All posts by Terry Delaney

Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 7

Sibbes, Richard. Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 7. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001. 604 pp. $27.00. You can purchase Volume 7 at The Banner of Truth for $24.30. You can purchase the complete set of 7 volumes for $162.00 at Westminster Books or for a mere $10.00 on Kindle.

Introduction

I have reviewed many of Richard Sibbes’ books in the past. This is now the sixth of seven volumes in his collection of Works produced by The Banner of Truth Trust. It has taken me almost a year to get this far for a myriad of reasons, but one thing I know is that this set of works has been invaluable to my personal walk with the Lord.

Summary

Volume 7 contains 30+ sermons of Richard Sibbes from throughout his ministry as well as a number of his extant “other writings.” Also included is a bibliographical list of all of his known writings as well as a glossary showing where particular words were used. The indices, however, prove to be invaluable for those who are doing research on the specific texts he preached as well as the many topics on which he wrote.

Review

While this final volume in the 7-Volume Works of Richard Sibbes is comprised of the indices and glossaries and end of work materials, do not be fooled. There are a number of sermons that today’s believer would do well to read and become familiar with. Most of these sermons are under 20 pages in length with quite a few under 15 pages, this volume makes for a great devotional of sorts.

One sermon on 1 John 3:3, The Pattern of Purity, offers excellent advice on how to live in an age where lust seems to rule the day. Then you recall that this sermon was preached in the 1600’s and you realize that Satan’s methods have not changed.

The 7-volume series as a whole provides an excellent snapshot of what a puritanical ministry looked like over the course of a minister’s life. The cumulative effect is to show that the Word of God was and is powerful and to show that the Word of God applies to all people at all times in all cultures. In other words, the message of God’s holiness and our need of salvation never changes.

Recommendation

Chances are you have either already purchased the entire set in which case buying volume 7 by itself makes no sense. If, however, you are looking for a lengthy introduction to the ministry of the Puritans, specifically, Richard Sibbes, you would do well to purchase this volume as it offers a number of lesser-known sermons with a wide array of subject matter.

The New City Catechism Edited by The Gospel Coalition

The New City Catechism: 52 Questions & Answers for Our Hearts & Minds. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2017. 128 pp. $7.99. Purchase at Amazon.

Introduction

Catechisms are making a comeback and The Gospel Coalition is helping in this endeavor. You can find out much more at newcitycatechism.com.

Summary/Review

Divided into three parts and 52 questions, this catechism is a simple as ask a question and give the answer. Part 1 looks at God, Creation & Fall, Law. Part 2 is dedicated to Christ, Redemption, Grace. Part 3 looks to the Spirit, Restoration, Growing in Grace. Each part has its own dedicated color: red, blue, and green respectively.

This little book is meant for family or personal devotions and can be used by any believing Christian regardless of denominational affiliation. Personally, I find the flow of the catechism to be well thought out as the writers assume unbelief of the reader and progresses toward belief and growing in Christ. Very simple in design, the questions are on the left page while the answers and biblical support are on the right page.

Also, they offer memorization tips (hint: consistent repetition) as well as some reasons as to why catechizing your children (and maybe yourself) will benefit them over the course of their lives. Overall, this little catechism is well designed and will easily slip into your Bible case or on your coffee table for ready access.

Recommendation

We have used other catechisms with our children which have proven extremely helpful. The New City Catechism offers an excellent family devotional resource. Its simple design makes this resource an excellent addition to any Christian family’s library and family worship time.

Commentary on 1-2 Timothy & Titus by Andreas J. Kostenberger

Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation – Commentary on 1-2 Timothy & Titus. Andreas J. Kostenberger. General Editors, T. Desmond Alexander, Andreas J. Kostenberger, and Thomas R. Schreiner. Nashville, B&H Academic, 2017. 612 pp. $39.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

I reviewed the first volume to be published, Hebrews, back in 2015. Dr. Kostenberger is senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also is the founder of Biblical Foundations.

