Tag Archives: Joel R. Beeke

The Beauty and Glory of the Father by Joel R. Beeke

The Beauty and Glory of the FatherBeeke, Joel R., ed. The Beauty and Glory of God the Father. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 2013. 156 pp. $25.00. Purchase at Westminster Books and for the Kindle for less.

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).

The Works of William Perkins Volume 1 Edited by J. Stephen Yuille

Works of Perkins 1The Works of William Perkins, Volume 1. Edited by J. Stephen Yuille. General Editors: Joel R. Beeke and Derek W.H. Thomas. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 832 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for less. Also for Kindle for $9.99.


I have reviewed The Art of Prophesying by William Perkins a couple years back and found it to be much needed food for thought as I was merely six months into my pastorate at the time.

To underscore the importance of this first volume of the forthcoming ten-volume series, watch this quick video:


This first volume consists of three major sections. The first is a harmony of the Old and New Testaments. The second looks at Matthew 4:1-11 when the Devil tempted Jesus in the desert after our Lord’s 40-days of fasting and trial.

The third section, and roughly 5/8 of the entire volume, is a study of the Sermon on the Mount. I do believe this is longer than Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s treatment on the same text in his classic work Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.


Wow! This first volume is rich beyond comprehension. When I first saw that thirty-one different men endorsed this series, I was a bit concerned. Were they simply over zealous to sell a book or were they genuinely excited at the republication of these Works. It must be noted that Perkins’s complete works have not been reprinted in their entirety since the middle of the 1600’s.

In his harmony of the Old and New Testaments, Perkins offers dates based on his study of Genesis and the Flood the narrative. He goes into detail such that the Hebrew year was “36 days, five hours, and 59 minutes.” From that, he dates the crucifixion of Christ to be 4,000 years after the creation of the world. Further, he shows where in the historical narratives of Scripture these events take place as well as in what year (after creation).

His writings on the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4 are rich with insight and is commended to all.

The main thrust of this first volume is his dealings with the greatest sermon ever…the Sermon on the Mount. With the precision of a surgeon and the care of a mother nursing her newborn, William Perkins exposits, explores, exhorts, and encourages his readers with great skill and practice.

One will not be able to read his work on the Sermon on the Mount only once. What is more, I believe this treatment of Matthew 5-7 will rival that of Lloyd-Jones in popularity.

Finally, Yuille did a masterful job of typesetting and offering subheadings (I do not know if these were in the original though I doubt they were) for the modern reader. They are extremely helpful and provide sufficient pause for the reader to be able to put the book down with a bookmark (extremely difficult to do!) at various points in his deep treatments of the Word of God.


The Christian church is indebted to Reformation Heritage Books for the republication of The Works of William Perkins. The bar has been set high by none other than Perkins himself. This first volume of this ten volume set is pure gold. You owe it to yourself to purchase a copy and drink from a deep well of Christian knowledge and practice.

The Beauty and Glory of Christian Living Edited by Joel R. Beeke

The Beauty and Glory of Christian LivingThe Beauty and Glory of Christian Living. Edited by Joel R. Beeke. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 168 pp. $25.00. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.


Joel Beeke is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is also pastor at Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation and has written and edited a number of books. I have reviewed a few of them here.


This book was compiled from the 2013 Puritan Reformed Conference on the beauty and glory of Christian living.

From the dust jacket:

When the seed of life is sown in their hearts, God s people grow up beautifully and gloriously. Taking up this botanical analogy, The Beauty and Glory of Christian Living opens by discussing the divine roots of the Christian life in being united to Christ in faith, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, becoming spiritually minded, and living by the means of grace. It then explores how our Christian lives branch out to influence our families, our workplaces, and the world. Finally, a series of chapters deal with weathering the storms of life, when we are pelted with affliction, sexual temptation, negative thought patterns, hard times, sickness, and death. In all of this, we see a faithful God who causes His people to flourish for His glory.

Contributors include Michael Barrett, Ian Hamilton, John Tweeddale, Joel Beeke, William VanDoodewaard, Brian Najapfour, Josh Dear, Gerald Bilkes, Brian Croft, and David Murray.


The chapters in this book provide what amounts to a nice devotional read. They can be read in 10-15 minutes each and drive home the truth that Christ came so that we may have life more abundantly (see, John 10:10). The conference, and consequently the book, was split into three sections: the divine roots of Christian living, the human branches of Christian living, and living for Christ in the earthly storms.

