Reflections on Calvin’s Death, May 27, 1564: Calvin on the Edge of Eternity

The Log College Press noted today John Calvin’s death on this date in 1564. Below you will find the first part of the post.

It was not the head but the heart which made him a theologian, and it is not the head but the heart which he primarily addresses in his theology. – B.B. Warfield, John Calvin: The Man and His Work (1909)

The great Reformer John Calvin died on this day in history, May 27, 1564, in Geneva, Switzerland. He was only 54 years old; although he had suffered many maladies, yet had he accomplished so much in his lifetime to effect Reformation in the areas of worship, theology and civil government; in Geneva, Europe and even across the Atlantic, in sending missionaries to Roman Catholic France and to the New World; and inspiring settlers who risked all to follow them.

Today, we recall his final days as told by some authors on Log College Press who admired this great man.

Thomas Cary Johnson, John Calvin and the Genevan Reformation (1900), p. 87:

“He preached for the last time on the 6th of February, 1564; he was carried to church and partook of the communion for the last time on the 2d of April, in which he acknowledged his own unworthiness and his trust in God’s free election of grace and the abounding merits of Christ; he was visited by the four syndics and the whole Little Council of the republic on the 27th of April, and addressed them as a father, thanking them for their devotion, begging pardon for his gusts of temper, and exhorting them to preserve in Geneva the pure doctrine and government of the gospel; he made a similar address to all the ministers of Geneva on the 28th and took an affectionate leave of them; he had these ministers to dine in his house on the 19th of May, was himself carried to the table, ate a little with them and tried to converse, but growing weary had to be taken to his chamber, leaving with the words, ‘This wall will not hinder my being present with you in spirit, though absent in the body.’ [William] Farel (in his eightieth year) walked all the way to Geneva from Neuchatel to take leave of the man whom he had compelled to work in Geneva, and whose glorious career he had watched without the least shadow of envy.

“With the precious word of God, which he had done so much to make plain to his own and all subsequent ages, in his heart and on his tongue, he died on the 27th of May, 1564.”

Thomas SmythCalvin and His Enemies: A Memoir of the Life, Character, and Principles of Calvin (1856), pp. 77-82, elaborates on the story of the “last act” in Calvin’s life:

“Let us, then, before we take our leave, draw near, and contemplate the last act in the drama of this great and good man’s life. Methinks I see that emaciated frame, that sunken cheek, and that bright, ethereal eye, as Calvin lay upon his study-couch. He heeds not the agonies of his frame, his vigorous mind rising in its power as the outward man perished in decay. The nearer he approached his end, the more energetically did he ply his unremitted studies. In his severest pains he would raise his eyes to heaven and say, How long, Lord! and then resume his efforts. When urged to allow himself repose, he would say, ‘What! would you that when the Lord comes he should surprise me in idleness?’ Some of his most important and laboured commentaries were therefore finished during this last year.”

To finish reading, visit this link.

Published in: on May 27, 2023 at 8:02 PM  Leave a Comment  

A Heart for the Fatherless: Rooted in Gracious Divine Adoption

“…but we are children through adoption.”

Readers of The Standard Bearer are aware of the parallels the Bible makes between human relationships and the covenant of grace. Marriage is not only a life-long bond of one man and one woman that can be separated by no one but God (Mark 10:9). Marriage is also a mysterious representation of the kind of unconditional love and intimacy that exists between the glorified Christ and His bride the church (Eph. 5:32). We get this exactly in reverse if we say God’s covenant is like our human marriages. The truth is, our human marriages are like God’s covenant. Human marriage arises necessarily from the truth that God is a God who marries His bride.

There are more than two biblical parallels to the covenant, but there are two main ones. Besides marriage, the other significant parallel is that of a father with his children. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, this is what he told them to say, “Our Father which art in heaven…” (Matt. 6:9). As the address beginning our prayers, this is a phrase intended to shape our relationship with God from beginning to end. He is our Father and we are His children. How this has come to be is the big question the gospel answers, and the answer the gospel gives has everything to do with adoption. Before the foundation of the world, God “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ,” Eph. 1:5. Then, in the fulness of time, God sent His Son under the law “to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” Gal. 4:5. The amazing privilege of belonging to Jesus Christ through His blood and Spirit is to be privileged with the title of sons (and daughters) of the Most High. Though a clear distinction exists between the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ and our sonship through adoption (Lord’s Day 13), the glorious truth nevertheless remains – “thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ,” Gal. 4:7.

