The Wonders and Wanderings of Our Memory – Dr. N. Lanning

sb-logo-rfpaIn the July issue of the Standard Bearer Dr. Nathan Lanning pens another fascinating article for the rubric “All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee.” This one treats the amazing topic of “Memory.” Writing from the viewpoint of a believing scientist, Lanning describes the science behind our ability to remember. At the same time he writes from a biblical perspective, pointing out what the Christian Scriptures say about our minds and our calling to use memory in the service of God and His glory.

Tonight we give you a sampling of his article, drawing especially from the end. Let these thoughts amaze and humble you, as they direct us to the wonders and wanderings of our memory, and therefore, to the hope we have for the perfect day of our salvation.

Whether or not the sovereign God will permit man to completely understand the nature of memory formation, man does have clear commands to use memory for specific purposes. Throughout the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit urges people to remember. Man is called to use his memory specifically by the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8), and we are often called to remember the commandments themselves (Mal. 4:4). The Israelites were continually told to remember the LORD who brought them out of Egypt (e.g., Deut. 6:12; and consequently, we are commanded to remember Jehovah, who delivered us from the slavery of sin), and we are often called to remember all of the wonderful works that God has accomplished for our salvation (Deut. 4:9, Ps. 77:11, Ps. 143:5, II Tim. 2:8). If we become discouraged with how long we think the Lord is tarrying or begin to slip into unholy living in accordance with the world, we are encouraged to remember what Scripture plainly tells us about the last days (II Peter 3). Throughout the Scriptures, we are further instructed to remember the weak, such as the poor, the orphans, and the widows (e.g., Acts 20:35, Gal. 2:10, Heb. 13:2). The act of remembering is also an important component of our praise and prayers to God (I Chron. 3:12, Ps. 42: 4-11, Ps. 103:2, Ps. 119:55). Further, remembering is a key aspect of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19).

From these passages, we are encouraged to work on our memories for God’s glory. The act of Scripture memorization is not only for catechism and Christian school children. If we are to comply with God’s commands, adults will continue to memorize Scripture throughout their lives. Memorizing Scripture will allow us to call to mind all of God’s wonderful works guiding His Church throughout history and accomplishing salvation for His people. In order to properly prepare ourselves to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we also have to exercise our memories by looking back at our life and bringing to mind the evidence of God’s sanctifying graces in us. Memory is integral to the Christian life.

However, we also have to recognize the effects of the Fall on our memories. We all experience the deterioration of our memories. In fact, many of our earliest memories are likely creations of our minds based on facts that were told to us or pictures that we viewed and then integrated into a “memory” (perhaps after reading this article my mother will inform me that I never did visit my brother’s kindergarten class). Even our memories of relatively recent events suffer from obvious defects. …We all experience this in more mundane ways in our daily lives. For example, if I do not put my car keys in exactly the same location every day, I will be late to work the next day. Similarly, most of us have experienced the confusion of walking into a room with a purpose that has completely slipped our mind. As an exercise to prove the point of our fallible memories, have everyone in your family try to remember what you had for dinner going back as many evenings as possible, and then compare notes.

We also know that stress, distraction, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition can negatively affect our memories. These produce almost the opposite effects of the biological events described above. Additionally, many of us have experienced a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other age-related memory loss. This too is an effect of the Fall on our memories. Disease and age can ravage the once-sharp memory of loved one until every last memory has seemingly been torn away.

Therefore, a careful consideration of memory also exposes the frailty of the human condition and will incite in us a desire that looks forward to the incorruptible bodies in which we will be raised upon Christ’s return. However, even now in our corruptible bodies the Scriptures provide us great comfort when meditating upon memory. Our God’s memory is incorruptible and active in our salvation. How many times does Jehovah remind us that He remembers His covenant with us (e.g., Gen. 9:14-16, Exodus 2:23-25, Ps. 105:8, Ps. 111:5). He also remembers individuals in their particular needs (Gen. 30:22, I Sam. 1:19, Is. 49:15-16), and even causes us to remember Him to our salvation and His glory (John 14:26-27). Our memories are a precious gift from above—let us remember to use them to the glory of God’s Name.

Praying the Psalms as the Church in Christ – D. Bonhoeffer


[Speaking of the Psalms on the great theme of the church – “Jerusalem, the City of God” – D. Bonhoeffer writes:

…The present and gracious God, who is in Christ who in turn is in his congregation, is the fulfillment of all thanksgiving, all joy, and all longing in the Psalms. As Jesus, in whom God himself dwells, longed for fellowship with God because he had become a man as we (Luke 2:49), so he prays with us for the total nearness and presence of God with those who are his.

