The Books I Read in 2016

A Christian's Pocket Guide to Loving The Old Testament: One Book, One God, One Story

A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament by Alec Motyer

As a pastor and expositor, I lament how little the Old Testament (OT) is preached in so many evangelical churches today. That explains why so many professing Christians today have so little understanding about the OT, how the New Testament (NT) is connected to the Old, how the gospel does not start with Jesus in the NT but in the Old, and most of all, how so many fail to see Jesus or make Christological connections in the OT.

This 130-page pocket sized book provides solutions to some of those issues. It is a fairly easy reading with short chapters. Definitely recommend this book.

Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray

In his preface, the author writes, “If it is true that Christians don’t get depressed, it must mean either that the Christian suffering from depression is not truly depressed, or he is not a true Christian. But if this notion is false, what extra and unnecessary pain and guilt are heaped upon an already darkened mind and broken heart!”

The 112-page pocket sized is not an academic writing as the author admits (though the author is a seminary professor and pastor). Rather, the book is immensely pastoral and practical. The author interacts with some of the conservative counseling movements (e.g. CCEF) and other notable writers, offering both positive and negative critiques. As already implied, this is an easy reading and a very helpful resource.

New Life in the Wasteland: 2 Corinthians on the Cost and Glory of Christian Ministry by Douglas F. Kelly

Christian ministers need to be reminded time to time what Christian ministry is all about. To help with that, I would recommend this book. This is not a typical Bible commentary (technical, exegetical, or scholarly). But it is a helpful one with much warm and devotional tone as the author helps the reader to consider the cost and glory of Christian ministry.

A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good by Miroslav Volf

This book offers several implications and applications to Ephesians 2:10. It is an important work though caution and discernment should be given. (But again that should apply to all reading.)

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The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented by David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, and S. Lance Quinn

Perhaps one of the better books for someone who is new or interested in the subject. It is always refreshing to read it again. I often assigned this as a require reading for Sunday School.

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The Five Points of Calvinism by Herman Hanko and David J. Engelsma

The book is very polemic, especially, critical of the doctrine of common grace and other Reformed denominations. Other than that, it is a good read.

TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture by Duane Edward Spencer

A much shorter reading than Steele, Thomas, and Quinn’s The Five Points of Calvinism, but helpful nonetheless.

The Five Points of Calvinism: A Study Guide by Edwin H. Palmer

Besides Steele, Thomas and Quinn’s work, this work by Palmer would be my next recommendation on the subject.

The Deacons Handbook: A Manual of Stewardship by Gerard Berghoef and Lester De Koster

I recommend this book for three reasons: 1) books on the ministry of diaconate rarely focuses on stewardship as this one does, 2) helps to see the ministry as a means of evangelistic and outreach ministries, 3) offers myriads of practical implications, and 4) it is written in the Reformed tradition.

Deuteronomy (Tyndale Commentaries)

Deuteronomy by Edward J. Woods

Like many of books in the TOTC series (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), this one will not (overly) burden the readers with many technical terms and academic language, and cause to be bogged down by many details. It is concise and readable.

Deuteronomy (NICOT)

The Book of Deuteronomy by Peter C. Craigie

Although it is one of the older technical commentaries on the last book of the Pentateuch (1976), it is considered one of the bests.

Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction by Jonathan T. Pennington

I wish this book was available when I was preaching Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John many years ago. It is possible that one can preach the Gospels but not preach the gospel.

This book is perhaps one of the best books on how to read, interpret, and preach and teach on the Gospels. For a detailed review, you can read Dane Ortlund’s.

 

Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians by Bruce Riley Ashford

Written by a theology prof for laymen in regards to Kuyperian Christian life. If you need clarity on Christians engaging the culture via work, entertainment, education, or what have you, this book is a good start.

Confessing the Faith: A Reader's Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith

Confessing the Faith: A reader’s guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith by Chad Van Dixhoorn

This is perhaps the best commentary on the WCF. I already gave a brief comment on this book back in 2014 when it came out. If interested, you can click here.