The Commentary Series

The Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation Commentary series explores the theology of the Bible in considerable depth, spanning both Testaments. Authors come from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, though all affirm the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. United in their high view of Scripture, and in their belief in the underlying unity of Scripture, which is ultimately grounded in the unity of God himself, each author explores the contribution of a given book or group of books to the theology of Scripture as a whole. While conceived as stand-alone volumes, each volume thus also makes a contribution to the larger whole. All volumes provide a discussion of introductory matters, including the historical setting and the literary structure of a given book of Scripture. Also included is an exegetical treatment of all the relevant passages in succinct commentary-style format. The biblical theology approach of the series will also inform and play a role in the commentary proper. The commentator permits a discussion between the commentary proper and the biblical theology that it reflects by a series of cross-references.

The major contribution of each volume, however, is a thorough discussion of the most important themes of the biblical book in relation to the canon as a whole. This format allows each contributor to ground Biblical Theology, as is proper, in an appropriate appraisal of the relevant historical and literary features of a particular book in Scripture while at the same time focusing on its major theological contribution to the entire Christian canon in the context of the larger salvation-historical metanarrative of Scripture. Within this overall format, there will be room for each individual contributor to explore the major themes of his or her particular corpus in the way he or she sees most appropriate for the material under consideration.

This format, in itself, would already be a valuable contribution to Biblical Theology. But there are other series that try to accomplish a survey of the Bible’s theology as well. What distinguishes the present series is its orientation toward Christian proclamation. This is the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation commentary series! As a result, the ultimate purpose of this set of volumes is not exclusively, or even primarily, academic. Rather, we seek to relate Biblical Theology to our own lives and to the life of the church. Our desire is to equip those in Christian ministry who are called by God to preach and teach the precious truths of Scripture to their congregations, both in North America and in a global context.

It is our hope and our prayer that the 40 volumes of this series, once completed, will bear witness to the unity in diversity of the canon of Scripture as they probe the individual contributions of each of its 66 books. The authors and editors are united in their desire that in so doing the series will magnify the name of Christ and bring glory to the triune God who revealed himself in Scripture so that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved—to the glory of God the Father and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and for the good of his church. To God alone be the glory: soli Deo gloria.

Summary

As with any commentary, there is an in depth introduction of each book looking at the author and date as well as its historical context. Also, there is a literary analysis and a look at the structure which offers a discussion of the genre and vocabulary used throughout.

After all of the introductory material, the author offers the occasion and purpose of each book as well as whom the opponents were. From there, the book offers commentary in such a manner that the reader will understand how the book fits into the larger scope of the overall context that surrounds the passage as well as how it fits into the overall flow of Scripture.

Review

As a pastor, I use a number of commentaries. Most of them are simply broke down by pericope and then verse. This series not only does that, but offers much greater detail and breaks down the passage into further subheadings. For example, each section includes a bridge which shows explicitly how the passage applies to a modern day context.

Regardless, the ultimate use of this commentary will be to help the student of Scripture orient himself (or herself) to the larger theme of the Bible. This is a great aid for so many who think that these three epistles do not apply to anyone except pastors. Kostenberger does an excellent job of exegeting the Scriptures and allowing each passage to be understood by the rest of Scripture. Sometimes this will present a challenge for the pastor and exegete but it shows that the authority of Scripture reigns in the mind of the author. Furthermore, it is abundantly clear that the series is based on an understanding of inerrancy as basic foundational approach to the Bible.

Recommendation

As a pastor, I cannot wait for the rest of this series to be published. As a Christian, I appreciate the accessibility and readability of the commentary such that anyone who wants to study the Word deeper can. I highly commend this resource to any thinking Christian or any pastor who wants to take his study to another level.

 

Resplendent Bride by E.M. Welcher

Welcher, E.M. Resplendent Bride: Essays on Love & Loss. Dubuque: ECS Ministries, 2016. 160 pp. $9.95. Purchase at Amazon or for Kindle.

Introduction

Welcher is a young man who married the love of his wife and hoped to grow old in the ministry together. He currently serves as pastor of First Christian Church, Glenwood, Iowa. You can follow him on Twitter.

Summary

Divided into three parts, Welcher offers a brief biographical look at his and Danielle’s life and marriage and the diagnosis of cancer in the first part. The second part looks at the first year following Danielle’s home going to the Lord while the third part offers reflections a couple years removed from the trial.

Review

Many times, congregations want to know how a pastor handles a tragedy like death in an accident with an elektrische scooter. Evan Welcher shows how he did so in this very intimate book. Full of various essays, Welcher points the reader to God at what can only be described the most difficult time of his life. Furthermore, his sense of humor is on full display throughout the book. For example, chapter 12 is entitled ‘The Leader dies in Christianity’ with a footnote explaining, “This was adapted from a sermon…because I’m a preacher.”