I appreciated the organization of the book as we must always pour a foundation on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Once we have set the foundation, we are then exhorted to live for Christ in the home and the workplace all with a mind to the Kingdom of God.

I found the last section on living in the storms to be of great value. Here the sermons look at affliction, sexual sin, negativity, sickness and death, and, ultimately, the hard times of life. Too be honest, these last five chapters are pure gold and will be messages I return to over and over.

If there is one criticism, for me personally, it is the use of the KJV exclusively. This is merely a matter of taste on my part, but I found that to be a bit difficult in the reading. Again, this is personal opinion and for some, this may be a great allure to read this work.

In the end, the structure of the book (and I believe the conference) and the Christ-centered proclamation of the need for the gospel in every day life makes this an excellent resource to own and to read either straight through or on an as needed basis.


I highly recommend this resource to all Christians who are serious about living their lives for Christ. Read, be filled, and then live to the glory of God through the sanctification of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible



Note: I am basing this review off a sampler edition sent to me by Reformation Heritage Books.  The study Bible is due to be released in November 2014.  

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible seeks to incorporate the rich history and tradition found in the Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries.  This study Bible will not only emphasize the deep theological truths rediscovered and promoted during the Reformation, but will also exhort the reader to the personal standard of holiness the Bible calls for and was lived out by the Reformers and later the Puritans.

They have used the King James Version for this study Bible to keep with what was basically used by the Reformers and Puritans.  Furthermore, they have added a dictionary to explain the antiquated words to a new generation.

The contributors include Joel R. Beeke (I have reviewed a number of his works here), world-renowned Puritanical scholar who is serving as the general editor.  The  Old Testament Editor is Michael Barrett – Aca­d­e­mic Dean and Pro­fes­sor of Old Tes­ta­ment at Puri­tan Reformed The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary. He also serves as a min­is­ter in the Free Pres­by­ter­ian Church of North Amer­ica.  The New Testament Editor is Gerald Bilkes – Pro­fes­sor of New Tes­ta­ment and Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy at Puri­tan Reformed The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary.  Other contributors include Michael Haykin, Geoff Banister, Charles Barrett,  Brian DeVries, Ian Goligher, John Greer, Jerald Lewis, Alan MacGregor, Andy McIntosh, Pooyan Mehrshahi, Colin Mercer, Gerald Procee, Maurice Roberts, David Silversides, John Thackway, and Malcolm Watts.

Some of the features included are typical of study Bibles.  Below are a couple images of what the pages will look like:


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You can view a pdf sampler here which includes the books of Hosea, Jonah, Ephesians, and the Letters of John. Also, you will be able to read articles on God’s Mercy, Spiritual Warfare, and World Missions.


From all I can tell, this promises to be a rich resource for anyone interested in studying Scripture more deeply.  Personally, what sets this study Bible apart from all others are the “Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship” for each chapter of the Bible.  One cannot underestimate the power of this feature to equip the families to engage in meaningful family worship.

The notes are a bit different in that they read more like sermon notes than explanatory notes giving reasons for interpretation and exegesis.  Many of the notes, however, are explanations of the words used in the KJV to help the modern reader understand more accurately what is being said. The articles also offer little sermons rather than theological treatises (though they could be!).  For example, the article entitled “God’s Mercy” is adapted from Richard Sibbes’ exposition of 2 Corinthians 1 but is placed before the book of Jonah (in the sample edition).


Personally, I am not a fan of the KJV for no other reason than how I was raised (long story).  While I understand many of the criticisms of the translation, one can never underestimate the importance of this particular translation on the English speaking world.  That being said, the particular translation should not stand in your way of acquiring this beautiful study Bible.  You can learn more about this Bible at KJVStudyBible.org.  Though not completed yet, you will also be able to find more at HolyBible.com.

Given the rich traditions and heritage all Protestants have benefited from that are rooted in the Reformation and consequent Puritanical time frame, The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible promises to be one of the greatest additions to the choice of Study Bibles.  Very few study Bibles have exceeded, or will exceed. the usefulness of this one.  I heartily recommend it.


Getting back in the Race by Joel R. Beeke

Beeke, Joel R.  Getting Back in the Race:  The Cure for Backsliding.  Adelphi: Cruciform Press, 2011.  122 pp.  $9.99. Purchase at Westminster or you can sign up as a subscriber for even greater discounts.