Harmony of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms by Morton H. Smith

“The Westminster Standards are unsurpassed among confessional statements in precision and comprehensiveness and few would deny that they deserve close reading and careful study.” Yet many Christians today have little or no exposure to the Standards. Hence, to combat against such shame, this work offers helpful guide by dissecting each section, chapter, question, and points.

Church Dogmatics, Volume 1 by Karl Barth

This massive volume (500 pages in the first volume alone) tackles the subject “The Doctrine of the Word of God,” which contains the prolegomena, the criterion of dogmatics, and the doctrine of trinity in relation to the revelation of God. Since this particular volume is highly technical and academic, it is not recommended for average laymen or beginners of theology.

The Books I Read in 2015

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By God’s grace, unlike previous four years, I did the most reading in 2015, totaling about 6,600 pages. However, I failed to include biography and other genres in my reading project.

Because I’ve been teaching through the Pentateuch to our congregation in the past year, I was forced to interact with various commentaries, which was a huge blessing. The resources have helped me to see the continuity of the redemptive drama in the Pentateuch, including unceasing sinfulness of man and unceasing faithfulness of God.

Besides one or two books (maybe three), the majority of the books have not been wasteful. The best reading under 50 pages have been Ash’s Listen Up! The best classics are Augustine, Bunyan, and Calvin.

The following are my list (in the order they were read) with brief comments.

Can I Trust the Bible? by R. C. Sproul

This 65-page book provides helpful exposition on The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. The book is divided into six chapters: 1) the Bible and Authority, 2) the Bible and Revelation, 3) the Bible and Inspiration, 4) the Bible and Inerrancy, 5) the Bible and Truth, and 6) the Bible and You. I would highly recommend this resource for bibliology.

Faith as a Way of Life by Christian B. Scharen

One of the pressing needs of the moment is to convince and cultivate that Christian faith is not simply a set of propositions to believe, but also an orienting force that impacts every aspect of daily life as employers and employees at work, parents and child at home, politicians and others in various fields that God has called. This book provides some helpful discussions in the applications of faith.

Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment by Gregg R. Allison

The author takes the reader through the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, and then he summarizes and assesses Catholic doctrine from the evangelical perspective. There is simply no other book like this presently. It truly is a gift to the church. That is why Roman Catholic Theology & Practice is in the list of notable book for 2014.

The Arrogance of the Modern: Historical Theology Held in Contempt by David W. Hall

Many people appear to have forgotten the wisdom of the past generations. If not, they hold the past in contempt. In this series of essays, the author addresses various topics such as, church heresies and orthodoxy, welfare reform and politics – all in the context of biblical worldview. This primer for the use of church history to diagnose modern issues will be a huge benefit for students, teachers, ministers, and thinkers.

Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent & Barbara Hughes

According to the authors, many in the church have misguided expectations for success. For example, if you will do this one thing well (e.g., music, website, easy parking, etc.), your church will grow. That one thing may even include something good and worthy. For instance, if you preach the word effectively, your church will grow. However, many today equate success in the ministry to mean growth in attendance or number. According to the authors, that’s dangerous. This book was definitely refreshing to hear. Every pastor and church leaders (new or seasoned) need many good reminder that this book presents.

Genesis 1-11: An Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice

Unlike any other books of the Bible, Genesis is utterly foundational. That explains the reason for the three volume commentary set. In this first volume, Dr Boice gives thorough expositions in all the critical sections within the first eleven chapters of Genesis. His expositions are intentionally doctrinal and devotional. Perhaps one of the most helpful tools to preach Genesis.

Genesis 1-11 (Reformation Commentary on Scripture) by John L. Thompson

If the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (ACCS) offers various comments by many of the classical exegetes, this volume provides illuminations by various exegetes of the Reformation era (e.g., Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and others). Like the ACCS, this volume is truly invaluable.

The Book of Psalms, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Intro) by Nancy deClaisse-Walford, Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth LaNeel Tanner

One of the major works on the book of Psalms that was recently published. The volume is the result of collaborated works of three distinguished psalmic scholars. Like most of NICOT series, it is written mostly for scholars and pastors.

