Evangelical Truth by John Stott

evangelicaltruth stottJohn Stott and his ministry is well known and well respected throughout the world. He has written numerous books and articles, and up until his death in 2011 he was considered a worldwide Christian leader.

In this little book of 149 pages Stott explains the essentials of the Christian faith and makes a strong plea for unity. Here, toward the end of his life, Stott continues to write with great insight, making you think about the primary and secondary issues within the Christian faith. There is constant debate between Christians, now more than ever it seems, over all sorts of theological and social issues. Stott believes these issues should be discussed, but at times there is a need to lessen the vigour and closed-handedness of these debates.

Evangelical Truth has five chapters, including the introduction and conclusion. The three main chapters cover the following areas: the revelation of God, the cross of Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

In the introduction Stott gives a brief rundown of his definition of evangelicalism. He pitches this definition against that of fundamentalism and liberalism. Within this chapter he also gives information about evangelicalism has evolved and its main historical turning points within the church.

The chapter on revelation, as expected, is based on the revelation of God through the bible. Stott speaks of general and specific revelation, progressive and personal revelation, inspiration, authorship, biblical authority. He touches on the debate between the sufficiency of scripture and also the inerrancy of scripture. Here Stott makes his stand against using the term ‘inerrancy’.

Chapter three is essentially the gospel. It is the message of the cross well explained. He gives a helpful explanation of ‘justification by faith’, and grapples with what disciples and mission are. It is the shortest chapter in the book but also the most concise and straight-forward. It was good to hear the gospel again.

A final chapter on the ministry of the Holy Spirit makes Evangelical Truth truly trinitarian. The topics of assurance, holiness, purity, community, mission, and hope are all covered. Stott is really telling the reading of how the Holy Spirit works; in the New Testament and his continuing work today. This is a good chapter and well explained.

To conclude, Stott summarises his point and pleads with the reader to be united with Christian brothers and sisters around the globe. He calls for Christians to endure hardship and wants to be an encouraging voice within that. You can really see in the writing that Stott has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the gospel, is passionate about the things of God, and wants Christians around the world to be united under the gospel. He encourages all believers to lead with humility and to love one-another with Christian love.

A great primer of the Christian faith. Get on it.

John Stott, Evangelical Truth: A Personal Plea For Unity, Integrity and Faithfulness (149 pages; Leicester, UK: Inter-Varsity Press), 2003.

Power Through Prayer by EM Bounds

EM Bounds is known as a prolific prayer-warrior, mainly because of his many and various books on the topic. While they were written many, many, years ago they are still greatly relevant for our soul today.

“Power Through Prayer” is a book written particularly for ministers, that’s certainly the impression you get from reading it. Bounds encourages everyone, but particularly those who preach, to come back to prayer, to fight for prayer, and to do all things with and through prayer. Bounds stresses the power that comes through prayer, and through close communion with God in prayer you soul will be lifted high unto the heavens.

Bounds tells tales and stories of people of the past who have spent many hours on their knees fighting for their congregation, the people they minister to. Throughout the book there are various quotes about prayer from famous churchmen in Christian history, including a special affection for David Brainerd, the young American preacher and Indian missionary of the 18th century. They are very inspiring and perfect for an Instquote if one could be bothered. In fact, much of the book is quotable as he wrestles the reader to the ground, urging them to take up a prayer ministry. There is constant encouragement to spend time in prayer, praying for the sermon, and the souls of men and women.

An example of this would be:

“What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer.”

Even though the book is only 128 pages it is an inspirational book. It will shake you up and help you understand the power of prayer in the Christian life. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is wondering about prayer and its importance. It is an excellent book, and you can even download a free PDF of it here.

E. M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer (128 pages; London, UK: Marshall, Morgan & Scott).

George Whitefield (Vol 1) by Arnold Dallimore

This great volume comprehensively describes the life and times of George Whitefield.

Starting with his early years right through to the age of 26, Arnold Dallimore describes the wanderings and impact of this young man. Using previous biographies, and the more important journals of the man himself, Dallimore outlines Whitefield’s contribution to the spiritual state of Britain and America during the 18th century.

This book is brilliantly illustrated with stories of his time at home and at school. There is detailed analysis of his time at university, where he became a true convert of Christ and became firm in his understanding of the doctrines of grace.

