My Current Reading List

I have the habit of reading several books at once. I don’t know if this is good for me or not. On the positive side, it keeps me thinking about a wide variety of topics all at the same time. On the other hand, it takes me forever to finish a book, and when I’m finished, I sometimes have a hard time keeping everything straight.

I thought I’d take the opportunity with this Midweek Message to share the books that I’m currently reading, with a brief synopsis and an encouragement for you to keep reading.

kingThe King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Baker Academic) by Thomas Schreiner.  Biblical Theology studies the unifying themes of the Bible in their own historical setting, in its own terms, and forms; learning who God is and what God is doing through the ongoing story of Scripture. I have just started The King In His Beauty, but already I am loving the study of Scripture and the emerging themes that will unfold through the rest of the book. It’s almost ike reading a commentary that was written in story form.

baxterWalking with God (GLH Publishing) by Richard Baxter. I try to always have an old pastoral book on my reading list to keep me well rounded, and Baxter is one of my favorites. Baxter was an English Puritan of the 17th century (i.e., Presbyterian), a theologian and pastor most noted for his book, The Reformed Pastor. Reading the Puritans is not always easy, they love to make lists (and lists within lists), and they exhaust a topic before moving on to the next, so you really have to commit to ploughing through the reading. But the treasure is worth he work. “Walking with God” studies what it means to be in communion with God and to love him above everything else. Baxter’s work is challenging, but encouraging all the while.

elderFinding Faithful Elders and Deacons (Crossway), by Thabiti Anyabwile. It’s that time of the year again when we as a church prayerfully consider nominating men to serve as Deacons and Elders. This is not light work, and I’ve been studying and praying, not just about who should serve, but how I can work to develop discipling relationships to help identify and train future leaders in the church. Anyabwile’s book is a quick read, but incredibly informative and practical.

The Wholwholee Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (Crossway), by Sinclair Ferguson. Admittedly, when I bought this book for a reading group I’m in, I had never heard of the Marrow Controversy, but I love Sinclair Ferguson, and I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve read of his. The Whole Christ included. Recounting the Marrow Controversy of the 8th Century Church of Scotland which was essentially a divide over Legalism, Antinomianism, and the proper relationship between God’s grace and our works, Ferguson shows us that the antidote to the poison of legalism on the one hand and antinomianism on the other is one and the same: the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ, in whom we are simultaneously justified by faith, freed for good works, and assured of salvation.

nameName above all Names (Crossway), by Sinclair Ferguson and Alistair Begg. I picked this one up because I wanted to read something that wasn’t necessarily a theological study of Christ, but a biblical study on who Christ is and what He has one. Name above all Names is a reflection on 7 key qualities of Jesus’ identity and ministry, offering a meditation on the character of Christ. In case you didn’t notice, it’s another book by Sinclair Ferguson, with my second favorite scotsman preacher, Alistair Begg as well.

Studies on Daniel – As I am preaching through the book of Daniel for the next couple of months, I’m also reading a couple of commentaries on Daniel which I thought I’d mention here:

daneilPreaching Christ from Daniel (Eerdmans) by Sidney Greidanus. – In Preaching Christ from Daniel Sidney Greidanus shows preachers and teachers how to prepare expository messages from the six narratives and four visions in the book of Daniel. Using the most up-to-date biblical scholarship, Greidanus addresses foundational issues such as the date of composition, the author(s) and original audience of the book, its overall message and goal, and various ways of preaching Christ from Daniel. Throughout his book Greidanus puts front and center God’s sovereignty, providence, and coming kingdom. (from the website)

chapellThe Gospel According to Daniel (Baker) by Bryan Chapell. (From the cover) Often we read the book of Daniel in one of two ways – either as a book about a heroic man whose righteousness should inspire us to keep the faith, or as a roadmap to the end times that can, through careful study, tell us the day and hour (or nearly so) of Christ’s return. Both, says Bryan Chapell, are sadly missing the bigger picture – that God is the hero of the story, and he is in the midst of his unrelenting plan to rescue his people from their sin and its consequences. Pastors, teachers, and any Christian who wants to learn how to faithfully understand the book of Daniel without getting derailed by hero worship or prophetic mystery will value this grace-centered approach.

boiceDaniel: An Expositional Commentary (Baker), by James Boice. Boice was the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Philadelphia, and his sermons were heard around the world on The Bible Hour. His commentaries give a verse by verse study of the text, and help apply the text to the readers experience. Reading Boice’s commentary is like reading his sermons, and it has been very encouraging as I approach the difficult task of preaching through Daniel.

Killing My Old Man

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
(Romans 6:11)

The past couple of weeks I have written on the theme of “Killing Sin.”  I have more to write on that, but I thought I would first take a step back and give a little thought to the language here.

Is it acceptable to use terms like “killing sin,” or “putting sin to death?”  One might object to that kind of harsh, brutal language.  I mean, it doesn’t sound very Christian, does it?  Wouldn’t it be more appropriate, more polite to say things like, “pursuing the potential of good within,” “accentuating the positive,” or even, “Let go of yesterday. Let today be a new beginning and be the best that you can, and you’ll get to where God wants you to be.”  That certainly sounds a whole lot nicer than, “killing my old man” (thank you Petra).

The thing is, such polite platitudes fail to recognize the pervasive power of sin and how far that sin has permeated into our lives (phew, that’s a lot of “p’s”).  Sin is not just something we do, it is a power over us, enslaving us, which, if left untouched, will destroy us, rob us of the joy of salvation, and even call into question our very assurance.  Think about it, when we choose sin over righteousness, when we choose not to engage in warfare against sin’s hold on our hearts, then that sin is more attractive, more desirable, more of our hearts desire, than Jesus, the lover of our souls.

We must be in the business of mortifying, killing, sin.  This is what Paul is saying in Romans 6:

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life… For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The mandate, the instruction, to mortify sin does not come as a way for you to finally “get right with God,” or “live into your full potential.”  No, the call to die to sin is based in the reality of your established identity in Christ.  If you have been baptized into Christ, that is, if by faith you have come to Christ for salvation and His word has washed you clean, then you are, in fact, dead to sin and alive to God.  The power of sin is broken, your life is hidden in the risen, righteous life of Christ.  You have been crucified, buried, and raised with Christ – this is your identity.

In Christ, sin no longer defines you, no longer rules over you, no longer determines your position.  Since you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above (Col 3:1).  Put off the old self, take on the new (Rom 13:12; Eph 4:22; Col 2:11, 3:9).

To walk with Christ and continue in sin is cognitive dissonance, an identity crisis to the nth degree.  You cannot feed a passion for Christ and also nurse a grudge.  You cannot proclaim the truth and spread a lie.  You cannot build one another up while also passing along rumors and gossip.  You cannot enjoy the fellowship of Christ and despise those who sit across the aisle from you.

At the Pastor’s Conference I attended last week, Sinclair Ferguson said, “Much of pastoral ministry is simply reminded people who they are in Christ, again and again.”  Remember your life is hidden in Christ Jesus, the one who died for our sins and who was raised for our justification.  He is risen, mighty over sin and death; and through faith, so are you.

Now, get busy killing sin!