Jason Garwood

the good news is good.

Social Theory and Covenantal Sanctions

I working my way through Dr. Gary North’s book, Millennialism and Social Theory, and I can’t put it down. For far too long Christians have failed to give a cogent answer for both social theory and its institutional bonds in a culture. In other words, the pietists are running amuck. North challenges both amillennialism and premillennialism both exegetically and logically. Those two eschatological categories are dubbed “pessimillennialism,” because both do not see the church victorious in history. (The only way “out” of this whole mess is for Christ to come and mop it up; don’t think you can do anything about it! Don’t bother planning for retirement, leaving an inheritance for your children, or worry too much about laboring for just laws in your respective nations–the Rapture is coming anyway!) Continue reading

Books I’ve Read in 2015

Below are the books I’ve read in 2015. If you don’t care much about this, that’s okay, no hard feelings. Some may be like me–always looking for a good book; so here goes. Many of these I would highly recommend. They are in (pretty close) order to how I read them this year.

  1. The Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson — getting covenant theology straight is important to the biblical narrative. This is a great book for understanding how God’s covenants relate to each other.
  2. Christ and Your Problems by Jay Adams — a great little resource. Highly recommend pretty much anything by Adams.
  3. Godliness Through Discipline by Jay Adams — similar to the previous one, this one is excellent.
  4. Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin by Brian G. Hedges — wonderful little guide. Hedges interacts with John Owen, so already I’m on board.
  5. The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts by Joe Rigney — this book is very, very good. If I had to describe it as succinctly as possible, I would say that it is the perfect follow up to Dr. John Piper’s book, Desiring God. Consider this the practical outworking of Piper’s theology of Christian Hedonism. It’s a longer book, but well worth it.
  6. Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today by David R. Helm — a great little addition to the 9 Marks series. Helm pieced together much of what I had already believed and practiced, oftentimes putting into words things I never could. I believe this to be one of the best books on the topic, especially if someone is looking for something less voluminous.
  7. What Is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever — our Elders read this together and I’m glad we did. It’s a great assessment tool for understanding some of the foundational things with regard to being a healthy local church. Highly recommend.
  8. Prayer by Tim Keller — wonderful book on prayer. Actually reading it a second time through with our elders right now.
  9. The Doctrine of Justification by Faith by John Owen, ed. by Carl Truman — read this lengthy treatment for a class I’m taking on Puritan theology. Owen’s work is masterful–combatting heretical teaching from the Papists while standing firm on Apostolic doctrine.
  10. Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression by Zack Eswine — a great little book about handling depression from the perspective of the Prince of Preachers, Charles H. Spurgoen, who himself struggled with it.
  11. The Church: The Gospel Made Visible by Mark Dever — another superb resource from 9 Marks. Highly recommend this one.
  12. Conquering Faith: Doctrinal Foundations for Christian Reformation by William O. Einwechter — absolutely LOVED this little book. Ought to be required reading for church members everywhere. Grab a copy either on Amazon, or here.
  13. Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Doug Wilson — loved it. Writers and readers everywhere should have it. Definitely a goldmine of tips and tricks.
  14. Ethics & God’s Law: An Introduction to Theonomy by William O. Einwechter — another great resource from Einwechter. This is definitely an introduction, but it lays out the biblical parameters for God’s Law and how it applies today. Highly recommend.
  15. National Covenanting: Christ’s Victory Over the Nations by Brian Schwertley — this is a lengthy book on a long-forgotten about topic. I loved it.
  16. The Greatness of the Great Commission: the Christian Enterprise in a Fallen World by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. — one of my favorite books by Dr. Gentry. This is a really, really, really, really good book.
  17. To A Thousand Generations by Doug Wilson — a small book that packs a punch. If you want to understand infant baptism, this is a great place to go. Getting the covenants right is key, and Wilson helps bring it all together.
  18. Outgrowing the Ingrown Church by C. John Miller — a classic, in my opinion. Definitely needed in today’s Churchianity.