Dr. Joel R. Beeke has written numerous works (I think he and John Piper are in a competition). I have been fortunate to review a few of them here.  He serves as president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, the editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, and vice president of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society which is all located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His PhD is in Reformation and post-Reformation History from Westminster Theological Seminary.


Divided into four chapters, Dr. Beeke with an introduction and a conclusion based on Scripture and the writings of men from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.  Using the analogy of a runner running a race, Beeke shows us how we can recognize when backsliding occurs.  Not everyone who is struggling with their faith is backsliding and Beeke takes great care to explain the difference.  The second, third and fourth chapters are expositions based on Hosea 14:1-9.

Chapter two looks at the runner returning to the fight and is based on verses 1-3.  Here, backsliding has been diagnosed and the Christian is now seeking the information necessary for the cure.  Chapter three is subtitled the medicines of grace and is rooted in Hosea 14:4.  Here the sickly Christian is take the prescription and is now in the midst of getting healthy once again.

The final chapter looks at verses 5-9 and offers the recovery process through the healing of grace.  In the end, if you are running the race, you have the grace of God on your side.  Beeke concludes the work with an exhortation to runners to continue the race.


Backsliding is not a topic discussed often in books or churches.  Joel Beeke offers a sweet as honey elixir to cure this problem.  To date, Joel Beeke is the most well-known author to publish with Cruciform Press.  For Cruciform to take this next step as a publishing company and lead off with a book on backsliding as that next step is noteworthy (at least to me).  This tells me, and I think many would agree, that backsliding is an epidemic in today’s church.  Sadly, most pastors and Christians are ill-prepared to recognize let alone encourage, exhort, and challenge the believer who is backsliding.

It is a natural fit for the publishing model of Cruciform Press to offer what amounts to an introduction to the topic of backsliding through their publishing company.  Lord willing, this introduction will begin a paradigm shift in the church today to bring her back to good health.  Somehow, I think what will also happen is that many will discover they are not backsliding because they are not a believer.  Educating the members of your congregation can have that effect.  Only then can/will we see revival.

Beeke’s book is fast paced and just deep enough to cause the reader to want to learn more.  If said reader will plumb the depths of the Bible and use the endnotes as a springboard to more reading, only the Lord knows what will happen.  What I know is that the saints will certainly become more equipped than ever.


You can never go wrong with a resource by Joel Beeke even if you disagree with him on a specific doctrine.  Getting Back in the Race is a book most Christians need to read but do not know it.  Get a copy and see for yourself.  I am grateful (as will you be) for Cruciform Press taking this next step as a publishing company and to do so with this particular title is excellent.  I unreservedly recommend this book to all Christians.

Living by God’s Promises by Joel R. Beeke & James A. La Belle

Beeke, Joel R. and James A. La Belle.  Living by God’s Promises.  Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010.  172 pp.  $15.00.  Purchase at Westminster for $11.00 or direct from Reformation Heritage Books.


Everyone knows about the Puritans.  Some think, wrongly, they were nothing more than prudes and fundamentalists.  Many others, thankfully, are finding a godliness and piety that is rarely found in the church today.  Beeke and La Belle have co-authored a book looking at three lesser known Puritans who have written about the importance of the promises of God.  These three Puritans from which Living by God’s Promises is drawn is Edward Leigh (1603-1671), William Spurstowe (1605-1666), and Andrew Gray (1633-1656).  You can learn more about these three Puritans in Joel Beeke and Andrew Pederson’s magnificent work Meet the Puritans.


I believe at 172 pages, the book itself hardly would have room for the biblical text of all the promises given to us in the Scriptures.  That being said, the book is divided into nine chapters with an invaluable appendix and a helpful selection of readings on God’s promises.

The nine chapters can readily be divided into two parts though they are not necessarily done so in the book.  The first part deals with readers mind and consists of five chapters.  Reading these five chapters, you will understand the promises of God more fully and who the promises have their foundation and fountainhead in.  You will also see the characteristics and right use of the promises of God.

The second part is the application of living by these promises.  This part looks specifically at God’s promises during affliction and in our constant battle against sin and temptation.  The last chapter looks at how we can use God’s promises as we pursue holiness.

For me, personally, the appendix is worth the price of the book by itself.  Appendix A is a table of promises whereby there are six pages of triple-columned listings of the promises found in the Bible as compiled by Edward Leigh.  All you have are the references, but that is the joy of it!  You have a perfect launching point in which to write down and meditate on the promises of God.


