Communing with God through His Word – N. Stewart

The October 2018 issue of Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries’ monthly devotional magazine) has the theme “Perfectionism and Control.” The articles deal with the basic issues involving God’s sovereignty and our responsibilities in the Christian life. Some of the subjects dealt with are:

  • The Illusion of Control – T. Brewer
  • Planning for the Future While Trusting God’s Provision – M. Emlet
  • The Place of Godly Ambition – D. Dodds
  • Ordering the Home without Being Controlling – P. Tripp

Burk Parsons summarizes the theme in his editorial for “Coram Deo” under the title “Out of and under Control.”

But tonight, as the Sabbath comes to a close, I want to point you to a few outstanding thoughts from Neil Stewart’s article for the rubric “Heart Aflame.” You will see the title from the heading to this post and the link below at the Tabletalk website. He begins his article with these important words:

Communion with God in Scripture is one of the great distinguishing marks of a Christian, an acid test of true spiritual life. Whatever else we are as believers, we are people who meet God in the Bible.

At the end of his next paragraph he adds that God’s glory may be seen in creation and in providence, but not like it is in Scripture:

There is enough in nature to leave us without excuse (Rom. 1:18ff), but there is not enough to renew us deep within. This peculiar glory belongs to Scripture alone (Ps. 19:7). We may see His glory elsewhere, but only in Scripture do we hear His voice. How should we then approach the Bible?

In answer to that question he has seven (7) wonderful points. Tonight I share a couple of them with you, hoping that you too will capture the vital importance of reading and studying God’s Word. We have said it here before and repeat it now: there is no more important book in all the world for you and for me to read and receive.

1. Come fearfully. God is in this book. Scripture is the breath of His mouth (2 Tim. 3:16), the Word of His Son, the light of His presence (Ps. 109:105), the unveiling of His mind (1 Cor. 2:16), the bread of His baking (Deut. 8:3), the mirror of His glory (2 Cor. 3:8), the energy of His creation (Gen. 1:3; 2 Cor. 4:6), the repairman of His image (John 17:17), the irrigating water of His life in the soul (Ps. 1:2–3), and the sword of His Spirit (Heb. 4:12). We should read “rejoicing with trembling” (Ps. 2:11).

3. Come thoughtfully. Scripture does its best work in us when we linger and hide its truth deep within. “Thy word I have hidden in mine heart [not scattered carelessly across its surface] that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11, KJV). Skimming Scripture will not lead you down into the depths of the deep things of God. Memorizing portions of the Bible will be of tremendous help here. Try to stretch your capacity beyond a verse or two, consigning paragraphs and even whole chapters to your heart. Then you will enter into the psalmist’s experience, “As I mused, the fire burned” (39:3).

7. Come expectantly. The closest possible connection exists between God and His Word. Why do you think He made the universe with words, when a mere thought would have done it all? Was it not to teach us the glory of His voice? When He speaks, nothing remains the same; everything changes. And when His Son came into the world, how does He introduce Him to us? As His Word, His voice of self-revelation, through whom He made all things (John 1:1–3). So, when we come to the Bible, we should come expecting to meet the Lord Christ. It is His book. It is all about Him. He is the righteousness of the Law, the wisdom of the Proverbs, the singer of the Psalms, the king on the throne, the voice of the Prophets, the sacrifice on the altar, the judge in the end, and the glory of it all. He is all of this in union with us, His people.

This book is alive with the life of Christ. It comes to us as a spiritual virus. Most viruses, of course, take life from us; this one has quite the opposite effect. It infects us with a restorative glory. Reading it, our vision returns, and we see things as they really are.

Source: Communing with God via Scripture

Reading for Virtue’s Sake: A Conversation with Karen Swallow Prior and Joshua Gibbs | Public Discourse

The authors of two new books on reading agree: reading good literature well is not only enjoyable, it is also a veritable school of virtue. The pleasure to be gained by reading well is a skill that, like virtue itself, is achieved through practice.

Such is the brief description of this instructive interview with authors Karen Swallow Prior and Joshua Gibbs. Both present an interesting perspective on the power and purpose of good reading, by which we also mean reading good literature, books that teach universal virtues and, of course, book that teach distinctively Christian virtues.

We post a portion of the interview here; there is plenty more to read and digest in the rest of it. Follow the link below for that.

David Kern: Both of your books are about the ways literature can cultivate virtue in readers, so I have been thinking about the extent to which a teacher should explicitly state that the books she is teaching have been chosen for that end. Should a teacher directly tell her students that she is teaching, say, Persuasion, because of its capacity to make readers virtuous? Or should she let the book do its work secretly, if you will?

Joshua Gibbs: I think it depends on the audience. When I read my little girls The Velveteen Rabbit or Frog and Toad Are Friends, I don’t tell them that I want these books to help them develop virtue. Similarly, on the rare occasion that I teach a room full of adults, I don’t often lay all my cards on the table and say, “All right, people, let’s learn to be good.”

