Volume 4 is the sequel so to speak of volume 3 in that it contains the rest of Richard Sibbes’ sermons from 1 and 2 Corinthians. These include the more well-known sermons like The Spiritual Man’s Aim and A Glance of Heaven. It also looks at his exposition of 2 Corinthians 4 which is more commentary than sermon, but gold nonetheless.
As I continue through the Works of Richard Sibbes, I am continually challenged by his depth of study and application. As a pastor, I often feel inadequate to the task. When I read many of the Puritans, I find that I am inadequate to the task! One other thing I have found is that by reading the Puritans, I am ministered to. I do not think I can truly explain how important this is for Christian pastor or teacher or leader to have in his own life.
His work on 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 is pure gold. It is appropriately entitled The Excellency of the Gospel Above the Law. Reading this particular sermon in one sitting will do the Christian much good and, I believe, prove to be sweet balm to many a weary soul. In fine Puritanical fashion, Sibbes explains why so many Christians are struggling with joy and how the gospel frees us to truly enjoy life in light of Christ’s grace and mercy.
I have never been one to hide the fact that I love the Puritans for their depth of theological knowledge and practical application of the Word of God for our everyday living. While I realize that not everyone shares in my same excitement, I cannot recommend an era of writing more highly than I can the Puritans. They were saturated with the Word of God. Everything they wrote showed evidence of this truth. This volume of the Works of Richard Sibbes is no different. If you are wanting to study 1 or 2 Corinthians, you would do well to pick up this fourth volume.
Let’s be honest, we all struggle with finding the balance between productivity in the work place and actually taking serious the third commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. That is, we struggle to rest in world that has become busy 24/7. John Koessler is chair and professor of pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute.
John lays a biblical foundation of rest in the character of God throughout the first three chapters. In the fourth chapter, he explains what false rest pretends to be and what it truly is. Hint: the biblical word for false rest is “sloth.” The remainder of the book seeks to shift the reader’s paradigm on what genuine rest looks like.
Chapter six looks at worship as rest while chapter seven looks at rest in the digital age. Eight offers a lesson on rest and our future. Chapter nine looks at the ultimate final rest – death. In a mere nine chapters, The Pursuit of Rest attempts a biblical theology of rest.
As a pastor of a rural congregation, a father of five children, and a husband to one wife, I seek to understand as much about rest as I can from solid, biblically-rich sources. When this book came across my desk, I was excited to dig into it. John seeks to introduce the need to reconceive our understanding of what genuine rest is and what it is not.
In the main chapters, he seems light on scriptural references though it is abundantly clear that his theology is rooted in Scripture. It is not until you begin reading the questions for group discussion found at the back of the book that you begin to see explicit use of Scripture. That is not to say that there are not Scriptural references throughout the book and is not necessarily a criticism. By the end of the book, the reader will have a better understanding of the need for biblical rest even in those crazy seasons of life where rest only seems to be available to those who die.
The one caution I do have is the apparent mysticism influences. He quotes heavily from Josef Pieper, a German Catholic philosopher who was a forerunner to the Neo-Thomistic philosophy. These were those Catholics who revived the influence of the writings of Thomas Aquinas.
Regardless, John offers a solid treatment of the theology of rest that will, at the very least, help the reader begin to wrestle with authentic rest in his or her own life.
Understanding the danger that mysticism poses to a solid biblical theology aside, I found much upon which to meditate in The Pursuit of Rest. I have been searching for a theological and practical treatment of rest that is biblically rooted and practical in our day and age. I believe I have found that here. I recommend this resource to any discerning Christian wanting to better understand rest and the importance of rest for the Christian.
Carr, Simonetta. Michelangelo for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2016. 132 pp. $18.99. Purchase for less at Amazon.
Simonetta is definitely no stranger to Christian Book Notes. I have reviewed a number of her books, most of which are for children, and have been fortunate enough to interview her as well. This is her first book in this series which includes resources on Leonardo da Vinci, Monet, a Van Gogh to name a few.
Part biography, part introduction to art, part art lab, there is something for every student of art in this resource.
