Sanctifying Lessons (and a Prayer) from Haggai

As I have mentioned here recently, our Senior Bible Fellowship Bible study group at Faith PRC is studying the prophecy of Haggai this winter. Our last study focused on the first prophecy of this prophet of Jehovah found in chapter 1, and this coming week we will be entering chapter 2 and the other three prophecies the Lord gave His servant to proclaim.

Pastor R. Kleyn has been doing a series on this prophecy in his congregation, Covenant of Grace PRC in Spokane, WA. Last week he preached on the last part of Haggai, chap.2:10-19. Tied to that was some quotes placed in the church bulletin from Rev. Ron Hanko’s commentary on Haggai, The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer, which we are also making use of in our Bible study. It is a marvelous exposition and application of the gospel revealed in Haggai.

In this blog post, we repeat these quotes here, adding at the end one of John Calvin’s prayers following his lectures on this section of Haggai 2. May it serve for our spiritual profit.

God tells the Jews to look back to the time four months before when they were still neglecting the house of God and work of building the house, to the time before one stone had been laid on another in the temple, when only the foundations had been laid and nothing more done. He is telling them, not only to think back but literally to “lay it to heart. He is going to remind them once more of the judgments they had experienced and suffered through drought and crop failure, and is going to give them these things once again as signs of his blessing.

He wants them to know that disobedience brings wrath and that his favor and blessing come only in the way of obedience. That is a perennial problem with God’s people, who think they can have it both ways. They think they can enjoy the blessing and favor of God while continuing in ways that are displeasing to God. They think that their salvation and status as people of God guarantee them uninterrupted enjoyment of God’s goodness.

It is not so. Salvation itself cannot be lost, but the enjoyment of it can and is lost when we disobediently and hard-heartedly go our own way and refuse to hear the warnings of God’s Word. The lack of true happiness and peace that are the lot of so many Christians today, the terrors of conscience they suffer, their troubled lives, mental anguish and coldness are more often than not the result of the fact that they do not lay to heart what God says here.

…Let us, then, labor faithfully and diligently, each in the place God has given, in prayer, in the preaching of the gospel, in the reading and studying of God’s Word, in the instruction of our children, in missions, and in all the others ways in which God’s spiritual house is built, its stones gathered and shaped and fitted into place, and it built up as an habitation of God through the Spirit. We have the promise of God’s blessing to encourage us and to show that he is pleased with the labors of our hands. We have that blessing in the outpouring of the Spirit, who comes as rain upon dry ground, to refresh our souls, we have in the great harvest of the blessings of salvation, in the fields white for harvest, in shelter from the winds of change that blow in church and state, and in protection from the enemies of the church.

Prayer of Calvin after lecture number 132 (on the minor prophets, Haggai 2:10-14):

Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as we come from our mother’s womb wholly impure and polluted, and afterwards continually contract so many new defilements, – O grant that we may flee to the fountain, which alone can cleanse us. And as there is no other way by which we can be cleansed from all the defilements of the flesh, except we be sprinkled by the blood of thy only begotten Son, and that by the hidden power of thy Spirit, and thus renounce all our vices, – O grant that we may so strive truly and sincerely to devote ourselves to thee, as daily to renounce more and more all our evil affections, and to have nothing else as our object, but to submit our minds and all our affections to thee, by really denying ourselves, and to exercise ourselves in this strenuous effort as long as we are in this world, until we attain to that true and perfect purity, which is laid up for us in thine only-begotten Son, when we shall be fully united to him, having been transformed into that glory into which he has been received. Amen.

Published in: on February 27, 2021 at 8:46 PM  Leave a Comment  

Two New Titles on the Attributes of God

In the last month, I requested and received two new books treating the attributes of God, and in this post I highlight them and make them available for review in the Standard Bearer, a Reformed semi-monthly magazine.

The first is from Reformation Trust (a division of Ligonier Ministries) and is titled Show Me Your Glory: Understanding the Majestic Splendor of God (2020), written by Steven J. Lawson. The author is founder and president of OnePassion Ministries (devoted to expository preaching) and a Ligonier teaching fellow.

The publisher provides this summary of the book:

It’s the most important question we can ask: Who is God? The wrong answer could spell our doom, but God has clearly revealed Himself and His majesty in His Word. Just as Moses asked the Lord on the summit of Sinai, we can approach God’s Word with the ultimate request: “Show me Your glory.”

In Show Me Your Glory: Understanding the Majestic Splendor of God, Dr. Steven Lawson takes us to the mountaintop of divine revelation by distilling the Bible’s teaching about God Himself. Each chapter delves into the depths of God’s awesome attributes, teaching that a deeper knowledge of our Creator can lead us into intimate fellowship with and reverent worship of the One who made us for Himself.

