What’s New for Review? (Books, That Is)

On this Tuesday, let’s take a few minutes to review a few books I have received recently for review – books I, in turn, make available to you – for you to review, if you are willing.

Life-theology-Paul-Waters-2017First, from Reformation Trust I received last week a copy of Guy P. Waters’ new title The Life and Theology of Paul (2017). Dr. Waters is professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS and has also authored The Acts of the Apostles, How Jesus Runs the Church, and Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul, among others.

The publisher gives this description:

Much of what we know about theology—about justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification—comes directly from the writings of the Apostle Paul. If we removed Paul’s writings from Scripture, our understanding of these truths would be greatly impoverished. Paul’s inspired writings and the story of his life continue to be a precious gift to the church. Dr. Guy Prentiss Waters leads us on a doctrinally enriching and spiritually edifying journey from Paul’s life, conversion, and call to key themes in his theology.

At the link above you will also find a video of a class taught by Dr. Waters on this subject. That will give you a taste of the contents of the book.

theology-made-practical-2017Second, I have also received a few new titles from Reformation Heritage Books. One is Theology Made Practical: New Studies on John Calvin and His Legacy, made up of fourteen essays by Joel R. Beeke, David W. Hall, and Michael A.G. Haykin (2017). The publsiher provides this information about the title and its contents:

In Theology Made Practical, Joel R. Beeke, David W. Hall, and Michael A. G. Haykin declare the significance of John Calvin’s life and ideas—particularly his contributions to systematic theology, pastoral theology, and political theology—as well as the influence he had on others through the centuries. With focused studies related to the Trinity, predestination, the Holy Spirit, justification, preaching, missions, principles of government, welfare, and marriage, this book demonstrates how Calvin’s thought has been, and still is, a dynamic wellspring of fruitfulness for numerous areas of the Christian life. More than 450 years since Calvin experienced the beatific vision, his thinking about God and His Word still possesses what our culture passionately longs for—true relevancy.




Part 1: Calvin’s Biography

1. The Young Calvin: Preparation for a Life of Ministry—Michael A. G. Haykin

2. Practical Lessons from the Life of Idelette Calvin—Joel R. Beeke


Part 2: Calvin’s Systematic Theology

3. “Uttering the Praises of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit”: John Calvin on the Divine Triunity —Michael A. G. Haykin

4. Calvin on Similarities and Differences on Election and Reprobation—Joel R. Beeke

5. Calvin on the Holy Spirit—Joel R. Beeke

6. Explicit and Implicit Appendixes to Calvin’s View of Justification by Faith —David W. Hall


Part 3: Calvin’s Pastoral and Political Theology

7. Calvin’s Experiential Preaching—Joel R. Beeke

8. John Calvin and the Missionary Endeavor of the Church—Michael A. G. Haykin

9. Calvin on Principles of Government—David W. Hall

10. Calvin on Welfare: Diaconal Ministry in Geneva—David W. Hall

11. Christian Marriage in the Twenty-First Century: Calvin on the Purpose of Marriage—Michael A. G. Haykin


Part 4: Calvin’s Legacy

12.  Calvin’s Circle of Friends: Propelling an Enduring Movement—David W. Hall

13. Calvin as a Calvinist—Joel R. Beeke

14. Calvinism and Revival—Michael A. G. Haykin



covenantal-life-ivill-2018Another title sent me from RHB recently is by Sarah Ivill (wife, mother, author, speaker and member of Christ Presbyterian Church [PCA] in Matthews, NC) and titled The Covenantal Life: Appreciating the Beauty of Theology and Community (2018). The publisher gives us this note about the book and its subjects:

Today, many of us have lost our appreciation of the beauty of covenant theology and covenant community, and this has had dire consequences for us, resulting in misunderstandings of theology and individualism and isolationism in the church. Author Sarah Ivill believes that a key solution to this problem is a robust understanding of covenant theology, which will deepen our knowledge of Scripture and enable us to truly serve our sisters by pointing them to Christ. In The Covenantal Life, the author clearly and concisely sets forth the beauty of covenant theology and covenant community and encourages us to learn sound doctrine so that we can think biblically about the circumstances in our lives—and then help our sisters in Christ to do so as well.



