Book Review: Continuity and Discontinuity edited by John S. Feinberg

Great Discussion of the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments

This book contains various perspectives from leading theologians on issues related to that which continues and discontinues from the Old Testament into the New Testament.

Half of the contributors in this book would consider themselves “Covenant Theologians” – including contributions from O. Palmer Robertson, Willem VanGemeren, Knox Chamblin, Bruce K. Waltke, Fred H. Klooster,  Martin H. Woudstra, and Sam Storms. The other half would lean dispensational or in the discontinuity camp – including essays from John S. Feinberg, Paul D. Feinberg, Robert L. Saucy, Walter C. Kaiser, Allen P. Ross, and Douglas J. Moo.

The book is a tribute to S. Lewis Johnson– long time Bible teacher at Dallas Theological Seminary and Teaching pastor at Believer’s Chapel in Dallas, Texas (he went to be with the Lord on January 28, 2004). The beginning of the book and ending of the book contain some well written tributes from Sam Storms and John Sproule to Johnson and expound upon his outstanding attributes as a scholar, exegete of God’s Word, pastor, mentor, friend, and southern gentlemen – he was born in Birmingham, Alabama.

After a wonderful historical essay on the debate of continuity and discontinuity by Rodney Peterson the format of the book addresses issues related to six key areas: 1) Theological Systems and the Testaments; 2) Hermeneutics and the Testaments; 3) Salvation and the Testaments; 4) The Law and the Testaments; 5) The People of God and the Testaments; and 6) Kingdom Promises and the Testaments. Each of these six topics contains an essay from a continuity perspective followed by an essay from a discontinuity perspective.

Here are some of the issues addressed in the book:

Are Christians to see ethical dilemmas such as capital punishment and abortion enforced today?

Are Israel and the Church one or distinct today?

How do believers relate to the Old Testament law in practice today?

One of the points that became increasingly clear to me as I read this book was that the more one moves in the discontinuity direction, the more dispensational he is likely to become, and the more one moves in the direction of continuity, the more covenantal he will become.

This book is simply outstanding. It’s not an easy read – but well worth the effort. In my experience most people from both sides of the continuity/discontinuity continuum have a lot to learn from one another and this book helps people in either camp come closer to the center in balancing how to effectively understand and interpret the two Testaments of the Scriptures. I highly recommend this book to help you become a more effective interpreter of the Scriptures and lover of Jesus Christ at the center of it all.

 

Nearing Home: Life, Faith, And Finishing Well by Billy Graham

Bringing You Real Peace In Your Final Days

As I read this book the words “peace” and “simple” kept popping into my mind. Billy Graham is the master of keeping things simple, and of communicating the message of the gospel leading to peace in one’s life like no one else I know. In this short book Graham honestly and simply addresses the aches and pains of aging, preparing for and how to handle finances, what to focus on (what will last beyond the grave), and what to spend your time on so that you will indeed finish well. He doesn’t water down the difficulties of aging, but he is helpful in showing practically what to focus on so that you can finish your life well and leave a positive legacy for those you leave behind.

I wouldn’t say this is a great book, but it was definitely written by a great man. Reading the book brought tears to my eyes, because I don’t know if we will ever see a Christian have the influence that Graham had worldwide in our lifetimes. Though the book is simple, and not necessarily groundbreaking or earthshaking in its message – it is powerful and carries the weight of authority because it is backed by the one-two punch of Biblical authority written by a man that has lived a life of integrity for over 90 years (and counting).

My life verse was written by Paul to a young Timothy and I know of only two people that I think can say this with powerful authority and simplicity leading to peace with God – Paul and Billy Graham – “Watch your life and doctrine closely, for if you persist in doing this, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Tim. 4:16).”

Billy, thanks for your faithfulness, your integrity, and for teaching people all over the world how to have peace with God in a simple and powerful way for all these years – and now in your last book. I recommend this book for those who are aging, those who know they are nearing home. And especially for those who need to know if they are at peace with their Maker or not, because clearly this is the most important issue of all – and Billy is the best at clearly and simply letting you know how you can be at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Note – I received this book from the Booksneeze program of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: I Never Thought I’d See The Day by David Jeremiah

 What to Believe and Do As We Wait For Our King To Return

This is the fourth book written by Dr. Jeremiah based on a prophetic series given at his church in San Diego over the past several years. The author (who has been in ministry for five decades and counting) writes about what he never thought he’d see happening in America and in the World by way of cultural ramifications that impact Christians and the world.

He bases the book on two specific Bible passages. Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. And 1 Chronicles 12:32, “Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” In other words, Dr. Jeremiah is concerned that we as Christians are not overwhelmed by the times we find ourselves living in – that we are knowledgeable about what is going on; and encouraged in the truth, so that we can effectively apply the Scriptures and make an impact on an ever increasing attack on God and His people around the globe.

