Genesis 3 is the saddest chapter in the Bible and in all literature. It documents the Fall of our first parents into sin and in acorn form, all the other awful things that will happen in history on this planet are there. The best of parents try to shield their children from the realities of this fallen world but there comes a day when we all must face the hardships and heart aches of a sin-sick world under the judgment of God. And great hardships and heart aches produce great grief.
Christians are not immune from the terrible things that plague this world. Christians are struck down early with a terrible disease, their children die early from cancer, they lose jobs at critical junctures in their lives, and on top of these and countless other maladies, they are persecuted and martyred for their faith too. We would lose our sanity if we did not have a Savior who gently shepherds His needy sheep. His life on earth was full of heartaches and He was known as the 'man of sorrows'. He knows as only He can know what real heartache and misery are. He alone can fully sympathize with believers in their times of sorrow. 'Man of sorrows'--What a title for the Lord of glory!
Besides His indwelling Spirit to comfort and strengthen us, there is the reality that Christ intercedes for the saints in glory and His Father never says "No" to His Son. All who are Christ's will make it to glory. They are united to Him by His Spirit, they have the iron promises of His Word, and His pledge never to leave us nor forsake us.
Sadly for them unbelievers spurn their hopes of help by rejecting the Savior and thus rejecting their Shepherd, their Intercessor, their Pilot to see them through. Believers have resources undreamt of by unbelievers.
Some of Christ's best gifts to His church of suffering saints is the legacy left behind by saints who have suffered in the past and received the promised comfort from God (2nd Corinthians 1:3-11). They faithfully pass along to others what God has given to them. A comfort that stabilizes the mind, strengthens the will, makes glad the heart and puts a new song on the lips.
Below are some of Christ's best gifts to His people when they are undergoing affliction and heartache, suffering and agony. His Spirit comes alongside the suffering saint and steadies the breaking heart, strengthens that breaking heart, and brings fresh courage and joy to that breaking heart.
L. B. Cowman, STREAMS IN THE DESERT; Zondervan
A classic written by the wife of a missionary society who lost her husband early in her life and who herself faced many heartaches. This collection of daily readings was first published in 1926 and has been kept in print ever since because it is so good. A classic of comfort and peace to be read and reread many times. Highly recommended.
Sharon Betters, TREASURES IN DARKNESS; P & R
Sharon lost her son in an auto accident. This records her grief, pain, rage and struggle until finally settling down in the grace of God. When the fiery dart feels like a fiery harpoon, she has real and biblical help.
John Flavel, FACING GRIEF: COUNSEL FOR
MOURNERS; Banner of Truth--Puritan pastor/ theologian/counselor/author, Flavel excels at helping the believer deal with their grief AND NOT GIVE INTO EXCESSIVE GRIEF when the incident at hand does not become life defining. Highly recommended.
Donald Howard, CHRISTIANS GRIEVE TOO; Banner of
Truth booklet--Pastor Howard begins with the self-discovery that he was ready for his wife's passing, they had battled her cancer together for a decade. He was ready for her death. He was not ready for his own grief. This tells how he grieved and found help when it became too much.
James Packer, A GRIEF SANCTIFIED; Crossway--tells
the story of Puritan pastor Richard Baxter's grief at the loss of his dear wife and how he was helped to finally deal with it. A treasure by a past Puritan and a modern one.
Nancy Guthrie, HOLDING ON TO HOPE; Tyndale
Nancy Guthrie went through great loss and was at her wits end. What God taught her from His Word in the darkness she shares with us today. This awful thing need not be 'life-defining' but can be a means of growth in the grace and knowledge of God.
Nancy Guthrie, ONE YEAR BOOK OF HOPE; Tyndale
A daily devotional that helps the reader keep their eyes on Christ and His Word for a whole year.
Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD (Even When Life Hurts);
NavPress--one could title this book, "Lessons I Learn Walking the Floor at Night While My Wife was Dying of Cancer". Jerry clearly and warmly shows that God is sovereign and nothing overcomes Him; God is omniscient and He misses nothing; He is holy and nothing sinful tempts Him to treat us badly and He is loving and all things work together for the good for those who are His. Meant to be savored and applied.
A real sanity saver!
Ronn Dunn, WHEN HEAVEN IS SILENT; Christian
Literature Crusade--on Thanksgiving Day, 1975, Ron and Kay Dunn's oldest son committed suicide. He confessed that that was the last good day he had for ten full years. And he was making his living as a conference speaker across the South and in other nations. He learned to stop asking the "Why?" questions and started asking the "What next?" questions. He learned that God prepared him for this great test and as any good teacher does, does not talk to the student when they are taking the test. You take the test and see what you have learned. Pastor Dunn reached the same conclusions as Jerry Bridges but walks longer in your shoes of misery before coming to the right answers.
May the God of all peace give you peace and joy again in believing.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come Visit me at my website... www.thelogcollege.wordpress.com
...for more book info and to see my e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES.
June is the month of weddings (and formerly the month of graduations too--but now they are mostly moved to May so school can start in August rather than September--but don't ask me why.) [That last sentence is poorly constructed but strangely I think you can follow my logic!)
In expressing love and affection and good will to those getting married or graduated, I would like to make some suggestions that I think the newly married and newly graduated will appreciate and may even thank you for.
BOOKS FOR THE NEWLY GRADUATED:
Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD;
Crossway--should win an award as the best
starter book on the Bible--why believe it, why
follow it, why cherish it, why obey it. A must
for any true Christian.
Kevin DeYoung, JUST DO SOMETHING; Crossway
A great little book on knowing and doing the
will of God. Takes the voodoo out of knowing
and doing the will of God and puts following
God on a truly biblical foundation.
Brian Cosby, REBELS RESCUED; Christian Focus--a
great primer on the Reformed faith for students
David Robertson, MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (Why
Jesus is Great); Christian Focus--a powerful
apologist wrote this to show a former atheist
why he followed Jesus. Great for students.
Alex Chediak, THRIVING AT COLLEGE; Crossway--
Romans 12:2 tells us to no longer be fitted into
the world's mold but to be transformed by
the renewing of our minds. The author shows
how not to be conformed to the culture and
the ethos of a typical college campus but how
to live for Christ and prosper spiritually in
college, despite the corrosive environment.
FOR HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE GOING INTO THE WORK FORCE AND NOT COLLEGE:
Stephen Nichols, WHAT IS VOCATION? (Basics of the
Faith Series); P & R--helpful booklet on what
God means when He says that all believers
have a calling, have God-ordained work to do.
Very helpful and a good place to start.
Gene Edward Veith, GOD AT WORK; Crossway--
what the Bible teaches about your life's
work as a calling from God or "vocation",
from the Latin phrase for 'caling'. Shows the
working person the importance of what they
do--to God as well as the employer!
BOOKS FOR THE NEWLY MARRIED:
Dave Harvey, WHEN SINNERS SAY 'I DO'; Crossway
A very practical and helpful book on the realities
of marriage in a fallen world between two sinners
both in need of grace and forgiveness.
Tim & Kathy Keller, THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE
Facing the Complexities of Commitment With
the Wisdom of God); hardback and paperback
This is one of the better books on marriage to
come along in years and it speaks to the
mindset of the present generation while being
faithful to the Word of God. Highly recommended.
Mark Chanski, MANLY DOMINION; Calvary Press
, WOMANLY DOMINION; Calvary Press
One of my observations as a pastor for the past
40 years is the deterioration of the biblical mind-
set of what it means to be a Christian man and
a Christian woman. These books go a long way
to help young married understand the biblical
identity of a man of God and woman of God.
Ed Wheat, INTENDED FOR PLEASURE (Sex
Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian
Marriage); Revell--great help for Christians
getting married and wanting to learn how God
wants them to express them sexually, beginning
with the honeymoon.
Wayne Mack, YOUR MARRIAGE, GOD'S WAY; P & R
One of the most helpful books on communication
and anger/conflict resolution in marriage. Very
practical and biblical.
Joel Beeke, FAMILY WORSHIP; Reformation Heritage
Just beginning your marriage is the perfect time
to begin the spiritual discipline of family devotions
which carried on over time, so greatly enrich
your marriage and family. Joel Beeke's booklet
is the best place to start this important discipline.
May the graduates you know and care for and the newly married you know and care for prosper greatly because of the books you thoughtfully give them.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my website for more about books, the Reformed faith and the glories of Christ.
See my new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES, recommended commentaries on every book of the Bible, for beginners to pastors.
In seminary I learned in my Adult Education class that adults only read the equivalent of 4 books once they graduate from High School or College. And what they do read they read to fix or solve problems. That is why the self-help section at the book store is so large. People are willing to read if it will help them make life better.
What's more, 80% of Christian books are bought by women. One trip to the local Christian bookstore will show this to you. The women's section is huge and the men's section is miniscule. And what books are in the men's department are embarrassing--books about money, business, leadership, athletes who are Christians, and maybe one or two on leading your home and raising children. That's it.
The reason why men don't read is that many men have not found a joy in reading. They have never discovered that reading can be fun, educational (in a very helpful way), inspiring, convicting, and even life-changing. So this week's blog is about books to give various kinds of men.
FOR MEN WHO USUALLY DON'T LIKE TO READ:
Laura Hillenbrand, UNBROKEN (A World War II Story
of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption); Water-
brook Press--all kinds of men say they cannot put
this book down. It demands their attention and the
riveting story pulls them through. Nobody could
make such a story up. It is one of the great stories
of World War II. God gets the glory in the end but
not until Ernie Zamperini goes to hell and back.
Even women who do not like war stories loved
Peter Jeffery, FROM RELIGION TO CHRIST; Calvary
Press--expert communicator Peter Jeffery who was
converted when he was 19 and working in a factor
never forgot his roots and writes for the working
man and teenager. Walks us through Christ's
conversation with Nicodemus and the need of
every soul to be born again by a supernatural new
Peter Jeffery, BELIEVERS NEED THE GOSPEL; Calvary
Press--shows how the Christian begins his new life
with Christ and the gospel, middles with Christ and
the gospel and ends up with Christ and the gospel.
