A Theology of Mark’s Gospel: Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God (Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series) (4/4)

The gospel of Mark may be the shortest gospel, but you will not believe how much one is able to discover and understand from the gospel of Mark.

A Theology of Mark's Gospel: Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God (Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series)David E. Garland has written a definitive book on the theology of the gospel of Mark. Garland starts with an elaborate introduction to the gospel of Mark. He covers the historical framework of the theology of Mark and also the literary nature of Mark’s gospel. This introduction takes close to 25% of the book and will be a value resource for anyone doing research on the book of Mark.

For the rest of the book, Garland then traces different themes through the gospel of Mark. This will be a section that pastors will find helpful as they preach through Mark. Pastor who are interested to showcase a certain topic within the gospel of Mark will find this section especially helpful. I especially like the chapter where Garland covers the secrecy motif in the gospel of Mark. I must say this is one of the questions I always have when reading through the gospels, why Jesus do not want some to proclaim his identity to the masses. I found Garland especially enlightening in this area and have been helped by his in-depth research on the gospel of Mark.

This book is certainly not a walk in the park, and most will probably not buy a copy of this book. But if you are currently researching on the gospel of Mark, or intends to do serious research work on the gospel of Mark you really should consider this book. You will be able to find many gems and treasures within this book. Garland has published a great reference material on the gospel of Mark that will benefit many in the years to come.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Review – Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told (7/1)

The teachings of Jesus that people remember most often are either the sermon on the mount or the parables that he has taught. Parables leaves a lasting impressions on those who listens to them, especially when they are used to shock the listeners.

Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus ToldIn this book, John Macarthur wants to help christians understand the parables of Jesus correctly. He starts the book by explaining why Jesus teaches using the parable. He debunks some of the wrong teachings that other have proposed and he brings readers to consider what the bible have to say about why Jesus taught using parables.

Having done that, Macarthur then moves on to explain 10 parables to the readers. Macarthur is careful to interpret the understanding of the parable within the context of the passage. This is one clear strength of the book. Macarthur leads readers not just to the parable itself, but also to the parables that precede and proceed from the parable. Because Macarthur tries to be faithful to the understand the parable from the text, the meaning of the parable flows naturally. It does not sounds weird or abrupt  when linked with the passages that comes before or after it.

One clear strength of the book is how Macarthur is able to explain the parables in a way that is easily understandable. He does not use any technical terms and ensures that his explanation actually helps readers gain a clearer understanding. Readers will be able to learn much from Macarthur and will find this book helpful in understanding parables.

Rating: 4 / 5

If you’re interested, you can get it here and here (free international shipping), kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

P.S. For those who wants a more exhaustive recommendation, try Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus, get it here and here (free international shipping).

Book Review – New Morning Mercies (31/10)

Are you reminded of your need for the gospel everyday? Frankly, for most of us, the answer is we’re not. This amnesia of ours is so bad even after we know the importance of the gospel, we somehow forget all about it again. So what can we do about it?New Morning Mercies

The first step would be to get this devotion and use it. Paul Tripp has done an excellent job in this book by helping christians, young and old, to see how we need the gospel each and everyday. There is one reading every day for the whole day, and everyday as you read each devotion, you begin to see firstly how the bible is real to your life and secondly, you begin to see how the gospel can be applied in your lives.

In this devotion, Tripp does this day in, day out. Sometimes as evangelicals, we may see the gospel very narrowly — as a way to be saved from our sins. Tripp does not repeat such mistakes, instead Tripp shows how in every moment of our lives, we need, desperately need the gospel.

No doubt, for some readers, they might find the mediations too brief. However. the author is not at fault for this, for these readers, they are encouraged to read ‘A Shelter in the Time of Storm’ and ‘Whiter Than Snow’ by the same author who showed deep meditation on specific passages.

One suggestion for future addition would be to include not just scripture index, but also a topic index. This may be one of the resources one would want to refer to in different situations, not having a topic index will not be helpful in this endeavour.

This is a highly recommended devotional since there is far too little devotional material that shows us how to apply all the word of God in all areas of our lives and at the same time reminds us of the goodness of the gospel.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re interested you can get it here and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review – The Gospel (12/10)

Far too often, christians forgets the gospel is also for them as much as it is for their non-christians counterpart. Too often Christians become bored with the gospel, the gospel no longer thrill us, excites us or awes us. Ray Ortlund has written to remedy the situation, he wants readers to be thrilled again by the beauty of Jesus.The Gospel

First Ortlund reminds the readers the most important news they should know — that the gospel is for them! Ortlund then highlights that it is only by knowing the gospel doctrines then, and only then can we have a gospel culture. Both are necessary and either can do without each other, but with both of them comes power. Ortlund then re-tells the gospel to the readers so that they will hear again the gospel.  Next Ortlund reminds the readers that the gospel is for the church — the body of believers in Christ, not just for individuals. He shows the readers that christianity is never meant for just individuals, but always for the community of believers.

Next, Ortlund shows the readers that the gospel is ultimately for everyone, for those who are within the church and those without. It is the only way of salvation for the world. Ortlund shows us that when Jesus is on world, he shows us the preview, the preview of what life will be like in the future. And that is where we are going, if we trust in the gospel.

Ortlund then moves to show how it is sometimes difficult for us to believe in the gospel, not only so, it is also difficult have cultures shaped by the gospel. Furthermore, sometimes the prevalent culture is already anti-gospel. He directs readers to think critically about our own culture, because sometimes our culture “denies” the gospel by not showing forth what the gospel entails.

