1st Quarter Books 2019 – PRC Seminary Library (Part 2)

A few weeks ago I started (belatedly) to post here my list of significant book acquisitions for the first quarter of this year, a list I put together for the faculty, students, and Theological School Committee. Tonight we will finish that list, looking at five sections – creeds, dogmatic theology, practical theology, philosophy, and miscellaneous.

As noted before, part of my reason for posting this list here is not only to show you the kind of books the seminary adds to its library, but also to stimulate you to find something to read. Yes, there are books here for the layman and laywoman, for the young adults and for teenagers. Browse this list and perhaps you will find something of interest to you.

I might also add that not all of these are new books, nor are they always sought after. I purchase a fair amount of used and bargain books, and we also get some that are donated to us, which we always appreciate.


Creeds, Confessions, History of

  • Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort / W. Robert Godfrey. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2019.

Dogmatics, Theology, Historical Theology

  • Glaphyra on the Pentateuch, Volume 1: Genesis / Saint Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, approx. 370-444; Nicholas P. Lunn, translator; Gregory K. Hillis. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2018 (Fathers of the Church: A New Translation) v. 137
  • Thomas Aquinas / K. Scott Oliphint; Michael A. G. Haykin; Nathan D. Shannon. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017. (Great Thinkers)
  • Martin Luther and the Called Life / Mark D. Tranvik. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2016.
  • The Fatherhood of God in John Calvin’s Thought / Karin Spiecker Stetina. UK: Paternoster, 2016.
  • Giving Glory to the Consubstantial Trinity: An Essay on the Quintessence of the Christian Faith / Michael A. G. Haykin. Greenbriar, AR: Free Grace Press, 2018.
  • The Select Works of William Huntington / William Huntington, 1745-1813. ; J.R. Broome. Brackendale Grove: Gospel Standard Trust Publications, 1989.
  • Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology / Gregory A. Boyd; Paul R. Eddy. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002.
  • Confessing the Faith: Christian Theology in a North American Context / Douglas John Hall. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1998.
  • Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology / James K. A. Smith; John. Milbank. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.
  • Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense / N. T. (Nicholas Thomas) Wright. New York: Harper One, 2006.
  • Mere Calvinism / Jim S. Orrick. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2019.
  • Inerrancy and the Church / John D. Hannah; J. I. Packer; John H. Gerstner; John D. Hannah. Chicago: Moody Press, 1984.
  • The Voice of God in the Text of Scripture: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics / Oliver Crisp, editor; Fred Sanders, editor; William J. Abraham; Oliver. Crisp. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.
  • The Renewal of Trinitarian Theology: Themes, Patterns, & Explorations / Roderick T. Leupp. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008.
  • Connected: Living in the Light of the Trinity / Sam. Allberry. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013.
  • God With Us: Exploring God’s Personal Interactions with His People Throughout the Bible / Glenn R. Kreider. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2014.
  • A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture / Scott. Hahn. Cincinnati, OH: Servant, c1998.
  • The Doctrine of Election in Reformed Perspective: Historical and Theological Investigations of the Synod of Dordt 1618-1619 / Frank van der Pol; Gunter Frank; Eric A. De Boer; Herman J. Selderhuis. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019 (Refo500 Academic Studies), vol. 51
  • Knowing Creation: Perspectives from Theology, Philosophy, and Science / Andrew B. Torrance, ed.; Thomas H. McCall, ed.; Simon. Oliver. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018.
  • How I Changed My Mind About Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science / Kathryn Applegate, editor; J. B. Stump, editor; Deborah Haarsma. ; Kathryn Applegate. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016.
  • The Liberating Image: The Imago Dei in Genesis 1 / J. Richard Middleton. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005.
  • The Fool and the Heretic: How Two Scientists Moved Beyond the Labels to a Christian Dialogue About Creation and Evolution / Todd C. Wood; Darrel R. Falk. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2019.
  • Lectures in Systematic Theology: Volume III – Doctrine of Christ / Greg Nichols. ; Rob Ventura. San Bernardino, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2018.
  • Christology in Cultural Perspective: Marking out the Horizons / Colin J. D. Greene. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2004.
  • Anchored in Grace: Fixed Points for Humble Faith / Jeremy Walker. Minneapolis, MN: Cruciform Press, 2015.
  • By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me / Sinclair B. Ferguson; Henry L. Orombi. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2010.
  • If: The Conditionality of the Gospel and the Real Danger of Apostasy / Todd Pylant. Benbrook, TX: Word of God Speak Publishing, 2012.
  • Repentance in Christian Theology / Mark J. Boda; Gordon T. Smith; Ronald K. Rittgers; Mark J. Boda. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006.
  • Holy Baptism: Word Keys Which Unlock the Covenant / Duane Edward. Spencer; James B. Jordan. Tyler, TX: Geneva Ministries, 1984.
  • The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant / Guy Prentiss Waters; Dane C. and Miles V. Van Pelt Ortlund. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019 (Short Studies In Biblical Theology)
  • The Battle for the Sabbath in the Dutch Reformation: Devotion or Desecration? / Kyle J. Dieleman; H. J. Selderhuis. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019 (Reformed Historical Theology, v.52)
  • The Future of Everything: Essential Truths About the End Times / William Boekestein. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.