High school students are a little different, though, because they are more apt to believe that the value of a book depends on its being entertaining, enjoyable, thrilling, funny. If a lit teacher passes out copies of Augustine’s Confessions to high school sophomores and pretends the book is going to be a page-turner, he is deceiving his students. If you give a high school student a book that is difficult and dull (when compared with, say, The Maze Runner), you need to explain why these qualities should not turn them off from reading it. “When the book is difficult to read, the book is doing its work on you.” Acknowledge that the difficulty comes from the moral gauntlet the book throws down. A book suited to virtue often requires multiple readings, although exciting books generally do not. That is what makes them exciting. But explaining that a book is hard to read (yet worth reading) will usually lead to a discussion of virtue.

What you do not want is for high school students to believe that adults find Augustine’s Confessions as enjoyable to read as they find The Maze Runner, and that once you’re forty, Augustine is downright titillating.

Karen Swallow Prior: When I teach general education courses in English, the students are usually first- or second-year students who are not majoring in English. I like to begin these classes with something that I refer to as the biblical basis for the study of literature. I’ve found that students, especially Christian students, are so utilitarian and pragmatic in their worldviews that describing the sheer goodness of literary study helps them overcome barriers to reading literature and reading it well that they don’t even realize they have. I cover over a dozen points in this lecture, and only one of them addresses virtue directly. In other words, there are many, many reasons to read good literature (particularly for the Christian), including the joy of it. Yet all of these reasons contribute to cultivating virtue in the reader who reads well.

How do you respond to these initial thoughts about reading and virtue? Would you consider this a goal of your own reading? What type of books are going to help you accomplish this goal?

Source: Reading for Virtue’s Sake: A Conversation with Karen Swallow Prior and Joshua Gibbs | Public Discourse

Young Men, Be Strong! ~ Rev. Josh Engelsma

sb-logo-rfpaThe latest issue of the Standard Bearer includes the next installment of Rev. Josh Engelsma’s series on biblical manhood, penned under the rubric “Strength of Youth.” While he intends to write on biblical womanhood too, pastor Engelsma is addressing young men first, because that too is biblical. To men God gives the position of headship and the charge of leadership in marriage, the family, and the church. So men – young men too – bear the responsibility to grasp this position and to grow in leadership.

This particular article focuses on the calling to “be strong.” And by that Rev. Engelsma means in the sense of Eph.6:10 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Listen as he explains what this strength is:

When you think about what it means to be a mature man, one of the things that probably comes to mind is his strength. Generally speaking, men are physically stronger than women. If the woman is the “weaker vessel” (1 Pet. 3:7), this implies that the man is the stronger vessel.

Especially is it the case with young men that they are characterized by strength. When I was a teenager it was not uncommon for me to work all day in the scorching heat of the summer and then after work spend the entire evening running up and down the basketball court. The point is not to make you think that I was so strong (I wasn’t), but rather to illustrate the point that young men in general are strong.

The Bible speaks of young men in the same way. Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” We read in 1 John 2:14, “…I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong…” And in Isaiah 40:30, when it describes our dependence upon Almighty God, it speaks of young men as the epitome of earthly strength: “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.”

But when the Bible speaks of the strength of youth, it does not have in mind merely muscles. After all, God “taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man” (Ps. 147:10, a verse oft repeated to a sports-crazed young man by a wise grandmother).

Rather, the Word of God has in mind spiritual strength. This is evident from the rest of 1 John 2:14 when it says to young men, “… because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” What ought to characterize mature Christian men, and young men in particular, is that they are strong spiritually.

He then goes to define what this spiritual strength is, and does so from a specific point of view, that of saving faith. After explaining what this faith looks like, he begins to make application, pointing out this practical truth:

It seems almost paradoxical, but the reality is that spiritual strength is found in acknowledging that you are weak. The proud man, the one who imagines himself to be strong, falls. The humble man, the one who knows he is weak and depends entirely on Christ for strength, stands. “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

If the strength of youth is faith, then one who is spiritually strong is one who possesses this hearty trust in and dependence upon Christ.

And this is strength! By faith in Christ we are strong to withstand the fiery darts of the devil. By faith in Christ we are strong to overcome the world and its pressures. By faith in Christ we are strong to wage war against our old man of sin. By faith in Christ we are able to bear up under heavy burdens. By faith in Christ we are able to carry out our callings in life. By faith in Christ we are able to be strong and courageous leaders.

Young men, you are strong! Because you’ve received the gift of faith!

Read the rest of this edifying article in the October 1 issue of the SB. And if you are not yet receiving it so as to read it, visit the subscription page of the website and get signed up!

New Titles Added to the PRC Seminary Library: July – September 2018

I recently completed the next list of “significant additions to the PRC Seminary library” for this year 2018. This one covers the third quarter, July to September. You may recall that I started to put this together a few years ago for the benefit of the faculty and students as well as for the Theological School Committee that oversees the seminary.

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.

You will note that there are many older (and slightly used) titles added to our collection each time. Some of these I pick up from area thrift stores, but I would also like to acknowledge the help of Dr. Tom Reid, the registrar and librarian at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. Tom is a dear friend of the PRC seminary (he lectured here two years on the French Reformed Church, which lectures you may find on the seminary’s YouTube channel) and he has a wonderful book service he provides. He browses our online catalog, sees what we are lacking, and then regularly sends me boxes of books to peruse and purchase as needed (through the regular travelers between Grand Rapids and Pittsburgh). While I do send a few back, I end up buying most of his books. This list especially reflects his contributions. Because his suggested titles reflect a Reformed emphasis and are pre-sorted, they are greatly appreciated! Thank you, brother Tom!