For an idea of what is covered in this book, here is the table of contents:

Preface: Higher Ground
1. Majestically Awesome: The Glory of God
2. Intensely Personal: The Glory of God
3. Mysteriously Three: The Triunity of God
4. Internally Sufficient: The Aseity of God
5. Uniquely Immortal: The Spirituality of God
6. Supremely Reigning: The Sovereignty of God
7. Infinitely Holy: The Holiness of God
8. Eternally Unchanging: The Immutability of God
9. Universally Present: The Omnipresence of God
10. Intimately Knowing: The Omniscience of God
11. Irresistibly Powerful: The Omnipotence of God
12. Brilliantly Wise: The Wisdom of God
13. Absolutely True: The Truthfulness of God
14. Graciously Kind: The Goodness of God
15. Mercifully Saving: The Grace of God
16. Unconditionally Loving: The Love of God
17. Sovereignly Selecting: The Foreknowledge of God
18. Perfectly Just: The Righteousness of God
19. Profoundly Angry: The Wrath of God
20. Exceedingly Worthy: The Worship of God

To help introduce the book to you, we quote from the author’s first chapter, “Majestically Awesome: The Glory of God.” At the outset Lawson writes:

There is nothing more important in our lives than knowing God and living for the glory of His great and awesome name. The apostle Paul wrote, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Living for God’s glory must permeate every part of our lives—as we wake up in the morning, as we go to work, as we attend school, as we worship in church, as we serve the Lord, and as we go to sleep at night. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every moment is to be lived for the glory of God.

Knowing God and beholding His glory is foundational to every-thing in our lives. To build on any other footing is to build on shifting sand. Either we live for the glory of God, or we do not live at all—we only exist. If we are to truly live as He intends, our hearts must be, first and foremost, directed toward the pursuit of God’s glory. God’s glory must be primary and all else a far distant second. To fail to live for the glory of God is to endure an empty existence. God must be the epicenter of our lives. We exist for His glory—God created us for this high purpose. This must be our chief end. Otherwise, we have squandered our lives.Living for the glory of God is the beginning and end of all things. This divine glory is the blazing sun around which our lives must revolve. When we come to the end of our lives, all that will matter is an affirmative answer to this crucial question: Did we live for the glory of God? If we fail to live for God, we have wasted our lives upon the earth. But if we seek God’s glory, our lives will have been well spent and lived to the fullest. Only in the pursuit of the glory of God will our lives count for time and eternity.

It appears that this would make a wonderful devotional read, feeding your soul and guiding your life in a God-focused way.

The Attributes of God

The second book is from Crossway and part of a relatively new series of titles published under the name “Short Studies in Systematic Theology.” The title of one of the newest in this series is The Attributes of God: An Introduction by noted Anglican theologian Gerald Bray, research professor at Beeson Divinity School and director of research for the Latimer Trust.

The publisher gives us this description of this title:

Throughout history, the church has recognized the importance of studying and understanding God’s attributes. As the Creator of all things, God is unique and cannot be compared to any of his creatures, so to know him, believers turn to the pages of Scripture. In The Attributes of God, renowned theologian Gerald Bray leads us on an exploration of God’s being, his essential attributes, his relational attributes, and the relevance of his attributes to our thinking, lives, and worship. As we better understand God’s attributes, we will learn to delight in who God is and how he has made himself known to us in Scripture.

And from Crossway’s website we may also supply a sample of Bray’s work. This is an excerpt from chapter 1, “The Being of God and His Attributes”:

Our analysis of God’s being and attributes is derived from his self-revelation to us in the Bible and confirmed by our experience of its truth. It is a genuine reflection of our personal relationship with him, but it is not comprehensive or exhaustive. There is much about God that we do not (and cannot) know. The theology of God’s attributes is therefore both a confident expression of faith and a humble admission of ignorance in line with the nature and content of God’s self-disclosure to us.

It is a paradox of God’s self-revelation that although his attributes are fundamental to it, they are seldom mentioned specifically. God’s invisibility, for example, is implied from the creation narrative in Genesis onward, yet it is hardly ever mentioned by name in the Bible. That does not mean that it can be ignored though, or (still less) denied. The prohibition against making “a carved image, or any likeness of anything” is the second of the Ten Commandments, which makes it clear that visible things are not to be worshiped, because they are not—and cannot be—God (Ex. 20:4; Deut. 5:8). The substance of the doctrine of divine invisibility is there, but there is no word used to describe it. Neither is there any systematic analysis of the concept comparing it to other divine attributes, like immortality, or even to other manifestations of his being, like his omnipresence. These things are not denied, but they are assumed rather than stated. When the need arose for them, they were picked up and used to reassure the Israelites that the God who was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was with them still, and present in power wherever they might wander, but no attempt was ever made to systematize such statements as attributes, or to explain what they are and why they matter. For the ancient Israelites, recognition of what we call God’s attributes was all part of their faith in God. Those who had that faith were expected to assume the truth of whatever divine attribute was required to meet a particular situation, and that was deemed to be sufficient.

While a brief and introductory study of God’s attributes, this looks to be a profitable read as well. Its contents are as follows:


  1. The Being of God and His Attributes
  2. God’s Essential Attributes
  3. God’s Relational Attributes
  4. The Relevance of God’s Attributes Today

Appendix: God’s Attributes in Christian Tradition

If interested in either of these titles, let me know.

Published in: on February 24, 2021 at 9:10 PM  Leave a Comment  

Jehovah’s Discipline of Jonah – February 15, 2021 “Standard Bearer”

The latest issue of the Standard Bearer has been released digitally and in print (for subscribers). The February 15, 2021 issue contains a fine variety of articles once again – from a meditation on godly king Jehoshaphat setting himself to seek the Lord to an editorial on a review of the popular book The Benedict Option, from a look at persecution in the world about us to another look at God’s gospel in the OT book of Jonah, from a “taking heed to the doctrine” of justification and good works to a consideration of the Second Helvetic Confession on man’s free will and powers, and from an important explanation of Calvin’s view on good works and God’s blessings to a glance at some church news in the PRC and her sister churches. As you can see, there is plenty of instructive and edifying reading here.

For this post, we reference the publisher’s (the RFPA) blog post previewing this issue of the SB. It features Rev. R. Hanko’s biblical study article on Jonah 1:4-17 titled “Jonah’s Discipline.” We quote a portion of this study, encouraging you to read the rest at the link provided here. And if you should wish to subscribe to the Standard Bearer, visit this page.

The doctrine of the perseverance or preservation of saints is beautifully illustrated in what happened to Jonah when he tried to escape his commission to Nineveh. God does not and cannot forsake His own or leave them to perish. He always rescues them from their disobedience and sin and brings them to repentance and new obedience. God, who has chosen His own from eternity, redeemed them by the blood of His Son, and sent His Spirit to work in them, cannot forsake them without being unfaithful to Himself. Abandoning them to their own sinfulness would mean that His counsel can change, the blood of His Son be shed in vain, and the Spirit’s work come to nothing.

If our salvation depended at all on us, we would never be saved. It depends entirely on God and His gracious work, not only the beginning of our salvation, but also our continued salvation and final glory. If it had not been for God’s electing purpose, for the cross, and for the sovereign operations of the Spirit, Jonah would have fled forever from the presence of God and never regretted it until he found himself not in the water but in eternal fire.

God uses many means to deliver His people from their sins and disobedience. To some whom He has saved He gives sufficient grace that they live upright and holy lives without straying long or far from the right way. With those who do stray, His Word is the principle means of restoration; but when they will not hear the Word, then He uses other means to discipline them and restore them. Thus it was with Jonah, who needed the reproofs of heathen sailors, the threat of death and of hell, and three horrifying days in the belly of a fish to bring him back from his disobedience.

The straying of some is not due to the insufficiency of God’s grace, but to their own stubbornness, unfaithfulness, and hard-heartedness. So it was with Jonah, and when finally the Lord restored him, he confessed that he had observed lying vanities and had forsaken his own mercy (2:8). That must be the confession of every preserved child of God.

Published in: on February 20, 2021 at 9:31 PM  Leave a Comment  

Last Quarter Additions to the PRC Seminary Library, Oct.-Dec., 2020 (2)


At the end of 2020 I completed the list of significant book acquisitions to the PRC Seminary library for the final quarter of the year. In my previous post, I gave you the first sections of the list. With this post I give you the rest of the categories of books, mostly in the areas of doctrinal and practical theology.

Keep in mind that these lists are not exhaustive but representative of what has been added to the library in the last quarter of 2020. And, as always, there is something here for most everyone. Plenty of “good stuff”! Ideas for your own library, perhaps. What’s on your bookshelf? 🙂 Tolle lege – take up and read!

Covenant Theology: Biblical, Theological, and Historical Perspectives  -     Edited By: Guy Prentiss Waters, J. Nicholas Reid, John R. Muether
    By: Edited by Guy P. Waters, J. Nicholas Reid & John R. Muether