Image result for the future of everything boekestein

Philosophy, Logic, Ethics

  •  God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Gender Identity / Andrew T. Walker; R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Centralia, WA: The Good Book Company, 2017.

Practical Theology – Christian Living, Church government, Counseling, Family, Marriage, Missions, Pastoral Ministry, Prayer, Preaching, Sermons, Worship

  • Sound Doctrine: How A Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God / Bobby Jamieson; Mark Dever. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013 (9Marks Building Healthy Churches)
  • The Spiritual Life / Campegius Vitringa; Richard A. Muller; Charles K. Telfer, Transl.; Charles K Telfer. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018.
  • Step by Step: Divine Guidance for Ordinary Christians / James C. Petty; Susan Lutz. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 1999.
  • The Lordship of Christ: Serving Our Savior All of the Time, in All of Life, With All of Our Heart / Vern S. Poythress. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.
  • Holding Fast the Faithful Word: Sermons and Addresses by Samuel Miller / Samuel Miller, 1769-1850; Kevin Reed. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018.
  • Preaching the Old Testament / Scott M. Gibson; Haddon W. Robinson; Dennis R. Magary; Scott M. Gibson. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006.
  • The Scottish Psalmody / General Assembly. Free Church of Scotland (Continuing); William B. Scott. United Kingdom: Riley Dunn & Wilson, 2013.
  • Trinity Psalter Hymnal / Trinity Psalter Hymnal Joint Venture; Alan D. (OPC) Strange; Derrick J. (URCNA) Vander Meulen. Willow Grove, PA: Trinity Psalter Hymnal Joint Venture, 2018.
  • Liturgical Forms and Prayers of the United Reformed Churches in North America: Together with the Doctrinal Standards of the URCNA / United Reformed Churches in North America. Wellandport, ON: United Reformed Churches in North America, 2018.
  • Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity / Eugene H. Peterson, 1932-2018. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1990.
  • The Potter’s Rib: Mentoring for Pastoral Formation / Brian Williams. Vancouver: Regent College, 2005.
  • How to Help People in Conflict: Becoming a Biblical Peacemaker / Jay E. Adams. Stanley, NC: Timeless Texts, 2005.
  • A Practical Theology of Missions: Dispelling the Mystery, Recovering the Passion / Eric E. Wright. Leominster, U.K.: Day One, 2010.
  • Principles of Reformed Mission Ministry: An Organisational and Exegetical Study – Matthew 9:35-38 and Acts 13:1-4; 14:21-28; 15:36-41 & 16:2 / Peter Back. Stoke-on-Trent: Tentmaker Publications, 1999.
  • The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World / Paul. Copan. ; Kenneth D. Litwak. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014.
  • The Missionary Fellowship of William Carey / Michael A. G. Haykin. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2018 (The Long Line of Godly Men Profiles)
  • God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation / (2nd ed.) Andreas J. Köstenberger; David W. (David Wayne) Jones. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.
  • Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood / Gene E. Veith; Mary J. Moerbe. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012.
  • Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them: Schizophrenia Through a Mother’s Eyes / Simonetta Carr; Michael Horton. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2019.
  • The Silent Shades of Sorrow: Healing for the Wounded / C. H. (Charles Haddon) Spurgeon, 1834-1892; Zack Eswine. Scotland: Christian Heritage, 2015.
  • Passions of the Heart: Biblical Counsel for Stubborn Sexual Sins / John D. Street; Heath Lambert. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2019.

