The Essence of the New Testament

In a world that is awash in volumes concerning New Testament Surveys and Introductions, we have a new entry (well, it’s a second edition entry) – The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey. It was published by B&H Academic. It is outstanding!the-essence-of-the-nt

So with such a multitude of surveys, what would make this standout from all the others?

The editors and contributors. This volume is edited by Elmer Towns and Ben Gutierrez. Towns, of course, is a well-known figure in evangelical circles and a prolific writer (over 170 books plus countless articles) and a co-founder of Liberty University. Gutierrez is a Ph.D. and professor at Liberty. The seven contributors (along with Towns and Gutierrez) are all conservative scholars and professors.

The quality and conciseness. One of the trends in New Testament survey books is an overabundance of information that might be more suited for advanced study. But not with The Essence of the New Testament. The authors have obviously made a determined effort to filter the extraneous and present vital and essential information without trying to weigh down the reader.

The book opens with four chapters on introductory material leading with “How We Got the New Testament.” Each entry on the twenty-seven books of the NT contains the standard biblical background information – author, recipients, occasion and date, and outline. This is followed by a brief commentary entitled the “Message” that follows the structure of the outline adding to the smooth flow of the book and ease of understanding.

The end of each book has study questions and a brief bibliography and there are also a multitude of pictures and a number of charts that further facilitate the explanation of the particular NT book.

The viability for Christians. One of the most attractive qualities of this book is that it will have appeal to a majority of believers. It is straightforward and easy to follow – no linguistic tricks and no ivory tower theological language. It is a reference volume that the inquisitive Bible student will want to have at the ready when studying any book of the New Testament. (I have a vison of someone studying Colossians with the Bible in front, a notepad to one side and The Essence of the New Testament on the other.)

This is a must-have volume for every Christian especially teachers and preachers. It is a double must-have volume for new believers and first year Bible college students. It is a classic Bible educational tool. This volume will pique the student’s curiosity for more information.

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

2016 Books Reviewed

Here is a list of books I have reviewed in 2016 with a link to that particular review. They were all published in 2016. The list is in reverse chronological order as I posted them. If you have a thought or comment, just drop it in the “Comment” section.

The Christ-Centered Expositor

Engaging Exposition

Remember & Returnremember-return

Greek for Everyone

The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown

What Happened in the Garden

Unlocking the Bible

The Message of the Twelvethe-message-of-the-twelve

Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes

EGGNT – Ephesians

The Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible

The SBC in the 21st Century

Going Deeper with NT Greek

A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the OT & NT

Rescuing the Gospel

They Were Christians

The Inerrant WordSweeter Than Honey

A Peculiar Glory

Sweeter Than Honey, Richer Than Gold

The Miracles of Jesus

The Heart of RevelationHow Bible Stories Work

How Bible Stories Work

Illustrated Life of Paul

Bible Revival

What the NT Writers Really Cared About

Let Food Be Your Medicine

The Christ-Centered Expositor

B&H Academic has published two books on the subject of preaching that have been released virtually simultaneously. Engaging Exposition was reviewed in our last post. It’s an excellent text for aspiring preachers. Now we will tackle volume #2 on the subject of preaching: The Christ-Centered Expositor: A Field Guide for Word-Driven Disciple Makers. (Apparently hyphenated words are important for book titles.) This volume is written by Tony Merida, pastor and preaching professor. Once again it is with some trepidation that a preacher reviews a book on preaching written by a preaching professor. Merida teaches at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.the-christ-centered-expositor

The Christ-Centered Expositor is divided into two “Parts.” They can be summed up as the “Who” and the “How.” The order of the two parts is significant. It is vital that a preacher understands his task before he undertakes his task. Merida is excellent in presenting this significance.

Merida begins where Engaging Exposition left off – encouraging and challenging the spiritual life and outward testimony of the preacher. That’s “Part 1: The Expositor’s Heart.” His tone is one of inspiration emphasizing a love of the Scriptures and prayer. Virtually every chapter in this part contains a list of some sort.

“Part 2: The Expositor’s Message” is the how-to portion of the book. Merida is meticulous in his presentation of how an expository message should be developed from the moment the preacher decides on the text to the final delivery of the message. If one is learning the art of preaching, these 110 pages are worth serious and thoughtful study. Lists, charts and preaching projects are in abundance. That is not an objection or condemnation, but rather an attestation to the great value of this section.

There are questions at the end of every chapter which is a dead giveaway that this volume is to be used as a textbook – and it should be. It’s value as a textbook is also found in an eleven page bibliography which obviously includes a host of preaching volumes.

I would expect that The Christ-Centered Expositor will become a standard and required text in every Southern Baptist Seminary. For aspiring preachers it is must-read.Engaging Exposition

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

Engaging Exposition

It is always with a moderate amount of trepidation that a preacher reviews a book on preaching written by three men who teach preaching or who have preached for a multitude of years. If that is not enough, the book has also been awarded book of the year by Preaching Magazine. Regardless, here it is.engaging-exposition

Engaging Exposition: A 3-D Approach to Preaching, written by Daniel Akin, preaching teacher, and Bill Curtis and Stephen Rummage, longtime preachers, and published by B&H Publishing Group, is a be-all, tell-all volume on how to do expository preaching. The expertise here is not to be denied.

Engaging Exposition: A 3-D Approach to Preaching contains thirty chapters divided into three sections of ten chapters. (The “3-D” equates to Discovery, Development and Delivery.) Each section was written by one of the authors. The book has a logical progression for developing an expository message. It takes us from no message to the completed message.