Now, we are familiar with the implications Christ’s marriage to His church has for the marriages of believers. Just as the Lord promises never to discontinue his relationship with his bride, so we are not to assume the right to discontinue our marriages to our spouses. Just as the Lord seeks out His bride and loves her sacrificially, so husbands must lay down their lives for the wellbeing of their wives (Eph. 5:25). Just as the church lives willingly under the headship of the Lord, so wives must yield themselves to the guidance of their husbands (Eph. 5:24). God’s covenantal marriage with His people gives shape to our marriages as believers.

The same is true of the relationship of fathers and their children. “Like as a [human] father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him,” Psalm 103:13. Just as the Lord takes knowledge of our weakness and frailty, so earthly fathers are not to be overbearing or to provoke their children to wrath (Eph. 6:4). Just as the Lord does not hesitate to run into the fire and the waters to save His children (Is. 43:2), so earthly fathers are to display a protective love for their children.

Just as the Lord shows His grace and mercy by adopting those who are not His children as His own children, so there ought to be believers who parallel this mercy and grace of God. The God we believe and serve is a God who sanctions adoption by His own divine act. He is the God who says to those who are “not my people” that they are “the children of the living God,” Romans 9:26. Believing in this adopting God shapes the Christian’s heart after a certain mold, and it is the mold of compassion for the fatherless.

I understand the reasons that prevented believers in the past from embracing adoption as explained elsewhere in this issue. I understand the fear and reluctance to pursue adoption, having experienced it personally. But I also say about all that, what a travesty! What a loss for the church of the past that the dots were not always connected! Adoption is a practice arising straight out of the character and work of the covenant God. That gives adoption legitimacy, even necessity, in the Christian church.

Taken from the new special issue of the Standard Bearer, Rev. Joe Holstege’s contribution, “The Believer’s Heart for the Fatherless.”

Published in: on May 21, 2023 at 7:04 AM  Leave a Comment  

Ascension Blessings

Forty days after Jesus Christ arose from the dead, breaking the bars of death, He ascended up into the heavens. When He ascended into heaven in the presence of His disciples, His hands were extended in blessing over the disciples. We read in Luke 24:50, 51, “And he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” The last time the disciples saw Jesus, He was in this posture: His arms were extended, His hands were lifted up in blessing over them.

And so He abides today in heaven for us.

The significance of this is shown in Moses, who was a great Old Testament type of Jesus Christ. Turn, in your Bibles, to Exodus 17:11, 12. There in the battle against the Amalekites Moses watched from a hilltop. And he held up his hands. We read this: “And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”

So long as the church, so long as a child of God, is found under the blessing of Christ (under the extended hands of Christ in blessing), the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. And Christ is the all-powerful One whose arms never grow weary.

This is the meaning of the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. The believer now lives under the arms of Christ which are extended in blessing. Christ has ascended into the heavens to bless His children and church with all the blessings of salvation that He earned for them on the cross and through His resurrection. Over the believer and over the church of Jesus Christ are extended the Lord’s arms in blessing. And nothing can prevail against His cause or work against them to their ruin.

Are you conscious of this? Do you strengthen yourself by this truth? Does this knowledge show itself in your life?

To the wicked and unbelieving, the ascension of Christ is to be viewed in an entirely different way. The Word of God says, in II Thessalonians 1:8, that before them He stands with a flaming sword, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.Psalm 2 describes Him as the One who stands with a rod of iron, who breaks in pieces all who oppose Him. Unbelief and sinful rebellion against the Lord’s Christ is a life which must be lived under the dread and the terror of the mighty God.

But Jesus Christ extended His arms in blessing over His own believing church and children. Do you live conscious of that?

When disappointment struck you this past week, something that cast you down so that you could scream, did you comfort yourself with this truth that the mighty Lord Jesus Christ, the One who purchased salvation powerfully, has His hands extended in blessing over you?

When your plans were upset, when your future became uncertain, when you were tossed to and fro, when confusion settled in your mind, did you remember that Christ, now, is in heaven, there to bless us with all the blessings of salvation?

When tests were taken for cancer, when personal fears of inadequacy mounted within your soul, when there was the voice of self-condemnation screaming within you, did you steady your faith with this knowledge that Christ is in the heavens with His hands extended in blessing over you His child?

When in this past week you were put into a situation in which you had to stand alone in your faith, when there were pressures around you to deny the Lord Jesus Christ and to be conformed to this present world, did you comfort yourself in this: Christ is ascended into the heavens, there to bless you with all the blessings of salvation?