God has promised to be present in the worship of the congregation. Thus the congregation conducts its worship according to God’s order. But Jesus Christ himself has offered the perfect worship by perfecting every prescribed sacrifice in his own voluntary and sinless sacrifice. Christ brought in himself the sacrifice of God for us and our sacrifice for God. For us there remains only the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in prayers, hymns, and in a life lived according to God’s commands (Psalms 15 and 50).

So our entire life becomes worship, the offering of thanksgiving. God wants to acknowledge such thanksgiving and to show his salvation to the grateful (Psalms 50 and 23). To become thankful to God for the sake of Christ and to praise him in the congregation with heart, mouth, and hands, is what the Psalms wish to teach us.

Quoted in Psalms, The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Augsburg, 1974), a translation of Das Gebetbuch der Bibel (the 8th ed. published in Germany in 1966). These thoughts are found in the eleventh section, “The Church” (pp.40-42), where the author continues to treat the Psalter according to classification by subject.

Living in the Grace-Gratitude Economy – M. Horton

Yet the good news is that God provides the sacrifice for guilt. …God wasn’t bound in any way to do this. It’s a sheer act of mercy on his part. The whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament pointed forward to the moment when God the Son, in our flesh, would bear the curse for our sin and bring an end to all sacrifices.

Now we live in a grace economy, not a debt economy. At last we are free to be thankful, to offer ourselves as ‘living sacrifices’ of praise rather than dead sacrifices of guilt. We’re on the receiving end of everything. We’re not building a kingdom, but receiving one. We’re not appeasing God, but receiving the gift of righteousness in his Son.

As recipient of this covenantal exchange between the Father and the incarnate Son, the church lives in an economy of gratitude rather than either sacrifice or an as extension of Christ’s atoning work. We are passive receivers of the gift of salvation, but we are thereby rendered active worshipers in a life of thanksgiving that is exhibited chiefly in loving service to our neighbor.

Especially when we gather for corporate worship, we are reminded again that beneath all of the contracts we have conducted throughout the week, reality is fundamentally ordered by God’s covenantal faithfulness. God speaks and we respond with thanksgiving. Here the logic of the market (debt) is disrupted by the doxological logic of grace (gift).

ordinary-MHorton-2014Taken from chapter ten, “Stop Dreaming and Love Your Neighbor,” of Michael Horton’s Or-di-nar-y: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014), pp.195-96.

PRC Archives – 1952 PRYP’s Convention – Hull, IA


The young people took an outing to the Morrell Meat Packing plant in ?

Recently we received a small photo album from Bob and Dorothy Noorman (nee Wiersma), which contained some personal pictures taken at the 1952 PRC Young People’s Convention sponsored by Hull PRC. It is a nice collection of photos to add to our archives, and we appreciate the donation much.


A group of diligent conventioneers pouring over the convention booklet! There’s a future PRC minister in the bunch – can you find him?

Today we share these with you, hoping that you too will remember that event or recognize some of the ministers and young people in the pictures. Have fun! How many can you name? Dorothy had included most the names on the back, which is very helpful!

PRYP-Conv-1952-Hull-IA_0002This group of handsome fellas apparently traveled together out west, taking in the 1952 convention on the way. How many can you name? There’s a Veldman, a Monsma, a Pastoor, a Huizinga, and a Hanko in here!


Banquet time! I see a Doezema and a Kamminga (and Dorothy herself is in this one!). Who can you identify?

PRYP-Conv-1952-Hull-IA_0004And the entertainment for the banquet night. Recognize these horn players?

PRYP-Conv-1952-Hull-IA_0005And the next Federation Board leaders – see people you know here?

PRYP-Conv-1952-Hull-IA_0007PRYP-Conv-1952-Hull-IA_0006The convention included an outing to a park and lake in South Dakota. Any one able to identify this place and its band shell?

Thanks for your help!

Published in: on July 26, 2018 at 3:17 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Word Nerd: Six Pitfalls Writers (and Others) Should Avoid

This great post at appeared back in May (cf. link below) but I saved it for an open blog post, and with a view to a “Word Wednesday” feature tomorrow I post it here tonight.

Yes, I also count myself a bit of “word nerd,” but I say so without shame. Words are not just interesting, even fun (especially origins); they are the way we communicate to one another. And, I trust, none of wants to be sloppy or lazy about how we communicate to each other. Words matter. They matter to God, because words are the means He chose to speak to us. So they should matter to us.

Precision in speech and writing is important, as these examples show. Nerdy? No, just correct. And correct is cool. 🙂 Let’s continue to learn together so that we communicate properly and precisely.

I post the GrammarBook online article in full here:

That’s right, I admit it. I’m a word nerd. I pick, pick, pick at the way you express yourself.

Despite protests of apathy, people of all ages care about how well they express themselves. Deep down, everyone likes to be right about language, and you can even hear little kids teasing each other about talking funny. We word nerds have an advantage here, but we certainly don’t choose to be word nerds. It’s thrust upon us. Believe me, a lot of us would rather be star quarterbacks. No one ever got a date by discoursing on split infinitives.

