Monday, November 28, 2016

Author Spotlight: Dr. Carl Trueman

Dr. Carl Trueman is a favorite author, speaker, and podcast host of mine. I never seem to tire of his British accent or sarcastic wit. He is a learned man and is known as an expert on the lives of Martin Luther and John Owen. His writing style is understandable and witty. With any of his works one can settle in for a good read (add pipe, cigar, craft beer or glass of wine to make it even better).

His Amazon bio: Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. He was editor of Themelios for nine years, has authored or edited more than a dozen books, and has contributed to multiple publications including the Dictionary of Historical Theology and The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology.


The Wages of Spin: Critical Writings on Historical and Contemporary Evangelicalism

 

The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

 

The Creedal Imperative

 

Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread: Taking Aim at Everyone

 

Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom

 Read the Reformed Book Cellar review here.

 

If you want understand history, laugh, enjoy a good read and sometimes be offended, Trueman is the man. Highly recommended from the RBC.

 

 

 


Monday, November 21, 2016

Author Spotlight: Iain D. Campbell

Rev. Dr. Iain D. Campbell is our author in the spotlight this week. He is pastor of the Free Church of Scotland in Point on the Isle of Lewis. Prior to that he was the pastor of Back Free Church of Scotland, also on Lewis. He was Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland in 2012. I've enjoyed three of his books and found him engaging and instructive. Below are a few of his works and a link to a recent interview with Nick Batzig on Ref21.

The Doctrine Of Sin

 

On the First Day of the Week: God, the Christian and the Sabbath

 

Matthew's Gospel (Opening Up)

 

Ruth: A Devotional Commentary (Exploring the Bible)

 

Read the interview with the author at the Ref21 website here.

 

 

 


Friday, November 18, 2016

Looking for a Christmas Book?

Looking for a quality read this Christmas Season? We suggest Boice's The Christ of Christmas. The season does evoke warm feelings but it should be much more than that.

But the Christmas story is more than sentimental. It is powerful. It deals with real people. It involves pain. It is one of the most strikingly unusual stories in all of history. And its main emphasis is not on Jesus' infancy, but on his deity -- and why Deity took the form of an infant.

 The Christmas story has deep meaning today, not merely as a nice bedtime story for children or a narrative in a choral concert, but as a foundation point of your salvation and your new life in Jesus -- the omnipotent, omniscient, righteous Christ of Christmas.


"The death of James M. Boice left a large void in the realm of Christ-centered exposition. These Christmas studies provide a master class for preachers and a terrific resource for all who wish to learn or present the greatest story ever told." --Alistair Begg, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Author Spotlight: Sinclair Ferguson

Author Spotlight
Today we begin a new series of posts spotlighting Reformed authors. There is much we can learn from these authors, old and new. So, let's dig in. Our first author  showcase is Sinclair Ferguson.

About the author
Sinclair Buchanan Ferguson retired in 2013 as Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, and returned to his native Scotland. Prior to this he held the Charles Krahe chair for Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary and served Church of Scotland congregations in Unst (Shetland) and Glasgow (St George s Tron). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen (1971).

Dr Ferguson retains his position as Professor of Systematic Theology at Redeemer Seminary, Dallas, Texas, and serves as a Teaching Fellow with Ligonier Ministries. He continues to preach God's Word in churches and at conferences.

A few of his works

Devoted To God: Blueprints for Sanctification
In a series of Scripture-enriched chapters Sinclair B. Ferguson's Devoted to God works out this principle in detail. It provides what he describes as 'blueprints for sanctification' an orderly exposition of central New Testament passages on holiness. Devoted to God thus builds a strong and reliable structural framework for practical Christian living. It stresses the foundational importance of fundamental issues such as union with Christ, the rhythms of spiritual growth, the reality of spiritual conflict, and the role of God's law. Here is a fresh approach to an always relevant subject, and a working manual to which the Christian can turn again and again for biblical instruction and spiritual direction.