Listen Up! A practical guide to listening to sermons by Christopher Ash

This 30-page booklet is a real gem to pastors, congregants, and churches. According to Mark Dever at Capital Hill Baptist, “We give Listen Up! to all our new members.” After reading this, you’ll understand why. However, I wouldn’t give this booklet to new members only, but to all members. It’s that important. It would help the pastors and their congregants. It’s a win-win. Perhaps the best $4 investment you’ll make.

We Still Don’t Get It: Evangelicals and Bible Translation Fifty Years After James Barr by Douglas J. Moo

This 14-page booklet was the presentation that Doug Moo gave at last year’s ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) meeting in San Diego. Although I had the privilege of listening to him when he gave the talk at the dinner for the 50th anniversary of the NIV Bible, the booklet is better. He offers not only the history of the NIV Bible, but convincing reasons for the project. Everyone should read his perspective on Bible translation, hermeneutics, exegesis, and exposition. It is quiet refreshing.

Protecting Your Ministry from Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Lawsuits: A Legal Guide for Churches, Christian Schools, and Christian Ministries by Alliance Defending Freedom

This 40-page electronic book (pdf) is a helpful resource to churches, Christian schools, and Christian ministries. With the recent interpretation by the SCOTUS, this resource offers practical ways to protect religious organizations from lawsuits.

Leviticus, TOTC by R. K. Harrison

This 254-page commentary is perhaps one of the most comprehensive commentaries on one of the most neglected biblical books. Like many of books in the TOTC series (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), this one will not (overly) burden the readers with many technical terms and academic language, and cause to be bogged down by many details. It is concise and readable. Although it doesn’t offer verse-by-verse commentary, if offers very helpful section-by-section commentary. The author doesn’t shy away from explaining controversial topics such as homosexuality (250-54).

The Book of Leviticus, NICOT by Gordon J. Wenham

This 362-page technical commentary is well balanced between exegesis and theology. Every chapter concludes with the relationship between the biblical chapter of Leviticus and the NT, whether it be to point out some aspects of the gospel truth, Christology, or theological continuity/discontinuity. Perhaps one of the better exegetical commentaries on Leviticus.

Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments, Essays in Honor of S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. edited by John S. Feinberg

This 410-page book contributed by thirteen noted evangelical scholars shows agreements and disagreements between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism in their theological systems, hermeneutics, salvation, the Law of God, the people of God, and kingdom promises.

Is Jesus in the Old Testament? by Iain M. Duguid

This 45-page booklet offers basic help in understanding the Old Testament. The author also offers helpful list of suggested reading for anyone who want to learn further in how to see Christ and preach Christ in the Old Testament.

Saint Augustine’s Confessions (translated by R. S. Pine-Coffin)

Anyone who knows John Calvin knows that there is no one who influenced him the most than the writings of Augustine. When you read Augustine’s Confessions, you’ll know why. This 347-page book is perhaps one of the best devotional books I ever read. The book is very personal (reads like autobiography or personal journal) and at times he is explicitly transparent of his past life (after all, it’s called Confessions). However, unlike many today’s devotional books, Confessions is not without substance. You will experience one of the greatest philosophical and theological minds that God produced in the history of the church.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

This 238-page book received many accolades (e.g., L.A. Times, New York Times Book Review, etc.). Amazon rates it “#1 Best Seller” in journalism. Recently, even many professing evangelicals jumped on the bandwagon in praising her. In fact, one of the prominent evangelical websites recommended the book if one desires to improve his/her writing. Since I wanted to improve my writing and also wanted to know what the fuss was all about, I purchased the book.

The book is very easy to read. In fact, you can read its entirety in one setting. However, just because a book is easy to read doesn’t mean it is necessarily worth the time and money. I was sorely disappointed with the book. I was hoping to get some instructions on writing. After all, the subtitle is “Some Instructions on Writing and Life.” The book contains more of her worldview on life than instructions on writing.