From the radio sermon “Ascension Blessings” delivered on May 17, 1998 by Rev. Carl Haak on the Reformed Witness Hour. To read the rest, visit the link provided here.

Published in: on May 18, 2023 at 7:49 AM  Leave a Comment  

Review of “Life in the Covenant: in Family, Church, and World,” New from the RFPA

The following review was written by Seminarian Arend Haveman [PRC Seminary] on Life in the covenant: in Family, Church, and World by Wilbur Bruinsma (Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing, 2023).

Life in the Covenant is the believer’s guide to a proper worldview as member of God’s covenant. “God’s covenant is that intimate relationship of love and fellowship God has chosen to share with his elect people in Christ (3).” “This relationship of God’s covenant will live in our hearts, determining how we live in the home, the church, and the wicked world around us (7).” This is especially important as the world approaches the last days.

This purpose is set forth clearly in the introduction. “We live in the last days. The signs heralding Christ’s second coming emerge more clearly as the time approaches (1).” As evils increase the question of how we are to live also rises within the hearts of the people of God. Life in the Covenant answers that question. “God’s covenant directs believers in the way we conduct our personal lives in the home and family, as well as our place together with God’s saints in the church as a whole. That is the focus of this book (9).”

Rev. Bruinsma set his treatment of the covenantal worldview of the child of God on the right path by dealing first with the family. The family is at the foundation of society. If the family unit is destroyed, so also society will be destroyed. And the family is just as essential to our life in the covenant. “The family unit is an expression of who God is. It is an expression of the life of covenant that is inherent in God himself! (15)” And God chose his covenant people to bring them into his covenant family life (16). This shaped the definition given of a family. “The family is made up of a husband and his wife who remain faithful to one another in marriage and, in their bond of love and fellowship, bring forth children in the fear of the Lord (18).” The families of believers are to be reflections of the covenantal family life of God.

From this starting point, Bruinsma unfolds how the family must be ordered in light of the covenant. Marriage is a covenant bond and must be entered into with that serious mindset. Children given in the marriage are covenant children and must be raised as such. Covenant blessings then are enjoyed most intimately in that covenant home.

The large section and clear focus on covenantal life in the family is a testimony to the practical nature of this book. It is not an abstract or dry thesis on cold doctrinal truth. The doctrine of the covenant is of the utmost practical importance to the Reformed believer and Life in the Covenant gets at that. The covenant and especially the family are at the very heart of the Christian life. Everyone is born into a family. The first relationships we all have are within the family. Normally we learn how to worship God not first by going to church but by family worship (65- 66). The family in which we are born shapes us more than anything and therefore it is so important that God’s covenant shape our families. And it is no surprise, as this book makes clear, that the Devil attacks families more than ever. And in the world, he has been very successful. Life in the Covenant exposes his attacks and draws our attention to their seriousness.

To read the rets of the review, visit this link to the RFPA website.

Published in: on May 13, 2023 at 7:42 AM  Leave a Comment  

Abounding Grace in Christ

Back in late March this “Grace Gems” devotional was published, and since then I have read it several times over to refresh my own soul in the abundant grace of God to this sinner and to all His chosen and redeemed sinners. I pray it blesses your soul today.

Without supplies of grace from Christ

(James Smith, “The Believer’s Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble” 1842)

Jehovah is emphatically called . . .
   the God of all grace,
   the Father of mercies,
   the God of all comfort,
   the God of peace,
   the God of hope,
   the God of salvation.
All of these titles are full of comfort, and are calculated to inspire our souls with love, gratitude, and pleasure.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you–so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work!” 2 Corinthians 9:8

All grace dwells in God, and flows freely from Him. He is glorified in the communications of His grace to the most unworthy. You have received a little–He is able to make all of His grace abound toward you. The aboundings of His grace will produce . . .
   strong faith,
   great patience,
   deep humility,
   holy contentment,
   ardent love,
   joyful hope,
   warm zeal,
   Scriptural courage,
   and spiritual fortitude.

It is divine grace which . . .
   first quickened us to feel our lost state;
   led us to Jesus;
   gives us a good hope;
   conquers our corruptions;
   enables us to act for the Lord’s glory.

In reference to all these things, you feel miserably deficient; you cannot produce them. But God can make His grace abound to you. He can give you a sufficiency of grace . . .
   to support you under every trial,
   to strengthen you under every burden,
   to qualify you for every duty, and
   to fill you with all joy and peace in believing–that you may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

You have perhaps set about doing good works, and have found yourself unable to perform them. You feel ashamed of what you have done; you have condemned yourself, and perhaps have given way to fear and despondency. Good works can only be performed through grace received from the Lord.

