Results tagged “books” from Reformation21 Blog

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Knowing the Trinity: Practical Thoughts for Daily Life by Meet the Puritans contributor Ryan McGraw is the latest book from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

The Gospel is primarily about God. Part of the glory of the New Testament is that it explains the Gospel to us in terms of the glorious work of the three persons of the Trinity.

'The Trinity is the central doctrine of the Christian faith because it involves the very identity of God.  Yet many Christians are unsure as to how this is supposed to shape their Christian lives.  In the tradition of John Owen, Dr McGraw here offers a lively and accessible account of the doctrine and its practical and doxological implications for every Christian.  I think this will prove to be a very helpful volume.' - Carl R. Trueman

Each chapter of Knowing the Trinity leads readers to meditate on God's work and how they relate to Him in light of passages of Scripture that appeal to all three divine Persons. The study questions included in are designed to promote personal devotion or group discussion. 

This book aims to show that the Trinity is the foundation of all biblical doctrines, the lifeblood of the church, and the heart of Christian experience.

Knowing the Trinity is available at our store ReformedResources.org in paperback. Also available as an eBook. Be sure to get a copy.

'John Owen's Communion with God stands out as the classic exploration of the devotional dimensions of the doctrine, and Ryan McGraw seeks to do the same more briefly and on a more popular level. McGraw begins by pointing us to Ephesians 2:18--"Through him we both have access to the Father, by one Spirit"--and then spends the rest of his time unpacking the related implications. A worthy introduction to a theme often overlooked.' - Fred Zaspel

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The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament

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I love reading commentaries and have many of them: technical commentaries, semi-technical commentaries, devotional commentaries, practical commentaries, evangelical and Reformed commentaries. Recently, I received three volumes in the new Lectio ContinuaI Expository Commentary on the New Testament (LCECNT).1 This series was formerly published by Tolle Lege Press but has now been picked up by Reformation Heritage Books. Volumes currently available include Galatians by John Fesko, First Corinthians by Kim Riddlebarger, Hebrews by David McWilliams, and Revelation by Joel Beeke (released November 2016).

The series editors are Jon D. Payne and Joel Beeke.2 Authors will include an array of seasoned Reformed pastors from around the world and various Reformed denominations. Among them are Joel Beeke on the Gospel of Mark, Ian Campbell on the Gospel of Luke, Terry Johnson on the Gospel of John, Jon D. Payne on Acts, John  Fesko on Romans, Ian Hamilton on Ephesians, Sinclair Ferguson on Colossians, Derek Thomas on Second Corinthians, and Richard D. Phillips on 1-3 John, to name a few.

Series endorsers include Hughes Oliphant Old, Carl Trueman, Michael Horton, and T. David Gordon. The goal of this work is to "provide lectio continua sermons which clearly and faithfully communicate the context, meaning, gravity and application of God's inerrant Word. Each volume of expositions aspires to be redemptive-historical, covenantal, Reformed and confessional, trinitarian, person-and-work-of-Christ-centered, and teeming with practical application" (from the Introduction).

Evaluation

Just as the wise preacher said, "of making many books there is no end" (Eccl. 12:12), the same is certainly true of Bible commentaries. As Christians living in the 21st century, we are blessed with an abundance of good commentary series from many different publishers. Some of my favorites are, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC)3, The Baker Exegetical Commentary Series (BECNT), The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC), and the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary Series (ZECNT).

All of these are good, solid, evangelical commentaries, excellent aids for the expositor of God's Word and worthy of regular consultation. Enter the new series by Reformation Heritage Books--The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament. My perusal of the early volumes is most encouraging, not only because all the writers are Reformed scholars I esteem, but also because this set is delightfully different from the aforementioned collections. As advertised, LCECNT is not "academic or highly technical," but sermonic and homiletical. It is pastoral, practical, insightful, theologically robust, warm and winsome, confessional, conversational, Calvinistic, and best of all, Christ-centered. There is much useful sermon material here, including helpful introductions, vivid illustrations, great quotations, and practical, gospel-focused applications. LCECNT handles the biblical text in a way that is faithful, clear, and immediately beneficial for the sheep of Jesus' fold, without getting bogged down in minutiae such as with textual variants and the like. Reading these commentaries is like sitting at the feet of a great expositor and having his notes right before you--a rare and rich treasure indeed!

Recommendation

After praying and doing my own exegetical work on a particular passage of Scripture, it is a privilege to consult the trustworthy works of others and discover what they wrote about the text before me. This tests my own exegesis and usually adds some profitable thoughts. In view of this, I believe that the new Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament is a valuable tool for any minister of the gospel, filling in gaps where other commentaries leave us wanting, adding essential content especially suitable to preachers.4

From what I have already seen of the newest volume, Revelation, I highly recommend it. I have been greatly encouraged by it both theologically and practically, especially with its optimistic amillennial position. View it at Reformation Heritage Books.

Here is what others are saying:

"Joel Beeke's new sermonic commentary on Revelation is one of the brightest resources I have seen to date on how we should face our perplexing future in the West: by studying afresh the triumphant Christ, whom John saw and described in the last book of the Bible. Dr. Beeke shows that the Apocalypse is not meant to be a closed, enigmatic book, for, on the contrary, through a proper interaction with it, the glory of the reigning Christ shines through. Dr. Beeke has encouraged me in this regard, and I shall be commending this volume to those in my classes and conferences. Read and rejoice!"

--Douglas Kelly, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina, and author of Revelation (Christian Focus)

"The book of Revelation promises a blessing to the one who reads it, but it is one of the most challenging books of the Bible. Joel Beeke shines bright exegetical light that both illumines the book and provides pastoral warmth to the heart. With Dr. Beeke as an able guide, readers can benefit from one of Scripture's richest feasts."

--John Fesko, Academic Dean, Professor of Systematic and Historical theology, Westminster Seminary, Escondido, California

"Dr. Beeke's work on Revelation is a fine example of the kind of expository preaching that God has frequently chosen to bless to the salvation of sinners, the edification of saints, the strengthening of the church, and the demolition of satanic strongholds. My hope and prayer is that this sermonic commentary on Revelation will encourage preachers to also take the plunge and preach many more sermons from this much-neglected but much-needed book."

--David Murray, Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

A new promotional video for the Lectio Continua can be viewed on Vimeo.


1. Lectio continua is Latin for continuous reading or the systematic exposition of God's Word, "line upon line, precept upon precept." Lectio continua is the consecutive expository method of preaching the Bible which has deep roots in the Reformed tradition.

2. Jon D. Payne is Pastor of Christ Church Presbyterian (PCA), Charleston, South Carolina, and visiting professor of homiletics at Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta, GA. Joel Beeke is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; a pastor of Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

3. The only caveat I offer is that The New International Greek Testament Commentary series is a bit uneven, theologically speaking (e.g., John Nolland on Matthew; James Dunn on Colossians and Philemon).

4. I will also recommend this series to my congregation and other non-office bearing friends for their own reading and edification.

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When storms come (and they will), where are you anchored? Do you toss to and fro by the waves, or does your anchor hold? 
Salvation is anchored in grace, rooted in God's favor toward us in his Son, the Lord Christ. reformation21 contributor Jeremy Walker's new book, Anchored in Grace: Fixed Points for Humble Faith, is a celebration of these exceeding riches of God's grace toward sinners in Christ Jesus.

These are realities with which Christians need to be thoroughly acquainted. They are paths to walk so that we do not miss our way to heaven, nor fail to honor the Lord God along the way. They are central truths, humbling truths, saving truths, and comforting truths. Not least, they are God-glorifying truths, for the great end of our salvation is the praise of the glory of God's grace. When God saves sinners, it reveals His wisdom and power, His love and compassion, His justice and truth, as nothing else. In Christ crucified, we are given insights into the gracious heart of God Almighty that can be found nowhere else. There His majesty, might, and mercy are on display, and there we find life everlasting.

When our faith is anchored in this grace, holiness and happiness take root in our hearts. Here sinners are liberated from condemnation, dread, and wrath. Here Christians are relieved of fear, confusion, and pride. Here we may find peace, certainty, purpose, joy, and hope.

Anchored in Grace provides a brief survey of the grace of God in Christ revealed in the Scriptures, tracing the arc of his saving dealings with lost men and women. It is by no means exhaustive, but rather sets out some of the fixed points in which humble faith can rest so as to exalt and enjoy God in all his saving kindnesses in his Son.
"A sure-footed journey through the doctrines of grace - foundational truths for godliness and discipleship - by a trusted guide. Reading this book will both thrill and convict, challenge and confirm. Essential reading for discipleship groups, Adult Sunday School classes, and individuals determined to grow in grace. Warmly recommended."
--Derek W. H. Thomas; Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia SC; The Robert Strong Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta
The drawing for Anchored in Grace is now closed, thank you for your participation!

Winners
Sylvia H., Mesa, AZ
Corey S., Mauldin, SC
Persis L., Hampton, VA
Todd G., Morris, CT
Jared C., Frederick, MD
Charles C., Selma, OR
Aaron W., Normal, IL
Breton P., North Cape May, NJ
Debi M., Southfield, MI
Zach B., Knoxville, TN

Promoting Perkins

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Perkins, William (vol 1) small.jpgI am delighted to get my hands on the first volume of a projected ten-volume set, The Works of William Perkins. Perkins was one of those phenomenal proto-Puritans, in this instance a man often called "the father of Puritanism." While for some that is reason for opprobrium of the nastiest sort, for others it is high praise indeed. And yet for years Perkins has wallowed in relative obscurity, his writings little known and not easily available, apart from one or two sterling efforts from a couple of publishers.

All that should be changing with this set, which begins with the first of four volumes of exegetical works (to be followed by three volumes of doctrinal and polemical works and a further three of practical works), including A Digest of Harmony of the Old and New Testaments, Combat Between Christ and the Devil on Matthew 4.1-11 and a study of The Sermon on the Mount. J. Stephen Yuille, editor of this first volume, provides a brief but full biographical preface, introducing us to the man himself, before we plunge into the productions of his pen.

The Digest is a fascinating little outline of Scripture history, introduced by an essay in which Perkins surveys the various historical divisions he identifies with brief comments on each. The Combat is also fairly brief, but gives the reader an opportunity to get into the groove of Perkins' style and structure - readers of the Puritans will quickly discern much that is familiar in the structure and priorities of Perkins' writing. By far the most substantial element of volume one is The Sermon on the Mount, over 550 pages of closely-reasoned and closely-applied exposition of Matthew chapters 5 through 7. Here Perkins' theological acumen and driving concern for genuine godliness are both evident, as he weaves profound instruction and penetrating insights into what is essentially a treatise on real righteousness.

The whole is newly typeset, and a careful modernisation of the text makes it more accessible to the average reader. It is available from the usual sources (Westminster / Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk) as well as direct from the publisher. In this connection, it should be noted that this volume is one of many RHB titles in ebook which are currently available through Westminster at ridiculous prices. The Perkins volume is currently $1.99 for Kindle, but only for another few hours.
Mrs. Jane Roach is on the steering committee of the Alliance's partnered event, the Texas Hill Country Bible Conference. Jane has been active also in Bible Study Fellowship and the Rafiki Foundation (with our much beloved Rosemary Jensen) for years. And our friends at P&R Publishing have just released her first book, Joy Beyond Agony: Embracing the Cross of Christ. 

As Jane is such a friend of the Alliance, I wanted to ask her to give us an overview of her work.

RB - Jane, you have ministered much, as a teacher, through BSF, recently through the Texas Hill Country Bible Conference, what motivates you to write a book?

