Dr. Robert Sumner passed away in December 2016. The Biblical Evangelist newspaper is no longer being published and the ministry of Biblical Evangelism has ceased operation.

The remaining inventory of his books and gospel tracts was transferred to The Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles and may be ordered here.


Book Reviews
Editorial unless noted

ANCIENT WINE AND THE BIBLE: The Case for Abstinence by David R. Brumbelow; Free Church Press, Carrollton, GA; 10 Chapters, 306 Pages; $21.00, Paper

The author obviously hates booze, and for good reason. He never knew his grandmother, who died when his dad was only six. She had been stricken with a severe case of appendicitis and her husband rushed her to the nearby Sugar Land (TX) hospital. The doctor could not be found and after failed attempts to locate him, his grandfather went looking for him. He eventually found him hopelessly intoxicated at an area beer joint. By the time the husband got back to the hospital, his wife was dead. If that wouldn’t make you hate booze, I don’t know what would. And that story is only one in millions that could be told.

As Brumbelow said in his Introduction: “Some claim those who are educated cannot and do not oppose alcohol.” He explodes that myth by giving quotes from many highly educated individuals, both dead and living, who fought it.

We fear the average Christian – and even some of the church leaders who speak and write on the subject – simply conclude that every reference of ‘wine’ in the Bible is alcoholic and intended by God for our pleasure (in moderation, of course). They do so at their peril and the welfare of their hearers/readers. These supports for alcohol are grossly unfair and patently untrue, as the author documents (there are well over 400 notes). Brumbelow proves the ancient words for wine in the Bible referred to “grapes still on the vine, fresh expressed grape juice, fermented wine, preserved unfermented wine, wine greatly watered down, and vinegar.” Yes, all of the above!

This book has everything you always wanted to know about wine (and grape juice) – and some you probably didn’t! There are ten hard-hitting chapters and five helpful Appendices. At least two sections deal with problem passages. He quotes a wide range of authors.

In short, Brumbelow’s research is amazing – and thorough! If someone today tells you all wine is intoxicating, or that the ancients didn’t know how to preserve fresh grape juice to keep it from becoming alcoholic, just smile and hand him this book! When referring to nonalcoholic wine the ancients often called it ‘wine that doesn’t hurt the head.’ In short, no hangover!

Ancient Wine is also the kind of book preachers and teachers need to have handy on a shelf for quick reference in time of debate or discussion – and in counseling! As Brumbelow notes, “Many pastors, youth ministers, and parents who see the danger of beverage alcohol do not have the information and resources to speak up about the issue.” This book solves that problem. It will especially convince honest people that neither Jesus nor the Bible promoted the use of anything alcoholic.

As Billy Sunday would sum it up, “Get on the water wagon!”

In addition to the hundreds of notes (documentation) there are five Appendices. A small portion of this book was previously printed in our magazine, The Biblical Evangelist. Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote the Foreword.

We urge you to get Ancient Wine & the Bible, the Case for Abstinence. It is worth every penny it will cost you – and then some!

[See Ad on this page!]

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GOD’S AMAZING GRACE: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EVANGELIST JIM LYONS by Jim Lyons; Published by the Author, P. O. Box 460101, Garland, TX; Telephone: (972) 495-5346; E-mail: drjimlyons@verzion.net; 16 Chapters, 223 Pages; price, including shipping and handling, $15, Paper

This autobiography will inspire, challenge and perhaps – at the same time – make you feel like a failure when you evaluate how little you have done for God compared to this sold-out servant of the Savior.

Lyons is a genuine native Texan and some of the tales he tells fit right in with the setting. For example, the infamous Bonnie & Clyde (or Clyde & Bonnie as they were known in Texas). Jim’s dad was a Dallas police officer and these criminals crossed his radar screen when they were just starting out. He had to arrest Clyde Barrow a couple of times for petty crimes (he even made him a trusty one time during a 90-day jail confinement!), and on one occasion he had to evict him, cussing wildly, at the owner’s request from a restaurant during violently inclement weather.

As for Bonnie Parker, who worked at a hamburger joint near the jail, one night he saw a carload of teens driving recklessly, jumped on the running board and managed to stop the car when a girl in the back seat pulled a small .22 caliber pistol out of her coat and pointed it at him. He was able to wrestle the gun from the girl, who turned out to be Bonnie!

Lyons has some other Texas humdingers, too.

