God on Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer
Pete Greig, Regal Books, ISBN 0830743243, 294 pages, $17.99, hardcover.
Pete Greig has, quite simply, created a much-needed book, out of the depths of his own and his wife's faith-stresses.
Genesis of the book goes back six years, when Pete's wife, Samie, was found to have a massive tumor in her brain. Pete was a fervent believer that God answers prayer. But God didn't seem to be answering, no matter how desperately Pete and others prayed. In fact, Pete reached the point that he stopped praying during Samie's seizures, rather than face the "minor crisis of faith after each one."
How he and Samie came through this experience, and what they learned about God, and about prayer, is the subject of this book. And if you, or someone you care about, has ever encountered the silence of God in the face of desperate circumstances, you need to absorb this book-and then pass it on.
The author-who is a co-founder of 24-7, an international prayer movement-organizes his material on the framework of the three days preceding Resurrection Sunday:
Maundy Thursday-How am I going to get through this?
Good Friday: Why aren't my prayers being answered?
Holy Saturday: Where is God when heaven is silent?
Even our Lord, he notes, seems to have doubted momentarily while on the cross (Matt. 27:46; Ps. 22:1) But today, living as we do in the light of the Resurrection, "we know that God may be silent but that He will speak again.
Take: Highly Recommended
Assured by God, Living in the Fullness of God's Grace
Edited by Burk Parsons, P&R Publishers, 2006, ISBN 9781596380295,200 pages, $18.00, hardcover.
This volume centers on the perseverance of the saints-the P of TULIP-in the five points of Calvinism (Total depravity, Unmerited favor, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints) The P has been given several different terms, such as: once saved, always saved; security of the believer; and perseverance of the saved. Several writers from the Reformed tradition give us insight into the grace of Christ that never fails the believer.
In Chapter 1, "Our Sure Foundation," Burk Parsons points out that believers can be assured that Christ will never fail them. We will persevere to the end because He has called us and provides us the faith to abide in Him. Not one whom God has called will fail to persevere.
Throughout the book the writers enunciate that election, predestination, calling, redemption, sanctification, and perseverance have been provided by God. The authors believe that the Triune Godhead in ages past planned for the redemption of the elect. Having elected some, He predestined the elect to be conformed to the image of Christ and to be preserved faithful in Christ until He returns. However, this preservation does not mean that believers must "hold out." The One who called provides the faith and strength to persevere in holiness and sanctification throughout our lives.
The authors are quite emphatic in stating that free grace does not mean license to sin.
One of the writers attempts to help his readers reconcile the paradox between election and free will, comparing salvation to a huge cross with a door. Over the door is written, "Whosoever will may come." When one has passed through the door he turns around and sees the inscription, "Chosen in Him from the foundation of the world."
These thought-provoking articles will doubtless send many readers to their Bible to authenticate the authors' statements.
Glen H. Jones
Type: Reformed Theology
C. S. Lewis's Case for Christ
Art Lindsley, InterVarsity Press, 2005, ISBN 0830832858, 216 pages, $14.00, softcover.
In his early years Lewis followed the teaching of the Church of England. He gradually drifted into rationalization, agnosticism, and finally atheism. J. R. R. Tolkien was instrumental in Lewis coming to faith in Christ in 1931.
Using The Case for Christ as a backdrop, Lindsley examines several spiritual obstacles to Lewis' faith. The first obstacle he calls "Chronological Snobbery." The brilliant Lewis reasoned that a 2000-year-old religion could not possibly have any relevance for modern man, especially an educated man. In reasoning through this dilemma, Lewis finally concluded that old did not necessarily mean irrelevant. He became a champion of faith to the intellectual and the common people.
The problem of evil severely troubled Lewis. Evil brings suffering, pain, and death-a fear that plagued Lewis. The sickness and death of his wife, Joy, plunged him into depression. He finally reasoned that pain, death, and evil cannot be understood but must be accepted. A Grief Observed came out of this turmoil.
A brilliant storyteller, Lewis based his stories on the thousands of myths he had read. But with the Bible he drew the line. He poked gentle fun at theologians who tried to turn narrative Scripture into moral myths. Myths are not supposed to be believed; biblical narratives are meant be believed.
Lewis had a lot say about miracles. Unlike many erudites of his day, Lewis believed in biblical miracles. He argued that to deny the possibility of miracles is anti-intellectual. Naturalism teaches that we live in a closed-box system in which no outside forces can enter to violate the "laws" of nature. However, Lewis stated, we live in an open-box system; God can intervene and can cause events to transpire that are not impossible, improbable, or inappropriate.
Glen H. Jones
The Gospel of Luke: Christ, the Son of God
Mal Couch, AMG Publishers, 2006, ISBN 0899578225, 246 pages, $19.95, hardcover.
This volume is another in the series of the Twenty-First Century Biblical Commentary. Couch's approach is scholarly and conservative and he maintains a high respect for the integrity of the inspired Scriptures. His eschatology is solidly premillennial.
Luke probably was the only Gentile New Testament writer. He was a physician who accompanies Paul on several segments of his missionary journeys. He was conversant with the events of the life of Christ and of the apostles. One has only to examine Luke's biographical, geographical, and historical comments to see what a meticulous scholar he was. Luke's accuracy has never been successfully challenged.
Luke's Gospel was written to Theophilus, probably a Roman official who was a believer in Christ or a serious seeker. Luke wrote a second letter to confirm Theophilus' faith-the Acts of the Apostles.
Couch divides the Gospel of Luke into six major categories: Jesus' early background, His early ministry, beginning opposition, His final days, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The author expounds several episodes within each of the six categories.
The author has some informative comments on Jesus' prophetic utterances on the destruction of Jerusalem, the coming of the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, and the final judgment when He returns from heaven (pages 197-203).
Couch's final discussion concerns the glorious bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, His promise of the Holy Spirit, and the Great Commission to His disciples.
Glen H. Jones
Type: Bible Exposition
Take: Highly Recommended