Without God’s grace, the wisest miscarry.
With God’s grace, the most simple succeed!

We can only serve God rightly, when we serve Him with His own grace.

You are not sufficient of yourself so much as to think a good thought!
Without supplies of grace from Christ
, you can do nothing to please Him. 

There is no good work, but you may perform it–if you receive God’s grace!

There is no sin, but you may fall into–if you trust to yourself, and neglect the supplies of grace.

God invites you to His throne of grace. He promises you a supply. He is able to make all grace to abound toward you. He is the God of all grace; and until He changes in His nature, forfeits His word, or refuses to give–you have no ground of complaint or despondency.

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
 I have already come;
 ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
 And grace will lead me home!”

Published in: on May 7, 2023 at 7:44 AM  Leave a Comment  

Justification by Faith Alone: The Comfort of the God Who Sees Us

Being exposed to the searching gaze of our Creator, who sees the mess of our hearts, should make everyone tremble with fear. But the doctrine of justification by faith alone calms our angst, for it tells us that the God who sees us at our worst gives us His best – namely, His Son (Rom,8:31-32). He who sees the heart is He who sends His Son to provide the perfect righteousness that our sinful hearts require.

So we can stop pretending, with God and others. Understanding that we are justified by faith alone, which receives the imputed righteousness of Christ, frees us from the tyranny of a defensive life. We can relax. We are secure in God’s love for us, and therefore we do not have to live lives of anxious insecurity, with God or others.

In addition, when we know that our standing with God is both provided for and secured by Him, we can truly live for Him. We begin to love His law and to delight in obedience (1 John 5:3). Pleasing God moves from something dull and restrictive to the most exciting prospect in life. By the Holy Spirit, we are transformed. Not because justification is a process (the error we noted above) but precisely because it is not. The only people who can ever truly live for the Lord are those who know that their standing before Him is as secure as Christ’s own standing before the Father. [pp.61-62]

From a new title from Ligonier Ministries, a copy of which was sent to me by the publisher. Source: The Beauty of Divine Grace: Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer – Hardcover, Book | Ligonier Ministries Store

Published in: on April 30, 2023 at 7:32 AM  Leave a Comment  

PRC Archives Feature, April 2023 – Mystery Photo Time! *Updated and Identified

We are due to have a PRC archives feature, and today while putting away some photos, I came across a folder with a bunch of treasures in it. I share a few here and put these questions to you: What church building is that in the photo above and what event was this church hosting? (that will also come with a date, of course). Have fun!

I’ll give you a few extra photo hints (besides the obvious one in the photo above): It involved several PRC ministers (some of the smoking variety!) and some stellar ball players (that adjective “stellar” is mine and is used with a little “tongue-in-cheek” style. Whom can you identify?

When you have this figured out, we’ll share some more fun photos from the event.

*Update – including some new pictures!

By now you may have read some of the comments and learned about the church picture and some of the people in the pictures. The church building is that of the old Creston PRC on Leonard St. in Grand Rapids, MI, which is still in existence (read Gary’s comment below). The event was the 18th annual PR Young People’s Convention hosted by Creston PRC (see the new photo above) and Hope PRC in Walker (see the added photo below).

1958 is the year of my birth, and that old Hope PRC building is the one I worshiped in in my youth. It was right where Hope PR Christian School is now located, or perhaps better to say in front of the school where the parking lot now is. The house that Hope’s administrator lives in is the old parsonage.

As for the gathering of people in the second picture above, those are (from l-r) Revs. G. Vos, H. Hanko, G. Van Baren, John Kalsbeek (I believe), Rev. B. Woudenberg, and Cal Reitsma (I believe). And the two ball players are Revs. G. Van Baren and H. Hanko – yes, pipe in mouth and all! You probably did not know those men enjoyed softball back in the day, but that’s what PRYP’s Conventions allow ministers to do – to play some sports with the young people.

But now for the best photo yet from this 1958 PRYP’s Convention – check this out, and see how many people you can identify! Yes, that is a certain PRC professor at the wheel!