Not meant to be a deep theological study on death and a proper biblically-influenced response to the trials of life, it is abundantly clear that Welcher does have a depth of faith and knowledge of doctrine that has supported him throughout the entire ordeal.
As you follow Welcher’s remembrances of his bride and growing faith in Christ, you will be challenged to a deeper faith yourself. You will laugh and cry (sometimes on the same page!) and through it all, you will see a mature faith, forged in adversity and death, on full display. These essays can be read devotionally and meditatively, but they should not be read lightly. Though he grieves publicly, he does so with the hope of eternity in heaven and knowing that he will see his bride again in all her glory.

Recommendation

Granted E.M. Welcher is not a “household name,” but that is what makes this book so appealing and commendable to you. Being able to see how a regular believer with faith in the Lord walks through the valley of the shadow of death is a blessing from the Lord. I highly commend this book to anyone facing the loss of a spouse or loved one as an example of what Christian grief looks like.

Prayers for Trump by Charles M. Garriot

Garriot, Charles M. Prayers for Trump: Petitions for the 45th President. Washington D.C., Riott, 2017. 95 pp. $18.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

I have reviewed Charles’ previous book, Prayers for Obama. With a new President comes a new round of prayers. You can find out more at MinistryToState.org.

Summary

Divided into 12 chapters, Garriott offers a devotional-esque commentary on a passage of Scripture and then offers a written prayer for the President specific to the topic of the chapter. For example, there is a chapter entitled petition for truth and another entitled petition for family. By the end of the book you will have prayed for most every area of the President’s life public and private and will have done so from the Book of Proverbs.

Review

This may be a dangerous book to write today given our current political climate. Garriott is not concerned with that perception, however. His overarching concern is that we pray for “kings and all who are in high positions.” While President Trump is not a king, he is most certainly in a high position. As Christians, we are commanded to pray for our secular leaders who have been put there by God (Romans 13:1).

Garriott offers objective, Biblically informed and saturated prayers for the President. For that, we should be thankful. Not only do these prayers become a sound starting point for praying for the President, but they become a diving board from which you can also jump into deeper prayer for the leader of the USA.

Recommendation

Regardless of your political leanings or whether you like the man who is the President of the United States, as a Christian, you are mandated to pray for him. Charles Garriott is concerned for Biblical fidelity over and above political affiliation. Every Christian would do well to read this book if they struggle to pray for the President…especially if they struggle because they disagree with him.

Face Time by Kristen Hatton

Hatton, Kristen. Face Time [Your Identity in a Selfie World]. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2017. 130 pp. $15.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

Kristen is a pastor’s wife and mother of three teenagers. She leads a small group Bible study for teens. She has also written Get Your Story Straight. You can find out more at KristenHatton.com.

Summary

Divided into two parts, Kristen first lays the foundation of what are true identity is in light of who Christ is. She spends five chapters detailing the problems every teenage girl faces and points them to Jesus Christ who took on all of our sinful problems and offers us the gift of salvation…or, more importantly, His identity in exchange for our own.

The second part looks at twelve common false identities every teen-aged girl faces. From issues of comparison to materialism to drinking and sex and self-harm, Kristen explains how Jesus offers a better identity.

Review

Kristen’s experience with teenaged ministry is obvious on every page. She offers sound advice and keen insight into how the Bible speaks to the teenaged girl today. Her stories offered in the second part of the book are real-to-life and will certainly resonate with the reader. Her counsel is clearly rooted in Scripture.

She offers excellent reflection questions and offers great journaling prompts to help the young women wrestle with the Biblical truths and compare those to the lies Satan would have us believe. What I love the most about this book is that the veneer is beginning to crumble on the social media world. Kristen is dealing with an epidemic in the church of identification crises that are plaguing just about everyone…perhaps no group more than teen-aged girls.

Recommendation

Written for teen-aged girls, I actually found that this book would be great for teen-aged boys as well. That being said, I highly commend this book to parents of young women entering, or already in, their teen years. Youth pastors would do well to pick up this book and assign it as a group study (probably with a woman leading) for teen-aged girls.