I thought you might be interested in some of the current trends and tendencies in modern ignorance. It might be fun to watch with me the inexorable erosion of our language—and civilization—and we can gnash our teeth and wring our hands and feel secretly smug and superior. That’s what word nerds do for a good time. So let’s roll:

Fortuitous It most emphatically does not mean “lucky” or “fortunate”; it simply means “by chance,” a much less optimistic denotation, since you can win the lottery fortuitously or get flattened by a truck fortuitously.

Notoriety Another badly botched word these days, “notoriety” has somehow become a good thing: “Burgess gained notoriety with his wildly popular children’s books.” But can’t you hear the “notorious” in “notoriety”? There are all kinds of fame; “notoriety” is one of the bad kinds, just down the pike from “infamy.”

Impact “How does the proposition impact property taxes?” or “Greenhouse gas emissions negatively impact the environment.” This is pretentious twaddle. “To impact” means to pack tightly together, as in “an impacted tooth.” In sentences like the two examples above, simply use “affect” instead, and you’ll sleep the serene slumber of the saintly.

Literally “Literally” is supposed to mean “100 percent fact”—period. But not today, when “literally” now is commonly used figuratively! How sad that a no-nonsense word with such a strict meaning has been so hideously compromised. Any sentence with “literally” means what it literally says, and when we hear it, we are being asked to believe our ears, rather than interpret or infer. So if you tell me you “literally hit the ceiling,” I’d suggest you move to a place with higher ceilings.

I recently read about a couple whose dreams “literally collapsed” when, unfortunately, a fixer-upper they bought came down in a heap as they started working on it. Now, we know what the writer meant, but just don’t mess around with “literally,” OK? The house literally collapsed, not the dream. How could a dream, the very essence of all that is beyond materiality, literally collapse? It’s utter gibberish.

The simple solution? Just say “virtually.” “Virtually” allows you to enhance and embellish to your heart’s content, options you relinquish by using “literally.”

Comprise is the most misused and misunderstood two-syllable word in common English usage. It seems straightforward enough: it means to contain, consist of, take in, embrace. But when used on its own, it’s usually mangled. “Joey, Johnny, and Fritz comprise a group of daredevils.” Sorry, but the group comprises (contains, consists of) Joey, Johnny, and Fritz. Which brings us to…

Comprised of This ubiquitous phrase is wrong every time. It’s the result of confusing and incorrectly combining “comprise” and “composed of.” It’s both ignorant and pompous, a lethal combo. “Composed of” is so mundane and “comprised of” just sounds ever so much cleverer, doesn’t it? Too bad there’s no justification for it. Quick fix: simply replace it with “comprise.” Wrong: “The team is comprised of Chicagoans.” Right: “The team comprises Chicagoans.” Far better: The team is composed of Chicagoans.

This Tom Stern classic was originally published on January 28, 2013.

Source: The Word Nerd: Six Pitfalls Writers (and Others) Should Avoid – Grammar and Punctuation

Published in: on July 24, 2018 at 10:28 PM  Leave a Comment  

Before the Lease Runs Out: Summer Reading List for 2018 – Albert Mohler

It may seem late in the summer already, but if we go by the official calendar, we have two-thirds of this wonderful season to go yet. With that in mind, though Dr. Al Mohler’s summer reading list may seem to have arrived late, there is still plenty of time to pick one or two from his great list (heavy on history – yes!) and enjoy a good read.

Released on July 11, Mohler’s list of ten books contains stories of significant events from a wide spectrum of history. I pick out just two of them that stand out to me, along with parts of his description. For the entire list, visit the link below.

4. Donald Rumsfeld, When the Center Held: Gerald Ford and the Rescue of the American Presidency (Free Press).

The American political crisis of 1972-1974 is virtually unparalleled in the nation’s history–and for that we must be thankful. For most citizens today, the Watergate crisis and the fall of the Nixon presidency are distant memories, if remembered at all. One of the most neglected figures, unexpectedly central to this story, was Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. Ford became Vice President of the United States in 1973 and President in 1974, without being elected to either office. Then, against all odds, he came close to being elected president in his own right in 1976. Rumsfeld, who was himself central to the story, gives us a front-row seat at one of the turning points in American history. More than anything else, Rumsfeld wants us to understand that Gerald Ford, who never wanted to be president until he unexpectedly was president, rescued the American presidency by his personal decency and calm. As a teenage political volunteer I worked for Ronald Reagan and against President Ford in the 1976 campaign for the Republican nomination. After Ford secured the nomination, I joined his campaign as a volunteer, mostly manning a phone bank. After the campaign of Reagan, fueled by ideas, the campaign of Gerald Ford was a let-down for me. But Donald Rumsfeld’s book reminds all of us of why we should be thankful that, when he had to choose the man who would shortly succeed him, Richard Nixon called Gerald Ford.

6. Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man (Simon and Schuster).

It tells us a great deal about the power of popular culture that most Americans probably learned of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis from Bartholomew Marion Quint, the hardened shark hunter of the movie “Jaws.” In the midst of their own epic shark hunt, Quint told the crew from Amity about the sinking, when 900 men went into the waters, and only 316 survived. In his telling, most of the men in the water were eaten by sharks.

There is truth in that account, but the real story of  the Indianapolis and its fate is a bigger story that “Jaws” could tell. The Portland-class heavy cruiser, once flag ship for Admiral Raymond Spruance and ship of state for President Franklin Roosevelt, was one of the most beautiful large ships in the Navy. She had suffered a devastating kamikaze attack and had just been repaired when she was sent on a secret mission to deliver the first atomic bomb to Tinian Island. Returning to port, the Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine attack. Of the almost 1,200 sailors on the ship, about 300 went down with the vessel. The 900 others went into the Pacific. They were in the middle of the vast ocean and no one would miss them for days. Miraculously spotted by a Navy plane after days at sea, only 316 men survived. The sinking of the Indianapolis remains the greatest sea disaster ever experienced by the U.S. Navy. The sharks did attack and the story is like a horror movie, but the rescue of the 316 did not end the story. The ship’s commander, Captain Charles B. McVay, was convicted in a Navy court-martial of dereliction of duty, but the court-martial proceeding was controversial from the start, and even Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Ocean Areas, did not believe Captain McVay should be blamed. The burden for the convicted officer was too much to bear, and he committed suicide years later, with a toy sailor in his hand.

And yet, amazingly enough, the story does not end even there. Fast forward to 1999 and the school project undertaken by a determined 13-year-old boy named Hunter Scott. The boy in Florida had heard about the Indianapolis when he watched “Jaws” with his father. As a sixth-grader he started a school project on the Indianapolis and would write to the survivors of the sinking. Eventually he came to believe that Captain McVay had been wrongly blamed. He got finally got the attention of political leaders in Washington. Then, as an eighth-grader, he, along with others, would testify before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Captain McVay would eventually be exonerated.

This new book by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, released only on July 10, is a good example of how a story can be set straight. In this case, and in this book, we confront a big story that badly needed setting straight.

Source: Before the Lease Runs Out: Summer Reading List for 2018 –

Published in: on July 23, 2018 at 10:19 PM  Leave a Comment  

Ten Technological Traps – J. Engelsma (Grace Gems)

Today’s “Grace Gems” devotional was an edifying surprise! It features Rev. Josh Engelsma’s post on “Ten Technological Traps” as first published on the RFPA’s blog. Engelsma is the pastor of Doon PRC (Doon, IA).

As we end this work week and anticipate the Lord’s Day tomorrow, this article certainly gives us reason for self-examination and careful reflection on how we are using technology in our own lives.

I re-post it here as found on the Grace Gems site.

Ten Technological Traps

(Joshua Engelsma, 2017, used with permission)

We live in a time of great technological advancement. Companies are constantly churning out new products that are hailed as smarter, more advanced, and more innovative. And in many ways we have made ourselves dependent on technology with our smartphones, tablets, and computers, too name just a few.

There is nothing inherently sinful in these things. In fact, they can be powerful tools for good in the service of God and his church, and therefore we can use them with a good conscience before God. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5).

That being said, we ought to recognize that there are many dangers that these wonders of the technological age present. These dangers ought to make us careful in our use of these good gifts.

What follows are a list of ten such dangers, “traps” of technology:

1) We can waste an unbelievable amount of time using technology. How many hours are wasted staring at the TV, pursuing pointless information on the internet, looking at pictures on Instagram, and posting on Facebook? Too many, making this one of the top traps of technology.

2) Technology makes it relatively easy to sin. This is not to say that the same sins weren’t found fifty years ago, for they certainly were. But with technology there are more opportunities to sin and sinful things are more readily accessible. As a wise saint said to me recently, “When I was younger, you had to work pretty hard to get in trouble and access sinful things. Now you can get it in a few seconds on your phone.”

3) We can very easily become discontent through our use of technology. One area of discontentment is with the technology itself. We are dissatisfied with the smartphone or computer that we have and are always looking for something newer, better, and faster. It becomes an idol in our life. Another area of discontentment is with the things that we view through technology. Seeing the glamorous life of this athlete/actress/friend, I become discontented with my seemingly boring life.

4) Technology is often the means by which we backbite and slander. One wrong move and soon the news spreads like wildfire across the gossip channels of text messaging and social media.