Dogmatics, Biblical Theology, Historical Theology

  • Scholastic Discourse: Johannes Maccovius (1588-1644) on Theological and Philosophical Distinctions and Rules. Jan Makowski, 1588-1644. Apeldoorn: Instituut voor Reformatieonderzoek, 2009 (Publicaties Van Het Instituut Voor Reformatieonderzoek), vol. 4
  • The Synod of Dort: Historical, Theological, and Experiential Perspectives. David W. Hall; W. Robert Godfrey. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2020 (Refo500 Academic Studies,) vol. 68.
  • God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship. Kenton L. Sparks. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, c2008.
  • For the Mouth of the Lord Has Spoken: The Doctrine of Scripture. Guy Prentiss Waters. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus Publications, 2020 (R.E.D.S. – Reformed, Exegetical and Doctrinal Studies).
  • Abraham Kuyper, Sr. – Miscellaneous Papers, 1869-1921: [Boxed and placed in Dutch section in archive room]. Abraham Kuyper, 1837-1920. (19 by AK, 6 about him)
  • On the Church. Abraham Kuyper, 1837-1920; John H. Wood, editor; Andrew M. McGinnis, editor; Jordan J. Ballor and Melvin Flikkema. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; Acton Institute, 2016 (Abraham Kuyper: Collected Works in Public Theology)
  • Common Grace: God’s Gifts for a Fallen World, Volume 3: The Practical Section. Abraham Kuyper, 1837-1920; Nelson D. Kloosterman, Transl.; Ed M. Van Der Maas, Transl.; Jordan J. Ballor and J. Daryl Charles. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020 (Collected Works in Public Theology) vol. 3 (final volume of Kuyper’s CG)
  • Things Unseen: A Systematic Introduction to the Christian Faith and Reformed Theology.  J. Gresham Machen, 1881-1937; Sinclair B. Ferguson; Stephen J. Nichols. Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2020.
  • Show Me Your Glory: Understanding the Majestic Splendor of God. Steven J. Lawson. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2020.
  • The Mystery of the Trinity: A Trinitarian Approach to the Attributes of God. Vern S. Poythress. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 2020.
  • The Trinity: An Introduction. Scott Swain; Graham A. Cole; Oren R. Martin. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020.
  • A New Day of Small Beginnings.  Pierre Courthial; Matthew S. Miller, Transl. Tallahassee, FL: Zurich Pub., Inc., 2018 [Overview of the covenant of grace]
  • God, Creation, and Human Rebellion: Lecture Notes of Archibald Alexander from the Hand of Charles Hodge. Archibald Alexander, 1772-1851; Charles Hodge, 1797-1878 , compiler. ; Travis Fentiman, editor. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • Is Jesus Truly God?: How The Bible Teaches the Divinity of Christ. Gregory R. Lanier. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020.
  • The Lord Is One: Reclaiming Divine Simplicity. Onsi A. Kamel; James. Duguid; Steven J. Duby; Joseph Minich and Onsi A. Kameleds. Leesburg, VA: Davenant Press, 2019 (Davenant Retrievals)
  • What About Evil?: A Defense of God’s Sovereign Glory. Scott Christensen; Donald A. Carson. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2020.
  • The Beauty of the Lord: Theology as Aesthetics. Jonathan King; Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018 (Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology)
  • Reformed Systematic Theology: Volume 2: Man and Christ. Joel R. Beeke; Paul M. Smalley. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020.
  • The Righteousness of One: An Evaluation of Early Patristic Soteriology in Light of the New Perspective on Paul. Jordan. Cooper; Peter J. Leithart. Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013.
  • Born Again: A Biblical and Theological Study of Regeneration. Peter Toon, 1939-2009. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, c1987.
  • Born Again: The Evangelical Theology of Conversion in John Wesley and George Whitefield. Sean McGever. Bellingham, WA: Lexam Press, 2020 (Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology)
  • Divine Blessing and the Fullness of Life in the Presence of God. William R. Osborne; Dane C. and Miles V. Van Pelt Ortlund. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020 (Short Studies in Biblical Theology)
  • The Serpent and the Serpent Slayer. Andrew David Naselli. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020 (Short Studies in Biblical Theology)
  • Psalms of the Faithful: Luther’s Early Reading of the Psalter in Canonical Context. Brian T. German. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2017 (Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology)
  • The Gloss and the Text: William Perkins on Interpreting Scripture with Scripture. Andrew S. Ballitch; Donald K. McKim. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020 (Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology)
  • The Wonderful Decree: Reconciling Sovereign Election and Universal Benevolence. Travis J. Campbell. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020.
  • Covenant Theology: Biblical, Theological, and Historical Perspectives. Guy Prentiss Waters; J. Nicholas Reid; John R. Muether. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020.
  • It Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement. Mark Dever; Michael Lawrence. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.
  • Kingdom and Church: A Study in the Theology of the Reformation. Thomas F. Torrance, 1913-2007. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1956.
  • The Church and Her Fellowship, Ministry and Governance. Kurt Marquart; Robert D. Preus. Northville, SD: Intl Foundation for Lutheran (Luther Academy), 1990  (Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics, vol. 9)
  • The Lord’s Supper. John R. Stephenson. St. Louis, MO: Luther Academy, c2003 (Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics, vol. 12)
  • Eschatology. John R. Stephenson; Robert D. Preus. Brookfield, WI: Luther Academy, 1993 (Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics, vol. 13)
  • The Breadth of Salvation: Rediscovering the Fullness of God’s Saving Work. Tom Greggs. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020.
  • Already Sanctified: A Theology of the Christian Life in Light of God’s Completed Work. Don J. Payne. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020.
  • A Radical, Comprehensive Call to Holiness. Joel R. Beeke; Michael P. V. Barrett. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus Publications, 2021.
  • Spurgeon’s Calvinism: “Calvinism is the Gospel, and Nothing Else.” C. H.  (Charles Haddon) Spurgeon, 1834-1892; Conrad Mbewe; Stephen McCaskell. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2020.
  • Contemporary Theology: An Introduction: Classical, Evangelical, Philosophical, and Global Perspectives. Kirk R. MacGregor. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2019.
  • The Mercersburg Theology and the Quest for Reformed Catholicity. W. Bradford. Littlejohn; Peter J. Leithart. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, c2009.
  • The Five Points of Amillennialism. Jeffrey D. Johnson. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press.
Devoted to God's Church: Core Values for Christian Fellowship  -     By: Sinclair B. Ferguson