Section One is all about hermeneutics, the proper process for interpreting the section of Scripture at hand. It also includes a chapter on “The Origins of Hermeneutics.” Section Two is all about how to put the sermon together. A most worthwhile chapter is the final one focusing on questions and answers when developing the message. The final section deals with delivery – the good, the bad and the ugly. It sums up with an exhortation for the preacher to live a godly life lest his message land on deaf ears.

My major criticism is that I found this volume to be long on “lists” and relatively short on examples. Yes, there are some useful charts and diagrams, but on the whole I feel there could be more in the way of “how to” rather than “do.”

Engaging Exposition is a book to be carefully studied not browsed through at a hurried pace. The intent of the authors is to encourage biblical, Christ-centered preaching which is experiencing a bad case of malnutrition. There is therefore no doubt that this volume will become a primary textbook for aspiring Southern Baptist preachers. It covers virtually every aspect of the expository sermon. I would also recommend this volume to preachers who desire to refresh their Message Delivery Methodology. After all, how can you go wrong with a “Book of the Year”?

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

Remember & Return

Devotionals are a big deal in the Christian world. And at the risk of sounding caustic or skeptical, I believe that’s a viable statement. It is important for the Believer to have contact with the Word of God daily, even if it is just through a devotional. Of course, there are hundreds of devotional books on the market and a multitude more available on the internet.remember-return

But somehow there’s nothing like having a printed copy of the Bible and a printed devotional right in front of you when you spend this time. So John MacArthur has produced a new devotional for that purpose. Remember & Return: Rekindling Your Love for the Savior – A Devotional is a compact, hardback, lightweight (literally) 31-day devotional that focuses our attention on Christ and Christ alone. Every one of the thirty-one entries centers on a verse of Scripture with an exposition from MacArthur. Each one ends with a “Daily Challenge.” Each entry is a bit longer than the average devotional (usually a page) encompassing between 5-7 pages. That’s why I believe this is more than a devotional. It’s a mini study. Naturally the quality of each daily is top notch with MacArthur’s insight.

This is a volume that you will want to have ready for you each day. It would also make an excellent Christmas gift for any Believer in your life. Actually, it would make the perfect gift to introduce Jesus to a non-believer.

My advice: Get a bunch and hand them out.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by BakerBooks for a fair and honest review.

Greek for Everyone

One of the pressing questions for all those who “religiously” study the Bible is what about the original languages? A plethora of questions arise from this starting point: Do I really need to know the original languages? If so, how much? How do I go about learning these languages?greek-for-everyone

Naturally, there is no shortage of Greek language experts and with that, of course, a plethora of books on how to learn Greek. I have in my library at least half a dozen books featuring the subject of learning Greek – Greek for the Rest of Us, Learn NT Greek, You Can Learn NT Greek are just three of the titles. All of these present us with basically the same format – learn vocabulary, the declensions and their endings, the conjugation of all the verbs and so on.

Now I have a new one – Greek for Everyone: Introductory Greek for Bible Study and Application by A. Chadwick Thornhill. Thornhill holds a PhD and is a professor at Liberty University. The book is published by BakerBooks.

So it was with a here-we-go-again attitude that I began to dig into Thornhill’s volume. But what a surprise! Thornhill does not demand a routine of endless memorization. Yes, he encourages us to get a grasp on some basic vocabulary, however, his emphasis is not on producing Greek scholars but rather on making us functional in the Greek language so we can dig a little deeper into the Scriptures. He does this through a survey of “the most important parts of speech and grammatical features of the Greek of the New Testament.” (He spends nine chapters on this information.) His theory is that if we are familiar with these basic elements of Greek, we can then use various “Resources for Navigating the Greek New Testament,” which are explained in Chapter 4.

If you have a desire to be able to investigate the New Testament in the original Greek, but have minimal time to spend studying the myriad of complexities of the language, Greek for Everyone is a book you will find indispensable. If you have an aspiration to learn the language, I would recommend you begin with this volume. Then you can study the more detailed Greek textbooks.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by BakerBooks for a fair, honest and impartial review.

The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown

This is the second edition of The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by B&H Academic Publishers. The authors, Andreas Kostenberger, L. Scott Kellum and Charles Quarles, are all experts in the arena of the New Testament. There is no lack of New Testament scholarship.The Cradle.png

This is a “big” book – literally and figuratively. This volume is a massive undertaking. It is big literally because it encompasses 1130 pages (not including an excellent map section in the back) and weighs nearly four pounds. It is probably not a volume to be carried any great distance in your backpack.

It is big figuratively due to its importance. It is comprehensive in that it deals with virtually every area of the New Testament but not exhaustive hence a wide-ranging bibliography at the end of each chapter.

The book begins with a two chapter Introduction on “The Nature and Scope of Scripture” and “The Political and Religious Background of the New Testament.” These chapters will educate and should inspire any New Testament pupil. Chapter 3 is a 106 page examination of “Jesus and the Relationship Between the Gospels,” encompassing nearly every issue that might challenge the student. Following chapter 1-3 is a book-by-book introduction to each of twenty-seven books of the New Testament.

Every chapter begins with a “Core Knowledge” section describing the knowledge expected at a Basic, Intermediate and Advanced level – an excellent tool to determine where one stands concerning the subject matter. Subsequent to this each chapter concludes with a series of study questions which would serve well on a final examination (thus the classification as a textbook).

While this is primarily a textbook, it is at the same time a ready reference for the New Testament. For any serious student of the New Testament this should be a go-to volume. If you love the Word of God, this is a book that should be on your bookshelf and referred to frequently.

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