Tuesday, September 23, 2008
And the lamb wins
I have some news. For the very first time I have been mentioned in the preface of a book. One line- but it's a start and I also think I spotted a funeral story I recognized. My dear friend Simon has written his third book. If you have not yet discovered the first two then they are More and God inside out and you really should have done by now. God inside out is the best book I have on my shelf on the Holy Spirit and sits next to Gordon Fee as my go-to reference work on the subject. In times where there is lots of nonsense written and spoken about many things you need to find a wise biblical teacher and Simon is one of them.
And the Lamb wins is a book about the end times. If you think there is some nonsense on the Spirit then try the end times. Every nutter with a blog in Christendom has written their ten-penny worth on the subject and never has there been a better time for such a reasoned work on this important area of theology. The Lakeland summer demonstrated that without sound doctrine and firm biblical foundations Christian's can easily spin-off into gnostic la-la land. It need not be so.
Simon addresses some important questions and, as an Amazon reviewer says, "this is a book for our times":
Try these for size:
What happens when we die and what is death about?
Where can we find hope?
How do we navigate the millennium maze?
What does it mean to be living in the end times?
What will heaven be like?
Who goes to hell and what happens?
What about Israel?
What will it mean to be judged?
Now, I don't know about you but these seem like questions that I really ought to get my head round. How I lead life in light of these important biblical realities is surely going to be of consequence. As someone who now buries people and prepares them for death I can tell you that most people are woefully ignorant of these things and have developed a post-modern pick and mix 'I hope it will be OK' view of life and death. Is it not true too that even we in the Church often live far from these end time truths and were we to do so we would be much more fruitful?
James Whyte wrote this recently in the Times about Christian's and his point, though barbed, has a ring of truth to which we should all listen. Here's what he says on heaven.
"I do not mean to pick on Roman Catholics. All Christians fail to act on their avowed beliefs. Suppose you believed that Heaven exists and that only some of us will qualify to live in it for ever, as the vast majority of Christians claim to. How would this affect your behaviour?
It would depend on what you thought were the admission criteria for Heaven. But whatever you took these virtues to be, they would utterly dominate your life. When everlasting bliss is on offer, nothing else matters at all. People who believed in Heaven would surely act quite unlike those who do not."
Simon deals with both heaven and hell in this book and does so with real clarity. He beautifully ends his chapter with a Lewis quote from the Last Battle that I will leave you to enjoy. I learnt so much from this book and it has ordered and explained these subjects talked of so often in Scripture in a very accessible way. Simon uniquely marries theology with pastoral reality that demonstrates that it has been lived as well as written. I also loved his excellent sub-headings such as 'Biblical bingo' and 'Does my bum look big in this?
Probably the most costly chapter is the one on Israel. As it turned out, Simon explored this subject at the same time that I was reviewing my thoughts on the subject at the prompting of a close friend and with the help of Dwight Pryor. Reviewers often say 'this chapter alone is worth the price of the book' and in this case it is true. Most readers I imagine will be in the replacement camp with Tom Wright (differing from Edwards, Simeon, Spurgeon and many others by the way) but you may not remain there having read this or a very least I hope be persuaded that there is another credible view.
This book is a gift to the Church. I hope you will read it and be blessed and changed.
If you are a blogger please read and review it and pass the word forward.
News of this book needs to get out there because it really is very very good.