OUR TOP 25 BOOKS OF 2017


ANOTHER YEAR IS IN THE BOOKS! HERE ARE OUR TOP SELLING BOOKS FROM 2017.

Books marked with *** before the title are 2017 releases.


2017_top_1

1. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul David Tripp

2. When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Manby Edward T. Welch

3. ***How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology by Andrew David Naselli

4. ***How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology by Jason S. DeRouchie

5. Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp


2017_top_2

6. Preparing for Marriage God’s Way: A Step-by-Step Guide for Marriage Success Before and After the Wedding by Wayne A. Mack

7. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief by John M. Frame

8. A History of Western Philosophy and Theology by John M. Frame

9. Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel by Edward T. Welch

10. ***Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers by Jim Newheiser


2017_top_3

11. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone, Revised and Updated by Elyse Fitzpatrick

12. The Doctrine of the Christian Life (A Theology of Lordship) by John M. Frame

13. Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols by Brad Bigney

14. Strengthening Your Marriage by Wayne A. Mack

15. No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God by Aimee Byrd


2017_top_4

16. The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church by Timothy Z. Witmer

17. War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles by Paul David Tripp

18. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Second Edition: For Study Classes by G.I. Williamson

19. God’s Names (Making Him Known) by Sally Michael

20. Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem by Robert D. Jones


2017_top_5

21. The Doctrine of the Word of God (A Theology of Lordship) by John M. Frame

22. ***Revelation (Reformed Expository Commentary) by Richard D. Phillips

23. The Genesis Flood, 50th Anniversary Edition: The Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications by John C. Whitcomb & Henry M. Morris

24. ***Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment by James Montgomery Boice

25. The Doctrine of God (A Theology of Lordship) by John M. Frame


 

Author Interview with Sean Perron

This week’s author interview is with Sean Perron. He is coauthor (along with Spencer Harmon) of Letters to a Romantic: On DatingLetters to a Romantic: On Engagement.

Perron_Sean bw  Letters to a Romantic_photo both_small

  • Question #1—Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, family, job, personal interests, unique hobbies, what you do in your spare time, etc.

I grew up in Tennessee, spent 7 years in Kentucky, and now live in Florida. I am fully committed to the sunshine weather and have a hard time understanding why anyone would be opposed to living in Florida (especially Spencer Harmon).

 

  • Question #2—Have you always enjoyed writing?

My favorite kind of writing is creative writing. I would love to write a novel one day.

 

  • Question #3—What inspired you to write this book, about this topic? 

Our two books really came out of a personal blog series. Jenny and I were in a relationship and I wanted to write about issues that we were experiencing. We received wonderful pre-marriage counseling and it was natural to jot down information, emotions, and our personal thoughts as we went through each romantic season.

 

  • Question #4—Do you have a favorite movie? What is it and why?

Valkyrie – I love the conviction and determination to remove evil. Even though they were unsuccessful, they had moral clarity and were willing to try.

 

  • Question #5—What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? 

The only criticism I have received has centered around the “kissing” chapter in the dating book and the “birth control” chapter in the engagement book. I readily admit the chapters are controversial, but we went through great effort to be winsome, gentle, and sensitive. I think those chapters are important.

 

  • Question#6—Favorite sport?

Paintball. For a short season of my life, I played on a traveling speedball tournament team.

 

  • Question #7—What famous person (living or dead) would you like to meet and why?

Jim Elliot – I love reading his journals. Whether it is about his romance with Elizabeth or his missionary sacrifice, his story has always gripped me.

 

  • Question #8—If you have a favorite book of the Bible, what is it and why?

Right now it is the Gospel of John. I am planning on writing my Ph.D. dissertation on it. It is a simple and complex book. I cherish it’s wonderful truths and I have much to learn from it. Always will.



How can readers discover more about you and your work?


 

Luke: Reformed Expository Commentary


Excerpt taken from Luke, 2-Volume Set by Philip Graham Ryken


6

away in a Manger

Luke 2:1–7

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6–7)

Death and taxes. Nothing demonstrates the worldly power of nations more clearly than their ability to take people’s money and send them off to war. And when it comes to taxation and militarization, few nations have ever wielded comparatively more power than the Romans. TheLuke Roman army ruled the Mediterranean world, and this enabled Roman officials to collect revenue from all parts of their empire. To this day, we call paying our taxes “rendering unto Caesar” (see Luke 20:25).