The Puritans Day by Day edited by H.J. Horn

The Puritans Day by Day: Puritan Quotations for Each Day of the Year. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2016. 408 pp. $23.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

Originally published in 1928 by Stanley and Martin, Co in London as The Puritan Remembrancer and was edited by H.J. Horn. It has been reprinted by The Banner of Truth Trust for a new readership in the 21st century.

Summary

From the Banner of Truth’s website:

Here in The Puritans Day By Day, this unique selection from a wide range of reading, we have a noble army of memorable sayings. They have been drawn mainly out of the writings of the Puritans, men who excelled in their power of deep insight into both the word of God and the human heart, and who also had the rare gift of quaint and distinctive expression. The compiler of these ‘pearls of wisdom’ has traveled extensively through a wide range of devotional literature, and has provided us with a year’s supply of wise sayings that are as fresh and new as they are piquant and tender.

The Puritans Day by Day will be particularly helpful to young preachers, who would do well to keep this volume, with its careful ordering and its full indexes, close to hand. In days when minds are dull and spirits are weary, they will find it to be a rich source of mental and spiritual refreshment.

Review

Unlike other daily devotionals, this devotional is only quotes by (mostly) Puritans arranged in a topical order day by day. Each day has a seemingly random topic followed by a passage of Scripture. This is followed by anywhere from four to ten quotes dealing with that particular topic.

For example, on 3 April (I choose this date solely because that is my birthday) the topic is Holy Scripture, the verse is simply, “the holy scriptures” – 2 Timothy 3:15. Following are nine quotes from Thomas Fuller, Martin Luther, Thomas Watson, and Richard Sibbes.

As you can tell, this is not a devotional in the classic sense. What makes this devotional valuable is obviously the gathering of the quotes. Perhaps more importantly than that is the three indices at the back of the book. These include an alphabetical list of persons quoted, a canonical list of the Bible passages referenced, and an alphabetical list of the topics covered.

Recommendation

This resource is more than a devotional in my estimation. It becomes an excellent resource for rich quotable material. It is full of great wisdom and insight and will drive the reader to want to know more about the great God they serve. I use my copy for sermon prep (when you need that perfect quote) as well as for social media engagement (most of the quotes are tweetable).

Devoted to God by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Ferguson, Sinclair B. Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2016. 296 pp. $18.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

Sinclair Ferguson does not need much of an introduction to readers here at Christian Book Notes. I have reviewed a few of his books in the past. He is a prolific writer of deeper works of theology, commentaries, and even children’s resources. He has served as the minister of First Presbyterian in Columbia, SC and continues to serve as Professor of Systematic Theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas as well as a Teaching Fellow with Ligonier Ministries.

Summary

Divided into 10 chapters with 5 appendices, Sinclair Ferguson offers an in depth look at sanctification. He begins with what for some may be a redefinition of sanctification. For most, and this is correct and biblical, when we think of sanctification, we only think of being set apart by God. The title offers a slightly different, albeit positive perspective on sanctification. That is, we are not only set apart by God, we are devoted to Go. Though both perspectives are true, one is negative and one is positive. Focusing on the positive changes the entire dynamic of sanctification. That is what the rest of the book is about.

Each chapter builds on the previous wherein the reader is shown progressively what a life of sanctification looks like in the life of the believer. It is rooted in Scripture and offers a game plan, or as the subtitle claims, a blueprint, for working out your salvation.

Review

I cannot stress enough the importance of understanding sanctification as a believer. Ferguson does the church a huge favor by changing the perspective from negative (set apart from the wold) to the positive (devoted to God). In so doing, he elicits thoughts of how we are willing to sacrifice whatever we need if it will enable us to do what we most enjoy. For the Christian, this ought to be God-centered every time. Ferguson helps with that.

The appendices are pure gold and could provide the basis for a few shorter booklets as they look at the foundation for our sanctification as found in the Triune Godhead and His revealed Word, the Bible.

Recommendation

Sinclair Ferguson’s Devoted to God needs to be read by every Christian. It has, in my estimation, already set itself up as a modern day classic at the general level and even more so at the specific level of sanctification. The church is indebted to Sinclair for authoring an accessible, yet meaty, book that discusses a most important aspect of the Christian faith.

