April 27, 2011 by Tony Reinke
Categories: Book reviews | Contentment
The following excerpt is taken from Stephen Altrogge's new book, The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence (Crossway, 2011), pages 65–66:
In the gospel we have full, free, open access to God. This isn’t “come once a year, kill a lamb, and hope you don’t die” access to God. We don’t need to whip ourselves into a twirling religious frenzy or to light sticks of incense. There’s no need to walk ten miles with broken glass in our shoes or wash ourselves clean in a sacred river. We can come into the presence of God at all times and at all places.
This is the greatest benefit of the gospel. Forgiveness of sins, a new heart, and eternal life are only a means to this magnificent end. Jesus Christ ushers us into the presence of God, and it’s in the presence of God that we find our soul’s deepest satisfaction. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
A speedboat, job promotion, or beautiful, loving spouse who likes long walks on the beach can’t bring fullness of joy. Eternal pleasures can’t be purchased with a platinum credit card. Full, overflowing, eternal joy and pleasure are found only in the presence of God, and in the gospel we have access to his joyful presence....
If we’re not consistently spending time in the presence of God, we won’t be content.
For more background on The Greener Grass Conspiracy, watch the trailer here:
October 7, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Book reviews
Last weekend I witnessed a very meaningful and memorable event. During the 2010 Desiring God National Conference Sam Storms and Justin Taylor presented our friend John Piper with a festschrift project (kept secret for three years!) titled For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper (Crossway, 2010).
As you will see in the following presentation video, John was surprised. He was deeply moved—even overwhelmed—by the project. You can watch the 14-minute presentation here:
John was honored by the book, but all readers will benefit from this project. Just look at the long list of contributors at the bottom of this post! This book represents some serious scholarship on many very important topics. I was honored to play a small role in honoring my friend John with the contribution of one chapter, “The Pastor and the Trinity” (not written by a scholar, in case you're wondering).
To preview For the Fame of God’s Name, you can download the table of contents and chapter 8, “What is the Gospel?—Revisited” by D.A. Carson as a pdf here.
And here is a list of the contents:
A Note to John Piper
• Sam Storms and Justin Taylor
Part 1: John Piper
1. A Personal Tribute to the Praise of God’s Infinite Glory and Abounding Grace
• David Michael
2. Three Doors Down from a Power Plant
• David Livingston
3. Who Is John Piper?
• David Mathis
Part 2: Christian Hedonism
4. Christian Hedonism: Piper and Edwards on the Pursuit of Joy in God
• Sam Storms
5. When All Hope Has Died: Meditations on Profound Christian Suffering
• Mark R. Talbot
Part 3: The Sovereignty of God
6. The Sovereignty of God in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards
• Donald J. Westblade
7. Prayer and the Sovereignty of God
• Bruce A. Ware
Part 4: The Gospel, the Cross, and the Resurrection of Christ
8. What Is the Gospel?—Revisited • D.A. Carson
9. Christus Victor et Propitiator: The Death of Christ, Substitute and Conqueror
• Sinclair B. Ferguson
10. The Role of Resurrection in the Already and Not-Yet Phases of Justification
• G. K. Beale
Part 5: The Supremacy of God in All Things
11. A Biblical Theology of the Glory of God
• Thomas R. Schreiner
12. The Kingdom of God as the Mission of God
Scott J. Hafemann
13. The Mystery of Marriage
• James M. Hamilton Jr.
14. Pleasing God by Our Obedience: A Neglected New Testament Teaching
• Wayne Grudem
15. The Glory and Supremacy of Jesus Christ in Ethnic Distinctions and over Ethnic Identities
16. Dethroning Money to Treasure Christ above All
• Randy Alcorn
17. “Abortion Is about God”: Piper’s Passionate, Prophetic Pro-Life Preaching
• Justin Taylor
18. A God-Centered Worldview: Recovering the Christian Mind by Rediscovering the Master Narrative of the Bible
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Part 6: Preaching and Pastoral Ministry
19. Proclaiming the Gospel and the Glory of God: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards for Preaching
• Stephen J. Nichols
20. The Pastor and the Trinity
• C.J. Mahaney
21. The Pastor as Worshiper
• Ray Ortlund
22. The Pastor as Shepherd
23. The Pastor as Counselor
• David Powlison
24. The Pastor as Leader
• John MacArthur
25. The Pastor and His Study
William D. Mounce
Part 7: Ministries
26. The Vision and Ministry of Desiring God
27. The Vision and History of the Bethlehem Institute
September 16, 2010 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Book reviews | Parenting
This weekend I had the privilege of serving our friends at Bethlehem Baptist Church
in Minneapolis. I love this church and preaching there is a pure joy because they are so attentive and responsive. And I always benefit from my interaction with members of the pastoral team, whom I deeply respect.
