Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Book Review - The Most Encouraing Book on Hell Ever (11/2)

I guess it’s fine to do without Hell right? No. That’s the main thesis of this book. How important is the doctrine of hell for a christian? Quite important it seems. Ramsey has great a done job defending for the biblical teaching of hell.

So why cant we do away with this seemingly bad ‘PR’ topic? Lots it seems. 4 main things are lost to christians (and even to non-christians) who do not believe in the reality of hell. I will do a short summary of each of the chapters in the book.

We lose the fear of God. If hell isn't real, then God doesn't really hate sin. And if He doesn’t, then why should i be save from sin?

We lose the holiness of God. Who have sinned truly offended? An truly infinitely holy God, take out hell and you lose this important character of God. Ramsey also helpful shows by as christians why we don’t just ‘hate the sin and love the sinner’ (you have to read the book for it!).

We lose the gospel of God. Is being a christian only about escaping hell? No! It’s much more than that. It shows how much God loved me despite of my sins and willingly sent his Son to die and resurrect for me. Take away hell, and there is  no necessity of having Christ alone as our saviour.

We lose the love of God.This part deals with the more modern ideas of why christians have to reject hell (e.g. Rob Bell’s book on hell). What they argue for is that the God who sends people to hell isn't convincing enough, they need a God of love, that will convince them. What they have forgotten is how thoroughly sinful we really are. If God had waited for us to response then save us, He is really that loving. But if God choses to saves us from sure destruction and while we will never turn to Him, that’s a truly loving God.

Lastly, an appendix to deal with annihilationism. Which is a short, good defence on why as Christians we should not believe in it. And a note to Pastors on how to preach hell to your congregation.

What i find was good about this book was how the argument clearly showed the foolishness and danger in believing that Christians can actually remove hell and still have the essentials of the Gospel intact. Ramsey shows that that is impossible. It was akin to how Machen showed that Liberalism was not even remotely close to Christianity, and what they doctrines really meant.

One criticism about of the book was how Ramsey started the first one of two chapters rather causally, too causal i would suppose. I remember thinking that i would have changed some of them in a manner that would have brought out the seriousness of why Christian must believe in the doctrine of hell. Thankfully, that was the only time i had that thought, the rest of the book was great to read, engaging and maintain a seriousness to it’s tone without sound like a boring lecture.

This is a great book for all christians to read, i doubt many would have thought about how important hell is to the christian faith. After reading this, i doubt you would ever think in that same way ever.

Rating: 4.75/5

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Book Review - The Gospel at Work (2/1)

How does the gospel affect my daily life, especially in my work? How should a christian view his/her work or choose what work to do? This is what this book offers to all Christians, for those who have been working for some time or those who would start work soon.

The book first tackles 2 issues that is related to our work, idolatry and idleness, this chapter would be most apt for those who are already working, but this 2 chapters also serves as a great warning for those who will work in the future, neither idolise your work nor idle at your work. Different examples of idolatry and idleness was given in their respective chapters and I felt that it was comprehensive enough to cover almost all aspects a christian would face in a workplace. Most likely, anyone of us would likely identify with one or a few of the examples raised.

The authors then teaches how we should view and serve at our workplace, using many biblical principles the authors seeks to present especially Colossians 3:22-24 and what it means daily for us in our workplace.

For those who are looking for a job, or for those who are thinking of changing your job, the next section would be especially helpful. The authors shows several principles on how to know what work to choose. The chapter explains what the three ‘must-haves’ in the job are, and what the 3 ‘good-to-haves’ are in the job. This chapter goes across the grain of our social where what I like to do is under the ‘good-to-have’, instead of the ‘must-haves’.

The next section then deals with an important aspect of how we can balance our life, work and service? The authors used a simple yet helpful principle to balance all these, “pursue faithfulness, then fruitfulness, but not idolatry”.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Book Review - The Two Fears (30/1)

Everyone fears, the question is who or what do we fear? Jesus puts it as explicitly as he can when he says ‘And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.’ (Matthew 10:28) And this is what The Two Fears seeks to do.

First, it explains what fear is, ‘To fear something is to give credence to its power over you’. Which is i think a better explanation of fear as compared to how Christian normally explains that fear of God is not like your fear of spider. This definition works well in both kind of fears.

After defining it, it then moves to explain why we must fear God. Mainly explaining about the characteristics of God, most importantly, His Otherness (set apart-ness), i.e. His Holiness. After explain who God is, Poblete then explains what God does (or will do), namely judge all sinners.

Which then moves to the next motivation of our fear as Christians, we fear God not because of punishment, but because we are saved by the Son, we fear out of a grateful heart, this is what Poblete calls Holy Fear. Which he then moves on to explain what benefits we as Christians can have as we cultivate such holy fear.

Next, he explains the unholy fear, which is directly opposite of holy fear. The consequences of unholy fear is then examined. I personally thought that this chapter was the most well written since it really can show the heart of a person who shows unholy fear in his life.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Book Review - Doing Doing Archaeology in the Land of the Bible (20/1)

Sorry, I know I've been absent for quite some time, but more reviews will appear soon! So do continue follow with this blog.

John Currid has done a valuable work in his book “Doing Archaeology in the Land of the Bible.  I’m sure as Christian you’ve probably heard many times about how certain sites were dug up and shows how accurate the bible is, that is of course a heart warming discovery, but how does one actually to know where to dig, and how to dig? Why aren’t there much more startlingly archaeological finds?
This is the first of such book that I’ve read and found that it was especially helpful for this book to be written in such a non-technical laymen way.  In this thin book (approx. 120 pg), Currid does a great job giving a brief overview of the subject, along with a brief history of the growth and improvement in archaeology.