Published in: on April 27, 2023 at 9:25 PM  Comments (9)  

PR Theological Seminary – 1st Quarter Library Additions 2023 (2)

It’s National Library Week this week, and that makes fitting the posting of the second part of the list of significant additions to the library of the PRC Seminary library for the first three months of this year. Last Saturday I posted the first part of the list, covering four categories of new and used books; in this post we include four other sections covering dogmatic theology, practical theology, and reference.

It is my purpose not merely to inform you of what types of books we are adding to the seminary library, but also to inspire you to find something of interest to read this Spring. With the weather still up and down (at least here in West Michigan!), it’s a great time to settle down with a good book in the evening (or start the day with a chapter!) – something to broaden your faith and deepen your walk with the Lord.

Dogmatics, Biblical Theology, Historical Theology

  • Calvin’s Ecclesiology: A Study in the History of Doctrine. Tadataka Maruyama. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2022.
  • Reformed Scholasticism: Recovering the Tools of Reformed Theology. Ryan M. McGraw. New York: T&T Clark, 2020 (T & T Clark Theology)
  • On Free Will and the Law: Vol. 2 of a New Translation of The Loci Communes. Peter Martyr Vermigli; Joseph Tipton, Transl.; Kirk M. Summers. Landrum, SC: Davenant Press, The, 2021.
  • On the Law of God: On the Ceremonial and Forensic Laws. Johann Gerhard, 1582-1637; Richard J. Dinda, transl.; Benjamin T. G. and Joshua J. Hayes Mayes. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2015 (Theological Commonplaces), vol. XV-XVI
  • Het Verbond der Genade [The Covenant of Grace]. Jesaias Hillenius, 1700-1759. Rumpt: Prolectori, 2014 (sent from a contact in the Netherlands).
  • Reformation Celebration: The Significance of Scripture, Grace, Faith and Christ. Gordon L. Isaac; Eckhard J. Schnabel, eds. Peabody, MA: Hendrikson, 2018.
  • The Sovereignty of God. Jeffrey D. Johnson; Joel R. Beeke. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2022.
  • No Shadow of Turning: Divine Immutability and the Economy of Redemption. Ronni Kurtz; J. V. Fesko and Matthew Barrett, eds. Fearn, Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2022 (R.E.D.S. – Reformed, Exegetical and Doctrinal Studies).
  • The Doctrine of Election. John Calvin; Guillaume Farel (Selections, English). Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 2022.
  • Sin and Grace: Evangelical Soteriology in Historical Perspective. Tony Lane. London: Apollos; InterVarsity, 2020.
  • How Melanchthon Helped Luther Discover the Gospel: The Doctrine of Justification in the Reformation. Lowell C. Green; Scott. Keith. Irvine, CA: 1517 Publications, 2021.
  • Assurance of Adoption: A New Paradigm for Assurance of Salvation. Chun Tse. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2020.
  • The Law-Gospel Debate: An Interpretation of Its Historical Development. Gerhard O. Forde; Herbert W. Richardson. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007.
  • Baptism: Three Views. David F. Wright; Sinclair B. Ferguson; A. N. S. Lane. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.
  • Saving Calvinism: Expanding the Reformed Tradition. Oliver Crisp. Downers Grove, IL, 2016.
  • The Holy Spirit. Geoff Thomas. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2011.
  • Holy Spirit: The Helper. John Owen, 1616-1683. Complete Works of John Owen, Vol.7 (new ed., hc). Wheaton, IL, 2022.
  • The Holy Spirit. Robert Letham; Cornelis P. Venema. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2023.
  • My Kingdom Is Not of This World: Papers Read at the 2021 Westminster Conference. David McKay; Leonardo De Chirico; Andrew Roycroft. London: The Westminster Conference, 2021.
  • The Precisionist Strain: Disciplinary Religion & Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638. Theodore Dwight Bozeman. Chapel Hill, NC: Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, c2004.
  • The Sabbath as Rest and Hope for the People of God. Guy Prentiss Waters; Dane C. Ortlund and Miles V. Van Pelt, editors (series). Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022 (Short Studies in Biblical Theology)
  • The Assurance of Salvation: Biblical Hope for Our Struggles. Robert A. Peterson. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2019.
  • Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ. John Piper. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2023.
  • The Lord’s Supper in the Reformed Church in America: Tradition in Transformation. Christopher Dorn. New York: Peter Lang, c2007 (American University Studies. Series VII, Theology and Religion), vol. 264

Practical Theology (1) – Christian Living, Ethics, Family, Marriage, Missions, Prayer