The Whole Christ
Since the days of the early church, Christians have wrestled with the relationship between law and gospel. If, as the apostle Paul says, salvation is by grace and the law cannot save, what relevance does the law have for Christians today?
By revisiting the Marrow Controversy—a famous but largely forgotten eighteenth-century debate related to the proper relationship between God’s grace and our works—Sinclair B. Ferguson sheds light on this central issue and why it still matters today. In doing so, he explains how our understanding of the relationship between law and gospel determines our approach to evangelism, our pursuit of sanctification, and even our understanding of God himself.
Ferguson shows us that the antidote to the poison of legalism on the one hand and antinomianism on the other is one and the same: the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ, in whom we are simultaneously justified by faith, freed for good works, and assured of salvation.

In Christ Alone
Noted theologian, pastor, and educator Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson explores aspects of the person and work of Jesus in his latest book, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel-Centered Life. This collection of articles, published earlier in Tabletalk magazine and Eternity Magazine, is designed to help believers gain a better understanding of their Savior and the Christian faith, and to live out that faith in their day-to-day lives.
In fifty short chapters arranged in six sections, Dr. Ferguson shows that Christ, who is fully God, took on humanity that He might be the Great High Priest of His people as well as the once-for-all sacrifice; that He now ministers to His people through His Spirit, crowning them with great and precious blessings; and that believers are called to duty, from cultivating contentment to mortifying sin. In Christ Alone is packed full of nuggets of Scriptural truth that will spark and fan the flames of the believer's love for the Savior who is so beautiful in His person and so faithful in His work on behalf of His beloved sheep.

Discovering God's Will
There are few more important things in the Christian's life than discovering God's will. The assurance that we are in the centre of God's purposes brings lasting stability to our experience. But how do we discover the will of God for our lives? Sinclair Ferguson answers this question by showing how God's will is shaped by his ultimate purposes for us. It is made known to us through his Word. At times discovering God's will demands careful thought: it may require patience; it always demands a right attitude to God himself. Discovering God's Will draws out fundamental principles by which God guides us, applies them to practical situations like vocation and marriage, and underlines many important biblical counsels. It shows that the guidance God gives comes primarily through knowing, loving and obeying him.


From The Mouth of God
The Bible.
Why should we believe -- as Jesus did - that it is 'the mouth of God'?
When did it come into existence?
Is it inerrant?
What do we need to learn in order to understand it better?
How does its teaching change our lives?
In 'From the Mouth of God', Sinclair B Ferguson answers these and other important questions about trusting, reading, and applying the Bible.





 So, grab your favorite beverage and smoke and settle in for a good read with anything written by Ferguson. You'll be blessed.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Book Review: What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts) By Nancy Guthrie

If I had to boil down the message of this entire book to just two words, these two would probably cover it: show up. - Nancy Guthrie

Grieving is a such a painful process. We all handle it differently. Sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly. But those around us can have a huge impact on how we process our pain. And those grieving around us are impacted by what we say and do. Often, though well meaning, we can completely mishandle the situation resulting in more pain, frustration and pressure on those who grieve. Nancy Guthrie in here latest, What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts), gives a us a look deep inside those who are suffering the pain of losing a friend, family member, or loved one, to death. What should we say, what should we do? Sharing her own experiences of losing two infant children and of those she has surveyed, we see how we can help the grieving in deep and meaningful ways.

Guthrie's style is warm, loving, and on point. Knowing what to say, what to do is usually difficult. No two people grieve in the same way or in the same time frame. Thus, she takes us through the "hows" and "whens" to speak and act at various times and places during the process of grieving. Most importantly, at least to me, what to say and not to say. Common unhelpful phrases and actions are covered and why we should avoid them. Alternatively, encouraging and thoughtful words and actions are suggested. As people grieve, we need to understand that they are not thinking as logically perhaps as we are at the moment. Stuffing scripture down their throats is not always as helpful as we may think. We also can't fix their grieving. It takes time. What many want most is to know that we have come along side them in their grieving and will be there whenever we're needed.