JR - Bookstore shelves are filled with self-improvement and motivational books to make your life better, richer, happier, etc. Rather than another "how to..." Bible study about "me, myself, and I," Joy Beyond Agony: Embracing the Cross of Christ focuses on Jesus Christ and the facts and truths of what he did on the cross. Many sincere Christians and committed servants of Christ have no idea of the agony that Jesus bore on their behalf and that they actually deserved what he experienced in their place. They have celebrated the Resurrection but never studied the cross of Christ. However, without the Cross, there is no Resurrection for Jesus or for his disciples. Although our culture delights in gruesome visual media, the Cross is shunned as brutal and gory or trivialized by wall collections of crosses or jewelry. God's love is heralded, but without understanding the need for the Cross, we miss the enormity of God's love for us. 

RB -  I can not tell you the number of times I hear from folks about the lack of Christ-centered teaching on this area. There are good resources out there, but for every one there seems to be so many more that are man-centered. So you are coming of a different angle than the traditional 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps'?

JR - Instead of shunning the cross, Joy Beyond Agony looks at it head-on from several different viewpoints through the lens of Hebrews 12:2, "[Jesus] for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." We, for the joy of deeper understanding, look carefully at his Cross and its application to our lives.

RB - In what ways do you do that, I mean what are some of those viewpoints?

JR -
* The Promise of the Cross: Isaiah's suffering and triumphant servant removes our guilt by his sacrificial death.
* The Person on the Cross: Jesus of Nazareth, true God and true Man, is the only qualified mediator between our holy God and sinful people.
* The Prayers Leading to the Cross: Jesus' prayers included joyful anticipation of his glory and the glorification of his redeemed as well as agony in Gethsemane as he approached the cup of God's wrath.
* The Pain of the Cross: Because Jesus endured every kind of pain in our place, we are free to worship God and live for his glory without guilt and fear of His wrath.
* The Perfection of the Cross: Comparing Jesus' Cross with the Old Testament Day of Atonement shows the continuity of the biblical narrative and provides a helpful picture of the forgiveness of sin and the removal of guilt.
* The People at the Cross: Four groups of people observed the Cross, but those closest to the Cross experienced intimacy with Jesus and his blessing.
* The Words from the Cross: Jesus' words from the Cross reveal his mind and heart were focused on completing his mission as prophesied and caring for the people he came to save.
* The Power of the Cross: Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection displayed God's power over Satan, sin, and death.
* The Believer's Cross: Jesus' disciples follow his example by denying themselves and taking up their own crosses.
* Transformed by the Cross: Being a living sacrifice makes us more like the Lord Jesus, calling and equipping us to be his ambassadors and ministers of reconciliation while preparing us to spend eternity glorified with him.

RB - OK, not a single 'me, myself or I' in there! Beyond knowing you personally, I can almost hear your years of careful Christian consul provided to those around you coming through just those brief points! How do you turn these words into something constructive?

JR - Factual and thought-provoking application questions encourage the reader to experience the joy of discovering what God says in his Word and what it means before reading the author's explanation. It utilizes beautiful poetry by hymn writers that express the same facts and truths of the lesson.

The joy of discovering deeper meaning in a familiar narrative spurs students at any level of Bible study to commit themselves to further Bible study with joy and gratitude. Jesus promised, "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (John 12:32). The cross draws people to Jesus by focusing on the facts of it, the explanation of those facts, and appropriate responses to his death on the cross. Paul wrote, "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). 

Through Bible study we progressively see that the cross is our only hope and our greatest joy. In it, we find both the provision for our sin and the pattern for our lives. We are able to look beyond the moment to our glorification, the end of our long journey home. Jesus is waiting there for us, preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him!


To learn more and to order today visit http://www.reformedresources.org/books/joy-beyond-agony-embracing-the-cross-of-christ/ 

Learn more about next months Texas Hill Country Bible Conference at http://www.alliancenet.org/CC_Content_Page/0,,PTID307086_CHID810294,00-tx.html

Shallow and narrow

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pile of books 7 small.jpgOne of the joys, if we choose to call it that, of the turn of the year is the "books wot I red" lists that emanate from bloggers left, right and centre. Some of them are simply crass arrogance - the "I read bigger, better, harder, higher, or simply more books than you" approach, a bit like those posts that slide out before the holidays suggesting the thirty tomes that the great and the good will be knocking back in their five days by the seaside. Some of the lists are genuine attempts to encourage and direct others in their reading or the well-meaning surveys of those who read more rapidly, more widely or in a more disciplined way than the rest of us. Some are combined with, or set alongside, the ten or twenty or fifty books that every Christian should read. So, for example, "The twenty books published this year that I read that every other Christian should read."

But when you flick through a few of these, a pattern begins to emerge. Whether or not it's your year-end or all-time lists, most of the books are often fairly predictable. What's particularly disappointing is when the all-time lists include a significant majority of predictable authors from the same circles writing over the last ten years or so. I have seen a couple recently in which, having read the first five, I could have finished off the list for the chap in question, it being so clear the trajectory he was on.

I suspect that we are all prone to this (notice, I did not yet say guilty) to some degree. Most of us, either of necessity or habit or developed preference, have a measure of limit or focus to our reading at any particular time. If I am preparing a series of sermons, researching a particular person or period, or just enjoying something more than usual, my patterns of reading will reflect an element of concentration. Beyond that, we doubtless gravitate toward what we enjoy and profit from - reliable authors, favoured schools of thought, sweet places and stirring periods. That is fair enough, and understandable over time.

However, despite the Pavlovian salivation that occurs whenever anyone mentions the sainted Lewis, well-known for his critique of chronological snobbery in our reading, few seem to be taking him too seriously (whether or not they are confessed Lewis-slobberers). Indeed, the problem spreads beyond the temporal into the topical and the authorial and the geographical.

Too many of those lists show a narrowness and a shallowness that goes beyond the myopic and borders on the deliberately blind. Few contain anything more than a passing nod to anything too far outside the comfort zone. How will we ever test and assess and grow if we refuse to read anything that does not merely buttress or endorse our own preferred authors, preconceived notions, precious systems and protected memes? Some of these lists read like little more than exercises in how to pronounce 'shibboleth' properly.

I am not saying that we should indulge an appetite for pap or an itch for poison. Less mature readers usually need safer boundaries than more mature readers. But even the less mature could and should read beyond the hackneyed round of a few religious gurus. All should read those books which - without ever going outside the bounds of substantial orthodoxy - push us to think in ways we never otherwise would. Those starting out need to get into a groove, not drop into a pit. For most of us, it does us good to be stretched, challenged, engaged, taken out of our depth. If we are well-grounded in the faith, such a process can helpfully stir us, exercise us and ultimately strengthen us.

Take a few minor examples: you are a dyed-in-the-wool right wing reactionary of the sort who believes that the injunction to be subject to the governing authorities is somehow suspended in some way when speaking of and dealing with the Blairs and the Obamas of this world. Read a little Christopher Wright, and the first time you come up against his (let the reader understand) sentimental promotion of a left wing agenda of social (read socialist!) justice in the name of the Lord and Anglicanism you shy like a startled mustang. Fine, but once you calm down, you need to ask yourself where his notions and convictions come from, and go back to your Bible, and sieve his conclusions through the grid of Scripture, and assess and learn and argue. At worst, you have tested your own convictions against the convictions of another, and decided that - though you may have a little extra nuance - you see no particular need to shift your most fundamental anchor points. You might even wonder if you have been reading the Bible with one eye closed, and become determined to be more honest with Scripture and with yourself, even if you still can't see what Mr Wright sees. Or, you are a high Presbyterian who believes that Baptists cannot be considered covenantal theologians, let alone in any way Reformed, and so you insist on referring to them as Anabaptists and dreaming of the day when a properly established Christian state is once again free to persecute such. It might not hurt you to read through some of the material recovering, interacting with and rehearsing some of the seventeenth century material and its underlying convictions, so that in the future your invective is marginally less marred by ignorance. Or, you are a persuaded cessationist, steadfast in your proper conviction that the apostolic gifts ceased with the office of the apostles while still delighting in and relying upon the continued operations of the Holy Spirit. Fair enough, but what about reading your differing brothers at their most intelligent and reasonable, so that you can at least understand why they believe what they say, can see the differences between what is claimed to be the case and what usually happens when someone lays claim to such gifts, and can more thoughtfully and graciously expose the exegetical flaws and practical dangers of their position?

Whatever our particular anchor points, it often does no harm to consider why someone would drop their anchor some little distance from our own. If nothing else, it might get your blood flowing. Who knows, you might even learn something? Better still, we should be deliberately searching out those who have gone before us with reputations for genuine godliness and sacrificial service who shake us out of our crassly comfortable little ruts and make us wonder whether or not we have ever grasped the greatness and the glory of the Lord.

So, let us get outside our own century and our own circle. Let us have lists with a little of a patristic flavour, with a few of the best medievals, a dose of the Reformers, a shot of the Puritans and their successors, a fillip of the eighteenth century men, a snack on the best that the nineteenth has to offer, and a smattering of the twentieth, as well as the low-lying fruit of the twenty-first. Let the breeze of the centuries waft over your souls. Roam the world where the truth has taken root - let the theologians of Europe and Africa and Asia and Australia, and perhaps even America, expand your sense as they wrestle with and apply theology in a context utterly unlike your own. Are you more of a historian? Read some biblical theology! Systematics your thing? How about some missiology? Linguistics float your boat? Dive into a few more biographies. Love your new Calvinists? Read some old ones - get into the Puritans! More of a Genevan? Have a dig around in the Calvinistic Methodists. Stuck in the sentiment of the Victorians? Take a bracing dose of a scholarly Scot. Mired in the multiplied divisions of the Puritans? Shake yourself loose with a canter through the church fathers. Plodding through the Princetonians? Dive into the Particular Baptists. Drowning in the Particular Baptists? Get stuck into the English or Continental Reformers.

As you think about your reading for the coming year, might I suggest that you take up something, early on, that is very much not what you would incline toward. Sprinkle a little seasoning into your reading, slide something spicy into your bland book pile, and add a little zest to your nightstand. Range righteously but rigorously through time and space and opinion. And perhaps, next year, you will produce some truly refreshing 'best of' lists that - in addition to blessing your own soul - will introduce the rest of us to a wider and more spiritually stimulating world.

Fred Zaspel interviews Rob Ventura

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Alliance friend and speaker Fred Zaspel of Books at a Glance interviews Rob Ventura & Brian Borgman, authors of Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical & Balanced Perspective.      

Pastors Brian Borgman (Grace Community Church in Minden, NV) and Rob Ventura (Grace Community Baptist Church in North Providence, RI) have teamed up to provide a practical exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20, the apostle Paul's famous portrait of the Christian life as one of spiritual warfare. Recently we featured an enthusiastic review of the book, and today the authors are here to talk about their work.

Books At a Glance:
Let's begin with definitions. What exactly do you mean by "spiritual warfare?"

Borgman & Ventura:
Spiritual warfare is a biblical worldview issue. We live in a universe that is both physical and spiritual. God is active in our world and in our lives, and so are Satan and his forces. In a broad perspective, spiritual warfare is a whole-life view. Constantly we are in a battle with an intertwined threefold enemy, the world, the flesh and the devil. As we live between the already and not yet aspects of our salvation, we are at war, all the time. So spiritual warfare is not some narrow perspective that relates only to certain kinds of temptations, let alone "power encounters," but it is a constant reality for us. It is where we live as Christians from the very day we were converted.

Continue the interview at Books at a Glance.


