Reviewed in Gospel Advocate, November 2019
The topic of grace — what it is and how it affects us — is one of the great mysteries of the New Testament. The old reliable definition of “unmerited favor” focuses on the unearned nature; it is “not works.” We puzzle over its very appearance. Can I know grace when I see it? Not only does Aaron Erhardt say we can see it, but he also points out well-known New Testament examples of its very presence. His use of the word encounters in his title underscores the fact that we meet grace in its many manifestations each time we read the Scriptures.
In this small book, Erhardt chooses seven events, well-known and well-recognized, to illustrate Jesus showing grace in each of those settings. He begins with “Grace at a Wedding” and examines the events in Cana of Galilee. “Grace at a House” is based on the four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus only to discover their only access was to lower him through the top of the house. “Grace at a Funeral” presents Jesus stopping the funeral procession of a young man in Nain. What a gracious gift Jesus granted that grief-stricken mother. Other chapters consider grace at a dinner, on a roadside, at a tree, and on a cross. The stories that connect with each of those are obvious — Simon’s house, Bartimaeus, Zacchaeus, and Calvary.
We understand grace better when we see its beauty and its bounty unfold in a time of need for a person in need. Jesus becomes grace personified. Erhardt makes these “encounters” not only memorable but life changing. This collection offers great personal reading as well as feeds the soul in our search for the presence of grace. -- Dennis Loyd, Nashville, TN
Reviewed in Gospel Advocate, February 2016
As Christians we sing about grace, we talk about grace, we even pray for God's grace, but what does it really mean? Many followers of Christ might find it difficult to answer this question. In his new book, Grace, Aaron Erhardt, does just that.
Grace is organized into 13 easy-to-read chapters that have been thoroughly planned and researched. This 113-page book is a refreshing study on an often neglected subject. In his introduction Erhardt confesses, "So much of my early preaching was devoted to exposing doctrinal and moral error that I overlooked the most important issue of all -- grace." From chapter to chapter, the reader gets a sense of Erhardt's overwhelming passion for sharing the good news of the grace of God.
Erhardt has an effective writing style and quickly draws the reader into the beautiful story of God's grace. He achieves this with his use of well-thought-out illustrations and scripture, serving as the foundation Erhardt uses to build each chapter's subject material.
Erhardt is ambitious and covers a lot of ground in Grace. From the amazing nature of grace, to the delivery of this grace, to grace being an insight into the Father's love, and even addressing the difficult questions about the "thief on the cross," Erhardt addresses the subject of grace head-on. As needed and with strong biblical evidence, he addresses any conflict or misunderstanding of grace the reader may have.
Grace was a joy to read, and I will gladly recommend this to those who want to deepen their knowledge on the subject of the grace of God. This book could easily be used as class or sermon series material. Erhardt has produced a book needed by the church today. -- Will Tidwell, Nashville, TN
The Seven Letters
Reviewed in Gospel Advocate, November 2008
The Seven Letters is a brief commentary focusing on the content of the letters written to the seven churches of Asia found in Revelation 2-3. Aside from an introduction addressing the commonalities of the letters and some brief historical information, Erhardt devotes the entirety of the book to processing meticulously each of the seven letters, finishing with a single chapter committed to the application of some of the principles covered.
Although some may question the value of these letters written to churches so long ago and far away, the author presents a strong case for their relevancy. "These letters provide us with a glimpse into the conditions of the early churches. We see their strengths and weaknesses, highs and lows, virtues and vices... In them, we see us!"
Every chapter - and every letter accordingly - is filled with historical, geographical and grammatical information that bring the letter to light for the modern reader. Of particular interest is the significance of the unique prophecies for each city. Once the foundation of knowledge regarding a city and church is laid, the powerful image of the prophecy transforms from vague to vivid imagery. The sidebars further enlighten the reader regarding the players in this epic drama.
The Seven Letters would benefit any curious student delving into Revelation. It would, however, be most helpful for those who find themselves in the precarious position of teaching Revelation to a Bible class or study group. Its easy readability makes it profitable for all who wish to uncover more of the contextual information regarding Christ's instructions to the churches of the first century. -- Dustin Welch, Nashville, TN
I Was Wondering That, Too!
Reviewed in Gospel Advocate, September 2016
On the average day I will search multiple questions on Google. Google is a great tool because of the quick access it gives users to an infinite database of information. We all have questions concerning the world, and having access to the answers is a wonderful blessing. Aaron Erhardt has given us a tool to deal with some of the most basic questions concerning religion in I Was Wondering That, Too!
The book is dealing with eight questions that reach from common misconceptions from nominal believers to answering false doctrines. All of the chapters are concise and simple to understand. The book is a great beginner text for those who are relatively new to Christianity. The book is a quick read with insightful stories and helpful charts.