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

  • The Sacrifice of Praise.  Herman Bavinck, 1854-1921; Cameron Clausing, Transl. and editor; Gregory Jr. Parker, Transl. and editor. Peabody, MA: Hendriksen, 2019.
  • The Christian: To Which Is Added: False Doctrines and False Teachers: How to Know Them, and How to Treat Them and Assurance of Salvation and Balm for Wounded Spirits. William S. Plumer, 1802-1880; Joel R. Beeke; G. William Foster. (reprint ed.) Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1997.
  • Not Uninformed: Sure and Certain Hope for Death and Dying. D. Eryl Davies; Michael Reeves. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus Publications, 2020.
  • Devoted to God’s Church: Core Values for Christian Fellowship. Sinclair B. Ferguson. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2020.
  • The Great Commission for Today. David M. Howard. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c1976.
  • Encountering the History of Missions: From the Early Church to Today. John Mark Terry; Robert L. Gallagher. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2017 (Encountering Mission)
  • Swift and Beautiful: The Amazing Stories of Faithful Missionaries. David B. Calhoun. Edinburgh; Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth, 2020.
What Happens When We Worship - Cruse, Jonathan Landry - 9781601788160

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

  • The Beginner’s Guide to Expository Preaching. Stephen McQuoid. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus Publications, 2002.
  • Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem. Robert D. Jones. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2005.
  • Pastors and Their Critics: A Guide to Coping with Criticism in the Ministry. Joel R. Beeke; Nicholas J. Thompson. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2020.
  • The Pastor’s Soul: The Call and Care of an Undershepherd. Brian Croft; Jim Savastio; David Murray. Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP Books, 2018.
  • The Man of God: His Shepherding, Evangelizing, and Counseling Labors – Volume 3. Albert N. Martin. Montville, NJ: Trinity Pulpit Press, 2020 (Pastoral Theology) vol. 3.
  • Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches.  Daniel M. Doriani. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, c2003.
  • Exploring the Worship Spectrum: 6 Views. Paul F. M. Zahl; Paul Basden. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, c2004 (Counterpoints)
  • God or Baal: Two Letters on the Reformation of Worship and Pastoral Service. Jean Calvin, 1509-1564; David C. Noe, transl. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020.
  • Worship and Reformed Theology: The Liturgical Lessons of Mercersburg. Jack Martin Maxwell. Pittsburgh: Pickwick Press, 1976 (Pittsburgh Theological Monograph Series) vol. 10.
  • What Happens When We Worship. Jonathan L. Cruse; Michael S. Horton. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020.
The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution  -     By: Carl R. Trueman

Misc. (Apologetics, Culture, Dutch History, Education, Music, Politics, Science, Work, World Religions, etc.)

  • The Roots of Reconstruction. Rousas John Rushdoony, 1916-2001.Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1991.
  • By What Standard?: God’s World, God’s Rules. Jared Longshore; Tom Ascol; Voddie. Baucham. Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2020.
  • The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution. Carl R. Trueman; Rod Dreher. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020.

Denominational Resources

  • Acts of General Synod of the Canadian Reformed Churches: Held at Dunnville, Ontario, May10-19, 2016. R. Aasman; R.C. Janssen. Canadian Reformed Churches, 2016.

Periodicals (Old & New)

  • Eikon: A Journal for Biblical Anthropology. Denny Burk; Andrew T. Walker. Louisville, KY: The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 2016-2020. [Formerly “The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”. Eikon began in 2019 – 2 issues per year, Spring & Fall.]
  • Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology Fort Wayne, IN: Luther Academy (current holdings: 2015-20).
Published in: on February 19, 2021 at 8:22 AM  Leave a Comment  

Last Quarter Additions to the PRC Seminary Library, Oct.-Dec., 2020 (1)

At the end of 2020 I completed the final quarter list of significant book acquisitions to the PRC Seminary library for the year. For a good month I have intended to post the list here in parts, as I have done in the past, but didn’t get to it until now. With this post I give you several categories of books – biblical studies, creeds and confessions, and church history. I’ll save the theology books (doctrinal and practical) for my next post. Keep in mind that these lists are not exhaustive but representative of what has been added to the library in the last quarter of 2020.

By posting these titles, I seek not only to inform you of what is being added to the seminary’s library holdings but also to encourage you to make use of and read some of these books. They are not just for the professors and students, but for our members – for pastors and officebearers, certainly, but also for the regular church members who seek to grow in their spiritual knowledge and in their spiritual walk with the Lord. I hope one or two of these titles piques your interest.

The All-Conquering Lamb: A Comprehensive and Devotional Exposition of the Book of Revelation  -     By: Brian A. Russell

Commentary Series:

  • God’s Word for You (Good Book Co., UK – Carl Laferton, ed.)
    • Ruth for You – T.Merida, 2020
  • Teach the Text Commentary (Baker, M. Strauss & J.Walton, eds.)
    • Judges and Ruth. Kenneth C. Way, 2016.
    • Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Douglas Nykolaishen, 2018
    • Mark. Grant R. Osborne, 2014.
    • Luke. R.T. France, 2013.
    • James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude, James Samra, 2016

Other Commentaries (Individual)