Text Links -
Book purchase - http://www.reformedresources.org/rob-ventura-books/spiritual-warfare-a-biblical-and-balanced-perspective/
Books at a Glance site - http://booksataglance.com/author-interviews/interview-with-brian-borgman-rob-ventura-spiritual-warfare-a-biblical-and-balanced-perspective
Prior r21 post - http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/02/did-someone-say-book-giveaway.php

Banner of Truth kindling

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banner of truth.jpgThe Banner of Truth is entering the sphere of the digital reader! A first ten volumes have been released as ebooks, combining a mix of classics with more modern treatments. Among the ancients you will find Bunyan, Owen, Spurgeon and Brown. More modern volumes include Edward Donnelly's outstanding Peter: Eyewitness of His Majesty (the sections on Peter as a preacher and pastor make this an under-the-radar gem of pastoral theology), as well as books by Ian Hamilton and Garry Williams. Fans of The Valley of Vision will be delighted to learn that this volume is also among the first tranche of offerings. All of these are available as mobi and epub files. Order options allow buyers to obtain hard copies and electronic versions in a single bundle, a nice touch for those of us who don't want to lose our 'real' books.

We are promised that further e-volumes will be rolling off the presses in fairly substantial chunks, so keep an eye on the catalogue. Banner ebooks to date can all be found here (or go here and browse ebooks).
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Moses to the unfolding of God's plan of salvation. Arguably, Moses is the most significant Old Testament figure because of his unique role as mediator of the old covenant. In this sense, Moses is the only parallel to Jesus Christ who is the mediator of a new and better covenant.

In his new book, From Bondage to Liberty: The Gospel According to Moses, Anthony Selvaggio focuses on the redemptive-historical aspects of Moses' life and ministry as manifested in the books of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Enter to win one of a few copies from our friends at P&R Publishing!

"Nowhere does the theme of redemption shine more brightly in the Old Testament than in Exodus. Anthony Selvaggio draws us into the story of Moses in a most personal way. In concise and stirring chapters, he shows us the beauties of the Lord Jesus and teaches us practical lessons about godliness."
--Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids

"In this very practical book, Anthony Selvaggio brings to life Moses' role as forerunner of Jesus, our greater prophet, priest and king. You will find insights here that are simply expressed but which illuminate many a New Testament passage. I warmly recommend this work."
--Rev Dr Rowland S. Ward, Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia

"If you have wondered what Scriptures Jesus might have cited when he showed his disciples the things concerning himself 'beginning with Moses' (Luke 24:27), Anthony Selvaggio provides a significant part of the answer."
--Dennis E. Johnson, Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Seminary California

"The book of Exodus is one of the most powerful presentations of Christ all of Scripture but because it comes to us in types and shadows it can seem remote. In this volume Anthony Selvaggio provides a welcome survey of and pathway into the Exodus that points us to Christ, the redemption he accomplished for us, and to his ongoing work in us."
--R. Scott Clark, DPhil, Professor of Church History and History Theology, Westminster Seminary California

Anthony T. Selvaggio (JD, The University of Buffalo School of Law; MDiv, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary) has written for reformation21.org over the years. He currently serves as a visiting professor of Biblical Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is also Theologian in Residence at the Rochester Reformed Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York.

Also, the winners of Antinomiamism by Mark Jones are:
Daniel M, Clear Lake SD
Dan S, Alexandria VA
Chris M, Fairfield OH
Joel G, Wake Forest NC
Mark M, Manassas VA
Carolyn M, Winchester CA
Michael W, Ada MI
Mary Anne D, Vienna WV
Nathan T, Richland WA
George L, Beeville TX

Text Links -
For the drawing -
https://docs.google.com/a/alliancenet.org/forms/d/1rxg_z73o7WMJOKsl-YnsJdW7gMhaethkz9z-_V6lVmI/viewform

To order additional copies -
http://reformedresources.org/books/from-bondage-to-liberty-the-gospel-according-to-moses/

Anthony on reformation21.org -
http://www.reformation21.org/anthony-selvaggio/

Mark Jones' book -
http://reformedresources.org/books/antinomianism-reformed-theologys-unwelcomed-guest/

Mark Jones' on reformation21.org -
http://www.reformation21.org/mark-jones/
http://www.reformation21.org/blog/mark-jones/
I know that Carl did his best to welcome Mark Jones as our newest contributor to reformation21. I was not sure Mark was left feeling comfortable with that 'welcome' but he did come back (and came back jumping right into the fray too)! So we all look forward to more from him.

Should you not know of Mark, you can visit his church web site to learn more and listen in as he preaches God's Word. You can also see his latest book with P&R Publishing.

And in order to give you a better impression of Mark, we have a few copies of Antinomianism to give away.

Should you need a copy right away or more copies, visit ReformedResources.org.

Also, the winners of our previous book giveaway included:
William B, Glenside PA
Jeremy C, Wylie TX
Ray Fowler, Plantation FL
Russell H, Bangor MA
Omar J, Temple Hills MD
Jeff M, Wake Forest NC
Scott R, Wake Forest NC (totally random!)
Jason S, Fishers IN, and
Nancy W, Charlotte NC
We have several copies of a new book by Phil Ryken, Bible teacher on Every Last Word radio and internet broadcast.

Salvation by Crucifixion sends a challenge to readers: if the historic facts of the cross are true, and the emphasis the Bible places on the crucifixion is justified, then what difference should that make for our lives? Just as it is the key moment in all world history, it is the key moment in our own personal existence and understanding it better becomes of vital importance.

These are a wonderful gift from Christian Focus Publications! We don't have many to give away, but those few we have will be given away here! So sign up today.




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The Triune God

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Our latest book, The Triune God, has recently been published in partnership with P&R Publishing. It is high testament to the blessings of God upon some very hard work as it's the culmination of many years of steady and faithful labor by one pastor and one church family. 

Rev. Ron Kohl is the senior pastor of Grace Bible Fellowship Church (a supporting Alliance Member Church) in Quakertown PA. Yes, that Quakertown, of our Quakertown Regional Conference on Reformed Theology. After several years of an encouraging and edifying event, this volume is evidence of the faithful teaching and ministry that has happened there.

In the latest Alliance Re:port Ron tells of the conference and makes a case for Alliance events in a piece titled "Mary Moments in a Martha World." If you have not read it, you ought. And if you need a copy our Alliance Re:port, wish to learn more about Alliance Member Churches, or to order a copy of The Triune God, please call us (215-546-3696) as we would be happy to mail you one.

The Triune God can be ordered here - http://reformedresources.org/books/the-triune-god/
Alliance Re:port can be viewed here - http://allianceradio.org/1403SpringAllianceReportforweb.pdf
Alliance Member Churches can be found here - http://www.alliancenet.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID307086_CHID560230_CIID1423494,00.html

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The winners of Jeremy Walker's book, The New Calvinism Considered: a personal and pastoral assessment, will soon be receiving their copies thanks to EP Books! Thank everyone for signing up, those random selected are:

Joan H, Huron, OH
Anthony F, Valencia CA
Helene B, Luverne MN
Alvin L, Herndon VA
Corey D, Walker MI
Nate B, Paso Robles, CA
DeWayne W, Willingboro NJ
Greg M, Olathe KS
Mark P, Tuscaloosa AL
Charles B, Greenville SC
These fantastic four volumes from Reformation Heritage Books are now available at 50% off here.Get them while the deal lasts (one week only) at Westminster Bookstore.

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Did someone say "book giveaway"?

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Our fellow blogger, Rob Ventura has released a book with Brian Borgman titled "Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical & Balanced Perspective" through Reformation Heritage Books. And we would love for you to have one!

All that said, we can't promised to giveaway one to each of you, but we have several copies that we will indeed give away. Otherwise, you can invest in your own copy at ReformedResources.org.

Here is your chance to get your hands on the book many are talking about, co-authored by one of our very own Reformation21 contributors!

What people are saying:

"What a timely, refreshing, encouraging, convicting, and empowering book! I can't wait to get it in front of our people."   - Voddie Baucham Jr. 


"clear, concise, competent, and compelling counsel in what can be a neglected or abused topic." - Stanley D. Gale


"Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura present one of the finest and most biblically responsible and insightful studies of spiritual warfare now available." - Bruce A. Ware


"They hit the bull's-eye! " - Pastor Bruce A. Ray


"their teaching will both clear away false ideas about the spiritual battle, and equip Christians to stand firm to the end." - Dr. Joel R. Beeke


"I fear that this theme has been too often ignored by the biblical scholar and too often exaggerated by those whose conclusions are not grounded in the Scriptures. For this reason, this balanced treatment will be a tremendous benefit to pastor and layperson alike." - Paul Washer


"meticulously biblical, thoroughly enlightening, and wonderfully edifying way." - Phil Johnson


"This stirring book is a much-needed clarion call to battle."- Dr. David Murray


"Borgman and Ventura are to be thanked for an eminently clear, wonderfully biblical, theologically rich, and practically applicable study." - Thomas R. Schreiner 


"both a helpful pastoral tool and a fine devotional book." - Carl R. Trueman


"Highly recommended." - Peter O'Brien


"careful exegesis, helpful illustration, and suffused with practical pastoral application."  - Al Martin


As for the winners of Jeremy Walker's Life in Christ, the winners were: T. Hoke of TX, C Blanchard of OR, D. Kjos of ND, J Basinger of VA, B Hess of MA, A Valdez of TX, D Kim of CA, D Cangelosi of TN, R Mosteller of TN and D O'Connell of MA. Their free books are on their way!

A fast update. If you did not catch him, JW was on the Janet Mefferd program yesterday. Check it out here -

http://www.janetmefferdpremium.com/2014/01/16/janet-mefferd-radio-show-20140116-hr-3/

Life in Christ - worth the price, but a free copy here is providence!


What better way to start the new year than with Reformation21.org regular Jeremy Walker and his highly acclaimed new book, 'Life in Christ - Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus'?


And thanks to RHB, click here to enter to win a free copy!


Do you wrestle with assurance? Have you grasped the engagement demanded in Christian living? Do you find the way wearying at times? Do you struggle with your Christian identity? Walker provides instruction for Christians to assess their own standing and progress in the faith--exhorting and equipping and always pointing them ahead to the hope of the glory of Christ. Along the way, he encourages God's people to live a life to the praise of His glory as he examines some of the basic truths that establish and direct a true child of God.

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What others are saying:

 

"In his new book, my good friend Jeremy Walker, in a most breathtaking way, vividly opens up the beauties and glories of becoming and being a disciple of Christ. In reading this work I was greatly moved and reminded afresh of the wonders of my salvation and was tearfully left praising God for all that He has done in my life. Since no other subject in the Word of God is more important than the one addressed in this volume, I cannot commend it too highly." -- Rob Ventura, Pastor, Grace Community Baptist Church, North Providence, Rhode Island, co-author of A Portrait of Paul

 

"One of the most neglected topics of our day happens to be one of the most essential aspects of our Christian lives--our union with Christ. You will be grateful to know that this gaping hole is being wonderfully filled with Jeremy Walker's new book, Life in Christ. Jeremy writes with a theological precision, exegetical clarity, and pastoral sensitivity that promise this book to be a very useful resource not just for those seeking to grow more in Christ but even unbelievers needing to know why Christ is to be so treasured.   Read this book and prepare to be amazed afresh of what it means for us as sinners to be in Christ and partakers of his heavenly reward." -- Brian Croft, senior pastor, Auburndale Baptist Church, and founder and ministry development director of Practical Shepherding

 

"In this splendid book on the very central issues of eternity, Jeremy Walker, like J. C. Ryle of old, carries the reader along with an excellent, gripping style. It is a book that everyone should read--and then pass on to others who need an explanation of the true gospel" -- Erroll Hulse, pastor, conference speaker, author, and founding editor of Reformation Today 

 

"Each page is saturated with scriptural truths that are easy to read but challenging to apply regarding this vital subject of discipleship. I highly recommend this work, which is doctrinally sound, persuasively presented, and pastorally related." -- Steven J. Lawson, senior pastor, Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama


When is a book not a book?

