Book Review: “Who’s Your Father?” by Robert Bernecker

RETURNING TO THE LOVE OF THE BIBLICAL GOD

WYF? Bernecker

Coming To Grips With God’s Amazing Love For You

Book Review By David P. Craig

One of the main things that has been lost in modern Christianity is the Main Thing – God Himself. The church invests millions of dollars in programming, high-tech equipment, buildings, and the like. However, what we need more than anything is to be drenched with the reality of the character, nature, and intimacy there is to be found in our relationship with God – especially as He has clearly revealed Himself in the Bible.

Robert Bernecker has written a God-drenched book. He has written a book that tackles subjects as vast as the sovereignty of God, His providence, and our responsibility and will with reference to salvation and sanctification. The author tackles the “tough” doctrines of predestination, election, perseverance, and foreknowledge with theological precision, solid exegesis, and insight from 2,000 years of historical theology.

Without getting bogged down in theological debate, Bernecker simply lets the chips fall where they may by giving a plethora of Scriptures on the deepest and profoundest issues of Theology Proper – the doctrine of God. However, not leaving the reader in the realm of the abstract but taking you into the intimate arms of our loving Father.

If you want to understand the mind and heart of God and His will and purposes for humanity I highly recommend this book. It will give you a wonderful biblical theology of how God thinks and works in time and history – past, present, and future. In reading this book you will develop a higher view of God, and of His amazing plan for humanity – and for you – the reader. I urge you to take up this book and read about our Awesome God as revealed in the Scriptures and take the plunge in the waters of being drenched and soaked in God’s glory. It’s what you and I need more than anything else!

Book Review: The Gospel Transformation Bible

How The Gospel is Revealed in All 66 Books of the Bible

Book Review By David P. Craig

Gospel Transformation Bible

What’s Unique About the Gospel Transformation Bible’s Notes?

(1) It’s unique in how it handles applying the Scriptures. There are many good application study Bibles on the market today. Most of these Bibles focus on two aspects of application: (a) What should we do according to what this passage is teaching? and (b) Where should we be applying these truths? The Gospel Transformation Bible is unique in that it helps you focus on two other important elements of application: (c) Why we should apply the gospel daily; and (d) How we can apply the gospel daily. It guides us in having a proper motivation for obeying God – out of gratitude for His amazing grace. It also demonstrates how we are enabled by the power of the gospel to do what God calls us to do.

(2) It’s unique in the fact that it shows how all the major themes of the Scriptures are integrated and how all these themes ultimately point to or find their fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.

(3) It’s unique in that it shows how each passage is a part of the flow of the gospel in the immediate context, but also in the over all thrust of redemptive history in the rest of the Bible.

(4) It’s unique in that it demonstrates how the good news of the gospel is just as evident in the Old Testament as in the New Testament.

(5) It’s unique in demonstrating how the message of the Bible about God’s love promises, points to, and culminates in Jesus.

(6) It’s unique in showing how the finished work of Christ matters not only in relationship to our past and our future, but especially in the present. We need the power of the gospel to help us in all the difficult realities of life – suffering, pain, decision making, identity issues, and so forth.

(7) It’s unique in that it demonstrate how the grace God pervades all of Scripture and empowers us to stand firm in the gospel over the attacks we face daily with the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

(8) It’s unique in that it gives us pointers to Christ and to the gospel in places that we wouldn’t be naturally inclined to see them (Much like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 who didn’t understand how Isaiah was talking about Jesus).

(9) It’s unique in that it helps you focus on the big idea that the comprehensive theme that ties the 66 books of the Bible all together is the unfolding narrative of God’s commitment to redeem a family from every language, tribe, and people group and make all things new through Jesus. The notes show how every passage in every chapter of every book in the Bible unfolds the plan of redemption through the gospel.

(10) It’s unique in that it helps you delight in finding Christ for yourself in the text, and seek to be transformed into his likeness out of gratitude for His amazing grace displayed time and again in the gospel. In other words the notes focus on information (knowledge) that transforms the heart (emotions and the will). It isn’t about duty, so much as delight over who God is and what He has provided for us in the gospel of Christ.