Can Science Explain Everything?

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

  • Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education / Michael J. Anthony; Warren S. Benson; Daryl Eldridge. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.
  • Making Disciples: The Challenge of Christian Education at the End of the 20th Century / Norman E. Harper. Memphis, TN: Christian Studies Center, 1981.
  • Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ / Darrell L. Bock; Daniel B. Wallace. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007.
  • Lifestyle: A Biblical/Philosophical Study of Christianity and the Culture It Produces / R.E. Knodel. United States: XLibris, 2012.
  • Can Science Explain Everything? / John C. (John Carson). Lennox. UK: The Good Book Company, 2019.

Itching Ear Epidemic

But this [a lack of solid biblical, expositional preaching] doesn’t seem to bother many churchgoers. In fact, if given the option between a systematic, verse-by-verse exposition of a book of the Bible or a more topical message where verses are plucked from all over Scripture and combined to create a special series on practical issues like marriage, parenting, sex, money, work, dating, stress, etc., most churchgoers would pick the topical series as their favorite because in their minds it in easier and more enjoyable to listen to and is seemingly more helpful to their everyday lives. This should come as no surprise since the charge Paul gave to Timothy was given with a view to the future when the church ‘will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears fro the truth, and will turn aside to myths’ (2 Tim.4:3-4). We are living in that time period about which Paul warned Timothy.

There are lots of people in churches today who will not put up with sound, doctrinal preaching. They are intolerant of anyone who gets up behind a pulpit and preaches truth that confronts their sinful lifestyle or makes them feel uncomfortable. They flat-out refuse to sit there and listen. If they feel like the preacher is stepping on their toes, they either run him out of the church or find another church where the preacher strokes their ears and makes them leave church feeling good about themselves. They successfully insulate themselves from what they consider the offensive truths of the Bible by surrounding themselves with preachers who caress them rather than confront them, who tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. They evaluate preachers based not on whether their teaching lines up with the Scriptures, but on whether it tickles their fancies, scratches them where they itch, and satisfies their craving to always be encouraged and entertained. It seems most people these days prefer listening to light, uplifting, entertaining messages. If given the choice, they would rather hear fictional stories than biblical truths.

ExpositoryListeningTaken from chapter 4 of Ken Ramey’s book, Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word , (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010). This chapter treats Paul’s warning to Timothy in 2 Tim.4:1-4 and is titled “The Itching Ear Epidemic” (pp.51ff.). In it the author speaks both to preachers and to listeners.

in light of what Ramey writes here, we may examine ourselves concerning our own propensity for “itching ears.” Have we been affected by this epidemic found in the churches about us? May God give us a hunger for the pure preaching of the gospel according to His Word and make us faithful listeners of such spiritual food.

1st Quarter Books 2019 – PRC Seminary Library

Here it is nearing the end of May (middle of the second quarter of 2019) and I still have not posted my list of significant book acquisitions for the first quarter of this year. So, tonight it is time to do that. We will reference this list that I put together for the faculty, students, and Theological School Committee in two parts, looking at three sections – two on Biblical studies and one on church history.