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His travels throughout Britain and America take up considerable pages, but these are very much the guts of his ministry. The book ends with Whitefield about to face more trials as he returns to England for the second time.

As I’ve written previously, there are a number of things to take away from this work. His preaching ministry is a powerful manifestation of the Spirit, and his courage in the face of adversity is something to behold. He began preaching while in his teens, and soon began speaking to crowds upwards of 20-30,000 people. Such was the power of his preaching.  Furthermore, there is a sense of his overwhelming love for his fellow brethren, wanting to be united with the many ministers and other preachers.

This is only book one of a two volume set, and there is much depth and content to be gleaned about the man. It’s worth the read.

Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life And Times Of The Great Evangelist Of The 18th Century Revival (vol. 1, 590 pages, London: Banner of Truth Trust), 1970.

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

In this book Jerry Bridges writes about a number of sins the Western church has, for some odd reason, decided it’s OK with.

The author focuses on the verse from 1 Peter 5:5, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”, and tackles the issues such as pride, selfishness, ungodliness, unthankfulness, anger, self-control (or lack thereof), impatience, envy, jealousy, sins of the tongue and many others.

Grounded in the doctrines of cross and the sovereignty of God, Bridges calls his readers to take a long, hard, look at themselves. He encourages people to see the way following Jesus impacts their lives, each and every part of it. Behind that thick wall of pride what do we think and do that we tell ourselves is OK in little doses but really isn’t? It is a very searching and convicting book, highlighting the work of the Spirit to convict his readers about those sins he comments on.respectable sins by jerry birdges

This is a really good and thought-provoking book.

Bridges challenges each individual to be humble before the Almighty and recognise that there are sins, sins which we ‘take for granted’, that need to be confessed and repented of.

At times you might debate whether or not everything he mentions are actually sins, but he writes in a humble and good-natured way that urges godliness. I found it a book that slaps you around the head a bit–but in a good way.

It’s not a long book, finishing up at 181 pages. It would be a good book for small group discussions, or a preaching series. I’d encourage anyone wanting to flee from sin or grow in godliness to pick this book up, and read it.

Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins: Confronting The Sins We Tolerate (181 pages, USA: Navpress), 2007.

Leaders Who Will Last by Tim Hawkins

leaders who will lastTim Hawkins has been involved in youth ministry  here in Australia for many years. ‘Leaders Who Will Last‘ is his second book on the topic of youth ministry. His first, ‘Fruit That Will Last‘, was written in the late 1990s and is a foundational text for youth ministry practitioners, particularly here in Australia. Before reading Leaders Who Will Last I’d highly recommend reading his first. 

Leaders Who Will Last, published in 2002, is, as you can imagine, all about youth ministry leadership. I have just finished my first reading of it and would recommend it to anyone in the youth ministry field. However, this book is not only for those in youth ministry on a paid basis, but for anyone involved in a voluntary capacity–parent, youth leader, small group leader etc. 

Leaders Who Will Last is grounded in scripture and gives good advice for youth leaders. There are three main sections of the book; one on vision, one on character, and one on skills.

It is under vision that the main biblical foundations are set. The issues of calling, shepherding, and servanthood are rightly portrayed as important. The main characteristics of a leader are to be faithful, reliable, and a follower of those in higher authority, such as the senior pastor, youth pastor, or lead leader.

In terms of skills, the emphasis is on teaching the bible, whether at the main youth gathering or through a bible study. This I find is a bit light, I think there are more things a youth leader should also be across, not just being able to teach the bible. In fact, I think some leaders may not even be able to do that, but there are other skills that they may bring to the overall health of a youth ministry.

Hawkins also describes, in 16 points, the various aspects to youth work and the type of person a youth leader can be, i.e. a pray-er, an organiser, a counsellor etc.

Overall I thought the book was good. An area of improvement would be a deeper theological basis for youth leadership and youth ministry in general. While a biblical theology of youth ministry is not what this book is about I continue to search for such a work. They’re hard to find, even among all the youth ministry books at the theological college I attend. 

Much of what was written applies directly to me, particularly the issue of getting right with God and staying right. I must set my heart on his ways and his agenda. This book pushes me to pray more, I don’t pray nearly enough for my leaders, my peers, my kids, or my church.

And finally, it is a book that I will recommend to fellow youth leaders. There is so much information in this book that is helpful to any leadership position, but specifically to those in youth ministry.