5) Through our use of technology we often give a poor witness to the world of our faith. We post pictures of some ungodly musician’s concert we attended. We “like” this popular drama on TV. We let everyone know how excited we are about the release of the latest Hollywood movie.

6) It is very easy through technology to fall into the trap of unreality. We see pictures of the expensive vacations and fun activities that others are doing, and think that their life must be perfect. Young people might give the impression that anyone who’s anything is hanging out on Friday night, so that the one left at home feels left out and friendless.

7) In the age of instant information, it seems as if younger generations are losing the ability to read, write, listen, and think critically and deeply.

8) Our use of technology can weaken our ability to converse and thus hurt our relationships to others. It seems pretty common to go into a restaurant and see a husband and wife sitting across from one another, both staring at their phones. It seems pretty common to try and have a conversation with a teenager while their face is buried in their phone.

9) There is the danger with technology of over-sharing information. I’m all for getting to know other people better and sharing their joys and sorrows. But I don’t need to know what you just ate for breakfast. I don’t need to know a disagreement that you had with your spouse. I don’t need to know that you’re angry at your coworkers. I don’t need to know (usually) that you’re having an all-around bad day.

10) One of the dangers of technology is that we are able to retreat into a world without any accountability. When we are at work, we have the accountability of employers and employees. When we are at home, we have the accountability of spouses, parents, children, siblings. When we are at school, we have the accountability of teachers and classmates. But with technology we can often enter a world with little or no accountability. We can say things that we wouldn’t ordinarily say. We can sneak off to our bedroom and watch all sorts of vile things. And if anyone looks over our shoulder or asks to see our device, we hide behind the vault-door of passwords.

What to say to an abused child (of God): “You are beautiful. … You are the handiwork of the Creator. You are his best art, his poem, his portrait, his image, his face – and his child.” – W. Wangerin

little-lamb-wangerinOver the last few weeks we have been sharing with you some quotes from Walter Wangerin’s Little Lamb, Who Made Thee? A Book about Children and Parents  (Zondervan, 1993; reprinted in 2004).

As I have related, Wangerin is a master storyteller and a master with words. There are chapters here that make you laugh out loud (like the description of his son’s cartoon of his father’s nose – a caricature that came back to haunt the son when he grew into an adult and grew the same nose), and others that will make you weep. The author does not gloss over sin, even hard sin in the church and in Christian families, nor does he sugar-coat the effects of sin.

The section that bears the title of the book is actually a powerful statement (hardly the right word) about sexual abuse a young girl suffered. He writes forcibly to the perpetrator, calling him to deal with his sin and take full responsibility for it. But he also writes pastorally to the girl, calling her to see herself in Christ as God’s child and His beautiful creation. The end of this chapter is one of the most powerful in the book. I leave it with you this evening.

And you, the child whom he ravaged, must not call yourself ugly. You aren’t. His action does not define you.

You, child: you are soft as the blue sky. Touch your cheek. Do you feel the weft of life there? Yes: God wove you more lovely than wool of the clouds, smoother than petals of lily, sweeter than amber honey, brighter than morning, kinder than daylight, as gentle as the eve. Listen to me! You are beautiful. You are beautiful. If you think you’re ugly, you’ve let a fool define you. Don’t! Touch your throat. It is column of wind and words. Stroke your forehead. Thought moves through its caverns. Imagination lives in there. You are the handiwork of the Creator. You are his best art, his poem, his portrait, his image, his face – and his child.

And if the Lord God took thought to create you, why would you let a sinner define you?

God caused the stars to be, and then bent low to make you.

God wrapped himself in space as in an apron, then contemplated the intricacy of your hands; he troweled the curve of your brow; he fashioned the tug of your mouth and the turn of your tongue; he jeweled your eye; he carved your bones as surely as he did the mountains.

God conceived of time and in that instant considered the purposeful thump of your heart – and the blink of your eyelid.

God made galaxies and metagalaxies, the dusty infinitude of the universe – then filled your mind with dreams as with stars.

You are not an accident. You were planned. You are the cunning intention of almighty God. Well, then, shall you think ill of yourself? NO! You shall think as well of yourself as you do of any marvel of the Deity.

Please, my sister, do not allow a sinner to steal you from yourself. You are too rare. No matter what filth has befouled you, your soul is unique in the cosmos. There is none like you. Whatever thing you admire – a leaf, a little cup, a sunset – you are more beautiful.

Sleep peacefully, you. God loves you. And so do I. And so ought you in the morning light, when the dew is a haze of blue innocence, But sleep now, child, in perfect peace. You are God’s – and he spreads his wings above you now. [pp.101-102]

What’s New in the Seminary Library? April – June 2018 Additions


I recently completed my list of “significant additions to the PRC Seminary library” for the second quarter of this year (April – June). I began this two years ago for the benefit of the faculty and students as well as for the Theological School Committee.