As noted before, part of my reason for posting this list here is not only to show you the kind of books the seminary adds to its library, but also to stimulate you to find something to read also. Yes, there are books here for the layman and laywoman, for the young adults and for teenagers (perhaps a “bitesize biography for you! see below!). Browse this list and perhaps you will find something of interest to you.

I might also add that not all of these are new books, nor are they always sought after. I purchase a fair amount of used and bargain books, and we also get some that are donated to us, which we always appreciate.

Other Commentaries (Individual)

The Love of Loves in the Song of Songs

  • Esther: The God Who Is Silent Is Still Sovereign / Norman De Jong. Grandville, MI: Reformed Fellowship, 2018.
  • A Proverbs Driven Life: Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and Relationships / Anthony. Selvaggio. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2008.
  • That’s Just The Way It Is: A Realistic View of Life from the Book of Ecclesiastes / Derek Tidball. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 1998.
  • The Love of Loves in the Song of Songs / Philip Graham Ryken. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019.
  • Living Water: Studies in John 4 / David Martyn. Lloyd-Jones. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009.
  • The Epistle to the Romans / H. C. G. (Handley Carr Glyn) Moule, 1841-1920. Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, nd.
  • Walking in the Way of Love: A Practical Commentary on 1 Corinthians for the Believer / (Vol.2) Nathan J. Langerak. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Pub. Association, 2019.

Individual Biblical Studies Titles

The Shadow of Christ in the Book of Job

  • Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible / Daniel M. Doriani. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 1996.
  • God’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology / Elmer A. Martens. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, UK; Baker Books; Apollos, 1994.
  • Plowshares & Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic / D. Brent Sandy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.
  • Friendship in the Hebrew Bible / Saul M. Olyan; John J. Collins. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017 (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library)
  • Christ from Beginning to End: How The Full Story of Scripture Reveals the Full Glory of Christ / Trent Hunter; Stephen J. Wellum. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018.
  • How to Read Prophecy / Joel B. Green. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1984.
  • Echoes of Exodus: Tracing a Biblical Motif / Bryan D. Estelle. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018.
  • The Shadow of Christ in the Book of Job / C. J. (Clayton J.) Williams; Richard C. Gamble. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017.
  • Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today / Bernhard W. Anderson. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983.
  • Saved by Grace Alone: Sermons on Ezekiel 36:16-36 / D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Edinburgh, Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2018.
  • How to Read the Gospels & Acts / Joel B. Green. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987.
  • Can We Trust The Gospels? / Peter J. Williams. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018.
  • The Child-Parent Relationship in the New Testament and Its Environment / Peter Balla. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.
  • How New Is the New Testament?: First-Century Judaism and the Emergence of Christianity / Donald A. Hagner. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018.
  • Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul / Craig S. Keener. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
  • The Theology of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians / James D. G. Dunn; James D. G. Dunn. Cambridge [England]; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons / John Piper. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019.

Church History, General and Biography
A Tender Lion: The Life, Ministry, and Message of J.C. Ryle (Rogers)

