Thursday Book Review – All Dressed Up With Nothing to Review

Hello beloved brethren! I hope you had a fantastic Reformation Day yesterday. I had hoped to be done with John Calvin’s third book of The Institutes. It’s meaty, dear ones. It’s taking me a while to get through. So instead, I want to hear what you’re reading! Currently, besides Biblical study, all my reading time is going towards The Institutes. It feels odd to only be reading one thing at a time. Let me know in the comments, friends, what books are you digging into? What books do you recommend?

Also, if you missed my last two reviews of The Institutes you can catch up here, and here. Here’s a little throw back Thursday to my first ever book review! Oh the graphics…the poor, poor graphics! I look forward to hearing what you’re all reading. I pray the Lord blesses you all. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

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Thursday Book Review: The Institutes of the Christian Religion Book 2

I’m so excited, dear ones, to finally be writing this book review. If you missed my review of Book 1 you can find it here. The four books of the Institutes of the Christian Religion were written by the French Reformer John Calvin, who was a theologian and a pastor in Geneva. This work was originally published in 1536, although he updated it, and translated it, in the years following. The second book, while still addressing the papacy and other heretics of his time, focusing mostly on the will of man, and the similarities and differences between the New and Old Testaments. Amazingly, at the time, this was considered introductory reading on the Protestant Faith. That I could agree with in the first book, which was not just easy to read and understand, but a complete joy to do so. This book, on the other hand, is deep and rich, and precise. While still joyful, it required much more time and study.

Why? Well for starters, as a toddler in the faith, much of what he wrote about I hadn’t considered deeply enough to comprehend the conclusions. So, during the reading of his second book I did a great deal more study and prayer than was needed in the first. I would say that this was a great joy! Anything that pushes us to pray, and study, is needed. Again, I failed to see any hot button issues in this book, nor did I read even a hint of the accusations lobbied against Calvin today. On the contrary, it seemed as if, perhaps, those who judge so harshly haven’t read the Institutes. I genuinely hope that’s not the case, as believers we need to be very careful before we accuse our brethren of anything as weighty as the accusations I’ve seen lightly banded around the internet.

The two main issues I had expected to see in these books were the often repeated accusations that Calvin taught not to evangelize, and that Calvin taught man has no will therefor blaming God for mans mistakes. The exact opposite can be found in these first two books, both of which preached the Law and the Gospel more than once, and both place the blame of sin squarely on mankind’s fallen nature. Perhaps there is confusion in regards to the difference in word usage from then to now? Or perhaps there are some claiming to be Calvinists who have also not read and understood the Institutes, which teach incorrectly? I’m not sure yet, perhaps I will understand better the more I read and study.

I do recommend this book for all theologically inclined believers, or anyone who is confused by the divide between the Calvinists and Arminians. So far, the only difference I can see is whether or not man plays any roll in salvation. There are so many who fall on a range of explanations in that area, although all born again believers will give God the glory for His grace in sending His Son to save us. I certainly do not mean to make light of such a serious issue, but am inclined to suspect the other allegations against the Institutes are either misunderstandings, or incorrect arguments being repeated. Only time will tell, beloved brethren, as I eagerly delve into the third book!

I can tell you, friends, that the differences in opinions should not stop you from reading these masterpieces of Christian theology. Calvin outlines every chapter precisely, so notes are easier, and explanations are clearer. He makes his points using Scripture, church fathers, and brethren from the past, though mostly leaning on Scripture. It’s not the type of book I would recommend for a quick read, or for those who barely have time to read the Bible. Gods Word is of upmost importance, though this book is a great accompaniment with Bible study as it digs into verses with careful exegesis. The second book, like the first one, is in the public domain. Yay, free! You can read the PDF here, the audio here, the Kindle here, or a hard copy (which I recommend for a book this deep in theology) here. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Thursday Book Review – A Divine Cordial by Thomas Watson

Hello again, dear ones, I hope this post finds you all well! Today I’d like to review another Thomas Watson book. As you’ll recall, Thomas Watson was a Puritan preacher in the 17th Century. His books have been a tremendous blessing to me, so it should come as little surprise that I loved A Divine Cordial as well. This book was first published in 1663, so you guessed it, it’s in the public domain. Translate free. I read it as a result of the wilderness wondering I’m in at the moment. This past month has been a series of difficulties, which made this book a beautiful read. A Divine Cordial is Thomas Watson’s exposition of Romans 8:28, in which he explains how God works the joyful, and the sorrowful for our good as born again believers.