But there was a unique highlight on this trip in meeting Krista Horning.
Krista, now 23 years old, was diagnosed with Apert syndrome
the day after her birth and has since undergone more then 60 surgeries. (I simply cannot comprehend that!) But you would probably never know that Krista has spent so much time in hospitals if you were to see her pronounced joy evident in her beautiful smile.
Krista is also the author of the new book Just the Way I Am: God's Good Design in Disability
(Desiring God, 2009). When it was released I received a copy from my friend Jon Bloom at Desiring God
. I immediately read the book when it arrived and was deeply moved as I read it. I think you will be as well.
In the foreword, Joni Eareckson Tada writes:
Every child goes through the "Why?" stage. Kids and questions go together. But it gets tougher when, with doleful eyes, a child asks, "Why don't my legs work like the other kids?" or "Why did God make me this way?"
Krista Horning is a young woman heaven-bent on helping children find answers. Especially the Answer, Jesus Christ. With a tenderness tempered by her own physical challenges, Krista considers it her life's calling to lovingly lead kids with disabilities beyond their questions to discover just how wise and sovereign God really is.
The bulk of the book features photographs
of joyful children at Bethlehem Church who suffer from disabilities. The photographs are complemented with biblical promises. Joni’s foreword is followed later in the book with a pastoral meditation by David Michael and a brief biography of Krista’s life written by her mother Mary (meeting the rest of the Horning family—Mary, her husband, son, and daughter—was another highlight from the trip!). Krista’s book concludes with application questions and a brief list of gospel truths by John Piper.
Just the Way I Am
is a unique and valuable resource for parents and pastors who get asked the honest questions from children with disabilities.
What a joy to see how the Horning family is bringing honor to the Savior. And what joy it was to meet Krista and her family this weekend.
August 17, 2010 by Tony Reinke
Categories: Book reviews
“What is the gospel?” If someone asked you right now, would you have a clear answer? Would you be confident that your answer is biblical?
There are a surprising number of answers to this question, but not all of them are clear and biblical. So we’re glad to point you to a free chapter
from Greg Gilbert’s important new book, What Is the Gospel?
. Here’s how C.J. endorsed the book:
Two realities make this a critically important book: the centrality of the gospel in all generations and the confusion about the gospel in our own generation. What Is the Gospel? provides a biblically faithful explanation of the gospel and equips Christians to discern deviations from that glorious message. How I wish I could place this book in the hands of every pastor and church member.
After you read the free excerpt, you’ll probably want to read the whole thing. And you can! Browse the book online at Crossway.org
. Or get a copy in your own hands, and buy copies to put in the hands of others, here
For more from Greg Gilbert, listen to a 59-minute interview by C.J. Mahaney and Mark Dever. It’s the latest in the 9Marks Leadership Interview series, available for free here
“The gospel cannot be preached and heard enough, for it cannot be grasped well enough,” wrote Martin Luther.*
By God’s grace I have been a Christian for 38 years. I agree with Luther—I still cannot hear the gospel enough. Each morning I seek to preach the gospel to myself by my study of Scripture and through the strategic reading of supplemental books about the cross. Over the past several months it has not been difficult to find enough books to fill this role. Six wonderful new books on the gospel have been published in the last five months, and they constitute a portion of my recent reading diet. Here they are:
God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom by Graham A. Cole (Dec 2009), 257 pages. This is a technical but reader-friendly addition in the NSBT series (New Studies in Biblical Theology). And not only is it detailed and readable, but I found it to be deeply moving, too. Many times throughout this book as I read about the atoning sacrifice of our Savior I ceased reading, looked up from the book, and broke into song. (In the interest of full disclosure, this often happens when I read. I am a noisy reader and often break into song while reading.)
