All posts by Terry Delaney

Trapped by Andy Farmer

trappedFarmer, Andy: Trapped: Getting Free from People, Patterns, and Problems. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2016. 208 pp. $17.99. Purchase at Westminster Books in print for less. Or for Kindle for $17.99.

Introduction

Andy has served as the pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA for 20+ years. He also serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and has written two other books: The Rich Single Life and Real Peace.

Summary

Divided into 10 chapters, Pastor Andy shows his readers how to escape the various traps we encounter in life. His first chapter explains how being and feeling trapped is a real problem many Christians face every day. The second chapter explains that we are not as free as we would like to be even if we were not experiencing the many traps in life. The third and fourth chapters lay the foundation for the ultimate solution of escaping the true trap of sin through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Chapters five through nine look at common traps experienced at various levels throughout life. Though you may not experience all of them, you will undoubtedly experience some of them and know others who have experienced the traps you have not. These traps, in the order they are written in the book are; approval, laziness, secret escape, addictions, and troubled marriage. The final chapter brings the book to a close as he argues that we can indeed be free in a world of traps.

Review

I confess that at first I was reading this book simply for the purpose of review. Upon glancing through it, however, I realized that I needed to read it much deeper and seek to apply the biblical counsel and wisdom imparted by Pastor Andy Farmer.

Hardly a page exists in this book that does not have a reference to Scripture on it. In other words, the reader is not going to get what Andy thinks is the way out of the trap. Rather, you are going to see what the Bible says in regards to the various traps you are entangled. Furthermore, Andy, as all pastors must strive to do, offers biblical solutions and methods for dealing with what many believe to be the rigors of life.

Certainly, one of the greatest aspects of this book is the testimony of Pastor Farmer serving in the same church for over two decades. In other words, if his counsel was not worth reading, his congregation would have said so by now! The Biblical wisdom that flows from Andy’s pen is evident in both his ministry and his writing.

Recommendation

If you are living in this world as a Christian, I recommend this book to you. Though you may not be experiencing any of the traps listed as of right now, you will undoubtedly do so at some point. Also, you definitely know others who are experiencing these same traps. Allow Pastor Farmer to instruct you on how to help those for whom you love and care. This will be one of those resources that you pull off your shelf from time to time and are thankful you own it.

ESV Reader’s Bible 6-Volume Set

esv-readers-bible-6ESV Reader’s Bible 6-Volume Set. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2016. 3,364 pp. $199.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for much less.

Introduction/Summary

From the publisher:

The ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set stems from the conviction that the Bible is of immeasurable value and should therefore be treasured–and read in the most seamless way possible. Constructed with materials carefully selected to reflect the beauty of God’s Word, the ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set is a unique collection designed for those desiring a cleaner, simpler Bible-reading experience. Printed on European book paper with smyth-sewn binding and packaged in an elegant slipcase, this edition features single column text that is free of all verse numbers, chapter numbers, and footnotes, as well as most section headings–resulting in a unique Bible-reading experience that helps readers encounter and delight in the beauty of God’s Word.

Check out this video for a great introduction and summary of this massive 6-volume reader’s edition Bible.

Introducing the ‘ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set’ from Crossway on Vimeo.

Review

My goal with this review is to offer an argument as to why you would do well to spend $100-$200 on a Bible.

1)  I reviewed the first Reader’s Bible Crossway published back in 2014. In that review, I did criticize the use of chapter numbers, though small, embedded in the text and offset by color as well as the use of chapter and verse numbers as reference guides at the top of each page. Those are completely missing from this 6-volume set leaving behind just the text.

There are, however, simple section headings that do help to break up the reading. For example, a long book like Jeremiah there are 7 section headings: Israel’s Faithlessness, Jeremiah Struggles with God and Judah, Jeremiah’s Confrontations, Consoling Promises of Restoration, God Judges Judah, God Judges the Nations, and The Fall of Jerusalem. These become the reference points whereas in the single-volume edition it was the chapters and verses.

2) The font size has been enlarged to a 12 point Trinite No. 2 Roman font rather than the 9-10 used in the original reader’s edition. This is, in some instances, twice as large as the 6-8 size font used in most Bibles.

3) The pages are thicker than most any other Bible. While not necessarily a big deal for most, I have found that the pages in other Bibles tend to tear easily from over use in sections where I am either preaching an extended series or have written quite a bit in the margins.

Granted, I do not see myself writing in this Bible, but if I ever did, I       am confident of no bleeding or smearing. I typically enjoy writing         with fountain pens and the 80 gsm weight paper is the perfect               paper upon which to write.

4) The single column format along with the 12-point font makes for easy reading. Since there are no chapter or verse numbers along the way, it is easy to get lost in the story line of the Bible. As a matter of fact, the aforementioned reference points at the top of each page serve the reader by orienting him or her in the big story of the particular book of the Bible being read. Before you know it, you have read more than you intended to read and you almost can’t put the book down.

