Thoughts on Bible study aids and Christian books and periodicals

Every so often, I’ll read something from a Christian blogger about how, when it comes to information about spiritual matters, we should only read God’s Word because everything else is just sinful man’s opinion.* For some reason, the person doesn’t consider that THEY are sending out posts weighing-in on spiritual matters and that they also regularly read the writings of fellow Christian bloggers. In addition, their pastor routinely uses Bible study aids in preparing his sermons. Bible study aids and other resources written by faithful, doctrinally orthodox Christians can be a big help in understanding and applying Scripture, but, of course, we must use discernment. Not everyone has been given the gift to teach and many in this world who claim to be followers of Christ are actually wolves in sheep’s clothing. If you’re getting your theology from just about anyone on TBN, you’re going to be in trouble. See my previous post on the benefits of a few key Bible study aids here.

Back thirty-six years ago, when I first accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, I subscribed to a couple of Christian publications for a year or two. “Moody Monthly” and the bi-weekly “Sword of the Lord” were helpful resources, although the Sword began to grate on me due to its support of Falwellism and a few other things. These days, there’s so much information – good and bad – on the internet that hardcopy periodicals are struggling to survive. However, I currently receive the “Banner of Truth” (printed monthly out of the U.K.) and the “Ulster Bulwark” (printed quarterly from Northern Ireland) and I enjoy both of these short (32 pp. and 20 pp. respectively) publications. For me, it’s actually helpful that the writers are non-Americans because we American Christians tend to forget that there are brothers and sisters in the Lord outside of the U.S. borders. I first heard about the “Banner of Truth” via Alistair Begg’s daily radio broadcast, but I don’t recall how I hooked up with the “Ulster Bulwark.”

The contents of the most recent issues are listed below. If you subscribe to a Christian publication that you enjoy and encourages you in your walk with the Lord, I’d appreciate hearing about it.


Banner of Truth – July, 2019

Contents

  • Brilliant and Blind (essay on atheist, Stephen Hawking)
  • The Life of Arthur W. Pink, Part 4.
  • Understanding Habbakuk, Part 3
  • News and Comments
  • The First Sermon Preached at Grove Chapel, Camberwell
  • Jonathan Edwards on the Love of God
  • Jeroboam the Worship Leader (the title is sardonic)
  • Change: A Virtue or a Slogan? In this article, the author favorably quotes G.K. Chesterton. Another case of chewing the meat and spitting out the bones. Why do Christian writers feel the need to quote Roman Catholics who propagate a false gospel of works salvation? They should know better.
  • Book Reviews

The Banner of Truth Magazine


Ulster Bulwark – July thru September, 2019

Contents

  • How should you treat rulers you disagree with?
  • Walsingham Betrayal (essay regarding Mariolatry vs. the Mary of the Bible)
  • Adolphe Monod’s Farewell (essay on 19th century French Protestant pastor)
  • He’s Gained His Angel’s Wings (critique of the popular funeral saying)
  • Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
  • Belfast’s Day of Shame (Belfast Marathon held on Sunday, conflicting with church services)
  • Book Review

The Ulster Bulwark

*Postscript: Some people are just not big readers. If, for them, it comes down to either reading God’s Word or books and articles written by Christians, they should definitely just concentrate on God’s Word.

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32 thoughts on “Thoughts on Bible study aids and Christian books and periodicals

  1. Its much arrogance to say one should only use the Bible and no outside resources, then offer one’s own thoughts on it. What they really mean is…listen to me because I have it right. I would never even listen to a preacher who said that as its almost cultish. I can think of a blogger or two who fit that bill.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Wally.

      RE: I can think of a blogger or two who fit that bill.

      I’m on the exact same page, Wally. There are those in blog land who boast that they reject all denominations. What they’ve done is set themself up as a one-member denomination.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this post, brother! When folks go off alone, without iron sharpening iron, they tend to get a little wonky in their theology. Mostly because, it’s a sinful man reading Gods Word! Historically held, orthodox opinions are so helpful, alongside solid publications like you pointed out. Any of us can read Scripture, I know some will take it as if this is discouraging that. However, there are some deep theological discussions that we need to have with one another, while praying for Godly discernment, to make sure we don’t fall into a ditch.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, sister! I appreciate your comments. Yes, I’ve seen some professing Christians go into some very deep and dark rabbit holes as they “go it alone.” We greatly benefit by reading the writings and commentary of theologically and historically orthodox men of faith.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: UK

      When I think of the UK I picture a country with a national church that’s completely apostatized and without a Gospel witness, but there’s still a remnant. Yeah, the Banner of Truth is solid.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you, Tom. I know the Banner of Truth but had not heard of the other one. Chapel Library has a bi-monthly — The Free Grace Broadcaster — plus lots of free literature. I will check on the Ulster publication. I follow a church ministry in Ulster. This was a result of ten months isolation in 2017 when we could not go to church. I watch this on Sermonaudio, enjoy the young pastor there and receive a blessing from his ministry. Blessings for sharing these.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Tom, I tried to comment on your most recent post, but got a message that “page could not be found.”
    Our pastor is preaching through the gospel of Luke, so I can follow well your thoughts on the new and the old. Blessings for your day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fran, thanks for letting me know about the technical problem with the post. I deleted it and re-posted it and this time it seems to be OK because another blogger was able to post a comment. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t really have a subscription but I find a lot of good bible study aids at XXX. There are so many resources available that provide well researched explanations so you gain a full grasp of the scriptures (both the Old and New Testaments). I really love the book “What Can the Bible Teach Us?” which is advertised as a bible study aid.

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  6. You are spot on in the beginning. I think it’s important to have a solid foundation of the Word and to be rooted in Scripture before you seek outside aids. Especially for a new believer whose beliefs are not yet sturdy and easily influenced. The market for Christian literature is almost astronomically higher and more profitable than other markets because people find it easy to spend money on a book if they are justifying it with their faith. Unfortunately there are many wolves who would seek to take advantage of that. Books are often one sided, and contain one or a few people’s opinions on a given subject, it’s a book not a discussion. Blogging is no different. And I have seen many struggle with that in the past, including myself. Based on my mistakes and what I have learned , I keep the Bible at the top, as the highest authority. Any aids, supplementary literature, or theological doctrine is used to drive me back into the Scripture for a deeper understanding, not to replace it all together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comments. I totally agree that new believers should become very grounded in the Word before they start doing “in-depth” Bible studies. That would be putting the cart before the horse. Yes, the journey is fraught with perils. Young, undiscerning Christians should stick with the Word. But a small number of Bible study reference books (one volume commentary, Bible dictionary, concordance, Bible atlas) can bring greater understanding and appreciation of the Word with historical, cultural, and geographical information that the reader would otherwise never be aware of no matter how many times they read through the Bible. Obviously, choosing resources from doctrinally solid authors is important. I have read posts from some WordPress blogging crusaders who warn against anyone using any and all Bible study aids. Their arguments don’t hold up because they go to church and their pastor certainly uses Bible study aids. Christians must use some discernment regarding the pastor they sit under as well as the Bible study resources they use if they choose to do in-depth Bible studies.

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