Following which, Ortlund then calls the churches to expect to have fruitful seasons as we bring the gospel to people around us, we would definitely reap some fruit, however, we will also face opposition. Just like Jesus and Paul, whenever they goes there are those who are thankfully for the news they brings, and some are hatefully towards the message they bring. As disciples, we shouldn’t expect to receive any less.

Lastly, Ortlund ends by exhorting the churches to be reminded that with the gospel comes 3 things: power, courage and love. It is the gospel that will accomplish God’s work, we must trust, and grow in it. Nothing else must replace or substitute it.

As I read this book, this book has helped me grown to love the gospel and also to think critically about my culture. Thinking practically about how the gospel shapes my life, my church and my culture. Highly recommend if you want to grow in the understanding of the gospel, and also in how you can think practically about the gospel in your life.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re interested you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Book Review – Loving Jesus More (30/9)

I don’t know about you, but as a christian growing up, I often wrestle with the questions of why I’m unable to love God more? Why is my love for Him so lacking? Why aren’t I growing as much as I hope to in my love for Jesus? If you’re like me, then this book is for you and for me.Loving Jesus More

In a series of 9 sermons, Phil Ryken takes the readers through various aspects of what a christians need to know and understand so that we can grow to love Jesus our Saviour more. Phil first takes the readers to the source of love, both our love towards God and more importantly, His love towards us. Phil then rakes the readers through many struggles a christian might face in the journey of being a christians. I felt that as i read, many of the sermons addresses real needs and questions for myself and for other christians and he always directs and reminds us of the love Christ has for us.

This book is also written very pastorally, Phil shows what is written in God’s word fearlessly and tells the readers to struggle alongside with him, he does not need or want to act as if he has reached sinless perfection. Although Phil is the president of Wheaton College, yet he is too is in the trenches with us, struggling and wanting to love Jesus more.

If you find yourself struggling or lax in your love for Christ, read this, be encouraged and I believe you’ll walk away wanting to love Jesus more. I foresee myself turning to this book time and again in the future, just to be encouraged to love Jesus more and more.

Rating: 4.25/5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. (I’ve also bought a personal copy)

Book Review – Recovering Redemption (12/9)

Although on the outside this particular book might not look very impressive, you really ought NOT to judge this book by it’s cover. It has been a long time since I’ve read such a book that has been so clear on the gospel and also on the need for repentance.

Recovering RedemptionMatt Chandler and Michael Snetzer has written such a book that really helps the reader to see their need for the gospel, their need for sanctification and the need to fight for joy in the christian life. Chandler and Snetzer first gives starts at creation and the fall, then they move on to 4 different ways many have tried to salvage the situation and shows plainly why they ultimately fails, then they move on to the one who can solve this situation — Jesus.

The following chapters that follows really are a discipling process where several doctrines are taught and practical issues in the christian lives are considered and discussed. Many of them had very good examples that really brings out what the doctrine mean (I especially liked the illustration the used on sanctification). Practically, the authors also dealt issues like guilt, anxiety, fear, reconciling, forgiving, etc… and were all taught biblically and practically.

After I read this book, I can’t help but think of how I can recommend others to read this book. It’s really a great book. My only complain would be a lack of discussion questions. Although the contents of the book is really excellent, one wonders if those who are not as exciting about their faith would even bother to read it unless someone else was encouraging and discussion with them about what they have learnt. No doubt, it could be argued that everyone with such a burden would have thought about their own discussion questions on their own. Yet, I do think the book would be better served if the readers discusses about what they had learned in each chapters.

This book, I think will be a classical in the future, for it’s practicality and also the faithfulness of biblical teaching. I would recommend anyone who wants to really know about their christian faith or wants to grow in them to read this book.

Rating: 5 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Here’s a video trailer for the book.

Book Review – Hidden in the Gospel (7/9)

Gospel, it’s something no one can have enough of. But many a times Christians lived as if we do not need the gospel, or we’ve somehow outgrown our need for it. It’s often heard that the non-christians need to gospel, but when was the last time you heard a sermon on how much we as christians still need the gospel?

Hidden in the GospelIn this book, William Farley writes especially for christians, to remind us of our deep and desperate need for the gospel each and everyday. This book is really a mini-systematic theology on soteriology, but a lot less intimidating and a lot more winsome.

Farley first concentrates on the importance of the need for christians to be preaching the gospel to themselves each and everyday. We often need to be reminded of the marvellous gospel of what God has done for us, through Christ Jesus. Failing to do that, we will be swayed away by our situations, our thoughts or our feelings. We moved from being God-centered, to me-centered. Salvation becomes how am I performing, rather than what Christ has performed.

Farley then moves systematically, from election to incarnation, death, resurrection and accession of Christ. Then ends off with Christ’s return and the new heavens and earth. This is really a good book especially for those who are reformed, too many a times, in the pursuit of correct doctrine, we at a loss of their applicational purposes. Farley remedies it by showing the readers how each and every doctrine is comforting for christians. There is even example prayers at the end of each and every chapter to help the reader be able to visualise what all these doctrine mean for us.

This would be a great introduction to the christian faith, for those who are young and old. However, I would recommend going through the book together if the reader is younger, as the person might see the influx of these doctrines as overpowering. For the young, it introduces some very good doctrine, in an easy to understand manner. For the old, it will help us be thrilled with the gospel again. It has been a good reminder, and I anticipate myself reading this every 1 or 2 years. I certainly need this reminder always.

I felt that it would be even better if there was a specific chapter on sanctification, and/or on mortification of sin/repentance. It’s not that these are not talked about in the book, but maybe a specific chapter on these 2 topics would make this great book even better. Certainly recommended for Christians young and old, be prepared to be thrilled and grateful for what God has done for terrible sinners like us, because of His great love, mercy and grace for us. Soli Deo Gloria!

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.