Tolle Lege: Evangelism

Readability: 1Evangelism

Length: 114 pp

Author: Mack Stiles

Here is an excellent book on evangelism for the whole church, which is the only kind of evangelism that should be. The church is God’s program for evangelism and the gospel is the power of God to salvation. In Evangelism you’ll find simplicity and sanity concerning what has too often, unnecessarily,  been complicated and done insanely.

Evangelism is teaching the gospel (the message from God that leads us to salvation) with the aim to persuade. If a church does not understand biblical evangelism, over time that church will be subverted. If we don’t practice healthy evangelism, the dominoes start to fall:

  • The focus of preaching and teaching turns to living a moral life, not a gospel-centered life.
  • Non-Christians are lulled into thinking that they are okay in their lost state.
  • Christians think that non-Christians are believers because they made a superficial outward commitment.
  • The church baptizes those who are not believers.
  • The church allows non-Christians into membership.
  • Eventually, non-Christians become leaders in the church.
  • A church becomes a subculture of nominalism.

Unbiblical evangelism is a method of assisted suicide for a church, so there is much at stake in getting evangelism right.

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Tolle Lege: What’s Best Next

What's Best NextReadability: 1

Length: 325 pp

Author: Matt Perman

What’s Best Next is by far the best book on productivity I’ve read, and this isn’t because it has some clumsy obligatory gospel focus. The gospel, rightly understood and well applied, makes all things better. Matt Perman demonstrates this in the area of productivity. When a man dies and is resurrected he is resurrected a better man. Perman baptizes productivity, and he isn’t “Presbyterian”. This isn’t productivity sprinkled with some Christianity. It is dunked, drowned and resurrected.

The only way to be productive is to realize you don’t have to be.

Productive things, then, are things that do good. Productivity always has to be understood in relation to a goal, and God’s goal is that we do good works. Hence, we can redefine productivity this way: to be productive is to be fruitful in good works.

But the Bible has a very different view of good works. According to the Scriptures, good works are not simply the rare, special, extraordinary, or super spiritual things we do. Rather, they are anything we do in faith.

Good character is not an excuse for not knowing what you are doing. Trustworthiness is based not on character alone, but on character and competence.

[The core principle of productivity] Here it is: know what’s most important and put it first.

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Tolle Lege: Every Good Endeavor

Readability: 2

Every Good EndeavorLength: 253 pp

Author: Tim Keller

Because of sin, work is hard. Because of God, work is good. Because of God’s work, sin is being undone. God worked. We’re supposed to. It’s a way we image Him. Because God in flesh worked like none of us ever have, because he sweat drops of blood and bore the heaviest of burdens, we can again worship God in our work. Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor looks at work as it was meant to be, as it is because of sin, and how the gospel changes things. If you work, you should read this book. If you don’t work, you should work, and this book will help you to do so in a God glorifying way.

Work is our design and our dignity; it also a way to serve God through creativity, particularly in the creation of culture.

Work has dignity because it is something that God does and because we do it in God’s place, as his representatives. We learn not only that work has dignity in itself, but also that all kinds of work have dignity. God’s own work in Genesis 1 and 2 is “manual” labor, as he shapes us out of the dust of the earth, deliberately putting a spirit in a physical body, and as he plants a garden (Genesis 2:8). It is hard for us today to realize how revolutionary this idea has been in the history of human thinking. Minister and author Phillip Jensen puts it this way: ‘If God came into the world, what would he be like? For the ancient Greeks, he might have been a philosopher-king. The ancient Romans might have looked for a just and noble statesman. But how does the God of the Hebrews come into the world? As a carpenter.’

The applications of this dictum—that competent work is a form of love—are many. Those who grasp this understanding of work will still desire to succeed but will not be nearly as driven to overwork or made as despondent by poor results. If it is true, then if you have to choose between work that benefits more people and work that pays you more, you should seriously consider the job that pays less and helps more particularly if you can be great at it. It means that all jobs—not merely so-called helping professions—are fundamentally ways of loving your neighbor. Christians do not have to do direct ministry or nonprofit charitable work in order to love others through their jobs.

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Tolle Lege: Fear Not!

Fear Not!Readability: 1

Length: 94 pp

Author: Ligon Duncan

When we ignore death, we ignore God. God is the doer of death. When we ignore death, we ignore Jesus. Jesus is the defeater of death. Death is an enemy, and death is defeated. To ignore death is to ignore the sinfulness of sin, and the greatness of salvation. If you are afraid to think about death, Ligon Duncan will help you in Fear Not! by answering five simple questions.

  1. What is death?
  2. What happens after death?
  3. What happens when Christ returns?
  4. What is heaven?

There is also a chapter on the final judgment. If you are looking for a deep treatment of these topics look elsewhere. But if you are fearful of death and need some pastoral help that is mercifully brief, this is an excellent book.

Death is too deadly for us. But when Jesus Christ conquered death and robbed it of its sting, He enabled every believer to pass through death—the last enemy—into glory.

In my sinful moments—and I stress my sinful moments, because every true believer knows that God is good—there is no doctrine that I want to be untrue more than the reality of hell. I wish I could say that this doctrine is not true. But hell is the fairest reality in this world.

