrote:

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

The book is arranged in three parts:

Part 1: Reasons to Love Christ’s Appearing

Part one is the heart of the book and the most helpful part of the book. The author sets forth twelve reasons why followers of Christ should love his appearing. Each reason is grounded in God’s Word and loaded with encouragement.

Part 2: The Time of His Appearing

The second part of the book is the most controversial as Piper presents the rationale for the post-tribulational return of Christ. I urge pre-tribulational proponents to carefully weigh the arguments that the author proposes.

Part 3: How Then Shall We Live?

Finally, the book focuses on practical concerns that relate to the second coming of Christ. Readers are urged to be alert, patient, and gentle, plug into the local church, and pray for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

A Commendation

As usual, John Piper “delivers the goods.” Come, Lord Jesus is a thoughtful book, packed with biblical wisdom and encouragement. Dr. Piper skillfully navigates through the eschatological fog and points the way forward by focusing on the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I commend Come, Lord Jesus without reservation and trust that God will use it to strengthen his people as they wait for the glorious return of his Son!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Spineless: Restoring Courage and Conviction to the People of God

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Spineless: Restoring Courage and Conviction to the People of God addresses the insipid kind of “Christianity” that has subtly slipped into the church. It carefully diagnoses the decline of Christian courage and traces its tragic demise. The book sets forth a carefully crafted plan for recovering lost ground in our generation. And it presents biblical strategies for restoring our spiritual muscle and sets a course for moving forward with bold courage and conviction in a world that is hostile to the historic Christian faith.

Endorsements

“Every generation of church history demonstrates that the people of God must exercise courage and conviction in order to pass on the truth to the next. In our own generation, we have seen countless men and women capitulate God’s truth in exchange for cultural relevancy. Spineless is the manifesto we so desperately need. Thoroughly biblical, David Steele has served the church well by setting courage and conviction as the necessary virtues that will ensure that believers never surrender the high ground of God’s truth in Christ.”

  • DR. DUSTIN BENGE, Provost and Professor of Church History, Union School of Theology, Bridgend, Wales

“Spineless is a call for courageous and convictional Christianity in the midst of an evangelicalism that is often more prone to capitulation than to fearless proclamation Author David Steele, identifies the problems afflicting both the church and the world but he is not content to simply “curse the darkness”; he shines the light back to the path of courageous Christianity. The need is great. The stakes are high. The time is now to stand up for truth and to stand confidently on God’s inerrant Word. Steele skillfully utilizes history, theology, and worldview scholarship as he illustrates the biblical call to courage. This book is biblical, timely, and needed. You will learn, grow, and be challenged to a life of courageous faithfulness. I recommend this excellently written work.”

  • DR. RAY RHODES, JR., Author of Yours, Till Heaven: The Untold Love Story of Charles and Susie Spurgeon and Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon.

“This is a timely call from Pastor Steele to avoid, in a time of great opposition to the Christian faith, the sin Christians fall into of passivity and cowardice. It is a helpful reminder of the importance of staying rooted in Scripture and being helped by the example of heroes of the faith, like the OT prophets, the apostles, the Reformers, the Huguenots, and the Puritans. Also being instructed by theologians like Luther, Calvin, Bavinck, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, J.I. Packer, C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer and Al Mohler in his book, The Gathering Storm. Specifically, strong Christians must settle the matter of worldviews, and be aware of the stark contrast between biblical Christianity and false religious and philosophical systems of our day, knowing that only the Christian worldview is sufficient.”

  • DR. PETER JONES, Director, TruthXchange; author of The Other Worldview, Escondido, CA

“My comrade in ministry has hit another home run with this book. One of the most detrimental quotes attributed to Francis of Assisi so many Christians have latched onto is the saying, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” Dr. Steele balances this ancient pragmatism with the facts that those who have most, and will most transform society are those who know the Word, are convinced and convicted of its authority and truth, and apply it daily in their thoughts, hearts, actions and proclamation of the gospel. Never more than today do we need men and women of conviction that know their Bibles and proclaim and live its message boldly with grace and truth. Thanks again, Dr. Steele for such a motivational manifesto to be theologically and theocentrically courageous in our time by speaking and proclaiming the gospel clearly and loudly.”