One will love the wisdom in this book. In his first chapter on whether people can be good enough to be saved, Erhardt quickly refutes this common misconception through incisive logic. Too often people believe that being good is good enough for God's blood. Erhardt reasons gently that being washed in the blood of Christ is the only way to ever to be good enough in God's eyes.
His chapter on "Does It Matter What One Believes?" is a needed discussion in this world of perpetuated error. This chapter fits well with the chapter on if one can locate the first-century church. Often the world has advertised that one's beliefs and one's church affiliation make no difference to God. The author makes an insightful comment by stating, "This writer firmly believes that the church built by Jesus is still in existence, though it is often overshadowed by the churches of men" (60).
There are a few chapters on some of the classic false doctrines within the denominational world. He refutes premillennialism; once saved, always saved; and those who deny the inspiration of the Bible.
The final chapter is on church discipline. The author explains the reason and the procedure of this rarely practiced instruction. One might wonder why this chapter is in the book, but I believe the author is wise to address it because of the minuscule awareness that new Christians have to this instruction. So few churches even discuss this vital teaching.
This book would be an excellent gift for new Christians and for those who are curious about common misconceptions. The author is loving in his prose and fills the book with incisive stories that bring clarity to the text. -- Matthew Morine, Castle Rock, Colo.
Coming to Christ
Reviewed in Gospel Advocate, November 2009
J.W. McGarvey once said that the Lord knew, before men discovered it, the power inherent in examples to motivate men to action. Consequently, inspiration saw fit to devote an entire book in the New Testament, Acts, to the chronicling of conversions. If everything pertaining to conversions, both successful attempts and failures, were stripped from its pages, there would be little left in Acts, McGarvey observed.
Building upon this premise, Aaron Erhardt has written a helpful little volume, Coming to Christ, examining the conversion accounts found throughout Acts. Erhardt's thesis is that if one determines how individuals became Christians in the first century, then the same process, guided by the same seed, will produce the same result today.
The first nine chapters trace the various accounts of conversion detailed in Acts, from the Jews in Acts 2 to the Ephesians in Acts 19. The 10th and final chapter is devoted to answering eight arguments commonly offered against baptism.
Using the English Standard Version as his text, Erhardt does not follow each account in a verse-by-verse fashion; rather, he includes only those passages pertinent to the study, allowing for cohesion and a smooth transition between topics. Selected scriptures are placed in boldface, with Erhardt's comments following. In lieu of end-of-chapter questions, a brief review closes each discussion.
Erhardt is careful to delineate between what the Bible teaches and popularly held notions in Christendom. Of particular benefit to the reader are the helpful charts interspersed throughout the book, making for a valuable supplement to the text. The gift of tongues, the blood of Christ and New Testament baptism versus infant baptism are among the topics to which Erhardt devotes special attention.
Coming to Christ would be an excellent gift for the gospel prospect. It will also broaden the knowledge of any Bible student, as the author has devoted much time mining choice "nuggets" that all sincere seekers will find enlightening. -- Brandon Renfroe, Ashville, Alabama
Silenced Cries: A Study of Abortion
Reviewed in Gospel Advocate, February 2010
Silenced Cries by Aaron Erhardt is not a book to be read lightly or quickly. It is a very disturbing book and likely will require the reader to stop to think at several points along the way. The book confronts the culture of life and death in our country as it relates to the practice of abortion. When I say it is disturbing, I do not mean it should be read; only that it is not an enjoyable book to read.
Erhardt takes us to places we do not want to go. Through his writing, we travel inside an abortion clinic to witness what happens during and after this horrific procedure. If you are unfamiliar with these places and practices, these chapters will no doubt leave you feeling very disturbed.
From the clinic, Erhardt takes us to the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., to listen to the politics of this issue. Again, for many Christians this is an uncomfortable mixing of religion and legislation. Finally, Erhardt brings us back to the pages of Scripture to show us God's view of the murder of innocent children.
Although the book is disturbing, it is necessary for Christians to read about abortion and understand this very important issue. Erhardt makes it clear that we cannot hide our faces from the reality of this sin and that we must do all we can to speak for those who have no voice.
Although I cannot say I enjoyed reading Silenced Cries, I can say that my eyes and heart were opened to a very pertinent and important issue in our culture. To look at the darker side of humanity is to see just how far sin can take us from the plan of God. We can also see the incredible opportunities that exist for us to make a difference by being salt and light to our world. -- David Salisbury, Hohenwald, Tenn.
Silenced Cries: A Study of Abortion
Reviewed in Christian Woman, March-April 2010
Abortion is not a pleasant subject, but it is a reality. In its Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court deemed abortion a fundamental right in the state of Texas. With Doe v. Bolton, the procedure became legal in every state, and since then more than 50 million babies have been aborted in America. Erhardt writes that several of the justices who ruled in that case did not anticipate that the "gates would swing open so widely."