Um…about the only negative I could find with this book is that it ended.  I appreciated the tip of the cap to the Puritanesque preaching style found in the structure of the book.  First, the authors dealt with your mind and showed you the reality of God’s promises.  Second, as a surgeon deftly uses a scalpel, so to the writers of Living by God’s Promises operate on your heart.  With precision not common today, you will discover the truthfulness of Hebrews 4:12, “For 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.”


There have been few books that have led me to worship as I read.  Living by God’s Promises will lead you to worship Christ.  2 Corinthians 1:20 will carry much more meaning to you after reading this book.   I cannot wait to take the appendix, write out the promises, categorize them into a notebook (hand written and probably in a moleskine but certainly with a fountain pen!), and then have that handy for the purpose of meditation.  Get your copy today and drink from the fountain filled with blood where all of these promises have their foundation.

The Soul of Life: The Piety of John Calvin edited by Joel R. Beeke

The Soul of Life: The Piety of John Calvin. Edited by Joel R. Beeke. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2009. 220 pp. $10.00. Purchase at Westminster books for $7.89.


The Soul of Life is a volume found in the Profiles in Reformed Spirituality. Other volumes have looked at the piety of George Swinnock, Jonathan Edwards, Hercules Collins, Lemuel Haynes, Thomas Goodwin, Alexander Whyte, and Horatius Bonar. This particular volume looks explicitly at John Calvin through his own writings that have been gathered under various topical headings. Dr. Joel R. Beeke, one of the series editors along with Michael Haykin, took it upon himself to edit and introduce this book.


Dr. Beeke does a masterful job of offering a short 26 page bio of John Calvin. His work on the piety of John Calvin maybe more impressive in that reading it really brings new light to a man who has been mischaracterized for centuries. After this brief two-part introduction, Dr. Beeke offers five sections looking explicitly at Calvin’s piety.

The first section shows the importance of piety as well as defining what piety means biblically. Section two develops the goal of piety – the glory of God while section three offers the theological dimensions that one’s piety ought to be rooted in. Sections four and five were, in my estimation, the most profound sections in the book. Section four looks to piety in the local church and section five delineates the practical implications of one’s piety. The book concludes with a selection of recommended books by or about John Calvin.


The only negative to this book is that it was not printed first in the series! To define piety (this is where the title of book comes from) as the soul of life is to show that each of the men written about in this series made it their life-long ambition to grow closer to God through Christ and knowledge of the Scriptures.

The way the book was laid out with the introduction giving a short synopsis of the life and piety of John Calvin and then to move from a general definition of piety to a specific application of piety helps the reader to move along in his understanding of how our thought life should impact our lives insofar as we interact with others and with God.


After reading The Soul of Life, you will want to go back and read the rest of the series. If you have not read any of the other books in the series, then you need to start with this one as it will undoubtedly shed light on 1) what the series editors are seeking to accomplish and 2) the influence John Calvin had on so many great saints through the ages.

Reformation Heroes by Diana Kleyn and Joel R. Beeke

Save 32% at WTS Books ($17.00)Kleyn, Diana and Joel R. Beeke. Reformation Heroes. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007. 240 pp. $25.00.  Purchase at Westminster Books for $17.00.

Reformation Heroes is written for a slightly older audience–approximately 11-17 year olds, but can be read to younger children. The following is written by the author’s in the introduction of the book as to the purpose of this book:

The purpose of this book is threefold: first, to teach a general knowledge of the Refomration and the events leading up to it. Second, because young people often lack helpful mentors and role models, we wish to set forth accurate life stories of Reformers who are still genuine heroes and helpful mentors for us today. Third, we hope you also gain a deeper respect for the doctrines of the Reformation, as well as for the freedom we enjoy to worship God according to Scripture.

The author’s meet, and exceed, these three goals. With chapters not exceeding 8 pages in length, there is just enough space for a brief overview of the lives and roles of each saint used of God in the Reformation. Peppered throughout each chapter are wonderful illustrations that help to bring to the mind the face and culture in which the Reformers lived. Not only do the illustrations aid in keeping the attention of the children, but they also elevate the children’s awareness of how different the world in which the Reformation took place when compared to the world we live in today.

Undoubtedly, the more this book is read, the more a young boy or girl will find someone who they can relate with at some level and want to learn more about that particular Reformer. What is even better is that as the parents read this book to the younger children, they will certainly learn quite a bit about this important time in the history of the church. It is nice to be able to share with your children why Christians are willing to die for their faith as well as what that faith entails.


