Some Books that Have Influenced My Thinking and Life (in addition to the Bible)

1. Elizabeth Elliott, The Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliott.

2. Ned Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir.

3 & 4. Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There and How Should We Then Live?

5-7. Merrill C. Tenney, The Reality of the Resurrection, New Testament Survey, and Interpreting Revelation.

8. Seth Wilson, Learning from Jesus.

9 & 10. J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on Acts and Evidences of Christianity.

11 -13. John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, and Between Two Worlds.

14 & 15. J. I. Packer, Knowing God and God Has Spoken.

16-18. Leon Morris, I Believe in Revelation, The Gospel According to John, and Atonement.

19. John Wenham, Christ and the Bible.

20. Herman Ridderbos, The  Authority of the New Testament Scriptures.

21, Neil Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible.

22. Carl. F. H. Henry, ed. Revelation and the Bible: Contemporary Evangelical Thought.

23. Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative.

24-26. F. F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? and The Epistle to the Hebrews.

27. Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries.

28. Augustine, The City of God.

29. James North, Union in Truth: An Interpretative History of the Restoration Movement.

30. Louis Cochrane, The Fool of God: A Novel Based on the Life of Alexander Campbell.

31 & 32. J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism and The Origin of Paul’s Religion.

33. Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts?

34. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants.

35. Gerald L. Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss.

36-38. Os Guinness, The Dust of Death, In Two Minds (now God in the Dark), and A Free  People’s Suicide.

39. Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay and Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith.

40. David F. Wells, No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?

41. Harold H. Titus, Living Issues in Philosophy, 2nd ed.

42. James Sire, The Universe Next Door.

43. Elton Trueblood, The Idea of a College.

44. S. A. Witmer, The Bible College Story: Education with Dimension.

45. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge.

46. Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness.

47. Kenneth O. Gangel, Feeding and Leading: A Practical Handbook on Administration in Churches and Christian Organizations.

48. John Wooden, My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey.

49. Alister McGrath, C. S. Lewis: A Life, Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet.

50. Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

51 & 52. David McCullough, John Adams and 1776.

53. William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Non-Fiction.

                                                 

Heaven Is for Real–What Are We to Think?

Four-year-old Colton Burpo from Imperial, Nebraska, nearly died while having an emergency appendectomy for ruptured appendix. He later reported to his family that he had a supernatural experience in a visit to heaven. He described looking down and observing the doctor operating on him and seeing his father praying in the waiting room. He said he visited with deceased family members and Jesus. He described the Holy Spirit as a bluish image.

A 2010 book Heaven Is Real, published by Thomas Nelson had sold over eight million copies and been translated into twenty-five languages. In anticipation of the Sony Pictures movie version in April 2014, it rose to be the No. l best-selling non-fiction paperback.

What are we to think about near-death, out-of-body experiences, experiences of visions, visits to heaven, and supernatural messages from God?

1. Always judge an experience by Scripture. The Bible is the Word of God and must be our highest authority and final court of appeal on spiritual matters. If the experience contradicts Scripture then realize you have drawn the wrong conclusion from it. Subjective experiences carry a degree of subjectivity.

Truth defines experience. God’s truth in his Word defines spiritual experience. Evaluate the experience. Does the experience or part of it contradict Scripture? Even doing religious experiences like doing miracles did not prove people right with God (Matthew 7:21-23).

 2. Never tell someone that their experience is not real. Even if what a person has experienced is an illusion, their experience is still real. We may have a dream we are falling. We wake up and find we were not actually falling but we had a mental experience of falling. While a person’s experience of the supernatural is real, they may have misinterpreted its meaning.

3. Never decide what God will not do. The exception to this is what God in his Word has said he will not do, e.g. God will not lie or do evil. God is God, we are fallible humans. He may work in new ways unfamiliar to our experience. We must not put God in a box and become an authority on something out of our jurisdiction, namely God’s freedom.

 4. Do not give the experience equal authority with Scripture. If you have had a seemingly supernatural experience that had brought you reassurance, peace, and a closeness o God, thank God for it. Remember to put your confidence in Christ not in that experience. Cults, e.g. Mormonism, and false religions arise because people exalt their experience above Scripture. Jesus Christ and the Word of God constitute the most valid and powerful authority for believing in the reality of heaven.