Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review: How Should We Develop Biblical Friendship?

How Should We Develop Biblical Friendship? by Joel Beeke and Michael Haykin is part of the 12-booklet Cultivating Biblical Godliness series published by Reformation Heritage Books.  This booklet is short at just 46 pages and looks at the Christian duty to develop biblical friendships.

I found this book to be very encouraging as I find myself in a new church home.  The authors not only look at the art of building godly friendships, but also give practical steps toward deepening those friendships.  In addition, they remind the Christian that "[a]s you strive to be a friend, you must recognize the mystery of how friendships come to pass.  You cannot make someone be your faithful friend.  God is Lord of friendship," (p. 22).

I recommend How Should We Develop Biblical Friendship? for all Christians.  True biblical friendship is difficult to find in the frenzy of activities in most local churches.  Truly close friends are few and far between, so cultivation of that true friendship is important.  Beeke & Haykin quote Esther Edwards Burr to show the importance of the relationships we have here on earth: "True friendship is first enkindled by a spark from heaven, and heaven will never suffer it to go out, but it will burn to all eternity," (p. 11).

"Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind," (Phil. 2:2).

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book Review: What Does It Mean To Love God?

What Does It Mean To Love God? by Maurice Roberts is part of the 12-booklet Cultivating Biblical Godliness series published by Reformation Heritage Books.  This booklet is very short at just 19 pages and looks at the Christian duty to love God above all others.  Mr. Roberts exhorts his readers to "take steps to impress upon our minds the seriousness of our duty to love God," (p. 2).

The author writes about the nature of love to God, the evidence of love for God in our lives, the importance of love to God as a Christian duty, and the expression of our love to God in our own day.  Given the Easy Believism mindset (a belief that salvation is based on praying a prayer without evidence of a changed life) which is prevalent in the evangelical church today, it is natural for a false professor to believe that he loves God.  To love God is a duty of all mankind, but the unregenerate live at enmity with God and cannot be subject to the law of God (Rom. 8:7).  Therefore, I am very surprised that Mr. Roberts assumes a Christian reader and does not give a clear Gospel presentation.

Mr. Roberts states that "everyone who loves God desires to evangelize and spread the gospel to those who are lost," (p. 7).  He prods the reader that if he professes to love God, then he will "find some way of telling our lost family members and friends what they need and how God has promised salvation in His gospel for all who believe in Jesus," (p. 9).  This is a very incomplete picture of the glorious Gospel found in the Word of God.  This booklet seems to geared for the immature believer, but at the same time, it presumes proper biblical understanding and/or articulation that the immature believer may not have.

What Does It Mean To Love God? is a very brief overview of the Christian's duty to love God without any recommendations for further study.  Therefore, I recommend it for the new believer; but given the brevity of this book, it's really not worth the cost.  

"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets," (Matt. 22:35-40).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Book Review: How Should Teens Read the Bible?

How Should Teens Read the Bible? by Joel Beeke is part of the 12-booklet Cultivating Biblical Godliness series published by Reformation Heritage Books.  This booklet is very short at just 27 pages and looks at the importance of daily reading of  God's Word.  The writing style of this book is definitely geared toward a younger audience.

I appreciated Mr. Beeke's reminder that "[i]f reading the Bible doesn't bring you into communion with God, then it's a failure," (p. 8).  He also stresses the need to pray before Bible reading and poses the following rhetorical question: "If we pray for nourishment from our physical food at every meal, shouldn't we pray much more for spiritual nourishment from very Bible reading?" (p. 15).

When considering practical helps for Bible reading, Mr. Beeke emphasizes the importance for daily Bible reading and Bible memorization.  These are profitable habits for all Christians, but it is extremely helpful to instill them at a young age.

As a proponent of the Traditional Text, I am surprised that Mr. Beeke did not recommend reading the King James Bible.  Unfortunately, he was silent on this important issue and missed an opportunity to influence a younger generation in the subject of Bible translations.  Since there are so many Bibles to choose from, I think his guidance would have been readily heeded by those who have not settled on a particular version.

When discussing the joy of Bible reading, Mr. Beeke contends that "[r]eading the Bible will not save you.  In fact, reading the Bible won't change the way God looks at you at all.  If you are an unbeliever, reading your Bible, in itself will get you no closer to God...And if you are a believer, reading the Bible will not make you any more acceptable or pleasing in God's sight...The difference between a believer and unbeliever is Jesus Christ; it's grace, and nothing else," (pp. 22-23).  I agree that the act of reading the Bible just for the sake of reading it may not save someone; but it might because the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God.  The Apostle Paul tells us that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," (Rom. 10:17).  It's dangerous to be so dogmatic about what will and won't save a person.  In addition, the author missed a perfect opportunity to present the Gospel for the unbeliever who might be reading his book.

Overall, I thought the practical helps and guidelines given by Mr. Beeke to encourage teens to read the Bible were helpful.  Therefore, I would recommend reading How Should Teens Read the Bible? to teenagers and young adults who are new to the Christian faith.

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth," (John 17:17).

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Review: How Should Men Lead Their Families?

How Should Men Lead Their Families? by Joel Beeke is part of the 12-booklet Cultivating Biblical Godliness series published by Reformation Heritage Books.  This booklet is very short at just 29 pages and looks at how a husband and father is to reflect all three aspects of Christ's office-bearing to his family in his home.

Mr. Beeke gives detailed practical, biblical advice so that Christian men can effectively lead their families as a prophet, priest, and king in their homes.  This information will help Christian families reflect upon the values and roles found in the Word of God rather than the world.  I highly recommend it for all true believers of Christ.  As a mom of three teenage boys, I will encourage my sons to read it, and I plan to incorporate this information into our daily conversations; especially as they move into their young adult years and contemplate marriage.

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it...And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," (Eph. 5:25, 6:4).