I am a lover of books. Here are five new and notable books that have come across my radar. See this list of other Christian books releasing in 2018.
Heaven, So Near – So Far: The Story of Judas Iscariot by Colin S. Smith
When’s the last time you read a book about Judas? I thought so. Here’s a short first-person book describing the inner life of Judas, showing readers how close he came to saving faith. Smith (my pastor) loves the gospel and wants to see people saved. He also has a knack for creative writing (especially in regards to biblical narrative) and shows the danger of unbelief and the glory of the gospel in this book. I don’t think this is technically a sequel, but it is a worthy follow up to Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross (see my review on The Gospel Coalition).
The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus by D.A. Carson
This re-released volume (originally published in 1980) shares conference messages Carson gave through John 14–17, a rich portion of Scripture. As you’d expect, Carson’s expositions are spot on. What disappoints me in this volume is how he doesn’t give full weight to each passage. For example, the message that should have included commentary and application of John 15:1–11 focused more on verses 12–17. But if anyone were to speak on Jesus’ last words to His disciples before the cross, Carson would get my vote (he wrote the #1 commentary on John according to BestCommentaries.com). [I shared a few quotes from this book in The Simple Reason Many Christians are Miserable.]
How to Read and Understand the Biblical Prophets by Peter Gentry
I’ll confess that the OT prophets are probably my weakest biblical genre. They’re often tricky to understand and sometimes downright shocking when I do understand (I’m thinking of Ezekiel cooking his food over a campfire of excrement). I’m thankful Dr. Peter Gentry of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has written a clear and accessible volume on hermeneutics of the Old Testament Prophets. Like any approach to Scripture, we need to know historical context and how the author communicates their intent, “Only when we grasp the literary methods of the ancient Hebrew writers can we properly understand the text.” In this short volume, Gentry lays out why the prophets are so hard to read (i.e. the messages they communicate, the way they communicate, and the OT context of their messages that many miss) and shares plenty of examples of how the prophets make their points.
It’s been said that only the whole Bible can make whole Christians. Unfortunately for many believers in our biblically illiterate age, they are wholly unaware of the riches contained in the OT prophets. If you’re looking for a good primer on this OT genre, I’ll join SEBTS Professor Edgar Aponte in recommending Gentry’s How to Read Biblical Prophets.
[You may also be interested in Dr. Peter Gentry’s Kingdom Through Covenant MP3 Lectures.]
The Preacher’s Portrait by John Stott
When John MacArthur and Ajith Fernando call a book one of the most influential in their ministries, I listen up. That is the case for The Preacher’s Portrait by John Stott. This re-released edition from Eerdmans shares five New Testament word studies on the role of the preacher, and it won’t disappoint. As usual, Stott is robustly biblical, deeply insightful, and a pleasure to read. If you’re looking for a book to deepen your biblical understanding of the role of a preacher, here’s a good one.
Seven Dangers Facing Your Church by Juan Sanchez
This book comes from Pastor Juan Sanchez’s sermons through Revelation 2–3’s letters to the churches. These hidden epistles are some of the most insightful and challenging portions of all the New Testament and extremely relevant for today’s church. I haven’t read this yet but hope to soon. (I believe this will be out in Spanish soon.)