Very helpful to give men a sense of where they
stand with God.
FOR DADS WHO BELONG TO CONFESSIONAL CHURCHES:
THE HEIDELBERG CATECHISM; Banner of Truth
THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH; Banner
THE 1689 LONDON BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH;
Banner of Truth
Three confessions for men belonging to these 3
different confessional denomination/associations.
John Fesko, THE THEOLOGY OF THE WESTMINSTER
STANDARDS (Historical Context and Present
Relity); Crossway--the how and why and what of
the Westminster Confessions of Faith and
Tom Chantry and David Dykstra, HOLDING
COMMUNION TOGETHER (The 20th Century
history of the Reformed Baptist movement)
Solid Ground Christian Books
R. C. Sproul, EVERYONE'S A THEOLOGIAN;
Reformation Trust--R. C. could not be boring if he
tried and here he shows why every person and
Christian is a a theologian, either a good one,
or a bad one. Then he teaches you how to be a
FOR DAD'S JUST LEARNING THE BIBLE & DOCTRINE:
Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD; Crossway
shows why the Bible is the Word of God and if you
are a real Christian you will resonate with that.
Great, motivational writing on a great theme.
Ryken, Ryken and Wilhoit: RYKEN BIBLE HANDBOOK;
Tyndale--the President of 'Wheaton College, the
noted English professor from Wheaton College and
a noted Education Professor join hands to give us
the best Bible handbook--not too much information
such that you get bogged down and not too little
such that you are tempted to ask: "Why bother?"
J. I. Packer, CONCISE THEOLOGY; Tyndale--everything
you might have wanted to know, in 200 words or
less for each word of "technical theology". A
FOR NEW DAD'S LEARNING TO BE A HUSBAND & DAD
Mark Chanski, MANLY DOMINION; Calvary Press--the
best place to start to review what the Word of God
has to say about Christian husbands being
Stuart Scott, THE EXEMPLARY HUSBAND; Focus
Christian Publishing--the 2nd best place to start
John Lehman, ITS APPARENT...YOU'RE A PARENT;
Great Writing Publishing--helps new Dad's to think
through what they should be doing and to head
FOR OLDER DADS FINISHING THEIR COURSES:
J. I. Packer, WEAKNESS IS THE WAY; Crossway--
shows from the New Testament how weakness
is not something we are to despise and fight
against but a reality to all of God's children. Only
those who recognize and embrace the reality of
their weakness can expect God to work in and
J. I. Packer, FINISHING YOUR COURSE WITH JOY;
Crossway--Jim Packer, 87 year old leader of
evangelical Calvinism writes with warmth and
biblical clarity about the one great certainty--our
every approaching death and how to live your life
Ted Donnelly, THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF HEAVEN
AND HELL; Banner of Truth--the most exhilarating
and most terror-filled book I have ever read.
May these books get read and may the hearts and lives of those you give the book to be changed forever.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my personal web-page,
and see the many articles, reviews of books,
and my own downloadable e-book--21ST CENTURY
COMMENTING AND COMMENTARIES.
John Lehman, IT'S APPARENT...YOU'RE A PARENT (Raising Godly Children in Today's World); Great Writing Publishing
In 2013, John Lehman wrote something of a "sleeper" of a book on parenting. I call it a "sleeper" because it did not get the notoriety of some other books on parenting. That is a shame because it is very helpful, especially for beginning parents or older parents who want a short "check up" on how they are doing.
Parenting books can fall into different categories. Some teach everything on the Christian life and bring it to bear on the subject of parenting. Such books seek to keep the reader from legalism or an unhealthy focus on parenting as if it were separate from the Christian life. Some books major in stories and examples from the authors own experience as if to say, "This is how we did it, now go and do it likewise!". Others are studies of all the biblical material on parenting and become a bit overwhelming.
John is a Baptist pastor and a National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) trained biblical counselor living in South Carolina. Like all good, biblical counselors he is biblical, clear, straight-forward, sensitive to the human condition and honest. John has confidence in the Word of God to equip the people of God to serve their Lord in all areas, parenting included.
Let me detail the chapters for you.
CHAPTER 1--NOW WHAT...DO WE DO TO BEGIN? (Getting ready to become a mom or dad.)
This book strikes me as aimed at the many in our churches who are professing Christians but have little or no training in parenting other than growing up AND they have not really studied biblical parenting. So this book begins at the beginning!
CHAPTER 2--NOW WHAT...DO I WANT MY CHILD TO BE LIKE WHEN HE/SHE GROWS UP? (Preparing an overarching goal for your child.)
Parents ought to be aiming at something. It is certainly true that he who aims at nothing will surely achieve it! What should be our goals in parenting the children God gives us. How do we determine these goals?
CHAPTER 3--NOW WHAT...DOES OBEDIENCE MEAN?
(Demonstrating what it means to live in submission to the One, True God)
Western civilization is awash with millions of children who were little loved and less disciplined. This is a very fine explanation of how to train a child to be an obedient child. If you don't like disciplining your 5 year old, you won't like the 15 year old that later comes forth.
CHAPTER 4--NOW WHAT...DO I DO IF MY CHILD DISOBEYS? (Facing the consequences God has directed when there is disobedience.)
The bookend to the previous chapter. Discipline is not simply beating a child or giving it the "silent treatment" but faithfully applying biblical means of discipline for disobedience or dishonoring. Parents are not to discipline for ignorance or immaturity but disobedience or dishonoring their parents.
CHAPTER 5--NOW WHAT...SHOULD A PARENT REALLY LOOK LIKE? (Cultivating a godly parental model that emphasizes practical godliness.)
Parents train 24-7-365. The model of the kind of man or woman, Christian or hypocrite, etc. goes a long way to determining what mental model your child will have of a true man or woman of God. This chapter addresses the kind of person you are becoming by the grace of God.
CHAPTER 6--NOW WHAT...ARE THE STAGES IN CHILD-
READING? (Navigating wisely through the ages and stages that lead to adulthood.)
A parent with common sense would not expect their 5 year old, 10 year old, or 15 year old to lift the same weight, know the same math or have digested all the rules of the home. This chapter teach the basics of adapting your training to the age and comprehension of your child and what to expect along the way.
POSTSCRIPT--Off to a bad start? Don't give up!
STUDY GUIDE--Great questions to discuss as husband and wife or for a small group to discuss together.
May I suggest that you give this book to young "mothers to be" at baby showers and young "fathers to be" as a "friendship gift" as fatherhood approaches.
May I suggest you give it to parents just coming to Christ to help them play "catch up" with their responsibilities as Christian parents.
May I suggest you read and discuss it in your small groups?
May I suggest you add it to your list of important parenting books along with...
Tedd Tripp, SHEPHERDING A CHILD'S HEART
Edith Schaeffer, WHAT IS A FAMILY ?
Jerry Bridges, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN
Type in "Parenting" into the Search bar and
hit "Go". There are many other good selections
to supplement what is here.
May our children praise God that we cared for them enough to equip ourselves to be more than mediocre parents but that we raised them in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
As a pastor of a local church for 31 years and thus in the trenches of spiritual warfare, I was always on the lookout for good "munitions". Munitions are the stuff of war. If one does not have rifles, bullets, tanks, planes, shops, uniforms, boots, etc, one cannot fight a war and win. Today's churches have the best munitions available in English and we are wrong to not use them or take advantage of them.
Our Lord Christ has given the churches His Holy Spirit and the Bible and we are well taken care of. Good men have written good books and booklet and such to use in the battles for men's souls. We know that at the time of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, Luther's writings were being disseminated all over Europe as a communication revolution via the printing press enabled the common man to know what was being said and what was being taught.
Crossway Books, along with P&R, Christian Focus, Reformation Heritage, Banner of Truth and other publishers give us the best "munitions" for our personal use and in helping others. Today I shall note the great new books now available from Crossway and hope you read them, give them to others, put them on your book table, in your church library and pray for their wide dissemination.
Kevin DeYoung, TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD--THE
BOOK I would use to teach my congregation the
importance of God's Word and the qualities of God's
Word. Thank you, Kevin DeYoung.
Michael Horton, CALVIN ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE--
if one cannot read Calvin's INSTITUTES for oneself,
this is the next best thing. A brilliant coverage of
what Calvin saw in Scripture as to being a Christian
and functioning as God would have us.
Vern Poythress, CHANCE AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF
GOD (A God-Centered Approach to Probability and
Random Events)--for those who ask the important
questions and want to know how God's providence
works, this is THE BOOK to read. Not for the
flippant or casual reader.
Philip Ryken and Michael LeFebvre, OUR TRIUNE GOD
(Living in the Love of the Three-in-One); four
transcribed sermons cover the basic foundation of
Trinitarianism, that is, biblical Christianity. A sweet
Elizabeth Catherwood and Christopher Catherwood,
eds.; THE CHRIST-CENTERED PREACHING OF
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES--17 sermons by the man
who single handedly put the doctrines of the
Reformation back on the table of British Christian-
ity. Deeply researched, firmly biblical, experiential,
authoritative, true to life--everything that made
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones a great preacher are in
Greg Forster, JOY FOR THE WORLD (How Christianity
Lost Its Cultural Influence & Can Begin Rebuilding
It)--cultural student and author of the previously
well-received THE JOY OF CALVINISM, Foster shows
how the Christian gospel not only demolishes the
false idols of our culture but provides the building
blocks for a whole new society.
Andreas Kostenberger & Justin Taylor, THE FINAL
DAYS OF JESUS (The Most Important Week of
the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived)--a
day by day, passage by passage harmony of the
events of the final week of our Lord. Sermons
waiting to happen lie on every page.
R. Scott Smith, TRUTH AND THE NEW KIND OF
CHRISTIAN--most Christians could not define "post-
modernism" nor perhaps even spell it BUT they
live submerged in it every day. As Francis Schaeffer
showed those who would listen in the 60's through
the 80's about what the larger pagan culture
believed and how it came into the churches, we
cannot disregard the culture we live in. Smith
shows how the next level of cultural degeneracy
has given us a society without absolute,
"everything is relative", the loss of objective truth
and the "emerging churches". Important for
understanding the culture and the poisoned air
we breathe daily.