God the Peacemaker is a wonderful book that explains why God's intention to restore shalom (peace) to his creation requires the death of Christ. Cole writes in the introduction:
We live in a troubled world. As I write, there are reports of a devastating cyclone in Myanmar, an earthquake in China, fighting in the Sudan and Iraq, shooting death after shooting death on the south side of Chicago. The list could go on and on. The waste of human life is enormous....Yet Christians believe in a good God who as the Creator has never lost interest in his world. The key evidence and the chief symbol of that divine commitment is the cross of Christ....Central to the divine strategy is Christ, his coming and his cross. The troubles and calamities will end. (19)
In recent years there have been many books that emphasize God’s restoration of shalom, but too few that highlight the central role of the cross in this plan.
By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me by Sinclair Ferguson (Feb 2010), 118 pages. Few have taught me more about the gospel of the grace of God than Sinclair Ferguson. I was reminded of the profound influence of his ministry in my life a couple years ago when I did this interview with him about the cross. Through his sermons and writing I am personally reminded of grace, affected by grace, and inspired to lead by grace. His latest book on the gospel of the grace of God is a gem—showing us why we should be amazed by it. Ferguson writes,
Being amazed by God’s grace is a sign of spiritual vitality. It is a litmus test of how firm and real is our grasp of the Christian gospel and how close is our walk with Jesus Christ. The growing Christian finds that the grace of God astonishes and amazes. Yet we frequently take the grace of God for granted. (xiv)
Ferguson writes as a man who is himself amazed by grace.
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson (Feb 2010), 168 pages. In the preface Carson writes,
Nothing is more central to the Bible than Jesus' death and resurrection. The entire Bible pivots on one weekend in Jerusalem about two thousand years ago. Attempts to make sense of the Bible that do not give prolonged thought to integrating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are doomed to failure, at best exercises in irrelevance. (11)
This book is not only not doomed to failure but destined to serve readers in their appreciation of the gospel as he expounds on both the death and resurrection of the Savior. As Mark Dever says in his endorsement, "This professor can preach. These are model messages on crucial passages." They are crucial passages, presented as a model of exegesis and exposition. The book is developed around five core passages: Matthew 27:27–51, Romans 3:21–26, Revelation 12, John 11:1–53, and John 20:24–31. Pastors can easily adapt this structure and use these passages to develop a sermon series to serve their churches.
Atonement by various authors, edited by Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer (Feb 2010), 142 pages. This is a compilation of messages delivered over the years at the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. Contributors include J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, and Ferguson. In his preface, editor Gabriel Fluhrer opens the book with these pointed words: "This is a book about blood and it soaks every page" (ix). And a little later he writes,
Today, along with other great doctrines of the Christian faith, the doctrine of the blood atonement of Christ is under attack. It is derided as “cosmic child abuse” and traded for a grandfatherly sentimentalism that muffles the piercing cries of the Savior being nailed to the cross. The pride of our sin dilutes the simple, clear, and shocking teaching of the New Testament: God killed his perfect Son to save hate-filled rebels from the wrath they deserve. (x)
The messages included in this book were finely chosen.
What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert (April 2010), 124 pages. Gilbert's new book on the gospel is clear and compelling. I wrote in my endorsement that I hoped to place this book in the hands of every pastor and church member. And the only thing I would add is that I hope it finds its way into the hands of non-Christians as well. I agree with Mark Dever: "This little book on the gospel is one of the clearest and most important books I've read in recent years." Help me put a copy of this book into every hand. Buy a case of them and begin giving them away immediately!
It Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement by Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence (April 2010), 223 pages. This series of sermons was published out of concern over the neglect of the gospel in the life of local churches. In the preface Dever writes,
Have you wondered about the cross lately? Have you wondered where it is in your own church, or in your own life? It's our prayer that these meditations will help you re-center your life on God's sacrifice for us in Christ and join in the celebration that's going on eternally as the saints in heaven praise God for the Lamb who was slain for us. (15)
Like Carson’s, this book can provide a pastor with a sermon series on the gospel. The 14 sermons are presented in canonical order on these texts: Exodus 12, Leviticus 16, Isaiah 52:13–53:12, Mark 10:45, 15:33–34, John 3:14–18, 11:47–52, Romans 3:21–26, 4:25, 5:8–10, 8:1–4, Galatians 3:10–13, 1 Peter 2:21–25, and 3:18.
I am grateful that we have many wonderful (and affordable) books about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need these books because we cannot read enough about the gospel. We cannot read enough about the gospel because we cannot grasp it well enough.