A Note from Sarah



Part One: Appreciating the Beauty of Covenant Theology

1. I Can Think Straight

2. The Best Book Ever

3. All of Grace

4. The Heart of the Matter

5. But God

Part Two: Appreciating the Beauty of Covenant Community

6. A Different Kind of Community

7. From Life Taker to Life Giver

8. Speaking the Truth in Love

9. A Mandate and a Mission

10. The City That Is to Come

As I began to browse this new title briefly, I found the author’s definition of covenant interesting and instructive: “A thorough yet concise definition of covenant is God’s sovereign initiation to have a binding relationship with His people, grounded in His grace and promises, and secured by His own blood (p.5).

If any of these books interest you and you are willing to write a short review for the Standard Bearer, the book is yours. Contact me here or by email. Tolle lege – take up and read!

10 Things You Should Know about Charles Spurgeon | Crossway Articles

As part of its “Ten Things You Should Know” series (usually on an aspect of church history or a key figure in her history), Crossway Publishing featured last month an article on the great Calvinist-Baptist preacher Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), known as the “Prince of Preachers.” Many of us are familiar with Spurgeon’s powerful sermons (in a multitude of collections), his rich Treasury of David on the Psalms, and the devotional classic Evening and Morning based on his writings.

For our history feature this week we select a few choice items from this Crossway list of ten (compiled by Michael Reeves), encouraging you to read the rest (cf. link below). You knew Spurgeon was a giant in the pulpit and an incredible worker, but did you also know he had his bouts with melancholy and depression? Read on and learn more about this significant servant of Christ’s church in the 19th century.

3. He was self-consciously a theological and doctrinal preacher.

While Spurgeon is not known as a theologian as such, he was nevertheless a deeply theological thinker and his sermons were rich in doctrine, and dripping with knowledge of historical theology – especially the Puritans.

Some preachers seem to be afraid lest their sermons should be too rich in doctrine, and so injure the spiritual digestions of their hearers. The fear is superfluous. . . . This is not a theological age, and therefore it rails at sound doctrinal teaching, on the principle that ignorance despises wisdom. The glorious giants of the Puritan age fed on something better than the whipped creams and pastries which are now so much in vogue.3

9. He suffered with depression.

Spurgeon was full of life and joy, but also suffered deeply with depression as a result of personal tragedies, illness, and stress. Today he would almost certainly be diagnosed as clinically depressed and treated with medication and therapy. His wife, Susannah, wrote, “My beloved’s anguish was so deep and violent, that reason seemed to totter in her throne, and we sometimes feared that he would never preach again.”10

Spurgeon believed that Christian ministers should expect a special degree of suffering to be given to them as a way of forming them for Christlike, compassionate ministry. Christ himself was made like his weak and tempted brothers in order that he might help those who are tempted (Heb. 2:16–18), and in the same manner, it is weak and suffering people that God has chosen to minister to the weak and suffering.

10. He was emphatically Christ-centered.

Spurgeon saw theology much like astronomy: as the solar system makes sense only when the sun is central, so systems of theological thought are coherent only when Christ is central. Every doctrine must find its place and meaning in its proper relation to Christ. “Be assured that we cannot be right in the rest, unless we think rightly of HIM. . . . Where is Christ in your theological system?”11

Spurgeon’s view of the Bible, his Calvinism, and his view of the Christian life are all deeply Christocentric–and even that astronomical analogy may be too weak to capture quite how Christ-centered Spurgeon was in his thinking.

