My Recommendations: Book of the Week, June 5

Wyclif’s legendary status as “the Morning Star of the Reformation” fails to survive Gillian Evans’ vigorous professorial investigation. Her portrait of Wyclif in John Wyclif: Myth and Reality reveals a complex and conflicted man — an irascible academic as well as a contrite cleric. His academic setting at Oxford forms the dominant background for Evans’ portrait of both the ecclesiastic and the educator. As a parish priest, Wyclif was more educated than most. In 1379 (some years after he had departed the parish ministry) he authored a book on “The Pastoral Office” in which he defined the duties of the godly pastor: to feed his sheep with God’s Word, to purge his flock of contagious spiritual disease, and to defend his flock against ravaging wolves. Evans concludes that Wyclif found pastoral ministry less than satisfying, so he returned to Oxford to pursue a Doctor of Theology degree. He was a staunch critic of absentee pastors holding a plurality of parishes and/or benefices that drew them away from their pastoral duties. Evans’ focus is so much on the educator (and, later, the public servant of the royal court) that the ecclesiastic suffers adequate coverage. This may, in part, be due to an absence of adequate documentation, the result of the ultimate condemnation and burning of Wyclif’s books in 1410. However, if a pastor, rather than an academic, were to write the biography, Wyclif’s portrait probably would include a more detailed examination of his pastoral practices for comparison with his pastoral philosophy. In De Veritate Sacrae Scripturae (“About the Truthfulness of Sacred Scriptures”) he declares that no human writing is superior to the Bible, all Christians have a right to read it, and the Scriptures are the best foundation for secular and ecclesiastical life. As far as the Wycliffite translations of the Bible into English are concerned, Evans finds no evidence of any contribution directly from the hand of Wyclif. Evans paints a dark and disappointing picture of a failed hero. On occasion Evans’ own political sensitiveness manifests itself. She appears to use this biography as the springboard for expressing her own political bitterness and/or agenda with regard to the war in Iraq. In spite of the author’s pessimistic approach and assessment, her volume is still worth reading. Every future biographer of Wyclif needs to begin with Evans’ book. It is as much an exposé of early Oxford as it is of Wyclif. The reader will find Evans’ enthusiastic study of the Middle Ages infectious.

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How much seminary training does a missionary need?

A sense of urgency characterizes nearly everyone who believes that God has led them to become missionaries for the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result, many consider going to the mission field with either minimum training or with no formal training at all. Why go through years of seminary training? “Will it actually prepare me for missionary service?” “If God could use someone like Charles Haddon Spurgeon, William Carey, or John Calvin with no formal theological education, why should I seek such training?” “Isn’t it wasting time and ignoring the urgency for getting to my mission field?” If you’re asking these questions, you are not alone. As an experienced missionary (15 years in Bangladesh), this blog presents my answers to such questions.

As a contributor to ParkingSpace23’s blog, I posted an article with regard to preparation for missions ministries. If you click on the following link How much seminary training does a missionary need?, you will be able to read that blog post. Hopefully, it will either help you to decide on what training you need for missionary service or help you counsel someone who is asking that very pertinent question.

Hebrew Whiteboard Update: Psalm 6 Complete

Psalm 6:9-11 (Hebrew verse numbering) closes this psalm emphatically and dramatically. David’s depression has turned to triumphant confidence. His uncontrollable weeping and consuming fear finally disappear in his concentration upon Yahweh, his God. The Lord hears his weeping, hears his cry for a demonstration of divine grace, and accepts his prayer. What a glorious conclusion to those long, dark nights of agony!

Click on Hebrew Whiteboard to download all of Psalm 6 or any of the previous studies of Psalms 1-5 and 120-122.

“Song of the Bow”: A Biblical Meditation for Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks the national commemoration of those American warriors who gave their lives for our nation on the field of battle. We take the time to honor their memory, to decorate their graves, and to remember their sacrifice. David provided us with a wonderful song, an elegy, preserving the memory of two such warriors for the nation of Israel: King Saul and his son Jonathan. My meditation on 2 Samuel 1:17-27 was published yesterday on ParkingSpace23’s blog, Click on the following link “Song of the Bow”: A Biblical Meditation for Memorial Day, read, and keep on remembering those who served our nation as soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen. Do not allow their memory to die. Pass their story on to the succeeding generations. Remembering their service and honoring their memory belongs to every day of the year, not just Memorial Day.

My Recommendations: Book of the Week, May 29

A book like Jason S. DeRouchie’s How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017) makes an old Hebrew professor like myself wish he could go back forty-seven years and start teaching biblical Hebrew again–with this book for the the textbook in Hebrew Exegesis. Using a “Trail Guide” (a metaphor with great appeal for me personally), DeRouchie maps out the progressive sections in the volume and identifies the “Easy,” “Moderate,” and “Challenging” paths to tailor the material to the student’s level of proficiency or achievement. The book is user friendly and packed with examples. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this volume belongs solely to the ivory tower of academics–it is a book exposing a pastor’s heart, a love for Christ, and the “holy wonder of worship” (one of John Piper’s descriptions of the book). Every student of biblical Hebrew needs this book on his desk–not just on his shelf!

