40 Questions About Heaven and Hell

40 Questions About Heaven and Hell is another volume from Kregel Academic in the ongoing series 40 Questions About… (You can check out my reviews of three others in this series here (salvation), here (church) and here (ordinances).40 Questions About Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell is just as the title describes: Everything you wanted to know about Heaven and Hell yet had never had explained – all accomplished in 40 questions. And you might wonder how there can be forty questions. Author Alan W. Gomes, professor at Talbot School of Theology, is meticulous in his approach. He leads us through the ins and outs of the afterlife beginning with nine questions on “An Overview of the Afterlife.”

The book is divided into four parts, not all equal in volume. Part 4: The Eternal State is the longest covering half the “Questions,” and it is divided into two sections: The Eternal State for Believers and the Eternal State for Unbelievers (Hell). This is likely the Part that most readers will gravitate to first. For believers, it will serve as a basis for hope and a motivation for witnessing. The volume is also well footnoted and there are questions for reflection at the end of each chapter. He has obviously done a massive amount of research for this book.

Whereas other volumes in this series are informative and educational, this particular volume is sobering. Gomes is straightforward and very frank at times. Yet, at other times, when the biblical evidence is not totally conclusive, he is not afraid to so as with “What Happens to Infants Who Die?” You may or may not agree with all of his conclusions (they are written from a conservative viewpoint), however, he will certainly pique your interest and should get you to do some personal research. Gomes presents alternative viewpoints and then graciously refutes them and presents the biblical evidence for his view.

40 Questions About Heaven and Hell is a book for all believers, not just theologians and pastors. It should be required for all who claim the name of Christ. It is well-designed for a group Bible study.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by Kregel Academic for a fair and honest review.

Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture

When most Christians think of spiritual warfare, their thoughts immediately turn to Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 6.10-20 – the whole armor of God passage. And that is not without merit for Paul lays out how to deal with the spiritual battles that every believer encounters. Yet, that is just the practical side.Spiritual Warfare

But, not only is it important to grasp Paul’s guidance, it is also beneficial to understand the history of spiritual warfare from a biblical perspective. That is what Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture offers to us. Authors William F. Cook III and Chuck Lawless, both professors with Southern Baptist seminaries, have compiled a volume detailing the realm of spiritual warfare and how it affects all of Christianity. The book is divided into two parts. Part one chronicles the “Biblical and Theological Foundation.” Part two guides the reader through the “Practical Application” – how it affects all of us today.

Part one could well be titled “A Biblical History of Spiritual Warfare.” It leads us through spiritual warfare as outlined in Scripture with a heavy emphasis on the New Testament but not to the neglect of its origin from the Old Testament. There are countless exegetical analyses of passages that deal with spiritual warfare arranged in a genre fashion – Synoptic Gospels, Pauline Epistles, etc. Virtually every book of the New Testament is examined.

Part two centers on spiritual warfare in five aspects of the Christian life: the local church, evangelism, missions, family and leaders. It is a detailed examination of not only the spiritual attacks encountered by each entity but also ways to win the battles.

This is a must-read for any Christian who truly wants to know what he or she will encounter in their everyday spiritual battles. It is not a theology book, but it does have a healthy dose of understandable theology. Understandable is the keyword here. The authors do not overwhelm us with a heavy dose of theology. It is not a self-help volume with a categorization of steps on how to engage our spiritual enemies, but it will open your eyes to our ever-present spiritual onslaught and how to attend to it. Pastors will find this volume especially useful for preaching, teaching and the everyday care of their flock.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by B&H Academic for a fair and honest review.

John’s Letters – Big Greek Idea Series

Developing expertise in a language is a process that can consume a lifetime. And the study of the Scriptures in the original languages is a skill that takes a long time to develop. Not only because it involves an intellectual mastery but also because it is a specialized artistry and, most importantly, concerns itself with the Word of God. With that in mind, pastors, preachers, teachers and students of Scripture in the original languages need as much assistance as possible. The fact is no one knows everything about the original languages.Johns Letter - Big Greek Idea Series

To that end along has come the Big Greek Idea Series by Kregel Academic publishers. The series is designed as an original language aid for busy lives involved in ministry, especially those in full-time ministry. The one at hand is John’s Letters: An Exegetical Guide for Preaching and Teaching. This is the third volume in the series with two more published or planned – Ephesians and Philippians. Currently, the series is concentrated on New Testament books.

The most verbally efficient way to summarize this book is that it is a chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, word-by-word analysis of the New Testament Greek found in 1, 2 & 3 John. Virtually every word is dissected. In a cliché “no Greek stone is left in the ground;” all of the grammar is uprooted. But, this is more than just a technical-grammatical volume. Not only is this a grammatical commentary (as described by the editor), but it also is filled with commentary “gems.” Scattered throughout the book are “expositional-like nuggets” that provide interesting and valuable grammatical, syntactical, semantic, lexical, theological or text-critical information that one will find enlightening and indispensable for preaching and teaching.