James Packer and Mark Dever, IN MY PLACE
CONDEMNED HE STOOD--some of the best articles
every written on what Christ accomplished on the
cross. Should be mastered by every pastor and
Paul Miller, A LOVING LIFE--as a follow up to A
PRAYING LIFE, Miller shows how to follow Christ
leads to a loving life. Should be required for the
"big brain, small heart" crowd.
James Anderson, WHATS YOUR WORLDVIEW? (An
Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions) --
asks 21 questions, gives us 5 categories to
consider and 21 worldviews to evaluate. Great gift
to give the thinking person.
OVERLOOKED GEMS STILL IN PRINT FROM CROSWAY
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, REVIVAL--the best series of sermons in print on what revival is, what revival does, and how God brings it. A classic.
Ken Myers, ALL GOD'S CHILDREN AND BLUE SUEDE
SHOES (Christians and Popular Culture)--one of
the first and still one of the best books dealing with
Christ and culture from an evangelical and
Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, THE BOOKENDS OF
THE CHRISTIANS LIFE (now in paperback)--brilliant
and clear summary of the Great Exchange (my sin
for His righteousness) and the gift of the Holy Spirit
to believers. It removes the basis for despair and
James Packer, A PASSION FOR FAITHFULNESS
(Wisdom From the Book of Nehemiah)--one of the
great studies of Nehemiah and a rich source of
personal devotional insight. Packer says he has
lectured on Nehemiah more than any other
biblical book. Come and see why!
May the Lord bless you with a great summer reading,
giving away books, selling them from your booktable and putting them in the church library. .
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
[Don't forget that my e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES is available to download at my website, WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM. ]
Since the Lord saved me in 1969, the question of "How Can I Know The Will of God For Me ?" has vexed many people I have known. Year after year, the question comes up. Who should I marry? What job should I seek? Where should I live? What should be my major in college? Should I go to college? I have this "situation" before me, what should I do? These and many related questions are asked over and over and over again.
Sadly, much of the discussion and more sadly, much of the answering has been based upon a faulty understanding of how God sanctifies and guides His people. Gary Friesen wrote a book in the 80's entitled, DECISION MAKING AND THE WILL OF GOD; Multnomah Press, where he critiqued the "traditional notion" of how to know God's will. The critique was helpful as far as it went, unfortunately, as James Packer pointed out in a pointed review: nobody prior to the 1880's would have recognized what Friesen labeled as the "traditional view". What Friesen was critiquing was the view inherited by Christians in Dispensational churches who also adhered to "Keswick theology".
What am I talking about? Prior to the rise of popular in the late 19th century, no one had ever heard of the "traditional view" as described by Friesen. It was an invention of a certain school of theology that was popularized in Bible Colleges and prophesy conferences. The will of God was an illusive thing that one must not miss or else one must settle for God's "second best" the rest of one's life. If you make the wrong decision on the first leg of your flight, you will miss the rest of your connecting flights!
The so-called Keswick theology taught a "let go and let God" version of sanctification where the believer was to be passive in letting Jesus live the Christian life through them. It was thought that Jesus would live a dynamic life in that believer who "knew the secret" of living above the fray by confessing every known sin and every unyielded area of one's life. That way there was no impediment to Jesus living through them. The notion of struggle, confusion, difficulty and misery were not part of Keswick's theology. "Every day should be an exciting adventure for the Christian who knows the secret of the Spirit-filled life and lives moment by moment under His gracious control" began one Keswick-oriented booklet. A day with spiritual clouds or struggle or in the slough of despond was thought to be outside God's will and the mark of a "carnal Christian".
So went the story.
Since the 1980's, the question of how to know the will of God has been bundled with how does God sanctify His people, including how does He guide them in life's path. The following books are part of a bevy of good books showing the better theology and truer way to walk in the paths of God.
Psalm 119:32 says that "I run in the paths of your commands because you have set my heart free." The main step in knowing God's will is to know the revealed will of God in the Bible. That will take care of 95% of the questions and conundrums we face in this life. The following books will greatly help clarify the process of knowing God's will in the so-called gray areas.
Bruce Waltke, FINDING THE WILL OF GOD; Eerdmans
Professor Waltke shows how the Dispensational/
Keswick view of finding God's will is more pagan
and occultish than Christian and biblical.
Sinclair Ferguson, DISCOVERING GOD'S WILL; Banner
of Truth--reasoning and choosing like a true
Christian based upon God's Word.
Kevin DeYoung, JUST DO SOMETHING (A Liberating
Approach to Knowing God's Will); Moody Press
A great gift for this year's graduates or those stuck
in paralysis of not knowing what to do with their
James Packer, GUARD US, GUIDE US; Baker Books
As large as the other books above combined, it is
a robust study of how God enters into covenant
with His people and promises them to take care
of them, to guard them and guide them. And out
out of this flows the will of God.
Martin Clark, CHOOSING MY CAREER (A Christian
Decision Manual); P & R--a book to work at to
understand how God has providentially made you
and gifted you and equipped you. Good also for
graduates and those stuck in neutral.
May the Lord help those who walk with Him to come to peace of mind as to His will for their lives and may they walk with Him diligently in the paths of His commands.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit my website: WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESSCOM
and see also my e-book,
21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES
I grew up in a confessional denomination. Sadly, it was a large, "mainline" denomination which was riddled with skeptical unbelief and became a "sideline" denomination. One long unrecognized benefit from this denomination was that it was confessional. It publicly held to a confession of faith, though most ministers and seminary professors and denominational officials signed the confession with crossed finger, I suspect.
But the liturgy that was repeated each Lord's Day was still robustly confessional and catechetical. I learned biblical Christianity even while I was growing up to reject it because my ministers did not believe or preach the Word of God as the Word of God. My unregenerate heart took no comfort from the ecclesiastical unbelief that drove the denomination. My parents got by with a thin gruel of truth and practically starved to death spiritually. My college experience with mainline denominations only served to reinforce my earlier bias that they were hopelessly compromised by their unbelief.
Upon my conversion in college, I spurned my denomination because the liberal minister in my college town rejected regeneration and conversion and thought them a blight upon anyone! I walked out never to return, thinking his unbelief was a blight upon him and the people under his ministry!
It took me almost fifteen years to return to a sturdy confession of faith. In the first class most seminary students at TEDS attended, they learned that confessional Calvinism was the last to go liberal. Professor Woodbridge showed that Arminian and Wesleyan denominations went liberal first because they were already part way down the road of man centered theology. That got my attention.
Upon graduation from TEDS, I began to see that broad evangelicalism, of the parachurch and broad church kinds, were unhealthy. They had no doctrine of the church and little fixed doctrine at all. If the Bible was breathed out by God and authoritative, it did not seem to speak authoritatively on much in these groups!
Prior to seminary, God had opened my eyes to see the doctrines of grace in the book of Romans and then the whole Bible. It was full of sovereign grace, from Genesis to Revelation. I was hooked and have remained hooked to this day.
I soon observed first hand that confessional denominations did hold on the truth of the gospel longer than minimalist churches and organizations. They had succinctly written down what they believed and the boundaries were clear and comprehensive. Though respectful of evangelical Presbyterians and Anglicans and Congregationalists and their confessions, I became a confessional Baptist. The 2nd London Confession of 1689 (1677 really) became my confession of faith. I studied it, taught it and loved it. It expressed what I saw in God's Word.
My discovery of confessional Protestantism supplemented what I had learned in my studies for my Master's thesis. I studied Charles Hodge and Old Princeton seminary of the 19th and early 20th centuries. I saw that there is a never ending fight to hold on the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. And confessional groups are a greater target for the evil one because they present a greater danger to his nefarious cause. Broad groups give away much truth in order to work with as many other groups as possible, thereby watering down the faith. They are giving away what in effect they should be holding on
God's Word says that the Strong Man (the devil) keeps his goods in peace until Someone Stronger (the Lord Jesus) comes along and disarms him. I believe the devil attacks confessional groups more often and more intensely because they are a greater threat--they hold on to the most truth and want to pass it along to their children and the wider world. Broad groups are themselves giving away the faith in gobs in order to reach more people! How ironic. On the way to "reaching more people", they give away much of the faith.
Today's blog aims to encourage and alert church-men in confessional bodies (Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, Dutch Reformed, etc.). What should you be reading as pastors and church officers and concerned laymen in order to guard the good deposit of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints? If you want to pray about your churches, what books will equip you to have a discerning eye and large scope?
The following books will help you see what it going on and what issues are at stake. The Kingdom of God is larger than our own little lives and local churches. One church officer once complained to me that he did not know why I cared about other churches and denominations here in Georgia. He implied that I should just focus on our church and our people and our little corner of the Kingdom. I told him that if we were the last church standing, we would soon be defunct too. Our health and standing as a church were tied to the health and standing of other evangelical and Reformed churches in the State.
Here are my recommendations for clear heads and keen eyes to see what is happening and not happening in our day:
D. G. Hart and John Muether, FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT (A Brief History of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) The Committee on Christian Education and the Committee for the Historian of the OPC--a great overview of the founding and the first 50+ years of the OPC. Other groups who are also confessional can learn from the OPC by looking over their shoulder and seeing what they had to fight to maintain. I realized that confessional Baptists had to fight the same battles 50 years later...and in almost the same order the OPC did.
So I gave a laudatory book report on this book at our confessional Baptist General Assembly!
James Renihan, ed.; DENOMINATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS? (Essays on Reformed Baptist Associations) Calvary Press--six chapters and three appendices on the issues surrounding confessional Baptist identity--independency, interdependency, associations, the role of the confession of faith, etc. A must read for confessional Baptists.
Ian Hamilton, THE EROSION OF CALVINISTIC ORTHODOXY (Seceders and Subscription in Scottish Presbyterianism) Christian Focus Publications--Scot's Presbyterian Ian Hamilton shows how 18th and 19th century Presbyterians in Scotland struggled to be confessional and faithful and how they eventually lost the battle and why. Sobering reading for those with eyes to see.
