My Recommendations: Book of the Week, October 15

9Marks produces a lot of good books for pastors and church leaders. Jeramie Rinne’s Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus stands out as one of the best. Our board of church elders chose this book to read individually and discuss as a group chapter by chapter. We have found this little volume worth far more than its size. The “Introduction” sets the tone: “I’m an elder. Now what?” Eight chapters walk us through the answer: 1 – “Don’t Assume”; 2 – “Smell Like Sheep”; 3 – “Serve Up the Word”; 4 – “Track Down the Strays”; 5 – “Lead without Lording”; 6 – “Shepherd Together”; 7 – “Model Maturity”; and, 8 – “Plead for the Flock.” This is a must read for men wanting to prepare for church leadership and for those who already lead.

Click on picture for link.

My Recommendations: Book of the Week, October 8

If you plan to make a visit to the British Museum in London, having a guide like Through the British Museum with the Bible by Brian Edwards and Clive Anderson helps to direct your experience. With this guidebook in hand, you will be able to locate, identify, and understand the significance of the individual finds displayed so marvelously in this world class museum. The present edition is updated as of 2013. Due to the ever changing displays, there will be a few items that will not be present at the time of your visit. However, having the information remains valuable and the book speaks to the vast majority of displays. Even if you do not get to the British Museum, this book provides dependable information on a large number of archaeological finds demonstrating the historical integrity and accuracy of the Bible.

Click on picture for link.

My Recommendations: Book of the Week, October 1

Dr. Eugene Merrill’s A Commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles is one volume in the Kregel Exegetical Library series. As he explains in his “Preface,” the Chronicler sets forth the history of his people as the last, if not one of the last, writers of the Old Testament. The writer presents the covenant violations of his forefathers. However, he also understands that God plans to restore and redeem His people. Therefore, Merrill seeks to develop the full theological implications while interpreting the details of the text. Since the Chronicler records genealogies, Merrill provides readers with a superb introduction to the study of biblical genealogies. Adhering to a firm conviction in biblical inerrancy, he interprets the text with a literal, historical, and grammatical methodology. Thirteen charts help elucidate the text.

Click on picture for link.

My Recommendations: Book of the Week, September 24

Photo Companion to the Bible: The Gospels (DVD from BiblePlaces.com) offers its users more than 10,000 PowerPoint slides illustrating the four Gospels verse by verse. The photographs represent some of the collections of Dr. Todd Bolen, Dr. Steven Anderson, and Mr. A. D. Riddle. These slides are a priceless addition to the study of the text of the Gospels. Each slide is beautifully composed with all of the essential information. For example, this set includes 144 slides on Matthew 13 alone. Each slide (above right) includes the biblical clause which the photograph, artifact, or art work represents. A description appears at the bottom left and the verse reference appears at the bottom right corner. This sample is one of the slides for Matthew 13:55.

 

Click on title under the picture of the DVD cover (above left) for link.

My Recommendations: Books of the Week, September 17 — Drs. Thomas & Toussaint

On September 5 Dr. Stanley D. Toussaint entered glory and the following day Dr. Robert L. Thomas went to heaven as well. Interestingly, both men were born in 1928 (Dr. Toussaint in Minnesota and Dr. Thomas in Georgia). Both also were New Testament scholars majoring on the Gospels, the Book of Revelation, dispensationalism, and eschatology. Dr. Thomas contributed many significant articles to The Master’s Seminary Journal, which he edited from 1990 until 2011. Dr. Toussaint published around twenty-five important articles in Bibliotheca Sacra. Dr. Thomas began his seminary teaching ministry in 1959 and continued full-time until 2008 — he taught first at Talbot Seminary and became the first full-time faculty hire at The Master’s Seminary in 1986. Dr. Toussaint started teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary and continued until his retirement in 2012.

 

As a contributor to ParkingSpace23, I posted Two Fallen Towers and Two Fallen Giants about the two men on September 11. In addition, at Dispensational Publishing I contributed a comment to Remembering Two Great Teachers and then they posted my Reflections on the Life of Robert L. Thomas, Th.D.

Below I have supplied links below to these two scholars’ best published works. Their labors will continue to bless many students of the New Testament for years to come. They were faithful men who loved the churches in which they served. Both men employed sound exegesis to prepare great expositions of the Word of God. Both of these two spiritual giants impacted the lives of literally hundreds and hundreds of students who continue to follow their example. We praise God for these two men, who still speak through the examples they left us and the products of their labors in both lives and published materials.

The photo above shows Dr. Robert Thomas (right) with one of his favorite students, and his boss, Dr. John MacArthur (left), on the occasion of celebrating Dr. Thomas’ 50 years of seminary teaching in 2009.

