My Top 5 Books of 2017

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With 2017 coming to a close, it’s time for the annual round up of my favorite books from the past year:

  1. 51wut-kk3rlThe Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance–Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters by Sinclair Ferguson
    In the 1700s a debate, known as the Marrow Controversy, arose in Scotland. The controversy centered on how salvation comes about and the respective roles of law and grace. Ferguson goes beyond the controversy itself and expands the themes into modern times where we still struggle with legalism, antinomianism, and assurance of salvation. While few are outright legalists or antinomians, like those confronted in the Marrow Controversy we tend to drift into shades of these two extremes. As Ferguson so helpfully points out, the remedy for either extreme is not the other extreme, but the grace found in our union with Christ. This is a must-read for any believer, not only because of the personal edification you will receive, but also for the implications it has on the way we minister to each other in our pursuit of holiness on the way to our heavenly home.

    “Antinomianism and legalism are not so much antithetical to each other as they are both antithetical to grace. This is why Scripture never prescribes one as the antidote for the other. Rather grace, God’s grace in Christ in our union with Christ, is the antidote to both.”

  2. 51nvavpgjklHere I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton
    With 2017 being the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I set out to learn more about the Reformers before heading to Europe with my brother. Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther gives an in-depth and honest look into the life of the man who started it all.  Here I Stand details the events leading up to the Reformation and the ramifications that the Reformation had (and continues to have) on all areas of life: economic, political, familial, social, and spiritual.

    “A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it.” -Martin Luther

  3. 51jf2bcjadfl-_sy346_The Gospel Call and True Conversion by Paul Washer
    What does it truly mean to hear the gospel and become a Christian? This is a massively important question and Washer’s book gives a succinct answer to it. In addition, it is a welcome antidote for the challenge of nominal Christianity (people who claim to be converted, but are not). Washer also emphasizes the implications of conversion for the entire church, not just the individual.

    “We must learn to console and assure the weakest saint who is broken over his many sins, but we must also learn to warn the false convert whose life is a barren and fruitless tree and whose settled manner of living is a contradiction to the gospel.”

  4. 41whpvpy2bmlEvangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by Mack Stiles
    Evangelism is an often talked about, and dreaded, spiritual discipline. Stiles’ premise in Evangelism is that many evangelism efforts fail because they are viewed as programs or taken on individually instead of cooperatively. This short and beneficial book challenges us to reframe evangelism as a community effort. A culture of evangelism more closely mirrors Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9. Evangelism isn’t a book with a new step-by-step program or a clever alliterated outline–it’s an encouragement to join hands with other Christians to share the gospel with others.

    “Defining evangelism in a biblical way helps us align our evangelistic practice with the Scriptures. Here’s a definition that has served me well for many years: Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.”“There is much room for humility when it comes to evangelism. We need to acknowledge that God is sovereign and can do as he wills to bring people to himself. There is no formula that dictates how God must work in evangelism. And though we may disagree with the evangelistic practices of individuals, ministries, or churches, we must also recognize that when people develop good-hearted commitments to evangelism, God can produce true fruit. I, for one, will take people practicing evangelism as best they can over those who forgo evangelism until they have the perfect practice.”

  5. 51enlmlxbzlEscaping the Price-Driven Sale: How World Class Sellers Create Extraordinary Profit by Tom Snyder and Kevin Kearns
    Are you tired of annoying salespeople? Escaping the Price-Driven Sale encourages a consultative and strategic approach to marketing and sales that constantly adds value for the client or prospect. The salesperson can do this through discovering unrecognized problems, identifying unanticipated solutions, exploring unseen opportunities, and brokering strengths. This is a helpful read for anyone involved in high-value sales that will set you apart from the competition.

Honorable Mentions:

For an overview of all the books I’ve read this year, click here.

Reading is an invaluable discipline that will help to make you a more well-rounded person in addition to deepening your knowledge. If you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading now and what I’ve read in the past, check out my Goodreads profile. Happy reading!

Have you read any of these books or do have a book that would recommend reading in 2018? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

-Lawson
Learn It. Love It. Live It.

BONUS:  My Top 5 Books of 2016 || My Top 5 Books of 2015 || My Top 5 Books of 2014 || My Top 5 Books of 2013

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Martyrdom and Mission: Why Reformers Died In Their Day, How We Must Live In Ours

This is the tenth and final post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: David Platt                                      Key text: Psalm 51

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video

The Reformers remind us that it is right to give our bodies to defend the Bible and the gospel. Even if we don’t die, we mist give our lives to the same task. A theology of danger and martyrdom is not a prominent theme in our churches today. Our views of safety and security are far too often American and not biblical.  Read more of this post

Follow Me: The Command to Disciple

This is the third of three lessons in the “Follow Me” discipleship series from the 2014 Harvard Avenue College/Career Ministry Spring Retreat.