James McGoldrick, CHRISTIANITY AND ITS COMPETITORS; Christian Focus--shows how the early church had to battle false teaching in order to be faithful to God's Word. He then shows how early church heresies have been resurrected and morphed into groups with different names but the same aberrant theology.
Michael Haykin and Steve Weaver, eds.; AN ORTHODOX CATECHISM (The Heidelberg Catechism
Rewritten by the Particular Baptist Pastor/Theologian of the 17th Century, Hercules Collins); Reformed Baptist Academic Press--a great tool for family catechizing and personal devotions, with an Introduction by James Renihan.
Carl Trueman, THE CREEDAL IMPERATIVE; Crossway
church historian and OPC pastor writes on the great benefits of belonging to a confessional church. The first chapter on why people, even Christians today, think creeds and confessional irrelevant is worth the price of the book.
Iain Murray, EVANGELICALISM DIVIDED (A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950-2000); Banner of Truth--a major work explaining what happened in Britain and America between World War II and 911 and how the evangelical and Reformed consensus of Protestantism was compromised, Who did What, and what have been the results. After reading it when it first came out R. C. Sproul said that if it was within his power, he would make every North American pastor and seminarian and church officers read this book. It is that important!
David Wells, GOD IN THE WHIRLWIND; Crossway--a Congregational theologian teaching at Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Boston who has blessed all of evangelicalism with his carefully crafted evaluations of our weaknesses (NO PLACE FOR TRUTH, GOD IN THE WASTELAND, LOSING OUR VIRTUE, ABOVE ALL EARTHLY POWERS; THE COURAGE TO BE PROTESTANT) has further put us in his debt with the superior statement of the positive teaching of the Bible, the history of God's redemptive plans, and how our culture hears/does not hear the truth and how to deal with that. A must read for church officers and engaged laymen.
Wayne Grudem, "When, Why and for What Should We Draw New Boundaries?" in John Piper, Justin Taylor and Paul Kjoss Helseth, eds; BEYOND THE BOUNDS
(Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity); Crossway--Professor Grudem writes about the importance of writing confessions and creeds and guarding them, even if it hurts. The chapter alone is worth the price of the already great book. On page 369 he asks 5 questions that should never be asked when determining boundaries and confessional fidelity: (1) Are the advocates my friends?
(2) Are they nice people?
(3) Will we lose money or members if we exclude them?
(4) Will the academic community criticize us as being too narrow minded?
(5) Will someone take us to court over this?
Grudem concludes by stating: "Such questions are all grounded in a wrongful fear of man, not in a fear of God and trust in God."
Tom Chantry and David Dykstra, HOLDING COMMUNION TOGETHER (The Reformed Baptists, the First 50 Years; United and Divided); Solid Ground Christian Books--CVBBS.COM will be highlighting this book later in the week when it becomes available. Pastors Chantry and Dykstra have access to the records and were themselves participants in the checkered history of the confessional Baptists of the past half century. I wrote a positive blurb for the publisher because I believe this book is so important to understand the movement.
Historian Gary North wrote a tour de force history of how the liberals captured the northern Presbyterian church in the early 1900's. He shows the various capitulations to unbelief were made, he follows the money and names names. Heard-wrenching as it is informative. It is available FREE online as a PDF though readers are warned it is a thousand pages. Reading this again for the 2nd time reminds me of how valuable it is. See for yourself by going to GOOGLE and downloading and reading the PDF version for FREE.
May the Lord move us all to pray for the protection of our respective Zions in the years ahead. May we not lose what we have gained.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS. COM for more of my writings on books, my E-BOOK on 21st CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES and hundreds of free posts and downloads.
Mother's Day is coming up in a couple of weeks. Some churches choose NOT to take special notice of the day, preferring to stick with whatever the preaching schedule is focused on already. Others note the presence of mothers in the congregation that day without going further. Still others seek to use the focus of the day to bring the biblical and Christian understanding of motherhood into focus by actually preaching on the subject.
I, for one, am in favor of using this one Sunday of the year, along with the soon to follow FATHER'S DAY, to focus on the Christian doctrine of the family and its importance in the plan of God. Given the breakdown of the family in western civilization, it does not seem extreme to take two Sundays a year to seek to address some of its most pressing needs. (I will also highlight books for FATHER'S DAY gifts in June.)
Recent studies are calling to account the decline of the family on the decline of the churches in western civilization. One social historian, Mary Eberstadt, has written in her tour de force, HOW THE WEST REALLY LOST GOD (A New Theory of Secularization) (This book from Templeton Press is NOT available from CVBBS.COM). that the decline of the family helps to drive the decline of the churches. God created three institutions (the family, the church, and civil government). She shows how the destruction of the family (through easy divorce, abortion, etc.) has aided and hastened the destruction of the churches in the West. I have argued for years that a church which has an orthodox confession and an orthodox pulpit BUT whose husbands/fathers/men do not embrace the truth and do not lead their wives/single women to embrace the truth and in turn do not help the children to embrace the truth--this church is a very weak church in the embrace of death. An orthodox pulpit without the embrace of the truth on the part of the families is actually a very weak church on its way down the drain.
For almost75 years, women have been bombarded that they are not significant unless they act like men and do "mannish" things. World War II hailed "Rosie the Riveter" and sought to tell women that they can do whatever they want--unless of course it means being a Christian wife and mother. Does the Bible hold up being a riveter or blacksmith or Bering Sea crab fisherman or ditch digger? Does the Bible denigrate staying at home to raise the children, especially in the early and formative years? What is sad about where the culture has gone is that women have been denigrated for being stay at home mothers who raise the children (and may I emphasize, in the early and formative years). What happens to children who nobody wants to stay home and raise? Can a minimum wage day care center worker really teach your child love, meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, etc. etc. etc. ? Women's work is only defined outside the home--as if focus child-development, healthy cooking, regular cleaning, home organization and decorating, hospitality, et al are for idiots and simpletons! No wonder the nation is going down the drain when no one with an IQ above 50 wants to stay home and help develop the next generation of parents,
Since 1985, I have observed the breakdown in our culture and in the Christian home--Men who do not know how to be Christian men...Women who do not know how to be Christian women. Singles are unsure of who they are and what they are to be looking for.
Children who grow up in homes with confused parents or functional role reversals among the parents. Boys who grow up in divorced homes where mother was given custody and they are subtly trained to have the worldview that a man must ask a woman's permission before he acts. I could multiply examples, but I won't for the sake of brevity. (Next month in my Father's Day selection, I shall revisit these issues.)
Here are the books I would give away and put on a book table to help women and mother's in today's American culture.
Tim and Kathy Keller, THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE; E.
P. Dutton--for this generation that wonders if it is
worth all the fuss to get married and have a family.
If you did not grow up in a Christian home, this is
the place to start.
Aimee Byrd, HOUSEWIFE THEOLOGIAN; P & R--shows
that women and all laymen are theologians--either
good ones or bad ones. To be a Christian is to be
a lay theologian who must navigate this world
based upon your handling and understanding of
Edith Schaeffer, THE HIDDEN ART OF HOMEMAKING;
Tyndale Press--a great book on how our humanity,
creativity, love and other virtues are expressed
through the "hidden art" of how women do their
Mark Chanski, WOMANLY DOMINION (More Than A
Gentle and Quiet Spirit); Calvary Press--clearly
shows the wives and mothers are called to do far
more than the stereotypes attributed to Christian
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, LIES WOMEN BELIEVE (and the
Truth That Sets Them Free); Moody Press--THE
BOOK which uncovers the cultural lies and dis-
information that manipulates and misleads women
and the truth of God's Word that frees women to
be all that they can be God's way!
Nancy Leigh Demoss, editor; BECOMING GOD'S TRUE
WOMAN; Crossway--a collection of articles by
women who are part of the movement to return
women's mental picture of true womanhood to its
Mahany and Wiseacre, TRUE BEAUTY; Crossway--a
mother and daughter write about what God's
reveals in His Word as true beauty and how not to
fall into the pitfalls dug by our corrosive culture
James Dobson, WHAT WIVES WISH THEIR HUSBANDS
KNEW ABOUT WOMEN; Tyndale--the most frequent
causes of depression among women and what
their husbands can do to help. A classic help from
the 70's by a PASTOR TO THE AMERICAN FAMILY.
Elyse Fitzpatrick, THE AFTERNOON OF LIFE; P & R--
written for women in their late forties and fifties
seeking to show them what God has for them to
be and do.
Wayne Grudem, editor; BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS FOR
MANHOOD AND WOMANHOOD; Crossway--shows
the biblical teaching on manhood and womanhood
for those who want to dig deeper than a mere fill
in the blank study.
Barbara Hughes, DISCIPLINES OF A GODLY WOMAN;
Crossway--classic study of what women should be
discipling their lives to become. Highly
Martha Peace, THE EXCELLENT WIFE; Focus Christian
Publications--an important book for Christian
women who want to conform their lives to Christ's
Word in the Bible.
Mary Kassian, GIRLS GONE WISE IN A WORLD GONE
WILD; Moody Press--Mary Kassian is a professor
at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Louisville, KY. She writes to young women (high
school through thirty) who are being tempted by
our culture and its every pressing mind-set to
throw themselves into a void of sensuality and
partying. She shows the lie to this worldly counsel
and shows the vibrant better way of God's true
Nancy Leigh DeMoss; LIES YOUNG WOMEN BELIEVE
(and the Truth That Sets Them Free); Moody
Press--the sequel to her best-selling volume noted
above. Geared for young women just stepping out
into the corrosive surrounding culture and seeking
to preserve them before they are captured and
James Packer, KNOWING GOD; IVP--a classic study
of what it means to know God personally as
opposed to just knowing about God or godliness.
One of the few 20th century classics!
I trust you will enjoy them and profit greatly from them.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Christian groups produce histories of their groups. It is right that they should do so. God works in unique ways in the various Christian sub-groups and weaves a mosaic of His choosing to accomplish His purposes. Reading the various denominational histories helps one to see more of what God is doing, when all taken together, not less.
In the 1995, D. G. Hart and John Muether produced a very readable and helpful history of the highly confessional Orthodox Presbyterian Church, FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT. At that time I wrote a review of the book and gave it at our national Reformed Baptist Missions Service (RBMS) annual assembly. Because it is unusual for a Baptist to review a book about Presbyterians AND at a Baptist general assembly, It should tell you why I wrote it and delivered it.
American Christians have lost sight of the need for creeds and confessions. They don't see their need of them and have spiritual amnesia as to the role that creeds and confessions have played in their histories.
Those interested should slowly read Carl Trueman's THE CREEDAL IMPERATIVE to see what I mean. Creeds and confessions are very important. They are second to Scripture, but they are very important. Hence confessional Baptists hold to the 2nd London Baptist Confession of 1689 as their subsidiary, secondary document, after the inerrant Scriptures.
FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT was a good book for confessional Baptists to read because it chronicles the various struggles and battles that confessional Presbyterians have had to face in America. (To my knowledge, no history of the Presbyterian Church in America, PCA, has yet been written.) I said in my book report and public lecture that in my estimation, confessional Baptists have had to fight very similar battles as the OPC a half century after them. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church began in the mid-1930's; the confessional Reformed Baptists began in the mid 1980's. The parallels are very acute and those with eyes to see can learn much.
But now two confessional Reformed Baptists have written a history of Reformed Baptists since World War II, HOLDING COMMUNION TOGETHER. Pastor Tom Chantry from suburban Milwaukee and Pastor David Dykstra from suburban Houston have pulled their unique resources together to produce a very insightful and helpful history of confessional Reformed Baptists over the past 50+ years.
Let me give you the chapter titles and some idea where each chapter is taking the reader.
Chapter 1--A Pink Wave--the impact of A. W. Pink
and Calvinism on the early Reformed Baptist
movement in America.
Chapter 2--Almost Presbyterian?--the theological
journeys of Ernest Reisinger and Walt Chantry,
the early leaders of the movement in Carlisle, PA.
Chapter 3--A Very Intense Manner--the theological
journey of Al Martin, leader of the movement in
Chapter 4--A Cord of 3 Strands, Slowly Unraveling
If Walt Chantry was influenced by Presbyterian
doctrine and practice, and Al Martin by fundamen-
talist doctrine of the pastorate and practice, Wayne
Mack was influenced by evangelical doctrine and
Chapter 5--Plagues With Weakness--the strains of the
early years of the RB movement shows the strains
and fractures that would later take place.
Chapter 6--Local Churchism--how and why the
doctrine of the local church was recovered but
not at the expense of holding communion
together. For some, the independency of the local
church is held at least as firmly as the Trinity and
the Deity of Christ.
Chapter 7--A Revolt Against Righteousness--the rise
of antinomianism among Calvinistic Baptists.
Chapter 8--Fault Lines Appear--the cracks among
the early Reformed Baptist begin to fissure.
Chapter 9--The Anatomy of a Schism--the great
falling out among the early founders of the RB
Chapter 10--Going Public--the confession prescribes
what should happens when abusive churches
are found out.
Chapter 11--The Practice of Oversight--what is faithful
shepherding vs. abusive shepherding.
Chapter 12--Turning Out the Lights--will the last one
out of hyper-shepherding please turn out the lights
Chapter 13--Baptist Episcopacy--when some Baptists
left Baptist fundamentalism and embraced
Calvinistic soteriology, they did not reject the
fundamentalist Baptist view of the Pastor as Pope.
Chapter 14--Hybrid Vigor--how the RB movement
grew beyond the East Coast churches to
mushroom throughout the Midwest and South.
Chapter 15--Holding the Ropes--RB missions
Chapter 16--An Association is Born--the birth of the
Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of
America (ARBCA) in 1996-97.
Chapter 17--Real-World Challenges--brethren must
be agreed to walk together. That produces
challenges not foreseen.
Chapter 18--The Rise of the New Calvinists--Baptist
pastors in transition and their relationship with
Chapter 19--At the Crossroads--challenges to the 1689
confession and full subscription.
Chapter 20--A Confessional Assessment--the authors
wrap up their assessment.
Their are 8 appendices which further give credence to the claims of the authors that this book is history driven, not friendship driven.
Appendix 1--Letter of Invitation to the 1966 Pastors
Appendix 2--Grace Baptist Presentation on Missions,
Appendix 3--Trinity Baptist Response to Missions
Appendix 4--The Associationalism of the Philadelphia
Baptists, David Dykstra, 1993
Appendix 5--Invitation to the ARBCA Organizational
Appendix 6--Jim Renihan's Report on the ARBCA
Organizational Meetings, 1996
Appendix 7--Confessional Subscription, Jim Renihan,
Appendix 8--Reformed Baptist Associations, Renihan, 1998
This reviewer has been a part of these proceedings since the late 1980's. I have witnessed the triumphs and tragedies of the movement to this point. I have grieved over the harm done to Christ's reputation and God's people by abusive shepherding. (I have compiled and edited a book about abusive shepherding, BIBLICAL SHEPHERDING OF GOD'S SHEEP; Day One Publications.) I have participated in many formal meetings, organizational meetings, peace meetings, cooperative meetings, antagonistic meetings and one-on-one appointments. I find the book uncomfortable to read at places but accurate.
The webpages that grew into this book have come under attack from those who do not like to see their heroes exposed as less than demi-gods. I have observed for 30 years that disputes about doctrine and documents quickly degenerate into disputes about personalities and power politics. Theologian Andrew Naselli recently condensed a chapter by Wayne Grudem from BEYOND THE BOUNDS (Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity). Naselli
condenses Grudem's remarks regarding the temptations we all have to overlook the errors and excesses of our friends and companions and resist any attempt to correct these men and hold them to account:
Wayne Grudem, “Why, When, and for What Should We Draw New Boundaries?” in Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity [free PDF] (ed. John Piper, Justin Taylor, and Paul Kjoss Helseth; Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 369 (numbering added):
"Some wrong questions to ask:
(It is important to add that there are some questions that should not be part of our consideration in deciding which doctrinal matters to exclude with new boundaries.)
These are questions such as the following:
Are the advocates my friends?
Are they nice people?
Will we lose money or members if we exclude them?
Will the academic community criticize us as being
Will someone take us to court over this?
Such questions are all grounded in a wrongful fear of man, not in a fear of God and trust in God."
God's own Word shows the truth of God's servants, warts and all. I believe He will honor this honest "warts and all" telling of the first half-century of the confessional Reformed Baptist. There is much promise
to our movement as we learn from our many painful memories. But there is more of Christ's glory to see and savor too!
May our next 50 years show forth more of Christ's glory with more holy ministers and more healthy congregations. We shall have to be honest with ourselves and repent of our many mistakes. Thank you Pastor Chantry and Dykstra for helping our movement to face the past and in doing so, doing the hard thing well!
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Come visit me at my website for more edification and book info:
Dr. Leland Ryken has taught English at Wheaton College for many, many years. He is now Professor Emeritus. He may be slowing down in the number of classes he teaches but his production of wonderfully helpful books for the churches of Christ has shown no let up. As the slang on the music radio has it, "the hits just keep on coming!". For over twenty years his books on the Bible and Christianity have ministered to me and made me a better Christian, a more careful and nuanced student of the Bible and a greater lover of the Puritans.
How did Dr. Ryken do it? Well, let's look at his production of great Christian books and see his legacy to us and the generations that follow.
RYKEN ON THE PURITANS:
Leland Ryken, WORLDLY SAINTS (The Puritans As
They Really Were); Zondervan--one of the 3-4
best books to introduce lay readers and all readers
to the English Puritans. Very good content and
very well written.
Kapic and Gleason, eds. THE DEVOTED LIFE (An
Invitation to the Puritan Classics); IVP--Professor
Ryken writes the chapter on John Milton and
RYKEN ON THE BIBLE AND ITS LITERATURE:
Leland Ryken, WORDS OF DELIGHT (A Literary
Introduction to the Bible); Baker Books--this
professor of English and English literature shows
how language works and especially how it works
in the Bible. A great help to serious Bible students.
Leland Ryken and Philip Ryken, ESV LITERARY STUDY
BIBLE; Crossway--takes the reader through the
whole Bible, book by book, and shows its literary
qualities and how that helps the reader to under-
stand the Word of God better. A great help to
serious Bible students.
Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken, and James Wilhoit,
RYKEN'S BIBLE HANDBOOK--great introductions
to each book of the Bible with helpful quotations
and many insights. Should be read along with
one's Bible. Full of preaching and teaching ideas.
Leland Ryken, THE WORD OF GOD IN ENGLISH
(Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation);
Crossway--holding to an "essentially literal" theory
of how translation should be done, Professor Ryken
shows how many of today's translations fall short,
especially the TNIV and NLT versions. The sober
honoring of the Word of God led me to worship.
Leland Ryken, UNDERSTANDING ENGLISH BIBLE
TRANSLATION (The Case for an Essentially Literal
Approach); Corssway--the above mentioned book
redone and made helpful for laymen.
Leland Ryken, CHOOSING A BIBLE; Crossway--ditto
and makes a good give-away piece for new
members or on a church book rack.
Leland Ryken, LEGACY OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE
(Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential
English Translation); Crossway--find out why the
King James Version became a best-seller for over
three centuries and why it is still such a good Bible)
Leland Ryken, ESV AND THE ENGLISH BIBLE LEGACY;
Crossway--shows how the ESV version stands in
direct lineage to the KJV and the Bible translation
theory that undergird both.
Leland Ryken and James Wilhoit, eds.: DICTIONARY
OF BIBLICAL IMAGERY; IVP--a must for every
serious student of the Bible and the wealth of
imagery it contains.
RYKEN'S CHRISTIAN GUIDES TO THE CLASSICS
Leland Ryken, BUNYAN'S THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS;
Leland Ryken, MILTON'S PARADISE LOST; Crossway
Leland Ryken, DICKEN'S GREAT EXPECTATIONS;
Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken and Todd Wilson, PASTORS
IN THE CLASSICS; Crossway
So many good things for the person who loves God's Word and the God who gave His Word to us.