Thereafter, he has specific chapters to explain technical terms that are used in archaeology and highlights the many problems an archaeologist faces in the field, such as decided/knowing where to start digging, how do you date the items you have found, what can you tell from the soil patterns you see while digging. It does bring with it many interesting facts and finding that you might not expect from such a dry looking topic.

Pictures and diagrams are also located within the book to help the reader visualise what the author is describing, and these pictures are certainly helpful when you are lost at what the author is trying to describe. However if this book goes for a second printing or revision, some of these pictures could be a little more recent (however, I do understand that even to include pictures in the book already adds to their costs considerable, so thanks for the publisher for making these pictures available, without them this book wouldn’t have been as useful as it was)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

News from Around the World (14/11)

What That Empty Seat Says - We’ve all done it. We shuffle down a row of chairs and, just before we arrive at a person, we stop one chair short. We leave an empty seat between us and the other person, secretly hoping an usher won’t ask us to “scoot in.” What does that empty seat say? Why are we compelled to leave that “safe seat” between us and others?

Free to Say We'veSinned - When you hide your sin, pretending to be a perfect Christian, you’re actually telling the world that God is a liar. Did Jesus, or did Jesus not, need to suffer and die for your present sins? When you feign perfection, you’re saying you didn’t need Him to do this for you.

A Few Practical Lessons from the Puritans - Some practical helps from the puritans on preaching, catechizing, preserving and pride.

Defining the “Gospel” in a Gospel-Centered Theology - Here are the six key things that Bird thinks are essential for understanding the gospel (pp. 47-52). And it’s in sections like this that Bird’s strengths as a biblical theologian really come to the forefront.

Dangerous ideas - If Christ Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again, everything changes. It is the most dangerous idea. The people who ought to be most clear about this, by what we say and how we live, are true believers.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

News from Around the World (13/11)

Paul and the Faithfulness of God - D. J. Moo's review of N. T. Wright's book.


Truth Remains - Check out this post that provides a link to 4 short clips on the history of the 4 great English Bible.

Is John Piper Really Reformed? - Do I think TULIP is the essence of Calvinism? No. Do I wish many who think of themselves as “Reformed” would go a lot farther back and dig a lot deeper down? Yes. But does it bother me that people think of Piper, Mohler, and Dever as Reformed? Not at all. 

Buddy, can you spare a dime? - It seems to me that many of us work in churches where we as ministers are among those most protected from the harsh realities and dangers of life in a post-Christian world.   So we should not flatter ourselves about how hard and dangerous our calling is.

Should every church be multiethnic? - I meet pastors all the time who insist that their homogenous church simply reflects the homogeneity of their community. However, when they examine their community’s census data, they discover that there are significant numbers of diverse people all around them.
Five Truths About Christian Suffering - But just because we experience suffering as we await the redemption of our bodies, it doesn’t mean that our suffering is random or without purpose. And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now. Here are five important biblical truths about suffering every Christian should have ready

Walking with God in Everyday Life - The Bible says that “the Lord was with” Abraham, Joseph, David, and Hezekiah. We’re also told that Enoch and Noah “walked with God.” These are two sides of the one coin, two perspectives on the same experience of God’s special presence with His people.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

News from Around the World (12/11)

Loving Something Too Much - It is in the context of him writing on the temptation to suicide but it's been very helpful indeed in thinking about what am I loving too much - wife, children, ministry. It's all too easy to idolise them.

Jesus and My Complicated Relationship With the Psalms - If the Psalms begin to feel confusing read them through the lens of Christ. Read them as if Christ himself were speaking them. Jesus is the key to unlocking the Psalms. He shines light upon all the dark and confusing places. He is the reigning king who shares his righteousness with those who don’t deserve it.

Why You Shouldn’t Turn Homework in Late - Grade impact should certainly be part of the equation when you’re faced with this situation. But it’s not the only one. I’d like to suggest a couple of other reasons to think twice before handing that assignment in late, reasons that may not immediately come to mind when you’re trying to decide if seeing Catching Fire on opening night is worth a little academic slippage.

4 Reasons to Teach the Bible’s Storyline - What’s the big deal? Why is it so important for Christians to be able to connect the dots of the Bible’s grand narrative? Here are four reasons.

Why We Still Read C.S. Lewis 50 Years After His Death - Some reason by John Piper.

The 5 D's of a Good Meeting - As many of the people I work with know, I am not a fan of long meetings. Generally, they drain me of my energy as we swirl around and around an issue. So, I’ve started thinking about how I can better hold a good meeting. Here are five ideas.

How Systematic Theology Can Energize and Enrich Your Preaching.

Kindle Deal (12/11)

Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives (FREE)

Change that goes deeper than the surface of our lives happens as we daily remember the truths of the gospel. Every day we need to be reminded that Jesus, God’s own Son, came to this world to save us from sin, sorrow, and death. We need to remember every day how Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return change the way we view ourselves and others. This devotional will be a daily reminder of these life-changing truths.

The 366 selections, anchored in Scripture and saturated with the gospel, will help the reader to:

  • Learn how God in his Word addresses a host of life situations
  • Focus on how the gospel intersects with life
  • Look beyond circumstances to God’s purposes
  • See how God values relationship and to learn to value it too by persisting, by speaking truth in love, and by not shying away from conflict
  • Grow in wisdom when confronted by life’s changes.
  • Learn that God works change that is effective and visible.
Topics covered in the devotional include: love, hope, grace, redemption, faith, contentment, conflict, relationships, prayer, fear, patience, humility, and anger.