The Story of the Gospel
Starting at the Beginning
Personally knowing and being able to defend one's own life and world view is critical for answering man's ultimate question, "Why are we here?" It is also critical for effectively conveying the Gospel Message to others. Through the centuries scores of the world's most intense intellects have examined the evidence and come to the conclusion that our universe has far too much order and complexity to have evolved by chance. However, others of equal intellectual capacity have examined the same facts and come to the opposite opinion. Even Albert Einstein in the last few years of his adult life, referring to his life long pursuit of proving the universe to be constant and eternal said, "This was the biggest blunder of my career". Einstein's pursuits and science itself subsequently proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the universe is constantly expanding, which ultimately demands a beginning... Creation. One of these life and world views is wrong. To which group do you belong? The following books should help to solidify your beliefs based upon the facts of science, and rational thinking, not a blind faith Christians are so often accused of following. The following books may be purchased from local bookstores or via credit card from secure online book stores like Amazon Book Store and Barnes & Noble on the Internet. If you doubt that your life and world view really matters that much, just bear in mind that was their life and world view that gave the young men who flew the 747’s into the World Trade Center buildings the courage to make the ultimate decisions they made. Having a life and world view is obviously crucial, but having the right one is even more critical… not just to ourselves, but quite obviously to those around us as well.
One afternoon not long ago, my wife and I were walking along a gravel country road when I reached down and picked up a nearly perfectly spherical sandstone rock. I showed it to her and we speculated upon how nature must have caused it to be so round. A bit further down the same road, I picked up a 5/8 inch hexagonal head steel bolt with a lock washer and a hexagonal nut attached. I passed it to her and said, "amazing how nature could form two such different formations (referring to the round rock and the bolt assembly)". She looked at me wryly and said, "Have you been drinking the cooking sherry?". Had this bolt/washer/nut assembly crashed into one of our space stations from distant space, anyone, virtually regardless of their position on the existence of God, would have concluded that intelligent design was inherently obvious in the bolt/washer/nut assembly. Yet, we look at the complexity of the human genome and the end products of its templating in the formation of a human organism and conclude that there is no evidence of intelligent design here? If we took the basic ingredients of a Boeing 747 and brought them in close proximity within a large cauldron of molten elements and compounds, what do you suppose would be the mathematical likelihood of a new 747 forming by random chance over extreme periods of time without outside influence from intelligent design? On the surface, the question seems preposterous. Yet, this is the very logic we use to conclude that random mathematical chance produced entities far more complex than a 747 in the process of natural selection working through the evolutionary process. How desperate we are to reject God!
In the early fall of 1999, my wife and I were visiting Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. One day we took a sight seeing trip on a small train up to Pikes Peak. Sitting facing us on the train were two young ladies. They were twins and were enjoying a visit together, one living in New York, the other in the Midwest. The young lady from the Midwest asked a gentleman sitting next to her what kind of group he was traveling with. He responded, "a Christian group from Focus on the Family". Her sister rolled her eyes in disgust and immediately became detached from the discussion. The young lady from the Midwest, being a bit more intellectually engaging, pursued asking some basic questions about why we would believe such things. These young ladies exemplified the two most common mindsets concerning a life and world view. One had dismissed the possibility of a Creator completely (atheism, manifested as naturalistic evolution) as well as even consideration of the subject, while the other was seeking possible explanations from the world's assortment of belief systems (theism, manifested by the world's religions). However, Christ said aptly that the path to God was a narrow one, and in fact, could only be found through Him. There are far more ways to reject God than to find the real Truth. A few paths to an eternity without God include those focused in apathy, preoccupation with the daily grind, atheism, antichristian theism (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and New Age Enlightenment, to name a few). If you must reject God, at least honestly examine for yourself the evidence for His existence first. We have compiled the following list of books to aid in your pursuit of the Truth.
The Holy Bible, inspired by God himself and written by His prophets: Regardless of your position on the Creation vs. evolution controversy, have you ever read the Bible? Be honest. Can you truthfully say you know what it says? Have you rejected it based upon what someone else said, upon public opinion? Do you dare have that much confidence in someone else? In Genesis 1:1, He tells us about that awesome beginning scientists often refer to now as the Big Bang... In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning-- the first day... If you have never read the Bible, don't take anyone's word for it. Get a copy of a translation you can understand and take the time to see for yourself whether it holds up under scrutiny. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is a common recent translation used in America today. The King James Version is perhaps the best known, but was translated into a British vernacular several hundred years ago and is a bit difficult for many to understand today. For a first pass reading, the New Living Translation (to be distinguished from the New Living paraphrase) is a good "thought for thought" translation (as compared to a "word for word" translation like the NASB). Avoid the Today's New Inernational Version (TNIV) like the plague. This is an example of the Word of God prostituted by secular American society to meet its politically correct view points.
How Now Shall We Live? by Charles W. Colson: Chuck Colson has been one of the twentieth century's foremost theologians defending the Christian faith, though Chuck is an attorney who became known as the "Hatchet Man" in the Richard Nixon regime of the 1970's during the Watergate scandal. After rising to a position of unprecedented power under the Nixon administration, he spent years in prison after being convicted as part of the Watergate cover-up. During his stint in prison, he wrote Born Again and later founded Prison Fellowship, a ministry to prisoners, their families and the victims of crime. In How Now Shall We Live, Colson presents a compelling argument, based upon scientific and historical fact, for the Christian life and world view... one you likely cannot refute if you are intellectually honest with yourself.