  19. A Christian Manifesto by Francis A. Schaeffer — finally got around to reading this classic. It’s very, very good. Schaeffer does a great job deconstructing culture (though I wish I could have read more reconstruction).
  20. The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors That Will Crash the American Church by John S. Dickerson — it saddens me that a book like this needs to be written, but I’m glad it was. Dickerson talks through some of the key issues facing the evangelical church both from the culture, and from within. This is a fairly prophetic book, too, though most of it is simply stating facts. We can learn a lot from it.
  21. A Justice Primer by Doug Wilson and Randy Booth — this was a very good book on an important topic. However, there seems to have been some plagiarism issues with it, which is a shame. Inadvertent citations? I don’t know. I wish that wasn’t the case because I really liked the book.
  22. Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt — pretty good thesis and a very important topic. Discipleship should encompass all of life.
  23. The Prodigal Church: A Gentle Manifesto Against the Status Quo by Jared C. Wilson — great book. I devoured it over a weekend. Felt like Wilson’s “gentle” approach was winsome and helpful. Loved that he went after the facade that is pragmatism in ministry.
  24. Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church by Colin Hansen — it’s probably an okay book. I didn’t love it. Had a hard time following, but some of the content was really good.
  25. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller — wow. This book? Amazing. Preachers everywhere ought to take this and digest it.
  26. Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles — not my favorite Stiles book, but it’s still really good. I loved his emphasis on the entire church breeding a culture of evangelism where everyone single person is involved, not just one or two.
  27. Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century by Thomas E. Woods — explosive. Loved every minute of it. Woods lays out the doctrine of nullification and its importance for States’ rights in resisting unconstitutional law. Wish more people knew about this…
  28. Fair Sunshine: Character Studies of the Scottish Covenanters by Jock Purves — I cried during many parts of this book. The covenanters endured suffering that many of us will never know.
  29. The Mosaic Polity by Franciscus Junius — a good book on understanding the general equity of Mosaic Law and how it applies today. Not my favorite on the topic, but still pretty good.
  30. God’s Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation by David W. Saxton — I loved this book. We can learn so much from the Puritans, especially with their tenacious love of biblical mediation.
  31. The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson — this was an awesome read. The authors spend their time arguing for a local-church emphasis on doing theology (something I’m passionate about). Pastors are to be theologians, not CEO’s. The Church used to know this…
  32. The Life of John Calvin by Theodore Beza — a great little biography from one of Calvin’s friends and partners in the gospel.
  33. Corner Conversations: Engaging Dialogues About God and Life by Randy Newman — this is a great little book that demonstrates how to have meaningful conversations in evangelism. It’s a really great start for those unsure.
  34. Speaking of Jesus: How to Tell Your Friends the Best News They Will Ever Hear by J. Mack Stiles — my favorite Stiles book. This is an older one, but it is well worth your time. I could hardly put it down.
  35. Ultimate Proof of Creation by Jason Lisle — now THIS is a book everyone ought to have. A presuppositional approach to the issue of evolution and creationism. I loved it, and will be reading again in the near future.
  36. The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson — the best book on repentance you’ll ever read. Ever. Read it for a class on Puritan theology and I think I need to read it again already.
  37. Christianity & Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen — a classic I finally got around to reading. I’m glad I did! It’s very, very good. Much of it still applies to our postmodern culture.
  38. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller — this is a very small book, but let me tell you something… you will want to keep it handy and read it again and again. It’s phenomenal.
  39. Rules for Reformers by Doug Wilson — one of my favorite books by Wilson. This is very, very good. I’ll be reading it again in 2016 I’m sure.
  40. Presuppositional Apologetics by Greg Bahnsen — no one taught presup better than Bahnsen. So good. You can also get a copy (cheaper) at American Vision.
  41. The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever — another great book from 9 Marks. Highly recommend this one, too.
  42. Against the Church by Doug Wilson — probably my second favorite book from Wilson. This one is very, very good, too. Loved his emphasis on the doctrine of regeneration.