  • The Great Works of God, Or, Jesus, the Heart and Center of Scripture: Parts One and Two: The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-15 and Parts Three and Four…Genesis, Chapters 16-50. Valerius Herberger, 1562-1627; Matthew Carver, Transl. (1st English ed.). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, c2010-c2011 (2 vols.)
  • The Gospel of Exodus: Misery, Deliverance, Gratitude. Michael P. V. Barrett. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020.
  • A Liturgy of Grief: A Pastoral Commentary on Lamentations. Leslie C. Allen. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.
  • Luke: An Expositional Commentary. R. C.  (Robert Charles) Sproul, 1939-2017. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2020.
  • Exegetical and Theological Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Robert P. Martin; Dave Chanski. Montville, NJ: Trinity Pulpit Press, 2020.
  • A Commentary on James: Good Words, Bad Words; Good Works, Bad Works; True Faith, False Faith. Thomas J Nettles. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2020.
  • Follow the Lamb: A Guide to Reading, Understanding, and Applying the Book of Revelation. Rob Dalrymple. Wooster, OH: Weaver Book Company, 2018.
  • The All-Conquering Lamb: A Comprehensive and Devotional Exposition of the Book of Revelation. Brian A. Russell. Darlington, UK: EP Books, 2019.
And They Crucified Him: Gospel Teaching on the Death and Resurrection

Individual Biblical Studies Titles

  • Lectures on Female Scripture Characters. William Jay, 1769-1853. (Reprint) Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 2004.
  • Old Testament Law for Christians: Original Context and Enduring Application. Roy Gane. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017.
  • And They Crucified Him: Gospel Teaching on the Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Alun Ebenezer. Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP Books, 2016.
  • From Simon to Peter. J. Glyn. Owen. Welwyn, Herts, England: Evangelical Press, 1985.
  • The Case for Archaeology: Uncovering the Historical Record of God’s Old Testament People. John D. Currid; David W. Chapman. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2020.
  • The Churches the Apostles Left Behind. Raymond E. Brown, 1928-1998. New York: Paulist Press, c1984.
  • Through His Eyes: God’s Perspective on Women in the Bible. Jerram Barrs. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, c2009.
  • The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential. N. T.  (Nicholas Thomas) Wright. New York: HarperOne, 2013.
Bavinck: A Critical Biography  -     By: James Eglinton

Church History, General and Biography

  • The Birth of the Church: From Jesus to Constantine, AD 30-312. Ivor J. Davidson; John D. Woodbridge; David. Wright. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, c2004 (The Baker History of the Church), v. 1
  • Great Events in the Story of the Church. Geoffrey Hanks. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus Publications, 2004.
  • 50 World-Changing Events in Christian History. Earl M. Blackburn; Tom J. Nettles. Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus, 2016.
  • Constantine the Great: The Man and His Times. Michael Grant, 1914-2004. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1994.
  • The First Crusade. Steven Runciman, 1903-2000. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980.
  • The Pleasure of Discernment: Marguerite De Navarre as Theologian. Carol Thysell. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000 (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology)
  • Pursued by God: The Amazing Life and Lasting Influence of John Calvin. Christopher H. Meehan. Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2009.
  • Reformation Divided: Catholics, Protestants and the Conversion of England. Eamon Duffy. London; New York: Bloomsbury, 2017.
  • Katharina Schutz Zell. Elsie Anne McKee; Katharina Zell, 1497 or 1498-1562; Heiko A. Oberman. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 1999 (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought), vol. 69a & 69b.
  • Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence. Queen Catharine Parr, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1512-1548; Janel M. Mueller. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 2011.
  • God’s War: A New History of the Crusades. Christopher Tyerman. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006.
  • A Witness for Christ: The Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia, 1846-1996. Rowland S. Ward; J. Campbell. Andrews; W.M. Mackay. Victoria: Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia, 1996.
  • John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace. Jonathan Aitken. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, c2007, 2013.
  • Thundering the Word: The Awakening Ministry of George Whitefield. Kurt M. Smith; Thomas J. Nettles. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2020.
  • A Kirk Disrupted: Charles Cowan MP and the Free Church of Scotland. A. Donald MacLeod. Fearn, Ross-shire Scotland: Mentor, 2013.
  • Bavinck: A Critical Biography. James P. Eglinton. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020.
  • Tethered to the Cross: The Life and Preaching of Charles H. Spurgeon. Thomas Breimaier. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2020.
  • J.I. Packer: His Life and Thought. Alister E. McGrath. Downer Grove, IL: IVP, 2020.
  • London Street: A Memoir. Jane E. Griffioen. Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2020 [Parents joined the PRC and she reflects on her time in our churches.]
The Story of Creeds and Confessions: Tracing the Development of the Christian Faith  -     By: Donald Fairbairn, Ryan M. Reeves

Creeds, Confessions, History of

  • The Story of Creeds and Confessions: Tracing the Development of the Christian Faith. Donald Fairbairn; Ryan M. Reeves. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019.
  • The Role of the Augsburg Confession: Catholic and Lutheran Views. Joseph A. Burgess; Johannes C. Willebrands; David Preus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, c1980.
  • The Westminster Directory of Public Worship. Sinclair B. Ferguson; Mark E. Dever. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Heritage, 2008.
  • The Need for Creeds Today: Confessional Faith in a Faithless Age. J. V. Fesko. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020.
Published in: on February 16, 2021 at 10:03 PM  Comments (1)  