(11) It’s unique in that the scholar’s who write the introductions and notes to each book of the Bible articulate how each author  focuses on  how the particulars of each book reveals and unfolds the grace of God and how their message transforms the heart.

(12) It’s unique in that the notes are targeted at the heart so that your heart is transformed by the Knowldge of the greatness of the gospel. It’s about our identity in Christ and that we serve Him out of our renewed affections for Who God is and what He has done for us through Christ’s Person and work. It is not so much about what you do, or what you know, but about who you “are” in Christ.

The Book of Daniel As An Example

Our temptation or inclination is to typically focus on the prophetic aspects (controversies) of the book of Daniel, or the heroism of Daniel and his friends as exiles in Babylon. The Bible in other words is about information or about us. However, Daniel is really about the people of God who are in exile in a pagan environment. However, in the midst of that exile Daniel and his friends remember that God has given them His Word and that He will be faithful to His promises. Daniel and his friends trust God even when they can’t take care of themselves. The message of Daniel is a message of grace. It is the message that God provides for Daniel and his friends what they can’t provide for themselves. Daniel’s trust and hope lie not in his own wisdom and strength, but in the wisdom, promises, and character of his God. It is in believing in God’s promises and grace that Daniel gets his strength.

What we learn from Daniel is that as the grace of God was revealed to him in the past, present, and future, so can we hope in the promises of God which are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. God demonstrates his faithfulness to Daniel and to us through His revealed prophecies and promises which are found in the coming of Christ. Daniel isn’t primarily about heroism or prophecy, but about the grace of God that culminates in the gospel of Christ. Our hope as exiles in this world is the same. Our hope is in the gospel which frees us from our past, empowers us for today, and gives us hope for the future.

10 Reasons I Recommend The Gospel Transformation Bible

(1) It will help you see the types, promises, and promises of God in the Old Testament that are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

(2) It will give you guiding principles for studying how each passage, book, and period of the Bible unfolds the theme of redemption from Genesis to Revelation.

(3) It will impact your affections for Christ and the gospel. You will be touched by the majestic and intimate grace of God for you.

(4) It will motivate you to share the gospel with others. It will re-ignite an excitement in you for the gospel that will overflow out of your heart to your mouth with those who don’t know about Jesus.

(5) It will help you to see that all of the Scriptures are about Jesus. You will learn how to see Jesus through the “Jesus lens” as you read the Old and New Testament’s.

(7) It will help you become less legalistic or irreligious. It will help you to understand God’s grace in such a way that you become a more gracious and balanced individual.

(8) It will help you see the big picture of the Bible. It’s kind of like putting a bunch of pieces together of a large puzzle without the picture. When you read through all the notes in this Bible you will see a beautiful tapestry of Christ – and that He was there all along. He longs for you to discover and bask in His grace.

(9) It will renew and excitement in you for Bible study – and not just to know more doctrine, but because you will find yourself becoming more like Jesus. It will help to transform your character as you are conforming to the image of Christ.

(10) It will help you to personally know God more intimately. You may fall in love with God for the first time, or may rekindle your love for Him. Because you will find in the notes how the message of the Bible and all of history, and meaning itself finds its culmination in a love relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

*I was provided with a Bible to read and review by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEW: TIM KELLER’S “THE MOTHER OF GOD”

An Exposition of the Annunciation of Christ

TMOG Keller

Book Review by David P. Craig

In this essay Dr. Tim Keller examines the announcement from the angel to Mary in Luke 1 that she would give birth to the long-awaited Messiah anticipated from the Old Testament. In the first half of the essay Keller demonstrates how the announcement about Jesus is totally different from any religious leader in history in that Jesus is God Himself incarnate, and He is also “the God who saves.”

Keller articulates that “the Christian gospel says that we are saved–changed forever–not by what we do, and not even by what Jesus says, but by what Jesus has done for us…Jesus is the way of salvation; he comes not just to show you how to live but to live the life you should have lived and even die the death you should have died for your sins. That is how he accomplishes the requirements of salvation in your place…Jesus’ claims are particularly unnerving, because if they are true there is no alternative but to bow the knee to him.”