  • Why Study History? : Reflecting on the Importance of the Past / John Fea. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.
  • Augustine the Bishop: Church and Society at the Dawn of the Middle Ages / Frederik van der Meer, 1904-1994; Brian Battershaw, Transl.; G.R. Lamb, Transl. New York; Evanston: Harper Torchbooks, 1961.
  • The Middle Ages / Johannes Fried; Peter Lewis, Transl. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2015.
  • In Their Own Words: The Testimonies of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and John Bunyan / David B. Calhoun. Edinburgh, Scotland; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2018.
  • Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution – A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First / Alister E. McGrath. New York : HarperOne, 2007.
  • To Find a Better Life: Aspects of Dutch Immigration to Canada and the United States, 1920-1970 / Gordon Oosterman; Adrian Guldemond; George Vandezande. Grand Rapids, MI: National Union of Christian Schools, 1975.
  • Hollanders: The Development of their Objectives in Europe and America / Jacob A. Vander Meulen. Zeeland, MI: The First Reformed Church, 1945.
  • 1847 – Ebenezer – 1947: Memorial Souvenir of the Centennial Commemoration of Dutch Immigration to the United States Held in Holland Michigan 13-16 August / Henry Stephen Lucas, 1889-1961. ; MI Centennial Commission of Holland; J. R. Slotemaker de Bruine. New York: Netherlands Information Bureau, 1947.
  • A Tender Lion: The Life, Ministry, and Message of J.C. Ryle / Bennett W. Rogers. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian / Danny E. Olinger. ; Camden Bucey. Philadelphia, PA: Reformed Forum, 2018.
  • Charles Hodge / S. Donald (Samuel Donald) Fortson, 1956-. Darlington: EP Books, 2013. (Bitesize Biographies)
  • God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis / Philip Jenkins. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Archives and Anecdotes: 75 Years at Southeast Protestant Reformed Church / James Holstege; Tim Pipe, Sr. Grand Rapids, MI: Southeast PRC, 2019.

A Few thoughts on the Values of Reading – G. Fielder

ReadBookSculptureLast month we referenced an article on reading by Geraint Fielder that I found recently  in an old issue of The Banner of Truth magazine (#78, March 1970). In the first part of the article he wrote of “The Perils of Reading,” but he also wrote about “The Values of Reading” (or “how we should read books.”)

For tonight, I post his first four points under this heading, finding them relevant and profitable, though written nearly 50 years ago.

  1. Read reflectively. Combine reading with meditation; the two ought never to be put asunder. Think as well as read and always keep the thinking proportionate to the reading. If we just gorge ourselves with book-matter we become mentally dyspeptic [That is a great word – be sure to look it up!] A little girl was once asked whether she knew what her soul was. “Sir, my soul is my think” was her reply. Mr. Spurgeon comments, “If that be correct, some persons have very little soul.”
  2. Read representatively. To read wisely is to read widely. Don’t fall into the groove of one type of book; not always doctrine, nor always missionary biographies or devotional books – but some of each. Check the ground you cover by looking through a guide to Christian reading to see where there are gaps.
  3. Read regularly and not fitfully. A little but often, like oiling a bike. Give yourself a flexible goal over a period of time so that you read purposefully.
    Some of us read like the roaming of a little dog over the moors [He writes from the UK.] – sniffing at everything but catching nothing. [There is the wag of approval and the bark of dissent but no time is given to digesting]. Acquire the habit of persevering every day with something until it is mastered. You will be surprised at what you have acquired at the end of twelve months.
  4. Read for relaxation as well as for information. Return to old favourites, as you return again and again to a well-loved holiday place for refreshment.

Perhaps we can return to the other four points he has at a later date (if I don’t lose or misplace the article!).

What’s on your book pile?

A Few Thoughts on the Perils of Reading


1 Beware the antiquarian mentality. That attitude which says ‘the older is better.’ Sometimes this degenerates into valuing old books simply as collector’s pieces.

2 Beware too the mentality which says ‘What’s newest is truest.’ Always waiting to see what the latest book on so and so says before making your mind up and so never making it up.

Beware the acquiring mentality. This produces tremendous bookcase consciousness; it breeds more of a concern about the number of books you have than the number you have read. Some people have ‘books on the brain’ and that is a disease. It is getting ‘books into the brain’ that produces growth.

4 Beware the escapist mentality. It is an awfully frustrating thing to live with a person who runs from the problem of the moment to the book of the moment and never comes to grip with either.

5 Beware – the greatest danger that besets the man who loves books – the borrowed thoughts mentality. There are people whose bookishness is a substitute for, rather than a stimulus to, their own thinking. It is not insignificant that this mentality often goes with spiritual barrenness.