This has become extremely important to me as I am prone to get lost in cross references and even myopic in the individual verses. I tend to lose the forest for the individual trees. Also, I have been searching for a Bible that I could read purely for my own  edification that is not by sermon preparation Bible. I have found that Bible.

5) Because of the six volumes, you can either read straight through from Genesis to Revelation or you can pick and choose to read specific volumes whenever you want. I read the original 1-volume reader’s edition straight through this past year. Since acquiring this 6-volume set, I have settled on my own reading plan which I read from one volume each day and then choose another volume to read on day 7 which for me, is Sunday.

For example, I read Volume 5-the Gospels/Acts on Monday; Volume 1-the Pentateuch on Tuesday; Volume 2-the Historical Books on Wednesday; Volume 6-Epistles and Revelation on Thursday; Volume 3-Poetry on Friday; and Volume 6-Prophets on Saturday. By doing this, it allows me to saturate myself in Scripture in different places each day of the week. When I finish each book, I will simply start over. This is akin to Dr. Grant Horner’s Ten List Bible Reading Plan. The best part about having the six volumes is each volume has its own ribbon thus there is no searching a reading plan or having an over abundance of book marks in one Bible.

6) Finally, as a pastor, I will confess that it is tough to read my Bible without thinking about a future sermon or someone in my congregation. Whether it is my personality or my calling, I have increasingly found it more difficult to read my Bible for simple communion with God. This 6-volume reader’s Bible has enabled me to do just that. It has truly made my Bible reading time more about soaking in the Word of God for my personal sanctification. I find that I am not “studying” for any other purpose than what God is revealing to me about Himself.

While this this is perhaps more true for the pastor or the Bible teacher, I cannot express how important reading for communion with God is for all Christians. I do not know if I am ashamed or amazed at how this particular reading Bible has transformed my Bible reading, but I can say that I am thoroughly enjoying just reading the Bible.

Recommendation

I honestly asked to review this 6-volume set because of all the publicity it was receiving. I know Crossway is one of the best companies when it comes to publicizing their resources, but I was hearing more than the usual buzz for this particular resource. I say this to say that I approached this review with skepticism but have been extremely impressed with this reader’s Bible.

Study Bibles have their place and function in a Christian’s library. There are many reasons to have cross-references and footnotes and wide margins and journal pages as well. There remains, however, much to be said for getting along with God. By alone, I mean you and the Word of God with nothing to distract you on the page.

I realize most would balk at the MSRP of $200, but I will be honest, I do not think I cannot have this Bible now that I have experienced it first hand. The 6-Volume Reader’s Bible strips away every distraction except the Word of God by itself. That alone is worth the price of the Bible. I heartily recommend this 6-volume reader’s Bible to every Christian who wants to simply get alone with God and commune with Him.

I am sure there will come along another Bible that will be the “gotta have” Bible and I will (hopefully) review it and tell you I recommend it, but I can also tell you that this particular Bible is worth every penny you will pay. As you read it, you will find the truth that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

 

 

 

Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 4

sibbesv4_scan-205x320Sibbes, Richard. Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 1. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001. 550 pp. $27.00. You can purchase Volume 3 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 fourth of seven volumes in his collection of Works produced by The Banner of Truth Trust.

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Recommendation

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.

The Radical Pursuit of Rest by John Koessler

Koessler, John. The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2016. 176 pp. $16.00. Purchase for less or on Kindle at Amazon.

Introduction

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.

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Recommendation

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.

Michelangelo for Kids by Simonetta Carr

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.

Introduction

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.

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Recommendation

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.

Shaken by Tim Tebow with A.J. Gregory

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.

Introduction

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.

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Recommendation

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.

 

One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd

Ladd, Jason B., One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview. Wasilla: Boone Shepherd, LLC., 2015. 318 pp. $16.99. Purchase at Amazon for less and on Kindle for much less.

Introduction

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.

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Recommendation

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.

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible – Zondervan Publishing

Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture. Craig S. Keener, John H. Walton, editors. Nashville: Zondervan Publishing: 2016. 2,400 pp. Hardback – $49.99; Imitation Leather – $79.95. Purchase at Amazon for much less or on Kindle for an even greater savings.

Introduction

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.

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Fourth, this one study Bible replaces two other resources by John Walton and Craig Keener: The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament and The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. It is my understanding that the New Testament volume, originally published in 1994 is no longer in print though it can still be purchased on Kindle or Amazon.

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.

Recommendation

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.

Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 3

SibbesV3_scan-203x320Sibbes, Richard. Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 1. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001. 550 pp. $27.00. You can purchase Volume 3 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/Summary

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.

Review

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.

Recommendation

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 OT Vol. V: 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles Edited by Cooper and Lohrmann

OT 5Reformation 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.

Introduction

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.

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Recommendation

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.