In the second half of the essay Keller shows how Mary responds to the Gospel in four particular ways: (1) By using her own reason and logic at the announcement of the Gospel (with reference to the coming of the Messiah and why He is the Savior); (2) By being honest in her doubts about the announcement of her bearing the Messiah and bringing Him into the world (as a virgin); (3) By her completely surrendering to the truth of the pronouncement; and lastly (4) By her communion, or expressing her faith in community with Elizabeth.

In this delightful essay Keller demonstrates how Mary’s response to the gospel is what are response should be. We need to think logically about who Jesus was (and is) – God incarnate. We need to think about why He needed to come and save us (because of our alienation from the Father). We need to take our doubts seriously and yet honestly consider the evidence for His divine nature in His Person and work on our behalf (incarnation, perfect life, death, burial, and resurrection). We need to courageously commit to Him once we have reasoned that He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” And finally we must commune with other believers in the faith.

I highly recommend this book in that it will provide you with a deeper appreciation of how Mary’s faith can help you develop your own robust faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as you seek to go deeper in your understanding of, commitment to, and application of the gospel daily in the context of Christian fellowship with like-minded gospel saturated believers.

 

Book Review: Making the Best of a Bad Decision by Erwin Lutzer

 Encouragement and Hope For The Journey Ahead

Book Reviewed By David P. Craig

The subtitle of this book is “how to put your regrets behind you, embrace grace, and move toward a better life.” *Lutzer definitely does that, and much more in this very helpful book on how God’s sovereignty plays out in our lives, even when we sin, fail, make mistakes, and blow it every which way. The good news is that God works things out for our good even when we have messed things up pretty bad.

Using biblical examples like David, Moses, Paul, and numerous others, as well as numerous real life examples from his many years as a pastor, Lutzer shows time and time again that we can have a fresh start, a new hope, and be forgiven of our sins. Nothing we have done is too difficult for God to redeem through the shed blood of Christ, and in His sovereign plans.

Specifically, the author addresses bad decisions we have made in marriage, morally, financially, vocationally, and when we have hurt others. He gives biblical counsel for each of these poor decisions (most of us have and will make), and each chapter always has practical steps in how to deal with the past, the present, and gives much hope for the future. In the final two chapters he tackles how we can learn from our past and make wise decisions in the present and future. And lastly, he deals with the most important decision you can ever make – related to where you will spend your eternity.

The book also features a discussion guide for individual or group study. I highly recommend this book – especially for people who have ever said, or are saying things like: “My life is over;” I’ve sinned so much I could never be forgiven;” “I think I married the wrong person;” “I’m in debt up to my eyeballs, there is no way I can ever get out of this mess;” “I can never forgive ___________ for what they did to me;” “How can I ever repay ____________ back for how much I hurt them?” And any other question you have asked when you feel hopeless.

Lutzer’s book is easy to read, thorough, very applicable, and full of helpful biblical wisdom to help you get back on the right track – no matter where you got off! I believe that this book will help a lot of people recover, find redemption, and hope to help make the journey in the future a lot better than the past.

*Since 1980, Erwin W. Lutzer has served as senior pastor of the world-famous Moody Church in Chicago, where he provide leadership to Chicago pastors. Dr. Lutzer earned his B.Th. from Winnipeg Bible College, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, an M.A. in philosophy from Loyola University, an LL.D. from Simon Greenleaf School of Law, and a D.D. from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary.

ABOUT DR. ERWIN LUTZER

Dr. Lutzer is a featured radio speaker on the Moody Broadcasting Network and the author of numerous books, including The Vanishing Power of DeathCries from the Cross, the best-selling One Minute Before You Die and Hitler’s Cross, which received the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (EPCA) Gold Medallion Book Award. He speaks both nationally and internationally at Bible conferences and tours and has led tours of the cities of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

Dr. Lutzer and his wife, Rebecca, live in the Chicago area and are the parents of three grown children. (Courtesy of Multnomah Publishers)