The Fingerprint of God, by Hugh Ross: Ross approaches the existence of the universe from a cosmological perspective using a mathematical model for understanding the world around us. He gives one the tools necessary to understand the statistical likelihood of the earth showing up on the scene of the universe "tuned for life".
Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowel: Did you ever wonder where the Bible came from? How was it compiled. Who assembled its books. How was it preserved without change throughout history? Josh McDowel gives us the whole story in a way that allows us to be confident that the Bible is indeed the "Inerrant Word of God", a reliable source of history and absolute Truth on which we can confidently live our lives and stake our eternity.
More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowel: Many today would like to say that Jesus Christ was a real human being, but nothing more than a great moral teacher. C. S. Lewis, said, "He did not leave us that option. Christ was either who He said He was, or a demon, or worse." Josh McDowel reviews the historical accounts of Christ's human experience and explains flawlessly who He was and why we must either accept Him as the Creator of the universe or reject Him as a fraud.
Creation and Time: A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy, by Hugh Ross, Ph.D.. Dr. Ross also wrote Beyond the Cosmos: What Recent Discoveries in Astronomy and Physics Reveal About the Nature of God, and The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God. His scientifically based analyses offer the more intellectually curious solid roots for the belief that Creation is indeed well grounded in the cosmology of the universe.
The Controversy... Roots of the Creation-Evolution Conflict, by Donald E. Chittick: Chittick is a Ph.D. professor who has been widely acclaimed for his bold defense of the Christian life and world view by traversing the nation engaging opponents in public debate over the validity of Christianity's view of Creation.
The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom; by Gerald L. Schroeder, Ph.D.. Dr. Schroeder is an MIT doctoral physics professor. He also wrote,Genesis and the Big Bang: The Discovery of Harmony Between Modern Science and the Bible . I do not agree with some of Schroeder's interpretations of Scripture, but he does present some really interesting thoughts about the light quantum mechanics sheds on the origin and age of the universe and what conditions might have been like in those early years of earth's existence. It represents some deep reading, but for those who wish to push cosmology, statistics, and quantum mechanics to the human limit in an attempt to understand what God has done in the Creation, I do recommend Schroeder's books.
Perhaps you considered theology a domain of the learned, a sacred ground on which you were always afraid to tread. You shouldn't. Theology is nothing more (nor less) than the foundation on which our life and world view stands or falls. It need not be a point of contention, but rather the solid basis for all that is important to us. The Bible is the ultimate source of theology, the standard by which God's creation should be understood. It is not only a guide by which we should live, but a valid portal through which we can pursue science, education, work, and relationships... daily living.
Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis: Few theologians have conveyed the essence of the Gospel message as succinctly and practically as the British professor, C. S. Lewis. Lewis not only outlined the message in terms anyone can understand, but he lived it personally. The books below by Stott, Ryle, Sproul, Palmer and Calvin further delineate the substance of Christian theology that will help one develop a life and world view that has solid footing on Biblical Truth.
Basic Christianity, by J. R. Stott
Practical Religion, by J. C. Ryle
Knowing God, by R. C. Sproul
Chosen by God, by R. C. Sproul
The Five Points of Calvinism, by Edwin Palmer
Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, xxi, 1, by John Calvin
Once an individual has convinced himself/herself that indeed the Bible does represent the absolute Truth, life has only begun. The next step demands surrendering oneself to the lordship of Christ, acknowledging your sinful rebellion against God, and cooperating with His Spirit to renew your life. Applying the rigors of Scripture can be a difficult task; or as Christ demanded, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". The following books represent sources of enlightenment, encouragement, and comfort as one strives to bear up under the trials we must endure while in this life on earth.
When God Doesn't Make Sense, by James Dobson, Ph.D.: Founder of Focus on the Family, one of the largest parachurch ministries in the world, Dobson has been one of the greatest influencers of Christian culture in the late twentieth century in America and across the world. He has written scores of books on a host of Christian topics, all geared to practical living. Examples include Dare to Discipline, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew about Women, and several dozen others.
The Blessing, by John Trent and Gary Smalley: Trent and Smalley convey an aspect of Christian living that is solidly rooted in Old Testament tradition that is often forgotten in our modern culture. We found it most applicable in our family.
Surprised by Suffering, by R. C. Sproul: Sproul is founder of Ligonier Ministries, a parachurch organization that equips Christians with sound biblical theology for daily living. It is indeed surprising that people who have actually read the Bible and profess to believe it are often surprised when suffering enters their life. More often than not, our first response is, "Why me, Lord?" However, as Sproul so vividly points out, we should not be surprised because suffering is a part of fallen humanity, a doctrine solidly rooted in the Scriptures.
Business by the Book, by Larry Burkett: Burkett is founder (sort of... J) of Crown Ministries, a parachurch ministry that teaches families how to use their money based upon biblical principals. Few people have influenced how Christians use their resources more than Burkett. He has written a host of books on the topic of money and what the Bible has to say about its use.
A. Robert Sheppard, M.D.