The photo at left shows Dr. Stanley Toussaint teaching for a YouTube video.

Click on book thumbnails below for links to the books on Amazon — the first three rows are Dr. Thomas’ books and the last two rows are Dr. Toussaint’s books.

My Recommendations: Books of the Week, September 10

I’ve taken the unusual step of recommending two books on the same topic this week. Too often, commentaries on Genesis 1-3 and Psalm 104 (just to cite two examples) conclude that “cosmic-conflict mythological language” permeates the biblical account (Longman, Psalms, TOTC, 360, about Psalm 104:5-9). Some Old Testament scholars in evangelical circles persist in identifying the Hebrew tehom (“deep”) in Genesis 1:2 with the goddess Tiamat and Chaoskampf. Adherents to the defunct Gap Theory do the same. It gets downright embarrassing to read such statements by evangelicals who evidently do not realize that evangelical and non-evangelical scholars alike have debunked this kind of association with ANE myths in the Bible. The following two books present the case against such associations.

The earliest of these two books is David Tsumura’s Creation and Destruction: A Reappraisal of the Chaoskampf Theory in the Old Testament (Eisenbrauns, 2005). He carefully surveys the potential links between the biblical text and some of the ANE myths (especially the Babylonian and Canaanite myths). He demonstrates that Genesis 1:2 does not refer to a chaotic state for the created earth. In addition, he also develops his argumentation regarding the proper interpretation of Genesis 2:5-6. Tsumura’s detailed research of both the biblical text and the ANE myths leads him to conclude that the biblical texts about creation and divine sovereignty merely employ metaphorical language about storms and floods. The biblical record of creation has nothing at all to do with primordial combat or Chaoskampf.

Click on picture for link.

In 1895 Hermann Gunkel published his Schöpfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit (translation: Creation and Chaos in Primeval Time and End Time) proposing that ancient near eastern myths formed the background for the biblical accounts of creation, chaos, conflict, and eschatology. Creation and Chaos: A Reconsideration of Hermann Gunkel’s Chaoskampf Hypothesis (Eisenbrauns, 2013) presents the work of current scholars who have found it more prudent to modify Gunkel’s hypothesis on the basis of a more thorough analysis of the extant data. This volume’s essays contradict the ongoing claim by some evangelical scholars who insist on associating tehom with Tiamat and represent Genesis 1 creation as a battle against hostile elements. Töyräänvuori’s essay raises a significant question: Shouldn’t the biblical account of creation (written by Egyptian-trained Moses) contain more associations to Egyptian mythology than to Babylonian? Perhaps the Egyptians borrowed from the Hebrews’ western Asiatic narratives instead of the other way around. Feinman’s essay makes the point that it is high time scholars cease treating the early chapters of Genesis as a “free-floating, immature, hazy, primitive, oral geographic tradition” (184), rather than with the real world. Evangelical references to and identifications of Chaoskampf in the Genesis record need serious reconsideration, if not outright correction. An overall evaluation of this volume reveals (1) the absence of serious consideration of the role of divine revelation in regard to the biblical record and (2) the potential that all of the ancient near eastern myths might represent independent flawed and skewed memories of either the original divine revelation of creation or of the original events of the Flood and the tower of Babel. Still, this volume needs to be read and Chaoskampf needs to be eradicated from evangelical commentaries (other than to identify the error of seeing such primordial conflict in the Scriptures).

Click on picture for link.

Books I’ve Endorsed

Dr. Barrick’s Books or Publications

The Self-Existence of God: What does it mean? Why does it matter?

When someone uses words like “the self-existence of” anything, it sounds like something philosophical and esoteric. And, with that comment, my philosopher friends just cringe and think, “No one appreciates philosophers.” If I had used the term “aseity,” the reaction might be even more quizzical: “What … ? Get real, man. Let’s just talk about fly fishing or the coming World Series.”

For those of us who believe that God truly exists and truly cares about His creation, God’s self-existence matters — if it exists within the teachings of the Bible itself. As human beings we can involve ourselves in unending speculation and preoccupy ourselves with reading “the white spaces,” rather than simply looking at the print. Philosophical speculation, however, normally falls within the realm of “what if …” — not absolute truth. And, yes, I realize that we’ve just passed through an era (indeed, might still be in it) of nearly wholesale denial of absolute truth. But, I digress. Let’s get on with the topic at hand.

