Free online books from John Piper: A great resource from Desiring God

I’ve been meaning to share this for some time because it’s been a great help to me. Did you know that you can go online and find several of John Piper’s books for free to read online (or download and read later)? It’s true. Desiring God, which is a great ministry seeking to “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ,” offers the books. You can find them here. New books are being added all the time, and often there are books in languages other than English if you want to use them to minister in that way. One of the ways I use them is I read them online and then bookmark that link so I can go back to them in a web browser without having to go to the home page first.

Thank you, John Piper, for the many inspiring, encouraging, challenging, informative books you have written. And thank you, too, Desiring God for making them available.

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Crossway introduces ESV Study Bible app

While you can still download the ESV Bible app for free, Crossway has now announced that you can get the ESV Bible + app (the ESV Study Bible) for iPad and iPhone (and iPod Touch).  For the next 48 hours, you can get the ESV Bible + app for $9.99, after which it will be at the introductory rate of $12.99 until Aug. 7. After that it will go for $14.99.

While that may seem like a steep price for something you can get for free (the ESV Bible app), you have to remember that the print version of the ESV Study Bible goes for $49.99. The ESV Study Bible is an amazing resource and to be able to carry that around with you in your pocket it amazing.

Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer today

BonhoefferOn April 9, 1945, just three weeks before World War II ended, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged at the Flossenberg prison camp for his part in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolph Hitler. Bonhoeffer is remembered well for his strong faith and has been remembered beyond his death for his writings, including The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer’s legacy is a great one, and it is good to remember what he taught, even 65 years later.

In 2003, filmmaker Martin Doblmeier produced a documentary, Bonhoeffer, that looked at the German pastor’s life. In an interview on PBS’ Speaking of Faith, Doblmeier discussed Bonhoeffer with host Krista Tippett. The program is a great introduction to the man and what kind of turmoil produced some of thing he wrote.

This year a new biography is coming out on Bonhoeffer.  Written by Eric Metaxas, who also has written a biography on Wilber Wilberforce called Amazing Grace, the new book is called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I look forward to reading it.

Crossway’s free ESV Bible app now available for iPad

So, you have a new iPad and would like to actually do something with it that doesn’t look like you’re worshipping it. You know that free ESV Bible app that Crossway released for the iPod/iPod Touch last month? It’s now available for iPad as well — also for free. Now, this will only be cool if you actually take time to read it. Maybe you won’t need to download as many other apps if you get this one. Just a thought.

The Gospel for Muslims

The Gospel for Muslims

Thabiti Anyabwile, who grew up in a nominal Christian family in North Carolina, converted to Islam while in college. While there, he became — in his own words — “something of the campus Saul, opposing the gospel and anything having to do with the biblical Jesus.” But, God didn’t allow him to stay there and he returned to Christianity. Today, he serves as pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands.

He has written a new book called “The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement To Share Christ With Confidence” in which he shares ways to stir confidence in the gospel, equipping the reader with the basics necessary to communicate clearly, boldly, and winsomely. It is not an exhaustive apologetic to compare Christianity with Islam, but is meant for the average reader as a helpful guide.

Recently, Anyabwile did an interview with Trevin Wax at Kingdom People. Wax asked Anyabwile why it is that Christians feel nervous about sharing their faith with Muslims and why they should be instead be confident. This is what Anyabwile said:

Many Christians seem to accept two myths when it comes to sharing the gospel with Muslims. First, many Christians tend to think every Muslim has memorized the Qur’an and is likely a radical. That’s the “super Muslim” myth.

Second, many Christians think they need to be world class apologists, able to answer ever Muslim question or critique of Christianity. That’s the “I’m so inadequate” myth.

The result of these two assumptions is that many Christians harbor a lot of fear when it comes to speaking with Muslims. And that fear causes a crisis in confidence—they doubt that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. They shrink back, telling themselves that they don’t know enough, that their Muslim neighbor is more confident, and that it’s probably no use.

The truth, however, is exactly the opposite. If we are Gospel-believing Christians, with even a basic understanding of the “good news,” then we know all that we need to know in order to effectively reach our Muslim neighbors and friends. The power of God is not in our wisdom or in our techniques; those things threaten to empty the cross of its power (1 Cor. 1:17).

But the gospel itself, that is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. In the message of Jesus’ perfect righteousness, sacrificial death for our sins, glorious resurrection, and second coming in glory, God has placed His power to make sinners new, to raise spiritually dead men to life, to change the hardest human heart into a heart that loves God, to justify us and satisfies His righteous wrath. What we need is confidence in the gospel, for God makes the gospel to triumph in every nation.

It is a very good interview. Go here to read the rest as you can see answers about how he came to faith, how the Trinity is important in Christian evangelism of Muslims and how hospitality is important. You can find his book here.

What is the good news of the gospel?

Greg Gilbert has written a new book, “What Is The Gospel?” in which he tries to clear up some misconceptions about what the gospel is and present it clearly. As Kevin DeYoung says, “Greg Gilbert, with a sharp mind and a pastor’s heart, has written a book that will be helpful for seekers, new Christians, and anyone who wants to understand the gospel with greater clarity. … As a sure-footed guide to a surprisingly controversial subject, it clears up misconceptions about the gospel, the kingdom, and the meaning of the cross.”

Gilbert explains why he wrote the book in this interview:

Here is a portion of sample chapter that you can read for free online:

Since the very beginning of time, people have been trying to save themselves in ways that make sense to them, rather than listening and submitting to God. They have been trying to figure out how to get salvation to work—how to get the gospel to work—apart from the Wicket Gate, that is, apart from the cross of Jesus Christ.

That is no less true in our own day. Indeed I believe one of the greatest dangers the body of Christ faces today is the temptation to rethink and rearticulate the gospel in a way that makes its center something other than the death of Jesus on the cross in the place of sinners.

The pressure to do that is enormous, and it seems to come from several directions. One of the main sources of pressure is the increasingly common idea that the gospel of forgiveness of sin through Christ’s death is somehow not “big” enough—that it doesn’t address problems like war, oppression, poverty, and injustice, and really “isn’t terribly important,” as one writer put it, when it comes to the real problems of this world.

Especially now, when we are in the Easter season, this is a good book to consider. But since it is small (124 pages) it would be a great book to read at any time and to give to others as well for good, sound advice.

Being liberated from the hard yoke — by the easy one

I have been enthalled again rereading and listening to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship.” Bonhoeffer streches and challenges my mind when I read sections like this:

When the Bible speaks of “following Jesus”, it is proclaiming a discipleship which will liberate mankind from all man-made dogma, from every burden and oppression, from every anxiety and torture which afflicts the conscience. If they follow Jesus, men escape from the hard yoke of their own laws, and submit to the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ. But does this mean that we can ignore the seriousness of His command? Far from it! We can only achieve perfect liberty and enjoy fellowship with Jesus when His command, His call to absolute discipleship, is appreciated in its entirety. Only the man who follows the command of Jesus without reserve, and submits unresistingly to His yoke, finds his burden easy, and under its gentle pressure receives the power to persevere in the right way. The command of Jesus is hard –unutterably hard — for those who try to resist it. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, xxxiii)

There was a conversation we had the other day at my house. We were talking about reserve and how people’s personalities change. It was my contention that, while there are always instances of indecision, a person who comes to Christ (and follows him as a disciple) has a boldness that goes beyond his own personal inhibitions because Christ has already secured everything for him. The irony is that you are freed from oppression only by complete surrender.

You will not be disappointed if you read “The Cost of Discipleship.” At the very least, go download it for free and listen. If you are like me, you will be rewarded for the effort.

The breach that comes from following Christ

I was listening to the excellent audiobook of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” today while on the road. As a reminder you can pick this up for FREE this month at christianaudio.com. It is a challenging book that I am so glad I read and now am being challenged again hearing the audiobook.

 We are called to become disciples of Christ, but what does that mean? Bonhoeffer, who wrote this book over 60 years ago before he was martyred in Germany, says that the call to Christ is a call to die — to yourself. There were many parts that I found myself challenged by today as I rode on barren stretches of Nebraska highway listening to this book. The part that struck me today came from Chapter 5: Discipleship and the Individual. Earlier in the book, Bonhoeffer described how a discple is called by Christ and does not offer his services of his own will. We see Jesus calling Matthew to follow him and also the instance where Jesus comes to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee and he calls Peter to come to him from the boat. Jesus makes his disciples. Here, in Chapter 5, Bonhoeffer goes further, telling the reader that being called to discpleship is a solitary thing:

The call of Jesus teaches us that our relation to the world has been built on an illusion. All the time we had thought we had enjoyed a direct relation with men and things. This is what had hindered us from faith and obedience. Now we learn that in the most intimate relations in life, in our kinship with father and mother, brothers and sisters, in married love, and in our duty to the community, direct relationships are impossible. Since the coming of Christ, his followers have no more immediate realities of their own, not in their family relationships, nor in the ties with their nation nor in the relationships formed in the process of living. Between father and son, husband and wife, the individual and the nation, stand Christ the Mediator, whether they are able to recognize him or not. We cannot establish direct contact outside ourselves except through him, through his word, and through our following of  him. To think otherwise is to deceive him. (The Cost of Discipleship, page 50)

Because this is the case, Bonhoeffer says that we must repudiate anything that comes between us and Christ, whatever form that group takes, for the sake of Christ. It is not that we have no relation with that group, it is that we can have no relation outside of Christ the Mediator. To try to do so would be hatred of Christ and thus be a denial of our discipleship with him. These are hard things to hear and grasp, but to follow Christ as a disciple is not something to be taken lightly. But also, as Jesus said in Matthew 11:30: “My burden is easy, and my yoke is light.” Yes, it is a yoke, but it is not something that we cannot bear.