I home you enjoy this feast of good things.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Visit me at my book and devotional website:
When I was in seminary in the late 70's, my professor and advisor wanted me to write on a theologian in American church history who changed things for the worse. I did not want to become a leading expert on a heterodox man so I declined to write on the errant theologian. I chose to write my thesis about a staunch opponent of the heterodox man, I chose to write about Charles Hodge of Old Princeton. It was time well spent.
Along the way I learned some very interesting things about Charles Hodge, Old Princeton and 19th century American Presbyterianism--though I was and am a confessional Reformed Baptist. Case in point--Charles Hodge did not write his famous SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY in well into his 70's. Until then, students at Princeton Seminary were assigned to read the three volumes of Swiss Reformed theologian Francis Turretin in Latin! For many students, especially those who did not keep up their High School Latin, it was an arduous task.
A friend of Charles Hodge, Charles M. Giger translated Turretin into English as a labor of love. A professor of Classics at Princeton College, Giger gave the seminary students 8000 pages of handwritten translation of Turretin into clear English. It became the clear choice until Hodge's own SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY became available in the 1870's. Finally, Charles Giger's labor of love has been edited and published so that the English speaking world can enjoy the fruits of one of the greatest of the post-Reformation theologians. Turretin is systematic, biblical, practical, experiential and he makes clear distinctions. That is the work of a good theologian and Turretin was a great theologian.
To quote R. C. Sproul on Turretin: "He was the master of fine distinctions that make for precision...If we hold sacred the notion that God has created us with minds for the purpose of seeking understanding then we will delight in the clarity and precision of thought Turretin's work presents to us."
What's more, Turretin presents his theology in the classic QUESTION & ANSWER format. This allows for greater precision and stimulates thought. Turretin covers all the major subjects of theology and asks the right questions. Students of modern theology are not adequately prepared if they do not make use of older theologians like Calvin, the English Puritans Owen and Goodwin, the Dutch 2nd Reformation theologian A'Brakel and the Swiss Post-Reformation giant, Francis Turretin.
Let me summarize his three volume systematic theology by walking you through just some of the extensive TABLE OF CONTENTS for VOLUME ONE:
FIRST TOPIC: THEOLOGY
I. Should the word "theology" be used in the Christian schools, and in how many ways can it be understood?
II. Whether there is a theology and its divisions.
III. Whether natural theology may be granted?
IV. Is natural theology sufficient for salvation; or is
there a common religion by which all promiscuously may be saved? We deny so against the Socinians and Remonstrants (Arminians).
THE OBJECT OF THEOLOGY
V. Are God and divine things the objects of theology?
THE GENUS OF THEOLOGY
VI. What is the genus of theology?
VII. Is theology theoretical or practical?
VIII. Is human reason the principle and rule by which the doctrines of the Christian religion and theology (which are the objects of faith) ought to be measured? We deny against the Socinians.
IX. Does any judgment belong to reason in matters of faith? Or is there no use at all for it?
X. May the judgment of contradiction be allowed to human reason in matters of faith? We affirm.
XI. Is there any use of the testimony of the senses in mysteries of faith; or ought it to be entirely rejected? We affirm the former and deny the latter.
THE USE OF CONSEQUENCES
XII. Are the doctrines of faith and practice to be proved only by the express Word of God? May they not also be legitimately proved by consequences drawn from Scripture? We affirm the latter.
XIII. Is there any use of philosophy in theology? We affirm.
FUNDAMENTAL ARTICLES AND ERRORS
XIV. Are some theological topics fundamental, others not; and how can they be mutually distinguished?
SECOND TOPIC: THE HOLY SCRIPTURE
THE WORD OF GOD
I. Was a verbal revelation necessary? We affirm.
THE NECESSITY OF SCRIPTURE
II. Was it necessary for the word of God to be committed to writing? We affirm.
III. Where the sacred Scriptures written only occasionally and without the divine command? We deny against the papists.
THE AUTHORITY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
IV. Are the holy Scriptures truly authentic and divine?
V. Do real contradictions occur in Scripture? Or are there any inexplicable passages which cannot be explained and made to harmonize? We deny.
VI. From what source does the divine authority of the Scriptures become known to us? Does it depend upon the testimony of the church either as to itself or as to us? We deny against the papists.
VII. Has any canonical book perished? We deny.
VIII. Are the books of the Old Testament still a part of the canon of faith and rule of practice in the church of the New Testament? We affirm against the Anabaptists.
THE APOCRYPHAL BOOKS
IX. Ought TOBIT, JUDITH, WISDOM, ECCLESIASTICUS, THE TWO FIRST BOOKS OF THE MACCABEES, BARUCH, THE ADDITIONS TO ESTHER AND DANIEL to be numbered among the canonical books? We deny against the papists.
THE PURITY OF THE SOURCES
X. Have the original texts of the Old and New Testaments come down to us pure and uncorrupted?
We affirm against the papists.
THE AUTHENTIC VERSION
XI. Are the Hebrew version of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New the only authentic versions? We affirm against the papists.
XII. Is the present Hebrew text in things as well as words so authentic and inspired in such a sense that all the extant versions are to be referred to it as a rule and wherever they vary, to be corrected by it? Or may we desert the reading it supplies, if judged less appropriate and correct it either by a comparison of ancient translators or by suitable judgment and conjecture and follow another more suitable reading?
We affirm the former and deny the latter.
XIII. Are versions necessary and what ought to be their use and authority in the church?
XIV. Is the Septuagint version of the Old Testament authentic? We deny.
XV. Is the Vulgate authentic? We deny against the papists.
THE PERFECTION OF THE SCRIPTURES
XVI. Do the Scriptures so perfectly contain all things necessary to salvation that there is no need of unwritten traditions after all? We affirm against the papists.
THE PERSPICUITY OF THE SCRIPTURES
XVII. Are the Scriptures so perspicuous in things necessary to salvation that they can be understood by believers without the external help of any oral tradition or ecclesiastical authority?> We affirm against the papists.
THE READINGS OF THE SCRIPTURES
XVIII. Can the Scriptures be profitably read by an believer and ought he to read them without permission (of the ecclesiastical authorities)? We affirm against the papists.
THE SENSE OF THE SCRIPTURES
XIX. Whether the Scriptures have a four-fold sense: Literal, Allegorical, Anagogical and Tropological? We deny against the papists.
THE SUPREME JUDGE OF CONTROVERSIES AND INTERPRETER OF THE SCRIPTURES
XX. Whether the Scriptures (or God speaking in them) are the supreme and infallible judge of controversies and the interpreter of the Scriptures? Or whether the church or the Roman pontiff is? We affirm the former and deny the latter against the papists.
THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH FATHERS
XXI. Are the writings of the fathers the rule of truth in doctrines of faith and in the interpretation of the Scriptures? We deny against the papists.
Turretin goes on through 18l topics in three volumes with a meticulous and judicious coverage of all the major doctrines of the faith.
Obviously this three volume set will not be in every Christian's library. But it should be in every pastor's library and seminarian's library. And if you are a layman who likes to read the best theology, this would be a set for you too.
As a primer to see how good a theologian Francis Turretin really is, purchase the short paperback excerpted from the three volume work: JUSTIFICATION with a great introduction by R. C. Sproul. See why Sproul calls it one of the very best
works on justification!
May the Lord bless you as you read and pray your way through these volumes.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM is my personal website where I have hundreds of posts and articles and a video or two to edify you. And my new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES is available to download.
Christians buy books to fix problems, answer questions and grow in the grace of Christ. I have books today for you in all three categories.
BOOKS TO GROW IN THE GRACE OF CHRIST:
Guy Waters, BEING MADE RIGHT WITH GOD; Christian
Focus--a leading New Testament scholar and
specialist on the gospel of being justified by Christ
alone through grace alone by faith alone gives us
all a great primer on this most important subject.
Brian Vickers, JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE THROUGH
FAITH (Finding Freedom From Legalism,
Lawlessness, Pride and Despair); P & R--a great
book to give to anyone wanting to understand
what is the big deal about "justification by faith".
BOOKS TO FIX PROBLEMS:
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION (Its
Causes and Cures); Eerdmans--the classic study
of how and why Christians get stuck in a type of
Sinclair Ferguson, DESERTED BY GOD; Banner of
Truth--another book destined to be a classic. He
shows how and why Christians can have a felt
sense that they are not close to God or that,
horror of horrors, He seems to have deserted them.
BOOKS TO ANSWER QUESTIONS:
Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor; THE FINAL
DAYS OF JESUS (The Most Important Week of the
Most Important Person Who Ever Lived; Crossway--
Excellent tool for pastors or teachers or layman
wanting to study and explain the final chapters of
the four gospels or the person and work of Christ
Thabiti Anyabwile, CAPTIVATED (Beholding the Mystery
of Jesus' Death and Resurrection); Reformation
Heritage--5 chapters of sermons given to explain
Easter, prior to Easter.
1. Is There No Other Way?
2. Why Have You Forsaken Me?
3. Where, O Death, Is Your Victory?
4. Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead?
5. Do You Not Know These Things?
Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson, eds.; FALLEN
(A Theology of Sin); Crossway--11 chapters that
show biblically why Christ had to die. A truly helpful
study by 10 different authors as to humanity's
plight before the Holy God and why we need a
Savior! How far has mankind fallen and what
options are left to us?
Timothy Keller, WALKING WITH GOD THROUGH PAIN
AND SUFFERING; Penguin--in a fallen world (see
the note above), fallen men and women do not
recognize how fallenness has impacted this world
and they are repeatedly surprised by suffering.
Pastor and apologist Tim Keller writes to explain to
fallen folks what has happened and how to deal
with it. Keller does not simply explain the biblical
theology underlying suffering, he also helps the
reader to apply it to their life and suffering. Ever
the apologist for the Christian faith, Keller's book
is good for non-Christians as well as Christians.
May you prepare your heart for the forthcoming celebration of our Lord's being raised from the dead and may you glory more in His crosswork and resurrection.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM for more
book information and my new e-book, 21st CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES.
