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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Book Reviews

The Legacy of Luther, edited by R. C. Sproul and Stephen J. Nichols. Reformation Trust Publishing. 303 pages. 2016

This is a wonderful volume to read as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses (which are included in an appendix) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, initiating the Protestant Reformation. This anthology of essays honoring Luther from some of the most respected Reformed theologians today looks at several aspects of the life, ministry and legacy of the great reformer.
This in-depth volume includes a Foreword by John MacArthur and chapters by respected pastors and theologians such as Sinclair Ferguson, Steven Lawson, David Calhoun (who I enjoyed two church history courses at Covenant Seminary with), Michael Horton, Robert Godfrey, Gene Veith, Derek Thomas and many others. These essays cover a wide variety of aspects of Luther’s life and ministry, including his life at home, his music, his doctrine of scripture, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, his doctrine of vocation, as a man of conflict, his later years, as a preacher, on the sacraments, and a final reflection from R.C. Sproul on Luther and the life of the pastor-theologian.
The legacy of Martin Luther is vast and varied, and this book offers an attempt to summarize that legacy. The book is written for, and can be enjoyed by, both those who have little knowledge of Luther, and also for those who know him well. The book is organized into three sections – Luther’s Life, Luther’s Thought and Luther’s Legacy.
I highly recommend this book as a way to get to know Luther – warts and all – as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Reading Romans with Luther by R.J. Grunewald. Concordia Publishing. 136 pages. 2017

I was interested in reading this short book for several reasons. First, I enjoy reading books about the great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther, especially during this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Second, Romans is my favorite book of the Bible, and it is also where I was in my reading through the Bible at the time this book was published. Third, I have enjoyed the author’s blog and looked forward to reading a book by him.
The author, a Lutheran pastor, states that the book is meant to introduce the reader to the work of Martin Luther, to explain his words in a way that removes some of the intimidation. He realizes that Luther’s works can be intimidating, and this book is meant to take some of that intimidation away and guide the reader into Luther’s works. The author wants you to look at this book as Luther for everyday life.
The book does not contain Luther’s entire commentary on Romans, but only pertinent paragraphs that go along with the themes outlined in the table of contents. Rather than providing a linear exploration of Luther’s commentary, the author has divided and rearranged it according to thematic teachings in Romans.
He has also included the Scripture passages that Luther references within the text and divided it with headings and chapters to allow the reader to find the topics and sections easily.
A special feature of this book is the artwork that accompanies the text to reflect the beauty of Luther’s theology and writing. The author intends that the reader will pause and reflect on the phrases that are called out with artwork.
The author has provided his own commentary to show how Luther’s writings apply to our lives today. Unfortunately, in the Kindle edition of the book the author’s words and Luther’s words were not clearly differentiated. In most instances I could not clearly tell whether it was the author’s or Luther’s words I was reading. I’m assuming that is not the case in the print edition of the book. However, I have to lower my review of the book by one star because of my experience reading the Kindle edition.
The author includes a helpful Appendix for preachers.
Highly recommended, but not in the Kindle edition.

  •’s FREE Audiobook of the Month: The King James Version has continued to this day to be one of the most beloved and widely sought after translations of the Bible into the English language. Now over 400 years old, the King James Version has been shaping Christians for centuries with its majesty and solemnity.  Narrator David Cochran Heath brings his voice of clarity and warmth, making listening an experience the hearer will want to return to again and again.
  • Christianaudio’s Twice Yearly Sale. I always look forward to this sale from Christianaudio, where almost all of their audiobooks are only $7.49. The sale goes through June 23.
  • 20 Quotes from Erik Raymond’s New Book on Contentment. Matt Smethurst writes “The following quotes are from Erik Raymond’s new book Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age.”
  • Will John Piper Write More Biographies? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper mentions that a few of the key figures he has not written biographies on thus far are John Wesley, John Knox and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
  • Books That R.C. Sproul Recommends. See these two lists – books that shaped the thinking of R.C. Sproul and also books that he recommends.
  • 20 Quotes from Tony Reinke’s New Book About Your Smartphone. Ivan Mesa shares these quotes from Tony Reinke’s new book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You.
  • The Many Sides of Martin Luther. Robert Kolb reviews the new book by Lyndal Roper, professor of history at Oxford, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet. He writes “For my students, I still prefer Scott Hendrix’s Martin Luther, Visionary Reformerfor several reasons, including his greater emphasis on Luther’s thought. But instructors in Reformation studies should read Roper for a profitable expansion of their understanding of the man and his period. All who are interested in the German Reformer will gain new insights from this carefully crafted account.”

BOOK CLUBS – Won’t you read along with us?

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London.

This week we look at Chapter 16 from Volume 2, “The Mote and the Beam”:

  • Surely it means this: `Judge not, that ye be not judged’-by God.
  • First of all, there is a judgment which is final and eternal; that is the judgment which determines a man’s status or his standing before God. This determines the great separation between the Christian and the non-Christian, the sheep and the goats, those who are going on to glory and those who are going to perdition. That is a kind of first judgment, a basic judgment which establishes the great dividing line between those who belong to God and those who do not.
  • We are all along under the eye of God, and God is watching our lives and judging our sinfulness, all for our benefit.
  • Christian believers will have to appear before this judgment seat of Christ, and there we shall be judged according to what we have done in the body, whether good or bad. This is not to determine our eternal destiny; it is not a judgment which decides whether we go to heaven or to hell. No, we have passed through that. But it is a judgment which is going to affect our eternal destiny, not by determining whether it is heaven or hell, but by deciding what happens to us in the realm of glory. We are not given any further details about this in Scripture, but that there is a judgment of believers is very clearly and specifically taught.
  • The chief reason, then, why Christian people must not judge, is that we be not judged ourselves by the Lord. We shall see Him as He is; we shall meet Him, and this judgment will take place.
  • The second reason for not judging is that, by so doing, we not only produce judgment for ourselves, we even set the standard of our own judgment-‘With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’
  • Our Lord is really declaring that God Himself, in this judgment which I have been describing, will judge us according to our own standards.
  • Our Lord is teaching us that the third reason for our not judging others is that we are incapable of judgment. We cannot do it. Therefore, as we cannot do it properly, we must not try to do it at all.
  • There is only one way of getting rid of the spirit of censoriousness and hypercriticism, and that is to judge and condemn yourself. It humbles us to the dust, and then it follows of necessity that, having thus got rid of the beam out of our own eyes, we shall be in a fit condition to help the other person, and to get out the little mote that is in his eye.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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