I recall when I was first born again that year was simultaneously the best of times, and the worst of times. The wilderness I was brought through effectively worked sanctification in my life, and drew me to lean more fully on Christ crucified. I earnestly look forward to the results of the hardships I’m facing now, though I’d not wish the pain on my worst enemy, the pruning always brings forth greater fruit. And that, beloved, I do wish on you all. This is why A Divine Cordial was so timely, although I wish I had read it a few weeks ago. Not only does Watson exegete this verse, along with many other, in a clear and concise manner, he also presents the Gospel. Which makes this book a perfect gift for everyone struggling, including those we love who are lost. It explains why we go through difficult times, and how we can still bring glory to God in them. That being said, I whole heartedly recommend this book to all believers, with a suggestion that you read it before the hard times come, so you’ll be better prepared. This book is, like I said, in the public domain so you can read it for free here, listen to the audiobook free here, get the kindle here, or a hard copy here.

Thursday Book Review – Institutes of the Christian Religion Book 1

Good afternoon, dear ones, I hope this post has found you all well! I’m so excited about reviewing this book today, and I can’t wait to finish the rest of the books in the Institutes. I was actually really nervous when I began reading this book, assuming from the start that there must be some sort of scandalous teaching within. I suppose to the man-centered prosperity peddling churches I spent so much time in before being born again, it would have been terribly scandalous. This is probably why I put off reading it for so long, I don’t like contention. However, recently I saw someone on social media assert that Calvinists, also known as Reformed, follow a false god. That was awfully grievous to see, I have many friends who are Calvinists, some of you are probably reading this right now. Besides that, I’ve researched Calvin’s life and read some of his other writings and held a great deal of respect for him. Did this book change my mind, or in the least explain why anyone would consider it idolatry?

The answer, simply, is no. I didn’t read anything in this book that I haven’t read in Owens, Edwards, or Spurgeons work. Throughout each chapter I found nothing scandalous whatsoever, though he rightly hits the Roman Catholic Church hard for their falsehoods. He also deals with many others who had strayed from the Bible, and refutes them with the full counsel of Gods Word. I saw no Scripture taken out of context, or a point made without Biblical backup. In short, I can see no evidence for the assertion made on social media. Also, I must say, this book is an absolute delight!

The Institute was first published by John Calvin in 1536, though he continued updating it until 1560, when it’s final edition was published. There are four books, each tackling different major theological issues, patterned after the Apostles Creed. It helped me to think more deeply about God, and His sovereign will. Calvin’s love for God, Gods Word, and Gods people are clear in his writing, and were a genuine encouragement to me. His explanations were thorough, yet easy to understand, even for someone like me! I hope that more people will read his writings before accusing him of being a false brother, and before accusing those who admire him of following a false god. I, personally, can not wait to read the other books and review them for you all.

Beloved, we should never glorify any one man, all glory goes to God, as Calvin himself would have wanted. I can’t imagine he would take to kindly to having a group named after him. In fact, woven between Scripture, he speaks of Church fathers, and believers who had come and gone long before his time. It is a blessing that we’re able to read his, and so many others writings today with a click of a button. It seems a shame not to take advantage of that wonderful opportunity. You can find all four books of the Institutes of the Christian Religion in audio, pdf download, and online here. The kindle version is only a dollar here, and a relatively cheap paperback can be purchased here. I hope this review was helpful, my friends, as always be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Thursday Book Review – The Truth Chronicles The Ark

A review of the final book in the six book set The Truth Chronicles. What an excellent adventure these books have been!

This is the final review of this book series, friends, and as with most book series, it’s sad to see the last page! The Truth Chronicles is a creationist, Bible centered, young adult book series revolving around four teens that travel through time. If you haven’t caught my previous previews I’ll link them in at the bottom.

Written by Answers in Genesis’ Tim Chaffee and Joe Westbrook, this final installment is more jam packed with adventure than all the other books. As with the other books, we follow these teens as they come to Christ and grow in their faith. As this is the last book it’s only fitting that the last of the four friends bows her knee to Christ. The Ark is more adventure than evangelical or apologetical than the previous books. As a matter of fact, this was my least favorite of the six book series. Before I tell you why, I have to repeat that I absolutely adore these books and highly recommend them to every youth group.