“Active Spirituality” – Persevering in the Christian Life in Dependence on Grace

One athletic image that Paul did not use in his letters, but serves well as a metaphor for this book, is scuba diving. Perhaps Paul would have used it, had it been invented. For just as walking captures the persevering, and sometimes the plodding, nature of our pilgrimage in the journey of faith; and fighting vividly portrays the violent realities of our conflicted warfare with sin and
Satan; and running pictures our endurance as we press forward to grasp the heavenly prize; so diving depicts our attempts to probe the depths and mystery of God’s grace. And, in fact, Paul does exult in ‘the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God’ (Romans 11:33) and reminds us that the ‘Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.’ (1 Corinthians 2:10). One of my hopes as you dive into these pages is that the Spirit will grant you a deeper understanding of the mystery of how God’s grace works in our disciplined effort and through our personal experiences to more closely conform us into the image of Christ.

None of us fully understands the journey we’re signed up for when we first begin to follow Christ. We all encounter obstacles for which we are unprepared. Among our fellow travelers are companions who strengthen our faith and help us along the way, while others can get us off track. We face hostile enemies, including the toxic idolatries of this present evil age, the subtle and deceptive temptations of dark spiritual powers, and the fierce outposts of remaining sin in our our hearts.All of these conspire to sabotage our faith. But the gospel promises that God’s grace is far greater than the combined force of all our foes. By faith, we can rest in knowing that every ounce of holy effort we exert is itself the fruit of God’s grace. Whatever effort we make flows from the sovereign, unbreakable love of our Father; the effectual, finished work of our prophet, priest, and king, Jesus, the Son of God; and the mighty and mysterious power of the indwelling Spirit. In the words of an old hymn,

Every virtue we possess,
And every conquest won,
And every thought of holiness,
Are His alone.

Taken from the book Active Spirituality: Grace and Effort in the Christian Life and the “Opening Letter” by Brian H. Hedges (Shepherd Press, 2014). This book is in the form of letters to a new convert to the Christian faith (“Chris”), and treats the call of the believer to persevere to the end, because of God’s grace and in dependence on God’s grace, every day.

Published in: on February 13, 2021 at 9:43 PM  Leave a Comment  

Word (Language) Wednesday: A Quick Tour of Thirteen Centuries of English

Christian publisher IVP (InterVarsity Press) recently featured this video in its weekly “Excursus” newsletter. It is a fascinating survey of how the English language has developed – and how it can be understood going back thirteen centuries – amazing!

For our “Word Wednesday” feature today, enjoy the quick tour of our beloved language. And at the same time enjoy some classics of English literature. 🙂

Published in: on February 10, 2021 at 8:58 AM  Leave a Comment  

To Whom We Belong (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

The following was yesterday’s devotional from Tabletalk Magazine (Feb.5, 2021). The devotions this year started with 1 Corinthians, and we will recall the sins and weaknesses the apostle Paul had to deal with in this early Christian congregation – party strife, divisions, immaturity, pride (boasting in her gifts), lack of love, sexual immorality, etc. And in such a gifted (graced) congregation (1:4ff.)! Sound familiar?

In confronting the saints (yes, sanctified, holy men and women! – see 1:2) with these sins, the Holy Spirit through Paul pointed the people to Christ. Who else? Everything is in Him – salvation, of course; but also all the solutions to the sin-problems found in the church after her salvation. Christ is always the only answer to sin – before conversion as well as afterward.

So read this devotion (including the verses on which it is based) with those things in mind, and you will see how relevant it is to our (your) situation, no matter what congregation or denomination you belong to. The question is not, Is your church like Corinth? Of course, it is – because it’s full of sinful saved saints! The question is, Does she want to be and seek to be all that she is in Christ?

“Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”

First Corinthians 1:10–3:23 is a long argument against worldly divisions in the church. Paul has argued that we shouldn’t try to leverage personal connections to gain authority and prominence in the church because that is contrary to the wisdom of God, which exhibits divine power in the self-giving weakness of the cross (1:10–31). No one can learn or believe this wisdom on their own, for it is revealed by the Holy Spirit (2:1–16). God builds His church through the proclamation of this message, which is a stumbling block to Jews and gentiles. The world sees this as folly, but if we follow the way of the world, our efforts will be in vain, as God will reveal the world’s wisdom to be foolishness (3:1–20).

Paul concludes His argument with a reference to the reason that we seek authority and prominence and with a theological explanation for why we need not reach for such things in ungodly ways. All people, even Christians, seek authority, or at least to be valued and recognized, because God made us for such things. The Lord created humanity in His image, giving us rule over creation (Gen. 1:26–28). We were made for glory, for the esteem proper to creatures. Adam forfeited that glory in Eden, and we have been trying to get it back ever since. That desire for esteem, for value, for glory, and for authority is not inherently evil; it comes from the Lord Himself. The problem is that sin twists this desire. We seek glory, authority, prominence, and value—the things that belong to royalty—not to serve other image bearers but to lord ourselves over them and even to replace God.

