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R.C. Sproul’s latest book written for children – The Knight’s Map – explains the importance of the Bible to Christians today. It’s not just a book of fables and contradictions as some claim; it’s God’s gift to us. The Bible gives us a map for life – what to believe and how to behave. It’s instructions can only be understood, though, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The Knight’s Map will remind some readers of another allegory – Pilgrim’s Progress.

This may be the best of Sprout’s children’s books. It’s a good story without an abundance of moving parts which is well told. The study guide is excellent, as well. Tolle lege!

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A young boy went to the king and asked him why we have shadows and where they come from. This is the plot for the first children’s book R.C. Sproul wrote – The King Without A Shadow. The king doesn’t know the answer to the boy’s question and neither do his wise men or advisers. When the king visits a prophet, the answers are given. The king calls the boy and answers his questions.

What follows is an explanation of the holiness of God (the King without a shadow). It’s a good introduction to the subject, written in such a way to be understandable to children (maybe not the youngest children, though). The holiness of God is a massive subject which we can only understand partially in this life, but Sproul has given parents a good way to introduce the subject to their children.

This is the only children’s book written by Sproul that does not contain a study guide and questions (which is too bad). I hope a future edition will include it.

I recommend it. Tolle lege!

 

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“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

R.C. Sproul’s children’s book The Lightlings begins with little Charlie’s question, “Why am I afraid of the dark?” What follows is a story that illustrates the Bible-wide theme of light and darkness.  Sproul follows this theme from creation to the fall to redemption through Christ to the consummation of all things. At one point in the story, Grandpa (the storyteller in all of Sproul’s books) says, “You see, Charlie, we’re afraid of the dark because we were made to live in the light.” How true!

As with all of his children’s books, there is a useful question and answer study guide included. I heartily recommend it for both kids and adults.

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Little Ella wonders why medicine that’s supposed to help you get better tastes so bad. Her grandpa tells her the story of a wise King who put a beautiful fountain at the center of a park in the city. He told the people not to drink from it, but they believed his archenemy and drank. The results were disastrous. The King then sent his son, the Prince, to drink a cup of poison which would heal his subjects. That’s the premise of The Prince’s Poison Cup, a book by R.C. Sproul designed for children (but appropriate for adults, too).

The story illustrates the amazing truth that Jesus drank the cup of His Father’s wrath against sinners. It tasted terrible, but great good came from it! Jesus willing obedience to His Father – experiencing the Father’s wrath against sin being poured out upon Him – is beautifully told and illustrated (by Justin Gerrard).

The Prince’s Poison Cup includes questions and a study guide with all of the pertinent Scripture references. I heartily recommend it!

 

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You Will Be Made to Care, by Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen, is a wake-up call to the church in the United States. As the subtitle says, there is a war on faith, family, and your (our) freedom to believe which has been going on for some time. It’s getting worse and shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. As our culture becomes more secular – and aggressively secular – we need to be aware of what’s going on and how to respond.

Erickson and Blankschaen provide a number of examples of Christians who have been adversely affected by the “conform or else” spirit of the age, but don’t stop with simply providing those examples. They provide a plan of action for individuals, families, and churches.

If you’re not aware of what’s happening in the area of religious freedom, you should be. All of us will have to deal with it at some point. This book is a good introduction. If you are familiar with what’s happening, this book will be encouraging and provide steel for your resolve.

 

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David Murray, professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has written a good small book about depression. His position is that it’s possible for believers in Jesus Christ to become depressed (which some would deny). He explains what depression is, how complex it can be, what it’s causes may be, and how it can be cared for.

Murray’s chapter on the possible causes of depression is excellent – life events, lifestyle, the way we think, sin, sickness, and the sovereignty of God. The chapter on depression’s complexity isn’t as even-handed as I would like. In my view, Murray is too dismissive of Biblical Counseling (the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, for example) and their contributions. I would like to see Murray go into more depth on that point, but this book is a small one (maybe he’ll write a longer treatment at some point). I recommend the book, but with a caution as it relates to Biblical Counseling.

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Why did Jesus teach in parables? That’s a good question, but the answer is not as clear as you might think. First of all, Jesus didn’t always use parables (or stories) when He taught. He only taught in parables after He was rejected by the Jewish leadership (mainly the Pharisees) who claimed He performed His miracles by the power of Satan. Second of all, the Lord Jesus didn’t teach in parables to make it easier for His hearers to understand. He taught in parables in order to hide His teaching from those who had rejected Him, and for those with ears to hear, they illustrate and clarify the truth.

John MacArthur makes those points well, and persuasively, in his book Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told. MacArthur provides what we’ve come to expect from him – a precise and thorough treatment of Scripture that’s both informative and challenging. Most of all, it’s faithful to Scripture.

Parables isn’t an exhaustive study of all of Jesus’ parables, but it does cover a number of them. The lessons drawn are timeless and much needed in today’s American church. I can recommend this book without any reservations whatsoever. Tolle lege!

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