For him, Christ is not merely one component—however pivotal—in the bigger machinery of the gospel. Christ himself is the truth we know, the object and reward of our faith, and the light that illumines every part of a true theological system. He wrote, ‘He himself is Doctor and Doctrine, Revealer and Revelation, the Illuminator and the Light of Men. He is exalted in every word of truth, because he is its sum and substance. He sits above the gospel, like a prince on his own throne. Doctrine is most precious when we see it distilling from his lips and embodied in his person. Sermons are valuable in proportion as they speak of him and point to him.’12

Source: 10 Things You Should Know about Charles Spurgeon | Crossway Articles

Time for Some Children’s Books

Tonight let’s look at a few children’s books, starting with a new one by Simonetta Carr that I received at the end of last year for review from Reformation Heritage Books.


That title is Irenaeus of Lyon, a book on one of the early orthodox church fathers (c.130-c200) and the latest in the “Christian Biographies for Young Readers” series. We have featured the books in this series before (as, for example on John Calvin, Martin Luther, Augustine, and John Knox) and this one too looks to be a valuable contribution. The publisher gives this description:

Irenaeus is remembered for his work in helping the church to preserve the faith handed on by the apostles and to defend it when it was attacked. In this simply written and beautifully illustrated book, Simonetta Carr shows young readers the difficulties the early church faced and how Irenaeus taught Christians to discern truth from error by listening to the Bible. To Christians, the lessons Irenaeus taught are as important today as they were in his time.

Besides covering the life and work of this church father, Carr includes at the end a timeline of Irenaeus’ life, a “Did You Know” section, and a sampling of his writing. The book is beautifully illustrated by Matt Abraxas.

If you are willing to write a short review of this book for the Standard Bearer or for Perspectives in Covenant Education, this title is yours.

*UPDATE: This book has been spoken for.

The second thing I mention in connection with children’s books is that I have been collecting Newbery Medal and Newbery Honor Books. I look mainly in the area thrift stores, and I buy mainly to give to my grandchildren. Some of the older ones I remember and know that they are “good reads.” But there are others that I am not familiar with and instead of trying to read them myself or giving them to my grandchildren without review, I would like to enlist your help – and that of your own children or grandchildren.


I give you this picture collage of the books I recently picked up and ask if you can give me a thumbs up or thumbs down on any of these. I want to make sure not only that these are good stories worth reading but also that they pass the “Christian discernment” test. I want to be careful that I don’t give my grandchildren books that are not wholesome and not in harmony with Christian principles even if the story itself is not Christian.

What can you tell me (us!) about any of these? Yes, by all means ask your children!

Published in: on January 24, 2018 at 11:04 PM  Comments (3)  

What Do You Know About Athanasius? M. Haykin/Crossway

At the beginning of this week (January 7, 2018) Crossway publishers had a post by author Michael Haykin on the great church father Athanasius (c.296-298 to 373).

Athanasius-statueBy Giovanni Dall’Orto – Own work, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4639224

Haykin has written a book published by Crossway titled Rediscovering the Church Fathers and his online article “10 Things You Should Know About Athanasius” is based on his chapter on this important church father.

Rediscovering the Church Fathers

So, what do you know about Athanasius? Do you remember the oft-used expression “Athanasius contra mundum” for his stand against the Arians and for the full deity of Jesus Christ? If you need a reminder of how important this early father is, then Haykin’s post will help.

Here are the last 5 things Haykin gives about him (find the other five at the link above):

6. He was exiled five times.
This was the first of five exiles, four of which were for his defense of the deity of Christ against Arianism. The two longest, from 339–346 and 356–361, were in Rome and the Egyptian desert respectively. It was because of these exiles that the saying “Athanasius contra mundum” (Athanasius against the world) was coined

7. He chose his words carefully.
It is noteworthy that Athanasius did not frequently use the term “of one being” (homoousios)—found in the Nicene Creed to set forth the deity of Christ, specifically in him being of “one being with the Father”—until the 350s. Up until then, Athanasius had used other statements and images drawn from Scripture in his defense of the divinity of Jesus.

8. He wrote the first treatise defending the full deity of the Holy Spirit in 358–359.
His close friend Serapion of Thmuis, a town in the Nile Delta, told him about the Binitarianism of certain individuals in his church who confessed Christ as fully God but argued that the Holy Spirit was to be included among the angelic beings. Athanasius’s three letters to Serapion were the first of a number of important defenses of the Spirit’s deity written over the next thirty-five years or so.