The imperial power of Rome was consolidated by Octavian, who was famous for defeating Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, and who was the first Caesar to receive the august title of emperor. Octavian was so powerful that he achieved godlike status in parts of the Roman Empire. Indeed, an inscription at Halicarnassus hails him as the “savior of the whole world.”1

This Octavian is the Caesar we meet at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. He was then at the height of his powers, and Luke describes him doing what the Romans did best: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town” (Luke 2:1–3). All it took was a word from the emperor, and people thousands of miles away were set in motion. Every man in every province had to be registered—almost certainly for the purpose of levying taxes. According to Tacitus, Octavian kept the grand totals by hand, and according to Justin, writing in the second century, the census of Quirinius could still be viewed in Rome.2 No taxation without registration—this was a basic principle of Roman government.

onCe, in royaL david’s City

In chapter 2 Luke shows the far reach of Caesar’s power, and also its undoing. As Kent Hughes describes it, Octavian’s “relentless arm stretched out to squeeze its tribute even in a tiny village at the far end of the Mediterranean. Thus it came about that a village carpenter and his expectant teenage bride were forced to travel to his hometown to be registered for taxation.”3

Although Caesar would never know it, he had unleashed a chain of events that would turn the whole world upside down, for among the millions who had to register was a man named Joseph, with his fiancée Mary. This one little family, seemingly swept up in the tide of earthly power, gave birth to a son who would rule the world. Mary’s song was starting to come true: “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:51–52). God was taking Caesar’s pawns and moving them to checkmate, so that the real Savior would stand alone as the King of kings.

The Roman registration required every man in Israel to return to his ancestral home: “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child” (Luke 2:4–5). Here David receives double mention. Luke has already told us that Mary’s child would be David’s son. The angel said that God would “give to him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32). Zechariah said that God would raise up a savior in “the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:69). Now Luke tells us that Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, came from the royal line of David.

The grand purpose of these statements is to establish the child’s credentials. In order to fulfill the promise of salvation, Jesus had to be a direct descendant of King David (cf. Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8). Joseph’s lineage also explains why he took his family to Bethlehem. Bethlehem was “the city of David”—the hometown of the ancient king—and thus the place where Joseph was required to register. This was another part of the old promise: the Savior had to be born in Bethlehem. In the words of the prophet Micah, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (Mic. 5:2). To qualify as the Savior, Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem.

What is so ironic is that God used Caesar to get him there! Proud Octavian became the unwitting servant of the divine plan. David Gooding writes: “For Augustus the taking of censuses was one of the ways he employed to get control over the various parts of his empire. But—and here is the irony of the thing— in the process, as he thought, of tightening his grip on his huge empire, he so organized things that Jesus, Son of Mary, Son of David, Son of God, destined to sit on the throne of Israel and of the world, was born in the city of David, his royal ancestor.”4 What at first appeared to be a great show of Caesar’s power actually proved the supremacy of God’s sovereignty. Even Caesar’s decree was part of the divine plan. God rules all things for his own glory. This is true not only for the great events of salvation history, but also for the ordinary events of daily life. God is working out his will, and he will see that he gets the glory in the end, even in spite of the things that we do.

Luke tells us where Jesus was born so that we can be sure of his credentials as the Savior. Yet some scholars deny that this part of the Gospel is historically reliable. L. T. Johnson says that Luke “has the facts wrong,”5 and Raymond Brown claims that his “information is dubious on almost every score.”6

One objection is that apart from the Bible, there is no record of a universal registration that spanned the entire Roman world. In response, it should always be remembered that the Bible is a record of historical events, and needs to be respected as such. Furthermore, when Luke speaks of the emperor’s decree, he may be referring to a general policy rather than to a specific census, and it was indeed Caesar’s law to count and tax his subjects. Another objection is that it would have been impractical to require everyone to return to his hometown. Yet we should not underestimate a tyrant’s willingness to inconvenience people. Furthermore, a universal tax census would have been feasible in an age when most people spent their whole lives close to the place where they were born, and it would have been all the more necessary in Israel, where people’s identity was so closely tied to their heredity.

