Free Church Books: Reviews

Read Free Church Books’ June Reviews. A diverse collection this month tackling the subject of forgiveness and addressing personal sin.

BOOK OF THE MONTH: ‘I Forgive You’, Wendy Alsup (2022)

This is an absolute ‘must read’ for every pastoral care team member, counsellor, minister, church worker – in fact, every person Christian or otherwise who is involved in life as we know it.  Wendy Alsup weaves a theology of forgiveness around the story of Joseph and his brothers, to whom he learns to extend the hand of forgiveness in a remarkable way. Throughout Joseph’s story, we find that he weeps four times and each time he does so he exposes another area of vulnerability that resonates with each one of us. As we are led through each room of heightened emotions which always accompany the possibility of forgiveness, so we are brought to the foot of the cross.  This is where forgiveness meets us personally. 

While the author writes as a Christian there is the deepest and richest concept of forgiveness that lies at the heart of every human being who wants to transform a relationship that has gone wrong.  We all want reconciliation when the gulf between seems too wide to cross. Yet in the most sensitive way, Alsup gently tells us that it is possible when we allow God to change our hearts in a deep and lasting way.  

This book is available from The Good Book Company Ruth Aird, Bruntsfield Evangelical Church, Edinburgh

‘Know Your Enemy’, Graham Beynon (2021)

Know Your Enemy will help to equip and enable you to tackle the sin within your life. Satan’s desire is to captivate you with the fleeting riches of this world, yet Graham Beynon helps to provide useful answers, illuminated by Scripture, to battle against the destruction Satan seeks to bring to your life.

Sin is something that each and every one of us must battle and contend with. We cannot endure and run the race set before us without ever needing to deal with temptation in our lives. The Lord himself was tempted, yet did not fall or succumb to it. If we are to lead lives that glorify Him, then we need to discipline ourselves in such a way that avoids the entanglement of Satan’s schemes. This book will help you to see how God’s love is far more valuable to us than the temporary pleasures the world offers. 

The book is not long and is structured into six readable chapters with helpful references to those well exercised in the battle against sin. Above all the useful tools the book provides, it is evident that the author does well to remember where strength to battle sin comes from, and as the great theologian John Owen once said:  

“If we do not abide in prayer, we will abide in temptation. Let this be one aspect of our daily intercession: ‘God, preserve my soul, and keep my heart and all its ways so that I will not be entangled.’ When this is true in our lives, a passing temptation will not overcome us. We will remain free while others lie in bondage.” 

Apart from God, we can do nothing, yet we would do well to read books such as this to remind us afresh each day to discipline ourselves in battling against sin.  

This book is available from Stuart King, North Harris Free Church

‘Teaching 2 Peter & Jude’, Angus MacLeay (2020)

This volume is a very welcome addition to the outstandingly useful Teaching the Bible Series, produced conjointly between Christian Focus Publications and Proclamation Trust Resources. This is the sixth volume in the series from the pen of Angus MacLeay, Rector of St Nicholas, Sevenoaks.  

Angus MacLeay draws on many years’ experience of exemplary Bible exposition, pastoral ministry and denominational leadership, and knows, therefore, how to write for preachers concerned to communicate the meaning of the New Testament to contemporary congregations with intelligence, warmth, straightforward understandability and practical application. Indeed, reading these expositions set in the outlines offered here takes me back to happy days in the late 1990s when my family and I were members of the St Nicholas church family and ‘chewed the fat’ of Angus’s invariably helpful sermons over Sunday lunch. 

Second Peter and Jude are not the most often preached upon books of the New Testament, which is a pity as they both have hugely important things to say to about the ultimate triumph of Christ despite the onslaught of insidious opposition, such as the church faces in Britain today. Indeed it is, as MacLeay points out, knowledge of the invincibility of Christ and his church that puts backbone into Christians and enables them, despite all, to remain loyal to Scripture, stable in the struggle for the true Faith and, at the end, enter their promised inheritance in the new heavens and the new earth. 

For those labouring under the pressures of modern ministry, perhaps with more talks to prepare each week than might be wise, and with less time available for study than my generation enjoyed, not many may have an appetite to contend for the Faith. That would be a mistake. MacLeay encourages us not only to accept the challenge of stemming the momentum of heterodox teaching flooding into the church, but to do so with good effect by putting Christ and his gospel at the heart and centre of our ministry. These two brief expositions are invaluable introductions and provide a sound basis for preparing a series of expositions on Second Peter and the intriguing little book of Jude.

This book is available from John S. Ross, Glenurquhart & Fort Augustus Free Church

‘Calamy Celebrated’, Alan C. Clifford (2021)

We received this book at the behest of its publisher, Charenton Reformed Publishing. 

This is a small 36-page booklet on the life, writings and legacy of Dr. Edmund Calamy (1671 – 1732), written on the 350th anniversary of his birth by Dr. Alan C. Clifford, retired pastor of Norwich Reformed Church. This booklet focuses on the Presbyterian minister and lecturer in London (not his grandfather, also Edmund Calamy, member of the Westminster Assembly and ejected for Nonconformity in 1662) who was friends with well-known ministers of his day such as Richard Baxter and the hymn-writer, Phillip Doddridge. Calamy’s influence continued through his friends and fellow ministers in his time, through his writings and preaching. While a fascinating topic, this booklet may not be of interest to the general readership.

This book is available from Jenson Lim, Dunblane Free Church

We are always keen to welcome new reviewers to our team. If you would be interested, you can sign up at If you have any questions, do drop us a line at [email protected].