9. He wrote a best-selling biography.
Athanasius’s biography of the Egyptian monk Antony, written not long after the monk’s death in 356, was a “bestseller” in Christian antiquity and played a key role in the conversion of Augustine of Hippo in 386. Among the things that Athanasius related about Antony was his phenomenal memorization of the entire Bible. It is most likely the case that Athanasius had also memorized most of the Scriptures.

10. One of his letters contains the earliest complete list of New Testament books we’ve ever found.
Athanasius’s Easter Letter of 367 contains the first known list of the books of the New Testament that corresponds exactly to the modern listing of the New Testament canon. Along with the Old Testament, Athanasius declared such books to be the “fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness.”

Theological Humility – K. Kapic on St. Augustine

Humility reminds us that there is One far greater than us. We love and acknowledge this Lord who surpasses us in every way. Humility also bears in mind our finitude and fallenness. Our finitude constantly reminds us of our dependence on others and of the incompleteness of our theological constructions. Theological error develops not simply out of our sin but also because there are limits to our attempts at cognitive harmony. We cannot fathom how all things work together; every time we believe our accounts are exhaustive, we inevitably discover just how much we do not know or all that we have misunderstood. No divine reality can be flatly reduced to words, concepts, images or narratives. God is never less than these, but he is more than them. The reality of God always exceeds our expressions and our understanding of them. [pp.73-74]

And as a concrete example of this humility, the author points us to the great church father Augustine:

While Augustine is commonly considered the father of Western orthodox Christianity, he never saw his own conclusions as indisputable. In response to a letter that questioned ideas from one of his books, Augustine distinguished his own thoughts from those of Scripture’s binding authority. He described his theology as a work in progress, and he believed that since the goal was truthful reflection on God, he should constantly be open to revision. …It is the subtlety of ‘self-love’ that hardens us, keeping us wanting others to be wrong and preventing our spiritual development.

Near the end of his life Augustine put together a book titled “Retractions,” in which he looked at his own voluminous writings and revised countless claims he made earlier in his life. This was a sign of strength rather than weakness in Augustine’s approach. Anyone who stands at the end of his days and claims never to have changed his mind should not be praised for unwillingness to compromise but rather pitied for naïve pride [pp.72-73].

little-book-theologians-kapicTaken from chapter 7, “Humility and Repentance” in Kelly Kapic’s A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology (IVP Academic, 2012), pp.64-70.

“…We foolishly imagine that we shall nestle in this world forever.” – J. Calvin

Ps90-12For this final day of 2017, fittingly the last day of rest this year for us God’s pilgrim people, we consider these powerful words of John Calvin on Psalm 90:3-8, as found in his commentary on that passage (Vol.V, Baker, 1979, p.465, or online here).

The design of Moses is to elevate the minds of men to heaven by withdrawing them from their own gross conceptions. And what is the object of Peter? [in 2 Peter 3:8]. As many, because Christ does not hasten his coming according to their desire, cast off the hope of the resurrection through the weariness of long delay, he corrects this preposterous impatience by a very suitable remedy. He perceives men’s faith in the Divine promises fainting and failing, from their thinking that Christ delays his coming too long. Whence does this proceed, but because they grovel upon the earth? Peter therefore appropriately applies these words of Moses to cure this vice. As the indulgence in pleasures to which unbelievers yield themselves is to be traced to this, that having their hearts too much set upon the world, they do not taste the pleasures of a celestial eternity; so impatience proceeds from the same source.

Hence we learn the true use of this doctrine. To what is it owing that we have so great anxiety about our life, that nothing suffices us, and that we are continually molesting ourselves, but because we foolishly imagine that we shall nestle in this world for ever? Again, to what are we to ascribe that extreme fretfulness and impatience, which make our hearts fail in waiting for the coming of Christ, but to their grovelling upon the earth? Let us learn then not to judge according to the understanding of the flesh, but to depend upon the judgment of God; and let us elevate our minds by faith, even to his heavenly throne, from which he declares that this earthly life is nothing.