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There are a few things that frustrate me about a number of the books that I have read recently. One is those extravagant examples seemingly designed to showcase the brilliance of some penetrating thinker:
Barry (not his real name) is a basketweaver from Clapham. Having been reared by donkeys, when Barry married he was not prepared for Javelina's (not her real name, either) refusal to eat hay. The arrival of little Anthraxa (another made-up name, mercifully) only deepened the fissures in Barry's relationship with Javelina. When Barry first came to see me, with wild eyes and evidence of a recent hay-eating binge in his three-day growth of stubble, I could see that there was much work to do to get to the root of the matter.
Am I the only reader who has begun to twitch when I read yet another such opening to a book? Am I alone in finding these introductions slightly twee and tiresome? They seem to be beloved of those who write books about counselling. Of course, by the end of the chapter, we find that the dazzling counsellor with his penetrating insights has - over a shorter or a longer period - turned Barry off the hay and brought him to sweeter pastures.

Alongside of this are those books - often sermons turned into volumes - where the author clearly subscribes to the "open with an illustration" school of preaching and feels obliged to start with some allegedly-gripping anecdote which is then mercilessly wrestled into position and bound, sometimes by very tenuous threads, to the point of the chapter. After twenty such excursions on the trot, one becomes weary.

I am not a particular fan of study questions and guides - I think that they encourage lazy reading - but I am still less enamoured when they require nothing more than a simple regurgitation of the contents of the chapter rather than a genuine engagement with and response to the material. So, "Briefly outline this chapter," or "Does this chapter teach that . . ." (requiring nothing more than a "Yes" or "No" answer), or "What four headings divide up this material?" Inanity!

Of course, I cannot begin to describe the horrors of poor editing and bad proofreading. In a fallen world there are going to be mistakes, as any author or editor or publisher will acknowledge, but some publishers seem to have given up the ghost on this one, welcoming in poor grammar and spelling, inconsistencies of approach to all aspects of the writing, and formatting that shifts back and forth like the restless waves of the sea. Honestly, if you are in the business of publishing, it seems worthwhile to ensure that your authors know how to pick up a pen, and - if not - to employ people who can give the impression that they do. For the angst of the author with a publisher who manages the feat of introducing errors that did not before exist, I offer Wodehouse's Printer's Error as a salve for the soul (if you follow the link you will have to look in the sidebar, as - quite splendidly - the only standalone page I found contains a spelling mistake at a key point in the poem).

I am distressed by countless endorsements, many of them puff-pieces masquerading as thoughtful commendations, when there is reasonable evidence that the book itself remained unread. I am grieved by "Forwards" or "Forewards" (I am not sure whether it is worse to misspell your mistake or more commendable at least to approximate to the right word) rather than forewords. I mourn over endnotes - seemingly designed to render the reading process the most disjointed experience imaginable - and would gladly make myself available to lead an international force for the eradication of those foul blots on the publishing landscape.

However, the thing that is really getting the Walker goat at the moment is the book that is not a book. Some of these tomes also struggle with the issues given a gentle airing above, but many are paragons of virtue in these respects. What, then, irks? It is this: that they are clearly not books. Rather they are thinly-veiled theses, lightly massaged so that they include the word "book" rather than "thesis," shoved between a couple of glossy covers and repaginated. Reading them is a bit like watching a baseball player being given a cricket bat and sent out to the middle with the exhortation, "Go on, you're used to hitting the thing," and expecting him to do the business.

And so we enter a world weighed down with turgid academic prose and clunky scholarly signposts: "In this chapter, we shall consider point x, before moving on in following sections to look at points y and z." While this may be all the rage in a university or seminary, enshrined within some ancient rubric for papers and theses, it does not translate well into a book, which is and ought to remain a different beast, even when intended for a more academic audience. Perhaps it is an expression of the points-scoring mentality of academia? I recall a rather intense discussion with a tutor at university in which he extolled the virtues of a high-scoring essay in which the person responsible for the Frankenstein's monster in question had merely cobbled together all the necessary data, jumped through all the required hoops, and produced something that satisfied the department's criteria for a high-scoring essay. My point was that it was barely coherent tripe, and that surely a student of English literature ought to be able to write in such a way as to hint or suggest that he or she had once or twice been exposed to some of the finest prose stylists that the English speaking world has to offer, and - further - that it might be considered a bonus if the piece manifested the ability to spell with at least a measure of consistency if not accuracy.

Where was I? Ah, yes. I have no objection to a book being written for the academic market, but it still ought to read like a book, and not a shifty scholarly monograph. Where, I ask, is the reading pleasure? Where is the joy of being guided through a developing argument almost imperceptibly, rather than marshalled by the literary equivalent of a bossy tour guide who keeps yelling, "In a few minutes we shall be turning left to look at this statement; then we shall be turning right to look at a quote"? Summaries and conclusions can, under certain circumstances, simply impress themselves upon you almost without you realising as you are inescapably guided to the point being made; they do not necessarily need to be aggressively lit by the harsh glare of literary neon lights as the next stage in the unfolding argument.

Please do not misunderstand me: I have no objection whatsoever to scholarly research and academic labour underpinning the writing of a book, and hugely appreciate the efforts that lie behind a really good book. But the fruits of such effort ought to be the starting point for a book that is intended to be purchased and appreciated, not the penultimate stage in the publishing process. (Incidentally, the same might be said of written sermons: because it sang from the pulpit does not mean that it will soar from the page, and too many books read like what they are - rapidly transcribed and poorly edited sermons, or shoddily adapted sermon notes, in which no one has taken the time to adapt to the kingdom of the written word what once belonged to the realm of the spoken word.)

The results of such short cuts tend to be ugly, stodgy and clunky, awkward and heavy efforts that rob the reader of the experience provided by the best books - allowing the reader to devote his reading energies not to overcoming the hurdles presented by the prose but to engaging with the thoughts that the prose communicates. The best books read like what they are - like books, and not like carelessly manhandled monographs. The construction and style of the writing does not bar the gates to the reader but politely and unobtrusively opens the door to the real substance of the volume. So, please, let a book be what it is, and - whatever else you might legitimately be required to do along the way by way of preparation - when the time comes to lift the quill, grasp the pen, or lay finger on keyboard, put in the effort required to write writing for readers.

Outstanding deal on "A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life"

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While I hope to offer a review of Beeke & Jones on the Puritans in the not-too-distant future, let's just say that my exposure so far would make it the height of churlishness not to let you know that Amazon.com is doing it for $60 hardback but only $10.29 on Kindle, while the same generosity extends to UK readers: from about £72 for the hardback down to a quite staggering £6.48 for Kindle.

I will admit that, for the review, I was preparing that line about selling your second best pair of trousers in order to get your hands on this book. At those Kindle prices, we're talking about foregoing an unusually fine pair of socks. Honestly, for this price, it doesn't make sense not to. I don't know how long it will last, so enjoy it will you can!

This summer I will be reading . . .

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Given that the annual boastathon is already underway, I thought I would set the ball rolling here at Reformation21.

This summer I will be reading . . .

. . . mostly books.

Let the stunned wonder and impressed applause begin.
Acts (part of the Reformed Expository Commentary series) by Derek W. H. Thomas has been selected as a finalist for the 2012 Christian Book Awards. The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), sponsor of the annual awards, notes that the winners represent "Christian publishing's finest books and Bibles of the year." A total of forty finalists in seven categories from sixteen publishing companies are included among the finalists. 

In his exposition of Acts, Thomas points to evidence of the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. He applies biblical truth in contemporary context as he presents lessons for missions, church growth, and Christians' engagement with postmodernity. 

Derek W. H. Thomas, Ph.D., is Minister of Preaching and Teaching at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. Dr. Thomas is the editorial director for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and is the editor of its online magazine, reformation21.org. He is author of numerous books, including Give Praise to God and What is Providence. He and his wife, Rosemary, have two adult children. 

With strong support from leading theologians, the Reformed Expository Commentary (REC) series now includes 15 volumes. Rev. Richard Phillips and Rev. Dr. Philip Ryken serve as series editors. All volumes in the REC series, they explain, are written by pastor-scholars, and the content is scholarly but not academic. An extensive editorial process ensures that the content is "sufficiently conversant with up-to-date scholarship and is faithful and accurate in its exposition of the text." It is also carefully reviewed for quality--including "excellence of writing, soundness of teaching, and usefulness in application." 

Commenting on Thomas's Acts volume, Stephen J. Nichols, Research Professor of Christianity and Culture at Lancaster Bible College, says, "Dr. Thomas writes with a theologian's acuity, a pastor's heart, and a fellow disciple's humility."
Applauded Reformed Commentary Series
Expands with New Volumes

Phillipsburg, NJ--With strong support from leading Reformed theologians, the Reformed Expository Commentary (REC) series continues with the introduction of two new volumes, bringing the series to cover 15 biblical books. P&R Publishing announces the release of 1 Kings by Philip Graham Ryken and Acts by Derek W.H. Thomas.

Bryan Chapell, President, Covenant Theological Seminary, calls Ryken's 1Kings commentary "A sermon preparation tool of exceptional value."

Commenting on Thomas' Acts volume, Stephen J. Nichols, Research Professor of Christianity and Culture, Lancaster Bible College, says, "Dr. Thomas writes with a theologian's acuity, a pastor's heart and a fellow disciple's humility..."

Rev. Richard Phillips and Rev. Dr. Philip Ryken serve as series editors. All volumes in the REC series are written by pastor-scholars, they explain, and the content is scholarly, but not academic. An extensive editorial process ensures that the content is "sufficiently conversant with up-to-date scholarship and is faithful and accurate in its exposition of the text." It is also carefully reviewed for overall quality--including "excellence of writing, soundness of teaching, and usefulness in application."

Books in the series have drawn broad affirmation from leading theologians including J. I. Packer, Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, Al Mohler, Michael Horton, Mark Dever, C. J. Mahaney, Jerry Bridges, John Frame, Tullian Tchividjian, Michael Duduit, Steven Lawson, Paul House, Burk Parsons, Carl Trueman, Liam Goligher and many others--who have each written endorsements for one or more volumes in the series.

Previous books in the REC series include both Old Testament and New Testament books such as Daniel (Iain Duguid), Jonah and Michael (Richard Phillips) and Matthew (Daniel Doriani). Future books already scheduled for 2012 include The Gospel of John (Richard Phillips), and Philippians (Dennis E. Johnson).

In his exposition of 1 Kings, Ryken follows the story of Israel's God "who never fails to love his people or to keep them under his kingly care, even when they choose to follow the pathways of folly and idolatry." He identifies timeless lessons of money, sex, power, idolatry, and the power of prayer.

In his exposition of Acts, Thomas points to evidence of the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. He applies biblical truth in contemporary context as he presents lessons for missions, church growth and Christians' engagement with postmodernity.

Philip Graham Ryken (D.Phil., Oxford University) is president of Wheaton College, and he previously served for ten years as senior minister at the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia. He is Bible teacher for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, speaking nationally on the radio program "Every Last Word." He has written or edited more than thirty books, including the writing of three volumes in the Reformed Expository Commentary Series: Galatians, 1 Timothy, and Luke. He and his wife, Lisa, have five children.

Derek W.H. Thomas is Associate Minister at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia South, Carolina, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He also serves as editor for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He is author of numerous books including Give Praise to God and What is Providence, both from P&R Publishing. He and his wife, Rosemary, have two adult children.

#####

1 Kings (REC) • ISBN: 978-1-59638-208-4 • jacketed hardcover • $34.99 • 636 pages

Acts (REC) • ISBN: 978-1-59638-048-6 • jacketed hardcover • $39.99 • 736 pages

www.prpbooks.com

The Banner of Truth Magazine released an excerpt of "John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock" by Iain Murray. With kind permission of Steve Burlew (if you have not prayed with this man in the midst of a crowded and busy conference, you have not experienced it all), I offer the following with thanks.

