A Book of the Year Contender?

I don’t remember where or when I first heard that Mark Jones was working on a book about the beauty and glory of Christ. Yet, wherever or whenever that was I do remember thinking, “Definite ‘Book of the Year’ contender.”

A Strong Track of Superlative Works

9781848716308It’s been a fantastic few years of publishing for the Canadian pastor. In the summer of 2012 he published A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Jesus Christ: An Introduction to Christologywhich I believed is one of the most helpful little volumes on Christ you could ever put in the hands of a lay member. Later that year Jones teamed up with Joel Beeke in A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, a beautiful behemoth of Puritan teaching on all manner of subjects. His 2013 book Antinomianism: Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest? astutely applied historical and pastoral theology to an old poison that seemed to be creeping into popular evangelicalism.

Aside from some periodic goofiness on Reformation 21 (for example), Jones has been a blaze of magnificent productivity.

Time to Stare at the Son

His latest book, Knowing Christ, is scheduled to land on September 28th and is a welcome return to the favorite topic of Christology. If Jones’ recent publishing history is worth anything, we can be sure this book will surely find its way on the numerous “Best of the Year” lists come November and December. Here’s what the venerable Dr. Packer has to say in his foreword:

The Puritans loved the Bible, and dug into it in depth. Also, they loved the Lord Jesus, who is of course the Bible’s focal figure; they circled round him, centred on him, studied minutely all that Scripture had to say about him, and constantly, conscientiously, exalted him in their preaching, praises, and prayers. Mark Jones, an established expert on many aspects of Puritan thought, also loves the Bible and its Christ, and the Puritans as expositors of both; and out of this triune love he has written a memorable unpacking of the truth about the Saviour according to the classic Reformed tradition, and the Puritans supremely. Knowing Christ is a book calculated to enrich our twenty-first-century souls, and one that it is an honour to introduce.

The Banner of Truth’s run of greatness appears alive as ever.

The Heart of Christ

reevesTo pick up a Mike Reeves book is to come to a veritable feast for the soul; delectable goodness awaits on almost every page.

Earlier this week I read Rejoicing in Christ and it is a smashing sequel to Delighting in the Trinity. One of the great things about Reeves’ popular works is how he weaves rich meditations from theologians of old into sidebar-like sections. Consider this one on Thomas Goodwin and the heart of Christ:

[Goodwin’s] most remarkable and most popular work was The Heart of Christ in Heaven Toward Sinners on Earth. His aim in it was clear and simple: Goodwin wanted to show through Scripture that for all Christ’s heavenly majesty, seated on the throne, he is not now aloof from believers and unconcerned; he is still the same man, with the strongest affections for his people. In fact, if anything, he capacious heart beat more strongly than ever with tender love for them. Meaning we can approach the throne of grace with wonderful confidence, knowing we have a great high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, having been tempted in every way like us (Heb. 4:14-16).

In particular, Goodwin argues, two things stir Christ’s compassion: our afflictions and—almost unbelievably—our sins. Having experienced on earth the utmost load of pain, rejection, and sorrow, Christ in heaven empathizes with our sufferings more fully than the most loving friend. More, though: he actually has compassion on his people who are ‘out of the way’—that is, sinning (Heb. 5:2 KJV). Indeed, says Goodwin,

‘your very sins move him to pity more than to anger… yea, his pity is increased the more towards you, even as the heart of a father is to a child that hath some loathsome disease… his hatred shall all fall, and that only upon the sin, to free you of it by its ruin and destruction, but his bowels shall be the more drawn out to you; and this as much when you lie under sin as under any other affliction. Therefore fear not, ‘What shall separate us from Christ’s love?’

Reeves goes on to comment, “In glory, Jesus’ first reaction when you sin is pity. Where you would run from him in guilt, he would run to you in grace.” Amen—and praise the Lord Jesus!

Rejoicing in Christ

9780830840229Our main avenue for discipling men at Imago Dei is the weekly gathered worship service. But it’s not the only avenue. Another road is something we call The Upper Room.

On the second Sunday of each month a few dozen men from our church get together to eat BBQ breakfast tacos and encourage each other in Christ. In 2013 our gatherings revolved around a particular book I had the men read each month.  Vaughn Roberts’ God’s Big Picture was the first title to step up to the plate. I remember feeling great joy as men, for the first time, were getting a sense of God’s unified movement throughout redemptive history. If you’ve ever read Roberts’ book you know it is gloriously accessible. It thus seemed like a safe bet for the men, many of whom hadn’t read a Christian book cover to cover in a long time.


So it was with some trepidation I announced the second book to the brothers, Michael Reeves’ Delighting in the Trinity. Would the men enjoy a dive into deeper theological waters? Or would it stifle the excited momentum we were experiencing? I had read Reeves’ book the year before and it opened new vistas of wonder in my understanding of God, and I longed for it to do the same with my flock. The book is short, but it does demand some level of serious attention. I waited with baited pastoral breath as I watched more than thirty men buy the book that day. Would it help them delight in the Trinity?

I didn’t take long to find out.