* What Luther Says: An Anthology, compiled by Edwald M. Plass (St. Louis: Concordia, 1963), vol. 2, pp. 563–564.
March 10, 2010 by Tony Reinke
Categories: Book reviews
Theologian Jonathan Edwards looms large in church history and in the history of theology. Yet because his writings are often very difficult to read, they are inaccessible to many readers. Making Edwards’s theology and writings accessible to a broad audience was the burden behind a new series of books: The Essential Edwards Collection.
The set contains short paperback volumes for a total of 760 pages. It was written and edited by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney with an introduction by John Piper. The series includes five topical books:
- Jonathan Edwards: Lover of God
- Jonathan Edwards: On Beauty
- Jonathan Edwards: On Heaven and Hell
- Jonathan Edwards: On the Good Life
- Jonathan Edwards: On True Christianity
C.J. endorsed The Essential Edwards Collection. Here’s what he wrote:
Books on the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards could fill a library. So where does an average reader (like me!) begin? Right here, with The Essential Edwards Collection. Strachan and Sweeney provide a doorway into the life and teaching of one of the church’s wisest theologians. But this book is more than history. The authors have included notes of personal application to help us apply the life and teaching of Edwards to our own lives. I’ve read no better introduction to Jonathan Edwards.
And here are four other noteworthy endorsements:
D.A. Carson: “Everyone says Jonathan Edwards is important. Quite frankly, however, his writing style is pretty dense by contemporary standards, so few pastors and other Christian leaders have invested much time reading him. Edwards is one of the ‘greats’ of whom everyone has heard and whom relatively few have read. This new series tackles the problem. Here is the kernel of much of Edwards’s thought in eminently accessible form.”
Mark Dever: “In The Essential Edwards Collection, Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney play the role of the good friend who pulls the book down off the shelf. With knowledge and excitement, they open the large and intimidating tomes, and point to some clear and searching section which illuminates God’s truth and searches our hearts. In this collection, Edwards is introduced to a new generation of readers. His concerns are made our concerns. This is a worthy effort and I pray that God will bless it.”
Al Mohler: “Why hasn’t this been done before? The Essential Edwards Collection is now essential reading for the serious-minded Christian. Doug Sweeney and Owen Strachan have written five excellent and accessible introductions to America’s towering theological genius—Jonathan Edwards. They combine serious scholarship with the ability to make Edwards and his theology come alive for a new generation. The Essential Edwards Collection is a great achievement and a tremendous resource. I can’t think of a better way to gain a foundational knowledge of Edwards and his lasting significance.”
Carl Trueman: “Jonathan Edwards is surely one of the most influential theologians of the eighteenth century, yet until now a representative sample of his work has required the reader either to wade through poorly printed double-column editions or to purchase incredibly expensive scholarly editions. Now at last we have a wide-ranging and representative sample of his work published in an attractive, accessible and, most important of all, readable form. The authors are to be commended for the work they have put into this set and I hope it will become an important feature of the library of many pastors and students of the Christian faith.”
December 16, 2009 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Book reviews
Kevin DeYoung recently responded to my interview questions. That interview was posted in two parts (here and here). As promised I wanted to add a third post to tell you about Kevin’s books.
I really like Kevin’s books. I think he is one of the finest young authors in the church today and I recommend all of his books. Here they are:
Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be (with Ted Kluck). My introduction to Kevin-the-author. This is the best critique of the emergent movement written for a popular audience that I have come across.
Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion (with Ted Kluck). This book is on the short list of my favorite books on the importance and value of the local church.
Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. On the topic of seeking guidance from God in the decisions of life, this book is the best I am aware of. It also has the longest subtitle since the writings of the Puritans.
Freedom and Boundaries: A Pastoral Primer on the Role of Women in the Church. Excellent argument for—and celebration of—the complementarian position of gender roles in the church.
The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. Kevin’s latest work is scheduled for release in April. Doubtless this will be the finest book I will have ever read on the Heidelberg Catechism. It will certainly be the first.
Today on his blog Kevin DeYoung posted C.J.’s most valuable reads of 2009. Read about C.J.’s picks here.
I first met Kevin DeYoung in the pages of his book Why We’re Not Emergent
(Moody, 2008). Somewhere around page 50 I became his fan. Since that time I’ve also had the privilege and joy of becoming his friend.
Kevin is the senior pastor of University Reformed Church
in East Lansing, Michigan, and the author of four books (more on his books in a forthcoming blog post). I asked him 14 questions on topics like books, devotions, preaching, and sports, which he was happy to answer.
Meet my friend Kevin DeYoung.
Kevin, thank you for your time! Please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What are you presently reading?
We have four small children so my sleep pattern is somewhat dependent on how (if!) they all slept. But usually I wake up between 6:30-6:45, a little later if it is my day off (Monday), or if I had a late meeting the night before. On average I spend about an hour in morning devotions. I start by reading 5-10 pages of some classic Christian book (The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
at present). Then I sing a Psalm. Then I read 3-4 chapters from the Bible. I’ve used lots of different reading plans. Right now I’m using a plan that gets me through the whole Bible once a year and Psalms/Proverbs twice. I am in the minor prophets right now. After reading, I work on some Scripture memory, the second half of Romans 12 at the moment. Finally I spend about 25 minutes in prayer, often on a walk if it is not too cold outside. None of these segments take too terribly long, so I’m usually done in an hour or a little more.
What book(s) are you currently reading in these three categories: (a) for your soul, (b) for pastoral ministry, or (c) for personal enjoyment?
For my soul: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
by Jeremiah Burroughs; Forerunner of the Great Awakening: Sermons by Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen
edited by Joel Beeke; Letters of John Newton
For pastoral ministry: Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth
by Alistair McGrath; Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity
by William Murchison; The Holy Spirit
by Sinclair Ferguson; commentaries on Mark
For personal enjoyment: Macbeth
; The Predictioneer’s Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future
by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita;
Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
by Stephen C. Meyer
Apart from Scripture, what book do you most frequently re-read and why?
I’ve read Calvin’s Institutes
several times. I try to go back to it every few years. The theology is rich, passionate, biblical, and ministers to my soul. I see new things every time I read the Institutes
. Plus, Calvin, especially in the Battles translation
, is easier to read than Jonathan Edwards and many of the Puritans.
When you finish a book, what system have you developed in order to remember and reference that book in the future?
Sadly, I have no system in place. I’ve tried a few different times to implement something, but I didn’t stick with it. If I see an article in a magazine or journal that I like I’ll make a copy and put it in my files (arranged by topics). But for books I just underline, write in the margins and hope I remember where things are later.
If you could study under any theologian in church history (excluding those men in Scripture), who would it be and why?
That’s a hard one. I could learn a lot from so many—Augustine, Calvin, Edwards. But I would pick John Newton. He was not the most prolific theologian, but I figure I can always read Luther or Owen today, but I can’t get the man John Newton. He seems so wise, balanced, and godly. He would make a great mentor, especially for a pastor. A close second would be Irenaeus or one of the other Church Fathers, just because they were not far removed from the Apostles.
What single piece of counsel (or constructive criticism) has most improved your preaching?
If people walk away from your sermons and think you are really smart, you probably have preached a bad sermon. At first I thought it was good if people were impressed by my learning, but now I see that wowing people with my studies is exactly the wrong thing to do. Along these lines, I’ve heard Earl Palmer say that he aims at the high school junior or senior in his sermon. This makes sense to me. A high school senior is used to thinking (we hope) and can handle new ideas and concepts (we hope), but we should not assume he has a deep background in the Bible and theology. That’s a good target audience.
What books on preaching, or examples of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
The best book on preaching is Preaching and Preachers
by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. John Stott’s Between Two Worlds
is a close second. Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students
is also one of my favorites.
I have benefited from listening to many preachers, including: John Piper, Alistair Begg, Tim Keller, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney. I don’t think most sermons read very well in print, but Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J.C. Ryle are notable exceptions.
We will pick up here in part two of my interview with my friend Kevin DeYoung.
A compilation book of the messages delivered at the 2008 Together for the Gospel
conference is now available. Titled Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology
(Crossway, 2009), the new book is authored by Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, and C.J., with contributions by Thabiti Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul and one additional piece by Greg Gilbert.
What follows is a glimpse at the contents, a link to each original conference message audio recording, and a brief comment on each message/chapter taken from Dever’s introduction to the new book.
Chapter 1: Sound Doctrine: Essential to Faithful Pastoral Ministry (Duncan). Message audio
. Dever: “Ligon Duncan begins this volume as he began that conference. He entered the lists asserting that systematic theology is a worthwhile task. Indeed, in days when the narrative form of biblical theology is attracting great (and deserved) attention, it is too often being pitted against systematic theology. Ligon defends the usefulness and necessity of systematic theology with clarity and vigor. A pastor must remember the truths in this chapter or risk losing the gospel itself” (pp. 12–13).
Chapter 2: Bearing the Image (Anyabwile). Message audio
. Dever: “In his address at Together for the Gospel, Thabiti challenged us to recognize that the category of ‘race’ is irredeemable. It brings far more confusion than light, more contention than understanding, more prejudice than impartial judgment. As you turn to that chapter—perhaps the most explosive of the conference—open your mind and get ready to think” (p. 13).
Chapter 3: The Sinner Neither Willing nor Able (MacArthur). Message audio
. Dever: “John MacArthur delivered a message on human depravity that was a model of clear thinking. In it, John masterfully assembled the witness of Scripture (in the very way Ligon had encouraged us the previous day) on this vital topic. John showed that a mistake here is a mistake in the foundation of understanding the nature of our problem. He laid out challenges currently facing this doctrine and concluded by calling us to be faithful to this aspect of the message, no matter how hard we may find such faithfulness” (p. 13).
Chapter 4: Improving the Gospel: Exercises in Unbiblical Theology (or) Questioning Five Common Deceits (Dever). Message audio
. Dever: “The next message was mine. I had been mulling over for some time the confusion about the content of the gospel. The message came together as I reviewed notes I had made some months earlier about various issues that needed ‘addressing.’ I began to notice that each one evidenced a distortion of the gospel. With encouragement from my T4G brothers—and the Capitol Hill Baptist congregation—I worked and reworked the material until I felt I got close to saying what I wanted to say. I wanted to get evangelicals talking about what the gospel is exactly” (pp. 13–14).
Chapter 5: The Curse Motif of the Atonement (Sproul). Message audio
. Dever: “R.C. Sproul brought to the conference what many felt was the most devotionally rich meditation on the sacrifice of Christ. And he did it by meditating upon the curse motif in the Old Testament! In his own inimitable conversational style, with wide learning and profound biblical understanding, R.C. took us on a tour of Old Testament practices, verbally painting scenes before our eyes. Again and again, as we stared into the depth of those practices, we began to see the cross of Christ more and more clearly until, well, let me simply encourage you to read what I heard many call ‘the best I've ever heard R.C.’ And, I promise—it's not R.C. you'll be glorifying when you're done” (p. 14).
Chapter 6: Why They Hate It So: The Denial of Substitutionary Atonement in Recent Theology (Mohler). Message audio
. Dever: “This conference in many ways was birthed out of our concern that the atonement is being misconceived and mistaught in too many evangelical books and churches. It was Al who decided to wade into the sea of literature and explain to us what has happened. With a mastery of the literature that is both exceptional and yet typical of our well-read friend, he led us to see the lines of misunderstanding—of attack—that have been laid down against Christ's death being in the place of sinners. His conference message, now here in print, should serve as a guide to the literature and, even more fundamentally, to thinking carefully about the atoning work of Christ” (p. 14).
Chapter 7: How Does the Supremacy of Christ Create Radical Christian Sacrifice? A Meditation on the Book of Hebrews (Piper). Message audio
. Dever: “The last day of the conference, John Piper brought the cross into our own lives and ministries. He posed the question, ‘How does the supremacy of Christ create radical Christian sacrifice?’ Looking through the last few chapters of Hebrews, John called for us to live radical lives so as to have radical ministries. He called us to be God's men. He called us to be certain that in such a ministry suffering will come” (p. 15).
Chapter 8: Sustaining the Pastor's Soul (Mahaney). Message audio
. Dever: “The final message was once again given by the conference pastor C.J. Mahaney. C.J. preached a wonderful message titled ‘Sustaining the Pastor's Soul.’ He presented Paul as an example of one who suffered without complaint and served with obvious joy, regardless of the circumstances. And he called us to be ‘happy pastors,’ too. What was it he repeatedly said? ‘How striking that the one with the most responsibility was the one with the most joy.’….Even though this message appears as the book's last chapter, if you're a pastor and feeling particularly pressed, let me suggest that you begin there” (pp. 15–16).
Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology
is a follow-up to the first volume, Preaching the Cross
(Crossway, 2007), which developed out of the messages delivered at the 2006 T4G conference