Dr. Jeremiah tackles the following 9 specific developments in these times we are living in:

1)    The rise of angry atheists and how they seek to intimidate believers in God at every level of society.

2)    The intensification of spiritual warfare – the more the gospel spreads – the more the enemy attacks.

3)    The dethroning of Jesus Christ as God come in the flesh and King of Kings and Lord of Lords in whom is salvation and the only hope for the world.

4)    The redefining of marriage as articulated by God’s definition in the Bible.

5)    The moral deterioration of society both privately and publicly – especially among our so-called leaders.

6)    Dr. Jeremiah writes, “Intertwined with this free fall in morality is the growing marginalization of the Bible, which has moved from the center of political and cultural discourse to the far edges—from providing the founding principles of our nation to becoming a resource for token verses as ornamental platitudes. Sadly, many Christians and a growing number of churches have followed the lead of the culture and pushed the Word of God away at the center of their lives.”

7)    The growing irrelevance of the Body of Christ in our society.

8)    The growing influence of rogue nations.

9)    The decline of America’s loyalty and allegiance to Israel.

This book is very relevant, and provides historical and biblical ways to be prepared to know what we believe, why we believe it, and how to stand firm in God’s truth and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we as Christians may be faithful in serving our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ – until He returns. I highly recommend this book as informative, alarming, but also full of biblically helpful solutions and encouragement from a brilliant communicator of God’s Word and how it applies to the times in which we are living.

Book Review: Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing By Peter Kreeft

An Apologetics Masterpiece!

The Book of Ecclesiastes says “God has placed eternity in our hearts.” I have read this book several times and have been waiting to do this book a just book review, but the first thing I have to say is that it’s mind boggling that so many books other than this one have received such a wide reading – and this book hasn’t. I think it’s a classic masterpiece by a brilliant philosopher who in the mold of C.S. Lewis and Thomas Aquinas writes one of the best reasonable defenses for life after death that have possibly ever been written.

The book is not an “easy” read, but an incredibly “rewarding” read. I think the depth of Kreeft’s knowledge of philosophy coupled with theology and his wide range of reading and creativity makes for writing that feeds the soul and the mind. So much of what we read today is “fast food.” Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing is a seven-course gourmet meal that leaves you full and satisfied. After contemplating what you have just read it makes you long for Heaven and a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus.

The reason I call this an “Apologetics Masterpiece” is because I think Kreeft brilliantly articulates how Heaven is necessary in order for all our desires to be satisfied in the afterlife. He makes a great case for the existence of God and the necessity of our home with Him. There is so much that we long for in this life that will never be satisfied, but will be satisfied in the next. The atheist, agnostic, or even varieties of “ists” and “isms” can’t really explain why our hearts long for so much that can’t be obtained in this life. Peter Kreeft articulates with tremendous insight and creativity to show that Heaven is what we were made for and why that’s the case.

I can’t do the book justice. All I can say is what the Holy Spirit said to Augustine so many years ago: “Take up and read, take up and read…this book.” If you are philosophical and a deep thinker you will absolutely love this book. If you are not a deep thinker, you may struggle along, but I would encourage you to read the book slowly and thoughtfully. Anyone can benefit from this book, but especially those who read it slowly and thoughtfully. One thing this book always does for me, is increase my joy and my hope in my future home – where I will finally be satisfied with everything I’ve ever longed for and more.

Book Review: Preaching and Teaching the Last Things by Walter Kaiser

Walter Kaiser is a gifted Old Testament scholar who has the keen ability to be able to communicate well among lay people and scholars alike. In this new offering Dr. Kaiser does not disappoint. This book is especially geared toward pastors, but is also extremely helpful for all those who teach and desire to understand the Old Testament and it’s connections to the New Testament and the ultimate promise plan of God.

Dr. Kaiser lands somewhere between a “covenant” and “dispensational” theologian – in my opinion he is very balanced and makes an excellent case for each passage he exegetes. He definitely leans dispensational – taking passages and promises to Israel literally unless there is a textual indicator deeming otherwise.

The book is composed of six parts – covering different aspects of the end times. Each of these parts contains two or three passages of Scripture, and is broken down in this way:

1)   A discussion of the topic.

2)   Specific exegetical and sermonic helps for the specific passage being taught including: the text; title; focal point; homiletical key word; interrogative question; and teaching aim.

3)   A teaching outline for the passage.

4)   An exegetical discussion of the passage.

5)   Practical conclusions based on a thorough exegesis of the passage.