From the back of the book:
Michelangelo Buonarroti – known simply as Michelangelo – has been called the greatest artist who has ever lived. His enormous masterpieces astonished his contemporaries and remain some of today’s most famous artworks. Michelangelo for Kids offers and in-depth look at his life, ideas, and accomplishments, while providing a fascinating view of the Italian Renaissance and how it shaped and affected his work.
Young readers will come to know Michelangelo the man as well as the artistic giant, following his life from his childhood in rural Italy to his emergence as a rather egotistical teenager to a humble and caring old man. They’ll learn that he did exhausting, back-breaking labor to create his art yet worked well, even with humor, with others in the stone quarry and in his workshop. Budding artists will come to appreciate the artist’s techniques and to understand exactly what made his work so great.
Too be honest, I am not much into art or art history. I mostly know Michelangelo as the orange-bandanna wearing turtle who loves pizza. That is, until I flipped through this book. I did know he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel having grown up Roman Catholic. This book was extremely informational. Also, with all of the activities, my kids thoroughly enjoyed it.
I would like to point out, however, that this is not a Christian book per se. Simonetta explains in a blog post why she decided to write this particular book. Personally, I am grateful she took on the responsibility to write it. Having known her through email conversations and becoming familiar with her writing style and faithfulness to historic fact, she has proven herself to be a trustworthy biographer. Also, she was able to intertwine the Reformation and its influence on the artist even though he remained Roman Catholic.
I am fairly certain this resource become a staple in children’s art classes for years to come.
If you homeschool your children and you teach them art or art history, you will want to use Michelangelo for Kids as one of your resources. It is full of 21 different activities that will engage the children (and the teachers!) all the while teaching them about one of the greatest artists of all time, if not the greatest.
I highly recommend this resource to anyone interested in an introduction to the life of Michelangelo.
Tebow, Tim and A.J. Gregory. Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms. New York: WaterBrook, 2016. 224 pp. $25.00. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for much less.
Truthfully, Tim Tebow needs no introduction. Ever since he exploded on the scene as two-time national champion and Heisman Trophy winner in college football for the Florida Gators, he has been making headlines for his faith and athleticism. He was a surprise first round draft pick of the Denver Broncos before he was signed by the New York Jets and then released by the New England Patriots. He recently made headlines again by signing with the New York Mets. He also works for the SEC Network and ESPN and, due to his faith, made “Tebowing” famous (i.e., bowing in short prayer).
He is perhaps best known for his faith as this book explains.
The book begins with his being cut by the New England Patriots and his dreams of playing in the NFL dying. He shares his experiences of the highs and lows of a professional life before the ever criticizing eye of the media. Through it all, Tebow explains that his identity has never been in his awards or titles or victories or defeats. Rather, his identity has always been in Christ.
This book shows how important it is to understand who you are in Christ. If you get caught up in the rat race of life and allow others to define who you are, you are going to wind up hurt and disillusioned. Tebow, with the help of A.J. Gregory, explains how important it is to seek the greater identity found in Christ.
Tim Tebow is obviously not a pastor, but he certainly has a large platform. He is a great example for everyone to emulate regarding using the influence God has granted you to point others to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Tim does exactly that as often as he can.
He shows that the limelight is not the place you really want to be though so many aspire to that kind of greatness. To think about a young man working out his theology and faith before an ever increasing hostile world is hard to imagine, but Tebow has done it and done it well.
What is more, while most of us will never have the platform Tebow does, we all have influence in various spheres of life. He offers us a great example of how we should live our lives as salt and light in this world.
I do wish, however, there would have been more Scripture, but I also understand what Tebow is seeking to accomplish with Shaken. For that, I thought the book excelled and will be a wonderful ministry tool.
If you enjoy biographies about athletes, you will enjoy Shaken. If you enjoy reading about the faith of athletes, you will enjoy Shaken. If you know a young man who loves the Lord and loves athletics, you need to get him a copy of Shaken. I do recommend this book to all believers and unbeliever alike.
