Book Review: Studies on Saving Faith – A. W. Pink

The introduction to this book at Monergism.com, states the following:

clip_image002One of the most helpful books we have ever read on the gospel. Pink’s deep understanding of the nature of regeneration and how that relates to faith and works is top notch. Pink levels the serious and solemn charge that much “evangelistic” preaching falls short on delivering the true gospel message. He states, “The ‘evangelism’ of the day is not only superficial to the last degree, but it is radically defective. It is utterly lacking a foundation on which to base an appeal for sinners to come to Christ. There is not only a lamentable lack of proportion (the mercy of God being made far more prominent than His holiness, His love than His wrath), but there is a fatal omission of that which God has given for the purpose of imparting a knowledge of sin. There is not only a reprehensible introducing of ‘bright singing,’ humorous witticisms and entertaining anecdotes, but there is a studied omission of the dark background upon which alone the Gospel can effectually shine forth.” Whether you are a preacher or a layperson, this remarkably relevant study in Scripture will challenge you to hold firmly to the Gospel.

I’ve just finished my first reading and I have to say that I was blessed beyond measure in ways too numerous to mention in this article. The book proper is divided into four parts; Part I – Signs of the Times (Introduction), Part II – Saving Faith, Part III – Coming to Christ, and Part IV – Assurances. Parts I – IV are divided into logical and easily understandable subsections and thoroughly supported from Scripture.

Sometime after completing his most thorough treatment on saving faith, he decided to further amplify one or two of the leading points with the hope that some might be helped thereby, in the form of four dialogues. The simulated, but completely relevant and believable dialogues, between ‘The Writer’ and two gentlemen, ‘Mr. Carnal Confidence’ and ‘Mr. Humble Heart’, actually summarize the entire content of the earlier parts of the book, expressed in language quite familiar to early 20th century readers, yet at the same time easily understood today.

I found the dialogues to be not only an amplification of the book proper, but an excellent summary of its entire contents. I highly encourage you to read not only the book proper, but also the Dialogues. You will be blessed!

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Studies on Saving Faith is available for download without cost at Monergism.com and the Members Only section of the Christian Military Fellowship Website here, and also available for purchase at Amazon.com, as well as from numerous Christ book distributors.

Book Review: Regeneration and Conversion – W. E. Best

I don’t remember exactly how I discovered W. E. Best’s book Regeneration and Conversion. Nevertheless, I recently read it and will probably return to it now and again for various reasons, as well read other books by this wonderful Pastor and author. The list of his books found here has this to say as an introduction to Regeneration and Conversion:

“How does a person become a true Christian? Many people believe they have to earn good standing with God by their upright moral behavior, including their choice to have faith in God. Salvation is entirely the work of a sovereign and gracious God. Regeneration is an immediate act of God that imparts the principle of life without any participation by men. Conversion is the beginning of a holy life, and is the first of many conversion experiences throughout the Christian’s earthly pilgrimage. God doesn’t make bad people into good people; instead, He makes dead people alive, grants faith to believe the gospel, and transforms hearts so that we then want to obey Him.”

Naturally, the book is divided into the two sections in the title, Regeneration and Conversion. Both sections discuss their respective subjects using the most chapter of the Bible, the Gospel of John, as the central biblical focus, using Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus to address in-depth each topic.

The introduction to the topic of Regeneration begins thusly:

“The religious world is staggering under the influence of a depraved intellectualism which denies God His right to operate among the peoples of the world as He pleases. No one can believe in free will and free grace at the same time. These subjects are as diametrically opposed as light and darkness, heaven and hell, or a holy God and an unholy man, To believe in free will dethrones the sovereign God; to believe in free grace dethrones depraved man. Who is on the throne in your concept of salvation?”

The introduction to the topic of Conversion has this to say:

“The subject in John 3:14-18 is conversion, not regeneration. It may seem to the untutored Christian that conversion is synonymous with regeneration, but the student of Scripture soon learns to distinguish the difference. Regeneration is the sole act of God in the heart of the sinner, and is described in the Bible by such terms as these: new birth (John 3:3, 5); God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10); and a new creature (II Cor. 5:17). Conversion, however, is the turning of the regenerate by the influence of God’s grace.”

This book makes a compelling case for the necessity of regeneration preceding faith in the life of all genuine believers. Every believer in Christ either exercises his/her own natural faith and is then “born again” (regenerated), or must be regenerated first, followed by exercising saving faith and receiving the new birth.

I must confess that for a long time I was convinced that my new birth was the result of a natural free will decision after acknowledging that Christ was the sacrifice for my sin. Over time, I have come to believe that the new birth was necessary before I could savingly believe in Christ.

Regardless of what you personally believe, W.E. Best makes a compelling case for his argument and I highly recommend reading Regeneration and Conversion, for spiritual stimulation and exercise!

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Wilbern Elias (W. E.) Best was born on June 18, 1919 and went home to be with the Lord on June 15, 2007. Brother Best was married to Ada Juanita Best for 64 years and had a son named Richard. Ada Juanita Best was born on February 4, 1919 and stepped out of time into eternity on December 14, 2002. Brother Best served our Lord in the Gospel ministry for over 60 years and pastored churches in Missouri and in Texas.

Works by W. E. Best can be accessed and downloaded using the following links:

Free Books on Christian Theology and Bible Study | W. E. Best Book Missionary Trust (webbmt.org)

W.E. Best Library (springassemblyofchrist.org)

George Whitefield : God’s Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century

by Arnold A. Dallimore, Crossway Books

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I have just finished this most excellent biography! Being a G.W. fan, I have read several other works concerning his life and his work. This stands head and shoulders above all of the others. We are of course given a chronicle of his life and preaching, but we are also provided insight into his connection to the Church of England, the Methodist church, as well as a glimpse into his personal relationships, particularly  John and Charles Wesley.  The book also recounts instances of tremendous opposition, to his ministry, both private and public,  Lest I play the spoiler, I’ll just give you a small portion of a tribute to Mr. Whitefield, penned by John Greenleaf Whittier.

 

THE PREACHER

Under the church of Federal Street,
Under the tread of its Sabbath feet,
Walled about by its basement stones,
Lie the marvelous preacher’s bones.
No saintly honors to them are shown,
No sign nor miracle have they known;
But he who passes the ancient church
Stops in the shade of its belfry-porch,
And ponders the wonderful life of him
Who lies at rest in that charnel dim.
Long shall the traveller strain his eye
From the railroad car, as it plunges by,
And the vanishing town behind him search
For the slender spire of the Whitefield Church;
And feel for one moment the ghosts of trade,
And fashion, and folly, and pleasure laid,
By the thought of that life of pure intent,
That voice of warning yet eloquent,
Of one on the errands of angels sent.
And if where he labored the flood of sin
Like a tide from the harbor-bar sets in,
And over a life of time and sense
The church-spires lift their vain defence,
As if to scatter the bolts of God
With the points of Calvin’s thunder-rod,–
Still, as the gem of its civic crown,
Precious beyond the world’s renown,
His memory hallows the ancient town!

 

 

Book Review–“Why I Am Not an Arminian”

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“Why I Am Not an Arminian”, by Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams was written as a response to “Why I Am Not a Calvinist, by Jerry Walls. My understanding is that the authors would really have liked to call it “Why I am a Calvinist”, but went with the above title at the request of those who wanted to highlight the contrast with the previously written Jerry Walls book.

Nevertheless, I now have the book and have finished reading it. It might be the best and most gracious explanation of the differences between both theological systems. I’ve read and collected a lot of material discussing both systems and this might be the most thoughtful and easy to understand source I have come across to date!

Here is the Amazon summary and a short review:

From Amazon.com:

“Arminian theology is sweeping through the evangelical churches of North America. While most Arminians are good, sincere, orthodox Christians, authors Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams contend that aspects of Arminian thought are troubling both biblically and theologically. In particular, they argue, Arminians have too lofty a view of human nature and an inadequate understanding of God’s sovereign love in Christ.

‘Why I Am Not an Arminian’ explores the biblical, theological and historical background to the Calvinist-Arminian debate. The irenic nature and keen insight of this book will be appreciated by lay people, pastors and scholars alike.”

Another review offered:

“Peterson and Williams write with a grace which goes far deeper than their commendable style. The authors’ Arminian conversants are fairly represented from their best literature and answered with impeccable arguments which are scripturally compelling, philosophically and historically exacting, and gracefully irenic. ‘Why I Am Not an Arminian’ is a book that you can get your head and your heart around–and be graced!”

The authors, Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams are both on the faculty at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO.