Category Archives: Book Reviews

Summaries and evaluations of books from a wide range of authors pertaining to the seeking, searching and sharing of Truth for individual discovery and growth.

Quit Pushing the Car!©

P.E.A.R.s™ Periodic Encouragement And Reminder©

Quit Pushing the Car!©

by
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

Most likely, everyone who reads this article is familiar with the story of Israel’s escape from Egypt; its wanderings in the wilderness for forty years and eventually its entry into Canaan as the land of milk and honey promised to that nation by God.  It’s a great story, isn’t it?

There’s more to it, however, than just a story.

It’s one of God’s teaching metaphors about every Christian’s journey from captivity in sin (living under the devil’s control); the rescue by Christ’s death on the cross; and the sanctification process of moving our carnal nature of self-reliance into the promised land of paradise allowing Christ to live through us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

If you’ve been of the opinion that your acceptance of Christ as your Savior gives you an entry ticket to God’s Kingdom when you die, but gives no immediate empowerment here on earth, this P.E.A.R.™ is going to be both an “I-can’t-wait-to-implement-this” discovery as well as a “why-did-I-waste-so-many-years-in-the-wilderness?” experience.  At least it has been for me.

What opened my eyes on this was a book I actually read for the first time nearly twenty years ago.  However, at that first reading, I didn’t grasp the substance of what the author was saying even though some of what he said was helpful to me.

Its life changing message from the Bible didn’t reach my heart until I “happened” to come across the book again during my move to Arizona in October 2006 when I decided to read it for a second time.  It was from that second reading that the meaning of dwelling in Christ and having Christ dwell in me (as reflected in this P.E.A.R.™ title “Quit Pushing the Car!”) was both clarified and simplified for me.

Although I have had a peripheral understanding of that transformation blessing offered by God and have even experienced short periods of living in that mode, I hadn’t truly grasped the extent of that blessing or the importance of letting Christ work through me in every aspect of life.

My hope is that through this P.E.A.R.™, you will be encouraged to change from striving to live for Christ to instead allowing Him to live through you – if you have not yet attained the wonders and fulfillment of doing so – or perhaps to at least seek out the book and read it for yourself.

The book is by W. Ian Thomas titled “The Saving Life of Christ”.

Unfortunately, until the book is read, the title actually draws our attention away from the message it teaches rather than providing initial insight to what it contains.  At least it did for me as my tendency was to equate the saving nature of Christ’s life to the thirty-three years He spent on earth in human form and then to the death of that life on the cross and subsequent resurrection to open the way for yours and my eternal salvation.  However…the life of Christ that Major Thomas addresses is not of salvation alone but of the immediate fullness and strength of life we are capable of living on earth after our acceptance of Christ if only we would learn to let Christ’s life in the Person of the Holy Spirit live through us!

Here is how he describes his own discovery of this reality:

At the age of twelve I received Christ as my Savior and by fifteen I decided I was meant to devote my life to His service.  I began to preach in the public; was engaged actively in Sunday school work and was aiming to become a missionary to Africa. And in my early years of university studies, I became a leader in an intervarsity group and I even started a club on the east end of London with the focused purpose of saving souls.

However, by the age of nineteen, I had reached a point of complete exhaustion spiritually and felt there was no point of going on.  Thus, one night in November that year, right around midnight, I got down on my knees before God and wept in sheer despair.  I said, “Oh, God, I know that I am saved.  I love Jesus Christ.  I am convinced that I have been adopted as a child of Yours.  And with all my heart I have wanted to serve You.  I have tried my utter most to do so, but am a hopeless failure!”

In response, God focused me upon the Bible message of “the Christ Who is our Life” and made it as clear to me as if He was actually speaking these words:  “Ian, for seven  years, with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on My behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you.”

What Major Thomas discovered, and thereafter began to live – resulting in true glory for God as well as true joy for his own life – (and what finally got through my own stubborn nature as well) is that we are not intended to live for God and His glory on our own power, but to instead ignite and allow His power to work through us for that purpose.  That’s why we are instilled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation and acceptance of Christ as our Savior and Lord.

The problem is that many Christians, as have I, (and as did Major Thomas for seven exhausting years) insist on trying to use our own strength to serve and glorify God rather than letting the Holy Spirit do that work through us.

There are two great analogies given in the book to illustrate this:

The engine in a car: How stupid would it be to buy a car with a powerful engine under the hood, and then to spend the rest of your days pushing it around town!?  Thwarted and exhausted, you would wish to discard it as a useless thing.  Yet to some of you who are Christians, this may be God’s word in your heart.  When He redeemed you through the precious blood of His Son, he placed, in the language of this illustration, a powerful engine under your hood – nothing less than the resurrected life of God the Son, made over to you in the person of God the Holy Spirit.  So, stop pushing!  Open the door, step in, turn on the ignition and step on the gas pedal to that divine energy that is available to us to overcome every hill of circumstance, every opportunity, every temptation and every perplexity of life.

A glove without a hand inside: I may say to a glove, “Glove, pick up this Bible,” and yet somehow, the glove cannot do it.  It has a thumb and fingers, the shape and form of a hand, and yet it is unable to do the thing I command it to do.  You may say, “Well, of course not.  You never told the glove how!”  But I may preach to and instruct that glove until my patience is exhausted, but the glove, try as it might, still cannot pick up the Bible.  Yet I have a glove at home that has picked up my Bible dozens of times! – but never once before I put my hand into it!  As soon, however, as my hand goes into that glove, the glove becomes as strong as my hand.  Everything possible to my hand becomes possible to that glove – but only in measure to which the glove is prepared simply to clothe the activity of my hand.

That is what it is to have Christ, by His Spirit, dwelling within our redeemed humanity.  We are the glove and Christ is the hand.  Everything that is possible to Him becomes possible to us.

* * * * *
“Quit pushing the car!” is the message every Christian has to hear and learn to live before we can experience the joy and power of Christ dwelling within us or to truly live a life that glorifies God.

Oh, sure, we can escape eternal captivity to the devil by accepting Christ as our Savior – much like Israel escaped captivity in Egypt.  But, we will never enter the promised land of fulfillment in this world and will not have lives that glorify God if after our salvation we continue to rely on our perceived individual wisdom and strength rather than permitting Christ to be Lord of our lives and to completely live through us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Such is the mistake Israel made thereby finding itself exhausted and wandering in the wilderness for forty years.  Even Moses failed to physically experience the promised life of Canaan in this world, because he choose to rely on his own efforts rather than following God’s instructions – meant to glorify God and not Moses.

In other words, getting out of captivity is great, but…it’s also God’s intention and offer for us to have a life in Canaan on earth with Christ as Lord rather than a life of wandering lost and exhausted in the wilderness when we accept Christ as Savior only!

Get out AND get in is the message of Major Thomas in “The Saving Life of Christ”.

Both progressions require complete reliance on God.  The first is provided in the death of Christ on the cross and the second is provided in the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit.  This is reflected, respectively, in God’s parting of the Red Sea bringing death to the Egyptian army as Israel’s captors, and then in God’s parting of the River Jordan for entry into the promised as representation of Israel’s return to reliance on God’s strength rather than it’s own.

I will come back to this important subject again, as I have found the same exhortation over and over again in many of my readings.  It is probably the most important reality for every person who wants to live a blessed and joyful life in the bosom of God to not only observe and understand, but to also apply.  As one author has said, “Observation and interpretation without application is abortion.” (Howard Hendricks in “Living by the Book”)

Major Thomas sums it up this way:

There is nothing quite so pathetic as a Christian who has been vested with all the fullness of God through Christ, and to whom has been made available all the illimitable resources of Heaven, yet who in ignorance, or in defiance of this fact, scratches out a mere existence using the meager resources which he brings with him out of the Egypt of his unbelief, with no sense of direction or finality of purpose – for he will not take what God has given.  He as gotten out, but he has not yet gotten in.

He has received the Holy Spirit and all the fullness of Christ, yet ignores Christ’s indwelling within him and struggles to live the Christian life as though Christ was not there.  He begs and pleads for all that God has already given him, but which he will not take.

The truth of this is applicable to you and me in our lives, just as it was to Israel.

A car provides very little value or benefit if it has no engine – which, metaphorically, is what we are if we are living without Christ as our Savior.  Thus, the first step to a fulfilled and abundant life is to admit our sinful, empty nature and receive Christ as the only power that can save us.

Once we do that (or, if you already have), don’t settle any longer for a life of pulling and pushing your car aimlessly in the wilderness.  Don’t just get out of the restricted, empty life of captivity as a car with no engine, but also get in to living the kind of life that Christ as your engine gives you the power to live.

In other words, “Quit pushing the car!”

Your life is not going to cover much ground operating under your own power and will never truly provide any glory for God in that mode of operation.  The Holy Spirit is dwelling under your hood; turn on the ignition; step on the gas and go!  Let God’s power work through you to live a life in Canaan as God intended you to live!

Have a great week!  (and to my family, love Dad)

Bob Alderman

Orig writing 12/05/06 – modified 8/31/08 – blog posting 03/01/17

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com

“The Truth War” – Book Review

P.E.A.R.s™ Periodic Encouragement And Reminders

“The Truth War” – Book Review ©
by
Robert E. Alderman, Jr.

The Truth War addresses the constant battle in our minds between true or false, right or wrong, good or evil, our way or God’s way, and God or Satan.  It’s a war that has been raging openly and subtly since the Garden of Eden in churches and every realm of secular life.

A concise statement of the substance of this war is found in the book’s subtitle: FIGHTING for CERTAINTY in an AGE of DECEPTION.

The author is John MacArthur – host of Grace to You radio, senior pastor/teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, a frequent guest on both secular and Christian talk shows, a speaker at national and international conferences and summits (including the annual Shepherds’ Conference he oversees at Grace Community Church for thousands of pastors who attend from all over the world) and author of more than fifty books – including a Study Bible and Commentary.  This particular book was published in 2007.

What I personally like about John MacArthur’s books and other teaching is he never engages in euphemisms; is clear on what he is trying to share and always provides substantive support for his position.  In The Truth War, he does not deviate from that approach.

In the introduction and first chapter, he lays a brief, historical back-drop to this war and summary descriptions of the three primary, present day combatants against the Christian faith – which are:

Modernity: primarily the belief that truth is a phenomenon defined by science and human reason as the final arbiter without supernatural basis.  Such is the secular religion/faith upon which Darwinism, Humanism, Marxism, etc. and theological liberalism are based.

Postmodernism: somewhat of a one-eighty turn away from modernity in the sense that its basic position is that absolute truth in any form is an impossibility – meaning it does not exist at all or at least cannot be known by the human mind.  Thus, its faith system claims nothing is true, false, good, bad, right, wrong or subject to certainty in and of itself, but rather everyone is entitled to his or her own determination of truth according to their individual feelings.

The Emerging Church movement: is the “religious” application of postmodernism in that it asserts truth, at best, is a hazy and uncertain concept, with the additional caveat that the inability to know truth in any form is equally applicable against knowing even somethings absolutely as it is to knowing everything completely.

All three, the author points out, are simply the most recent atheist, agnostic, false prophet and apostate attempts to discredit the existence of an eternal, completely sovereign, divine Being as the creator and overseer of all that exists and occurs.

Although not in The Truth War itself, the following statement by C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity is a quick peek at what is ultimately the central issue in this war:

God designed the human machine [and all of creation] to run on Himself.  He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. [John 6:53-58] There is no other.  That is why it is just no good [seeking] to make ourselves happy in our own way.  [There is no] happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there.  There is no such thing.

The need for advocates who understand that application is the bottom line discussion in The Truth War.  In other words, ambassadors to carry forward the reality of God as the ultimate source of all Truth and soldiers to defend against those who attack that Truth are urgently needed. Too many Christians have already been deceived and taken captive to the point of being apathetic toward and/or unprepared to engage in this battle.

The springboard exhortation of the book (or re-exhortation) is Jude 3-4 with an emphasis on this statement:

I felt I had to write [a sense of compulsion] and urge you to contend for the faith that was once and for all-entrusted to the saints.

This, John explains, was and is a battle cry – an unequivocal Paul Revere the-British-are coming-the-British-are-coming kind of warning and call to action as a life and death issue.