Gospel Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K. Dodson

This 173-page book provides the author’s philosophy and methods of Christian discipleship. Although not everything is agreeable in both perspective and practices, the book does offer helpful and refreshing approaches to fighting sins with like-minded men or women in small groups setting.

Genesis for Everyone, Part One (Chapters 1-16) by John Goldingay

This is part one of the two part series of commentary in Genesis. It is not technical and exegetical commentary like the NICOT series. Rather, it reads like a devotional book. Although it is titled “Genesis for Everyone,” I would not recommend this book to just anyone or everyone. Without having some working knowledge of Genesis as a whole, one would be confused or misunderstand. This 197-page book is ideal for pastors who maybe looking for some sermon anecdotes or fillers that most technical commentaries lack.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

I have fallen love with the Pilgrim’s Progress (PP) all over again. Outside of the Bible, it is the most read literature. I am convinced that every Christian ought to read it (and re-read it). There is no other book that depicts what Christian life is like than PP. However, just because one would read the book doesn’t mean the reader would understand PP because it is filled with myriads of allegories. Hence, one should read the book with others in a group setting with their elder or pastor who knows how to properly interpret what Bunyan is trying to say. I would also recommend getting a better edition than the one that is listed here. The Desiring God edition has too many spelling errors and typos. Also, this one does not contain the second half of PP. Hence, I recommend you get a better edition like the one by Banner of Truth.

Revelation and Inspiration by Benjamin B. Warfield

This first volume of the ten volume set is considered by many as Warfield’s magnum opus. Many topics are covered in the book, such as, the biblical idea of revelation, the biblical idea of inspiration, and the real problem of inspiration. The two topics in the appendix are helpful too: the divine origin of the Bible and the canon of the New Testament. Most of the essays seem academic and written for theological journals. Although lay people may certainly benefit from the book, it is more for scholars and seminary students.

Numbers (New American Commentary) by R. Dennis Cole

Perhaps one of the better exegetical commentaries on the book of Numbers. It is similar to Gordon J. Wenham’s commentary on Numbers (TOTC) though a little more details.

Numbers (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) by Gordon J. Wenham

This was most helpful in preparation for teaching the book of Numbers during our midweek Bible study. It is concise without lacking substance. Offers good chapter analysis with redemptive-historical perspectives of various topics.

Am I Called? The Summons to Pastoral Ministry by Dave Harvey

J. I. Packer is right. He said, “This is the fullest, most realistic, down-to-earth, and genuinely spiritual exploration of God’s call to pastoral ministry that I know.” I wished a book like this existed over twenty years ago when I first sensed God’s call to ministry. This is perhaps one of the better books on the subject.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume 2 by John Calvin (Edited by John T. McNeil)

Volume 2 begins with Calvin’s Book 3.20 on “The Way We Receive the Grace of Christ,” specifically, on the nature and value of prayer. And the volume ends with Book 4.20 on “Means of Grace: Holy Catholic Church,” specifically, on the church’s responsibility to obey human government (whether good or bad magistrates). However, Calvin notes, “Obedience to man must not become disobedience to God.” Like Volume 1 of Institutes, this 885-page may seem intimidating and daunting due to its sheer thickness, but it is easy reading like a devotional book. These two volumes are simply classic.

Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church by Michael A. G. Haykin

This 172-page book is a fairly easy book to read with one Patristic figure in one chapter. The author introduces men like Ignatius of Antioch, Diognetus, Origen, Cyprian and Ambrose, Basil of Caesarea, and Saint Patrick. The author also provides what he calls “Reading the Fathers: A Beginner’s Guide” at the end, which is very helpful. This is definitely a welcome addition to anyone’s library, especially, to help introduce the church fathers.

The Perseverance of Noah

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THE PERSEVERANCE OF NOAH

Out of all the Old Testament saints, one of my favorites is Noah. That’s because he exemplifies what perseverance of a saint looks like. According to Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe, a man who perseveres may not see the fruit of his labor in his day. He said, “Ours is a ministry of faith, and we don’t always see the results. The harvest is not the end of the meetings or of the church year. The harvest is the end of the age, and the Lord of the harvest will see to it that His good and faithful servants will get their just rewards.” Here in North America, where many professing Christians choose whatever is convenient and whatever is the easy way out, we need to learn what it means to persevere and what it means to be steadfast. Hence, consider the perseverance of Noah.