You will notice that title says “significant additions.” The list I produce is not a complete list of everything added to the library in the last quarter, for there are actually many more (including small pamphlets and articles to the vertical files). But this list is designed to highlight some of the more significant titles in various categories, so that these titles are representative of what we obtain for and add to our library.

By the way, these lists are now being published in our PR Theological Journal, although our last issue (Spring 2018) was too full and we had to leave the last two quarters out. Hopefully, we can catch up in future issues.

I hope this list not only gives you a feel for the quality of resources we are adding to our library, but also inspires you to find one to read and perhaps even add to your personal or family library.


Commentaries (series)

  • Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms: Volume 1 (1-41) & Vol.3 (90-150), John Goldingay; Tremper Longman, III. — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, c2006.
  • Focus on the Bible Series:
    o A Commentary on the Song of Songs / Richard Brooks. Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 1999.
    o Matthew: The King and His Kingdom / Charles Price. — Revised ed., 2012
    o Ephesians: Encouragement and Joy in Christ / Paul Gardner. – Revised ed.; Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2007.
  • The IVP New Testament Commentary Series:
    o Romans / Grant R. Osborne; Grant R. Osborne, ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c2004 (vol.6)
    o 1 Corinthians / Alan F. Johnson. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c2004 (vol.7)
    o Ephesians / Walter L. Liefeld; Grant R. Osborne. Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity Press, c1997 (vol.10)
    o Hebrews / Ray C. Stedman; Grant R. Osborne. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c1992 (vol.15)
    o James / George M. Stulac; Grant R. Osborne, ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c1993 (vol.16)
    o 2 Peter and Jude / Robert W. Harvey; Philip H. Towner; Grant R. Osborne. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c2009.
  • Mentor Expository Commentary:
    o Jeremiah, Chapters 21-52: An Introduction and Commentary, Volume 2 / John L. Mackay (2004).
    o Ecclesiastes, Richard P. Belcher, Jr. (2017)
  • Reformation Commentary on Scripture, OT & NT (IVP) – Jeremiah, Lamentations / J. Jeffery Tyler, ed.; Timothy George, gen. ed. Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity Press, 2018.
  • Tyndale NT Commentaries: The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary / F. Foulkes, W. B. Eerdmans, c1963, 1975.
  • Understanding the Bible Commentary: Matthew / Robert H. Mounce. — 1st-reprint-pb. — Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Books, c1991, 2011


Individual Biblical Studies Titles

  • Has the Bible Been Kept Pure?: The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Providential Preservation of Scripture / Garnet H. Milne; David J. Engelsma. Australia: Independently published, 2017.
  • How to Study the Bible / John MacArthur. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, c1982, 2009.
  • Saving the Bible From Ourselves: Learning to Read & Live the Bible Well / Glenn R. Paauw. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2016.
  • A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized / Michael J. Kruger. ; J. Ligon Duncan III. ; Guy Prentiss Waters. ; Michael J. Kruger. — 1st-hc. — Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.
  • Coping with Change: Ecclesiastes / Walter C. Jr. Kaiser. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 2013.
  • The Gospel According to God: Rediscovering the Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament [Isaiah 53] / John MacArthur. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018.
  • Interpreting the Parables / Craig L. Blomberg, 1955-. — 2nd, rev. and expanded. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, c2012.
  • Paul: A Biography / N. T. Wright, (Nicholas Thomas). San Francisco: HarperOne, 2018.
  • A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians / C. K. (Charles Kingsley) Barrett, New York: Harper & Row, 1968 (Harper’s New Testament Commentaries)
  • The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians: An Exposition / Charles R. (Charles Rosenbury) Erdman, 1866-1960. ; Earl F. Zeigler. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1966. The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: An Exposition was also added (1966)
  • Be Joyful: A New Testament Study – Philippians / Warren W. Wiersbe. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, c1974.
  • First & Second Peter / Louis Barbieri. Chicago: Moody Publishers, c2003 (Everyman’s Bible Commentary)


Church History/Biography

  • Basil of Caesarea: His Life and Impact / Marvin D. Jones; Michael A. G. Haykin, ed. — Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2014 (Early Church Fathers (Christian Focus Publications)
  • Cyprian of Carthage: His Life and Impact / Brian Arnold; Michael A. G. Haykin. — Revised ed. Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland : Christian Focus, 2017 (Christian Focus Publications)
  • Irenaeus: Life, Scripture, Legacy / Sara. Parvis; Paul Foster. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, c2012.
  • The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity / Robert Louis Wilken. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012.
  • The Reformation / Cameron A. (Cameron Alexander) MacKenzie. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Publishing House, 2017.
  • Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther, and the Fight for the Western Mind / Michael Massing. New York, NY: Harper / HarperCollins Publishers, 2018.
  • Jonathan Edwards, Evangelist/ John H. Gerstner. Orlando, FL: Northampton Press, 2018.


Creeds/Confessions/History of

  • The Belgic Confession: A Commentary, Vol.1 / David J. Engelsma. Jenison, MI : Reformed Free Pub. Association, 2018.
  • By This Our Subscription: Confessional Subscription in the Dutch Reformed Tradition Since 1816 / Roelf C. Janssen. Kampen: Theologische Universiteit, 2009.
  • The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith / Stanley D. Gale. Grand Rapids, MI : Reformation Heritage Books, 2018


Dogmatics/Theology/Historical Theology

  • Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally From Protestant Scholastic Theology / Richard A. (Richard Alfred) Muller (2nd ed.) — Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, c1985, 2017.
  • Canonical Theology: The Biblical Canon, Sola Scriptura, and Theological Method / John Peckham; Craig G. Bartholomew. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2016.
  • In the Beginning, God: Creation from God’s Perspective / Joel D. Heck. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, c2011.
  • The God of Creation: Truth and Gospel in Genesis 1 / Richard D Phillips. Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP BOOKS, 2018.
  • Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: With the Pertinent Documents from the History of the Reformation / Kurt Aland; Martin Luther, 1483-1546. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing
  • Friends of the Law: Luther’s Use of the Law for the Christian Life / Edward. Engelbrecht. St. Louis, MO : Concordia Pub. House, 2011.
  • Life in Christ: Union with Christ and Twofold Grace in Calvin’s Theology / Mark A. Garcia. ; David F. Wright. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008 (Studies In Christian History And Thought)
  • Being In Christ: A Biblical and Systematic Investigation in a Reformed Perspective / Hans Burger. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, c2009.
  • Peter Ramus and the Educational Reformation of the Sixteenth Century / Frank P. (Pierrepont) Graves. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1912.
  • Cartesianism in the Netherlands, 1639-1676: The New Science and the Calvinist Counter-Reformation / Thomas A. McGahagan — Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1976.
  • The Affectionate Theology of Richard Sibbes / Mark. Dever; Steven J. Lawson. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2018. (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)
  • A Covenantal Confession: Geerhardus Vos and the Doctrine of the Covenant in the Westminster Confession of Faith / Eric B. (Brian) Watkins. Reformed Theological Seminary, 2009.
  • A Question of Consensus: The Doctrine of Assurance after the Westminster Confession / Jonathan. Master. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015.
  • Jus Divinum: The Westminster Assembly and the Divine Right of Church Government / John Richard. De Witt. Kampen : J. H. Kok, 1969.
  • Debating Perseverance: The Augustinian Heritage in Post-Reformation England / Jay T. Collier; Richard A. (Richard Alfred) Muller. New York : Oxford University Press, 2018 (Oxford Studies In Historical Theology)
  • 20th-Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age / Stanley J. (Stanley James) Grenz, 1950-2005; Roger E. Olson. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c1992.
  • Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith, and Human Responsibility / John C. Lennox. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018.
  • Kept for Jesus: What the New Testament Really Teaches About Assurance of Salvation and Eternal Security / C. Samuel Storms. Wheaton, IL : Crossway, 2015.
  • High King of Heaven: Theological and Pastoral Perspectives on the Person and Work of Jesus / Michael Reeves; Paul Twiss; Mark Jones; John MacArthur. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2018.
  • Retrieving Eternal Generation / Fred Sanders, (Fred R.), editor; Scott R. Swain, editor; Donald A. Carson. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, c2017.
  • Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation / Peter Mead. — Revised-pb. — Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 2015.
  • Between Wittenberg and Geneva: Lutheran and Reformed Theology in Conversation / Robert Kolb; Carl R. Trueman. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.
  • New Calvinism: New Reformation or Theological Fad? / Josh Buice. ; Paul Washer; Steven J. Lawson. — Revised ed. — Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 2017.
  • A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Mary: Mother of God? / Leonardo de Chirico. — Fearne, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 2017.
  • Heaven on Earth: What the Bible Teaches About Life to Come / Derek Thomas. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 2018.
  • The Pleasures of God / John Piper, Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, c1991.
  • Paradox in Christian Theology: An Analysis of Its Presence, Character, and Epistemic Status / James Anderson. Eugene, OR: Paternoster/ Wipf & Stock, 2007 (Paternoster Theological Monographs)
  • Advancing Trinitarian Theology: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics / Oliver Crisp, editor. ; Fred Sanders, (Fred R.) , editor. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014.
  • God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of Priesthood / Andrew S. Malone. ; Donald A. Carson. London/ Downers Grove, IL : Apollos ;InterVarsity Press, USA, 2017 (New Studies In Biblical Theology) vol. 43

Practical Theology – Church government, Counseling, Family, Marriage, Missions, Prayer, Preaching, Sermons, Worship