Here are the topics that Kaiser addresses in the book with thorough exegetical and insightful precision:

Part 1: The Individual and General Eschatology of the Old Testament

  1. Life and Death in the Old Testament (Psalm 49:1-20)
  2. The resurrection of Mortals in the Old Testament (Job 19:21-27)

Part 2: The Nation of Israel in Old Testament Eschatology

  1. The Everlasting Promises made to Israel (Jeremiah 32:27-44)
  2. The Future Resurrection and Reunification of the Nation (Ezekiel 37:1-28)
  3. The Future Return of Israel to the Land of Promise (Zechariah 10:2-12)

Part 3: The New Davidic King and the City of the great King in the Old Testament

  1. The Branch of the Lord and the New Zion (Isaiah 2:2-5; 4:2-6)
  2. The Extent of Messiah’s Rule and Reign (Psalm 72:1-17)

Part 4: The Day of the Lord and the Beginning of the Nations’ Struggle with Israel

  1. The Arrival of the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:28-3:21)
  2. God and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39)

Part 5: The Events of the Last Seven Years and the Arrival of the Western Confederacy

10. The Seventy Weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27)

11. The New Coming Third Temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40:1-41:26; 43:1-11)

12. The Coming Antichrist (Daniel 11:36-45)

13. The Battle of Armageddon (Zechariah 14:1-21)

Part 6: The Coming Millennial Rule of Christ and the Arrival of the Eternal State

14. The Millennial Rule and Reign of God (Isaiah 24:1-23)

15. The New Creation (Isaiah 65:17-25; 66:18-24)

I think this book is a welcome addition to any Bible student’s collection – especially due to the neglect of roughly 20-25% of the Bible being of a prophetic nature. Those of us who teach and preach God’s Word are required to teach the “whole counsel of God.” My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen him draw more parallels in the passages to Christ and how the gospel applies to believers in the here and now – and not solely in the past or future (read Tim Keller or Paul Tripp for excellence in this matter). Overall, I think it’s an excellent resource with wise insights into God’s Word and how His promise plan will ultimately be fulfilled.

*Walter C. Kaiser Jr. (PhD, Brandeis University) is the distinguished professor emeritus of Old Testament and president emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Dr. Kaiser has written over 40 books, including Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching; A History of Israel; The Messiah in the Old Testament; Recovering the Unity of the Bible; The Promise-Plan of God; Preaching and Teaching The Last Things; and coauthored (with Moises Silva) An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics. Dr. Kaiser and his wife, Marge, currently reside at Kerith Farm in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin. Dr. Kaiser’s website: www.walterckaiserjr.com

Book Review: Unseen Realities: Heaven, Hell, Angels and Demons by R.C. Sproul

Good Introduction to Heaven, Hell, Angels, and Satan

 Eminent Pastor, Writer, and Theologian R.C. Sproul has written a very helpful book addressing the “uncompromising supernaturalism at the heart of the Christian worldview.” The stated purpose of Sproul in this book is to provide a “brief tour through the Bible’s teachings in regard to heaven and hell, angels and demons [in order to] bolster your faith in Scripture’s teachings regarding the supernatural.”

Sproul Writes on the Supernatural in Four Parts:

Part One: Heaven – Using Key Passages of Scripture, personal anecdotes, and keen observations from theologians and philosophers – Sproul makes a biblical case for the realities of an objective material place called Heaven reserved for those who have been justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In these four chapters Sproul appeals to those things that we all long for – a permanent and secure home, no more pain, and perfect relationships with others and with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Part Two: Hell – In four compelling chapters Dr. Sproul gives an excellent Biblical case for the existence of a literal place where God’s judgment is executed with perfect justice by a God who of necessity because of His Holiness must punish the sin, and refusal to repent of the unrighteous who have refused to submit to the Lordship and salvific offer of the gospel through Jesus Christ.

Part Three: Angels – In five interesting chapters R.C. addresses the nature, character, and purpose of angels and how they interact with God and humanity.

Part Four: Satan – In the final two chapters of the book Dr. Sproul addresses how Satan is our adversary and how he deceives believers and non-believers.

R.C. has written a very helpful book and answers a lot of questions that Christians are asking about the supernatural. In a skeptical culture – it is important for us to be reminded of what God has said, and that He doesn’t lie. His truth stands forever, and it is of the uttermost importance that we understand the significance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and that our trust in his atoning death on our behalf is our only hope to experience the wonderful realities that await those who have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Also, the warnings of this book and the importance of what awaits those who reject Christ – must be headed so that through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ hope may be yours.

I recommend this book as a good introduction to these topics, and an excellent summary of the clear teachings of the Bible with reference to the unseen realities that exist now and are a part of everyone’s future. I believe that what Sproul has written is cogent, Biblical, practical, helpful, and matters for eternity.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Christian Focus Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.