(If you’re interested in reading the rest, click here.)

Theology of Suffering – Part 2

Continuing from Theology of Suffering – Part 1

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I’m currently teaching Genesis at our midweek study. Last week we were in Genesis 45. We finally got to hear Joseph’s own interpretation of all that he went through up to this point. We got to hear how he saw all the wrongdoings he received (e.g., wrongly imprisoned, false accusations, mistreatment, injustice) from others, including his own brothers!

If there’s someone who had legitimate reason to complain, it would have been Joseph. If there’s someone who had legitimate reason to retaliate or revenge, it would have been Joseph. Yet he did none of that. Rather, he viewed the whole thing in utterly theocentric ways!

Joseph exemplifies a man who trusts in the sovereignty of God. The narrative doesn’t depict a man who is consumed with himself, how he feels, or how he’s hurt though he’s painfully aware of what he went through. At the end of the day, he realized that God had a bigger plan and purpose. According to Joseph, he suffered in order that others would greatly benefit (vv. 5, 7, 8, 9). And that is theology of suffering!

I’m not sure how many of us think of suffering that way, namely, we suffer so that others would become the beneficiaries!

Yet, this isn’t a foreign concept in the redemptive history. Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). This is certainly true of the voluntary, sacrificial, and substitutionary death of Jesus. He died so that we would become the beneficiaries.

All that to say, theology of suffering is real and relevant. And this doctrine must have a strong grip on God’s people because he promised that his people will suffer.

The Role of Christian Husbands – Part 1

The following is my sermon “The Role of Christian Husbands – Part 1” from Ephesians 5:25-33.

THE ROLE OF CHRISTIAN HUSBANDS – PART 1

Ephesians 5:25-33

Lord’s Day, January 12, 2014

Lighthouse Bible Church

As you can see there are three verses for wives, while there are nine verses for husbands! In other words, there are three times more for the husbands to take heed than the wives, though this does not mean that wives should turn off their hearing now that we’re on husbands. No, all the ladies need to pay close attention too. I mean how else are you going to hold your husband or future-husband accountable if you don’t know what he is called to do biblically?

What I want to do today is not to jump immediately into verse 25. Rather, I want to give you an overview of the context – sort of like a bird’s eye view. That’s because I don’t want us to miss the whole forest because we’re simply looking only at a particular tree. Hence, before looking at the text in detail with all the nuances, I want us to get the big picture.

With that in mind, let me make a few preliminary observations from the context. I will make four observations to be exact.

I. The primary point of this passage or section is not about marriage, or about the roles of wives or husbands. Rather, it is a depiction of the redemptive relationship between Christ and his church.

That is, the redemptive relationship between Christ and the church is depicted or likened to marriage between husband and wife, and the church being the bride to Christ.

This section of Ephesians is typically known as a “marriage text” in the Bible. I have heard numerous sermons from this text, especially, at weddings, yet some have ignored a major theological theme here, namely the redemptive relationship between Christ and the church. In fact, Paul even states in verse 32 that “this mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” – as if in case you and I miss the whole point of the passage.

Hence, if we would to simply look at this section as a mere “marriage text” or if I would to simply give a pep talk on marriage from this text, then we missed the whole point of the passage. Then that would be no different than what a secular marriage therapist would say, a Mormon would say, or what Joel Osteen would say. Thus, the fundamental question is: What is so Christian about the sermon on the role of Christian husbands? What is so Christian about telling the husbands to love their wives? If not, then this is no different than finding a book on marriage at the “self-help” section of your local Barnes and Noble or from a “marriage guru.”