Silenced Cries looks at the subject of abortion from several perspectives. The book begins with testimony from an abortionist doctor who has terminated some 20,000 pregnancies and who argues that although he is taking human life, he believes a fetus lacks the same moral claims of an adult. The rest of the book is devoted to proving the fallacy of this premise.
In his chapter "The Mindset," the author explores the issue of when life begins and argues that all human life has equal value. One chapter deals with the inconsistency of activists devoted to protecting the "rights" of plants and animals while arguing against the rights of unborn children. In another chapter, the usual arguments in favor of abortion are laid out along with answers that render them illogical. One chapter is devoted to the politics of abortion, and another lays out biblical teaching against the practice as well as testimony from early Christian sources.
Testimonials of women who have undergone abortions only to regret it later are also included. They include Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, and Sandra Cano, the plaintiff in Doe v. Bolton, both of whom are now pro-life advocates. Each of the procedures for abortion that are commonly used today is described in detail, including some illustrations. This section provides information every adult needs to know although it is difficult to think about.
In writing Silenced Cries, Erhardt has given us a book that we wish was unnecessary. Unfortunately, it's a topic we can't ignore. -- Janie Craun, White Bluff, Tenn.
Reviewed in Gospel Advocate, February 2012
For many Bible teachers, trying to find the time to dedicate to serious study can be a challenge. Those teachers will appreciate this simple study of Philippians.
Using the English Standard Version, Erhardt masterfully does something few people can -- he makes reading a commentary simple yet deeply informative. After a thorough introduction, he moves right into a simple verse-by-verse study.
The study of Philippians is broken down into four chapters; each chapter is then further broken down, all by alliterative means with the use of 14 different "s" words. By doing this, the writer helps his readers approach each section of the book with a clearer understanding of what they should gain.
Although this book is written in a simple verse-by-verse study and is very easy to understand, do not think it is written on an elementary level. Erhardt's understanding of the Greek and his ability to connect the entirety of Scripture to Philippians is nothing short of amazing. He also reminds us that although this is one of Paul's prison epistles, the tone of the book is lighthearted and cheerful.
Although the footnotes and bibliography were a bit deficient, the layout of the book is simple enough for anyone to use. Anyone teaching Philippians would be well-served by using this book. -- Lane Widick, Nashville, Tenn.
Characteristics of a Christian
Reviewed in Gospel Advocate, September 2014
When Jesus Christ urged His disciples to live unique lives, He never told them to wear unusual clothing, live in unusual houses, or eat unusual food. The Christian's separation from the world is not based on aesthetics but on character. It is by our character that the world will come to know and praise God (Matthew 5:16).
Aaron Erhardt's self-published book "Characteristics of a Christian" focuses on 10 character traits that all Christians must possess. Erhardt admits that his list is not exhaustive, but they are characteristics that are much-needed in our culture today. They are love, humility, hospitality, self-control, boldness, thankfulness, patience, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness.
Each chapter is basically constructed the same way. An illustration helps the reader put the characteristic into a historical or biblical context. Then Erhardt defines the characteristic and lists several Bible verses that command us to possess it. Good and bad examples from Scripture are then addressed, followed by study questions and a true/false section.
The tone of the book is particularly impressive. Erhardt does not employ a caustic attitude or resort to name-calling. Each characteristic is explored in a simple, straightforward manner which allows the book to be studied and appreciated by those who are inside or outside the church. The vocabulary is not pretentious, and the chapters are not weighty, which also helps its usefulness.
The chapters on boldness and hospitality are refreshing, considering that those characteristics are rarely discussed or demonstrated today. This book would be best suited for middle school or high school classes. Even though it is thoroughly biblical, adult classes might be interested in a deeper study. -- James Hayes
Homemaker: A Cookbook That's "Soul" Good!
Reviewed in Gospel Advocate, October 2017 / Christian Woman, September-October 2017
This new book by a husband and wife team is designed to satisfy a dual appetite. The title Homemaker has been chosen for a reason. One side of each opening is devoted to satisfying our physical hunger with colorful, illustrated recipes -- food for the home. The other side of the page is devoted to encouraging thoughts and anecdotes that have a spiritual theme -- designed to draw us closer to our Maker.
The recipes include many old favorites you might remember from potlucks long ago, including crescent rolls, chicken pot pie, and carrot cake. Interspersed with these are some quick and easy dishes for those on the go, such as Mexican lasagna, hot pizza dip, candy bar pie, and a personal favorite, chocolate no-bake cookies. The devotional messages, billed as "Spiritual Startups," are quick reads that lend themselves well to a morning or evening devotional. Each is accompanied by an appropriate verse of Scripture along with a short thought for the day. The clever use of alliteration also makes them suitable for "starters" in preparing talks or outlines.
The authors note that a good homemaker is "a combination of Martha and Mary, focusing on both physical requirements and spiritual responsibilities." This book will appeal to both needs and would make a great gift for young and old alike. -- Janie Craun, CW editor.