  • The Freedom of a Christian: A New Translation. Martin Luther, 1483-1546; Robert Kolb, translator. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2023 (Crossway Short Classics Series)
  • 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law. Thomas R. Schreiner; Benjamin L. Merkle. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2010.
  • Life in the Covenant: In Family, Church, and World. Wilbur Bruinsma. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2023.
  • Mission Matters: Love Says Go. Tim Chester. London: InterVarsity, 2015.
  • Sixteenth-Century Mission: Explorations in Protestant and Roman Catholic Theology and Practice. Robert L. Gallagher; Edward L. Smither; Ray Van Neste. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2021 (Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology)
  • Say Among the Heathen the Lord Reigns: Evidences in Southeast Asia. Jean Kortering. (new ed pb.) Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2022.
  • Turning Points in the Expansion of Christianity. Alice T. Orr. Grand Rapids, MI: Bamer Academic, 2021.
  • Thoughts on Public Prayer. Samuel Miller (new edition, hc). Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2022.
  • The Roots of Reformed Moral Theology. Bruce P. Baugus. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2022.
  • Exiles on Mission: How Christians Can Thrive in a Post-Christian World. Paul S. Williams. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2020.
  • Exposing the Gender Lie: How to Protect Children and Teens from the Transgender Industry’s False Ideology. Jeff. Myers; Brandon. Showalter. Colorado Springs, CO: Summit Ministries, 2023.
  • Who Am I?: What the Bible Teaches About Christian Identity. Terry L. Johnson.  Leyland, England: EP Books, 2020.

Practical Theology (2) – Church Government/Leadership, Counseling, Pastoral Ministry, Preaching, Sermons, Worship

  • The Path to Being a Pastor: A Guide for the Aspiring. Bobby Jamieson. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021 (9Marks)
  • The Gospel Shaped Leader: Leaning on Jesus to Shepherd His People. Scott Thomas. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2021.
  • Leading from the Foundation Up: How Fearing God Builds Stronger Leaders. David M. Cook; Shane W. Parker. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2023.
  • Character Matters: Shepherding in the Fruit of the Spirit. Aaron Menikoff; Anthony J. Carter. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2020.
  • Consider Your Counsel: Addressing Ten Mistakes in Our Biblical Counseling. Robert W. Kellemen. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2021.
  • Legal Issues in Biblical Counseling: Direction and Help for Churches and Counselors. T. Dale Johnson, editor; Edward C. Wilde, editor. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2022.
  • Walking with Domestic Abuse Sufferers. Helen Thorne. London, SPCK, 2018 (Gospel Hope for Life Issues).
  • Abuse: Finding Hope in Christ. John Henderson. P&R, 2012.
  • Child Sexual Abuse: Thinking Biblically about the Unthinkable. Cheryl Bell. Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, 2021 (Truth in Love).
  • Changed from Glory into Glory: The Liturgical Story of the Christian Faith. Scott Aniol. Peterborough, ON: Joshua Press, 2022.
  • The Whole Counsel of God: Why and How to Preach the Entire Bible. Tim Patrick; Andrew Reid; Gary Millar. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020.
  • Fight for Your Pastor. Peter Orr; Dane C. Ortlund. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022.
  • Restoring the Fallen: A Team Approach to Caring, Confronting & Reconciling. Earl D. Wilson. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c1997.


  • Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling. Rodney J. Hunter. ; Nancy J. Ramsay. Expanded ed. with CD-ROM. Nashville: Abingdon Press, c2005.


And here’s a little more about the wonderful Association of Christian Librarians (to which I belong) and its celebration of National Library week:

National Library Week.png


Each year the Association of Christian Librarians uses National Library Week as an opportunity to unite in prayer as individual members.  This year’s theme is “There’s More to the Story”.  Join me to give thanks to God for leadership at all levels in the association, and pray for wisdom, encouragement, and new opportunities to serve one another as we partner together and as we serve at our individual locations around the globe.  May you be encouraged this week, as you join together with other members at our Father’s throne.

Our story begins in 1957:

ACL Members of 2023 are reaping the benefits of our founding mothers who first met together in 1957.

During the summer of 1956, the idea of the Association of Christian Librarians was first conceived when five librarians met on the campus of Nyack Missionary College in Nyack, NY to enjoy fellowship and discuss current challenges that they faced as Christian librarians. These ‘founding Mothers’, Shirley Wood of Columbia Bible College, Dorothy Spidell of Nyack Missionary College, Mary Jane Kergerize and Marian Boyjiam of The King’s College, and Emily Russel of Faith Theological Seminary, could not have imagined what would come from this first meeting. In 1957, the Christian Librarians’ Fellowship, now known as the Association of Christian Librarians, was officially established. 