So, the million dollar question is what makes a sermon about marriage uniquely and distinctively Christian? I want you to know that preaching that is empty of any exegesis of the text and empty of any Christological emphasis, yet full of moral advices is what we call “moralistic preaching,” and it is dangerous. Such preaching is dangerous because in this undiscerning culture when average church-goers do not think biblically and theologically, such preaching is often pass as “Christian preaching” when it is not. Just because someone stands in the front and quotes a few Bible verses or mentions Christ here and there do not constitute or qualify as Christian or biblical preaching.

A biblical preaching is when the bulk of the message is driven by an exposition of Scripture, out of which there is a significant doctrinal emphasis from the text, and from which there are implications and/or applications. So, when a message is largely a moral pep talk about how to improve your life, your marriage, so on, is not a biblical or Christian preaching. Please listen to what Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in regards to what I just said over fifty years ago:

I am increasingly convinced that so much in the state of the Christian church today is to be explained chiefly by the fact that for nearly a hundred years the church has been preaching morality and ethics, and not the Christian faith. It is this preaching of the ‘good life’, or being ‘a good little gentleman’, and of viewing religion as ‘morality touched by emotion’, as Matthew Arnold put it, that has been the curse. Such men have shed the doctrines; they dislike any idea of atonement, they dismiss the whole notion of the miraculous and the supernatural, and ridicule talk about re-birth. Christianity to them is that which teaches a man to live a good life.[1]

II. Although the primary point in this section is about the redemptive relationship between Christ and his church, there are clear implications for the role of Christian husbands. In other words, although the husbands’ role is not the main point here, it is an important implication that flows directly out of a rich Christological truth. This section contains both doctrinal implication and practical applications.

III. Like the role of Christian wives, the role of Christian husbands depends on the redeemed relationship with Christ. That is, if the man is not spiritually regenerated, he cannot fulfill the duty of a Christian husband, namely to love his wife as Christ loved the church.

I say “namely, to love his wife as Christ loved the church,” because there is a clear distinction of the role of Christian husbands from non-Christian husbands. It is one thing to be the primary provider and protector for family, but to love the wife as Christ loved the church is something else. If the duty of a Christian husbands is simply to be the provider for the family and protector for the family, then that’s no different than what a Buddhist could do, what a good Muslim could do, or what an atheist husband could do. Again, what makes the role of Christian husbands unique? Again, what sets Christian husbands fundamentally different from non-Christian husbands is the commitment to love our wives as Christ loved the church. In fact, this particular command to love our wives is not given to just anyone but only to Christians, for whom this letter is written (1:1).

Since Christian husbands are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, don’t you think it is important that we need to know how Christ loved his church? Furthermore, we need to know what kind of love this is.

IV. Redeemed love is the particular kind of love and particular motive to love our wives.

When a person becomes a Christian, all faculties and aspects of his/her life will go through transformation, including his/her understanding of love. As a Christian, such love is now redeemed. He/she is no longer driven with selfish love, a pure physical or sensual love, or lustful love, but now it is love that is radically different than what he/she knew or ever experienced. It is redeemed love that God gives to his elect. Hence, before you can be motivated to love, you need to first know and learn what this type of love is.

Again, we’re back to Point 1, aren’t we? That is, we cannot understand the duties of Christian husbands and wives unless we understand the truth about Christ and his church.

When I’m doing premarital counseling, I always ask the couple to define love and describe love. You can guess why right? That’s because the problem is often about descriptions and demonstrations of love. In fact, this is where even those that have been married for sometime would have conflicts. For instance, because I love my wife, I may get her a DVD on how to lose weight as a woman. That’s how I would demonstrate my love for her. But my wife may interpret my demonstration of love to something else or disagree with how I show my love. You follow what I’m saying?

Sometimes our demonstrations of love may be unwise and unsound because we may have unsound definition of love. So, with that, let me at least begin with the definition of love in this section. But before we do that, let me inform you what the text does not say about love.

First, it is not the romantic love though that is not unimportant. Second, it is not erotic or lustful type. Men, you don’t have to become like the dude Fabio on the front cover of romance novels to love your wife. Third, it is not phileo type – i.e., fond of something or having affections, as in I love my dog, I love sushi, I love surfing, etc.