*********

THE CHANGING SCENE IN THE UNITED STATES 1

 

Iain H. Murray

Author, Co-founder and Trustee of the Banner of Truth Trust

 

Nations do not stand still, and by the last decade of the twentieth century there was much evidence of moral collapse in an increasingly materialistic culture. An age had dawned in which traditional Christian values were being shunned by many in public life. 'What are Christians to do,' MacArthur asked in 1993, 'when the government allows the wholesale slaughter of babies, exalts homosexuality, and denigrates any kind of moral standard?' Answers to the situation were diverse. Some thought a public relations campaign should be a priority. Others advocated the need for more social action, and the organizing of political pressure with demonstrations and protests. There were not lacking those who thought that psychology or mysticism could aid in reversing the decline in Christian belief.

 

For John MacArthur such proposals were only adding to the confusion.

 

Not the reformation of culture but the salvation of men and women is the church's mandate. But too many churches lacked a sufficient hold on truth to fulfill such a calling. They lacked the faith to assert that from Scripture

 

we can understand the ebb and flow of life better than all the educators, philosophers, politicians and social pundits combined . . . A look at the trends sweeping today's churches demonstrates just how small a god we've fashioned. How else can we explain the boom in Christian psychology, flashy, Las Vegas-style worship services, and high-tech church growth seminars?

 

In the midst of change, MacArthur saw no need for faithful churches to change what they were already doing. If any new development was to come to the situation at large it would only be by the power of God upon the witness to Christ and his Word. By the 1990s there were signs of a hopeful new development, and on this we must now comment.

 

I have already noted2 that Fundamentalism, in which so much of evangelical witness was to be found, had broken into two branches in the 1960s: one belligerent towards any change, and the other (the 'new-evangelicalism' as it was sometimes called) anxious for status and academic respectability. MacArthur never belonged to the latter, and from the time of the Lordship controversy he had also parted from many in traditional fundamentalist circles. While some would have still identified him with Fundamentalism in the 1980s, the publication of The Gospel According to Jesus in 1988 made a division plain. As a consequence of this parting, he might have been left an individual, semi-isolated in a sphere of his own, had there not been a stirring that would take numbers of Christians in a new direction.

 

By the 1990s there were congregations, small and large, across the United States, which were hearing preaching that forty years earlier would have been hard to find. The message sounded akin to the doctrines of the Reformation and Puritan periods, but it had sprung afresh from Scripture, from the literature of those earlier periods, and was gaining surprising support from the younger generation.

 

To call this development a 'movement' would be to misconceive it, at least in the normal use of that term. It had no particular starting point, knew no party planners, and made no public claims. Rather, streams of influence had risen quietly in different places, under different men, and in different denominations, yet flowing spontaneously in the same direction. In so far as there were leaders, they were usually conspicuous as preachers, not academics, for the influence was coming from pulpits, from men who believed it was the preaching of the Word of God that always brought fresh life to the churches.

 

The powerful ally for these men was surprising. It was the evangelical authors of an older school, long unsought and unread, but now in print again and in many hands. In the 1950s Dr Wilbur Smith commented on the absence of the titles of Jonathan Edwards and other Puritans from all book lists. In the 1990s Edwards was not only widely available again but being read by thousands. Other authors in the same tradition--John Owen at their head--came back as though from the dead. The few contemporary writers who also contributed to this change have, for the most part, already been named in these pages.

 

Books alone cannot bring change unless there is spiritual hunger to read them, and by the 1990s there was such hunger. Dr J. I. Packer's treatment of the attributes of God had reached a comparatively small circle when first published in England in the Evangelical Magazine (c.1960); but, after being re-issued in book form in the United States in the 1970s under the title Knowing God, sales were to soar to approximately three million by 2005.

 

Only the existence of this same hunger can explain the growth and multiplication of conferences of a new kind across the United States. At these the speakers no longer majored on such themes as 'How to be Contemporary', or 'How to Build a Successful Church', but on doctrinal teaching and the exposition of Scripture. A renewed reading of history and biography was also showing how doctrinal beliefs had formerly changed the history of the English-speaking peoples. When MacArthur first held a Shepherds' Conference for pastors in 1980, the original chapel building in Sun Valley was large enough to hold the few hundred who attended; and there were few other conferences like it. But in the next twenty years such conferences multiplied across the land; they included the Philadelphia Conference, the Bethlehem Conference (at Minneapolis), the Bolton Conference in New England, the Ligonier Conference in Florida, to name only a few. Even in the Deep South, where in the Southern Baptist Convention it had been axiomatic that 'Calvinism' and evangelism could not live together, a Founders Conference was inaugurated to point the denomination back to its roots. By the end of the century Tom Ascol, editor of the Founders Journal, could speak of 'the extent to which the revival of the doctrines of grace is sweeping across the churches of our land'.

 

Although not belonging to the same denominations, the leaders of these conferences were drawn together by shared convictions. James Montgomery Boice, organizer of the Philadelphia Conference, was one of MacArthur's earliest friends from the Reformed side. He lectured at Talbot Seminary in 1979, and he preached at the Thirtieth Anniversary of MacArthur's ministry in 1999, before succumbing to an aggressive cancer the following year. Prior to Boice and Packer writing Forewords to The Gospel According to Jesus (1988), MacArthur has said, 'I wasn't moving in Reformed circles.' A close friendship began with R. C. Sproul when John spoke at the Ligonier Conference in 1992; it was to be the first of many such visits to Orlando, Florida. Similarly MacArthur was in Minneapolis with John Piper in 1997. In turn, Sproul and Piper came to speak at Grace Community Church.

 

A shared faith in the sovereignty of God also brought MacArthur among a new generation of Calvinistic men in Southern Baptist circles. One of these was Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC, and another was Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at Louisville, Kentucky. When an editor of Christianity Today visited the bookstore of that Seminary the first books he saw were not those authored within that denomination: 'Right away I noticed a prominent display of John MacArthur's commentaries. The noted Calvinist expositor does not belong to SBC.'

 

* * * * *

 

The ministry at Sun Valley had joined with a wider awakening to doctrinal Christianity. Far from being isolated, MacArthur's preaching and books were clearly an important part of a larger momentum and regrouping. By the first decade of the present century this turn round in belief was conspicuous enough to come to the notice of the secular press, first in Time magazine, and then in other journals read nationwide.

 

It also became the subject of a first book when Collin Hansen wrote, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008). Hansen, editor-at-large for Christianity Today, was enthusiastic about how the Calvinistic resurgence had begun to 'reclaim and reform evangelicalism'. He believed: 'Though today's Calvinists remain outnumbered, their influence leavens the evangelical movement . . . The growth of the Reformed ranks, especially among youth, portends significant changes ahead.' On the Southern Baptist scene, he quotes the words of Tom Ascol, 'The International Mission Board is flooded with Calvinists.'

 

Hansen's book gave particular significance to the first 'Together for the Gospel' conference that took place in April 2006, as marking a new unity:

 

Good friends Dever, Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, and Al Mohler, invited three of their heroes--Piper, John MacArthur, and R. C. Sproul--to join them in addressing a crowd of about three thousand pastors in Louisville, Kentucky . . . The four middle-aged Together for the Gospel hosts watched their heroes, each older than sixty, address a crowd mostly in their twenties and thirties.

 

From all this it might be assumed that John MacArthur sees in the recovery of doctrinal Christianity the prospect of a major advance in progress. Certainly the 'booming' of Reformed theology, which he noted in 1997, has continued; and the extent of the demand for his own books and radio ministry is part of the evidence. But his thankfulness is mixed with a measure of concern. It was reflected in his declining to be interviewed for Hansen's book.

 

I can think of reasons for that concern. For one thing, it is premature to be confident the advance will continue. As MacArthur surveyed the first decade of the present century he knew that all was by no means bright. If ground was being won in some areas, it was still being lost in others. He noted how, to gain larger audiences, Bible teaching on radio in the United States was losing air time to 'Christian music and live talk'. A similar compromise was 'at epidemic levels among Christian publishers'. There was no end of controversy in sight. He commented in 2008: 'When I came out of Seminary I really did not expect to fight the battles I have fought. I never thought I would spend most of my life on the broader evangelical front defending the gospel and sound doctrine.'

 

Instead of being excited at the new interest that journalists were showing in Calvinism and the Puritans, MacArthur remembers how 'promotion' of the gospel by the secular press had proved a dangerous thing in the past. The kind of thing that gains the attention of the world, especially excitement over numbers and personalities, is of small consequence in the kingdom of God. 'If a thing is successful, it must be true', is a maxim that has done much harm among evangelicals and he does not want to see it continued. History shows clearly enough that truth is often with the remnant.

 

Further, while Hansen correctly says 'the backbone of the Reformed resurgence comprises ordinary churches', that is obscured by his heavy concentration on those whom he considers to be the leaders. The book looks at things far too largely on the human level, and leaves the impression of a movement of 'New Calvinists', promoted by mass meetings and celebrity preachers. But this kind of treatment is misleading. A survey of the 'Hansen type' looks like something already familiar instead of something new, for evangelicalism has far too often indulged in the following of personalities. If this is indeed a recovery of Reformation belief, the Hansen presentation is out of harmony with the influence of the man who would not so much as have his name put on his grave in Geneva. Genuine Reformed faith teaches Christians to sing,

 

The glory Lord, from first to last, Is Thine, is Thine alone.

 

Every genuine work of God is incapable of being adequately explained on the human level. There is mystery in it. Truth 'springs from the earth' independently of what may be happening elsewhere. In so far as a new unity has come into being today--as we believe it has--it has not come from meetings or organizations. A true revival of God-centered Christianity has always had with it the biblical caution not to be called masters, and to cease from man. While recommending Hansen's survey, Don Carson had good reason to add: 'This is not the time for Reformed triumphalism. It is the time for quiet gratitude to God and earnest intercessory prayer, with tears, that what has begun well will flourish beyond all human expectation.'

 

In the present writer's opinion, a lesson from nineteenth-century German church history is relevant for us. Daniel Edward has written of how hope of a lasting evangelical revival in Prussia failed. 'The ten or fifteen years before 1848 spread out in bright sunshine in the remembrance of all Christians.' A galaxy of eminent teachers and preachers appeared to be turning the tide. 'They saw', Edward wrote, 'the excellence of the gospel as the divine scheme of redemption; they were strong for Christ as the only Saviour, but they rejected the law as the schoolmaster that leads to Christ. They set forth eloquently the privileges of the gospel to a people . . . who needed first of all to hear the voice, "Repent". . . These good men failed for want of what our forefathers styled "law work". They wanted a deeper knowledge of God's holy law, and a deeper knowledge of sin as the transgression of it.'

 

That lesson remains a warning for today. In the current recovery of Calvinistic thinking there is need for greater fear of God, of his majesty and holiness. Such features have ever accompanied a powerful work of the Spirit of God, and they are connected with the revelation of his character as Lawgiver.

 

There is not yet the evidence of such conviction of sin as has marked all the spiritual awakenings of history. For too long, in MacArthur's words, evangelical circles have been better at merriment than mourning. This is no argument against joy and song, but where the presence of God is felt there is also godly fear. When the Spirit of God is poured out men have better understood the text: 'The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him' (Hab. 2:20).

 

1 A brief extract from Iain H. Murray's new book, John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock, 272pp. clothbound, ISBN: 978 1 84871 112 9, £14.50/$26.

2 See chapter 6 'The Rediscovery of Old Truth'.

 

Online store: www.ReformedResources.org/books/john-macarthur-servant-of-the-word-and-flock/

Banner of Truth: www.banneroftruth.org

Alliance: www.AllianceNet.org

Yes, you're thinking about Valentine's Day.  But, before you know it, the snow will melt, the temperatures will climb above freezing, spring will be here, and pomp and circumstance will fill the air.  What will you get for grads?  I have just the book to recommend.