  • DR. DAVID P. CRAIG, Lead Pastor, Valley Baptist Church, San Rafael, CA

“In his latest book, Spineless: Restoring Courage and Conviction to the People of God, David Steele takes readers by the hand and guides them as only a pastor-theologian par excellence can into the rich soil of biblical-theological convictions that will help shape their lives. In our day, we need Christians who are unafraid of the truth and unashamed to stand upon God’s Word. David, in this work not only gives the correct diagnosis, but the remedy to the ills of why many Christians lack a backbone by steadying our gaze upon the biblical text and the person and work of Jesus Christ. By doing so, he helps his readers discover from the Bible and Church History how men and women of God have stood upon the truth of God’s Word with courage and conviction. Wherever you are at in your walk with the Lord and whatever station you have in the church reading, Spineless will help you grow and be shaped by the Word of God, for a life lived under the gaze of God, for the glory of God.”

  • DAVE JENKINS, Executive Director, Servants of Grace Ministries, Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine, Host, Equipping You in Grace, Teacher, Servants of Grace and Warrior of Grace Podcasts

“Drawing from the rich legacy of bold and courageous men of church history, and chock-full of sound biblical teaching, Spineless is a must-read for all Christians who desire to boldly live with courage and conviction in an age of timidity and rampant compromise.”

  • JEREMY PICKENS, Senior Pastor, Good Shepherd Church, Ferndale, WA

“I not only highly recommend this book to you, but just as importantly, its author. Dr. David Steele doesn’t just write words well, he lives them out. His character is worthy of emulating and his writings should be read and reflected on. We need more men like Pastor Steele, men of Gospel grit, who confront our age’s spinelessness with courage and boldness.”

  • BRYAN PICHURA, Senior Pastor, Mount Olivet Church, Huron, SD

“The negative effects of pride and domineering church leadership have been well documented, but not enough has been said and written about the perils of cowardice and passivity. Drawing from Scripture, church history, and personal life experience, Dr. David Steele pens a well-researched book for Christians to get serious about being men and women of courage. The amount of relevant church history references in this book is stunning. It’s the kind of book that will be particularly suitable for young Christians.”

  • DAVID QAOUD, Associate Pastor, Blogger, Bethesda Evangelical Church, St. Louis, MO gospelrelevance.com

The Dawning of Redemption – Ian J. Vaillancourt

Ian J. Vaillancourt, The Dawning of Redemption: The Story of the Pentateuch and the Hope of the Gospel (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 224 pp.

After the creation of Adam, God spoke in clear terms to the first man: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16–17, ESV). The apostle Paul confirms what God revealed in the garden: “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23a). After our first parents disobeyed, the rest of humanity fell under the curse of death – not only physical death but also eternal death. Every creature was on the fast track to hell, that is until God intervened.

Ian Vaillancourt’s book, The Dawning of Redemption reveals how God stepped in and saved a people for his own possession (1 Pet. 2:9). The author presents nine movements, beginning with creation that unfolds progressively and unveils the Messiah who forgives sin and promises to make all things new.

The central theme of the book, of course, is redemption. Dr. Vaillancourt is meticulous in his research and relentless in his passion to present the gospel of Jesus Christ. His work is a helpful addition to the growing number of titles that focus on biblical theology. In the end, the author succeeds in his presentation of the meta-narrative that runs through sacred Scripture, namely – the plan to redeem the elect of God.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Be Killing Sin

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Endorsements

“Be Killing Sin is a heart-penetrating read and profitable for both new and seasoned believers who sincerely desire to be exhorted regarding the danger of personal sin and educated in the biblical means of defeating sin in their lives. I highly recommend Dr. Steele’s uncompromising and practical book on this much-needed topic!”

STEVE BALVANZ

Senior Pastor, Spring Creek Bible Church

“I was discipled as a young Christian under the ministry of David Steele. For years, I witnessed his life and sat under his faithful preaching and teaching. I know no man who is more well-read, self-disciplined, or biblically and theologically astute. For decades, one of Pastor Dave’s specialties has been apologetics and engagement with cultural issues, teaching followers of Jesus to be discerning, “think Christianly,” and live for the glory of God in all that they do. So, what you’ll receive in Be Killing Sin is guidance that is as biblically grounded as it gets, and which speaks practically to the issues of sin in our culture and in our hearts. If you need help in the fight against sin (and we all do), take up and read!”

