Pastor's Library

The Gospel According to the ApostlesThe Gospel According to the Apostles

John MacArthur, Word Publishing, 2000, 272 pages, $12.99, softcover.

About five years ago John MacArthur wrote The Gospel According to Jesus. This book is a sequel to that book. The first Gospel book caused quite a stir among some evangelicals. His critics accused MacArthur of preaching a gospel of works. The epithet that came to be associated with MacArthur (at least in some evangelical circles) was "lordship salvation."

His chief critics were those at Dallas Theological Seminary, led by Dr. Charles Ryrie. MacArthur, they charged, was preaching that individuals had to make Jesus Lord of their lives before they could be saved. Ryrie and others stated that simple faith in Christ made Him Savior; lordship could, and often did, come later when the individual matured in faith.

MacArthur states that his position has been so distorted by his critics that he must defend his preaching as biblical and evangelical-hence this sequel.

Dr. MacArthur carefully outlines his theological position: Christ's death on the cross fully paid the sin debt, salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing and minus nothing, sinners cannot earn the favor of God by good works (nothing the sinner can do can convince God to save him), eternal life is the gift of God, believers are fully justified before their faith can produce a single righteous act, and Christians can and do sin. Why, then, do his critics find fault with MacArthur's message?

Works cannot save the sinner. However, works are an indication that grace has been efficacious in one's salvation experience. On cannot claim to have received Christ as Savior with no intention of ever making Him Lord. Repentance-the act of truly being sorry for one's sins against a holy God and turning from one's sins-is necessary before the grace of God makes one a child of God. MacArthur carefully points out that repentance does not involve doing good works; repentance is a gift from God that involves a change of mind and attitude toward sin that has separated one from a holy God.

Walking a church aisle or signing a pledge card without a corresponding mental and moral change is "easy believism." It It is not the gospel that Jesus or the Apostles preached, MaArthur says.

The author has a long discussion on the correlation between dispensationalism and no-lordship salvation. MacArthur takes strong exception to those who teach that Old Testament saints were saved in a different manner than those under New Testament revelation. Salvation has always been grace through faith, he states.

The Gospel According to the Apostles will probably illuminate Dr. MacArthur's position on salvation. It will also cause serious Bible students to think more deeply about the message and meaning of being a child of God.

Glen H. Jones

Target: Pulpit and Pew
Type: Instructive
Take: Highly Recommended

Ministry to the IncarceratedMinistry to the Incarcerated

Henry G. Covert, Loyola Press, 1995, 185 pages, $16.95, softcover.

I found Henry G. Covert's book Ministry to the Incarcerated interesting, informative, and understanding in its approach to the dilemma faced by the inmates and chaplains alike. Prisoners often feel the whole world is against them, and nobody cares. This book points out the need for genuine Christian love and understanding, instead of criticism and rejection.

This book should be read by every person considering a career as a chaplain. It should be read by pastors, too. Chaplains are needed to reach the inmates on the inside and pastors and churches need to reach out to them on the outside after release. This keeps them from going back to the old life style, giving them a fresh start.

Of all prisoners released, 65 percent return to prison within two years and 85 percent return within five years. However, fewer than 10 percent of those reached for Christ ever return. Corrections do not work-Christ does.

Nathan Chandler

Editor's note: Nathan Chandler, whom I deem it a privilege to acknowledge as a brother in Christ, has served as a volunteer chaplain since 1988. He has brought the comfort of Christ to many behind bars, and has been used of the Lord to lead many to Christ. His recommendation of this book carries the weight of experience.

Target: Prospective Chaplains, Pastors
Type: Identifies Problem and Points to Scriptural Solutions
Take: "Wish I had read it before I started this ministry."

The Letters of JohnThe Letters of John

Colin G. Kruse, William B. Eerdsmans Publishing, 2000, 255 pages, $28.00, hardcover.

This carefully-researched and well-written volume illuminates the three general epistles of 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. Some peripheral information on the Gospel of John is also included. These three "minor" letters contain a wealth of information about life in the early church and how it can also apply to us today.

John is not identified by name as the writer of any of the three short letters. However, the internal evidence of language and style clearly points to John, and the early church ascribed these epistles to him.

The first letter of John defends the person of Christ as Savior and Son of God. The writer affirms that he personally witnessed the ministry of Christ. Knowing that He is who He claimed to be, John categorically states that those who are in Him must live in Him and love other believers.

The second letter has only thirteen verses. John admonishes "the chosen lady" to abide in Him, to beware of false teachers and to love one another. The third letter addresses how the church must deal with false teachers that have come into the church.

Glen H. Jones

Target: Pulpit and Pew
Type: Instructional
Take: Recommended

The Power of Extraordinary PrayerThe Power of Extraordinary Prayer

Robert O. Bakke, Crossway Books, 191 pages, $10.99, softcover.

Too few Christians pray. Too few Christians pray with others. That, contends Robert Bakke, accounts for the anemic state of Christianity in the world, especially in the United States. Since 1993, Bakke has traveled the world organizing a Concert of Prayer. He encourages believers to gather and cry to God for spiritual renewal.

The author traces spiritual movements when Christians united in prayer for God's deliverance. He cites the New England Awakening in the time of Jonathan Edwards. Missionary William Carey also encouraged those of his generation to unite in prayer for spiritual awakening.

Bakke shows that God has granted revival in the past in England, Scotland, and the United States. The author believes that when God's people unite in earnest prayer, God will again hear His people and grant spiritual renewal and healing for the land.

Glen H. Jones

Target: Pulpit and Pew
Type: Inspirational
Take: Recommended