Jason Ladd has flown the F/A-18 “Hornet” as a Weapons and Tactics Instructor and the F-16 “Fighting Falcon” as an Instructor Pilot in the United States Marine Corp. He also flew combat missions in Iraq. While in the Marines, he fought the greatest battle of his life…what did he believe in regarding God and salvation. One of a Few is his retelling of how he came to faith in the one true God.
You can learn more about Jason at his blog, and, for a limited time, download the audio book for free though it does require a subscription at JasonBLadd.com.
Divided into three parts over 27 chapters, Jason recounts his journey from skepticism to unbelief to belief.
We learn that Jason grew up in a military family and spends his young life filled with spiritual apathy as many children do. Even though he grew up in the military, he never developed a solid moral foundation even with his basic knowledge of right and wrong instilled in him by his father.
Ladd enters the US Marine Corps, becomes a fighter pilot, and sees combat in Iraq before life events align to nudge him into profound spiritual inquiry. Digging deep into his quest for truth, he realizes the art and science of fighter pilot fundamentals can help him on his journey.
Ladd takes the reader on an interesting journey as his skills as a fighter pilot are no match for the One who sought Jason in order to save him from the ultimate defeat.
First, I must confess that I am a veteran of the United States Army and therefore have no reason to really say anything good about a Marine! (This is a joke for those who have never been in the military. We all can tease one another because we are part of a brotherhood that transcends much of American culture.) That being said, Jason explains how he joined a brotherhood that transcends all culture and can only be found in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Jason’s story is gripping and will keep the reader turning pages well into the evening. His zeal to find the truth and his willingness to leave no stone unturned is to be commended…especially as a Marine. As I read this biography that became an apologetic for the Christian faith, I couldn’t help but think back to my own salvation and growth in the Christian faith. For the resources he quotes and recommends are the same resources that were extremely influential in my early walk with Christ while studying philosophy at a state university.
Jason challenges his reader to do the research himself. It is almost as if he is daring the reader to doubt the claims made by Christ and the Christian faith. In the end, this resource proves to be an excellent read that will leave you breathless as a fan of combat pilots as well as the equipping with information that there is something greater out there and you have the responsibility to understand what it is God is calling you to.
I love his question, “What are you fighting for?” This is a question we all must ask. Often the answer will not be what we think.
I heartily recommend this biography to all. Further, it can be an excellent tool for the young man interested in the military generally and in fighter pilots specifically. They will have a modern day veteran to look up to who will point them even higher than any aircraft can travel.
I have reviewed and even given away a number of various study Bibles (you can read these here) and while I typically do not care for niche Bibles, I am becoming a collector of study Bibles. This particular study Bible is published by Zondervan and uses the New International Version translation.
Check out this video for an introduction from the editor of The Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible.
While including the entire text of the New International Version (2011), this study Bible is full of many additional features. These include, but are not limited to:
Targeted book introductions explain the context in which each book of the Bible was written
Insightful and informative verse-by-verse study notes reveal new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar passages
Key Old Testament (Hebrew) and New Testament terms are explained and expanded upon in two helpful reference features
Over 300 in-depth articles on key contextual topics
375 full-color photos, illustrations, and images from around the world
Dozens of charts, maps, and diagrams in vivid color
Additional study Bible tools: cross references, a concordance, indexes and other helps
The edition I have is also a red-letter edition meaning the words of Jesus Christ are in red.
First, while I prefer the ESV translation personally, I will not comment on the NIV translation in this particular review. This review will look at what separates this study Bible from the others.
First, one of the most striking aspects of this study Bible that is noticeable the moment you open it and flip through its pages are the full-color pictures, timelines, maps, and even the beige coloring of the center-column cross references. Also, each chapter and subject heading is set apart in color and quickly helps the reader to scan for a particular section or passage of Scripture.
Second, the study notes do not offer any theological insight or information because, quite frankly, that is not the nature of this particular study Bible. Rather, it offers the cultural insight of the time and place from when the particular text was written. For example, when Israel first took over the Promised Land to when Christ walked the streets of Jerusalem, there was much change in the culture and that is highlighted throughout this study Bible.
The reader will see how Israel functioned as a theocracy (during the time of Moses and the Judges) became a monarchy ruled by kings and later became a conquered nation ruled by many different nations through the years. What is more, the study notes bring this history to life and offer deeper understanding for the events taking place.