God is self-existent. Why? Because, as God He was not created. He has no source, no maker, no origin. Instead, He Himself is the Creator of all else. God exists from all eternity and to all eternity. Scripture opens with “In the beginning God …” (Genesis 1:1). Moses doesn’t write about the origin of God, but about the origin of the universe. He assumes the existence of God. We might also look at God’s self-description to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God doesn’t defend His existence; He declares His existence. No one else and nothing else caused itself or themselves to exist. Everything and everyone has an origin — except God. He is the only uncaused Cause — something you might have heard in either a theology class or a philosophy class.

The prophet Isaiah provides us with much needed help with regard to why the self-existence of God matters, how it impacts our lives — assuming we believe in a God who truly exists:

  • God alone is God — there is no other. Isaiah 45:5-7, 14, 21-22
  • God alone is Creator. Isaiah 45:18; 48:12-13
  • God’s word alone is true and based upon who He is. Isaiah 45:23
  • God alone is Lord. Isaiah 45:23
  • God alone is completely holy and righteous. Isaiah 6:3; 40:25; 45:24
  • God alone can be trusted completely. Isaiah 44:8
  • God alone can save us from our sins and forgive us. Isaiah 45:21-22

In other words, God’s self-existence makes Him the sole determiner of absolute truth — truth we can depend upon. God is someone we can trust completely. He is always there. Therefore, He will not leave us or forsake us the way others do. Since He alone is completely holy and righteous, He sets the standard for truth, for holiness, and for righteousness or justice. God is the only one who doesn’t fail, default on a promise, run out when trouble comes, lie, or die. He provides us with everything we look for in the character of someone we can rely on. And, that even extends to our great need to be completely forgiven.

Perhaps the writer to the Hebrews summarized all of this best by concluding that our hope finds an anchor in God (Hebrews 6:13-20). That’s why the self-existence of God matters. He provides hope in the midst of a world that is too often rocked by relativism, confusion, hypocrisy, hatred, rejection, violence, and death.

My Recommendations: Book of the Week, September 3

How can someone break away from tradition and family pressures to seek the truth about life and God? Nabeel Qureshi lets us look into his life, his home, his Islamic religion, and his heart as he struggles his search for truth. Through his personal story we have the opportunity to understand more about the Ahmadis, who stand as an Islamic sect separate from the Sunnis and Shias. We become immersed in a warm and caring Muslim home life and see how 9/11 impacted moderate Muslims. Above all, however, Qureshi exposes us to the long process of true conversion and what it took for him to find out who Jesus really was and is. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus rightly received the 2015 Christian Book Award: ECPA Medallion of Excellence. For the first time in the award’s history, the title won in two categories: New Author and Non-Fiction. The spiritual journey Qureshi describes in his book does not speak just to Muslims, it speaks to agnostics, atheists, cult followers, Hindus, Buddhists, and many members of Christian denominations. Do NOT read this book, unless you really seek truth!

Click on picture for link.

Hebrew Whiteboard Update, Psalm 104:1-12

Completing the first third of Psalm 104, our analysis takes another distinct turn in its point of reference: the topic becomes the ongoing natural order of the earth as determined by its Creator. If, however, we are correct in understanding Psalm 104:6-9 as a reference to the Flood of Noah’s day, we must also see God as Judge and King–thus His strong “rebuke” in Psalm 104:7. But, Psalm 104:10-12 (included in this update) reveals that God also restores, beautifies, and provides for the post-Flood world. An apt line comes to mind from Isaiah 61:3, “To give them beauty for ashes” (NKJV). And, what better way to describe beauty than to use beautiful Hebrew poetry?

Click on Hebrew Whiteboard to download Psalm 104:1-12 or any of the previous studies of Psalms 1-6 and 120-122.

Messianic Hope and the Gentiles–Thinking Through Romans 15:8-13

Romans 15:8-13 provides us with the apostle Paul’s theology of Messianic hope as founded upon the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible. In this significant text he builds upon the revelation of hope about which he speaks in Romans 15:4. With emphasis the apostle refers first of all to revelation twice-written, then follows up with key Scripture citations in each of the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible to demonstrate that the totality of the Old Testament testifies to the Messianic hope of the Gentiles. Not finished yet, Paul then mentions “hope” three times in the closing verses of this section (Romans 15:12-13) to drive home his point. With such amazing focus, how could we miss this truth’s importance to believers, to the Church, and to missions? May your heart be challenged as mine has been in meditating on this text in Paul’s epistle to the Romans.

As a contributor to ParkingSpace23’s blog, I posted an article about the hope the Gentiles possess in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. I hope you will click on the following link Messianic Hope and the Gentiles, read, and praise the Lord for being included in God’s redemption program from the beginning.

Get updates via email

I can easily send you the latest updates. Just enter your email below and I'll send you a summary of my postings once per week.

Thank You for Subscribing!