In this series, we’ve explored what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We looked at Jesus calling His first disciples and saw that the call of discipleship is initiated by God towards rebels dead in sin unto adoption as sons. This involves both belief and repentance. Next, we saw that the cost of discipleship requires loving family less than Jesus, bearing our cross, and relinquishing everything. Even though this cost seems high, what we get in return is infinitely more valuable: the righteousness of Christ.

We’re going to wrap up our “Follow Me” study by looking at one of the first and last things Jesus gave to His disciples while on the earth: the command to make disciples. True disciples of Jesus Christ are supernaturally compelled to make more disciples.

Commanded and Accompanied

READ Matthew 4:19; 28:18-20

Notice in these two passages that Jesus doesn’t suggest that His followers make disciples. He doesn’t highly recommend it. He didn’t teach them the latest evangelism technique or instruct them on how to be a role model. No, Jesus gave them a clear command: “Go and make”. From the very beginning, Jesus intended for every disciples to make more disciples.

It is also important to note that He doesn’t give them this command and leave them to figure it out on their own. On our own, we are destined to fail. That’s what’s great about being a follower of Christ: He doesn’t leave us alone! The commands that Jesus gives His disciples can only be accomplished by the work that He does in them. In Matthew 4, He promises to make them fishers of men while in Matthew 28, Jesus tells His followers that He may be leaving them physically, but He will always be with them in the presence of the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit continues to mold and shape us into the image of the ultimate Disciplemaker.

The Motivation for Disciple-making

What then is our motivation to make disciples? Should we do it because we feel guilty if we don’t? Should we do it to check off that box on our Heaven Admission Form? Not at all! Look at the Apostles: they were supernaturally compelled to tell others about Jesus. As a result, not even death could stop them from obeying this command.  Read more of this post

Mobilizing God’s Army for the Great Commission

This is the tenth post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: David Platt                                    Key text: Romans 15:18-21

The picture of missions in the New Testament: some stay and build up existing churches, others go and plant new churches. The ultimate issue isn’t whether we stay or go, but whether we are obedient.

What if God has designed the globalization of today’s workforce for the spread of the gospel to the unreached people of the world?

[Platt goes on to quote Romans 1-8 from memory. Pretty incredible, so go check it out on the video below.]

Romans shows us that the gospel is good and that it is so good it is worth eternal damnation for yourself so that others might have it. If you behold the beauty of Romans 1-8, you bear the burden of Romans 9.  Read more of this post

The Church as the Means and Goal of Missions

This is the ninth post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: D.A. Carson                                     Key text: 1 John 4:7-16

What does sin do?

  • Defies God- this is what makes sin so heinous; it challenges God’s sovereignty
  • Utterly corrupts individuals- every dimension of our human existence has been twisted by sin
  • Corrodes all social relationships- we have to cover up, point fingers, and lie. Do we pursue things with equal passion for others or only for ourself?
  • Issues in death- sin leads to both physical and eternal death

What does the gospel do?  Read more of this post

What Do Cross-Cultural Missionaries Cross Cultures For?

This is the eighth post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: Michael Oh                                     Key text: Various

What if Christians truly cared more about missions than other things like money, power, etc?

The church needs to be a prophet and a servant. Prophets tell a culture what it needs to hear from God. Because of God’s Word, every Christian has the ability to speak prophetically into the culture. Servants meet the needs of a suffering people. God cares about all kinds of suffering, especially eternal suffering, and so should we.  There can be redemptive purposes in suffering. It can be a blessing if it heightens our awareness of our need for God. Through our temporary sufferings for the advancement of the gospel, others can come to the eternal comfort of salvation.  Read more of this post

The Life Worth Living for Christ is a Life Worth Losing

This is the seventh post with my sermon notes from the Cross Conference (CrossCon) that was held from December 27-30, 2013, in Louisville, KY. To see my other sermon notes from CrossCon, click here

Speaker: Matt Chandler                                   Key text: Philippians 1:21

Any loss we experience on earth will be viewed as insignificant when we reach our eternal home.

Paul is an example of a violent opponent of the gospel who was made into one of its greatest proponents (Acts 7-8). Paul wasn’t a seeker, but God didn’t care. He wanted him to be His (Galatians 1:15-16). Paul is proof that there is no one beyond God’s saving mercy.

When it comes to missions, we don’t have to go; we get to go. Missionaries are extraordinarily ordinary people. They don’t have any superpowers and they aren’t holier than other Christians.

It brings God pleasure to reveal Himself to us and save us. When God saves you, he doesn’t do it because you gave Him permission to do so. He did it because He’s God.  Read more of this post

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