The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, wrote what is arguably the most "evangelical" book of the Old Testament. For Isaiah has so much to say about God, man, sin, judgment, atonement, repentance, forgiveness and restoration that so ably explains the gospel or "evangel". He is the evangelical prophet.
But like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he is a "major prophet", meaning that his collected prophecies are long and at times daunting. One must give oneself to careful thought and study (and gaining help) when trying to read Isaiah the prophet for profit.
In what may sound like shameless self-promotion, I have written an E-book covering the best commentaries on every book of the Bible (and the main introductory matters too). [You can access it at WWW.THELOGCOLLEGE.WORDPRESS.COM and see samples from Genesis and Matthew.]
Below is what I recommend from all that's out there to help you read or study Isaiah and gain great good for your soul.
A=Introductory--requires no previous study of the
book on your part and no knowledge of biblical
B=Intermediate--requires some background know-
ledge and some knowledge of biblical languages.
C=Advanced--for pastors and seminarians and those
with some working knowledge of the issues and
INTRODUCTORY ISSUES TO THE STUDY OF ISAIAH:
A. Brian Beyer, ENCOUNTERING THE BOOK OF
ISAIAH; Baker Academic--useful for its clear
overview of the issues; a standard college level
textbook on Isaiah
A. Herbert M. Wolf, INTERPRETING ISAIAH (The
Suffering and Glory of the Messiah); Moody Press
B. David Firth and H. G. M. Williamson, eds.;
INTERPRETING ISAIAH (Issues and Approaches);
COMMENTARIES ON THE PROPHET ISAIAH:
A. Charles and Norma Ellis, THE WELLS OF
SALVATION (Meditations on Isaiah); Banner of
Truth--not a commentary per se but devotional
bites for those intimidated by Isaiah's length (66
chapters). They break the book into 98 short
studies which underline the greatness of God
and encourage us to rejoice in His salvation and
A. John Calvin, ISAIAH (Crossway Classic
Commentary); Crossway--edited and modernized
by Packer & McGrath. One of Calvin's best. See
also his three volume commentary in his
B. Barry Webb, ISAIAH (Tyndale Old Testament
Commentary Series); InterVarsity Press--a
reverent and warm treatment by a rising O. T.
scholar. One of the best in the series.
B. J. A. Motyer, ISAIAH (The Bible Speaks Today);
InterVarsity Press--more pastoral than his major
commentary on Isaiah and still a very helpful
addition to the literature.
B. Allan Harman, ISAIAH [A Covenant To Be Kept
For The Sake Of The Church] (Focus on the Bible
Series); Christian Focus--the work of a fine
exegete. Should be helpful to all who seek to
B. Paul House, ISAIAH (Mentor Commentary
Series); Christian Focus
B. Larry Walker; ISAIAH 1-39 (New American
Commentary); Broadman & Holman;
B. Gary V. Smith, ISAIAH 40-66 [New American
Commentary]; Broadman & Holman leading
evangelical Baptist Old Testament scholarS open
up Isaiah to great effect. Should be on your short
list of commentaries on this book
B. Geoffrey Grogan, ISAIAH (Expositor's Bible
Commentary:Revised); Zondervan--one of the
better volumes in the whole series. Grogan is an
insightful evangelical O. T. scholar.
B. David W. Baker, ISAIAH (Zondervan Illustrated
Bible Background Commentary); Zondervan
C. J.A. Motyer, THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH; Inter-
Varsity Press--a lifetime of study, teaching
and reflection on Isaiah is brought together for
us to enjoy. A vast amount of material by a
warm heart and diligent scholar. A must-buy!
C. J. A. Alexander, THE PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH;
Kregel--the theological reflections of one of Old
Princeton's greatest scholars.
C. John Oswalt, THE BOOK OF ISAIAH (2 Vol.);
Eerdmans--replaced Young's in the New
International Commentary on the Old Testament.
Exegetical spadework and historical acumen that
needs a better theological foundation for
interpretation. [see also John Oswalt, ISAIAH
(New International Application Commentary);
Zondervan (perhaps a wiser purchase than his
two volume set!)
C. Richard Schultz, ISAIAH (Apollos Old Testament
Commentary); IVP--forthcoming soon.
SERMONS AND SPECIAL STUDIES ON ISAIAH:
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, GOD'S WAY, NOT OURS
(Isaiah 1); Baker Books
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, A NATION UNDER WRATH
(Isaiah 5); Baker Books
A. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, THE ALL-SUFFICIENT GOD
(Isaiah 40); Banner of Truth (the greatest
preacher in the English language in the 20th
century shows how to preach these passages
for audiences removed by over 2500 years of
cultural change--but God has not changed and
human nature has not changed and God's
coming judgment has not changed, so his
sermons on right on target today!)
A. Raymond Ortlund, Jr.; ISAIAH (God Saves
Sinners); Crossway (Preach the Word Series)--
outstanding contribution to this series of
expositional commentaries on the Bible.
A. Darrell Bock and Mitch Glaser, eds.; THE
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ISAIAH 53
Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish
and Christian Theology); Kregel Academic
(Eleven contributions to the study and
application of Isaiah 53 by Christian and
Messianic Christian authors. One chapter is
even evangelistic. Two examples of how one
might preach from Isaiah 53.
Everything the average layman or pastor would need is available on Isaiah. Take the time to prayerfully study your way through these amazing 66 chapters of God's inspired Word.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
Young men in the gospel ministry have many challenges. Any help we can give them increases their effectiveness in the ministry. God is glorified and we are edified when gospel ministers prosper. With these goals in mind, I wanted to show you some real helps for young pastors and their wives.
BOOKS FOR YOUNG PASTORS:
Tom Ascol, DEAR TIMOTHY ; Founders Press--letters
to a young pastor just beginning his ministry.
Wise counsel on a full range of pastoral issues
from a sterling collection of pastors with many
years in the ministry.
Charles Bridges, THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY (and the
causes of its ineffectiveness); Banner of Truth.
A classic which must be read slowly and prayer-
fully. It is without peer as an examination of the
kinds of things that would render a minister's
Martyn Lloyd-Jone, AUTHORITY; Banner of Truth--a
classic book of only three chapters. (1) The
Authority of Christ; (2) The Authority of the
Scriptures; and (3) The Authority of the Holy
Spirit which He gives to preachers and churches.
When a church lacks life transforming power,
when conversions are rare and people are not
being propelled to holiness
Kent & Barbara Hughes, LIBERATING THE MINISTRY
FROM THE SUCCESS SYNDROME; Tyndale--a
classic work that is not as well known as it should
be. Pastor Hughes, long time pastor of COLLEGE
CHURCH in Wheaton, Illinois and his wife, Barbara,
share their early struggles with being "successful"
in the pastoral ministry and how they came to see
that it is not a biblical category. And how that truly
liberated them to minister.
Jerry Bridges, THE BOOKENDS OF THE CHRISTIAN
LIFE; Crossway Books--a most practical treatment
of the two things that can make or break your
personal life and ministry--trusting in the
righteousness of Christ AND the power of the Holy
Spirit to change a life. Your own life, let alone your
ministry, will be seriously impoverished if you do
not digest and practice this book.
BOOKS FOR YOUNG PASTORS' WIVES:
Pastor's wives are wives of pastors. They are not the wife of the church. Their calling is to their husband, not to their church. Helping, serving, praying for and otherwise enabling your husband to function well is your calling.
Sara Leone, HER HUSBAND'S CROWN; Banner of
Truth Booklet--a good place to start to see the
high calling of a pastor's wife.
Bethan Lloyd-Jones, MEMORIES OF SANDFIELDS;
Banner of Truth--once a doctor like her husband,
Martyn, Beth left the medical profession and
with her husband determined to live off of what
their little church plant could pay them. This is
her collection of memories of her fear and relief,
her prayers, her husbands early labors and God's
coming to visit their church with His life-changing
Catherine J. Stewart, LETTERS TO PASTORS WIVES
(When Seminary Ends and Ministry Begins);
P & R--an excellent collection of letters from
experienced wives (and one pastor's daughter)
Mary Somerville, ONE WITH A SHEPHERD (The Tears
and Triumphs of a Ministry Marriage); Kress
Christian Publishers--just what it says. And every
ministry has both.
Jerry Bridges, TRUSTING GOD (Even When Life Hurts);
NavPress--a classic book on the providence of God.
If you do not "get" this material, your struggles
will be much more pronounced and you will not
glorify God as you should. This book is a true
Discerning laymen and senior pastors will want to pass along these important resources to their young
pastors and their wives. (And if they themselves have not read these books, will want to for themselves.)
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin
My new e-book, 21ST CENTURY COMMENTING ON COMMENTARIES, is geared to help pastors of all ages
know the best commentaries that are available. This can be a huge help in sermon preparation. There are over 2000 listings of commentaries and introductory Bible matters. It took me 20 years and is current up to January, 2014. Come see for yourself at my website
"THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM"
by Samuel Bolton
Banner of Truth
A. SAMUEL BOLTON--brief biographical background
Samuel Bolton (1606-1654) was a Puritan pastor, member of the Westminster Assembly, Master of Christ College, Cambridge and later vice-chancellor of Cambridge University.
He is described by James Packer as a "learned, exact, orthodox Puritan minister, not original or striking in print, but clear and warmly evangelical". The Puritan biographer, Benjamin Brook notes that Bolton was so burdened for the souls of the lost that he preached every day for free during his Vice-Chancellorship of Cambridge, having no church of his own at that time to give the gospel to. By his peers he was considered a man of much prayer, reading, meditation and temptation (trial), the four things which Luther said made a preacher.
During his final sickness, when being moved in his bed, he said: "Let me alone; let me lie quietly. I have as much comfort as my heart can hold." Later, as death approached, he cried: "Oh this vile body of mine! When will it give way that my soul may rise and go to God.? When will it be consumed that I may mount to heaven?" His will stated that he wished to "be interred as a private Christian and not with the outward pomp of a doctor" because he hoped to rise in the day of judgment and appear before God "not as a doctor but as a humble Christian." His funeral eulogy described him as "simple, other-worldy man whose preaching 'snatched our souls by vigorous sympathy'". Dr. Edmund Calamy preached his funeral sermon. [He is not to be confused with the older Puritan minister and author of the same last name, Robert Bolton.]