Redemption does not take this desire away from us, but the Holy Spirit more and more sanctifies it. Because sin remains, we are tempted to seek such things in ungodly ways, even in the church. We try to exploit personal associations for personal gain. To do this is foolish, however, not only because such exploitation is contrary to the way of the cross but also because we need not grasp for such things. They are already ours in Christ. We have regained in Christ all that we are looking for, even if the fullness of redemption awaits the consummation. We do not need to search for authority, for glory, or for prominence in ungodly ways because we have what we want already. We have it for certain because we belong to Christ and He belongs to God, who possesses all things and who can thus give us all things (1 Cor. 3:21–23).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

If we would remember what we have in Christ, we would be less inclined to seek what we believe that we do not yet have. We are co-heirs with Christ, and thus we will reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12). We have all the authority, dignity, and esteem that we could ever want if we are in Christ by faith. Let us keep that in mind so that we will grow in contentment and in our desire to serve others.

Published in: on February 6, 2021 at 9:37 PM  Leave a Comment  

The February 1, 2021 “Standard Bearer” – Edifying Articles and a Book Review

As you will see from the above cover, the latest issue of the Standard Bearer has a variety of excellent articles once again – from expositions of God’s Word to treatments of doctrinal and practical subjects that are currently in the news and relevant to the Reformed believer. It also includes a book review of a title soon to be released by the RFPA – Watchman on the Walls of Zion: The Life and Influence of Simon Van Velzen by Rev. Joshua Engelsma (see cover photo below).

Watchman on the Walls of Zion: The Life and Influenece of Simon van Velzen

Recently on her blog, the RFPA, in her preview of the Feb.1 SB, posted the review of this book by Rev. Stephen Regnerus that appears in that issue. I’ll give you a portion of it here and you can enjoy the rest of it in the magazine or on the blog. And, if you are interested in the history of the church, and of the Reformed churches in the Netherlands in particular, you will want to obtain this book. Tolle Lege!

Simon vanVelzen. Who is the man? Many readers likely are unfamiliar with him, for the name Simon vanVelzen is not a household name. And if we should know the man, then how are we to view him? Many historians consider him to be an imbalanced, even radical man, while few hold him up as a wise and balanced warrior. What ought our assessment to be? Was vanVelzen a courageous servant who is to be commended for his unbending defense of the truth, or was he a stubborn fellow who is to be criticized for continually arguing and refusing to heed advice from those around him?

Such are some of the difficulties one faces when writing a biography on a controversial historical figure; such difficulties Rev. Engelsma is to be commended for capably handling in his biography, Watchman on the Walls of Zion: The Life and Influence of Simon vanVelzen. The reader who was previously unaware of vanVelzen should not be afraid to pick up and read the book; the book is neither daunting nor boring. You will find that Engelsma’s recounting of vanVelzen’s history is clear, engaging, and even moving at points. You will rejoice with vanVelzen as he graduates from seminary, receives a call into the ministry, and marries the love of his life. And you will weep with the man as he endures persecution, is rejected of his friends, and buries his wife after only a few years of marriage. You will become acquainted with a renowned preacher and affectionate seminary professor, and you will stand in awe of God’s work of defending and developing the truth through the work of this Dutch patriarch.

Published in: on February 3, 2021 at 6:02 AM  Leave a Comment  

Heart and Body Worship

People will perform difficult acts of external worship as long as they do not have to engage their hearts: [J. Calvin] ‘For although it is necessary for true worshipers of God to bring forth heart and soul, people always want to invent a manner of serving God that is entirely different from that, so that rendering service of the body to Him, they keep their souls for themselves.’ So, we will kneel, or bow, or stand as long as in our core God leaves us alone, as long as we do not actually have to meet Him, as long as we do not have to go through the difficulty of opening our minds and hearts to His Word and being changed by His Word.

Calvin then offered a very concrete example. He said at the very heart of worship is prayer. Now, prayer arguably is the hardest thing we do in public worship. Once you have closed your eyes and folded your hands, it is very easy for the mind to just wander off. It is hard work really to pray with the minister as he is praying, and it tests the extent to which we are actually meeting with God. But it is also one of the most intimate ways that we meet with God. We are baring our souls to God. Do we believe He is there to hear us? If we do not pray, maybe we are saying we really do not believe He is actually with us. And Calvin said that is contrary to everything we find in the Scriptures. So, Calvin uses prayer as one of the tests of what our worship really amounts to in terms of glorifying God.

What is our worship really like? Are we meeting with God? Are we sensing that God deserves the glory? Do we understand that we are coming to speak to Him, and then to listen as He speaks to us? Do we want Him in all our worship to direct us by His Word? Here is the true character and the great simplicity of worship: God speaks and we respond.

Taken from W. Robert Godfrey’s “Foreword” to the newly translated (by Casey Carmichael) and published edition of John Calvin’s The Necessity of Reforming the Church, which includes A Reply to Cardinal Sadoleto (another work of Calvin on church reformation), Reformation Trust, 2020.

Published in: on January 31, 2021 at 2:10 PM  Leave a Comment