Book Review: Letters to My Students, Volume 1: On Preaching, by Jason Allen

Book Review

Letters to My Students: Volume 1 On Preaching

Jason K Allen

 

Letters to My Students was very obviously written by someone who is a gifted teacher and passionate about preaching, and preaching faithfully God and His Word, the Bible. Jason Allen draws on Scripture as his main resource, as it should be, but also draws heavily on his influences, including Charles Spurgeon and Dr Steven Lawson, (Two of the very best in my opinion!). He also shares his experiences in preaching and preparing to preach. He shares the good and the bad, the wins and the lessons learned. And he is called and passionate about helping to raise up, teach and encourage the latest batch of pastors and preachers coming up.

And that’s who this is ultimately aimed at, pastors and ministers in training. In hat, I have not read a better book on preaching and preparing sermons. It goes into the call of preaching, sermon prep, the benefits and necessity of Expository Preaching, when there are right and wrong times for Topical Sermons, lessons learned, and so much more.

Throughout the book, in all the lessons, Allen keeps the focus squarely on preaching Christ, in all, and above all. He draws heavily on Spurgeons illustration regarding being able to draw a straight line from any scripture directly to Christ. Jesus should not just be an add on at the end of the sermon, nor should the Gospel.

With that, in my opinion, the best paragraph in the book starts and ends like this:

“Christian Preachers ought to preach Christ-centered and Christ-exalting sermons. If a Rabbi could preach my sermon, I still have more work to do….If you have preached a sermon without featuring Jesus, then you haven’t preached a Christian sermon.” (pg. 106)

Ultimately, I am further along in my pastoral career than the target audience of this book. However, I still learned quite a bit, was reminded of things Ive forgotten and encouraged by a lot of what was written here. I also don’t tend to highlight, underline, make notes, etc in the books that I am reading, but this book is highly marked up!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about preaching, who is training to be a pastor (in seminary, for example) or who is early in their pastoral career. And I would also recommend it to any one who preaches, whether regularly or occasionally, whether for a few years now, or a veteran preacher.

 

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: From Death to Life: How Salvation Works, by Allen Nelson IV

Book Review:
From Death to Life: How Salvation Works
Written by Allen Nelson IV
Review by Casey Holencik

 

 

 

To know me is to know that I like things simple. I don’t like overly complicated things. My wife and I joke that we could never be rich, because all the food we see in fancy restaurants and on the Food Network all just looks pretentious. Give me simple, fresh, good tasting food. If you swoop the sauce on the plate with your spoon, I’m out.

When we go and try to explain the Gospel and how salvation works, we have a tendency to swoop our theology and big words across the plate, if you will. We complicate things. We are a people of the extreme ends of the pendulum. We swing to one end or the other, even if the truth is somewhere in between. And so, if we avoid the tendency to overcomplicate the Gospel, it is likely that we fall into the trap of oversimplifying it; what is referred to numerous times in this book as “Easy-believism.”

This book cuts through these two extremes and returns to the question we should all be asking; What does the Bible say? And that’s where Allen Nelson gets his answers: from the Bible. Most of the footnotes are actual scripture and does what I love, makes the book be a study of the bible, not an interview of someone’s ideas and conjectures. Because, ultimately, that’s our authority. Who gets to decide, define and determine how salvation works? The one who offers it. And He has given us His Word, the Bible.

And that, combined with Nelson’s ability to write biblical truths simply and clearly allows the book to be a useful and helpful resource to all people. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you will be able to apply these truths to your walk and deepen your understanding of the bible and walk with God. Weather you hold a Ph. D. in theology or unsure of what the bible even teaches, this clear and straight forward book will teach and give you an opportunity to grow your faith.

Its simple & clear enough for those who are early in their walk or maybe haven’t become a believer in Jesus Christ. It is deep and robust enough for Pastors and Professors to utilize and learn from.

Part of the problem within the church today, why we have such a misunderstanding about what salvation truly is and how it really works, is because the church looks just like the world around it. Today’s society is all about emotion and feelings above facts and reality. Bringing the church, its teachings, its beliefs back under the inerrant, authoritative Word of God is, maybe, the most important thing that we as Christians need to be doing for the Church to effect change in any real way. This book leads this charge by explaining in a clear, deep, systematic, straight biblical way.

This book will be one I give to all my elders, those I counsel, and anyone who comes to my office with questions of salvation. I cannot say enough good things about this book, can not recommend it enough. From new believers, lay church members, elders, pastor, seminary professors, any one who wants to see biblically what Salvation is and how we move from Death to Life, This is the book to pick up.

Thank you Allen Nelson. You have given us pastors both something to think about and a teaching tool in our often tough job of teaching the bible authentically and biblically.

 

(2 Disclaimers. First, this is the first book review Ive written, so be gentle! And Second, I received this copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Needless to say, I was planning on buying it anyway…)

 

Pastor Casey

Romans 10:8-17

 

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