Let us be thankful for their vision and continue to pray for the Home Office Staff and the Board of Directors, who lead and guide our association into the future.

Published in: on April 26, 2023 at 10:12 PM  Leave a Comment  

PR Theological Seminary – 1st Quarter Library Additions 2023

At the end of March, I completed the first quarter list of significant book acquisitions to the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary library for 2023. At their March meeting the TSC (Theological School Committee) received a copy for their information, and I also usually send it out to the faculty and students so that they can keep abreast of new resources.

As is my custom, I post the list here too, because I believe it is of value to you as well. You are readers – good readers – and as you know, my goal is to help you read more and read better (wider and deeper). Part of my reason for posting this list here is not only to show you the kind of books the seminary adds to its library, but also to stimulate you to find something to read and perhaps add to your home or church library. Yes, there are books here for the layman and laywoman, for the young adults and for teenagers – even children at times. Browse this list and perhaps you will find something of interest and benefit to you.

Once again I divide the list into two parts. In this list we will look at four (4) sections: biblical studies, commentaries, church history, and creeds and confessions. It is my hope that you find something of interest to read this Spring. With the weather still up and down (at least here in West Michigan!), it’s a great time to settle down with a good book in the evening (or start the day with a chapter!) – something to broaden your faith and deepen your walk with the Lord.

Biblical studies/ Commentaries/ Biblical Theology


  • Biblia Americana: America’s First Bible Commentary: A Synoptic Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Cotton Mather, 1663-1728 (Baker)
    • Volume 1 – Genesis
    • Volume 3 – Joshua-2 Chronicles
  • Osborne NT Commentaries (Lexham Press)
    • John: Verse by Verse, Grant R. Osborne, 2018.
  • Word Biblical Commentary (Zondervan)
    • Deuteronomy 21:10 – 34:12 (this volume was missing for years from our collection). Duane L. Christensen, 1997.

Other Commentaries (Individual – OT & NT)

  • God’s Rascal: The Jacob Narrative in Genesis 25-35. Dale R. Davis. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus Publications, 2022.
  • Ezekiel and Lamentation for Everyone. John Goldingay. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2016.
  • Galatians: An Expositional Commentary. R.C. Sproul. Sanford, FL: Ligonier, 2022.

Individual Biblical Studies Titles (Including Doctrine of Scripture)

  • Scribes and Scripture: The Amazing Story of How We Got the Bible. John D. Meade; Peter J. Gurry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022.
  • The Dawning of Redemption: The Story of the Pentateuch and the Hope of the Gospel. Ian J. Vaillancourt. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022.
  • The Message of the Church: Assemble the People Before Me. Christopher Green. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013.
  • Handbook on the Gospels. Benjamin L. Gladd. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021.
  • The Gospel and the Gospels: Christian Proclamation and Early Jesus Books. Simon Gathercole. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2022.
  • Handbook on Acts and Paul’s Letters. Thomas Schreiner. Baker, 2019.
  • Handbook on Hebrews Through Revelation. Andreas J. Kostenberger. Baker, 2020.

Church History, General and Biography

  • Ignatius of Antioch and the Parting of Ways: Early Jewish-Christian Relations. Thomas A. Robinson. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2009.
  • The First One Hundred Years of Christianity: An Introduction to Its History, Literature, and Development. Udo Schnelle. Baker Academic, 2020.
  • Saint Patrick: The Man and His Works. Thomas O’Loughlin. London: SPCK, 2014.
  • Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Jewish People: A Reader. Martin Luther, 1483-1546; Brooks Schramm; Kirsi Irmeli Stjerna. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, c2012.
  • Printing, Propaganda, and Martin Luther. Mark U. Edwards. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005.
  • Brethren in Christ: A Calvinist Network in Reformation Europe. Ole Peter Grell. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • The English Reformation: A Very Brief History. Alec. Ryrie. London: SPCK, 2020.
  • A Protestant Christendom?: The World the Reformation Made. Onsi A. Kamel; W. Bradford Littlejohn; E.J. Hutchinson. Landrum, SC: Davenant Institute, 2021.
  • De Levensavond van Dr A. Kuyper [The Evening of Life of Dr A. Kuyper]. J. H. Kuyper. Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1921.
  • Meister Albert en Zijn Zonen: Uit de Gesciedenis der Afscheiding in Drenthe [on the Afscheiding in Drenthe]. J. Kok. Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1934.
  • The Dutch in America: Papers presented at the Fourth Biennial Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Dutch-American Studies, 1983. Holland, MI: Hope College, 1983.
  • Martyn-Lloyd Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century. Christopher Catherwood. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015.
  • The Tongue of a Teacher: Essays in Honor of the Rev. Dr. Timothy Brown. Leanne Van Dyk; David Bast; et al. Reformed Church Press, 2021 (Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America).
  • My Father’s Journey: From Tragedy, War and New Hope in Australia, a Story of Inspiring Faith in God Through It All. Harry Kleyn. Australia: IngramSpark, 2022.
  • Timothy Keller: His Spiritual and Intellectual Formation. Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2023.
  • 2000 Years of Christ’s Power: Volume 5: The Age of Enlightenment and Awakening, 18th Century. Nicholas R. Needham. Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 2023.
  • History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America 1920-1980: Decade by Decade. William J. Edgar. Pittsburgh, PA: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2022.