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

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. Maybe during this Reformation remembrance month, you will find something of interest. And, yes, our library is open to our members and friends!

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Other Commentaries (Individual)
The Life of Moses: God’s First Deliverer of Israel / James M. Boice, 1938-2000. ; Philip G. Ryken. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2018.
An Exposition of Ruth and Esther / George Lawson, 1749-1820; Alexander Carson. MacDill AFB, FL: Tyndale Bible Society, n.d.
A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah / J. I. (James Innell) Packer. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, c1995.
Be Worshipful: Glorifying God for Who He Is: OT Commentary, Psalms 1 – 89 / Warren W. Wiersbe. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2009.
Be Exultant: Praising God for His Mighty Works: OT Commentary, Psalms 90-150 / Warren W. Wiersbe. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2009.
Counsel from Psalm 119 / Jay E. Adams. Woodruff, SC: Timeless Texts, 1998.
Life Under the Son: Counsel from the Book of Ecclesiastes / Jay E. Adams. Woodruff, SC: Timeless Texts, 1999.
Hearing the Message of Daniel: Sustaining Faith in Today’s World / Christopher J. H. Wright. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.
The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels / Raymond E. (Raymond Edward) Brown, 1928-1998. New York: Doubleday, c1994, 1998 (Anchor Bible Reference Library) vols. 1, 2
Matthew Twenty-Four: An Exposition. / Jacob Marcellus Kik. Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1948
Commentary on Romans / Anders Nygren, 1890-1978; Carl C. Rasmussen, Transl. Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1949.
Studies in Ephesians / H. C. G. Moule, (Handley Carr Glyn), 1841-1920. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1977 (Kregel Popular Commentary Series)
A Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians / Francis W. Beare, 1902-1986. London: Adam & Charles Black, c1973, 1976.
The Church in God: Expository Values in Thessalonians / Harold John Ockenga, 1905-1985. Westwood, NJ: Revell, 1956.
The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Exposition. Adolph Saphir, 1831-1891; Arno C. Gaebelein. New York: Gospel Publishing (and Forgotten Books, reprint), 1902. vols. 1,2
A Commentary on the Johannine Epistles / J. L. (James Leslie) Houlden; Henry Chadwick. New York : Harper & Row, c1973

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Individual Biblical Studies Titles
Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar / Gary D. Pratico; Miles V. Van Pelt. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, c2007.
The Effect of Textual Criticism on Some Recent English Translations of the New Testament / Robert Fulton Hull (bound thesis). Princeton, NJ: Princeton Theological Seminary, 1977 – Letis collection
Confident: Why We Can Trust the Bible / Michael Ovey. ; Daniel Strange. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 2015.
The Divine Unity of Scripture / Adolph Saphir. Delaware : Forgotten Books, 2017 (Classic Reprint)
The Bible Among the Nations: A Study of the Great Translations / John W. (John Walter) Beardslee, 1837-1921. Chicago, New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1899.
Bible Study: A Student’s Guide / Jon Nielson. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013.
Biblical Interpretation: An Integrated Approach / W. Randolph. Tate. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, c2008, 2011.
Studies of the Old Testament / Austin Phelps, 1820-1890. Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground, 2015.
The Lost World of the Flood: Mythology, Theology, and the Deluge Debate / Tremper Longman; John H. Walton. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018.
Jerusalem: The Biography / Simon S. Montefiore. New York: Vintage Books, 2011.
A Beginner’s Guide to New Testament Exegesis: Taking the Fear Out of Critical Method / Richard J. Erickson. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, c2005.
Rose Guide to the Temple / Randall Price, Torrance, CA: Rose Publishing, c2012.

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Church History, General and Biography
Tried By Fire: The Story of Christianity’s First Thousand Years / William J. Bennett. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2018.
A History of the Early Church: Vol.1: The Beginnings of the Christian Church; Vol.2: The Founding of the Church Universal; Vol.3: From Constantine to Julian; Vol.4: The Era of the Church Fathers / Hans Lietzmann, 1875-1942. ; Bertram L. Woolf, Transl. London: Lutherworth Press, 1961.
Luther’s Works: Companion Volume – Sixteenth-Century Biographies of Martin Luther / Justus Jonas, 1493-1555. ; Philipp Melanchthon, 1497-1560. ; Johann. Mathesius; Brown. Christopher B. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing, 2018.
• Luther’s Wittenberg World: The Reformer’s Family, Friends, Followers, and Foes / Robert Kolb. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2018.
Prophet, Pastor, Protestant: The Work of Huldrych Zwingli After Five Hundred Years / Edward J. Furcha; H. Wayne. Pipkin; Timothy George. Allison Park, PA : Pickwick Publications, 1984.
Papers Commemorating Quater-Centenary of the Scottish Reformation / Robert R. Sinclair; Fraser Macdonald; Alexander Murray. Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, 1960.
• The Jesuits, A History / Christopher Hollis. New York : Barnes & Noble, 1992.
The Synod of Dordtrecht 1618-1619 / Fred A. van Lieburg; Dick Swier, Transl.; Herman A. van Duinen. Dordtrecht: Stichting Historish Platform Dordtrecht, 2017. (Verhalen van Dordtrecht 1a) vol. 49
Through Many Dangers: The Story of John Newton / Brian H. Edwards. Darlington: Evangelical Press, c2001, 2005.
John Owen: Prince of the Puritans / Andrew Thomson. Great Britain: Christian Focus, 1996.
Struggles and Blessings: The Pilgrimage of Henry R. De Bolster / Henry R. De Bolster, 1926-; Harry Van Dyke. Canada: Henry R. De Bolster, 2003 (was member of 1st PRC-GR and attended our seminary in 1950).
The Doctors of the Church: Thirty-Three Men and Women Who Shaped Christianity / Bernard McGinn. New York: Crossroad Pub. Co., c2010.
The Great Catholic Reformers: From Gregory the Great to Dorothy Day / C. Colt. Anderson. New York: Paulist Press, c2007.
A Commentary on the Minutes of the Classis of Holland, 1848-1876: A Detailed Record of Persons and Issues, Civil and Religious, in the Dutch Colony of Holland, Michigan / Earl William. Kennedy. Holland, MI: Van Raalte Press, 2018. (Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America) vol. 94 – 3 vols.
The Last Illusion: Letters from Dutch Immigrants in the “Land of Opportunity,” 1924-1930 / Herman Ganzevoort; Janice Dickin. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, c1999.
Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America / Randall Herbert. Balmer. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of the Reformed Episcopalians / Allen C. Guelzo. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.

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Creeds, Confessions, History of
Know the Creeds and Councils / Justin S. Holcomb, Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, 2014 (Know Series)
The Catechism of Pierre Viret. Pierre Viret; R. A. Sheats, Transl.(1st Engl.) Tallahassee, FL: Zurich Publishing, 2017.
Christ and the Law: Antinomianism at the Westminster Assembly / Whitney G. Gamble. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018 (Studies on the Westminster Assembly)
Anthony Tuckney (1599-1670): Theologian of the Westminster Assembly / Youngchun Cho. ; Robert Letham; John (John R.) & Chad Dixhoorn Bower. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017. (Studies on the Westminster Assembly)
Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt / Martyn. McGeown. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Pub. Association, 2018.

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Dogmatics, Theology, Historical Theology
The Reception of the Church Fathers in the West: From the Carolingians to the Maurists. Irena Dorota Backus. Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1997. (vol.1)
On Difficulties in Sacred Scripture: The Responses to Thalassios / Confessor Maximus, Saint, approx. 580-662; Maximos Constas, translator. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2018 (The Fathers of the Church, A New Translation), vol. 136
Still Protesting: Why The Reformation Matters / D. G. (Darryl G.) Hart; John R. Muether. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018.
A History of Puritanism, Pietism, and Mysticism and Their Influences on the Reformed Church / Heinrich Heppe; Arie Blok, Transl. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, c1997, 2015.
The Reconciling Wisdom of God: Reframing the Doctrine of the Atonement / Adam J. Johnson. ; Michael F. Bird, series. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016.
Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context / Stanley J. (Stanley James) Grenz, 1950-2005; John R. Franke. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, c2001.
Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity / Stephen R. Holmes; Paul D. Molnar; Thomas H. McCall. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014 (Counterpoints : Bible & Theology)
The Covenant Connection: From Federal Theology to Modern Federalism / Daniel Judah. Elazar; John. Kincaid; J. Wayne Baker. Lanham, Md. : Lexington Books, 2000.
The Word Became Flesh: A Contemporary Incarnational Christology / Millard J. Erickson. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1991.
Christ and His Benefits: Christology and Redemption in the New Testament / Arland J. Hultgren. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987.
The Cross of Jesus / Leon Morris, 1914-2006. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1988.
Observations Doctrinal and Practical on Saving Faith. / Archibald Mason, 1753-1831. York, PA: The Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church, 2002.
A Discourse of the True and Visible Marks of the Catholic Church / Theodore Beza, 1519-1605. Pottstown PA: Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian, 2014.
The Growth of the True Church: An Analysis of the Ecclesiology of Church Growth Theory / Charles E. Van Engen. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1981 (Amsterdam Studies In Theology), vol. 3
An Inquiry into the Principles of Church Fellowship / John T. Pressly, 1795-1870. Pottstown PA: Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian, 2014.
Imago Dei: The Byzantine Apologia for Icons. Jaroslav Pelikan, 1923-2006. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990.
Abraham Kuyper’s Commentatio (1860): The Young Kuyper About Calvin, A Lasco, and the Church: I – Introduction, Annotations, Bibliography, and Indices / II – Commentatio [Latin text] Jasper Vree; Johan. Zwaan; Abraham Kuyper, 1837-1920. Leiden/ Boston: Brill, 2005 (Brill’s Series in Church History) vol. 24
Theoretical-Practical Theology: Prolegomena / Peter van Mastricht, 1630-1706; Todd M. Rester, Transl.; Joel R. Beeke, Ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018.
Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth / John MacArthur; Richard Mayhue. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017.
Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life as Fuel and Fire / Jason C. (Jason Curtis) Meyer; Sinclair B. Ferguson; Stephen J. and Justin Taylor Nichols. Wheaton, IL : Crossway, 2018 (Theologians on the Christian Life)
No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized / John Sanders, 1956-. ; Clark H. Pinnock. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992.
Resurrection and Eschatology: Theology in Service of the Church: Essays in Honor of Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. / Richard B. Gaffin; Lane G. Tipton; Jeffrey C. Waddington. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2008.
Behold I Come Quickly: The Reformed, Biblical Truth of the End / David J. Engelsma; Andrew Lanning; Angus Stewart. UK: British Reformed Fellowship, 2018.
The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth / Scott Hahn. New York: Image, 1999.
• A Bibliography of Calviniana 1959-1974 / Dion. Kempff. Potchefstroom Instituut vir Bevordering van Calvinisme, 1975.
Contemporary World Theology: A Layman’s Guidebook / Harvie M. Conn. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1974.
Between the Times: The Travail of the Protestant Establishment in America, 1900-1960 / William R. Hutchison; Edwin S. Gaustad; Dennis Voskuil; William R. Hutchison. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. (Cambridge Studies In Religion And American Public Life)

Philosophy, Logic, Ethics
Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning / Wayne Grudem. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018.

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Practical Theology – Christian Living, Church government, Counseling, Family, Marriage, Missions, Prayer, Preaching, Sermons, Worship
In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel-Centered Life / Sinclair B. Ferguson. Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Pub., 2007.
Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer: Spiritual Reality in the Personal Christian Life / Francis A. Schaeffer; Lane T. Dennis. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1985.
The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship / Jonathan Holmes; Ed Welch. Minneapolis, MN: Cruciform Press, 2014.
• The Children for Christ / Andrew Murray, 1828-1917. Chicago, IL : Moody Press, 1952.
When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God and Joy / John Piper. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, c2006.
Depression Through a Biblical Lens: A Whole-Person Approach / Jim Halla. Greenville, S.C./Belfast, N.Ireland: Ambassador International, 2014.
Handbook of Church Discipline / Jay E. Adams. Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library, c1986.
Spousal Abuse in the Reformed Community / David J. Engelsma; Jeff Doll. Byron Center, MI: Byron Center Protestant Reformed Church, 2018.
The Man of God: His Calling and Godly Life / Albert N. Martin. ; Joel R. Beeke. Montville, NJ : Trinity Pulpit Press, 2018 (Pastoral Theology – Volume 1)
Equipping Preachers, Pastors, and Churchmen: Selected Articles by the Faculty of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary / Joseph Pipa; Ian Hamilton; Michael Morales; Zachary. Groff. Taylors, SC: Presbyterian Press, 2017.
Called?: Pastoral Guidance for the Divine Call to Gospel Ministry / Michael A. (Michael Anthony) Milton. Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2018.
On Being a Pastor: Understanding Our Calling and Work / Derek. Prime; Alistair Begg. Chicago: Moody Publishers, c2004.
The Ministry in Historical Perspectives / H. Richard Niebuhr, 1894-1962 , ed. ; Daniel Day Williams, 1910-1973 , joint ed. ; John Knox. New York: Harper, 1956.
Pastoral Work: A Source Book for Ministers / Andrew W. Blackwood. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books House, c1945, 1971.
Pastors in Pain: How to Grow In Times of Conflict / Gary D. Preston. Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Books, 2005 (The Pastor’s Soul Series) vol. 6
Practical Wisdom for Pastors: Words of Encouragement and Counsel for a Lifetime of Ministry / Curtis C. Thomas, 1937-. Wheaton, Ill. : Crossway Books, 2001.
The Preacher’s Catechism / Lewis Allen, 1971-. ; Sinclair B. Ferguson. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018.
Preaching According to the Holy Spirit / Jay E. Adams. Woodruff, SC: Timeless Texts, 2000.
Biblical Preaching For Today’s World / Lloyd M. Perry; Gilbert A. Peterson. Chicago: Moody Press, 1990.
For Christ and Country: Radio Messages Broadcast in the Ninth Lutheran Hour / Walter Arthur Maier, 1893-1950. St. Louis, bMO: Concordia Pub. House, 1942.
For Better, For Worse: Stories of the Wives of Early Pastors of the Christian Reformed Church / Janet Sjaarda Sheeres. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2017 (The Historical Series of the Reformed Church In America ; 91)
Apostle to Islam: A Biography of Samuel M. Zwemer.  J. Christy Wilson, 1891-1973. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1952.
What Is Your Answer?: A Survey of the worship service, liturgical forms and form prayers / Meindert H. Sliggers; R Koat, Transl. Chatham, ON: Inter League Publication Board, 2004 [companion to Canadian Reformed Church’s Book of Praise]
The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship [and other titles in series] Robert E. Webber; Robert E. Webber. Nashville, TN: Star Song, c1993 (The Complete Library Of Christian Worship) – Vols.1-4, 6,7
The Covenant Family / Gerard van Groningen; Harriet van Groningen. Sao Paulo, Brazil: Editora Cultura Crista, c1997.
Acts of Synod of the Christian Reformed Church: 2018 / Christian Reformed Church in North America. Steven R. Timmermans, Executive Director. Grand Rapids, MI: Board of Publications of the Christian Reformed Church, 2018.
Verbond En Zending [Covenant and Missions: Een Verbondsmatige Benadering Van Zending [A Covenantal Approach to Missions] / Barend. Wielenga. Kampen: Mondiss, 1998.
You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions / Tim. Chester. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, c2010.
To God All Praise and Glory: Under God: Celebrating the Past, Claiming the Future, The Presbyterian Church in America / Paul Settle. ; William S. Barker. United States: PCA Christian Education Bookstore, 1998.

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Misc. (Apologetics, Culture, Education, Music, Politics, Science, Work, World Religions, etc.)
Where in the World Is the Church?: A Christian View of Culture and Your Role in It / Michael Scott. Horton. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, c2002.
Let Children Come: A Durable Vision of Christian Schooling / N. H. (Nicholas Henry) Beversluis; Gertrude. Beversluis. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Schools International, c2001.
Christian Scholarship– For What? / Susan M. Felch; Richard J. Mouw; Joel A. Carpenter. Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin College, c2003.
Teaching and Learning: An Integrated Approach to Christian Education / Ronald P. Chadwick; Kenneth O. Gangel; Roy W. Lowrie, Jr. Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, c1982.
The Gospel & Gender Identity: Gender as Calling / Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. Pittsburgh, PA: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2017.
Encyclopedia of American Religious History. Edward L. Queen; Stephen R. Prothero; Gardiner H. Shattuck. New York: Facts on File, 2001 (Facts on File Library of American History) 2 vols.
The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam / Cyril Glassâe. San Francisco, CA : Harper & Row, 1989.
Mormon America: The Power and the Promise / Richard N. Ostling; Joan K. Ostling. — San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999.
Labor Problems in Christian Perspective / T. C. Douglas; Harry W. Flannery; W. Maxey Jarman; John Harold Redekop, ed. Grand Rapids, Mich., : Eerdmans, 1972.

Periodicals (Old & New)
The Burning Bush: Theological Journal of the Far Eastern Bible College (Singapore) / Timothy Tow. ; Jeffrey Khoo. Singapore: Far Eastern Bible College, 2000-2018.

The Lord’s Day: “A beachhead for the transformation of our whole lives.” – M. Horton

Heb4-9-11

The Lord’s Day is not another treadmill, but a day of resting from our works as we bask in his marvelous provision for our salvation and temporal needs (Heb 4:1-5). After all, ‘the earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof’ (Ps 24:1). On this holy day, we rest in God’s care for our temporal welfare. But even more than that, we rest in him alone for everlasting life. It is the opportunity to receive a kingdom rather than to build one; to be beneficiaries rather than benefactors; to be heirs rather than employees; to be on the receiving end once again of ‘the Son of Man [who] came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matt 20:28). We can be still and know that Yahweh is God (Ps 46:10.

This rest is not a cessation from all activity, however. It’s joining our Lord in his conquest over death and hell, receiving and dispensing the spoils of his victory. It’s opening the windows to the beams radiating from the age to come, where Christ reigns in grace, anticipating together that day when he returns in glory. Filled with the intensity of such sovereign grace, the Lord’s Day becomes a beachhead for the transformation of our whole lives, so that every day is warmed by its light.

‘God rested on the seventh day from all his works’ (Heb 4:4). Yet Israel, like Adam, failed the test and therefore forfeited the Sabbath rest. As Paul says in Romans 10, ironically, Israel pursued it by works but didn’t attain it, while those who didn’t pursue it by works but received it by faith did attain it. Unlike all of the high priests of the old covenant, ‘we have a great high priest who passed who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God’ (Heb 4:14). Taking his throne at the Father’s right hand, he has claimed it as our throne together with him in everlasting glory. ‘Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need (4:16).

So again there is another ‘today’: the space in history to enter the everlasting Sabbath day with God by resting from our works because Christ has fulfilled all of our daily labors on our behalf. He calls us not to toil for that rest by our guarding, subduing, and keeping, but simply to enter his rest through faith behind the conquering King.

Taken from chapter ten, “Stop Dreaming and Love Your Neighbor,” (and its section “Entering God’s Rest”) of Michael Horton’s Or-di-nar-y: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014), pp.199-200.

August 2018 “Tabletalk”: The Precious, Powerful Gospel of Psalm 23

The August 2018 issue of Tabletalk, the monthly (and daily!) devotional magazine of Ligonier Ministries, truly is a special issue with a special theme. That theme is the universally familiar and comprehensively comforting Psalm 23. Fittingly, the cover carries the gospel of that wonderful first verse: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

All the articles cover the entire psalm, verse by precious verse and phrase by beautiful phrase. Burk Parsons sets the tone in his “Coram Deo” editorial, “The Great Shepherd.” Here is part of what he says about this marvelous psalm:

The full biblical picture the Lord paints for us is that of a Shepherd-Warrior who cares for His sheep, lovingly disciplines His sheep, rescues His sheep, and protects His sheep from themselves and from their enemies. This is why Jesus calls Himself the Great Shepherd, and He does not drive His sheep with a whip from behind but calls His sheep by name and leads them into green pastures. For He is the author, the pioneer, and the captain of our faith who goes before us, even laying down His life for His sheep, and He is the finisher of our faith who protects and preserves us to the end.

The other article I reference tonight is that by Sinclair Ferguson, which is also linked below. After describing how David was uniquely able to write this psalm, both as a shepherd himself and as a student of God’s revelation through the previous OT fathers, Ferguson points us to how Jesus saw and fulfills this powerful psalm. This is how he ends his thoughts:

Jesus saw depths of meaning in these words; He must have sung them with joy. He looked back to His fathers Jacob and David and like them trusted His Father to provide all His needs. Indeed, as He explained to His puzzled disciples, His Father provided His nourishment: “I have food to eat that you do not know about. . . . My food is to do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:32, 34).

But Jesus must also have read Psalm 23 with a deep sense of burden. For He knew that, ultimately, He Himself was “the good shepherd” who “lays down his life for the sheep” (10:11, 14). What Jacob and David saw only dimly, Jesus saw clearly. The Shepherd must suffer for His sheep.

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus would take the place of His sheep and be led to the slaughter (Isa. 53:7). For them He would be smitten (Zech. 13:7; see Matt. 26:31). He would give everything of Himself to provide everything for us. The implication? Since He was not spared but delivered up for us all, we can be sure He will give us everything we need (Rom. 8:32).

This is what a Christian means by saying, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

You will find the rest of these articles on the Tabletalk website, starting at the link below. If you think you know this psalm so well, you will still be profited in reading the manifold articles in this issue. Your faith will be further founded on the saving work of your Great Shepherd. And that will prepare you for all the experiences of the sheep who need this Shepherd’s perfect care.

Source: The Lord Is My Shepherd; I Shall Not Want

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

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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.

RCS-Jeremiah

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

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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)

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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.

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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

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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

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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

“…Struck dumb by the impossible beauty” of God’s grace – W. Wangerin, Jr.

little-lamb-wangerinOne of the books I took along on vacation last week to continue reading was Little Lamb, Who Made Thee? A Book about Children and Parents  by Walter Wangerin, Jr. (Zondervan, 1993; reprinted in 2004. Mine is a first ed., hardcover).

As I have mentioned here before, Wangerin is one of my favorite Christian (Lutheran) authors. He has a way with words – sometimes humorous but always serious – as well as keen insights into the historic Christian faith and life. I came across some gems last week and decided to share a few of them here with you.

The first is taken from a chapter with the title “How Precious Did That Grace Appear,” which you may recognize as taken from the hymn “Amazing Grace.” As Wangerin describes his Lutheran confirmation ceremony (similar to our profession of faith), which involved answering questions about the Christian faith in front of the congregation (based on the Bible and the catechism of Luther), he relates the wonder of the truth of God’s saving grace – a blessed reality he came to experience more fully as he matured.

He tells of how he answered publicly and with conviction the question of his pastor “What is grace?” by quoting Eph. 2:8-9. But then, powerfully, he says this about the nature of the grace he just confessed:

I was a smart kid.

And yet I did not really know what I was talking about. I had just accomplished this most difficult task. I did it. Therefore, although I could speak well and wisely of grace, that was in itself the problem which condemned me: I could speak of grace, even glibly and casually. I was not struck dumb by the impossible beauty of the thing. I was not overwhelmed by the absolute absurdity, the flat illogic, the utter conundrum of this act of God.

Grace should not be.

In fact, by every moral and human right, grace cannot be.

Nevertheless, it is.

And without it, we die.

One ought to lay one’s hand upon one’s mouth in the presence of such a thaumaturge [that’s a great Greek-origin word to look up!] and answer nothing. One ought to confess that he has spoken without knowledge, that he has uttered things too wonderful for him, and so repent in dust and ashes.

But I was self-important in those days. I had not actually experienced love when I knew I didn’t deserve it.

Doctrine may teach us the definitions of our faith’s most fundamental truths; but the truths themselves elude us until we meet them ourselves and experience them: meet them, greet them, and find ourselves to be borne aloft by them. Then we know what hitherto we’d only learned by rote.

Wangerin is a faithful Christian husband and father and I highly recommend this book about his own godly rearing as a child and then his experience as a parent raising his own children. You will laugh and you will cry, but most of all you will grow in the knowledge and experience of that “precious grace” of our perfect Father.

 

I have another gem for you – this time about praying for a sick child. Marvelous!

Praying the Holy History Found in the Psalms – D. Bonhoeffer

Psalms 78, 105, 106 tell us about the history of the people of God on earth, about the electing grace and faithfulness of God and the unfaithfulness and the ingratitude of his people. …How ought we to pray these Psalms?