If I had more space than is available in a blog, I would share similar warnings expressed by  many other godly authors – including the consequences if we jointly or individually ignore it.  However, this one from John Piper in Don’t Waste Your Life will need to suffice for now:

The phase [wartime mentality] tells me there is a war going on in the world between Christ and Satan, truth and falsehood, belief and unbelief…that the stakes of this conflict are higher than any other war in history; they are eternal and infinite; heaven or hell; eternal joy or eternal torment.  I need to hear this message again and again [else] I drift into a false, peace-time mindset

John MacArthur’s admonishments in The Truth War with respect to our churches, politics, social culture, business and family are similar as illustrated in these excerpts:

The Bible sets forth two, and only two ways: God’s way, and all others…people are said to be saved or lost…belong to God’s people or the world…there is the narrow way and the wide way…truth and falsehood, good and bad; light and darkness. [Quoting Jay Adams on what he terms the principle of antithesis]

There is no third option between true and false – [with that fantasy option being described in the field of logic as the “excluded middle”].

[This war] has happened in every major era of church history…we cannot afford to be apathetic about the truth…[and] the reality of the battle raging all around us.

...reality is created and truth is defined by God...[and]...what is true is true for everyone regardless of anyone’s personal perspective and individual preference…it’s the way things really are...[and]…is what is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory and being of God.

There is nothing passive, peaceful or easy about it.  Jude’s exhortation [is] to wage a mighty battle.

Unfortunately, the visible church today is filled with people who have decided that biblical discernment and divinely reveled truth…are warn-out relics…They are weary of the battle for truth, and in effect have already unilaterally ceased resistance...[and] often seem more distressed about believers who think the Truth War is still worth fighting about.

Lest we think this book and its message have only abstract or academic application in our lives,  the following words written in it ten years ago are directly pertinent to the current rioting related to Donald Trump’s election as President; the overall decay of our country in recent decades, and the increased violence throughout the world against Christianity.

I see a close analogy [says MacArthur referring to his discussion of the postmodern spiritual war] in the political situation that dominates the secular Western world today.  The West loves openness, tolerance, freedom, and acceptance.  That is understandable on a certain level, of course.

But, abandon moral values, throw a few lawless terrorists in the mix, and the situation changes.  Terrorists don’t yield to any law.  They hide by simply mixing into a free society, pretending to be other than they really are, taking advantage of society’s openness in order to gain access to places where they can attack the very foundations of society that grants them such freedom.

Western society, by and large, [however] does not have the will or the inclination to construct boundaries for its own self-defense.  Years after the terror war supposedly got serious, America’s borders are still basically open to all comers.

Much of European society still opposes the idea of any military response to the terrorist threat.  Postmodern values and political correctness rule out profiling, monitoring the conversations of suspicious people, targeting illegal residents, and other means that would help identify who the terrorists are.

Analysts in the media perform all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to avoid saying that the roots of terrorism have anything to do with a particular culture or religion.

[Remember, this was written ten years ago with the situation being even worse today because the writing that has long been on the walls of history, reality and in God’s Word have been ignored by the titled leaders of America and elsewhere around the world .]

* * * *

In closing this book review, I say simply this:

Of all the books I’ve read, studied and considered on the subject of Truth (of which many will be reviewed in this blog, time and God willing), The Truth War by John MacArthur is the best, single overview of this battle and its eventual consequences – if the warnings and call to action are not heeded.

Thus, if you are looking for just one book that addresses the ultimate issue in this war and gives a sufficient overview of its history and the basic substance of the attacks against all-encompassing, divine Truth – this is the book I recommend you read.

Have a great week!
Bob Alderman (and to my family: Love Dad!)

PERMISSIONS:  You are permitted to reproduce and distribute electronic or hardcopies of this article in its entirety provided you do not alter it in any way, do not charge a fee to others to receive it beyond your cost of reproduction, and do not make more than fifty physical copies without prior written permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr.  All republications of the article in full or in part, whether in a hardcopy or electronic format, must include this statement:  Reproduced with permission from Robert E. Alderman, Jr., 661.904.7751, thegreatestlaw@gmail.com,  www.BobsPEARS.com