BROCK EWING

Senior Pastor, Homestead Country Gathering, La Grande, OR

“Dr. David Steele’s book, Be Killing Sin, is an excellent reminder of how every believer ought to live the Christian life on a daily basis. Pastor David provides a strategic blueprint for “fighting the good fight of faith,” while standing against the world, the flesh, and the devil with God’s armor in place. In addition to the clear biblical teaching that permeates this book, David also provides a treasure chest of valuable quotes, references, and biblical truths that you will want to access time and again. I highly recommend that you add this book to your library and read it repeatedly to fortify your soul against the temptations and struggles we all have with sin.”

BRUCE PARKER

Pastor Emeritus, Faith Bible Church, Hood River, OR

“If you talk about sin in our day, you might get some interesting stares from people, even in the Church. Even in the Church today, a large segment thinks sin is a dirty word, and they believe that perhaps we should do away with it. The only problem is if you do away with sin or even talk about it, you do away with the reason Christ came, bled, died, and rose again. If you minimize sin, you minimize the glory of the grace of God. If you live however you want, you minimize the glory of Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who resides in every Christian. If you think you can live however you want or that there are no differences between a man and a woman, you undermine the clear teaching of Scripture. Understanding sin in our day is vital to rightly understand the prescribed medicine in the finished and sufficient work of the Lord Jesus. A surgeon doesn’t deal only with some of the symptoms; he aims to get to the heart of the problem and deal with the issue so the patient is helped and can recover appropriately. With the skill of a surgeon, from the hand of a seasoned pastor- teacher of God’s Word, and the mind of a scholar, David Steele has gifted the Church with a magnificent and needed book in Be Killing Sin: The Art of War on the Battlefield of Faith. Whether you think sin is a “little matter” or a grave matter, this book is needed in a day that devalues sin and focuses on psychological aspects of our humanity, which causes us to look first to ourselves, or worse, to find a cure that isn’t possible outside of Christ. Wherever you are on that spectrum, I encourage you to read this book, to be taught from Scripture about sin, the glory of Christ, and how putting on Christ in all of life is not some part of the Christian life; it is the whole of the Christian life because of our union with Christ.”

DAVE JENKINS

Executive Director, Servants of Grace Ministries, Executive Director, Theology for Life Magazine, Host, Equipping You in Grace, Author, The Word Explored and the Word Matters

Grace at Work – Bryan Chapell

Bryan Chapell, Grace at Work: Redeeming the Grind & the Glory of Your Job (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 233 pp.

Grace at Work: Redeeming the Grind & the Glory of Your Job by Bryan Chapell is a deeply encouraging book that addresses the topic of vocation. Chapell draws on Scripture to help readers understand the redemptive purposes of work.

Every person is created in the imago Dei. Therefore, God’s creation possesses dignity and worth in his eyes. This reality causes them to flourish and provides the necessary biblical context for work.

With the foundation in place, Chapell focuses on a host of subjects including integrity, money, success, leadership, and many others. Each topic assumes the creature’s dignity and enables them to approach work with God-centered resolve.

The author summarizes his excellent work:

Throughout this book, I have emphasized that every place we work is holy ground and that we have a vocation, a calling, to represent our Savior in the workplace. Our vocation is where we exercise our profession – both in terms of our training and our testimony.

Grace at Work is a powerful little book that reorients the mindset of Christians and reshapes their hearts in a way that honors God and puts the gospel on display.

Highly recommended!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Counterfeit Kingdom: The Dangers of New Revelation, New Prophets, and New Age Practices in the Church

Holly Pivec and R. Douglas Geivett, Counterfeit Kingdom: The Dangers of New Revelation, New Prophets, and New Age Practices in the Church (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2022), 257 pp.

Turn on the radio or walk into almost any evangelical church. One of the first things you will hear are songs by Bethel Worship or Jesus Culture. Young people are especially attracted to these songs. The production quality and musicianship is top-notch. The Jesus Culture website says, “Jesus Culture is not a band, but a family with a collection of songs that reflect what God is doing in their church and their lives. The heart of Jesus Culture has always been to not just sing songs, but to encounter God and see lives changed through those encounters.”

Tragically, few people (and few churches) are examining the doctrinal foundations of these ever-popular and growing groups. Both Bethel Worship and Jesus Culture are product of Bethel Church, located in Redding, California. Two authors have researched the Bethel movement and present their findings in Counterfeit Kingdom: The Dangers of New Revelation, New Prophets, and New Age Practices in the Church.

The book narrows its focus on the practices of the so-called New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and the various ways that it influences music and ministry in churches around the world. The authors reveal that more than 3.5 million people in America alone attend churches that embraced NAR. These churches are governed by so-called “prophets” and “apostles.”

Pivec and Geivett alert readers to the theological infrastructure and polity that governs Bethel Church. They uncover the controversial practices of “angelic slumber,” “grave sucking,” “holy laughter,” “laughter in the Spirit,” “the fire tunnel,” “destiny cards,” “communication with the dead,” and the promotion of the so-called “glory cloud.” These occult activities are not only dangerous; they are expressly forbidden in Scripture (Deut. 18:9-12).

Counterfeit Kingdom includes a series of helpful warnings that Christians must heed when evaluating assertions that come out of churches like Bethel. Also included are the various “control tactics” that are being used to deceive unsuspecting people. The authors encourage Christians to read the Bible broadly and develop basic skills in hermeneutics.

The book discusses biblical revival and helps readers discern what is authentic and synthetic. “In short, revival is measured in terms of obedience and holiness. Anything short of that is a counterfeit,” argue Pivec and Geivett.

The Passion Translation of the Bible is discussed. The authors reveal that it is anything but a translation. “Simmons” (the author) has crafted a Bible that would gladden the heart of a narcissist while slighting the sovereign exercises of God’s will through us.” Thus this erroneous “translation” should be marked and avoided.

One of the most helpful chapters included a discussion of the dangers of Bethel worship, which smuggles in NAR theology. Bethel worship should also be avoided.

Now is the time for followers of Christ to be discerning. We must pay close attention to our life and doctrine. We must carefully evaluate our music and the books we read. Holly Counterfeit Kingdom is a book for our times; one that should be studied and passed along to unsuspecting people.

Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor With the Gospel – A.S. Ibrahim

A.S Ibrahim, Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor With the Gospel (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 176 pp.

God loves Muslims! This theme runs throughout A.S. Ibrahim’s new book, Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor With the Gospel. Dr. Ibrahim grew up in Egypt and trusted Christ at an early age. He is uniquely qualified, then, to write authoritatively about reaching Muslims for Christ.

Part 1: Understanding Muslims and Islam

In part one, the author focuses his attention on the nuts and bolts of Islam. He debunks some myths and misconceptions about Islam, which places readers in a strategic position to evangelize Muslims.

Ibrahim urges evangelists to utilize a Christ-centered strategy and avoid a confrontational approach if possible. The plea is ultimately centered around a relational approach that welcomes Muslims as friends and fellow image-bearers of God. He adds, “A sound theology always begins with this question: ‘What does the Scripture say? (Rom. 4:3). This shapes our evangelism since theology responds biblically to crucial questions related to engaging Muslims with the gospel.’”

Throughout the book, as mentioned above, Dr. Ibrahim encourages Christians to build strong relational bridges with Muslims. This dominant theme will surely bear good fruit that glorifies God as followers of Christ obey the Great Commandment by loving their Islamic neighbors. Breaking bread together, reading together, and sharing time for questions and answers are an important part of this process.

Finally, the author provides several helpful points that enable readers to understand the Islamic worldview. Readers should pay careful attention to this timely wisdom as they make inroads with their Muslim friends.

Part 2: Tools for Evangelizing Muslims

Part two provides a handful of invaluable tools for sharing the gospel with Muslims. Communications principles are set forth and the power of intercessory prayer is explored. The author also includes many dangers to avoid that focus on cultural taboos.

At the heart of the book is a passion for proclaiming Christ to Muslims. This theme emerges most vividly in chapter ten where Dr. Ibrahim urges Christians to simply read the Bible with their Muslim friends. This principle is simple, yet profound as anyone can sit down and read Scripture with a Muslim with an open mind. Reading about Jesus’s miracles and parables is emphasized with the aim of proclaiming the supremacy of Christ. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who draws people to God, overcomes their resistance to the gospel, and regenerates their hearts.

Reaching Your Muslim Neighbor with the Gospel is a must-read for anyone who has a passion to share with unbelieving friends, especially Muslims. The writing is gracious, practical, and most important – biblical. Lord willing, thousands of fruitful evangelistic conversations will take place because of this timely book.

Highly recommended.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Precious Blood – Dustin Benge (2022)

Dustin Benge, The Precious Blood (West Lorne: H&E Publishing, 2022), 149 pp.

“Even before sin entered the human story, God, in his sovereign providence, provided the remedy – the blood of Christ.” So says Dustin Benge in his most recent work, The Precious Blood: The Benefits of the Atonement of Christ.

The author invites readers to discover the multi-faceted work of the cross in nine short chapters. Benge writes with the warmth of Jerry Bridges, the precision of J.I. Packer, and the passion of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. His ability to compose short chapters for lay people that focus like a laser beam on biblical truth is rare in our day.

I urge Christians to pick up a copy of The Precious Blood. Read it. Absorb it. Meditate upon it. Worship God for the wonderful reality of the gospel. And thank him for the precious blood of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!

One of the best books of 2022!

Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross – Marco Barone

Marco Barone, Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross (Eugene: Resource Publications, 2017), 145 pp.

Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross by Marco Barone is an illuminating examination of the Protestant Reformer’s view of the gospel. The author seeks to show how Luther’s view coincides with Augustine and ultimately agrees with Scripture.

Barone makes good use of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation as a means of identifying his theological convictions and concerns. The primary emphasis focuses on free will, the law of God and the works of man, the righteousness of God, and the cross work of Jesus Christ. The author boils down Luther’s view:

Man is not righteous by himself. He does not become righteous by a life of good works, or by the mere acceptance of and conformity to the moral law. Rather, man is declared righteous by a supernatural and graciously free act of God which he performs according to his eternal decree of predestination. Man’s works do not make him righteous. According to Luther’s Augustinian philosophy of the cross, true righteousness is the necessary prerequisite for producing good works.

The most essential feature of the book is understanding the distinction between the theology of the cross (Luther and Augustine) and the theology of glory. The theology of the cross that Luther maintained saw the will as bound in sin. This view holds that sinners can only achieve virtue as a result of receiving the gift of regeneration. Righteousness is “alien” to use a term coined by Luther. The sinner receives Christ’s righteousness by faith alone. And Christ’s redemptive work on the cross is mankind’s only hope for receiving eternal life, which of course is received by grace alone through faith alone.

The so-called theology of glory is diametrically opposed to Luther’s theology of the cross at every juncture. It is man-centered, focused on autonomy and self-effort, and in the end, is Pelagian to the core.

Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross is a welcome addition to the growing scholarly works that examine the German Reformer’s life and theological legacy. Barone’s commitment to raising awareness of Luther’s gospel-centeredness should be celebrated. Additionally, the author should be commended for helping readers detect Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, which holds millions of people captive in our culture.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Fight For Your Pastor – Peter Orr

Peter Orr, Fight For Your Pastor (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 112 pp.

Pastors have a difficult job. They are asked to be top-notch scholars and theologians, counsel hurting people, lead churches with skill and godliness, feed the people of God, and protect the flock from enemies within and without. Peter Orr understands the pressure that pastors face. It was this understanding and sympathy that led him to write, Fight For Your Pastor.

Fight for Your Pastor is a call to people in the pew. It is an urgent plea to cease complaining and criticizing. It is an entreaty for the people of God to come alongside their pastor and encourage him, pray for him, and submit to his leadership.

Orr includes seven chapters that are both encouraging and convicting. Church members will do well to follow the author’s godly counsel and directives. The result will build pastors up and help ensure that the next generation of Christian leaders will be viable and spiritually strengthened for the most difficult job in the world.

The closing words of the author summarize his heart and passion:

In the end, this book sounds a call to abandon a passive, consumerist model of the church. it calls us to abandon the notion that the pastor performs the ministry which we evaluate according to how it benefits us … It is a call for us to be devoted to the work of the Lord. It is a call for us to love and support our pastor. It is a call to fight for him!

I urge Christians to pay heed to Peter Orr’s wisdom. Pick this book and absorb it. Then track down your pastor and fight for him!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.