Books I’ve Read Recently

51bwcrvgAhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. This book is the story of how a devote Muslim came to faith in Christ. Qureshi walks the reader through his journey of moving from a Muslim who adamantly argued against Christianity to someone who finds that Christianity is actually true. Qureshi’s story was an encouraging and enjoyable read. His story shows the power of the Gospel and effectiveness of Christians loving unbelievers and dialoging with them about their faith. Qureshi also writes this book in a way that helps the reader understand the basic ideas of Isalm. He includes definitions and explanations for most Islamic words and sayings he uses throughout the book. The reader comes away from this book not only informed about Qureshi’s faith journey but also the beliefs behind the Islamic faith.

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Know Doubt by John Ortberg. Doubt is not the opposite of faith or unbelief. Doubt can and many times does coexist with faith. This is what Ortberg argues in this book, which was previously titled Faith and Doubt. In this book Ortberg helps the reader understand how many times doubts come with true faith. He even admits some of his own. Unfortunately this isn’t the norm in most Christian circles. Doubt is seen as something we should suppress and not bring up. This leaves many Christians sinking in their doubt and wondering if they even have any true faith to begin with. This book helps Christians see that doubts are not always bad (even though it can go bad – that’s the subject of chapter 8) and many times is a part of growing and experiencing true faith. My favorite part of this book was chapter 3 where Ortberg explains what philosopher Michael Novak calls three different kinds of convictions – public, private, and core. This chapter as well as the rest of the book was fantastic. I’d recommend this book to both Christians and skeptics.

415TVIGI1PL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Saved Without a Doubt by John MacArthur. Similar to the book above, this book deals with the issue of doubt. This book however focuses specifically on doubt in regards to salvation. MacAthur believes many true believers lack assurance of their salvation (page 9-10). With a very pastoral and shepherding tone, MaArthurs spends his time in this book helping Christians understand the security of their salvation and how they can know for sure if they have experienced true salvation. My favorite part of this book was part 2 where MacArthur shares eleven tests from 1 John that can be used to evaluate the genuineness of your salvation. Overall this was a solid book on the subject of doubt and the assurance of salvation. I’d recommend them book to anyone who has or is struggling with this issue.

Next up on my reading list is Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson.

Book Review: Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by JD Greear

9781433679216Recently I finished reading the book Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved by J.D. Greear. Don’t let the title fool you, the point of this book is not to discourage people from coming to Jesus, but instead, encourages people to place their faith and trust in Him and not in what many Christians call the “sinners prayer.” It’s a short book about doubt, assurance, and the Gospel.

I appreciate J.D.’s honesty and transparency in this book. In the first chapter of the book, as well as throughout the rest of the book, J.D. shares about his own struggle he had with doubt and assurance as he was growing up and into his college years. I can identify with his struggle and believe many other Christians can as well. J.D. writes this book with two audiences in mind. First, those who have said the “sinners prayer” and truly placed their faith and trust in Jesus, but still struggle with doubt. They wonder if they said the right words, were they sincere enough, did they really put their faith in Jesus, or if they were sorry enough for their sin. Second, he writes to those who have said the “sinners prayer,” but have really never placed their faith and trust in Jesus. J.D. says, “Jesus warned that there are a vast number of people who seem assured of a salvation they don’t actually possess” (pg. 4).

With those two audiences in mind, J.D. writes about what salvation really is and how someone can identify if they have been saved or not. Throughout the book J.D. communicates salvation in a very clear, Biblical way that I believe takes the focus off of the “sinners prayer” and on the person and work of Christ. He says, “Salvation is not a prayer you pray in a one-time ceremony and then move on from; salvation is a posture of repentance and faith that you begin in a moment and maintain for the rest of your life” (pg. 5).

This book has a great balance of theological meat and practical application. With chapters addressing questions like what is the Gospel? (Jesus in my place), what is belief?, what is repentance?, can you loose your salvation?, J.D. captures great theological truths found in God’s Word. Then J.D. explains the practical side of this issue. He shares practical ways from God’s Word to know you have been born again and what one should do when they continue to doubt (which is not to say the prayer again, but to continue in a posture of repentance and faith in Jesus).

