I count it an enormous privilege and honor to write this foreword for a man who has pastored me from the day after I became a Christian. Although I was never a member of Pastor Martin’s church in New Jersey, and only visited it twice in twenty-five years, I have devoured hundreds of Pastor Martin’s sermon tapes over the years after being introduced to them by a friend just after I was converted. His messages gripped my soul from the first moment of hearing them, with his passionate presentation of the Bible’s doctrines and duties leaving an unforgettable and indelible impression upon me.
When I was called to my first congregation, the first thing I did in my new study was start listening to Pastor Martin’s pastoral theology lectures. I took careful notes throughout the next few weeks and still consult them to this day. They set a direction for my life and ministry that I will forever be thankful for.
All of this was happening, of course, without Pastor Martin’s knowledge. I was just one of the thousands who were being transformed in hundreds of countries by Pastor Martin’s worldwide tape ministry. Little did I think that I would ever get to meet the man that I owed such a debt to on both the personal and pastoral level.
So how do I find myself now writing a foreword to my distant mentor’s latest book? Well, it’s a long story, and one neither of us could ever have written. But God’s story involved both Pastor Martin and I moving to Michigan, meeting at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, worshipping in the same church now for a few years, and, in God’s mysterious providence, becoming firm friends.
You can therefore imagine something of the joy with which I pen this foreword for a man that God has used (and still is using) so mightily in my life and that I owe so much to. As I read through this book with a view to writing this foreword, and heard Pastor Martin’s “voice” in its pages, it brought back memories of many precious hours I spent with my tape-recorder and Trinity Pulpit cassettes. It reminded me of so many of the characteristics of Pastor Martin’s ministry that had impacted me through the years: God-centered, biblical, practical, relevant, passionate, memorable, balanced and Gospel–centered.
This is a God-centered book. Unlike secular books on care for the body which are entirely focused on selfish motives and aims, Pastor Martin helps us do all that we do for the glory of God and he ultimately leads us to the worship of God.
The is a biblical book. You’ll probably be surprised at how many texts there are in the Bible relevant to this topic. Pastor Martin rounds up these scattered Scriptures and organizes them into a comprehensive theology of the body.
This is a practical book, offering numerous down-to-earth instructions to help readers in everyday life. These are not couched in vague generalities that might leave us wondering what Pastor Martin really means. No, the instructions are detailed, specific, and challenging, leaving us in no uncertainty as to what God requires.
This is a relevant book, dealing with the twin modern problems of body-neglect and body-worship. Indifference towards the body or idolatry of the body have characterized many cultures through the years, but our own seems to have taken these vices to new heights and depths.
This is a passionate book, one born out of Pastor Martin’s painful pastoral experience of seeing Christians choose unhealthy patterns of life, and experiencing premature death through failure to care for their bodies in a biblical way. You will feel him grabbing your heart in his appeals to consider the impact of your choices on spouses and children.
This is a memorable book, based as it is on an illustration of string of pierced pearls, a beautiful way of showing the connection between doctrine (the string) and practice (the pearls). As he writes, “Doing needs doctrine and doctrine is for doing.” You’ll never look at a necklace in the same way again.
This is a balanced book, as can be seen in Pastor Martin’s use of both biblical instruction and scientific research, his concern that Christians don’t run from one extreme to the other, and his careful combination of both law and Gospel.
On the latter point, this is a Gospel-centered book. Pastor Martin does not want to promote proud Pharisaical behavior modification, but rather wants to see Gospel-motivated, Spirit-wrought change.
“Your body—whose is it—yours or his?” asks the subtitle. It’s a question that will be burned into your heart and mind when you finish this book, and will influence every decision about how you use your body from now until eternity. I hope and pray that you will be as blessed through Pastor Martin’s written words as I have been by his spoken words.