Christmas Sermon on Luke 2:1-14 – Martin Luther

luther-preaching-in-wittenbergThis sermon was preached the afternoon of Christmas Day 1530 by Martin Luther. His text was the familiar (for us) Luke 2:1-14, and the focus in this particular sermon was vss.10,11.

Here are some excerpts from that gospel message that will instruct and inspire our faith anew (I have slightly edited these quotations for ease of reading – not the words, just the formatting):

This is our theology, which we preach in order that we may understand what the angel wants. Mary bore the child, took it to her breast and nursed it, and the Father in heaven has his Son, lying in the manger and the mother’s lap. Why did God do all this? Why does Mary guard the child as a mother should? And reason answers: in order that we may make an idol of her, that honor may be paid to the mother. Mary becomes all this without her knowledge and consent, and all the songs and glory and honor are addressed to the mother.

And yet the text does not sound forth the honor of the mother, for the angel says, ‘I bring to you good news of great joy; for to you is born this day the Savior’ [Luke 2:10-11]. I am to accept the child and his birth and forget the mother, as far as this is possible, although her part cannot be forgotten, for where there is a birth there must also be a mother. Nevertheless, we dare not put our faith in the mother but only in the fact that the child was born. And the angel desired that we should see nothing but the child which is born, just as the angels themselves, as though they were blind, saw nothing but the child born of the virgin, and desired that all created things should be as nothing compared with this child, that we should see nothing, be it harps, gold, goods, honor, power, and the like which we would prefer before their message. For if I received even the costliest and the best in the world, it still does not have the name of Savior. And if the Turk [Muslim] were ten times stronger than he is, he could not for one moment save me from my infirmity, to say nothing of the peril of death, and even less from the smallest sin or from death itself. In my sin, my death, I must take leave of all created things. No, sun, moon, stars, all creatures, physicians, emperors, kings, wise men and potentates cannot help me. When I die I shall see nothing but black darkness, and yet that light, ‘To you is born this day the Savior’ [Luke 2:11], remains in my eyes and fills all heaven and earth.

The Savior will help me when all have forsaken me. And when the heavens and the stars and all creatures stare at me with horrible mien, I see nothing in heaven and earth but this child. So great should that light which declares that he is my Savior become in my eyes that I can say: Mary, you did not bear this child for yourself alone. The child is not yours; you did not bring him forth for yourself, but for me, even though you are his mother, even though you held him in your arms and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and picked him up and laid him down. But I have a greater honor than your honor as his mother. For your honor pertains to your motherhood of the body of the child, but my honor is this, that you have my treasure, so that I know none, neither men nor angels, who can help me except this child whom you, O Mary, hold in your arms.

If a man could put out of his mind all that he is and has except this child, and if for him everything – money, goods, power, or honor – fades into darkness and he despises everything on earth compared with this child, so that heaven with its stars and earth with all its power and all its treasures becomes nothing to him, that man would have the true gain and fruit of this message of the angel. And for us the time must come when suddenly all will be darkness and we shall know nothing but this message of the angel: ‘I bring to you good news of great joy; for to you is born this day the Savior’ [Luke 2:10-11]

And another section contains these words:

Take yourself in hand, examine yourself and see whether you are a Christian! If you can sing: The Son, who is proclaimed to be a Lord and Savior, is my Savior; and if you can confirm the message of the angel and say yes to it and believe it in your heart, then your heart will be filled with such assurance and joy and confidence, and you will not worry much about even the costliest and best that this world has to offer. For when I can speak to the virgin from the bottom of my heart and say: O Mary, noble, tender virgin, you have borne a child; this I want more than robes and guldens, yea, more than my body and life; then you are closer to the treasure than everything else in heaven and earth, as Ps. 73 [:25] says, ‘There is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee.’