Some thoughts on the “perils of reading” by Geraint Fielder in connection with an address given at the Evangelical Meeting of the Cardiff Branch of the Evangelical Library (England) in May of 1969. Fielder takes his starting point in two NT verses, the second of which forms the basis of these comments on the dangerous power of books and reading. That verse is Acts 19:19, “Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”

Fielder also writes of the “values of reading” and we will take those up in a subsequent post in the near future. But for now, it is good to reflect on these perils. I have to admit, his points hit home to me. As a lover of books, it is easy to fall into these wrong mentalities.

I stumbled on this article in the March 1970 issue of The Banner of Truth magazine (#78) when sorting some boxes of back issues recently donated to the PRC Seminary library. When I saw this article on reading, I made a copy, intending to do a post on it sometime.

Published in: on April 9, 2019 at 11:02 PM  Comments (2)  

Harrowing Your Heart to Hear God’s Word Preached

Jeremiah 4:3 – “For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.”

“Harrowing Your Heart to Hear” (Chap.3 in Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), pp.35-49. We are currently taking time to read and draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

ExpositoryListeningIn this third chapter Ramey points to specific ways to ward off hardness of heart that leads to dullness in listening to and receiving God’s preached Word. Here are the points he mentions:

  • Read and meditate on God’s Word every day
  • Pray throughout the week
  • Confess your sin
  • Reduce your media intake
  • Plan ahead, and schedule your week around the ministry of the Word
  • Be consistent in church attendance
  • Go to church with a humble, teachable, expectant heart
  • Worship with all your heart
  • Fight off distractions
  • Listen with diligent discernment
  • Preparation of the heart and soul

Now, let’s consider a few quotations to help us for Sunday’s messages:

Reading the Word on a daily basis will develop in you a healthy appetite for God’s Word. You can’t expect to come to church on Sunday with a hunger for God’s Word if you haven’t been feeding on it throughout the week.

…You need to pray for the preacher. Pray that the preacher would preach with great liberty and boldness and clarity (Eph.6:19-20; Col.4:3-4); that God’s Word would run rapidly, transforming people’s lives for His glory (2 Thess.3:1); that God’s Spirit would empower the preacher and use him to help you grow in your understanding of God and His Word and accomplish His purpose in your life and the life of the church.

One of the simplest, most effective ways to prepare your heart for the preaching of God’s Word is to spend some time on Saturday night or Sunday morning to prayerfully examine your life and humble confess your sins to God. David’s example of confession in Psalm 51 serves as a practical path to follow in getting your heart right before God.

Listening demands a great deal of concentration and self-discipline. Augustine said, ‘To proclaim the Word of truth as well as to listen to it is hard work…. Thus, let us exert ourselves in listening.’ Jay Adams writes, ‘Many today drift into church with their minds turned off, slouch in the pew, and expect the preacher to do the rest. Examine yourself, brother or sister: have you been guilty of becoming a Sunday morning version of the couch potato?’

When you fail to plan ahead, Sunday morning ends up becoming a chaotic crisis, and by the time you get to church, you are frustrated and frazzled and your heart is in no condition to receive the Word. But when you plan well and are able to arrive in a relaxed, leisurely way, you will be in a much more receptive frame of mind.

Come to church with a spirit of anticipation, fully expecting God to speak to you through His Word in ways that will make a lasting difference in your life. …It should be that you can’t wait to see what you’re going to learn and how God is going to use His Word to convict you, correct you, comfort you, and change you.

It is required of those that hear the Word preached that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives. (Westminster Confession Larger Catechism)

Unworthy Servants: “What do you have that you have not first received?”

…You are indebted to him entirely. He has to take care of everything for you, and in so doing above all to uphold and support you. For if he ever withdrew his hand from you, you would perish in your own deadly turmoil and become just one more sad catastrophe! And for all of this, he gets nothing in return from you.

This is difficult for the flesh to comprehend this. It is hard to hear this. But there is no denying it. Nothing can change it. From you he received not a single thing.

Not even if you pray and praise him and do good works?

Why not? You yourself would know this best!

But I say this much on the authority of the Word: ‘You have never prayed what in any sense might be called a prayer unless he had first awakened it in you! You have never exalted what amounted to really exalting in his praise, unless he qualified you to do so. You have never done any good work, unless he was the One who first moved you to do it, both to will and to work for his own good pleasure!’

So then, O man and O woman, what do you have that you have not first received?

And how can you argue with our blunt assessment: ‘You have received everything from him; he has received nothing from you.’?

Listen to what Job already testified in ancient times: ‘Can a man benefit God? Or, what does it benefit the Almighty if you are righteous?’ ‘If you are righteous, what do you give him or what does he receive from your hands?’ (Job 22:2-3; 35:7). Listen to what the apostle impresses on your heart: ‘Who has first given anything to God, that he should repay him?’ (Rom 11:35). Or better yet, listen to what your Savior whispers in your heart: ‘When you do everything that you were told to do, you should say, “We are unworthy servants.”‘

Listen to this, all you children of God who are not in total denial! Listen, and be wise!

honey from the rock-ak-2018Taken from the new translation of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018; James A. De Jong, transl.), pp.51-52.

This particular meditation (#16) is based on Luke 17:10 and titled “Unworthy Servants.” Good words to ponder as we end the week and prepare to enter the Lord’s house for worship.

I am finding gem after quotable gem in this collection of Kuyper’s meditations. My recommendation to you as I read through them personally: get the volume and read one or two a day for your rich spiritual profit.

Why Is It So Hard to Pray? March “Tabletalk” on Prayer

Today I started reading the featured articles in the new issue of Tabletalk magazine. The March issue is on prayer – “Key Questions About Prayer” – and the opening article by editor Burk Parsons is a powerful introduction.

I plan to return to this issue again, but for tonight I wanted to follow up yesterday’s post on the new book on Jesus’ prayers with a quote from Parson’s article, “Why Is It So Hard to Pray?”

It’s hard to pray because humbling ourselves, getting over ourselves, and coming to the end of our stubborn and sinful selves is hard. When we pray, we die to self, and death hurts. That’s why our flesh fights so hard against prayer. When we pray, we are entering into real warfare against our flesh and against the flaming arrows of our accuser and his host. Although they are not afraid of us, they are terrified of the One within us and who is for us, and they despise that we are praying to the One who has crushed them and will destroy them.

Moreover, it’s hard to pray because our focus is too often on praying itself and not on God. We learn about prayer not so that we might know a lot of facts about prayer, but so that we might pray with our focus on God. By His sovereign grace, we know Him, and we know He is there and that He not only hears but listens—that He is not silent but that He always answers our prayers and always acts in accord with His perfect will for our ultimate good and for His glory. When we recognize God’s sovereignty in prayer, we are also reminded of His love, grace, holiness, and righteousness, and we are thereby confronted with the harsh reality of our own wretched sin in the light of His glory and grace.

That is good food for our souls as we enter a new work-week. Let’s remember to begin each day at our sovereign Father’s feet, pleading for His grace and Holy Spirit in our battle under the cross of His Son.

To finish reading Parson’s introduction, visit the link above. To read the other brief articles answering various “key questions about prayer,” visit the link below.

Source: Latest Issue – March 2019

The Prayers of Jesus: As a Child of the Covenant

prayers-jesus-jones-2019A brand new book I requested and received from Crossway publishers carries a unique title and contains a special focus – The Prayers of Jesus – with the subtitle Listening to and Learning from Our Savior (2019; 221 pp.). The author is Mark Jones, pastor of Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Vancouver, B.C.

As the title reveals, this is a study of the prayers of our Lord as contained in the Bible. And where would you start in considering these prayers? To what passage would you turn first? Before you answer those questions, consider that the author begins with a solid, Reformed introductory chapter on Christology. That’s right – a biblical, historical, and confessional study of the doctrine of Christ.