Rather, the love that is mentioned in this section is agape love! Six times the verb “love” is mentioned in this context: twice in verse 25, three times in verse 28, and once in verse 33. And they are all agape love.

Let us at least get our feet wet this morning with verse 25. We examined four overall preliminary observations. Now, let me begin with a few specifics. First, to whom is this section specifically addressed? It is to husbands. In fact, in Greek this address is vocative, which means in this letter the author is making a special attention or call to a particular group, namely to husbands. It is like saying, “Husbands, listen up!” Or, soon to be husbands, listen up! Or, those who want to be husbands, listen up! Or, husbands that no longer want to be husbands, listen up!

Furthermore, based on the surrounding context, this reference is not to just any husbands, but Christian husbands. That is the operative word.

So, we’re forced with a very important question, that is: What is a Christian? I don’t believe that everyone who walks into the church understands what a Christian is. So, we need to learn to articulate this answer biblically. Don’t worry, you don’t need a systematic theology book to help you. I’ll simply show you from Ephesians. With that in mind, please go with me to Ephesians 1.

According to Ephesians, a Christian is:

  • a saint and faithful in Christ Jesus (1:1b),
  • one who has been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (1:3),
  • one that God chose before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless (i.e. justified) before him (1:4),
  • one that God predestined to adopt him as a son (1:5),
  • one that experienced God’s redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sin, according to God’s sovereign grace (1:7),
  • one that God reveals the mystery of his will (1:9),
  • one that has obtained an inheritance (1:11),
  • one that believed the gospel of salvation after listening to the message of truth (1:13a),
  • one that has been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (1:13b),
  • one that has clear evidences of God’s grace from his/her former life (2:1-5),
  • one that belongs to a church and actively serves the members within the church (2:19-22) – just to name a few.

Those are just a few descriptions of what a Christian is. Although these are various descriptions, there is one common denominator, namely it is God who turns a person into a Christian. The Bible teaches that no matter how high the standard of morality a person lives by, cannot live up to God’s perfect and holy standard. Also, no matter how religious a person is, he/she cannot earn God’s salvation. The Christian doctrine of salvation is that God alone saves the person.

So, at the onset of Ephesians 5:25, we’re faced with a very important question: Am I a Christian? This is so important since the assumed notion is that husbands here are Christian husbands.


[1]D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in the Spirit in Marriage, Home & Work: An Exposition of Ephesians 5:18 to 6:9 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1995), 19.

Prayer That Jesus Taught

I just finished a 14-week sermon series on “Prayer That Jesus Taught” from Matthew 6:9-13.

Part 1: An Introduction to Prayer That Jesus Taught (Matthew 6:9-13)

Part 2: “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9)

Part 3: “Who Is In Heaven” (Matthew 6:9b)

Part 4: “Hallowed Be Your Name” (Matthew 6:9c)

Part 5: “Your Kingdom Come” (Matthew 6:10)

Part 6: “Your Will Be Done” (Matthew 6:10b)

Part 7: “Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven” (Matthew 6:10c)

Part 8: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” (Matthew 6:11)

Part 9: “And Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Also…” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15)

Part 10: “And Do Not Lead Us Into Temptation” (Matthew 6:13)

Part 11: “But Deliver Us From the Evil One” (Matthew 6:13b)

Part 12: “But Deliver Us From the Evil One” (Matthew 6:13b)

Part 13: “But Deliver Us From the Evil One” (Matthew 6:13b)

Part 14: Addendum Prayer (Matthew 6:13c)

A Solution To So Many Problems In Today’s Churches

Here’s one solution to so many problems in today’s churches: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

What does the ninth commandment require? According to Heidelberg Catechism (1563):

That I bear false witness against no one, twist no one’s words, be no backbiter or slanderer, join in condemning no one unheard or rashly; but that on pain of God’s heavy wrath, I avoid all lying and deceit as the very works of the devil; and that in matters of judgment and justice and in all other affairs, I love, speak honestly, and confess the truth; also, insofar as I can, defend and promote my neighbor’s good name (112).