Third, the Hebrew to English and translation chart and Key New Testament Terms dictionary prove invaluable to the reader as not many will ever take a Biblical languages course or seek to read technical commentaries. Having these key resources at your fingertips proves to be a great aid in understanding the original meaning and intention of the authors.
Personally, these two resources are indispensable to my sermon preparation each week and consequently are placed on a shelf immediately behind where I stand at my desk. Even though I will keep both of the aforementioned resources in my library, I will also keep this study Bible readily available as I am sure it will be used as frequently as the other two.
Finally, the tag-line in much of the advertising by Zondervan is “Context changes everything.” While I do not think that a student of Scripture will have any doctrinal beliefs radically changed by understanding the cultural background (I may be wrong on this), I do believe that learning this information will take one’s faith to a much deeper level as they strive to understand how the Bible is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17) even today across time and cultural boundaries.
If you are a student of Scripture and want to learn more about the authorial intent of a passage in order to better understand its intended purpose for your life in the 21st century, then you can not do much better than owning a copy of The Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. Remember, this is not theological insight (though a case can be made that all Bible study is theological); rather, it is cultural information meant to help the reader better understand what was taking place when the text was written. I highly recommend this resource to every Christian.
I have reviewed a few other titles by Richard Sibbes (read those here and am currently working through the 7-volume set of the Works of Richard Sibbes.
Sibbes was a surgeon when it came to expositing Scripture. This third volume of the seven volume Works is a case in point. The entire volume is a commentary on 2 Corinthians 1. That is it. 550 pages covering 24 verses.
From The Banner of Truth Trust,
More than anything else, Richard Sibbes was a great preacher. He never lost sight of the fact that the best Christian counselling is done through the patient and enlivening exposition of the Word of God. Sibbes excelled as a comforter of the troubled and doubting, but he also possessed the rare gift of illuminating every passage of Scripture he handled by drawing out its significance for his hearers and readers. The republication of the Nichol edition of his complete works is a notable event for all who have an appetite for helpful and faithful biblical preaching.
It is fascinating to me that Thomas Manton was the original editor of this particular volume. In fact, the original title as written by Manton offers more insight into why this is so long: “A Learned Commentary or Exposition upon [2 Corinthians 1] being the Substand of many Sermons formerly preached at Grayes-Inne, London…by Richard Sibbs.”
As you read this commentary you find that you are sitting in the pew listening to Sibbes as it were exposit week in and week out the Word of God – specifically, this one chapter of 2 Corinthians. The first chapters are typically introductory material with greetings and some groundwork for the occasion of the letter.
Sibbes, however, finds this first chapter fascinating and offers many doctrinal insights and personal applications and exhortations in what many might gloss over as being “unimportant” in the context of the entire letter.
For example, in dealing with 2 Cor. 1:11 where Paul writes, “You also must help us by prayer” (ESV), Richard states prayer “is not a work of gifts, but of grace. It is a work of a broken heart, of a believing heart” (p.183). In fine puritanical fashion, he continues on for seven plus pages on the doctrine of prayer.
Every phrase in the first chapter of 2 Corinthians is treated as such. It is no wonder this volume is 550 pages.
It is no wonder Dr. Sibbes was noted as one of the greatest preachers of the Puritanical era.
If you are looking for an example of what biblical meditation looks like, you need to read this particular volume. If you are looking for what in depth Bible study and exposition looks like, you need to pick up this volume. If you are looking for a quality devotional, you need to pick up this volume.
In other words, Volume 3 of The Works of Richard Sibbes is must reading for most Christians. I highly recommend this volume (as well as the entire set) to all Christians.
Reformation Commentary on Scripture Old Testament Vol. V: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles. Edited by Derek Cooper and Martin J. Lohrmann. General Editor, Timothy George, Associate General Editor, Scott M. Manetsch. Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2016. 799 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster for less. You can purchase for Kindle for much less.
I have reviewed a number of the commentaries in this series already. You can read those here.
The editors seek to introduce readers to the depth and richness of the minds of the Reformation era. The four goals are, 1) enrichment of contemporary biblical interpretation through exposure to Reformation-era biblical exegesis, 2) a renewal of contemporary preaching and 3) a renewal of biblical interpretation through exposure to Reformation-era exegesis, and finally 4) a deeper understanding of the Reformation itself.
This particular volume looks at the historical books of the Old Testament that detail the prophetic reign of Samuel to the fall of Jerusalem. Herein we find many of the beloved stories of the Old Testament as found in children’s Bibles the world over.
The commentators, too numerous to list individually, offer their thoughts and insights on Scripture during an era of church history that is noted for having been rigorous in Biblical study and application.
In lumping six of the largest historical books in the Old Testament canon, this particular commentary is quite large at 800 pages. This may be too much for some or too little for others.
For example, only 6 1/2 pages are exhausted with comments on 2 Samuel 7 – arguably one of the most critical chapters in these 6 books of Scripture and perhaps all of the Bible. There are only 5 pages for the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 18).
Perhaps the one of the best features, that I have yet to discuss in my reviews, is the general introduction found in every volume that offers a brief introduction to the many traditions of the Reformation. For example, the Anabaptists, the Zurich Reformers, the Genevan Reformers, and even the historical context (very important!) in which these men wrote. This all helps to give today’s reader a bit more of an understanding of what influenced their interpretations and applications of Scripture.
Most of the time these Reformers simply stuck to the Scriptures. Sometimes, however, they would make a point about how the Catholic Church violated Scripture. Still other times, their own framework for learning, a humanism that is not what it is today, would bleed through and lead them on a somewhat errant path…by today’s understanding and application.
Regardless, their is a treasure trove of insight in these pages.
The historical books are fertile ground for sermon illustrations and even applications to sermons not to mention numerous sermon series. This commentary is an excellent resource to add to your personal library as it will undoubtedly aid you in your understanding of historical Christianity and the applications for these texts to our lives even today.
Masing, Marguerite. Biblical Tranquility: An Adult Coloring Book – 21 Inspirational Scenes to Color and Frame. Los Angeles: Judy O Productions, Inc., 2016. $8.99. Purchase at Amazon.
From the Preface, “What is it about coloring that releases a creative energy within us? Could it be because it is how we were designed?”
“God created man; then God inspired man to create. Biblical Tranquility is a beautiful adult coloring book that offers the faithful a dynamic way to express creativity through intricate images bursting with spirit and allegory. This devotional book for coloring enthusiasts features 31, detailed scenes from the Old and New Testaments, including Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Moses Parting the Red Sea, The Last Supper, The Crucifixion, The Resurrection, and more. Enjoy hours of quiet contemplation and meditation on Holy Scripture while adding color to scenes from the Bible’s most iconic passages.”
Each coloring page fits nicely into an 8 1/2′ x 11″ frame.
Um…I never thought I would be reviewing a coloring book…for adults. While I am not a fan of coloring, I can see the allure of spending time quietly coloring. You can hear the sound of the colored pencil scraping over the page.
There is nothing earth shattering about the scenes depicted as most of them are what people grew up reading about in Children’s Bibles. I do appreciate the Biblical references at the bottom of each page.
I also think it is drawn with a Roman Catholic audience in mind given a few of the titles and the use of halos around Jesus, Mary, and Joseph’s heads.
If you enjoy coloring or are more artistic than I am (that would pretty much be anyone older than 5!) then you would enjoy this coloring book. At only $9, it seems like it would provide hours of quality entertainment and even possibly be a platform for solid meditation on Scripture though I do not recommend meditative coloring!
Despite the prominence of God’s fatherhood in Scripture, few books explicitly concentrate on the beauty and glory of God as Father, or what it means to experientially know God as Father. Yet these are the twin themes running throughout The Beauty and Glory of God the Father. The purpose of the book is to not only explore the theme of God’s fatherhood Scripturally, but to move the reader to worship and delight in God as Father. Each essay in the book, focusing on a distinct aspect or implication of God’s fatherhood, accomplishes this purpose.