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Hebrew Whiteboard Update: Psalm 6:7-8

Psalm 6:7-8 (Hebrew verse numbering) describe David’s personal situation in vivid metaphors. As a result of his sin and his illness he has grown exhausted, reduced to weeping, and obviously severely depressed. This stanza of the psalm displays an opening tricolor, assonance, emphatic word order, repetition, and metaphor–all skillfully woven together to present what might be the climactic moment in the poem.

Click on Hebrew Whiteboard to download Psalm 6:1-8 or any of the previous studies of Psalms 1-5 and 120-122.

My Recommendations: Book of the Week, May 22

What do Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor have in common? Let’s count the ways: (1) All were fervent evangelical Christians? (2) All served Christ with all that they had. (3) All left behind a tremendous legacy of faithfulness and godliness. (4) All were based in England. (5) All were contemporaries. (6) All knew each other and encouraged one another and gained energy for ministry from one another. (7) All are the subjects of John Piper’s seventh book in his series entitled The Swans Are Not Silent. A Camaraderie of Confidence (Crossway, 2016) should be high on your reading list for 2017. Our team of local church elders is reading through this book and discussing it as part of our elders’ meetings. The volume would make a tremendous gift to your pastor or to one or more of your elders. Or, you could do what I did with the first book in this series (Legacy of Sovereign Joy)–I gave it to our two sons and to our two sons-in-law, because of the impact it had on my own ministry. This series of Christian biographies comprises one of John Piper’s greatest gifts to all of us.

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My Recommendations: Book of the Week, May 15

Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of the Gospel and Its Impact on the World (Xulon Press, 2017) collects seventeen essays together in one volume. The authors (more than 20 of them–many who sat in my classes at The Master’s Seminary) serve as faculty in The Master’s Academy International in South Africa, Italy, India, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Spain, Mexico, Singapore, China, Albania, Croatia, the Philippines, Honduras, Germany, Switzerland, and Russia, as well as for Russian speaking and Spanish speaking ministries in the United States. Mark Tatlock, the volume’s general editor, describes the volume’s aim: it “addresses aberrations within the teaching of major world religions and within the contemporary evangelical church as to the person and work of Christ” (p. xii). The essays present case studies of Christological and soteriological threats resulting from a non-biblical worldview that impact the respective regions where the authors serve. Any Christian falling within the following groups ought to read this volume and rededicate their lives to the ministry of the gospel: missionaries (both serving and potentially going to serve), church pastors, church elders, missions committee members, students in Bible colleges and seminaries, and lay people desiring to pray and to give more wisely to missions.

This comprises the second volume in the series Global Implications of Biblical Doctrine.

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My Recommendations: Book of the Week, May 8

Instead of a book this week, I am recommending a DVD of one of the best documentaries I have ever seen on the historicity of the early chapters of the Book of Genesis: “Is Genesis History?” Del Tackett (who directs The Truth Project ministry) was on one of our first rafting trips into the Grand Canyon. Seeing the evidence and knowing the biblical teachings solidified his conviction that Genesis truly is history–authentic and accurate history. He narrates this film, which was shown in theaters across the United States back in February and March. This DVD belongs in every family’s library of films for educating parents and children alike. The cinematography is superb and the line up of experts in a variety of fields will impress you. Also available: Is Genesis History? [Blu-ray]

Click on picture for link to standard DVD.

What will happen on September 23, 2017?

Dawn breaks on Saturday, September 23, 2017 . . . then what? Some people will spend the entire day looking upward, awaiting the return of Jesus Christ. Why? Because someone has convinced them that they know something Jesus Himself did not know:

Matthew 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.  38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,  39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (NASU)

In a blog (“What Will Happen on September 23, 2017?”) posted on the Answers in Genesis web site, Dr. Danny Faulkner replies to this new date-setting trend by just simply examining its claims—the so-called evidences. This new set of date setters doctor their YouTube videos, ignore Scripture, and fail to properly prepare themselves (see 2 Peter 3:11–18). They are not blameless—they proclaim false evidences and deceive others.

What will happen? The sun will rise at 7:39 AM and set at 7:43 PM. As for myself, I will continue to look forward to the September 30 SEMBEQ Seminar on the Subject of Origins in Montreal (if the Lord wills, James 4:15). I will still be praying, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” He may come before September 23 or after September 23. No one can plan on a specific date any more than they can know when a thief will break into their house or their car to steal their possessions.

Deuteronomy 18:21 “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’  22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

Oh, yes—something else we can say with absolute certainty: When the sun rises on September 24, we all will know who have been “presumptuous” and who are false prophets. They join the ranks of over 200 date setters—like Michael Drosnin (The Bible Code, 2012), Harold Camping (May 21, 2011), Ronald Weinland (April 17, 2008), Dan Millar (September 21, 2000), Lester Sumerall (2000), Edgar Whisenant (September 13, 1988), etc.—ad nauseam.

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