His great legacy to the churches is his classic THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM. It is in regards to this book that I have been asked to give a review and commendation to you today.
B. A WORD ABOUT THE BOOK AND IT'S PURITAN FORMAT
The Puritans have been described as wordy, verbose, fulsome to the point of weariness. I am sure that some of that criticism reflects the impatient, instantaneous fulfillment mindset of the age we live in. But it is true of some Puritans that they lacked a good editor! Thankfully, Samuel Bolton's THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM had S. M. Houghton of the Banner of Truth to edit this work into a workable format.
It is helpful to photocopy the elaborate Table of Contents and use it as a bookmark to keep one's focus clear on what point and sub-point and sub-sub point the author is making. That is my only caveat.
Please do not be put off by this. Do not begrudge the time and mental energy needed to work through this text. It is a goldmine of exposition and application of the right evangelical use of the Law of God. During the Puritan Revival, faithful pastors had to deal with both legalists on the one hand and antinomians on the other. Bolton has both in mind as he expounds the right use of God's Law in the Bible's scheme of salvation and Christian living.
Patrick Fairburn's THE REVELATION OF LAW IN SCRIPTURE and Earnest Kevan's THE GRACE OF LAW may be more scholarly and more clearly laid out, but they do not top Bolton's warm pastoral explanation of the right uses of God's Law. Bolton's book can be given to laymen who read good books and who need to be better grounded in the relationship of Law and the Gospel.
II. AN OVERVIEW OF "THE TRUE BOUNDS OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM "
(John 8:36--"If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.")
I. TRUE CHRISTIAN FREEDOM
--the nature of Christian freedom
--the quality of Christian freedom
--the branches of Christian freedom
A. FREEDOM IN ITS NEGATIVE ASPECTS (6 points)
1. freedom from Satan
2. freedom from sin
3. freedom from the Law
a. freedom from the law as a covenant
b. freedom from the curses of the law
--5 reasons the law cannot condemn the
--true and false appeals to the court of
c. freedom from the accusations of the law
d. freedom from the vigor of the law
4. freedom from obedience to men
5. freedom from death
6. freedom from the grave
B. FREEDOM IN ITS POSITIVE ASPECTS (7 points)
1. freedom from a state of wrath to a state of mercy and favor
2. freedom from a state of condemnation to a state of justification
3. freedom from a state of enmity to a state of friendship
4. freedom from a state of death to a state of life
5. freedom from a state of sin to a state of service
6. freedom from a state of bondage to a state of sonship
7. freedom from a state of death and to a state of life and mercy
II. THE MORAL LAW AS A RULE OF OBEDIENCE
A. ARE CHRISTIANS FREED FROM THE MORAL LAW AS A RULE OF OBEDIENCE?
(It was a controversy in Puritan days as it is today and Bolton admits of varying opinions.)
B.THE SCRIPTURAL USES OF THE WORD "LAW"
1. the O.T. Scriptures
2. the whole word of God
3. the 5 books of Moses
4. the pedagogy of Moses
5. the moral law alone
6. the ceremonial law
7. all the laws
C. THE LAW REMAINS AS A RULE OF WALKING FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD
1. the testimony of the Reformed Confessions
2. the testimony of the New Testament
3. Five proofs for the binding nature of the Law
4. Five additional reasons for the obedience to the Law
SAMPLE QUOTE, from page 71--"Just as the Papists set up the law for justification, so
the antinomians decry the law for sanctification. We claims to be free from the curses of the
law; they would have us free from the guidance, from the commands of the law. We say we
are free from the penalties of the law, but they would abolish the precepts of the law. They
tell us that we make a false mixture together of Christ and Moses, and that we mingle law
and gospel together. We cry down the law in respect to justification but we set it up as a
rule of sanctification. The Law sends us to the gospel that we may be justified; and the
gospel sends us to the Law again to inquire what is our duty as those who are justified."
III. LAW AND GRACE
A. THE LAW IS NOT INCOMPATIBLE WITH GRACE
1. Seven reasons for which the Law was given
a. to restain sin
b. to uncover and reveal sin
c. to humble men for their sin
d. a direction for walking/living
e. a measure to show our weaknesses
f. a reproof and correction of sin
g. to spur us to our duties
2. Five reasons why the Law is not incompatible
3. Three objections answered
IV. CHASTISEMENTS FOR SIN
A. ARE CHRISTIAN FREED FROM ALL PUNISHMENTS &
CHASTISEMENTS FOR SIN ?
B. DOES CHASTISEMENT PERTAIN TO THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. New Testament teaching on chastisement
2. Various objections answered
3. Main arguments against chastisement stated
4. Five reasons why God chastens His people
a. God may do it for the terror of wicked
men that they may read their destiny in
the saints miseries.
b. God may do it for the manifestation of
His justice, that He may show to the
world that He is just.
c. God may do it to remove scandal
d. God may do it for caution to others
e. God also chastens His people for their
own good here and for the furtherance of
their salvation hereafter.
5. Concluding considerations about God
chastening His people
V. PERFORMANCE OF DUTY
A. IF A BELIEVER IS UNDER THE MORAL LAW AS A RULE OF
DUTY, IS HIS LIBERTY IN CHRIST NOT INFRINGED OR
1. Christ has not redeemed us from the matter of
service but the manner of service
2. Christ has redeemed us from a slavish spirit
in service & brought us into a son-like
3. Christ has redeemed us from a spirit of
bondage to a spirit of liberty
4. He has broken the bonds of subjection to
other lords, that we might take upon
ourselves the yoke of service to Him whose
yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
B. 3 MISTAKES WITH REGARD TO THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY
1. the mistake of those who wait for the Spirit
to move them (E.g. Dr. Tom Ascol deal with
two argumentative antinomians by
photocopying pages from Joseph Fletcher's
SITUATION ETHICS [the "Bible of the 60's]
and giving it to them to read (with the title
2. four ways in which the devil cleverly seeks
to move Christians to do their duty
3. the mistake of those who think that they are
to do nothing else but pray
4. the mistake of those who think they are to
perform their duty because their own hearts
incline them to do it (in other words,
obedience must arise from within, not from
without from the compulsion or duty of an
C. FOUR WAYS IN WHICH THE BELIEVER IS FREE FROM DUTY
1. we are free from duty as our paid job
2. we are free from duty as our trade
3. we are free from duty done in the slavery of
spirit but are rather done in a son-like
4. we are free from duty upon the tenders and
terms commanded in the law
D. 9 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LEGAL OBEDIENCE &
1. the spirit to duty in legal obedience is
slavish; in evangelical obedience it is
2. the evangelical man obeys as his delight;
the legalist as his burden
3. the legal man performs duty from the
convictions of his conscience; the
evangelical man from the necessity of his
4. the legal one looks for satisfaction in the
performance of the duty; the other looks for
satisfaction in the duty as he finds Christ
5. the legal man contents himself with the
shell; the evangelical man is not content
without the substance
6. the legal man performs duty in order to live
by it; the evangelical mn looks beyond the
duty and lives by Christ alone
7. the legal man does things formally and
coldly; the evangelical man does it fervently
8. the formal, legal man does duty with a view
to serving other ends but the evangelical
man does his duty as part of his happiness,
a piece of his glory
9. the legal man does his duty without stomach
or desire for it; the evangelical man does
his duty because he delights, desires and
pleasures in it.
E. DELIGHTING IN DUTY
SAMPLE QUOTE, p. 147--"The freeness of the
Christian consists in this, that he obeys
the commands of God, not only because God has
commanded them; but out of principles of love
and delight, and because he has within his heart
a nature agreeable to the things commanded. He
prays because God commands prayer, but not only
so. He prays because there is a suitableness
between his heart and the work of prayer,
between his soul and the duty. He has desires
after God, and his soul delights in his
approaches to and his conversing with God."
VI. PARTIAL BONDAGE
A. CAN CHRIST'S FREE MEN SIN THEMSELVES INTO BONDAGE AGAIN ?
B. TWO KINDS OF BONDAGE
1. universal bondage
a. bondage to sin
b. bondage to Satan
c. bondage to the Law
2. partial bondage
a. a bondage in respect of comfort
b. the five-fold peace of the Christian man
c. a bondage in respect of the manner of
VII. OBEDEINCE FOR THE SAKE OF A REWARD
A. MAY CHRIST'S FREE MEN PERFORM DUTIES FOR
THE SAKE OF A REWARD ?
1. Three opinions respecting this stated and
a. some believe we perform duties quid pro
quo--to merit heaven and glory (e.g. the
Council of Trent)
b. some believe that we should never
perform duty with any eye toward a
c. some believe that we may perform out
duties with an eye on the recompense of
2. What is meant by "rewards"?
3. Is the eyeing of rewards an infringement
upon Christian liberty?
a. with reference to temporal blessing
b. with reference to spiritual benefits
c. with reference to eternal rewards
--the lawfulness of it
--the necessity of it
VIII. OBEDIENCE TO MEN
A. ARE CHRISTIAN FREED FROM OBEDIENCE TO MEN ?
B. TWO KINDS OF SUBJECTION
1st--subjection which may be yielded with the
preservation of Christian liberty
2nd--subjection which may not be yielded
without the loss of Christian liberty
C. OBEDIENCE TO THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE
IX. THE APPLICATION TO BELIEVERS AND UNBELIEVERS
A. THE MISERABLE BONDAGE OF THE UNBELIEVER
1. to sin
2. to Satan
3. to the Law of God
B. THE DUTY OF THE BELIEVER
1. to maintain Christian liberty
2. not to abuse Christian liberty
Psalm 119:32--"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (NIV)
I John 5:3--"This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome."
This BOOK REVIEW was first given at the Banner of Truth Pastors Conference at Messiah College in Grantham, PA in