The first two chapters of the book lead us to see God the Father’s glory in his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The opening essay is an exposition of John 3:35, which tells us that the Father loves the Son. Bartel Elshout demonstrates how all theology flows from this wonderful truth, from creation to redemption, and how we must continually examine ourselves to see if we love the Son as the Father does. This love of the Son brings the Father glory, and causes him to set his love upon us (John 14:21). The second chapter, by Jerry Bilkes, draws out several aspects of God’s Fatherhood from the original Exodus and then from the decisive Exodus in Christ. As in the first chapter, powerful application calling for a response to the Father’s call in Christ closes this chapter.
The next three chapters focus on three attributes of God the Father. In chapter three Derek Thomas describes God the Father’s holiness based on Isaiah 6, which he argues is as much about the Father as it is the Son. William VanDoodewaard meditates on the Father’s mercy from 1 Peter 1:3-5 in chapter four, and in chapter five Paul Smalley describes how Richard Sibbes understood the mercy and faithfulness of the Father. Smalley’s essay is a departure from the first four in that it is more a work of historical theology rather than an exposition of Scripture, but it is just as practically oriented.
The third section of the book contains two chapters highlighting God the Father’s role in salvation. Chapter six, also written by Derek Thomas, describes how we see the Father in the face of Jesus. I found this essay to be the most profound in my walk with Christ, particularly in its emphasis on the Christ-likeness of the Father and how the closer we are to Jesus, the closer we are to the Father and his glory. Chapter seven, by Joel Beeke, is the longest essay in the book and presents the Puritans’ teaching on the doctrine of adoption. Beeke clearly demonstrates with an abundance of quotations how the commonly accepted notion that the Puritans did not say much about adoption is simply not true. For all of its value historically, however, Beeke is careful to maintain a practical tone that fits with the rest of the book. The Puritans’ understanding of adoption is not explored for its own sake, but to move the reader to see the transforming power, blessings, and responsibilities of this amazing doctrine, that in Christ we are children of God.
The fourth and final section has three chapters that mean to lead the reader to trust the Father. VanDoodewaard’s second essay in chapter eight presents Jesus’ teaching about God the Father from the Sermon on the Mount. David Murray looks at the impact of God’s fatherhood on biblical counseling in chapter nine and surveys several specific counseling problems, explaining how God’s fatherhood impacts each one of them. This survey, including situations like abuse, single parenthood, assurance, anxiety, and bitterness, would serve as an excellent reference for the counselor or pastor helping people through those circumstances. Burk Parsons exposits Hebrews 12:1-13 in chapter ten and explains how we can see and experience the glory of God the Father even through his chastisement. A concluding chapter by Ryan McGraw explains the need to approach God with a purposeful, Trinitarian piety.
The Beauty and Glory of God the Father comes after The Beauty and Glory of Christ (2011) and The Beauty and Glory of the Holy Spirit (2012, both of which are also edited by Joel Beeke. Each of these books is based on a yearly conference at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand, Rapids, MI (2010-12). As the third book exploring this Trinitarian theme, The Beauty and Glory of God the Father is most profitably read along with these other two books (though it doesn’t have to be), which consistently move the reader to worship God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in light of his overwhelming beauty and glory. Readers should be aware that all of the essays are written from a confessional, Reformed perspective, which is not argued for or defended, but assumed throughout the book.
Though the book is a solid biblical and theological work, its purpose is primarily doxological. The historical treatments in particular are academically rigorous, but readers looking for an academic treatment of God’s fatherhood will be disappointed. Pastors especially will find material to help in sermon or worship preparation, and students of Trinitarian theology or Puritan history will also especially benefit from the book. All readers looking to grow in their love of God through an appreciation of an underemphasized aspect of God’s person will find much in these essays to help them glory in the Father’s person and work.
Gary L. Shultz Jr. (Ph.D. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Fulton, MO. He also serves as Assistant Professor of Religion at Liberty University and Adjunct Professor of Theology and Church History at Baptist Bible Theological Seminary. He writes a monthly book review column for The Pathway and is the author of A Multi-Intentioned View of the Extent of the Atonement (Wipf & Stock).