Within a few days I began to get texts and emails saying things like, “I’ve never understood God in this way!” “This may be the best book on knowing God I’ve ever read!” “The Trinity finally makes sense to me!” “I love God more than I did before I read this book.”

As the next few weeks went by I noticed the men kept buying up additional copies to give to family members and friends. Reeves’ clearly struck a chord of soul-satisfying joy in the souls of our men.

I have sense sat with great anticipation for Reeves’ next publication.

So it was with peculiar excitement I recently saw a publication date for Reeves’ next book to be published in America, Rejoicing in Christ. IVP is putting it out on March 13th of this year.

I have no doubt the book will lead countless lives to do exactly what the title says.


IVP’s summary says,

If we want to know who God is, the best thing we can do is look at Christ. If we want to live the life to which God calls us, we look to Christ. In Jesus we see the true meaning of the love, power, wisdom, justice, peace, care and majesty of God.

Michael Reeves, author of Delighting in the Trinity, opens to readers the glory and wonder of Christ, offering a bigger and more exciting picture than many have imagined. Jesus didn’t just bring us the good news. He is the good news. Reeves helps us celebrate who Christ is, his work on earth, his death and resurrection, his anticipated return and how we share in his life.

This book, then, aims for something deeper than a new technique or a call to action. In an age that virtually compels us to look at ourselves, Michael Reeves calls us to look at Christ. As we focus our hearts on him, we see how he is our life, our righteousness, our holiness and our hope.

Yes, let’s stare at the Son together. To whet your appetite even more, here’s an excerpt from the introduction. Oh! this book is going to be good.

Michael Horton writes, “If you want to love Christ more, you need a better view of him. Rejoicing in Christ gives you a front-row seat.” “This is a scintillating treatment of a vital subject,” says Robert Letham.

Like Reeves’ other popular works, this book is short (137 pages) and to the point, containing only five chapters:

Introduction: Christianity Is Christ
1. In the Beginning
2. Behold the Man!
3. There and Back Again
4. Life in Christ
5. Come, Lord Jesus!
Conclusion: No Other Name Under Heaven

Set aside some of your church’s book budget to buy multiple copies Rejoicing in Christ. The financial investment will surely reap an untold spiritual reward.

3 Books Every Pastor Should Read: On Jesus Christ

Books are some of the best friends a pastor can have. How to know which friends to have is quite difficult, for as the inspired Preacher said, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Every so often I recommend three books for pastors on a given topic, hoping the suggestions might hone your book budget.

Today I want to consider resources on Christ, the one in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge reside. If we are to rightly preach Christ we must know and experience His glory. As Owen said, “On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world.”

I pray these suggestions will help you fix your gaze on the Savior seated at the right hand of God.

9781857924749mThe Glory of Christ by John Owen. Mark Jones once wrote, “There is little doubt that John Owen stands head and shoulders above his British contemporaries. It isn’t even close. Rutherford, Sibbes, Twisse, Goodwin, and Manton, for example, are mere peons compared to the man with Spanish leather boots.” Sinclair Ferguson would agree, for he says, “To read John Owen is to enter a rare world. Whenever I return to one of his works I find myself asking ‘Why do I spend time reading lesser literature?’ . . . If we can persevere with his style (which becomes easier the longer we persevere), he will not fail to bring us to the feet of Jesus.” The Glory of Christ has to be the Mt. Everest of Christology in the Reformed tradition. It is Owen’s final work, published posthumously, and represents a lifetime on meditation on the Savior he loved most. As with any Owen work, you will need careful patience. But after making it all the way through you will, I think, find yourself opened in fresh ways to the vistas of Christ everlasting glory.

0830815376m0830815325m The Person and Work of Christ.Yes, this single recommendation contains two volumes, but let me count them as one. For while publishers are free to do it, we pastors can never separate Christ’s person and work. I’ve found these volumes to be fantastically compelling; lucid argumentation with biblical/historical/theology awareness permeating each page. While you probably will not agree with every jot and tittle, Macleod and Letham will help sharpen your thinking of who Jesus is and what He’s done.

CGThe Heart of Christ in Heaven Towards Sinners on Earth by Thomas Goodwin. The great Scottish theologian Alexander Whyte said Goodwin’s work is “always so simple, so clear, so direct, so un-technical, so personal, and so pastoral.” Many modern readers might quibble with the relative ease with which Whyte could read Goodwin. I mean, if anyone can rival John Owen for prolix discourse, it’s Goodwin. But Christological piety never met so fine an exposition as it does in this classic work on Christ’s love for sinners. We need books that not only help us apprehend something of the unsearchable riches of Christ’s glory, but also those that give us Jesus’ heart for His own. I suspect, should your read this book, Goodwin’s opening up of Christ will do something mighty in your heart.


The Person and Work of Christ by B.B. Warfield. The Lion of Princeton roars in this one . . . you’ll want to listen.

Christian’s Pocket Guide to Jesus Christ: An Introduction to Christology by Mark Jones. How is it that an 84-page introduction to Christology gets so high on my list? Just read it and you’ll see. Jones’ work is also an excellent discipling resource.

Check out my past suggestions in the “3 Books Every Pastor Should Read” series here.