  43. John Knox and the Reformation by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Ian H. Murray — a fantastic little sketch on some key biographical information regarding John Knox.
  44. Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Edward T. Welch — pretty good resource overall. Didn’t love it, but still very worthwhile.
  45. How to Exasperate Your Wife by Doug Wilson — for some reason, the feminists can’t quite get Wilson right. This book should help, as it is a very good book on what godly leadership in the home looks like for men… if only they would read it?
  46. PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones — this was a pretty good book. I appreciated the authors’ attempt at trying to understand the doctrine of grace in a fresh way. For those who shun away from Reformed theology, this is a refreshing take on some controversial biblical topics.
  47. 25 Ways to Win with People by John C. Maxwell — I enjoyed this very much. Lot’s of great leadership principles in it. Definitely a reference for later.
  48. The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ by Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. — another powerful addition to the 9 marks series. Highly recommend this one!
  49. Honest Evangelism by Rico Tice — hands down my favorite book on evangelism. Very, very good.
  50. Easy Chairs, Hard Words: Conversations on the Liberty of God by Doug Wilson — another great Wilson read. It’s a dialogical story that explains the sovereignty of God and human responsibility in a very creative way. Definitely recommended.
  51. Covenants Made Simple: Understanding God’s Unfolding Promises to His People by Jonty Rhodes — if you’re looking to better understand covenant theology, this is the perfect place to start. Probably before you hit #1 above, actually.
  52. God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth by G. K. Beale and Mitchell Kim — this is a great option for getting some insight on the unfolding plan of God’s presence on earth from Genesis to Revelation. Even though it is from an amillennial perspective, it’s still pretty good.
  53. The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase by Mark Forsyth — one of my favorite non-theological books this year. Forsyth does an incredible job not only teaching the principles of rhetoric, he makes you laugh while doing so. It’s hilarious!
  54. Handbook of Church Discipline: A Right and Privilege of Every Church Member by Jay E. Adams — hands down the best book on this topic. I actually read it twice. (It’s not too long.)
  55. Revival by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones — personally, in terms of experiential reading… this book made me leap with joy and shed tears more often than any other book (outside of Scripture!) Jones’ work on revival is absolutely outstanding. I loved every minute of it.
  56. The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible’s Truth About Life to Come by Scot McKnight — this is a pretty good resource on an important topic. I appreciated McKnight’s willingness to explore only where necessary, leaving the unknowns in the “unknown” category. My favorite McKnight book was The King Jesus Gospel, but The Heaven Promise might be near the top right next to it.
  57. Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel by Russell D. Moore — honestly? It’s okay. Some parts I shouted, “Amen,” other parts I face-palmed myself. Too often Moore would criticize some of the convictions that I have but do so flippantly. He doesn’t really footnote those things, he just straw-mans it to death.
  58. Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code by Samuel R. Chand — a pretty good book. Lot’s of great leadership insights. I especially appreciated his comments about how culture trumps vision.
  59. Discipling the Nations: The Government Upon His Shoulder by Dennis Woods — this might be my most favorite book this year. It’s at least in the top 5. I should probably do an entire blog post on this book alone, but I doubt I’ll have time. The reality is, the ideas in this book are explosive. But most could care less, and that’s unfortunate. Woods not only deconstructs culture (especially the problems with the Constitution), he reconstructs what God says from Scripture about culture (particularly how government ought to function). I’m going to need to read this one again.
  60. Millennialism and Social Theory by Gary North — I’m almost done with this book. It’s pretty big, but man is it good. North destroys the pessimillennial theories (specifically premil and amil) and demonstrates why and how we ought to labor for God’s Kingdom now rather than wait for a ginormous, discontinuous drop down of God’s Kingdom later (the Bible simply doesn’t teach this). I have a post ready to publish from this book soon. On page 154 I could have screamed from the top of my lungs. It’s goooooood.