I just came back from speaking at the youth retreat for our Presbytery, where the main speaker was my friend Derek Melleby.  Derek heads up the College Transition Initiative, connected with Walt Mueller's Center for Parent/Youth Understanding.  And Derek's latest book has just come out, this week in fact.  It's Make College Count:  A Faithful Guide to Life and Learning (Baker Books).

Derek's a thoughtful guy and a good writer and this might actually be a graduation gift book that the graduate-recipient will actually read and actually benefit from.  Here's a challenging line from the book:

"The experts tell us that the years between eighteen and twenty-five are considered the critical years--that is, the most shaping and influential.  Every major decision that molds you for the rest of your life is typically made during this time," (18).

That's challenging for me, since I spend most of my time with this age group.  Thanks, Derek, for your help.

     

Carl Trueman, reformation21 regular and Alliance Council member, explores the idiosyncrasies of modern American politics and stimulates a new Christian approach in his new book Republocrat. An excerpt includes the introduction by Peter Lillback of Westminster Theological Seminary and a sample chapter.


Watch for Derek and Gabe to blog through this volume. But order your copy now. P&R Books has allowed the Alliance to offer this new book at 25% off the retail cost, that's just $7.50.


Order now: http://www.reformedresources.org/books/republocrat/


Excerpt: http://www.alliancenet.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID307086_CHID560462_CIID1947798,03.html


More on Trueman: http://www.alliancenet.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID307086_CHID559376_CIID1936766,00.html

I did not take real notice of the recent article post by Anthony Selvaggio. I should have, as he has a book worth noting. In it, he takes a look at the book of James, titling his work "The 24/7 Christian". Anthony echoes James encouragement as we see that our struggles, while based in a different age, are really not too far from the late first century Christian. It reminds us that we are not alone, that that knowledge should lead us to be thankful, and that we have been left with that certain hope!

The publisher has been kind enough to supply a chapter excerpt, which is posted at AllianceNet.org. You can order the paperback from ReformedResources.org and it will go to support the ministry of the Alliance.  But regardless where you get it, this is a book that reminds us of the testing of our faith and value of that testing as we wait upon the Lord.

Our friend and co-laborer, Steve Lawson just received confirmation that his commentary on the Psalms was just delivered in Russian to Samara (
View image). It 
took over six years to get this first volume in print, but Dr. Lawson reports they are greatly encouraged. His labors over the Psalter will now impact hundreds of preachers in a foreign land on the other side of the world for years and years to come. To His glory we rejoice!

This week we have extracted a few jewels from Eric Alexander's new book. We have seen 'The Character of God' and 'The Salvation of God'. This is the last part of Our Great God and Saviour is titled 'The Church of God'.  It lies out in five sections: 'The Purpose of the Church' (1 Pet 2:4-10), 'Ministry in the Church' (Eph 4:7-16), 'God's Fellow Workers or, Four Laws for Christian Service' (1 Cor 3:1-15), 'A Plea for Revival' (Psa 89), and 'Lessons for the Church on Earth from the Church in Heaven' (Rev 21, 22).

 

'The Purpose of the Church' offers this: "If you ask 'what is the great business of the [C]hurch in this world? What is the great calling of God?' - this is the answer: The purpose of the [C]hurch of Jesus Christ is worship. This will be the continuous activity of the [C]hurch in its perfect from in heaven, because there, day and night, they cry "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise" (Rev 5:12). They are taken up with the worship of God. This is the [C]hurch's great business here too. When God build a temple, [H]e builds it primarily that [H]e might have worshippers."

 

'The Ministry of the Church' teaches: "Paul brings [in Eph 4:12] his teaching here to a climax by noting that, as we minister to one another, three marks will be seen in God's people: unity ('until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God'), maturity ('and become mature') and conformity ('attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ', verse 13). Our concern should be that we might experience through our mutual ministry to one another within the [C]hurch that unity, maturity and conformity to [H]im that are the marks of true [C]hurch life.

 

Our Great God and Saviour is Eric Alexander's new book from The Banner of Truth Trust. Rev. Alexander is a member of the Alliance Council and his messages here come from the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. When you order from the Alliance, ReformedResources.org or 215-546-3696 M-F 9 am till 4 pm (ET), you also support the ministry of the Alliance. Please join us!

Alliance Council member Eric Alexander's new book from The Banner of Truth Trust, Our Great God and Saviour, continues into a second section titled "The Salvation of God." Its messages include "Regeneration: Beginning with God" (John 3), "Justification: The Glorious Good News of Grace" (Gal 2:15-21), "Substitution" (Isa 52:13-53:12), Sanctification: Changed from Glory into Glory" (2 Cor 3:18), "The Security of the Believer" (John 10:14-30), and Glorification: Attaining the Goal" (Rom 8).

From the section titled "Regeneration: Beginning with God" (John 3) Rev. Alexander reminds us "The kingdom of God is the sphere in which God brings rebel sinners into subjection to [H]is gracious rule and authority. It is the realm in which God's grace is to be tested and experienced. To 'see' the kingdom is to grasp or understand it, to have the glory and wonder of it dawn upon us. But this will never dawn upon a man until he has been born again. Similarly, the 'enter' the kingdom of God means to experience the blessings of the kingdom, to be admitted to its privileges and joys both present and future. But apart from the new birth, says Jesus, we shall never experience any of these joys. This is an unchanging necessity because it deals with these unchanging laws of God's kingdom."

Eric finishes that section with "What should this doctrine of regeneration do for us, then? There are at least four things: It should thrill our souls with a new sense of worship as we observe the sheer miracle that God ahs performed in us in this regenerating grace. IT should enlarge our understanding of what it means to be redeemed. It should drive us to God in a new way for those who are yet without eternal life, recognizing that it is [H]e and [H]e alone who can bring this life to men and women. It should bow us down before [H]im in wonder that the God of all the ages, Creator of the universe, should apply such mighty works of power to the souls of men and women, in order to raise us into new life, and to conform us to the beautiful image of [H]is son."

Amen!

Order and support the ministry of the Alliance -- Our Great God and Saviour by Eric Alexander from The Banner of Truth Trust.

Our Great God and Saviour by Eric Alexander arrived at the Alliance offices, or at least on my desk, just last week. It is as pastoral as Eric himself. This collection of messages is from the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology.

The volume is broken into three sections, based on three various conferences Rev. Alexander preached. Part one is on "The Character of God," part two on "The Salvation of God," and part three is titled "The Church of God."  I thought I might share a sampling of that first part, which has five sections: the greatness of God (Isa 40), the holiness of God (Isa 6), the sovereignty of God (Acts 4:23-31), the faithfulness of God (Psa 89), and the grace of God (Rom 8:32).

From the section of the sovereignty of God, Eric teaches us: "The sovereignty of God is the soil in which biblical humility grows. That is why the Reformed faith creates character, when it is rightly applied. It produces godly lowliness and meekness of mind because it recognizes that everything we are and anything good that can ever appear in us is the gift of a sovereign God. So biblical humility is the first fruit of a true appreciation of God's sovereignty."

Reading in the section titled the faithfulness of God, Rev. Alexander reminds us: "God's disciplining of our lives does not mean that [H]e is forsaking [H]is covenant. It means that [H]e is exercising [H]is covenant love in order to bring the blessing of [H]is covenant to us. Therefore, [H]e will not refrain from exercising discipline on us, bringing us under the weight of [H]is hand in order that we might ultimately enter into the benefits of [H]is covenant. That means that God's disciplines - whatever they may be in our lives - are never arbitrary or pointless. They are part of the faithful administration of [H]is covenant."

Our Great God and Saviour by Alliance Council member Eric J. Alexander is published by The Banner of Truth Trust. Order your copy, assisting to fund the ministry of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals at ReformedResources.org.

Rev. Eric Alexander, Alliance Council member and long time speaker at the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, has just released "Our Great God and Saviour" with The Banner of Truth Trust. While Rev. Alexander always told me he was no writer, this volume stands as an indication we need more of his teaching published.

Next week I will share a few excerpts from the book. But the Alliance is ready to fulfill orders today. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson offers a glowing forward to the volume, while The Banner describes it as:

Eric Alexander's great concern in this series of studies is that Christians should know how rich they are in their gracious God and Saviour, and in His perfect work of salvation. Each study brings out a fresh aspect of this theme, as we contemplate in turn the character of God, the salvation of God, and the Church of God. In words which Rev. Alexander quotes from the works of the puritan Stephen Charnock: "If rich men delight to sum up their vast revenues, to read over their rentals, to look upon their hoards, how much more should the people of God please themselves in seeing how rich they are in having an immensely full and all-sufficient God as their inheritance." These warm and pastorally-directed studies will provide satisfying food for the hearts and minds of Christian readers everywhere.

Thank you Rev. Alexander for this volume and for a lifetime of preaching God's Word, ministering to God's Church, and honoring God in all you do.

The book can be order at: http://www.reformedresources.org/books/our-great-god-and-saviour/

Calvin For Today

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Calvin For Today, is a new volume including essays by Ligon Duncan, Derek Thomas, and others. It is a compilation of the addresses given at the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary's annual conference in August 2009. The book contains a wealth of information and practical applications about how to use Calvin's thought in our challenging day. Topics include Calvin on preaching Christ from the Old Testament, missions, the church, Scripture, the Spirit's work, redemption, ethics, believers' benefits, the early church, reprobation, marriage, and reforming the church.

A highlight is Ligon Duncan's chapter on "The Resurgence of Calvinism in America." The book concludes with a summary chapter by the editor, Joel Beeke, who expounds twelve reasons Calvin is important for us today. Additional writers include Jerry Bilkes, Michael Haykin, Nelson Kloosterman, David Murray, Joseph Pipa, Neil Pronk, Donald Sinnema, Derek Thomas, and Cornel Venema. Written at the lay person's level, and retaining a flavor of the spoken style, it is informative, stimulating, and practical.

Available through the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals at ReformedResources.org.

A Time for Tears

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From "The Christ of the Empty Tomb," Dr. Boice speaks of Mary's encounter with the risen Christ:

 

"In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes there are words of great wisdom: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: ... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance" (vv 1, 4). Let me say emphatically, there is a time when we are to weep. We are to weep over sin, over sin's effects, over suffering, anguish, pain, and over death. We are to weep when we suffer. We are to weep when others suffer. Christianity is no stoic religion. It is not a religion of the stiff upper lip. It is a religion that recognizes sin as sin and evil as evil, and grieves for both. We will have to grieve as long as we are here in this world.

 

But not always! Not as those who have no hope! And not at Easter! At Easter we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, and we rejoice with Mary, those tears are turned to joy. How can we weep? Once we had only a dead religion, but now we have found a living person. Once we had a martyr, but now we have found a Savior. Once we had a mortal, or so we thought. Now we have a reigning Lord."

 

 

Dr. James Montgomery Boice can be heard on The Bible Study Hour at AllianceNet.org and "The Christ of the Empty Tomb" can be ordered at ReformedResources.org.

Dr. James Boice remains the Bible teacher on The Bible Study Hour and founded the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. Later in "The Christ of the Empty Tomb," Dr. Boice speaking of the first century Christians writes:

 

"Why should anybody endure such punishments? Why should Paul have kept preaching when all it brought him was suffering? Was Stephen's martyrdom worth it? What was the point of Peter and John's flogging at the hand of the Sanhedrin? Would it not have been better for each of them if they had simply gone with the tide and done what the Jewish leaders wanted? Would it not have been wiser to do as the soldiers, who took the month and kept silent?

 

Silent about Jesus? About the resurrection? Each of those early Christians would tell us that they could never have kept silent, because the message they proclaimed was no mere earthly message that could be believed or not, depending upon whether it proved beneficial or instead required sacrifice. The resurrection is not philosophy. It is a fact of history. Therefore, as Peter and John replied to the Sanhedrin, they could not "help speaking about what [they had] seen and heard." (Acts 4:20).