Creeds and Confessions

  • The Church: Notes on Articles 27-29 of the Belgic Confession. I. de Wolff. Premier Publ., nd.
  • The Landscape of Faith: An Explorer’s Guide to the Christian Creeds. Alister E. McGrath. London: SPCK, 2018.
  • A New Exposition of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. Rob Ventura; Dave Chanski; Earl M. Blackburn. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus Publications, 2022.
  • The Racovian Catechism: With Notes and Illustrations, translated from the Latin, to which is prefixed a sketch of the history of Unitarianism in Poland and the adjacent countries. Thomas Rees, 1777-1864, Transl. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1818/2023 (reprint).
  • Understanding God’s Revelation: Meditations on the Belgic Confession (with an Appendix: Following After God). Cornelius VanKempen, 2021.
Published in: on April 22, 2023 at 7:20 PM  Comments (1)  

Seeing the Church from the Viewpoint of Eternity

Third, the perspective of eternity. Having considered the authority of Christ and the nature of worship, we are now ready to consider how these two principles inform our understanding of the church militant. On May 16, 1816, John Black, a little-known Scottish Presbyterian pastor and one-time professor at what would become the University of Pittsburgh, preached a sermon titled “Church Fellowship” before a gathering of ministers in Philadelphia. The sermon explicitly connects the communion of the saints with the topic of worship. Black states:

Saints by profession of faith are bound to hold communion and fellowship in the worship and service of God. The church is a society. She is formed upon the principle of an organic body, having a head and members. This constitution proceeds upon the ground of a covenant, embracing the head, and all the members, in a state of union and communion together. All the members united to Jesus Christ, and members one of another, walk together in love. They join their hands, for their hearts are united. They take sweet counsel together, and walk unto the house of God in company (cf. Ps. 55:14).

For Black, the communion of the saints provides a “social principle of earth” that informs how we should view other Christians and our worship together. The local gathering of the saints in worship on the Lord’s Day represents a “holy convocation,” where we assemble under the banner of King Jesus, hear His gracious Word proclaimed in Scripture, and fellowship together by eating and drinking at His table. All this prepares us for joining the heavenly host in worshiping God through the ministry of the Lamb (see Rev. 4–5; 21–22).All this sounds so wonderful—and it is. But the gathering of the saints on this side of Canaan’s shore is also marked by the frailties and failures that characterize life and ministry and worship in a fallen world. Congregations are often divided. Moral scandals sometimes overtake even the best of churches. Theological errors can creep into pulpits and pews. Beyond that, each one of us must confront our own sinful inclinations, thoughts, and behavior that often stifle our attempts to worship God according to His Word.As we confront sin and suffering, heresy and heartache, we must train our eyes to see the church from the perspective of eternity. The church militant must pass through the crucible of sanctification as it prepares for the day when Christ will present it to His heavenly Father as a dazzling bride, without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 4:13–16; 5:27). This means that the church on earth is not yet what it will one day be (1 John 3:2). Even more, we must look past our own sliver of time to realize that the church here and now is only a small part of the much larger body of Christ in heaven that consists of a vast multitude of people from throughout the ages and from every tongue, tribe, and people. With Christ as our King, we as the church militant have every hope that what we see dimly here on earth will be realized more fully when our faith becomes sight. Until then, may the Lord find us faithful to the charge He has given us in His Word.

Taken from “The Worship and Head of the Church Militant” in the April 2023 issue of Tabletalk
Published in: on April 16, 2023 at 9:31 PM  Leave a Comment