If you’re unfamiliar with this series, be sure to read the “Preface to the Series.” it contains beneficial counsel on the how’s and the why’s and explains the methodology employed in the book.

This (and the others in this series I would presume) are targeted for those with a well-developed competency in Greek. And, while there is a bit of commentary as we normally employ the word, it is not such a volume. So, if you have studied Greek and retain a well-grounded level of proficiency, this is a great volume to have at your fingertips.

If your Greek is weak,

this volume do not seek.

If your Greek is fine,

this volume is sublime.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by Kregel Academic for a fair and honest review.

The Bible Toolbox

The evangelical world of publishing is abundant with books on bibliology – how we got the Bible, what the Bible is all about, why study the Bible, how to study the Bible, and so on. So it is rare that a new one is published that is unique or at least takes a different slant of the overall subject.The Bible Toolbox

The newest offering is The Bible Toolbox, written by two professors at Anderson University, Bryan H. Cribb (OT) and Channing L. Crisler (NT). It is published by B&H Academic. And while the material is not new (It provides the reader with the who, what, where, when, why and how of the Bible and Bible interpretation.), it is packaged in a singular fashion. Per the Publisher’s Note, it is designed to be an interactive experience through the Wordsearch Bible platform. (More on this later.)

The Bible Toolbox is divided into three parts. Part one focuses on the Bible itself, not the contents or how to study and interpret the Bible. Rather, it is an introduction to the Bible and how we got it. Chapter three of this section gives us the tools to use in our study of the Bible – historical, literary, and theological. Parts two and three take the reader into the interpretation arena – how to properly evaluate and interpret the text using the three tools. Part two focuses on the Old Testament – the Pentateuch, Historical Books, Poetry and Wisdom Books and Prophetic Books. It is moderately in-depth treatment on how to deal with each form of literature. Part three is the New Testament and is structured as the Gospels, Acts and Paul’s Biography, Paul’s Letters and the General Epistles and Revelation. The treatment is virtually the same as with the Old Testament.

Since I have been a Wordsearch user for a number of years and since the “hook” with this volume is its interaction with Wordsearch, I tested it out. First, it is important to know that you do not need to have the Wordsearch program to use the interactive features. The basic Wordsearch program will be provided free of charge. Once the program and The Bible Toolbox book are downloaded and installed, you will be able to access the many internet references included in the book as footnotes. It’s as simple as a “click.” Of course, one can elect to ignore the Wordsearch program and manually enter the internet information.

The purpose of the multitude of footnotes is “bonus” information. For instance, if one wants to find out more about Julius Wellhausen and the Documentary Hypothesis, just click the link. The ability to quickly access the additional information enhances the learning experience.

I would highly recommend The Bible Toolbox for two reasons: First, it is a well-collected source of material on bibliology, and second, it has an original structure with the possibility of further study. It should be excellent for pastors and teachers.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by B&H Academic for a fair and honest review.

Into His Presence

Intimacy with God is a relational element that every believer should strive for in his Christian walk. No doubt every one of us would like to have the relationship with God that men like Tozer or Spurgeon had. However, the intimacy element raises two vital questions: First: What is it? How do we define intimacy, especially intimacy with God? Second: With a proper, biblical definition what does intimacy with God look like? How do we know we have that relationship? Does an intimate relationship with God work the same as the intimate relationships that we have with our fellow human beings?Into His Presence - Kregel

These are the two questions that Tim L. Anderson tackles in Into His Presence: A Theology of Intimacy with God. In nine chapters, 264 pages Anderson examines the questions in extraordinary theological detail. Anderson has been a professor of theology and biblical studies for almost thirty years.

Fortunately, Anderson does not leave the reader hanging on a definition. In the very first chapter, “ Defining Intimacy with God,” he presents us with this definition: “… [a] working biblical definition: the movement of God and Christians toward a good place of true knowledge and close contact.” In the remainder of the book, he explores and defends that definition examining such topics as the Fall, Marriage, the Holy Spirit and Suffering. If one is interested in the “Worship Wars,” you will find the final chapter, “Assessing Our Songs of Intimacy with God,” most intriguing. Throughout the book his theology of intimacy with God is well supported and documented with Scripture. (The ten page scripture index is beneficial.)

Keep in mind this is a theology book, not a devotional or another how-to volume, the likes of which have swamped the world of Christian literature over the past few years. It is a book that is deep into relational psychology. Anderson examines the intimacy question from both biblical and non-biblical sources. Thus, the book is heavily footnoted. (Thankfully they have been placed at the bottom of each page.)

If one is into spiritual formation, you will find Into His Presence most useful and comforting. If spiritual formation is a foreign concept or frightening, I would warn against Into His Presence. This volume is also be recommended for counselors as a tool to guide others to a loving God.

Disclosure: This volume was provided to me by Kregel Publications for a fair and honest review.