I believe J.D. has written a great defense of salvation by faith in Christ alone and not on a “sinners prayer” ritual. Growing up in the Bible belt of our country like J.D. did, I have seen much emphasis be put on the “sinners prayer.” I have seen too many preachers ask people to walk down an aisle, repeat a prayer, and put more emphasis on that ritual than on faith in Jesus. This book helps us see the prayer doesn’t do anything, Jesus has done everything and all people have to do is respond to Him in repentance in faith. That may be done through a prayer or it may not. Salvation does not come through a prayer, it comes through repentance and faith in Jesus.

This has been the most helpful book I have ever read when it comes to dealing with doubt and assurance. It has been a helpful for me as I have had period of doubts in my own Christian walk and I believe it will be a great help to others in this area as well. It’s a short, easy to read book that will help you understand the Gospel and what salvation really is. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this book.

Dealing with Doubt

Recently my fiancee and I traveled from Ohio down to North Carolina to spend this Christmas with my family. One of the things we always do on long trips is listen to sermons from preachers we both like. On this trip we decided to listen to a Perry Noble sermon and a Matt Chandler sermon. Both were great, but the sermon from Matt Chandler was just what I needed! I want to share with you the main points of the sermon and hope it ministers to you as it did me.

The sermon was called “Dealing with Doubt.” If we were all honest, we would admit that sometime in our Christian life we have struggled with doubt. Either something has caused us to question the reality of our salvation or the assurance of it. To be honest, this is one of the “thorns in my flesh.” Doubt is an issue that from time to time I struggle with and if I am not careful, it becomes a sin that the enemy uses to distract me. I was encouraged by Matt Chandler’s honesty in this sermon as he shared that he struggles with doubt from time to time as well.

In this sermon, Matt Chandler addresses three areas where doubt comes from. He then ends the sermon with some principles to examine if you truly have saving faith or not. I want to share the three areas then give my own principle that will help us examine if we have saving faith or not.

1. You really are not Christian. One reason a person may doubt is simply because they are not truly a born-again Christian. They may “profess” to being a Christian, but that is not enough! Matthew 7:22-23 says that many will stand before God one day and profess His name and even say they did things in His name, but sadly God will tell them He never really knew them. There is a big different between knowing about God and personally knowing Him in a relationship. James 2:19 tells us that even the demons believe there is a God! One reason many doubt their salvation is because they profess it, but do not truly possess it.

2. Uncertainty of God’s affection for you. Many Christians struggle with doubt because they forget that God loves them unconditionally. We received Christ’s righteousness at the point of salvation, but we start to live the Christian life in our own righteousness. So we start to see the Christian life as a checklist and a list of things we can do and things we cannot do. The problem is we are sinners, and we still sin and do those things we shouldn’t do. So what happens is that we start to doubt and every time we sin we doubt if God really loves us. When we doubt that God loves us and if we are truly saved, we are looking at the cross of Christ and telling God He must show us something better for us to believe He loves us. God showed His love for us by sending Jesus to die for us (Romans 5:8). Not only did He die for us, but we have been given His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). We now stand justified before God (Romans 3:24).

3. You are walking in sin. I believe this is the main reason Christians struggle with doubt. Many struggle with doubt because the are walking in unconfessed, unrepentant sin. When a Christian is walking in unconfessed sin they are miserable! Just read Psalm 32 and see how David felt when he did not confess his sin. When we are walking in unconfessed we cant see God clearly and we cant see His love clearly. Because of this we doubt our salvation. The good thing about this is that God has given us a way out of this situation. Because Christ already paid for all of our sin on the cross, we can confess and repent when we do sin which restores our fellowship with God (1 John 1:9). Many people doubt their salvation because they are out of fellowship with God, they are not confessing and repenting of sin. In his book, Doctrine, Mark Driscoll reminds us that repentance is a gift to the Christian. Christians, don’t forsake the gift of repentance. When you sin, confess and repent quickly!

I want to take a step away from Matt Chandler’s sermon now and share with you one simple idea that I believe can help us identify if we truly have saving faith or not. I believe your life indicates whether or not you have true saving faith. What I mean by this is that your life, since you became a Christian, should tell you that your are a true Christian. There should be spiritual growth, changes, and conviction of sin. If things like this are not seen in your life it is probably an indication that you are not a true Christian. I’m not talking about perfection. As a Christian, you will sin and may have times when you turn your back on God, but the overall picture of your life will be growth, change, and God working in your life.

Matt Chandler is lead pastor of The Village Church in TX. You can download their preaching podcast here and listen to all of Matt Chandler’s sermons. I would encourage you to listen Matt Chandler’s sermons as well as the other pastors at The Village Church.