Besides the loads of useful advice, it is well footnoted and has scripture and subject indices. I found this book most helpful. I recommend this to every elder & deacon and to every church library.

This was a difficult read for me. I realized how often I have failed those around me grieving a death. I repeatedly felt the twinge of guilt for mishandling a situation. But this was a necessary read as well. We need to love those around us who are grieving but we often, very often, don't know how. This book is a gift to every Christian to learn how to love those who are grieving.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: Being There: How To Love Those Who Are Hurting by Dave Furman

As one who is a caretaker of a spouse with an debilitating illness, I was keenly interested in this new book, Being There: How To Love Those Who Are Hurting, by Dave Furman. It did not disappoint. Author Dave Furman shares his life with his difficult disease which is not only difficult for himself but also his wife, family and friends. Having an illness like Furman's when one doesn't look ill makes it all the worse for all those involved. Furman shares his joys and disappointments on a personal level and imparts wisdom for the caretaker, friend, spouse, pastor and everyone acquainted with someone suffering from any of life's trials.

This work is packed with advice for the caretaker and for the sufferer. From the outset however Furman makes it clear that, "The goal of this entire book is to point you to Jesus, who is your only hope, and to walk you through some ways to love those who hurt with the strength God provides." Indeed, the book ends with the same reminder. We are to point those who suffer to Christ. Words of encouragement or comfort often fail, but Christ never does. This is not all we can do but it is at the heart of what we do and say.

Furman's style is warm, funny and direct to the point. He quotes sufferers that have gone before us and points the reader to Scripture often. He shares events from his life that are sometimes humorous but often heartbreaking as his disability affects all those around him. But it makes the book real, not just a book of self help hints to get the reader through difficult times, but seasoned, hard advice for those dark, lonely times of hurting the caretaker endures.

He tasks the reader to refer to the gospel to find hope. "In order to adequately care for others, we must first need this news (and the Spirit of God) to stir in us a new and greater affection." We must also learn to listen rather than talk. "Listening is a great way to start loving and comforting someone who is suffering. Good friends and counselors understand that oftentimes the best thing they can do is be quiet and listen."

This leads me to one of the most important and helpful chapters of the book, Whatever You Do, Don't Do These Things. Though well intended, some words and actions of encouragement are more harmful than helpful. If you cannot imagine what these are then I strongly urge you to give close attention to this chapter.

As Furman was writing the conclusion to this book he suffered another severe attack of pain which left him discouraged. Though I don't wish pain on anyone, I am grateful he related this episode in the book. Even after penning this work he fell into a short period of discouragement. His honesty displayed his humanness in that he still does not have all the answers. Neither do we. Our hope is in Christ for now and evermore.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Book Review: A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised

Sadly, many of us don't know our Old Testament. Moreover, we don't know the typologies, prophecies and other numerous connections to the New Testament. We live in an odd age where we have much information at our fingertips and we often choose to ignore it. A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised is a book not to be ignored.

This book walks the reader through he Old Testament offering an understanding many Evangelicals, many Christians, just don't have. It was penned for everyone from the layman to the pastor. Everyone can glean knowledge from this work. The authors are scholars and teachers, past and present, that know their subjects well. They have written in a clear, simple fashion, defining terms and footnoting heavily. Undoubtedly, this was written for the seasoned Christian and new believer alike.

Countless questions on the Old Testament are answered within these pages. If you don't realize many of these questions are issues perhaps you should begin reading BTIOT now.

How do we know these texts should be in the O.T. canon?
Who wrote these texts?
Which book is at the heart of the O.T.?
Why doesn't the book of Esther ever mention God?
What is the difference between Kings, Samuel and Chronicles? Are the differences important?
Why are there different genres within the O.T.?
Why should you read and study the most depressing book of the O.T., Lamentations?
What's the connection between Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles?

Yes each chapter contains book background, authorship info, key themes, excellent bibliography and extensive footnotes.

This one gets 5 out of 5 stars. Friends, it is time to start studying.

Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of this book through Beyond the Page.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Alec Motyer (1924-2016)

Alec Motyer
We mourn the passing of Alec Motyer (maw-teer). Our loss is his gain. He was a beloved author and theologian and we shall be the less without him. He has authored several works worth investing our time and study in. Below are just a few of his works. We are truly grateful for his service. Read more about him here.









The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary
By J. Alec Motyer

 

 

 

 

 

Look to the Rock: An Old Testament Background to Our Understanding of Christ
By Alec Motyer

 










By J. A. Motyer

 

 

 

 

 

Isaiah (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
By J. Alec Motyer

 

 

 

 

 

 
The Message of Philippians (Bible Speaks Today)
By J. Alec Motyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Message of Amos (Bible Speaks Today)
By J. Alec Motyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m not really a scholar,” says J. Alec Motyer softly, “I’m just a man who loves the Word of God.”. . . . - Alec Motyer from an interview in May 2000.

 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Two New Works You Need To Get Your Hands On

If you study theology to any degree, as most Christians should do, you need to pick up these two new works. I'm deep into the Old Testament volume and have found it to be outstanding.

A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: The Gospel Promised

 

A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized


 

Connect here to listen to an interview with Michael Kruger on this work.

We wish you good reading and growth in your spiritual life. Share your thoughts with us and please share this page with your friends.


 



Saturday, July 9, 2016

Two New Books Worth a Look

There's two new books worth considering and I've put on my "to buy" list. 

First up is 

J.C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone
By Iain H. Murray

The life of J.C. Ryle has only to be heard once to be remembered. His 84 years (1816 1900) included remarkable contrasts the promise of a fortune, then the poverty of a bankrupt; a Suffolk country pastor, then bishop of the leading seaport of the British Empire. But there was a still greater change from the successful youth at Eton and Oxford, who did not pray or read his Bible till he was 21, to become a Christian 'bold as a lion for the truth of God s Word and his Gospel'.

Listen to a author interview at Reformed Forum here


Next we have

 

 

Zeal without Burnout
By Christopher Ash

Thousands of people leave Christian ministry every month. They have not lost their love for Christ, or their desire to serve him. But for one reason or another, they are exhausted and simply cannot carry on.

Christopher Ash knows this experience all too well. As a pastor of a growing church, and then in his role training people for ministry, he has found himself on the edge of burnout a number of times, and has pastored many younger ministers who have reached the end of their tether.

His wisdom has been distilled into this short, accessible book, in which he reveals a neglected biblical truth and seven keys that flow from it. Understood properly, and built into our lives as Christians who are zealous to serve the Lord, they will serve to protect us from burnout, and keep us working for God's kingdom and glory.

For a great perspective on this work, check out Camden Bucey's view at Reformed Forum.

 

Both books can be purchased through Reformed Forum or at RBC


Monday, July 4, 2016

Works on the Trinity

With all the buzz on the Trinity currently on the 'net, below are a few works on the Trinity worth digging into. To see more works on the Trinity, check out the Reformed Book Cellar page.

Communion with the Triune God
By John Owen


A Brief Declaration and Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity
By John Owen

 

Delighting in the Trinity
By Tim Chester

 

God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God's Absoluteness
By James E. Dolezal

 

The Trinity and the Vindication of Christian Paradox:An Interpretation and Refinement of the Theological Apologetic of Cornelius Van Til
By B. A. Bosserman


Essential Trinity: New Testament Foundations and Practical Relevance

 

For more books on the Trinity check out the Reformed Book Cellar page. This list was compiled from various resources on the 'net. RBC does not endorse every book listed. 

Keep up with the latest on new books, reading, book sales and more at the Reformed Book Cellar Facebook page. Join us!   

 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Five Ways to Improve Your Reading

How much do you get out of your reading? Perhaps you're one of the fortunate few you can read a book quickly and retain it. Most of us aren't like that. We toil over a book to learn and enjoy what we can but soon lose what we've read. Allow me to provide a few ideas to make your reading more profitable. Having trouble just getting started? Check out this link.