You see how a person rejoices when he receives a robe or ten guldens. But how many are there who shout and jump for joy when they hear the message of the angel: ‘To you is born this day the Savior?’ Indeed, the majority look upon it as a sermon that must be preached, and when they have heard it, consider it a trifling thing, and go away just as they were before. This shows that we have neither the first nor the second faith. We do not believe that the virgin mother bore a son and that he is the Lord and Savior unless, added to this, I believe the second thing, namely, that he is my Savior and Lord.

When I can say: This I accept as my own, because the angel meant it for me, then, if I believe it in my heart, I shall not fail to love the mother Mary, and even more then child, and especially the Father. For, if it is true that the child was born of the virgin and is mine, then I have no angry God and I must know the feel that there is nothing but laughter and joy in the heart of the Father and no sadness in my heart. For, if what the angel says is true, that he is our Lord and Savior, what can sin do against us? ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’ [Rom. 8:31]. Greater words than these I cannot speak, nor all the angels and even the Holy Spirit, as is sufficiently testified by the beautiful and devout songs that have been made about it.

Prayer and Theological Study – K. Kapic and St. Anselm

little-book-theologians-kapic“One of the great dangers in theology is making our faith something we discuss rather than something that moves us. We lapse into this problem when we treat God as the mere object of our study rather than as the Lord we worship.

“…So how do we avoid depersonalizing our theological endeavors? How do we avoid not knowing the person we study? There is no substitute for prayer. Here we speak not merely of times set apart when we fold our hands and bow our heads, but also as a way of being. We are concerned not only to have a few minutes a day set apart for God but also to have a constant communion [with] him (1 Thess 5:17; cf. Jn 15:1-17). Whether eating, drinking, laughing or working, all that we do is done before the face of God. This is what undergirded the Reformation slogan coram Deo – living before God in all areas of life. This especially applies to our theological studies. Here we are on holy ground, and thus our attitude must be an attitude of prayer. If we are to be faithful, we must always be aware of his presence.

“…Anselm (1033-1109), the archbishop of Canterbury, explored questions about everything from the incarnation to potential proofs for the existence and essence of God. Modern students who read extracts of his work, however, often do not realize that he framed some of his writings not as logical puzzles but as extended prayers. Anselm begins his Proslogion by calling his readers to pray while reading, as he does while writing. His prayer gives us a model for our own studies:

I acknowledge, O Lord, with thanksgiving, that thou hast created this thy image in me, so that, remembering thee, I may think of thee, may love thee. But this image is so effaced and worn away by my faults, it is so obscured by the smoke of my sins, that it cannot do what it was made to do, unless thou renew and reform it. I am not trying, O Lord, to penetrate thy loftiness, for I cannot begin to match my understanding with it, but I desire in some measure to understand thy truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this too I believe, that ‘unless I believe, I shall not understand.’

Taken from chapter 6, “Prayer and Study” in Kelly Kapic’s A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology (IVP Academic, 2012), pp.64-70.


As an aside, the words at the end of Anselm’s prayer are often attributed to Augustine (354-430), as this prized picture in my home office has it. Perhaps Anselm was only quoting his spiritual forefather.

Second “Standard Bearer” Reformation Issue – Nov.1, 2017

Even though Reformation Day 2017 is past, this year remains the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation (1517-2017) – reason for celebrating all year – and beyond!

We have called attention to the first special Reformation issue of the Standard Bearer this year – the Oct.15, 2017 issue. Tonight we draw attention to the second special Reformation issue – the Nov.1, 2017 issue (cf. cover image below).


This one too is a wonderful commemoration of the great Reformation, packed with articles on seven (7) more aspects of God’s work through the Reformers in the service of the church. The articles in this issue range from those on the nature of the church to missions to the family, concluded by an article on “Reformed and always being reformed” – by the Word of God, of course.

For our purposes tonight, we post an excerpt from the first article, “The Earthen Vessels of the Reformation,” penned by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon (IA) PRC. In this piece, Rev. Engelsma points out six (6) characteristics of the Reformers as God’s “earthen vessels.” The fifth one is this:

The reformers were Christ-lovers.

