Richard E Powell
Senior Pastor • Fort Caroline Baptist Church
- Readers will be blessed by the author's high view of Scripture and commitment to a biblical theology of Christ's redemption. Chapell makes a compelling case that expository preaching is the most fruitful way of proclaiming the truths of Scripture. He is correct in his contention that biblical authority has been eroded in the minds of modern people and that much preaching merely exhorts people to try harder in their efforts to please God. The result of weak preaching is a man-centered theology that reduces God to a self-help guru. Thus, Chapell centers his book on the ideas of authority and redemption (p. 18). The authority of God's Word is revealed and the call to God's saving and sustaining grace is presented through expository preaching. He contends that every passage in some way points to man's fallen condition and Christ's redemption. Chapell is correct to note that not every text is explicitly centered on the cross, but that the grace is God revealed in the cross can be applied to every situation of life. Another benefit to readers of this work is that Chapell offers chapter review questions, and practical instructions and exercises for crafting Christ-centered sermons.
- Heisler is to be commended for addressing this most important topic. By doing so he disabuses preachers of the notion that crafting sermons is a merely mechanical exercise. While most preachers would deny that they approach sermon preparation as simply an academic exercise, our actions often say otherwise. Preachers can become so focused on the methods of expository sermon development that we fail to utterly cast ourselves upon the Spirit for His power and anointing. Whether it is in sermon preparation or delivery the Spirit plays a vital role in true Christ-honoring preaching. Heisler writes with a winsome style. He captures the reader's attention through compelling arguments, biblical evidence, and appropriate illustrations. The most beneficial contribution of Heisler's work is chapter six on "The Spirit and the Preacher's Sanctification." Here the author reminds us that God is not only concerned with the message, He is also concerned with the messenger. God requires that His preachers be holy and a fit vessel for the task to which He has called them. In a day in which many preachers are flirting with worldliness in the name of cultural relevance, Heisler issues a convicting warning that "Spirit-empowered preaching is preaching out of the overflow of the heart" (p. 81).
- In a day of skepticism where the historicity of Jesus and the Gospel records are being called into doubt, Bock’s work is a welcomed voice of expertise, balance, and reason. The author shows that there are valid ways of assessing the sources of knowledge concerning Jesus that uphold the reliability of the biblical record. In the era of the Jesus Seminar this is vitally important. Many people hear the outrageous claims of this group and others of their ilk without understanding their philosophical biases or their research methods. Their conclusions that seek to undermine confidence in the historical reliability of the Gospel records and that disfigure the biblical portrait of Jesus may sound compelling to one untrained in biblical research methods. It is here that "Studying the Historical Jesus" proves its value. Bock has supplied beginning students of the Gospels with a helpful overview of the techniques and tools available for the pursuit of discovering the historical Jesus. He couples this with a demonstration of each method’s strengths, and limitations. He skillfully interacts with the different expressions of the critical method, showing that one need not shy away from these tools when thoughtfully used. He aims to help the student understand the world into which Jesus came and the ways the Gospels came to us (p. 214-15). Bock does more than demonstrate that the historical Jesus is the same as the Jesus of faith; he shows the student how to come to this reasoned and studious conclusion for himself. This book is both a response to the critics who deny the congruity between the Jesus of history and the Jesus of the Gospels as well as a primer for students who want to evaluate the evidence for themselves. There is no doubt that Bock holds a high view of the Scriptures and wants to aid the Gospel student to have confidence in them. Knowledge of these methods will aid the student as he interacts with the biblical sources. Awareness will also prove invaluable as he interacts with technical commentaries on the Scriptures enabling him to grasp the methods and biases of the scholar. As one reads this book he gains an awareness of the debates and methods used by scholars in attempts to discover the historical Jesus, thus arming himself with a basis upon which to evaluate the conclusions. One of the most helpful aspects of Bock’s work is the wealth of information provided to the Bible student concerning the biblical background and culture of Jesus’ day, especially the chapters on the basic chronology of Jesus’ life, the political and sociocultural history that shaped Jesus’ world. The author’s analysis of the cultural context of Jesus helps the student appreciate the differences between Jesus’ culture and our own. This information proves invaluable to one who aspires to accurately interpret Scripture. To be a good expositor of the Gospels one must first be a skilled exegete of Scripture. Bock supports this pursuit by clarifying the cultural setting of the Gospels and the life and ministry of Jesus. Armed with this knowledge the Bible teacher or preacher can accurately interpret the biblical narratives and communicate the original meaning to a modern audience. The insight contained in this section alone makes this book deserving of a place in every preacher’s library.
- Schreiner and Wright are to be commended for setting forth a contemporary restatement of the biblical doctrine of baptism. Their work is based upon a high view of Scripture that takes into consideration the full scope of God’s revelation and church history. In a day in which many believers either downplay the importance of baptism, refuse to be baptized, call it a minor issue, or argue over the proper mode of baptism, this book is a welcomed voice. It will be a helpful resource to anyone, especially church leaders, who wish to recover or maintain a proper view of the role of baptism in the Christian life and in the church. "Believer’s Baptism" will also serve as a good tool for those who wish to defend the doctrine of believer’s baptism by immersion. It is helpful to have such a thoughtful, biblical, and scholarly work to which to refer when addressing this debate with others. While the authors reject the practice of paedobaptism, they do so only after carefully and accurately considering the paedobaptist’s position. Their arguments are well-reasoned and balanced and they fairly represent the opposing view. The authors go to great lengths to remind the reader that good evangelical believers can and do disagree on these issues and that the opposing views of reformed paedobaptists should not be considered heretical.
- I have truly enjoyed Logos Bible Software. It is the best I have ever used, and I have used many. This video series is well-produced and is filled with information and skills to help you get the most out of the software. The cost may be prohibitive to some, however, it is a good investment when you consider that you are getting over seven hours of training. To critics of the cost I would point them to many good videos that have been produced by Logos and other users that are available for free on this site.