Books in the Queue:

Up next for me:

Against Christianity & The Kingdom and the Power by Peter J. Leithart (trying to get these read by the year’s end…we’ll see!)

Still in process:

Theonomy and Christian Ethics by Greg L. Bahnsen — This was Bahnsen’s Master’s Thesis at Westminster. I’m slowly making my way through this. The book is currently out of print. Check here for more details.
Center Church by Timothy Keller — still journeying through this book. It’s a larger, more text-book style book. Still great, though.
The Potter’s Freedom by James White — great book, 20% finished; just had to put it on the back-burner for now.
The Songs of Jesus by Timothy & Kathy Keller — great little devotional book for each day. You work your way through the Psalms in one year.

Blood Moons? Shemitah? No.

If you haven’t been privy to the latest evangelical fantastical craze, well, good for you. It’s out there, though. People are talking about it, immersing their small group Bible studies in it, and (unfortunately) funding the perpetual pipeline of prophecy prognosticators by subscribing to their “secret” insight, duping Christians again with their obstreperous fanfare. Can I just say something? This isn’t new.

Many false teachers have come and gone in the twentieth century (remember this?), and apparently those in the twenty-first century continue to pick up the mantle. “We’re living in the last days!” Of course we are. We have been for the past 2000 years. “But you don’t understand! All of the signs are pointing to our lifetime!” Respectfully, of course, “No.”

So what about the latest predictions? Apparently something huge is supposed to happen this month.* Then again, the elusiveness of the snake-oil salesmen is always tricky. He’s like trying to nail Jello to the wall. Blindfolded. If nothing bad happens this month, well, “Rest assured,” they say, “It will be the start of something huge!” Huge. Now there’s a non-obscure word. So what do they mean? Economic collapse (nothing new–it’s happened a lot in history); political upheaval (really? That’s like predicting that tomorrow we’ll have oxygen to breathe); One World Religion and Government (Chapter and verse, please?); and the apparent destruction of the United States because hey, America isn’t mentioned in the Bible, therefore we’re not around to see the end. (Sigh–apparently since Ford, Toyota, GMC and Chevy, to name a few, aren’t mentioned in the Bible, they won’t be around either.)

Here’s the problem: None of it is Biblical. When you have to piece some obscure verses together to try and prove your point and no one in history has discovered this but you, you’re probably a heretic. That’s why we have creeds and confessions–to keep us from crashing into the ocean of heresy. And that’s why the Bible issues warnings–to keep us from being stupid.

For those who wish to get some insight on this, I point you to a few resources:

Final comment: Here’s the deal. I’m a pastor, and this is my opinion and understanding. (I have very good friends who will not agree with me on this. That’s fine.) I believe that I am to fight for sound doctrine (), and I do believe you can be a Christian and get wrapped up into this stuff. Also, I’m writing because I’m being asked about this a lot.

Ultimately, I’m also concerned because not only does it distract from the gospel, the entire premise is built upon a faulty Christology. Jesus came to fulfill all of this stuff () and it would be a return to the shadow to obsess about things Christ has come to fulfill and abrogate as The Substance. And that concerns me.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the stress-inducing, hard-to-keep-up-with evangelical prophecy pundit du jour check out these teachings and resources.

——

*The first seconds of this video demonstrate the absurdity. The man states, “A lot of things pointing [sic] something big popping off at this point in time, and if it’s not nothing [sic] massive…” Um, what? Which is it? smh.

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (ESV)

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (ESV)

Series Recap: The Assembly

This past Sunday we finished up our short 4-week series on the Church, called The Assembly. It was a quick look at some of the non-negotiable, biblical, and crucial elements of a sound ecclesiology (the doctrine of the Church). The point of the series was to answer the question, “What is a Church?” For me, it was one of the most important series I’ve preached to date because 1) there’s a lot of unhealthy stuff out there, thus causing confusion, 2) the “modern church” is busy trying to be “cool” (while simultaneously sacrificing their ecclesiology), and 3) let’s face it: things in this nation are changing, and rather than burying our proverbial heads in the sand, we need to attack it with the Bible.  Continue reading

A Must Watch Video

Take four minutes to watch this video. And I pray it leads you to repentance, as it did me.

 

12 hour service? No Bible? A 2-hour sermon too short?

Christian in America: What is your excuse for a lack of commitment to the local church? To the Word? To Jesus?

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