 

And there is this fact also. In this life the tables are often turned so that truth suffers and lies are praised. But this life is not the full limit of reality, any more than the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea was the end of the line for Jesus Christ. Jesus lives! And so truth lives, regardless of man's opposition to it. In this life the deceiver may receive rewards. It has happened before; it will happen again. But in the life to come truth will be required, evil will be punished and those who have served the risen Christ will hear Him declare, "Well done, good and faithful servant!... Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21)"

 

 

Dr. James Montgomery Boice can be heard at AllianceNet.org and "The Christ of the Empty Tomb" can be ordered at reformedresources.org/books/the-christ-of-the-empty-tomb/.

James Boice was mentor to Philip Ryken and Richard Phillips, both reformation21 bloggers. Continuing in his book, "The Christ of the Empty Tomb," Dr. Boice writes of Job's statement "I know that my Redeemer lives":

 

"If Job, who lived at the dawn of recorded history, centuries before the time of the Lord Jesus Christ - if Job knew these things, how much more should we know them, we who are aware of Christ's resurrection and have witnessed His power in our lives. Job lived in a dark and misty time, before the dawning of the Lord Jesus Christ, that sun of righteousness. Job lived in an age Before Jesus brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. If he had failed to understand about the resurrection and had failed to believe in it, who could blame him? Nobody. Yet he believed. How much more then should we?

 

Can you say with Job, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God"? If so, then live in that assurance. Do not fear death. During the next twelve months death will certainly come for some, but there will also be a resurrection. Besides, Jesus is also coming and if that should happen soon, He will receive us all.

 

I add one more thought. We believe these truths, yes. But let us not only believe them; let us pass them on so that others may share in this resurrection faith also. What was job's desire after all? It was that his works might be preserved and that his faith in the resurrection might be saved for coming generations. The resurrection hope has come down to us through many centuries of church history. Lit pass to our children and to our children's children until the living Lord Jesus Christ returns in His Glory. Jesus Christ Lives. Hi Lives! Then let us tell others, and let us shout with Job, "I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the he will stand up on the earth"."

 

 

"The Christ of the Empty Tomb" by Dr. James Montgomery Boice can be found on ReformedResources.org at reformedresources.org/books/the-christ-of-the-empty-tomb/ Dr. Boice's audio messages can be heard on The Bible Study Hour.

As it is Easter week, thought exerts from Dr. James Boice's book, "The Christ of the Empty Tomb" would be encouraging. So to start, from the preface:

 

"I have been struck again with two things.

 

First, the resurrection was totally unexpected by those who first saw the Lord. He had told them about it, of course. He had prophesied: "The Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him. Three days later He will rise" (Mark 10:33-34). This and other prophecies are so explicit that we can hardly understand how the disciples failed to grasp Christ's teaching and expect the resurrection especially since Christ's enemies seem to have understood His claim although they disbelieved it.

 

But so it was! Cleopas and Mary, the Emmaus disciples, heard reports of the resurrection but had so little interest in them that they simply went on packing for their trip home following the Sabbath. Mary Magdalene could think only of Christ's body. Thomas, the most outspoken, said "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails where, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it: (John 20:25). They were not gullible men and women, as some have pictured them to be. There were hard-nosed skeptics. They were as resistant to miracles as our contemporaries.

 

Second, I have been impressed with how utterly convinced the disciples became once they had seen the glorified Jesus. And it was not just a matter of one or two having claimed to have seen Him. All the disciples, all the women - indeed even five hundred people at one time - saw Jesus, and this was so overwhelming to them that not once after that did any one of them ever question the miracle. Many times they sinned. They had fallings out among themselves. They erred in other tings. But never once did any doubt that Jesus really was raised from the dead and that His resurrection proved all that needs to be proved for Christianity. If proved:

 

That there is a God and that the God of the Bible is the true God;

That Jesus is God's unique Son and that He is fully divine;

That all who believe in Jesus Christ are justified from all sin;

That the believer in Christ can have supernatural victory over sin in this life; and

That we too shall rise again.

 

It is for these reasons that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is good news. In fact, it is the best news the world has ever heard. It is news that needs to be proclaimed vigorously and joyously to our own sinful and dying generation."

 

 

"The Christ of the Empty Tomb" by Dr. James Montgomery Boice can be found on ReformedResources.org at reformedresources.org/books/the-christ-of-the-empty-tomb/

Dallas

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It depends on your context.  If you're thinking great TV series of the 70s, you're thinking Who [indeed] shot J.R.?  If you're thinking football, you're thinking of that team that somehow got the upper hand on the [beloved] Eagles (twice!) before getting divine retribution at the hands of a team from Minnesota.

If, however, you're thinking seminaries, you think of Dallas Theological Seminary.  Speaking of which, I just received a copy of John Hannah's history of the said institution:  An Uncommon Union:  Dallas Theological Seminary and American Evangelicalism (Zondervan).  It is a wonderful read written by a very clever and thoughtful and engaging historian. 

You will likely appreciate--and learn much--from Hannah's treatment of the early decades and Lewis Sperry Chafer's Presbyterian roots.  Chafer in fact attempted to woo Machen to Dallas as he heard of Machen's turmoil at Princeton and subsequent plans to found a new seminary.  You'll also read of the "growing tensions" with that Presbyterian identity as the decades rolled on.

And of course you'll read all about the Swindoll years.

Hannah has given us a most readable account of a significant 20th century institution that keeps on plugging away.

 

 

I just saw the notice of a handy new set of Edwards' writings.  Its edited by Owen Strachan and Douglas Sweeney and published by Moody.  It looks like there will be five convenient paperbacks and a hefty hardback.  And they all come due in February. 

What could better accompany Cupid's arrow than an Edwards book?  (My wife says, welcome to my world.)

This will be a great set to introduce people to the writings of Edwards.  If that old typeface in the Banner set has you down and you can't afford a second mortgage on your house to get the Yale set this set may just fit the bill.

Hats off to Owen and Doug for putting this together for us.

Here's one more book for Christmas . . .

Richard Doster, Crossing the Lines, A Novel, published by David C. Cook

First, for those who would not countenance contemporary fiction . . .

Look at the cover.  [You'll have to find it yourself--if I knew how to link to it I would have to resign my membership in the Luddite-Wendell Berry Association.] 

This is not the cover art of a dreamy maiden awaiting the arrival of the hero on yonder shore, neither is it an Amish farmscape, which is to say, this ain't your typical (read Folgers) contemporary Christian fiction (read pablum).

Second, for those who only have time for serious, heady, non-fiction . . .I used to think so, too.  And for good reason.  But you should spend some time with Phil Ryken, or ask him to post his list of fiction, classic and contemporary, that he has read. Good fiction is not just a distraction.

And this book, Richard Doster's novel Crossing the Lines, is not just good.  I would go as far as to say it is the best book I read all year.  Doster is editor of the magazine of the PCA, byFaith, a smart and engaging magazine.  Doster has a wonderful piece, "The Calling of Christian Writers," currently on the byfaith website.

The novel picks up where his first novel, Safe at Home (also from Cook), leaves off, finding Jack Hall in Atlanta and landing a job at The Atlanta Constitution.  The book is about race and the emergence of the new south.  Along the way, Doster has his hero meet up with the likes of Martin Luther King and Sam Phillips of Sun Records.  Jack even gets to spend an afternoon with Flannery O'Conner on her porch, discussing what's so Southern about Southern fiction.  By the last page--don't we all sneak a peak anyway--Jack's in his office at Down South, his newly minted and ambitious magazine, savoring the manuscript of an unknown writer by the name of Harper Lee.

Buy this book for yourself, buy some for your friends. 

One final reason.  Look at the book cover and tell me if Doster isn't a dead ringer for Garrison Keillor.

Books for Christmas

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Why stress the Christmas shopping?  Here are some suggestions to help . . .

For the kids: 
- The new Pilgrim's Progress, edited by C. J. Lovik and illustrated by Mike Wimmer.  This new Crossway Book is excellent in every way.  It is truly a beautiful book.  Buy it for the whole family and read it together.  Your kids will always remember it.

- John Calvin:  A Children's Story Behind the Legacy by Kerry L. Tittle.  Buy one last book to round out the Calvin 500 year and make it this one.

For her:
- Heidi L. Nichols, Anne Bradtsreet:  A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Puritan Poet, by P&R.  Yes, there's a boatload of self-interest here, but trust me, your wives will love it.  Read the poetry with her and she'll love it and you even more.

- Brandon G. Withrow, Katherine Parr:  A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Reformation Queen, by P&R.  Yes, some self-interest here, too, but Parr deserves far more attention than she is given.  Her Lamentation Or Complaint of a Sinner, reproduced here, is worth the price of the book alone.

For him:
- Thomas J. Nettles, James Petigru Boyce:  A Southern Baptist Statesman, by P&R.  This is a first-class biography on a statesman-scholar-gentleman by a statesman-scholar-gentleman.  Biographies should "sing," and this one does.

 


 

Thanksgiving reading

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Okay, it's not as long as the summer, but it is a few days and don't you think books ought to trump parades and college football?  Put another way, nothing goes better with turkey than some good reads.
 

Let me suggest four . . .

 

The essays edited by Piper and Taylor, The Power of Words and the Wonder of God (Crossway).  Many have already blogged on how helpful this book is.  I'm looking forward to reading it cover to cover.  I have already found the chapter by Daniel Taylor to be exquisite.

 

Reason for the Christian Hope by Gannon Murphy (Mentor/Christian Focus).  I'm cheating here, as I already read the manuscript, but this is a book by an author that, playing off of the Piper/Taylor title, knows how to use words.  This is a thoughtful and engaging apologetics.  You should read this one if you're looking to be more persuasive in your proclamation of the gospel.

 

God of Love and God of Judgment by Stephen K. Moroney (Wipf & Stock).  Here I go, cheating again.  I also read this in manuscript form.  This book brings together what so often gets put asunder.  This book will help you have a fuller vision and understanding of God--all the more reason to be thankful.

 

Filling up on the Afflictions of Christ:  The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton by John Piper (Crossway).  I know all of you already know about this book, but if we're truly grateful for the gospel shouldn't we be convicted of our selfishness with it?  This book will winsomely convict.  I'm hoping that's what it does to me as I sit down to read it, after the turkey.

 

Happy reading.

Derek has to be going to get his well-thumbed-through copy of The Shack signed.  Yes, William P. Young himself will be at Lemuria Bookstore, a great independent bookstore in Jackson, Miss, tomorrow April 16 at 11:00 am. 

So, Derek, are you taking your classes with you to meet him?

Are you and Ligon taking him out to lunch after?

 

CVT in B&C

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Congratulations are in order to our very own Sean Lucas and to D.G. Hart and to John Muether, editors and author respectively of the Cornelius Van Til volume in the American Reformed Biography series by P&R.  Richard Mouw has a very gracious and warmly appreciative review in the latest issue of Books & Culture.  Mouw does offer some criticisms, of CVT and not of the book, but even then his characteristic grace and good cheer shine through.

This is welcome indeed. Kudos to you three, and to "Kees," as well.  Requiem in pace.

Shocked . . .

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. . . and dismayed.  DT won't learn from a Unitarian?

 

Where's the love?

Pocket Packer

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And one more book from my friends at Crossway (referencing back to my ETS books post). 

I picked up J I Packer's Affirming the Apostle's Creed, which is taken from his Growing in Christ.  Crossway has also published Praying the Lord's Prayer and Keeping the Ten Commandments, taken from Growing in Christ.  These three books are a great format in a perfect, handy size and quite a nice layout.  They are vintage Packer. 

I plan on tucking mine in my coat pocket and keeping it with me.  I have quite a few meetings in the next several weeks.  How better to multitask?

Thanks Crossway.  And thank you, Dr. Packer.   

ETS books

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This past week I was up in Rhode Island at the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.  In between attending a few great papers and bumping into people, I also had a chance to pick up a few books.  Here's the complete list of what I came home with.  Fortunately, some of these books were gratis, kind gifts from kind publishers.  But here's what I bought/got

 

From the Fortress Press table (Go Lutherans!): Works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, volume 10, covering 1928-1931, and volume 13, covering 1933-9135 while DB was in London.  I also picked up I am Bonhoeffer:  A Credible Life (a novel).  Who says theologians don't read fiction?

 

From the Westminster John Knox Press table:  The Gospel according to Bruce Springsteen, which, as my good friend Sean has already pointed out, is written by a Unitarian Universalist.  Hey, if you're gonna get somebody to write on the gospel who better?  I also picked up:  Preachers and Misfits, Prophets and Thieves:  The Minister in Southern Fiction (speaking of fiction).  I suspect there's got to be something in there about a transplanted preacher from Wales preaching in a southern accent and using illustrations from Bruckner.

 

From Brazos and Baker:  Everyday Theology:  How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends, with Kevin Vanhoozer as lead editor.

 

From IVP:  Incarnation:  The Person and Life of Christ by Torrance; The New Global Mission:  The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone by Samuel Escobar; Salvation Belongs to Our God:  Celebrating the Bible's Central Story by Christopher J H Wright; and the very hefty (996 page) Global Dictionary of Theology.

 

Our friends from Table Talk and Ligonier were also there and Burk Parsons was kind enough to give me a copy of his edited book John Calvin:  A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

 

So what do you get when you cross Calvin and Bonhoeffer with Bruce Springsteen in the South all the while with a global theological awareness?

 

 I don't know.  Check back in a few weeks after I had a chance to read these.

 

 

This past week, I received a copy of the 50th anniversary edition of John Stott's widely acclaimed best-seller, Basic Christianity. I first read this book in December 1971 as a thoroughly agnostic non-church-going freshman at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. I was reading Karl Popper at the time fascinated by his advancing of the method of empirical falsification. My world consisted of physics, mathematics and some of the philosophical assumptions in vogue in the sixties. And, of course, Wagner!

Then along came John Stott's Basic Christianity.

 

41law0VUBbL._SL500_AA240_[1].jpg "Out of the blue" it came (through the mail in fact from a friend who had just been converted to Christianity) and I began to read it. I didn't stop until the last page when I fell on my knees late one evening and asked if God was there, that he'd make himself known to me.

Or something like that. To be honest, I knew nothing about Christianity and even less about the Bible. But John Stott's Basic Christianity introduced me to Jesus Christ who, until that time, had been but a swear word.

Re-reading Basic Christianity has been a moving experience for me for at least three reasons: 

First, I remain as convinced now, thirty-seven years later, as I was that day in December that Jesus Christ is both the only God there is and that his sacrificial, propitiating death on my behalf is the only hope I have of reconciliation with God.

Second, I remain as convinced now as I was then, that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God. I had never opened the Bible until that day (in fact, I didn't possess one), but as soon as I did, I knew immediately that this was no ordinary book that I was reading. Men were speaking in it to be sure, but they spoke "from God" (2 Pet. 1:21).

Third, I remain convinced now as I became convinced then that nominal Christianity wasn't enough to save. As John Stott himself wrote in Basic Christianity:

"The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers - the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ's warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called 'nominal Christianity'. In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit the convenience. no wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism." (p. 108).

Thank you, Dr. Stott.



To purchas Basic Christianity by Dr. Stott click here.

 

Being Born Again

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While I was in London I met up with my good friend Gary Brady.  Gary has written some fine books and his latest, What the Bible Teaches about Being Born Again , is a welcome treatment of the subject.  Great stuff.  Clear and straightforward prose on one of the most travelled phrases of twentieth and twenty-first century Christianity.  Read it for some clear thinking and make sure you have some on stock for newcomers to the faith.

 

Gary is a great guy, not the least of which is because of his ability to explain the Welsh language.  Apparently, the trick is not thinking it has fewer vowels, but thinking of it has having more.  Now, at least, I will be able to understand Derek.

The Man clad in Breeches

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My wife and I are off to Peru tomorrow on a mission trip for a week and I'm uncertain if I'll be able to blog from the Southern Hemisphere! On my way, I've decided to dip into Colin Duriez's new biography of Francis Schaeffer (Francis Schaeffer: an Authentic Life published by Crossway and see Tim Challies' review, here). No! It wasn't on my summer reading list!

A few months after my conversion (as a sophomore Math student at Aberystwyth University in 1972) I came across Schaeffer for the first time. It was Escape from Reason and Death in the City that I recall most from those days. I don't think I ever became obsessive about Schaeffer, but I can still recall his description of first discovering classical music (for him it was Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture).

Waiting in line to get a Hepitatis B shot this morning, and waiting, and waiting ....zzzzzzzz 

Ah yes, waiting in line, I came across this moving description of Schaeffer leaving to Hampden-Sydney College to begin pre-ministerial studies:

 

"The long-anticipated day of leaving for Virginia dawned, and Francis Schaeffer got up before 5.30. When he had prepared for bed the night before, his father had instructed him, "Get up in time to see me before I go to work... 5.30."  He found his father beside the front door, waiting. Turning to look directly at his son he said, "I don't want a son who is a minister, and -- I don't want you to go." It was a decisive moment for both father and son. There was silence between the two in the early dawn light. Fran then said, "Pop, give me a few minutes to go down in the cellar and pray." Descending, his thoughts in confusion, tears started. In the basement he prayed about the choice he must make. In his deep emotion he resorted in desperation to a kind of prayer that, in future days, he would advise many people not to make. Asking God to show him, he tossed a coin, saying that if the result was heads he would go, despite his father's wishes. Heads. Not content, he tossed again, declaring that if it was tails, he would leave for Hampden-Sydney. Tails. Still crying with emotion, he asked God to be patient and said that if the third toss was heads, he would go. There was no mistaking it. The coin landed affirmatively. He turned to his silently waiting father and said, "Dad, I've got to go." After an instent glance at his son, his father walked through the doorway and pushed the door behind him hard to slam it. Just before the door banged, however, Fran heard his father say, "I'll pay for the first half year." Years later, Fran's father came to share his faith, affirming his son's resolve." (Pp.25-26).

One quick addition to my summer reading list:  Garth Rosell's The Surprising Work of God:  Harold John Ockenga, Billy Graham, and the Rebirth of Evangelicalism.  Ockenga was in the first graduating class of Westminster, among the faculty and student exiles from Princeton.  Eventually he became pastor of Boston's Park Street church, then president of Fuller, while still living in Boston, then president of Gordon Conwell, the first president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and board chair of Christianity Today.  This is a great look at American evangelicalism's coming of age.

Rosell's father, Merv Rosell, was himself a prominent evangelist with Youth for Christ and frequently in the Graham/Ockenga orbit.  This gives Rosell, in the words of Doug Sweeney's endorsement, "a front row seat." 

Speaking of sons, Randy Balmer has put together what looks to be a fascinating panel at the American Academy of Religion national meeting, Nov 1-3, in Chicago.  Entitled "Fathers and Sons," Balmer has assembled a fascinating constellation of sons, all holding academic posts, of famous evangelists.  The sons include Paul Maier son of Walter Maier, Dan Crawford son of Percy Crawford, Garth Rosell son of Merv Rosell, Don Wyrtzen son of Jack Wyrtzen, and John Woodbridge son of Charles Woodbridge.   Let's hope somebody's going to publish it.

Is It Summer?

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The problem with living in the Caribbean is you don't really have seasons.  Who knew it was summer and you could read differently?  While all the tourist come down, snorkel, and bathe in the sun with a wonderful novel, us poor Caribbean pastors continue on in the same old sunshine and heat, reading through the same old routine, politely letting misdirected tourists cross before us at all the wrong places along the road, all the while never knowing it's summer.

Well, it's not that bad.  I'm sure I wasn't gaining any sympathy points.  But you do forget its summer, so seeing the posts from the other brother was a welcome nudge to plan on read some stuff I've been neglecting.

Barry Jacobs, Across the Line: Profiles in Basketball Courage: Tales of the First Black Players in the ACC and SEC.  As an ACC alum, I can't say I ever really thought of the SEC as having any legitimate basketball schools.  But this volume looks to be interesting and the kind of read that not only fits the summer routine but prepares the enthusiast for the upcoming season.

John Piper, Brothers We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry.

John S. Hammett, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology.  I'm reading and discussing these last two with the pastoral staff.

Iain H. Murray, Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace.  Really looking forward to this one.

Samuel Ling, Chinese Intellectuals and the Gospel .  I've never read anything regarding Chinese Christianity.  I'm looking forward to dipping into some thinking outside my own.

Andreas J. Kostenberger and Peter T. O'Brien, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission

Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life: Turn to the Liberating Power of the Cross... Every Day

Books update

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Thanks to all who have volunteered to review my list of books. Of the books I posted earlier today, only the following are left:

Sharon Heaney CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY FOR LATIN AMERICA: LIBERATION THEMES IN EVANGELICAL PERSPECTIVE (Paternoster)

Christopher R. Seitz PROPHECY AND HERMENEUTICS: TOWARDS A NEW INTRODUCTION TO THE PROPHETS (Baker)

S. Holmes and R. Rook (eds) WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?: CHRISTIAN HOPE AND CONTEMPORARY CULTURE (Paternoster)

D.J. Southall REDISCOVERING RIGHTEOUSNESS IN ROMAN (Mohr Siebeck)

 

I'd be interested to hear from potential reviewers for the future, and the subject areas you are willing to consider.

 

 

 

Morgan, Ryken, and the Crucified Christian

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Until a few days ago, my vocabulary didn't include the word "apotheosis."  I'm afraid saying "apotheosis" where I grew up would get you beaten down for the rest of the school year.

Though I can't say apotheosis, I do know a great book when I read one.  For the past two years, we've been working our way through Galatians in Wednesday night Bible study.  And among the trusty resources I've used is Phil Ryken's Galatians from the Reformed Expository Commentary Series.  It's lucid and immensely meaningful/applicable exposition.  I've had the joy of giving some copies to members of the congregation as we've verse-by-verse worked our way through the book.

We're coming to the end of our study tonight, Lord willing.  And I was reading Phil's final sermon when I stopped short on this nugget from G. Campbell Morgan. 

"It is the crucified man that can preach the cross.  Said Thomas 'except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails... I will not believe.' ... what Thomas said of Christ, the world is saying about the church.  And the world is also saying to every preacher: Unless I see in your hands the print of the nails, I will not believe.  It is true.  It is the man... who has died with Christ... that can preach the cross of Christ."

Then Phil adds:

"Boasting in the cross is not jsut for preachers, however, and therefore suffering is not just for preachers either.  Every Christian who has died with Christ must live for his cross."

Good stuff, brother.  A fitting way for us to end our study.  Thank you for helping me disciple the saints at FBC Grand Cayman!

Now if I could just get a study like Lig's or an invitation to a B.B. King concert....  What does a brother have to do... become Presbyterian?

Savoring Luke

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Today I crossed a finish line that had long been stretched out before me: I finished editing Phil Ryken's two-volume Luke commentary for the Reformed Expository Commentary.  Phil was enormously gracious to me, since due to work overload and a church transition I was a full six months late in completing my edits.  But it was certainly worth the effort: Phil's Luke will be, in my opinion, the finest expository commentary published since Jim Boice's award-winning Romans commentary.  So mark your calendars for Feb. 09 when it is planned for release, because you will definitely want a seat at this expository feast.

For those interested in knowing, we have the following commentaries in the works for release in 08 and 09:

Daniel, Iain Duguid
Matthew, Dan Doriani
Luke, Phil Ryken
Ephesians, Bryan Chapell
Acts, Derek Thomas