A more serious objection is that Quirinius did not take a census until a.d. 6, which does not fit the chronology of Jesus’ life. Luke was well aware of that census, and in fact mentions it in Acts 5:37. But he was also aware of another census—one taken perhaps a decade earlier. Undoubtedly this is why he specifies that Jesus was born during “the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria” (Luke 2:2). Some scholars reject this solution because they say that Quirinius did not even become governor until A.D. 6, so there was no time for an earlier census. Yet there is also evidence that he served an earlier term in office.7 In any case, we may be sure that Luke knew more about all this than modern scholars do. There is no reason to deny or even to doubt that he has the facts straight.

no vaCanCy

As Luke tells the true story of the nativity, he shows the contrast between the worldly power of Caesar and the apparent weakness of the baby Jesus. But there is another contrast we ought to notice—the one between the welcome Jesus deserved and the one he was actually given. Although he was the son of David and the true king of Israel, Jesus hardly received a royal welcome.

To understand what an indignity this was, we simply need to remember who Jesus was (and is!). Luke describes him as Mary’s firstborn son (Luke 2:7), but he was more than that! By the power of the Holy Spirit, the child in the virgin’s womb was the very Son of God. He was “the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15), with a unique status as God the one and only Son. He was the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He was the Creator of the universe, the Maker of heaven and earth. He was the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Supreme Ruler of all that lives. He was the Second Person of the Trinity, the only begotten Son, the radiance of the Father’s glory. By his divine nature, he shared in the full perfection of God’s triune being. This baby—born in Bethlehem—was the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, and all-glorious Son of God.

What kind of welcome did he deserve? Jesus deserved to have every person from every nation come and worship him. He deserved to have every creature in the entire universe—from the fiercest lion to the tiniest insect—come to his cradle and give him praise. He deserved to have the creation itself offer him worship, with the rocks crying glory and the galaxies dancing for joy. He is God the Son, and anything less than absolute acknowledgment of his royal person is an insult to his divine dignity.

But what kind of welcome did he receive? What accommodation was he given? Luke tells us, “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6–7). Here is another irony of the incarnation: when the Son of God came to earth—the Maker of the universe in all its vast immensity—he couldn’t even get a room!

Most people have some notion where Jesus was born, but some of our ideas are incorrect. The Bible says that there was no room for him at the inn, but what does this mean? Some scholars think that the biblical term (katalyma) refers to a private dwelling, possibly one owned by Joseph’s relatives. More likely it refers to a guesthouse where groups of travelers slept in a common room.8 Such lodgings were fairly primitive in those days, so the Bethlehem inn was hardly a Motel 6, let alone a five-star hotel. In all likelihood it was squalid and dirty, especially by contemporary standards.

On this particular night, the inn was so crowded that there was no room left for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Without blaming the innkeeper or anyone else who was there that night, the fact is that there were no vacancies. So Mary and Joseph took the next best accommodation they could find, which was out with the animals. Perhaps they were stabled in another room, or another building, or even outside in the yard. One early Christian tradition, dating back at least to the second century, maintains that Jesus was born in a cave. According to Justin Martyr: “Since Joseph had nowhere to lodge in that village, he lodged in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there, Mary brought forth the Messiah and laid him in a manger.”9 This is not unlikely. In those days people often stabled their animals in caves like the ones in and around Bethlehem. But in any case, Mary and Joseph were sleeping with animals. We know this because the Bible mentions the manger, which was a feeding trough for livestock, probably not made of wood, but hollowed out of the ground.

This is where the Son of God was born. It was uncomfortable enough to sleep there, but imagine trying to give birth in such a place, and for the first time. This is part of what it meant for Mary to follow through on her promise: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). It meant traveling nearly a hundred miles, either on foot or by donkey, during the later stages of pregnancy. It meant the anxiety of having labor pains in a strange city. It meant suffering her child’s messy entrance into the world. It meant wiping him clean, tearing clothes to bundle him, and then praying that he would live. Kent Hughes vividly imagines the “sweat and pain and blood and cries as Mary reached up to the heavens for help. The earth was cold and hard. The smell of birth mixed with the stench of manure and acrid straw made a contemptible bouquet. Trembling carpenter’s hands, clumsy with fear, grasped God’s Son slippery with blood—the baby’s limbs waving helplessly as if falling through space—his face grimacing as he gasped in the cold and his cry pierced the night.”10

When people sing of the Savior’s birth, they call it a “silent night.” But as Andrew Peterson has written in his song “Labor of Love,”

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town

<break>

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

In short, everything we know about the birth of Jesus points to obscurity, indignity, pain, and rejection. One of the great mysteries of our universe is that when God the Son became a man he spent his first night in a barn.



1. Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, rev. ed., Anchor Bible Reference Library (New York: Doubleday, 1993), 415.

2. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to St. Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 82–83.

3. R. Kent Hughes, Luke: That You May Know the Truth, 2 vols., Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998), 1:82.

4. David Gooding, According to Luke: A New Exposition of the Third Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerd- mans, 1987), 52.

5. L. T. Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, Sacra Pagina (Collegeville, MD: Liturgical, 1991), 49.

6. Brown, Birth, 413.

7. Norval Geldenhuys, The Gospel of Luke, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), 100.

Daily Excerpt taken from The Story

The Story_photo

Day 348   |   Act 5: Jesus to the end

1 John 3:11–24

The young man sat in my office, head in his hands. I had known him for a long time; he was a prominent part of our youth ministry at church, and I was excited about his life, leadership at church, and gospel ministry at school. Yet he had asked to meet with me because he was struggling with serious doubts about his salvation. “How do I know, for sure, that I am really saved?” he asked me, sincere concern in his eyes. Have you been there? Have you wondered how you can know if you truly belong to Jesus forever? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a checklist that you could work through to make sure? Well, the apostle John doesn’t give us a checklist, but he does help us boil this question down to two important marks of a true Christian.

First, a true Christian has genuine love for other believers in Jesus. That’s a repeated theme in John’s letter, and it is a major theme in the passage you read today. John says that the simple command to love one another is one that has been there “from the beginning” (3:11). In other words, this has always been a marker of God’s true people! John even clarifies, helpfully, what kind of love we are to have for other Christians. It’s love like that of Jesus, who “laid down his life for us” (3:16). That is how we know what love is! It’s radically sacrificial love for other believers in Jesus. Does that characterize your life and heart today?

Second, a true Christian affirms that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, come in the flesh as a human being. This is a concept that has shown up more strongly in other parts of John’s letter, but he mentions it again briefly in this passage, as he summarizes the two marks of a real Christian: “This is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (3:23). Real Christians love God’s people, and they believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son in the flesh.

Are those marks of a true Christian evident in your life today? I hope they are! I hope that you find yourself loving God’s people more and more, despite the many imperfections of the church today. I hope that you boldly affirm—in every situation—the divinity and humanity of Jesus, God’s son. Pray that these characteristics would mark you strongly as you follow Jesus!


The Story: The Bible’s Grand Narrative of Redemption by Jon Nielson

wtsbooks.com: 10% off — $13.49


Excerpt taken from Come to the Waters

 December 8

BenedIctIon of peace

hebrews 13:20–21

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant . . . Hebrews 13:20

This benediction tells how God has become a God of peace to us rather than a God of wrath. It has three parts.

1. The blood of the eternal covenant. This refers to the death of Jesus by which our Lord by his death on the cross fulfilled the terms of a covenant made between God the Father and himself before the creation of the world, and then received the promise of the covenant, which was to have a great company of people for his own, that is, the church.

This covenant is eternal—established in eternity past, before you or I or the world or any other part of the created order came into being and will endure forever. It is also important because of the parties involved. In the case of this “eternal covenant,” the parties are the persons of the Godhead. God the Father covenants to give to his Son a people who will be the objects of the Father’s love and whom he will forgive of sin. The Holy Spirit covenants that he will regenerate all those whom the Father gives to the Son and will cleanse them of unrighteousness. The Son covenants that he will make atonement for the sins of his people, will intercede for them, and bring them safely to the Father.

2. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second work of God that is mentioned is God’s raising Jesus Christ from the dead. It is part of the covenant, since the Father committed himself to do this even before the incarnation. But it is more. It is a demonstration and proof of the great power of God, which has worked not merely to bring Jesus back from the dead, but also to save us from the penalty of our sins, keep us from sin, and lead us into an abundant and fruitful Christian life. It is an encouragement to us as we try to serve God and do good works.

3. The Shepherd work of Christ. Jesus is referred to as a Shepherd in three separate passages. In John 10:11 Jesus is called “the good shepherd” because he “lays down his life for the sheep.” In 1 Peter 5:4 Jesus is called “the chief Shepherd” to whom the elders of the church must give account. Here Jesus is called “the great Shepherd” because he has triumphed over death and now lives to guide, nourish, and protect the flock that the Father has given him.

When we put these descriptive phrases together we are assured that God, who brought back Jesus Christ from the dead, is able and most certainly will save us from all our sin and take us to heaven to be with him forever.


Come to the Waters_photo 1