Archive for the Books Category

Apr 19

Confession: Killing Sin and Creating Fellowship

2010 | by Parker Landis | Category: Books,Gospel,Quote,Sermon Follow-Up,The Church

Yesterday, Zach preached on John 3:19-21 about the need for Christians to “come into the light” by confessing their sins to each other.  The following quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s, Life Together powerfully illustrate the importance of confession in breaking the power of sin and creating real fellowship among believers.  The final chapter, from which the quotes below are excerpted, is worth the price of the book alone.

He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners! (p. 110)

In confession a man breaks through to certainty.  Why is it that it is often easier for us to confess our sins to God than to a brother? God is holy and sinless, He is a just judge of evil and the enemy of all disobedience.  But a brother is sinful as we are.  He knows from his own experience the dark night of secret sin.  Why should we not find it easier to go to a brother than to the holy God? We must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God, whether we have not rather been confessing our sins to ourselves and also granting ourselves absolution. And is not the reason perhaps for our countless relapses and the feebleness of our Christian obedience to be found precisely in the fact that we are living on self-forgiveness and not a real forgiveness?  Self-forgiveness can never lead to a breach with sin.

Who can give us the certainty that, in the confession and forgiveness of our sins, we are not dealing with ourselves, but with the living God?  God gives us this certainty through our brother.  Our brother breaks the circle of self-deception.  A man who confesses his sin in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has to be brought into the light.  But since the sin must come to light some time, it is better that it happens today between me and my brother, rather than on the last day in the piercing light of the final judgment. It is a mercy that we can confess our sins  to a brother. Such grace spares us the terrors of the last judgment. (pp. 115-16)

In confession the break-through to community takes place.  Sin demands to have a man by himself.  It withdraws him from the community.  The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.  Sin wants to remain unknown.  It shuns the light.  In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person.  This can happen even in the midst of a pious community…

The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder.  Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother.  He is no longer alone with his evil for he has cast off his sin in confession and handed it over to God… Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God in the cross of Jesus Christ. (pp. 112-13)

Apr 15

The Pharisee and the Tax-Collector

2010 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Books,Gospel,Quote,Recommended Link,Sermon Follow-Up

On Sunday, we looked at Luke 18:9-14 — the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector.

I think this parable best exemplifies Jesus’ message, specifically as that message comes to us through Luke. Like we said on Sunday (and have said many times before), in Luke the “righteous” are the so-called righteous — those who think themselves to be righteous even though they aren’t (none are). The “sinners” in Luke are the famously sinful — those who know themselves to be sinners, partly because society constantly reminds them that they are sinners and are in trouble. In Luke, the “righteous” really are sinners — not least because their self-righteousness, self-deception, and works-pride are sin. The “sinners,” however, can be made righteous by grace in Christ through faith.

Let me encourage continued thought and prayer on this parable, its teaching, and its implications. Here are some ways to do that.

At Together for the Gospel this week, John Piper’s message spent time on this parable as he examined the broader question of whether Jesus and Paul had different “gospels.” He concludes that Jesus’ gospel is also Paul’s, and then follows that up with these imiplications:

  • Nothing We Do Is Basis for God’s Acceptance
  • Our Standing with God Is Based on Jesus, Not Us
  • Transformation Is the Fruit, Not Root, of Justification
  • All Our Goodness Is Evidence and Confirmation, Not Grounds
  • The Gospel Is for Every Person and Every People
  • Jesus Gets the Full Glory

John Bunyan has a 128 page book on this parable. The full text is available for free on Google Books. I used a couple of gems from it in Sunday’s message:

  • “The Pharisee’s whole righteousness was sinful.”
  • “Godly men are afraid of their own righteousness.”
  • “We must be made righteous before we can do righteousness.”

Spurgeon preached several messages on this parable, but (I believe) only one is available online. What a great title: “Too Good to be Saved!

Tim Keller’s message on this parable is devastatingly good. Unfortunately, many of Keller’s sermons aren’t free, but this one is. Download it and listen. Then download and/or read everything else from Keller you can get your hands on. For instance, here is Keller, in The Prodigal God, explaining the same message — how we must repent not only of our bad works but also our good works:

What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become a Christian we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness – the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of those things.

It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord—lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness—that you are on the verge of becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything—how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, you sins, your virtue. It’s called the new birth because its so radical.

Is this a new concept for you? Maybe check out the three hour Saturday Seminar that DSC did some years back, “The Gospel for Christians.”

Fighting my Pharisaical self-righteousness with you until Jesus returns.

Jan 20

Books on Suffering

2010 | by Parker Landis | Category: Books,Sermon Follow-Up

If you want to study more about suffering and how God’s good but mysterious purposes intertwine with it, here are four great books to check out.

Trusting God, by Jerry Bridges

If God is Good, by Randy Alcorn

How Long, O Lord?, by D.A. Carson

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor.  You can also download it for free online.

Nov 19

Jerram Barrs Resources

2009 | by Parker Landis | Category: Books,Recommended Link

We had a great time this weekend with Professor Jerram Barrs at our Prizing the Privilege of Prayer Weekend.  If you missed the conference, make sure to download or listen to the audio here.

If you are interested in further resources from Jerram, you can purchase these books at our Resource Center or online by clicking on the following links:

Also, you can hear more messages from Jerram on such topics as Art and Literature, Ethics, Vocation, and much more at The European Leadership Forum or

Nov 12

Book Recommendation Page

2009 | by Parker Landis | Category: Administrative,Books

We just put up a new book recommendation page on the website.  This page includes an extensive list of what we consider to be the best books available in such categories as:

  • Biblical Interpretation
  • New and Old Testament
  • Christian Life and Growth
  • Prayer
  • Spiritual Disciplines
  • Suffering
  • Evangelism
  • Church History,
  • Biographies
  • Men’s Issues
  • Women’s Issues
  • Bibles and Books for Kids
  • And many more

Some of the categories are marked with an asterisk, which means that those lists have been categorized beginning with more accessible and popular-level books and working down to more academic and technical books.

If you click on a link through our book recommendation page and purchase that book, DSC will get a percentage of the sale.  If you want a book that is not listed on our page, you can search for it by using the search box at the top of the book recommendation page and DSC will also get credit for purchases made this way.