Read Slower
If you choose a work to read it must have some envisioned value to you. There's no need to rush through it. Take your time to read it. Slow down. Stop occasionally and ponder what you've just read and make note of it.

Take Notes
Many of us remember what we've seen, read or heard by writing it down. Read with a notebook at your side. Makes notes of the crucial passages you've just read. Write down what you want to take with you from the book. What you want to apply to yourself. I suggest a notebook or journal that you can shelve and refer back to repeatedly.

Write in the Margins
I know some of us are purists and don't like to write in our books. But a book is only a thing. It is the words on the page that are important, not it's pristine condition when we're through with it. Write in those margins! The next person who reads that book may profit from your marginalia.

Highlighting
Closely associated with the last suggestion I would add that highlighting makes it much easier to refer back to those portions that stand out to you. I often joke when I loan a book that all the important passages are already highlighted. So it is for yourself and the next reader, highlighting makes it much easier to go back and find that important passage the made you laugh, made you cry or simply something that you need to remember and apply to your life.

Review the Book When You're Done
Once you've finished reading, making notes and highlighting a book you've only completed the first step. Go back, review what you've read. Review your highlights and marginalia and your notes. Put it all together. Did you understand the thrust of the book? What exactly did you learn? How will you apply those ideas and suggestions from the author to your life and work.

Keep up with the latest on books, reading, book sales and more at the Reformed Book Cellar Facebook page. Join us!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: Spurgeon's Sorrows by Zach Eswine


I would wager that you know someone who is depressed, someone who is suffering sorrow, emotional pain. You may not even know who it is but you know someone I’m sure. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you’ve felt this pain for some time now or perhaps a recent tragedy has invaded your life and it hurts – more than you’ve ever hurt before. The famous preacher of years past, Charles Spurgeon, experienced this sorrow, this depression. How did he handle it?

Zach Eswine, author of Spurgeon’s Sorrows, has done the research and shares with his readers the approach to suffering in all its varying forms that Spurgeon undertook to ease his pain while remaining faithful to the Scriptures. It was certainly a difficult road for him as it is for you, me or anyone else today. But the passage of time has changed little in the methods we should employ. This book does not propose to answer all the questions sufferers may have, there is no quick fix. Yet it does offer wisdom from Spurgeon himself who not only suffered physically but with depression and spoke and wrote about it often and his story is interwoven throughout the book.

Eswine guides us methodically through the many aspects of suffering that a person may experience. Not comprehensively as no one is depressed in quite the same way another may be. Commonalities however do exist and Eswine, with his own engaging style, has plucked them out of Spurgeon’s writings and sermons.

Eswine has broken down this small volume into three parts. Part one is an overview of depression and the difficulties in understanding it. Here we read what how it can differ in degrees of intensity and longevity. The difference between sadness and depression and how they intersect. How it began and how it deeply affected Spurgeon and some of the causes. He concludes this section with how circumstantial and biological depression comes into play with spiritual depression.

Part two consists of some of the methods we may employ to comfort those who are suffering and also the necessity to avoid trite rebukes (Proverbs 25:20). Depression and suffering is varied and there is no one-size-fits-all-diagnosis or remedy. But God's grace allows many to press on under these trying circumstances. Lastly in chapter 8, we read that Jesus was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:4) and there is much we can learn from that.

Eswine offers some practical helps in part three. Writing down God's promises and carrying them with us to refer to in the darkness and remembering prayers such as from Psalm 103:13 can carry the sufferer through sometimes. Natural helps such as rest, food and medications (taking medicine is a wise act of faith, not of unfaith) are also covered in this section. Suicide, the desire to depart from this world as Elijah did, is discussed. Even Jesus was stricken with this desire as we read in Matthew 26:38. Yet we choose life. Finally, sorrow is exceedingly beneficial for with it we know more of God's grace.

Spurgeon’s Sorrows is for all of us for we know or someday will encounter someone who is down, sad, depressed. Perhaps it will be our self. We need to have the perspectives that are found within the pages of this book and know how to use them for our good and God's glory.