Then after giving a brief summary of Psalm 106 and how that can guide us in praying these historical Psalms, Bonhoeffer gives us concrete help:

We pray these Psalms when we regard all that God does once for his people as done for us, when we confess our guilt and God’s grace, when we hold God true to his promises on the basis of his former benefits and request their fulfillment, and when we finally see the entire history of God with his people fulfilled in Jesus Christ, through whom we have been helped and will be helped. For the sake of Jesus Christ we bring thanksgiving, petition, and confession.

Psalms-prayer-book-BonhoefferQuoted from 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 ninth section, “Holy History” (pp.34-35), where the author continues to treat the Psalter according to classification by subject.

Blessed Are the Meek – Rev. C. Haak

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This week’s message on the Reformed Witness Hour radio/Internet program (Sunday, June 17, 2018) was “Blessed Are the Meek” by Rev. C. Haak, pastor of Georgetown PRC.  Radio pastor Haak is currently doing a series on the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3-12, and this past Sunday he spoke on the third one as recorded in Matt.5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”

The audio file of the message is linked above on the PRC website and it may also be found on the RWH’s website and on her Sermonaudio channel.

Tonight I post a portion of the transcription of the message, finding it fitting for our reflection today.

 Meekness is the result, it is the fruit, of being poor in spirit and of knowing what it is to mourn before God.  It makes one receptive in his heart before God.  In one word:  meekness is the absence of pride.  A meek heart is the antithesis, the opposite of pride.  It is the opposite of stubbornness and fierceness and vengefulness.  Meekness is the dethroning of sinful pride and making us now teachable of God, gentle toward one another, submissive to God, confident and strong in God and in His faithful love to me.

Not only does one not assert himself, but he also sees the sin of that.  A meek person does not glory in himself.  He is not always interested in himself.  He is not watching always after his own interest.  He is not always on the defensive.  He is not always saying, “What about me?”

Beloved, by nature, we spend our whole life watching out for ourselves.  We worry about ourselves and what others are going to say about us.  We talk to ourselves.  We say, “You’re having a hard time.  Too bad people don’t understand you.  How wonderful I am and if only people would give me a chance.”  That is pride.  The meek are self-emptied people.  They are not defending the citadel of me.  They are lowly before God.  They are ready to leave everything in the hands of God, to leave themselves, their rights, their cause, their whole life, in the hand of God.  Meek.

This meekness will be seen in the attitude that we carry.  The fruit of meekness is, first of all, seen in an attitude toward God, an attitude of submission and quietness.  How often do we not struggle with the sovereign ways and the sovereign will of God?  I am not talking, now, of accepting our sinful ways or being indifferent.  But I am referring to the fact that God sovereignly appoints my portion in this life.  He arranges my life, personally and in my family, and economically, in all the details of my life.  Very often we struggle with that.  We find it very hard to be submissive to the way and to the will of God.  That is our pride.

Meekness, now, is submission, submission to the great God of heaven.  And, thus, meekness is strength!  The meek person is strong because he knows that God is holding him up.  We read in Psalm 147, “The LORD lifteth up the meek:  he casteth the wicked down to the ground.”  In meekness we are able to bear God’s chastenings in quietness and hope.  We are able to do that with a meek and a quiet spirit.  There is an example of this in the Bible.  I bring to your memory the high priest called Aaron.  Aaron’s two sons had been killed by God for offering strange incense in the tabernacle.  They had worshiped God in a manner that He had not prescribed.  And God consumed them in fire.  God, then, told Moses to tell Aaron that Aaron could not mourn over his sons.  He had to submit, in his grief, to the hand of God.  And Aaron did.  Now Aaron was far from perfect.  The Bible makes that plain.  The Scriptures tell us of all of his faults.  Yet God gave to Aaron a meekness.  He suffered quietly before God.

…The second fruit of meekness is our attitude toward others.  Meekness makes us the most approachable persons on earth.  Not bristling in pride, not sharp, cruel, spiteful.  It is the meek in Christ with whom you feel a great kinship.  Meekness attracts others.  Meekness is mildness of manner, gentleness, harmlessness.  Remember what we read in Matthew 11:28.   The Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.”  Why?  “For I am meek and lowly in heart.  You are safe with Me,” said Jesus.  “Because I am meek, you may come to Me.  I’m not dangerous.  You may set your heart upon Me.”

Still more.  In meekness, we will bear patiently the insults and the injuries that we receive at the hands of others.  In meekness we will not become inflamed, vindictive.  In meekness we will not assume a demeaning attitude toward those who differ with us.  We will not show ourselves to have a harsh, censorious temperament.  We will not enjoy finding fault in others.  Meekness will be seen in gentleness, humility, and patience.  It is the absence of retaliation.  It is the absence of paying back.  It is the absence of saying, “They’re gonna get theirs.”  No, it is longsuffering and patient, especially when we suffer wrongfully.  Then we will be meek.  Listen to Galatians 6:1.   “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  The Word of God is saying that only a spirit of meekness qualifies you to deal with another who may be embittered and resentful, to deal with someone who has fallen away.  You can deal with such a person only in the spirit of meekness.  Meekness means that you are emptied of yourself.  You are dependent upon and submissive to God.  You are gentle and you are teachable.  Blessed are the meek, said Jesus, for they shall inherit the earth.

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