That being said, the last book fell flat in a couple areas. Actually, all throughout the books I felt like the Gospel message was not strong enough. It’s there in a way that I feel young people can form questions to ask their parents, or even create an atmosphere of salvific conversations. There’s just not enough emphasis on our sinful natures, or clear explanations of repentance and faith. My second issue is the ending of the book, and this is purely surface level, personal opinions from yours truly, there was no evident end of the story line. There’s a grand adventure, but no closure with the characters or the plot.

Even with those issues, I still feel like this is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best book series for teens and preteens, or mature pre preteens like our little Kayleigh. In each book various different attack’s against Gods Word are addressed, there’s prayer and study, and the love for the brethren displayed. The storyline is phenomenally original, and there was no ‘yikes’ moment of Scriptural deviation that I saw. If you lead a youth group, are an elder in your church, or have kiddos yourself, get these book in the hands of a young person. You can find the paperback here, and the full series here. Also, in case you missed them, here is a list of previous reviews; Book One, Book Two, Book Three, Book Four, and Book Five. If you have a book you’d like me to review please feel free to list it in the comments. As always, my dear and beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Thursday Book Review – The Truth Chronicles Book 5 The Chase

A book review of the fifth book in the six book series The Truth Chronicles, The Chase. This book is chalk full of apologetics, creation science, evangelism, and adventure!

Beloved, I’m so excited to finally be able to review the fifth book in the six book series, The Truth Chronicles. Book five, aptly names The Chase, is the most suspenseful, and emotional, of the books thus far. If you recall from my previous reviews on the series, these books follow four teenagers on their adventures through time, and faith. In the first book they invent a time machine, and with one of the four a Christian who believes strongly in Creationism, they set out to prove her wrong. Each book has been jam packed with science, apologetics, and adventure. This one is no different, though it has an emotion twist.

The Chase deals with child abuse, although it doesn’t specify it seems to be referring to sexual abuse. Growing up, our youth are often confronted by the difficult, emotional questions raised and answered in this book. The raw, honest, pain displayed in certain points of the book would even be a comfort for teens that have suffered in a similar way. This is what I love about this book series, it holds no punches. It aims directly at all the issues young people face, all the attacks levied against Christianity, and it answers these questions. It answers the questions without sounding like a sermon, and while keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, waiting to see what dinosaurs try to eat them next!

Once again, I have to recommend this book series to every youth group. It opens up so many opportunities for questions, for Gospel messages, and for growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. If you have youngsters it’s a great book to read together, and can help us as adults to recall (rather unwillingly if I’m being honest) what it was like to be young. You can find the kindle version here, the hardback copy here, and the full series here. If you’ve missed my previous reviews here are some links to book one, two, three, and four. As always, dear friends, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Thursday Book Review – The Holy Life the Beauty of Christianity

Beloved brethren today’s book I’d like to review for you was written by John Bunyan (1628-1688). You’ll recognize him as the writer of Pilgrims Progress and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. The Holy Life is a short book, published in 1684 just four years before Bunyan’s death, which expounds upon 2 Timothy 2:19. The style of this book, while not as easy to read or eloquent, is similar to Thomas Watson’s, so it lends itself to organized note taking.

The topic Bunyan addresses here is one dangerously lacking within the discussions of believers today, holiness. Many will, unfortunately, shrug this subject off as ‘legalistic’. That label gets thrown around all too often today, perhaps simply due to a misunderstanding of what legalism actually is. In this book Bunyan never suggests that holiness is a means of salvation, but rather calls believers to a holy life style as means to glorify God, and share the Gospel with onlookers. He decries those who profess the name of Christ, yet have never repented of their sins and put their faith in Him. It was much more evangelistic than I expected, while still stinging with conviction and leading with encouragement to believers.

I would recommend this book to all believers, though it would make a particularly apt gift for elders, leaders, and pastors. Due to the age of this one, it’s in the public domain. This, of course, means it’s free! Also, Librivox has a free audio recording of it as well, which you can find here. Here is the pdf, and paper back, though there does not seem to be a kindle version available, sorry friends. I pray this review has found you all doing well, dear ones, and has blessed you. As always, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.