Thursday, October 14, 2004

Tell It to the World - by C. Mervyn Maxwell, PhD

The story of how the Adventist church started, developed, and became what it is today

C. Mervyn Maxwell's Tell It to the World is an excellent popular history of the Great Advent Movement. Starting with the story of the Great Awakening and the Millerite movement, Maxwell takes us step by step through the Great Disappointment of 1844, an understanding of the heavenly sanctuary, Ellen White's first visions, Sabbath, church organization, the publishing work, education, missions, reorganization, all the way down to the 1980s.

All of the Maxwells were great story tellers, and C. Mervyn is no exception. This book is peppered with great stories of miraculous providence and divine guidance. A couple of parts are a little dull. And some are a bit over-simplified or over-dramatized, but it's a great book. And Maxwell's specialty is history, so he backs up his stories with documented references.

If you really want to gain a good understanding of what Adventists believe, why they believe it, and the culture that made it all happen, this is the book to read.

Naughty Heart, Clean Heart - By Susan Davis

Mary had a naughty heart and didn't know what to do...

By far THE BEST systematic treatment I have ever read on the subjects of righteousness by faith, substitutionary atonement, justification, sanctification, grace, authentic Christian living, prayer, and witnessing is written for 6-year-olds.

Published in the 70s, this children's book by Susan Davis follows the story of Mary, a little girl who had a naughty heart. No matter how hard she tried to be good, she just couldn't do it. So she did the only thing she could think of; she asked Jesus for a new heart. And you know what? He gave it to her. He traded his clean, perfect heart for her naughty one.

The book continues by dealing with the problem of sin, struggling with sinful desires, and Christ's perfect life. It culminates with Mary's friend Tommy choosing a clean heart for himself.

The book contains a foreword for parents and songs to teach your kids as they go through the story. I do this story over 9 weeks every couple of years with K-3rd graders in our local Christian school. It makes a big difference in their lives. I also find that it makes a big difference in my life. After each reading, I am better able to explain the gospel in simple and relevant terms.

Add this book to your list. But don't get your hopes up. It's out of print. At LNFbooks , you can put yourself on a waiting list for the next used one they get in. I'd give you mine, but the spine is torn and I have to read it every once in a while.

Christ and His Righteousness - by E. J. Waggoner

How to live a holy life by taking Christ's gift of righteousness

In his book, Christ and His Righteousness, E. J. Waggoner explores the Biblical evidence for righteousness by faith. What this book lacks in length, it makes up for in depth. Some pages will give you as many as 10 Bible verses you're expected to look up yourself (if you really want to follow his arguments in that kind of detail). Christ and His Righteousness is a treasure trove of God's love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, acceptance, and justice. But it may be a little thick for 21st Century readers to cut through (as it is written in a 19th Century scholarly style).

What I like about a Biblically-based, balanced picture of righteousness by faith is that teaches about grace while upholding the law. It shows that it is impossible for us to earn righteousness, and that it is a gift from God. At the same time it shows us how to be holy by living a God-empowered life.

Anyone dealing with law vs. grace issues should read this book. Anyone interested in living a holy life through God's strength should read this book. You can order it from