If you want unfairness, if you want discrimination, I can give you that.That is called heaven by grace. Heaven by grace is the most unfair doctrine imaginable. Sinners deserving condemnation get heaven forever because the One who was without sin became sin for their reconciliation.That is unfair, but hell is the fairest doctrine in the world.

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Tolle Lege: Live Like a Narnian

NarnianReadability: 1

Length: 161 pp

Author: Joe Rigney

At the conclusion of Prince Caspian, Peter and Susan share with their younger siblings that they won’t be returning to Narnia because they “were getting too old.” Lucy exclaims, “Oh Peter. What awful bad luck. Can you bear it?” “Well I think I can,” said Peter. “It’s all rather different from what I thought. You’ll understand when it comes to your last time.” For the Pevensies, being in Narnia made them better for their world, not the worse. Though I’ve enjoyed the film adaptations, I have to agree with Rigney,  the filmmakers largely don’t get Narnia or Lewis. They need to go back and learn. Rigney, like the Pevensies, hasn’t missed the point. He has been well discipled by Narnia. He is the better for it in this world. You would be the better too for breathing deep of Narnian air. For those who have breathed, and love Narnia, Live Like a Narnian is a superb relishing of those breaths.

But it’s not enough to simply feel something in response to the objective reality of the world. You must also feel rightly and proportionately to the way the world is. …

Following Plato, Lewis believed that we ought to initiate the young into these right responses, even before they are able to rationally understand or explain what they are feeling. The goal of such inculcation of right responses is that, when a child raised in this way grows up and encounters Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, he will welcome them with open arms, because he has been prepared for, and indeed, resembles them already.

Which brings us, finally, to the function of the Narnian stories in Lewis’s vision of education. The Narnian stories display through imaginative fiction and fairy tale the way that the world really is. Here is courage and bravery in its shining glory. Here is honesty and truth-telling in its simplicity and profundity. Here is treachery in all its ugliness. Here is the face of Evil. Here also is the face of Good. A child (or adult) who lives in such stories will have developed the patterns of thought and affection that will be well-prepared to embrace the True, the Good, and the Beautiful (that is, to embrace Jesus Christ) when he finally encounters them (Him!). Like John the Baptist, Lewis and his cast of Narnians will have prepared the way.

Tolle Lege: A Place for Weakness

A Place for WeaknessReadability: 1

Length: 194 pp

Author: Michael Horton

With multitudes of Osteens infecting the masses with a fuzzy message of nothing-but-sunshine-and-smiles the need for something solid to stand on is dire. Lambs are being told that they are being fed, true, but for the slaughter. They are fed full; full of artery-clogging, fat-rich lies. Out of shape, and vulnerable, Satan roars and prowls on such weak one. Suffering strikes and such sheep are soft. and sickly.

John Piper wrote “the antidote for wimpy Christians is weighty doctrine.” Horton, puts strong truth under your feet in a gracious way. Sufferings presence in this life is not made light of, the gospel of the dark sky and the risen Christ is made much of. The time to prepare for suffering is before the suffering strikes. Christian, read books on suffering, even if you’re not suffering, read them. A Place for Weakness would be an excellent one to start with.

Understanding who God is, who we are, and God’s ways in creation, providence, and redemption-at least as much as Scripture reveals to us-is to the trials of life what preparing for the LSAT is to the practice of law. Theology is the most serious business. Preparing for this exam is not just a head game or a prerequisite for a temporal vocation, but it’s a matter of life and death. It is about our heavenly vocation and its implications for each day here and now. It’s about living, and dying, well.

In times of crisis, the most important thing we can do is go to church. Chiefly, this is where God’s herald announces that “external Word” that contradicts our private judgments. Working against the tide of our inner experience and thoughts, this announcement comes rushing toward us like water from the Himalayas: “You are forgiven; go in peace.” It is also where Christ gives himself to us anew, sealing his fidelity to our salvation in his Supper, joining us with his saints fellowship in invocation of his merciful presence, confession, prayer, and praise. Here we take our place, despite our misgivings, doubts, fears, and temptations, not with the scornful and proud, but with our fellow pilgrims.

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Tolle Lege: Finally Free

Finally FreeReadability: 1

Length: 159 pp

Author: Heath Lambert

A porndemic is upon us, Christians not excluded. Inoculation is possible, even for the infected. In such deadly times I am deeply thankful for Heath Lamber’s Finally Free. I say with many others that this is best book I know of to help those battling pornography.

This book is not about pornography. You can find countless books about pornography.

…The goals of these other books are noble. There is a time and place to talk about all of these issues. But this book has a different purpose. For the past decade, I have spent thou- sands of hours talking with hundreds of people who struggle with pornography. I have never met anyone who experienced profound change because someone told them how many billions of dollars are spent on pornography every year. I have never met anyone whose life was radically changed by hearing (again) how damaging the pornography industry is and how they desperately need to think differently about it. Rather, every person I have ever talked to who sincerely wanted help already knew most of this information. People who are trapped in the deceitful web of pornography do not need more information about pornography.

This book is about something much better than pornography. This book is about the amazing power of Jesus Christ to free you from pornography.

In this book, I want to share with you the amazing depth and effect of Christ’s power to eradicate pornography from your life. Whether you struggle with pornography yourself or are trying to help someone who struggles, I have good news for you: no matter how intense or long-standing the struggle, it is the work of Jesus Christ to set people free from such sin.

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