  • Sunday / W. B. (William Bouverie) Trevelyan, 1853-. ; W.C.E. and Darwell Stone Newbolt. — London, New York, Bombay: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1903 (The Oxford Library of Practical Theology)
  • Lutheran Worship: History and Practice / James Leonard. Brauer; Fred L. Precht. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, c1993.
  • Out of the Blues: Dealing With the Blues of Depression and Loneliness / Wayne Mack. Bemidji, MN: Focus Publishing (MN), 2006.
  • Reformed Theology and the Style of Evangelism / John H. Leith. ; James C. IV Goodloe. — Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock Pub, 2010.
  • Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving / Bob Burns, 1950-. ; Tasha Chapman; Donald Guthrie. Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity Press, 2013.
  • Spiritual Leadership / J. Oswald (John Oswald) Sanders, 1902-1992. 2nd ed. Chicago: Moody Press, c1994 (Commitment to Spiritual Growth Series)
  • The Heart of an Executive: Lessons on Leadership from the Life of King David / Richard D. (Richard Davis) Phillips. New York: Doubleday, c1999.
  • Leading One Another: Church Leadership / Bobby Jamieson; Mark Dever; Jonathan Leeman. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012 (9Marks: Healthy Church Study Guides)
  • God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer / Bart D. Ehrman. New York: HarperOne, c2008.
  • A Well-Ordered Church: Laying a Foundation for a Vibrant Church / William Boekestein; Daniel R. Hyde; Cornelis P. Venema. Welwyn Garden City, UK: Evangelical Press, 2015.
  • Elders and Deacons and Saints, Oh My!: Defining Biblical Roles, Structure and Organization for a Team Ministry That Achieves the Fivefold Purpose of the Church / James Kirkland. Bloomington, IN: Crossbooks, 2011.
  • God’s Solutions to Life’s Problems: Radical Change by the Power of God / Wayne A. Mack; Joshua Mack. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2014.
  • Broken Vows: Divorce and the Goodness of God / John Greco. Adelphi, MD: Cruciform Press, 2013.
  • Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching As Worship / John Piper, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018.
  • Comfort the Grieving: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Loss / Paul. Tautges. Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, 2014 (Practical Shepherding)

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

  • God Among Sages: Why Jesus Is Not Just Another Religious Leader / Kenneth R. Samples. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2017.

Periodicals (Old & New)

  • Davenant Digests (from Davenant Institute)
  • Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology

The Good God and the “Problem” of Evil (3)

no-other-macarthur-2017We conclude tonight our look at chapter three of John MacArthur’s recent book None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible (Reformation Trust, 2017). In this chapter MacArthur presents the biblical reply to the perennial question of how the good and powerful God of the Christian faith relates to all the evil, pain, and suffering in the world.

Last time we looked at this chapter we saw how the author explained that God is absolutely sovereign over all things, including evil – evil events, evil people, and evil angels (Satan and his host – he points to Job and Peter as biblical examples). But we also said we would return to hear his answer to the questions of why and to what end or purpose God determines and controls evil. In his own words, “Why did God permit evil in the first place? Why does He sovereignly, willingly allow it to keep infecting and distorting His creation? In His unfolding, preordained plan, what is the presence of evil accomplishing?”

To which he answers in the first place:

In his epistle to the Romans, Paul gives us the answer. He writes, ‘If our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?’ (Rom.3:5). Our unrighteousness demonstrates (Greek sunistemi) the righteousness of God.

…Unrighteousness therefore puts God’s righteousness on display. Paul again says, ”But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while were were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom.5:8). The presence of sin allows God to demonstrate His righteousness and love. How else could He show the character of His great love that rescues enemies and sinners if there were no enemies and sinners? ‘What if God, although willing [i.e., determining] to demonstrate [Greek endeiknumi] His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?’ (Rom.9:22). He demonstrates His righteousness against the backdrop of sin and evil, showing, by contrast, how utterly holy He is. God demonstrates His love at a level that would have been impossible without sin. We see and appreciate the radiance of God’s love more, having endured the darkness and distress of a universe cursed by evil. ‘The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them’ (Isa.9:2). The presence of evil provided the perfect opportunity for God to display His wrath and justice along with His redeeming grace and infinite mercy, as He loved sinners enough to send His Son to die in their place.

And, as he goes on to show, the second and more important reason is that God might glorify Himself. Referring again to Romans 9:22, he writes:

Literally, the verse’s phrasing is ‘God determined to demonstrate for Himself.’ God demonstrates His attributes for the sake of His own glory. Without sin, God’s wrath would never be on display. Without sinners to redeem, God’s grace would never be on display. Without evil to punish, God’s justice would never be on display. And He has every right to put Himself everlastingly on display in all the glory of all His attributes. [pp.62-63].