As for his life, after minor work during school days, following graduation he got a good job with Kraft Foods and was rising quickly in its ranks. During that time, Lyons, a singer with no professional training, got into the Stamps quartet singing rage of the time and was doing well there, too, singing the lead in the Stamps Jubilee Quartet. He was offered the opportunity to go full-time by Frank Stamps himself, which he rejected. But when the young minister at the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Jack Hyles, invited him to join his staff it was too much to turn down and the young married man left the secular field for the religious – a move he never regretted. His ministry there was greatly blessed – it was in this post that we first became acquainted – and when Hyles moved to First Baptist in Hammond, Indiana, he took Jim and his family along.

After a stint in Hammond, Lyons entered the field of evangelism in 1965 and had a very successful ministry there. He tells in this book of some of the meetings he conducted where God blessed mightily.

The author has excellent advice, both positive and negative, about music in the church that is worth the price of the book. Suffice it to say, the 82-year-old retired musician/evangelist is of the old school. And when he tells the story of his life, he makes many applications for his readers. Hopefully, readers will listen to him.

Early on, Jim married Dorothy Blackmon, whom he met when she was the pianist for their Stamps quartet. The Lyonses have been married for over 62 years and have two daughters, Carolyn (Mrs. Denver Smith) and Beverly (Mrs. Gary Deedrick).

If you don’t believe in confrontational evangelism, don’t read Jim’s conversion experience. Attending revival meetings at the Rose Hill Baptist Church, by Friday of that week (he had attended every service) conviction had grown stronger and deeper. Like many a sinner before him, his answer was to quit going to church and forget religion. When his buddy Homer Meyers came by to pick him up that night for church, Jim announced he was going to a movie instead. A strong argument prevailed that resulted in the sinner saying, “All right. I’ll go tonight, but this is the last time I’ll ever go to church.” Yes, that was the night he got saved! Thank God for Homer and others like him.

The Memphis Baptist College honored Jim with a Doctor of Divinity in 1972. Lyons has also written three tracts that have proven very popular and very fruitful. One is Select Verses (dealing with leading people to Christ), Some Day You Will Stand Before God, and Say Yes Today.

This is an outstanding book that will warm the heart and be a rich blessing to every reader. Our advice: get it!

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ISLAM: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE by Gene Gurganus; Truth Publishers, Taylor, SC; 3 Parts, 44 Pages; $5.00, Paper

Subtitled “What Every Loyal American Needs to Know,” this mini-look at Islam is the latest on the subject from the pen of Gurganus, who has written several major books on this false religion. This current one was prepared because he is convinced the average American and the average Christian will not read the principal works on the subject, either from lack of interest or lack of time – or being overwhelmed at their size. He may be right.

Part One in this book is history. Part Two looks at what is going on currently in Islam. Part Three is what we can expect in the future. As noted, it is a very short booklet, but there is enough to be scary and wake up the reader.

Gurganus obviously wants the book circulated widely and so quantity prices are available.

[See ad on page 3]

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BATHSHEBA by Jill Eileen Smith; Revell, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, MI; 38 Chapters, 342 Pages; $14.99, Paper

This is a biblical novel, the third in Smith’s ‘Wives of King David’ series. While this is a novel it does have some mighty strong preaching points. Smith does not belabor the adultery portion and, in fact, gives very little description about it. What she does is mostly concerned with the temptation battle preceding it.

This book teaches that in the game of sin there are no winners – unless it is the enemies of God (II Samuel 12:14). While the Word of God stresses the agony and torment of David after the sin, she does not major on it either. The fiction portrays – accurately, we can well imagine – the terrible torment of Bathsheba in failing the man who loved her, Uriah.

It is a well-written, interesting novel.

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CALVINISM: A CLOSER LOOK by Daniel Gracely; Grandma’s Attic Press; 21 Chapters, 738 Pages; Price Not Given

This is an expanded (revised and enlarged) version of the author’s previous work, Hoodwinked and Happy? The subtitle of this one is, “Evangelicals, Calvinism, and Why No One’s Answering the Problem of Evil.”

Note: I owe Brother Gracely an apology. While we have a policy of reviewing every book we receive, I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of this one. I picked it up a couple of times to make a start, but, as I said, I was overwhelmed. And that may be the prime understatement in this issue of TBE! I did scan it enough to know that I am soundly in agreement with its basic thesis. Those making in-depth studies of the Calvinism/Arminian debate will surely want to obtain it and study it carefully.