Why?, you ask. Because we cannot properly understand the prayers of Jesus without understanding who it was that prayed them and how He could pray them. We refer, of course, to the fact that Jesus prayed to His Father as the One who is fully man while also being fully God. Did our Lord need to pray, or did He pray only to give us an example of how to pray? Jones establishes the truth that Jesus, the eternal Son of God come in our full humanity, prayed out of his own deep need for all the graces His life and mission required. That opening chapter is vital for grasping the rest of the book on Jesus’ actual prayers.

But now, back to those prayers. What is the first passage you would turn to find Jesus’ prayers in the Bible? Something in the New Testament? No doubt, that is where most of us would go. But then we would miss His earlier prayers. The author properly takes us to the Psalms, and specifically Psalm 22:9-10 (look it up – his chapter heading is “Jesus Prayed from His Mother’s Breasts”). And what he emphasizes from the perspective of this Psalm is that Jesus learned to pray as a child of the covenant, indeed, as the Son of the covenant. With this in view, Jones ends his treatment of this prayer of Jesus with these paragraphs:

Our Lord came into this world with the graces needed to live out his calling as the Son of God. As such, he had not only the abilities to live in constant communion with God, but also the identity that he was someone peculiar: the God-man. Such abilities and awareness, coupled with the Father’s resolve to have his Son know him, provide us with the proper context for the prayers of Jesus and why his life was lived in constant communion with his heavenly Father. Furnished with the Spirit, his life was constant Trinitarian activity: the Son communing with the Father in the power of the Spirit. Just as he first called upon the Lord by the power of the Spirit working upon his human nature, so his last words were calling upon the Lord by the Spirit (Luke 23:46; Heb.9:14).

And he closes with this application:

We should note the importance of starting well in life: it is easier to develop patterns and habits at an early age than to pick up those habits later in life for the first time. For some this is not possible, due to their circumstances (e.g., growing up in a non-Christian household). But in believing households, children must therefore be taught to pray, by faith, as early as possible and as frequently as they are able. In Scripture there are patterns for us to follow, words for us to use to help us in our prayers. God does not expect his own Son to be left alone to figure out how to pray. Thus, he certainly would not leave us to ourselves in so important a spiritual discipline.

If one of our readers is interested in reviewing this book for the Standard Bearer (of which I am book review editor for the rubric “Bring the Books”), contact me here or by email. The review should be brief – and the book is yours if you write it.

“Also, read slowly.” ~ Karen S. Prior

Also, read slowly. Just as a fine meal should be savored, so, too, good books are to be luxuriated in, not rushed through. Certainly, some reading merits a quick read, but habitual skimming is for the mind what a steady diet of fast food is for the body. Speed-reading is not only inferior to deep reading but may bring more harm than benefits: one critic cautions that reading fast is simply a ‘way of fooling yourself into thinking you are learning something.’ When you read quickly, you aren’t thinking critically or making connections. Worse yet, ‘speed-reading gives you two things that should never mix: superficial knowledge and overconfidence.’

Don’t be discouraged if you read slowly. Thoughtfully engaging with a text takes time. The slowest readers are often the best readers, the ones who get the most meaning out of a work and are affected most deeply by literature. Seventeenth-century Puritan divine Richard Baxter writes, ‘It is not the reading of many books that makes a man wise or good; but the well reading of a few, could he be sure to have the best.’

reading-well-priorA few more good thoughts on ‘reading well” in Karen S. Prior‘s new book by that title (On Reading Well, which I purchased at the local Barnes & Noble store last Fall (this is found on p.17). As I make my way through it this year, I will be posting some nuggets of wisdom for your benefit. There is much to be found just in the “Introduction” (as I continue to discover).

Published in: on February 25, 2019 at 10:12 PM  Leave a Comment