BOOK REVIEWS · Theology

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES – Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson (2013)

1433537753_l“Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?”  These were among the first words I heard from the lips of Dr. John G. Mitchell, founder of Multnomah School of the Bible – recently renamed Multnomah University.  I’ll never forget the time Dr. Mitchell walked up to me, a man in his mid 80’s with clenched fists and asked if I wanted to fight!  Joking of course, the elder Scotsman truly loved the student body at Multnomah.  Not many months before he went to be with the Lord, we were instructed to stop applauding him as he took to the lectern.  The sound of 800 students clapping jangled his nerves and wreaked havoc on his hearing aids.  So in those last days, we merely stood as a sign of respect as the great teacher made his way to the preachers desk.  “Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?” he would ask, with a glimmer in his eye.  He would challenge us with fiery passion to preach Christ faithfully and  to pursue holiness – all to the glory of God.  Dr. Mitchell would constantly encourage us, “I want you to know the glory of the Savior.”  He knew the Savior; he knew the saving benefits of his cross-work; and he wanted everyone to experience the same.  He wanted us to know the name above all names, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson, who like Dr. Mitchell also hail from Scotland have an identical passion.  They want the world to know, embrace and worship –  The Name Above All Names.  The Crossway title is a solid offering that explores some core components of Christology.  The authors do not intend to present a full-orbed Christology; rather their aim is to present seven snapshots that concern the person and work of Christ:

1. Jesus Christ, the Seed of the Woman

2. Jesus Christ, the True Prophet

3. Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest

4. Jesus Christ, the Conquering King

5. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man

6. Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant

7. Jesus Christ, the Lamb on the Throne

The book while intensely theological, is written is a devotional tone that is suitable for beginners and veterans of the Christian faith.  Like Dr. Mitchell who went before them, these Scottish writers have a passion for Christ that needs fanning in America.  Perhaps the flicker will turn into a flame!

BOOK REVIEWS · Preaching

PREACHING FOR GOD’S GLORY – Alistair Begg (2001)

Originally published in 1999, Alister Begg’s Preaching for God’s Glory is a welcome reminder that points to the necessity of expository preaching.

Begg argues that preaching should by definition be expository, “Bible-based, Christ-focused, marked by doctrinal clarity, a sense of gravity, and convincing argument.”  He clearly chronicles  the tragic demise of this kind of biblical preaching which is of no advantage to God’s people.

Begg discusses the reason for the departure of expository preaching from so many pulpits.  He is convinced that there is a loss of confidence in the Bible.  He adds, “The expositor is not a poet moving his listeners by cadence and imagery, nor is he an author reader from a manuscript.  He is a herald speaking by the strength and authority of heaven.”

The tragic failure to preach expository sermons has resulted in confusion and malnutrition.  “The tragic medicine,” writes Begg “for this disease is the preaching and teaching ministry that God has established to bring his people to maturity.

Begg explores the nature of expository preaching.  Preachers must begin with the text, stand between two worlds, and show how a given text is relevant in the twenty-first century.

Finally, Begg discusses the benefits of expository preaching.

1. It gives glory to God alone.

2. It makes the preacher study God’s Word.

3. It helps the congregation.

4. It demands treatment of the entire Bible.

5. It provides a balanced diet.

6. It eliminates Saturday night fever (or last-minute preparation).

Preaching for God’s Glory is a worthy addition to a small list of worthwhile books on the preaching task.  Begg does not pretend to offer a  comprehensive look at preaching.  It is, however, a reaffirmation of the importance of expository preaching that must not go unheeded.  Indeed, all pastors must embrace the mandate to preach for God’s glory.

4 stars.