The Exodus

The Exodus is one of the most well-known and important events in Scripture. Anyone who attended virtually any form of Sunday School knows something about the Exodus. It is, if you will, a watershed moment. Unfortunately, many of the details behind the Exodus are vague or unknown to most believers. The key to understanding the lessons of the Exodus is embodied in the details.The Exodus - larger

In real time the situation may have looked grim to the Israelites, but from our perspective in the twenty-first century, it teaches us how God works in the lives of His people. It serves as an illustration of how God cares for those He has chosen. We get a glimpse of how God works all things together for good. How much we learn from this lesson is dependent on how well we know the details of the Exodus.

That’s where the The Exodus: From: Passover to the Promised Land comes in. This newly published work is concise and highly informative. In expected Rose fashion we are provided with a succinct and easy to understand text which is well appointed with charts and graphs to accent one’s understanding.

While this pamphlet may be brief – fourteen pages, it is filled to capacity with valuable information. It address all of the basic instruction that one needs to know about the Exodus. “Basic” is the key word here. It does not delve into scholarly minutiae.

There are ten sections to this publication. (I hesitate to call them chapters.) It begins with a brief description of “What” the Exodus was accompanied by a basic historic timeline leading up to the event. Next is an informative discussion of “When” the Exodus happened. This section covers the two major theories concerning the timing – the High Date and the Low Date. It is also accompanied by a basic timeline. Section three is a brief introduction to the “Five Key People of the Exodus.” Section four focuses on the “Ten Plagues” with a highly illustrative chart describing the plague and the Egyptian gods against whom it was targeted each dealt with individually. “Biblical Feasts Related to the Exodus” follows next giving us an understanding of four feasts.

So what route did the Exodus take? Section six gives us the three currently accepted possibilities accompanied by a map for all three. Sections seven through nine cover “God’s Provision, Judgment and Presence” all detailed nicely with charts describing how God interacts with His people in all three areas. The book ends with a short introduction to the Passover and its meaning.

The Exodus: From: Passover to the Promised Land is an excellent introduction to the Exodus and the many facets involved. It is highly recommended as Sunday School, group Bible study, or personal study material. You won’t get bogged down with scholarly detail or argumentation. It provides an overview of a critical event of world history from a biblical perspective aimed at increasing the biblical knowledge of believers.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by Rose Publishing for a fair and honest review.

Rose Guide to the Gospels

How well do you know the four Gospels? Since the Gospels are essentially a four-part biography of Christ, every believer should have a desire to know the Gospels, at least the basics.

So then, do you find yourself praying for a publication that would explain, categorize, simplify, and condense the vital information of the four Gospels into a verbally understandable and visually appealing format? The solution to these criteria can be found in the newly published Rose Guide to the Gospels: Side-by-Side Charts and Overviews.Rose Publishing  is well-known for its creative, conservative and Christ-centered publications. Their modus operandi is to provide Bible students with concisely written and visually appealing Bible information.

Rose Guide to the Gospels

The Rose Guide to the Gospels is just what you’ve been praying for. It is a crisp yet comprehensive examination of the four Gospels. It covers seven major and critical aspects, seven chapters of essential instruction. And in excellent Rose fashion the volume is well appointed with charts, maps and pictures to aid in the education process.

Concerning the hard facts, the primary translation employed is the 2011 NIV with an occasional indulgence to the ESV. The authors of this publication are several to include Rose staff writers and the well-known Timothy Paul Jones—How We Got the Bible.

The seven chapter titles are properly named for their contents. Chapter 1, “The Four Gospels,” provides some basics on the Gospels including a book-by-book overview of each Gospel featuring author, date, audience and a brief outline. And, since the Gospels chronicle Jesus’ ministry, Chapter 2, “The Life of Jesus,” proceeds with His birth, ministry (teachings, miracles, etc.), death, burial and resurrection. The chapter concludes with a three-page chart on the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.

Chapter 3 is a “Harmony of the Gospels” with a brief explanation of how harmonies work. It includes an eleven page chronological harmony. It terminates with charts on the parables and miracles of Jesus. Chapter 4 is “Who’s Who in the Gospels.” It includes short, biographical sketches on all the primary characters found in the Gospels. The sketches are short but informative. Chapter 5, “Understanding the World of Jesus,” provides background information on the culture that Jesus experienced, vital for a complete understanding.

Chapter 6, “Evidence for the Resurrection,” is a compilation of information on the truth of the resurrection presented in Objection/Theory and Answer format. The book concludes with Chapter 7, “How We Got the Gospels,” written by Timothy Paul Jones. It details the reliability of the written text.

The Rose Guide to the Gospels is highly recommended for individual Bible study, small group Bible study and Sunday School. It might also serve well as a supplemental text for a Bible College 101 course. This volume might also be beneficial for pastors investigating ways to present the four Gospels.

The most appealing aspect of this publication is the volume of information, both written and charts, that is all compiled in one place. A student studying the Gospels will not have to search far and wide for information. It is perfect to stimulate the appetite for further study.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by Rose Publishing for a fair and honest review.