ESV Devotional Psalter

ESV Devotional Psalter. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2017. 464 pp. $29.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

From Crossway’s website:

The Psalms are the only extended portion of Scripture written to God—they are prayers. As such, the Psalms are uniquely suited to foster communication with God, which is the purpose of this edition. The ESV Devotional Psalter pairs each of the 150 psalms with brand-new devotional content, guiding readers to thoughtfully interact with and pray through the Scriptures.

You can find more information at Crossway.com.

Summary

There are many features to this Psalter. To begin with, the font is a larger 11-point type that offers easier readability. Each Psalm is arranged in a single-column format on a thicker, cream-colored paper that is ideal for writing in without concern of bleed-through.

Complete with a ribbon marker, the reader can readily find where he or she left off the last time. The devotional content offers explanation and application of the particular Psalm being read.

Review

One might ask why do we need another Psalter and that would be a fair question. The ESV Devotional Psalter is meant to enable you to engage God through His Word guided by a little explanation. Whereas most niche Bibles are edited by a particular person or a team of people, the ESV Devotional Psalter offers anonymous devotionals. From what I have been able to find, there is no information available as to who wrote the devotional content. Personally, I find this to be of greater benefit as we often run the risk of being devoted to the person who wrote the notes or content instead of the Word of God and what the devotional content points us to.

Furthermore, the devotional content is written to offer a quick understanding of the historical context of the Psalm and what was taking place biblically as well as how it applies to the Christian today. By being “generic” in audience, the reader of the ESV Devotional Psalter will find specific application to his or her own life.

I also found the thicker paper to be ideal for writing my own thoughts next to both the Psalm and the devotional content. Due to the thickness of this paper, this psalter is about the same size as Crossway’s thinline series of Bibles.

Recommendation

For those who are looking to improve their devotional time, you truly cannot start with a better resource. It is just you, the Psalms, and a devotional that will keep you focused on the Psalm. What a way to facilitate your prayer life with laser focus. I love my copy and highly recommend the ESV Devotional Psalter to any Christian.

Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace

Wallace, J. Warner. Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for  a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith.  Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 224 pp. $18.99. Purchase at Amazon or on Kindle for less.

Introduction

J. Warner is a living, breathing cold-case detective with a master’s degree in theology. He lives in California with his wife and four children. His detective work has been featured on television shows like Dateline and Fox News. He has written Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene. You can follow him on Twitter where he is pretty active.

Summary

Divided into only four chapters, Wallace sets this book up as if you were a police officer sworn to serve and protect the community. This community, however, has eternal consequences for the one investigating the claims. Chapter one calls the reader out for their distinctive duty as a “Christian Case Maker.” Chapter 2 offers targeted training as the reader prepares to become part of the front-line defense of the faith.

Chapter three offers five practices to help the reader, and consequently, help others examine the claims of Christianity like every good detective approaches a tough case. The fourth chapter offers five principles to help you communicate this evidence as if you were a prosecutor on the case. Even if you have all of the evidence in your favor, you still need to be able to share it with others in such a way that the verdict you are striving after is beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are a few appendices that offer answers to common challenges as well as resource recommendations to help build your apologetic library.

Review

Apologetics was one of my first “loves” after I was saved. I have a fairly large collection of resources dealing with a wide range of apologetic topics including Geisler’s Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics and Koukl’s Tactics as two resources that I have referred to over and over.

I wish I had Forensic Faith. It is designed well with the illustrations to help cement the principles as well as the “forensic faith” boxes interspersed throughout the book that offer investigative guidelines, training recommendations, definitions, challenges, and even assignments. As a seasoned Christian and apologist (I could never get over how other Christians could not articulate what they believed and why they believed it), the principles in this book are extremely sound and written in a very memorable way.

The caution with apologetics is always the concern that one begins to believe they can argue someone into the faith. If you can convince someone they need Jesus apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, then you run the risk of making someone twice the person of Hell. Fortunatly, Wallace takes the time to explain that he is only offering a training course of sorts to help the Christian better articulate his faith. This is specifically helpful for your teenager who is looking to go to college where the Christian faith is regularly attacked and undermined and even mocked and derided.

Recommendation

If you are a youth pastor or you engage a college-age crowd in the ministry, this is a must own resource. If you want to become better equipped to defend the faith, you could not do much better than beginning with Forensic Faith. Wallace’s style is both engaging and informative and, before you know it, you will be out on the streets as it were tracking down a lead and showing all the evidence of the Christian faith and, Lord wiling, leading people to Christ.