The book cover says the author “grew up with a Methodist-Baptist background, in which his father and uncle, ordained ministers, often discussed theology. While attending a Reformed Christian College, Dan came to believe in the absolutely sovereignty of God [“Scriptures supporting John Calvin’s view of God seemed ironclad and inescapable,” p. 39]. Later, he discovered that his newfound theology “caused irreconcilable problems with a proper understanding of the Bible.” And it certainly didn’t fit with his attempt to win his friend Susan (not her real name) to Christ, who kept opting out by saying, “What if I’m not predestined to be saved?” For which, incidentally, he had no answer.

While Calvinism argues that “whatsoever comes to pass has to come to pass, because God ordained it that way,” Gracely’s faith was shaken when he read Matthew 11 where Jesus said it could have been different for Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, and Gomorrah, because those people would have responded differently had they seen His miracles. If God ordained everything for His pleasure, why was Jesus upset with Bethsaida and Chorazin since God (according to Calvinism) was predestining their responses? If God’s will was being done in Jesus’ ministry, why did He weep over the response of Jerusalem? And if “John Piper is right in claiming that man is ‘ultimately not self-determinative,’ who is it that quenches the Spirit?”

He notes the contradictions in Calvinism are so many and so strong John Piper must tell his followers “not to rely on logic or experience to explain Calvinism, but to make the explanation a textual issue every time” – but that doesn’t work either, as Gracely goes on to show.

In going through the book, in a question and answer chapter, I noted a point that could and should have been much stronger. The question was with Ephesians 2:8-9, “Doesn’t this teach that faith is a gift that God gives us, which we cannot muster up ourselves?” Gracely’s answer is that grace is the gift of God, not faith. The true answer is given by Dallas Seminary’s Robert P. Lightner in his fascinating book, The Death Christ Died, showing conclusively that the Greek will allow for neither “faith” nor “grace” as the gift, but only “salvation.” God’s gift through His Son is redemption (salvation).

You may order the book from the author at 308 North Main Street, Glassboro, NJ 08028. His phone is 856-873-2334.

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GRAPE JUICE IN THE BIBLE: God’s Blessing for His People by Richard Teachout; Elude Biblique pour Aujourd’hui (Bible Studies for Today), Chateau-Richer, QC GOA1NO, Canada; 12 Chapters, 142 Pages; $11.00, Paper

It is strange that some – apparently limited to those who want every reference to ‘wine’ in the Word of God to be the intoxicating, alcohol-laced kind – seek to pretend there is no reference to grape juice in the Bible. They are as wrong as snow in Corpus Christi on the 4th of July! And Teachout proves it!

You might say this book is a twofer! It not only shows grape juice both flowed abundantly in Bible times as a common beverage and in the Bible itself, but it also shows God’s disapproval of intoxicating beverages, including some called ‘wine’ in the Word of God. Actually, this book is a rewrite/enlargement of the author’ previous, On the Fruit of the Vine: In Defense of Biblical Consistency (reviewed here November-December 2010).

There are a dozen chapters, consisting mostly of documented sources proving Teachout’s position, both from the ancients and the moderns. These quotes are very valuable and will prove to be a source of great help to Christian leaders and laymen in arguing for the biblical position of abstinence.

Teachout also offers three Appendices: Was Jesus a Brewer? Is Moderate Drinking Really Safe Drinking? and, About Alcohol Abuse. The first of the trio, by John Moss and written May 24, 2008, is worth the price of the book. It shows the ancients had no problem whatsoever in preserving unfermented grape juice and lists four ways of doing so, good both then and now. He also deals with the John 2 wedding (according to the Mishnah and later the Talmud, wine at a wedding feast was always to be unfermented; that is, without leaven) and the Lord’s Supper (also where leaven was strictly forbidden).

This is another excellent, irrefutable book on the subject although some will be troubled that all of his documentation relates to the internet and they do not have access to it.

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DEVOTIONS FOR THE GOD GUY: A 365 Day Journey by Michael DiMarco; Revell Publishers, a Division of Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI; 369 Pages; $15.99

This is a typical devotional book for men with some not-so-typical twists. It is typical in that it has a devotional for each day and that devotional consists of one page. It is also typical that it has a selected Scripture text at the top and underneath the comments based on that passage.

Not so typical is the fact that one sentence in the comments stands out in boldface type and that sentence is the key thought for the day. Some, for example, are “God promises victory but only after action”; “God declares things off-limits for your own good, and choosing sin is not only breaking the law but damaging yourself”; “The strong guy is the one who can control himself enough to risk embarrassment or disdain from others in order to be godly”; and, “Belief – not doubt, not suspicion, not fear, but belief – is your permission to allow God to work in your life.”

Occasionally there are two key thoughts to a devotional.

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