The reformers were characterized by that one essential qualification of an officebearer: they loved Christ. As they went about their work, this motivated them: love for Christ. When they were slandered and abused, this sustained them: love for Christ. When they were praised by others, this grounded them: love for Christ.

Their love for Christ also meant a love for the church of Christ. They exhausted themselves for the church because they treasured her as precious in Christ.

They were not motivated by love of self or a desire for the praise of their own name. They did not compete with their colleagues to win for themselves a higher standing in the church.

Take Calvin, for example. When as a young man he stopped in Geneva for a night, he was cornered by the fiery Reformer, William Farel, who pressed him to stay to reform their church there. Calvin refused. He wanted to hide away in some forsaken corner with his books. But he ultimately relented. Certainly not for his own glory. Not even because Farel was such a convincing salesman. He did so because he loved Christ and loved Christ’s church.

And later, when Calvin’s enemies sought to smear him, they labeled him “that God-intoxicated man.” But what they intended as criticism is his highest commendation. He lived for the glory of his God.

Would to God that all officebearers and church members today be known by their enemies as God-intoxicated men and women!

10 Things You Should Know about Martin Luther | Crossway with H. Selderhuis

On this Reformation Day 2017 – the 500th anniversary of the great reforming movement planned, prepared, and produced by our sovereign Lord (albeit through His reforming agents, the magisterial Reformers) – we consider this fine summary post of Crossway publishers, written by Herman Selderhuis, and based on his new book Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography.

Selderhuis gives us ten things to remember about this German monk, things that we probably know, but which are well stated and good to recall today.

I’ve selected a few of the ones that stood out in my mind tonight. You may find all ten at the link below. I am determined to read Selderhuis’ book this year too, though I must admit, I may be over-booked.

What are YOU reading for Reformation 500?

5. Luther published prolifically.

Luther wrote a lot more than ninety-five theses and a few sermons. The official edition of his works—the so-called Weimarer Ausgabe—consists of more than one-hundred and twenty thick volumes.

Central to this impressive set is his work on the explanation and the translation of the Bible. Luther was appointed as professor of biblical exegesis and that remained his profession all of his life. This resulted in many rich commentaries.

Although he was not the official pastor of Wittenberg, we also have a great number of his sermons in which the fruits of his exegesis can be enjoyed. And then there are polemical and theological works, tabletalks, letters, and so much more.

7. Luther was a family man.

Luther was a little late when it came to starting a family. He was forty-one when he got married and forty-two when he became a father for the first time.

He wrote letters to his children during the many times he was away from home; sometimes he even took them with him on his journeys. At home, he would play and make music with them. He was also a father with worries and sadness. For example, he was besought with grief over the death of one of his daughters and was concerned when a son struggled at school.

Foundational to the Luthers’ home life was his wife, Katharina von Bora. She not only took care of the children but also told their father straight if his talk was too full of animosity of if he wasn’t taking good care of himself.

10. Luther remained a monk all of his life.

When Luther entered the monastery, he said he was searching for God—and, in a way, he kept searching for God the rest of his life.

Having found God as the gracious God, he kept searching for him, knowing that he needed him every day and also aware that sometimes God hides himself.

In becoming a monk, Luther promised God eternal obedience, poverty, and chastity—the three famous vows every monk had to make. Luther remained faithful to these vows all of his life. He remained obedient to God all of his life and even tried to obey the Roman Catholic Church as long as possible. Although the printers of his books became wealthy, Luther remained poor as he didn’t care much for money. Finally, while he did break his vow of celibacy by getting married, he embodied chastity as a husband.

Even on his deathbed, Luther’s last written words hinted at the fact that he thought of himself as a monk all of his life: “We are beggars. This is the truth. Amen.”


Source: 10 Things You Should Know about Martin Luther | Crossway Articles

There are a host of good Reformation Day sales going on (many beyond today). I encourage you to check out these links: