REVIEW | “Great Doctrines of the Bible”, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

9781433538797Since being introduced to systematic theology in my days as an undergraduate student in Bible school, when I come across a good volume in this field, I receive it with excitement and enthusiasm; and reference it quite frequently. By “systematic theology” meaning of course the orderly presentation, by topic, of what the whole Bible teaches on a given theological matter. And, off hand, I can think of a handful of standard systematics that I would recommend should a person inquire. Among that group, though, there is one that sticks out as unique. Where many systematics are quite predictable in the manner in which the material is presented, I have found one that communicates with a different style and tone, and is intensely practical. In that, this systematic is really simply a collection of recorded sermons on various topics within classic systematic theology. Simply, it is systematic theology preached.

From 1952 to 1955, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones presented a series of sermons/lectures on Friday evenings in one of the halls of Westminster Chapel in London. Addressing, by request of the people, various matters of doctrine, the good Doctor, would expound upon the topic in his classic engaging, reverent, and wonderfully practical manner of preaching. These talks became so well attended that they had to move into the main Chapel itself.

Lloyd-Jones is recorded as saying, “Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.” In Crossway Books’ republication of 3 classic Lloyd-Jones volumes in one, we find this sentiment demonstrated. Great Doctrines of the Bible is a recent reprint of God the Father, God the Son; God the Holy Spirit; and The Church and the Last Things, in one bound paperback volume. Though lengthy, the content within is intensely edifying.

In terms of the book’s contents, the book retains its three-volume structure. Lloyd-Jones begins with matters of prolegomena. He deals with his method, and the perspective from which he views God’s Holy Word. He then moves through bibliology, theology proper, anthropology, angels and demons, soteriology, covenant and redemption, and Christology. The latter two volumes address exactly what their titles would suggest.

For me, this work gives some of the clearest exposition of the nature of God’s redemptive work, from a covenantal perspective, which I have ever read. Here we find that systematic theology is no way needs to be confined to the bookshelf, but can be passionately preached from the pulpit. As a teacher and preacher Lloyd-Jones work will not only serve to edify in personal study, but may also be a model of how these great doctrines may be clearly and concisely expounded.

Another advantage of this work is the Scripture index in the back of the book. After all, what is a work of theology without an index of Scripture?

Overall, what we have here is classic Lloyd-Jones. There are no surprises, only a solid, straightforward, passionate and reverent presentation of the truths of Scripture. It is a volume that will edify both the new Christian and the seasoned student of theology. It is a volume that will train the pastor and layperson in how to communicate systematic theological truth in a plain manner. I highly recommend it.

*A copy of the book was provided by the publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review. I was under no obligation to offer a positive review.

Book Details

928 Pages
Publisher: Crossway/Good News Publishers
Publication Date: October 2012
ISBN 10: 1433538792
ISBN 13: 9781433538797

Purchase at WTSBooks.com | $23.69 (32% off – $35.00)*

*Prices subject to change without notice.

REVIEW| Judges for You, by Timothy Keller

9781908762900Surging interest in biblical theology, with a particular emphasis a Christ-centered hermeneutical approach to the Old Testament, has brought upon evangelicalism a wealth of excellent resources for personal study. Many of these resources are written with the goal of helping the student of Scripture understand the grand storyline of the Bible, how a particular book fits into that storyline, and how the gospel is communicated through that particular book. One such series that bears these characteristics is entitled, “…For You” by Timothy Keller, published by The Good Book Company (2013).

The series, and this volume in particular, seeks to accomplish 3 tasks for the reader:

Read: Pointing you to God’s greatest rescue.

Feed: Helping you to meditate on God’s Word day by day.

Lead: Equipping you to teach the Bible to others.

In Judges for You, Keller takes a somewhat familiar Old Testament book, at least by name, and unpacks it under the heading that there is one ultimate hero evident in the book of Judges, and that is God himself.  God’s faithfulness to Israel displayed in the time of the Judges points to his ultimate act of faithfulness in the sending of his Son to redeem his people.

In terms of familiar interpretative approaches, Keller does view the book in light of the commonly understood “cycles” pattern, which is helpfully illustrated, in one of the books appendices. In terms of appendices, Keller also includes a helpful response to the difficult issue of “holy war” and how one may effectively answer the erroneous charge that Judges, or the Old Testament in sum, advocates ethnic cleansing/holy war. I found this 5-page response to be very helpful. To note, Keller employs Meredith Kline’s “intrusion ethic” as a way of understanding the judgment that takes place upon the peoples who are driven out of the land.

The strength of the book lies in Keller’s incredibly clear writing style and his ability to understand the human condition and apply a well-exegeted text for the purpose of heart/life transformation. Because Keller is so easy to read, without sacrificing substantial content, the reader will thoroughly grow in their knowledge of this difficult book and how it fits into the rest of the story of redemptive history.

However, for those looking for a technical commentary on the book of Judges, this will fall short. That is not the purpose of this volume, though. For sure, this would be an excellent resource for those preaching through the book or a study group that seeks to have a guide that is heavily substantial and practical. Judges for You is exactly that: substantial and practical.

I will be consulting this book frequently in my study of Judges and wholeheartedly commend it to your reading and personal study.

*A copy of the book was provided by the publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review. I was under no obligation to offer a positive review.

Book Details

224 Pages (Click Here for Preview)
Publisher: Good Book Company
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN 10: 190876290X
ISBN 13: 9781908762900

BUY NOW at WTSBOOKS.com – $16.32 (29% off)

Red vs. Black? Update

pressLast week I posted some introductory remarks about a short series of posts having to do with the inspiration and authority of Scripture, especially as it relates to the words of Jesus and Paul.  Due to a number of events, the series I hoped to accomplish in a week has been delayed.  For those who were anticipating the posts, I apologize for the delay and will be completing it shortly.  Thanks for your patience!

Vos on the Resurrection

vos_geerhardus_bToday marks the 151st birthday of Dutch theologian, Geerhardus Vos.  Vos is known by many as the father of Reformed Biblical Theology and a stalwart representative of Old Princeton Theology.  The Christ-centered, gospel saturated, redemptive-historical writings and sermons of Dr. Vos have been both educational and edifying to many throughout the last 100+ years.

Reading through a collection of his sermons entitled Grace and Glory, I came across this gem about the resurrection.  I thought it fitting as we prepare our minds and hearts with Easter quickly approaching.  Preaching on 1 Corinthians 15:14, Vos notes:

“It is just as impossible that any one for whom Christ rose from the dead should fail to receive the righteousness of God as it is that God should undo the resurrection of Christ itself.  Consequently, knowing ourselves one with Christ, we find in the resurrection the strongest possible assurance of pardon and peace. Brethren, when Christ rose on Easter morning he left behind him in the depths of the grave every one of our sins; there they remain buried from the sight of God so completely that even in the day of judgment they will not be able to rise up against us any more.  And not only is this true of the resurrection as an accomplished fact, it is true in an even higher sense of the risen Lord himself. The very life of the exalted Christ is a witness to the blessed reality of the forgiveness of our sins. In the living Savior Paul would have us by faith grasp our justification. In the same real sense in which on earth he was identified with our sin, he is now in his resurrection-life identified with our state of pardon and acceptance.  According to the profound words of the apostle, we are become the righteousness of God in him (II Cor. 5:20) because he has become the righteousness of God for us.”

Excerpt taken from: Geerhardus Vos, Grace and Glory (Feedbooks PDF), 80.

Let Christ Be The Diamond

Yesterday, I was listening to Reformed Forum’s Proclaiming Christ podcast during my morning commute.  While discussing presuppositions for preaching, each panelist noted some of the resources they considered helpful in learning to prepare and preach Christ-centered sermons.  One of the panelists mentioned an excellent quote by Edward Reynolds, a Westminster Assembly divine and bishop of Norwich.  For those that labor in preaching and teaching, this one is worth reading over and over…    

220px-Edward_Reynolds“Preach ‘Christ Jesus the Lord;’ determine to know nothing among your people, but Christ crucified: let his name and grace, his spirit and love, triumph in the midst of all your sermons.  Let your great end be to glorify him in the hearts, to render him amiable and precious in the eyes of his people; to lead them to him as a sanctuary to protect them, a propitiation to reconcile them, a treasure to enrich them, a physician to heal them, an advocate to present them and their services unto God: as wisdom to counsel, as righteousness to justify, as sanctification to renew, as redemption to save, as an inexhausted fountain of pardon, grace, comfort, victory, glory.  Let Christ be the diamond to shine in the bosom of all your sermons.”[1]


[1] Edward Reynolds, The Whole Works of Edward Reynolds, vol. 5 (London: B. Holdsworth, 1826), pp. 326-27. Available via Google Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=AJCoZ443124C

Piper on Calvin: After Darkness, Light

Yesterday was Reformation Day, and Desiring God made available a video of John Piper discussing the impact of John Calvin’s ministry on the city of Geneva.  Check out the video below…

_____________________________________

(Introduction from desiringGod.org, posted 10/31/12)

Today is Reformation Day. Martin Luther posted his explosive 95 theses October 31, 1517. In the wake of Luther’s life, an army of Reformers soon emerged. Foremost among them was John Calvin. Together they recovered for the church the supreme authority and clarity of the Scriptures. Grace-erasing tradition had buried the glory of the gospel. But now light was breaking out. So the Reformers took up a Latin phrase to describe the wonder: “Post Tenebras Lux”—“After Darkness… Light.”

In honor of Calvin’s ministry and, even more, in celebration of the God who restored the gospel to his church, we are making this video available today. My prayer is that it would stir in your heart a fresh passion for the majesty of the word of God.  (Continue reading…)

All That He Is Becomes Mine…

It is astonishing that I should so be one
with Christ, that all that He is becomes
mine; and all that I am becomes His!

His glory mine; my humiliation His!

His righteousness mine; my guilt His!

His joy mine; my sorrow His!

His riches mine; my poverty His!

His life mine; my death His!

His heaven mine; my hell His!

The daily walk of faith is a continuous
development of the wonders of this
wondrous truth. That in traveling to Him
empty; I should return from Him full.
That in going to Him weak; I should come
away from Him strong. That in bending
my steps to Him in all darkness, perplexity,
and grief; I should retrace them all light,
and joy, and gladness.

Octavius Winslow (emphasis mine)

If you’re interested in reading more of Winslow’s work, consider Soul Depths and Soul Heights: Sermons on Psalm 130 and No Condemnation in Christ Jesus.

(HT: Grace Gems)

REVIEW| Proverbs: Wisdom that Works, by Ray Ortlund

For many, the book of Proverbs may seem like a random assortment of sayings that, while imparting wisdom, are connected loosely, if at all.  While it has been deemed “practical enough” to make it into the Gideon’s New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, the true depth of riches available within the book is often mined ineffectively.   Thus the question arises, is there a resource that will instruct pastors in their preaching of Proverbs so as to demonstrate to their congregations the glory of the Spirit-given, Christ-exalting, gospel-centered, when-the-rubber-meets-the-road nature of the wisdom contained within?  Thanks to Crossway’s Preaching the Word expository commentary series, edited by R. Kent Hughes, there is!

Dr. Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., former professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and current pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, TN, has authored the PTW volume on the book of Proverbs subtitled, Wisdom that Works.  If you’re at all familiar with the ministry that has been entrusted to Ortlund, you’ll know he is a man who pursues humility as he points people to the riches of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jared Wilson once noted that Ortlund, “just won’t stop reveling in and exulting in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  I can say that in the pages of Ortlund’s recorded expositions on the book of Proverbs, this sentiment rings true!

As I just indicated, the commentary is expositional in nature, thus comprising 21 of Ortlund’s sermons on Proverbs.  In a brief introduction, Ortlund summarizes what Proverbs is all about, stating:

“The book of Proverbs is a gospel book, because it is part of the Bible.  That means the book of Proverbs is good news for bad people.  It is about grace for sinners.  It is about hope for failures.  It is about wisdom for idiots.  This book is Jesus himself coming to us as our counselor, as our sage, as our life coach.  The Lord Jesus Christ is a competent thinker for all times and all cultures.  He is a genius.  And he freely offers us, even us, his unique wisdom.”

The first 14 sermon-chapters deal in detail with chapters 1-9 in the book of Proverbs.  These first 14 chapters are Ortlund’s detailed look at the nature, practicality, and deep necessity of wisdom in our daily lives.  Ortlund notes, “God has two goals for us in the book of Proverbs…One is deep character, and the other is straight thinking.”  As Ortlund composes a theology of biblical wisdom according to the book of Proverbs, he never fails to remain a pastor who is honest, culturally engaged, canonical,  straightforward, and unflinching in terms of his Christ-focused preaching.

In terms of his expositional commentary, Ortlund, as an accomplished writer, is able to make these once-spoken messages flow well on paper.  Where some expositional commentaries are a bit rigid and lack the impact the message once had when preached, Ortlund does a good job of keeping his engaging style on paper.  Thus, it is an edifying and engaging experience to “sit under the preaching” of Ortlund in book form.

The final 7 chapters of the commentary deal with wisdom related to speaking, humility, family, emotions, friendship, money, and life and death.  Here, Ortlund surveys the book of Proverbs noting the particular texts therein where the topics are addressed.  Here we find Ortlund as a preacher who avoids shallow topical preaching, which is so often moralistic and simplistic in nature.  Rather, he continues to handle the text well, remains honest about our sin, yet focused on the work of Christ and how this gospel work applies to these areas of our lives, forming wisdom within us.

Justin Taylor noted, “If I could have anyone in the world teach me the book of Proverbs, I think I’d choose Ray Ortlund: a pastoral shepherd and an Old Testament scholar who by grace embodies the ethos of proverbial wisdom and understands its consummation in Christ our wisdom.”  I can say that in these pages, you find exactly what Taylor speaks of.  Though the Preaching the Word series is primarily written “by pastors for pastors”, this is a valuable resource for the preaching pastor, the hungry layperson, and anyone who desires to grow in godly, gospel-centered wisdom as it relates to the ins-and-outs of daily life.  I recommend it.

BOOK DETAILS

Proverbs: Wisdom That Works (Preaching the Word) (Hardcover)

Read inside (PDFs): Sample Pages

Publisher: Crossway/Good News Publishers
Author: 
Hughes, R Kent (Editor); Ortlund, Raymond C., Jr.
ISBN-10: 1581348835 | ISBN-13: 9781581348835
Cover Type: Hardcover
List Price: $27.99
BUY NOW at Westminster Bookstore$18.19 – 35% Off

NOTE: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher for the purpose of review, and was under no obligation to offer a positive review.

GOOD NEWS: Spurgeon on “The Greatest Doctrine”

 

The great doctrine, the greatest of all, is this, that God, seeing men to be lost by reason of their sin, hath taken that sin of theirs and laid it upon his only begotten Son, making him to be sin for us, even him [Christ] who knew no sin; and that in consequence of this transference of sin he that believeth in Christ Jesus is made just and righteous, yea, is made to be the righteousness of God in Christ. Christ was made sin that sinners might be made righteousness. That is the doctrine of the substitution of our Lord Jesus Christ on the behalf of guilty men.[1]

-C.H. Spurgeon

*For more of Charles Spurgeon, CLICK HERE for a sampling of resources.


[1] C.H. Spurgeon, “The Heart of the Gospel”, http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/1910.htm

 

Forgiveness and the Fear of God

I’m grateful to be a part of Cornerstone Church of LincolnWay.  Our pastor, Arvid Svendsen, leads a Bible study on Friday mornings, at the McDonald’s on Maple St/Lincoln Hwy, in New Lenox, IL.  (If you’re in the area, join us at 6AM…it’s open to anyone!).  This morning we considered the relationship between “the fear of the Lord” and “progressive sanctification”.  In the course of our study, I began to think of a somewhat peculiar passage in Psalm 130

“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,

O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,

that you may be feared.”

(Psalm 130:3-4, ESV, emphasis mine)

It seems rather counterintuitive that forgiveness would lead to fear.  My first thought would be that forgiveness would lead to comfort, joy, and relief…but fear?  Yes, fear.

Octavius Winslow, in a sermon on Psalm 130:4, entitled “Forgiveness and Fear”, brilliantly illustrates and explains this seemingly peculiar and paradoxical relationship.

Winslow states:

“But there remains a clause in this verse of the psalm pregnant with the deepest and holiest instruction: “There is forgiveness with You, that You may be FEARED.” “How can this be?”, exclaims the unreflecting mind. Fear, the fruit and effect of pardon! It is an incongruity—a paradox! And yet such is the word of God, and as such we believe and accept it. How, then, are we to interpret the clause? A holy, filial, loving fear of God is ever the effect of His full and free forgiveness of sin; it is the natural, spontaneous and blessed result. All fear, if apart from a sense of pardoned sin, is legal, servile, and slavish; it is not the fear of a forgiven sinner, of a pardoned child. The pardoned soul sees in the grace of the act, such a display of God’s holiness and hatred of sin, such an unfolding of His grace and love, as at once inspires a holy, reverential, and child-like fear of offending Him. Never did the believing soul see sin’s exceeding sinfulness, love’s amazing greatness, and grace’s fullness and freeness, as when first it saw and felt it in a sense of God’s pardon. Oh, there is no human act which has such a tendency to melt, subdue, and win the whole being as that of forgiveness, be it judicial or parental, human or Divine. A heart that has become hardened in crime and steeped in sin, whom no reasoning could convince and no discipline could subdue, has at length been melted by mercy, conquered by forgiveness, and enchained by love. I quote an illustration of this truth.

A soldier was brought before his commanding officer for a misdemeanor frequently committed and as frequently punished. He had been tried, flogged, and imprisoned; but, imperative and stern as military discipline is, all to no purpose. He was an old and incorrigible offender, whom no threats could dismay, and no infliction reform. As the officer was about to repeat his punishment, the sergeant stepped forward, and, apologizing for the liberty he took, said, “Sir, there is one thing which has never been done with him yet.” “What is that?” enquired the officer. “He has never been forgiven.” Surprised at the suggestion, and yet struck with its force, the officer meditated for a moment, then ordered the culprit before him. “What have you to say to the charge?” “Nothing, sir, only I am sorry for what I have done.” “Well, we have decided to inflict no punishment on this occasion, but to try what forgiveness will do.” The criminal, struck dumb with astonishment, burst into tears, and sobbed like a child. And what was the effect? From that moment he was another and a changed man. No longer the inveterate and hardened offender- a plague to his regiment and a dishonor to the service he became one of the most well-behaved and orderly men that ever wore the uniform or bore the standard of his sovereign. Forgiven, he became loyal and obedient: respect for military rule, and the fear of dishonoring the service and degrading himself, henceforth became to him a law and a shield.

A similar incident in the life of Dr. Doddridge illustrates the same truth. Believing that there were extenuating circumstances in the case of a condemned criminal awaiting execution in Northampton Jail, Dr. Doddridge waited upon George III, and petitioned for his life. It was granted. Hastening back to his cell, he read the king’s order of reprieve. The pardoned criminal rose, fell at his feet, and, clasping his person, exclaimed, “Oh, Sir! I am your servant, your slave for life! For you have purchased every drop of my blood.” And shall a human forgiveness thus conquer, thus win, and thus inspire the fear of offending? O Lord, “there is forgiveness with You; for You have cast all my sins behind Your back, that I may serve You with reverence and godly fear all the days of my life, and henceforth to be Your servant, Your child forever!” Oh what a corrective of sin, what a motive to fear, what an incentive to obedience is God’s forgiveness! “There is FORGIVENESS with You, that You may be FEARED.”

That which gives us the clearest, deepest, and most solemn view and conviction of God’s holiness and love, inspires the most effectually a holy, filial, loving fear to offend Him. And where shall we find such an awful display of His holiness, and such overpowering demonstration of His love, as in the cross of Christ? Men do not fear God because they have no view of His holiness, no sense of His mercy, and no experience of His love. But God’s forgiveness of sin furnishes the believer with the most convincing argument and with the most persuasive motive to live a pure, a holy, and a godly life. “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ”(Titus 2:11-13).” (emphases mine)

If you’re interested in reading more of Winslow’s work, consider Soul Depths and Soul Heights: Sermons on Psalm 130 and No Condemnation in Christ Jesus.