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THE FOUNDATION OF A MODERN REFORMATION AND REVIVAL

11/01/2018

REVIEW OF GALATIANS BY J.V. FESKO
LECTIO CONTINUA COMMENTARY SERIES
REFORMATION HERITAGE BOOKS

This series from REFORMATION HERITAGE BOOKS seeks to open up each book of the Bible by following the pattern of the early church by the method of the lectio continua or continual reading aloud and commenting upon the books of the Bible. Why is this so needed today? Dr. J. I. Packer has commented that revival happens when the Holy Spirit comes down and accompanies the Word of God with power and sovereignly applies it to the people of God. He laments that so little of the Word of God is present in evangelical churches today that the Holy Spirit has little to work with and show the churches. God the Holy Spirit works by and with the Word of God. He is not giving fresh revelation but illuminating the Word of God. When the Scriptures are withheld, the Spirit is grieved and quenched. Churches once read God’s Word aloud (passages from the Old and New Testaments), sang God’s Word (in the Psalter and Bible-based classic hymns), prayed the Scriptures (in biblically formed prayers) and then pastors exposited the Bible, explaining its meaning and applying it to the churchmen present. Packer believes this rarely happens today. And the churches are immensely poorer for it and the glory of God is diminished in today’s churches. We thank Reformation Heritage for this series which seeks the best of today’s expositors of the Word of God (theologically astute and spiritually sensitive preachers) opening up and applying the books of the Bible.

Dr. John Fesko pastored in north Atlanta for a decade before becoming Academic Dean and Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary California. I knew of many people who profited from his preaching and teaching as I was pastoring in south Atlanta at the time. People from his church were well taught as I interfaced with them. He has taken his pastoral and preaching orientation and put it in book form in this most helpful commentary on Galatians. Should I preach on Galatians anytime soon, this will be one of the first go-to books for me. In 22 chapters he shows and explains Paul’s word to the first century churches of Galatia that were in danger of losing the gospel or leaving the gospel behind for “new teaching” that would have taken them back to works righteousness and self-salvation. False teachers were luring the hearts and minds of the Galatian believers away from Paul and his gospel (which Paul shows is the only gospel). Paul did not receive his gospel from men nor did he make it up on his own but was given it by the risen Christ. Later when consulting with the apostles in Jerusalem, it was seen to be the case that Paul’s gospel was kosher and indeed the gospel of God.

Christian living flows out of Christian doctrine and believing. Fesko helps the reader to see the doctrinal foundations of Christianity in Galatians and thus its impact on Christian believing and Christian living. Some today want to downplay doctrine by saying that “doctrine divides”. In point of fact, error and heresy divide and doctrine often gets the bad rap for exposing the theological error or heresy. In our day people shy away from personal conflict and the discomfort of people being annoyed with us, Paul knew that the salvation as well as the happiness of the Galatian believers in Christ depended upon not losing the gospel truth--justification by faith alone in Christ alone through grace alone revealed in the Scriptures alone. Martin Luther and the other great Protestant Reformers had Galatians (along with Romans) as one of the central pillars of Reformation truth. If Dr. J. I. Packer is right and we need a new Reformation in order to see a new Revival by the Spirit, Galatians again will play a major role. Master Galatians and this exposition by John Fesko. It is that important.

Steve Martin;
Dean of Students;
IRBS Theological Seminary in Texas

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