This is an excellent resource at numerous levels. For example, if you are a children’s minister, then you can use this for a summer study on the Reformation. If your family has a time of family worship, you can integrate Reformation Heroes into your family worship. If you are homeschooling your children, then this can very easily be incorporated into a history curriculum. As can be seen, the uses for this resource are endless.

Living For God’s Glory by Joel R. Beeke

Beeke, Joel R. Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism. Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2008. 416 pp. $24.00. Buy at Reformation Heritage Books for $18.00 or at Westminster Bookstore for $15.84.

With his usual flair for meticulous research, Dr. Joel R. Beeke has written a masterpiece in Living for God’s Glory. The book was written for those who are interested in the basics of Calvinism in a simple, non-technical, yet scholarly style. Dr. Beeke sought contributions from eight other writers for ten of the twenty-eight chapters. Some of those contributors are Michael A.G. Haykin, Ray Pennings, and Sinclair B. Ferguson.

This book serves two purposes. First, it is a resource book that will be referenced quite often in a young, Reformed, Christian’s life. There is so much in this book that involves Calvinism as a lifestyle that it will need to be drank from slowly as if allowing it to soak in over time. Second, this book is a theology book that will be read over and over as one wrestles with (or against) the impact these beloved doctrines that have come to be known as Calvinism.

Dr. Beeke does a wonderful job of laying out the central tenants of biblical Calvinism while at the same time answering the common (and not so common) objections to these doctrines. The chapters on what we now call the T.U.L.I.P. does much to dispel the many mischaracterizations of Calvinism while showing the historic, and more importantly, biblical evidences. His chapters on sanctification are much needed today and should be mandatory reading for all believers.

Perhaps the one glaring problem with the book is found early on page six where Dr. Beeke explains the spread of the Reformed faith. In that section, he mentions that “the terms Reformed and Calvinism became virtually synonymous” (p.6). He continues to use “Reformed” throughout most of the chapter but jettisons that word for “Calvinism” throughout the rest of the book. I would have rather seen a more detailed explanation for the use of Calvinism instead of Reformed than that the two words “became virtually synonymous.” How and why did they become synonymous?

If you are among those who hold to Reformed theology, this book is a must own. It would be the perfect resource for those young Calvinists who are in the “cage-stage” because it shows what exactly these glorious doctrines entail and just how far-reaching they are in one’s life. If you are not a Calvinist but have wondered what exactly Calvinism is (i.e., without all of the assumptions and misunderstandings), then I would highly recommend this book. Dr. Beeke does a great job of not “shoving these doctrines down your throat” as some have claimed Calvinists do. Rather, he meticulously charts the historical understanding and how they impacted those who believed in them. More importantly, he explains how these doctrines should impact everything about your life.

Heirs With Christ by Joel R. Beeke

Beeke, Joel R. Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008. 134 pp. $13.00. Purchase direct from the publisher at Reformation Heritage Books or from Westminster Books.


Dr. Joel R. Beeke is renowned for his writings on Puritan theology. He has written, edited, or co-authored over fifty books including Meet the Puritans, Reformation Heroes, Striving Against Satan, and Living for God’s Glory (my review is forthcoming). He serves as president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, the editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, and vice president of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society which is all located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His PhD is in Reformation and post-Reformation History from Westminster Theological Seminary.

Obviously, Dr. Beeke is well-versed in Puritan theology and this book does not disappoint. Justin Taylor states it best in his blurb on the back: “In this short but spiritually substantive book…” What he lacks in length he makes up for with content and depth.

Summary of Heirs with Christ

The book was written as an apologetic for the Puritans and their writings on adoption. Many, thanks in part to J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, believe that the Puritans never dealt with the doctrine of adoption. Beeke spends the entire book showing that this is not the case and that the doctrine of adoption was foundational too much of their thinking.

Beeke first shows the comprehensiveness of adoption and its impact on soteriology (matters of salvation) and the Christian faith in general. He then states explicitly what adoption is not—regeneration, justification, and sanctification—and how you cannot have one without the other but they must be differentiated.

The chapters on the transforming power of, the transformed relationships in, and the privileges and benefits of adoption leave one breathless and wanting to plumb the deeps of the Puritan minds. Along the way throughout the book, Beeke offers a sneak peek into the thinking behind the Westminster Assembly Confession as well as adoption in both testaments of the Bible.

Critical Analysis

Beeke does a wonderful job of sticking to his thesis that the Puritans wrote extensively on the doctrine of adoption. As one reads Heirs with Christ, he feels as though he is part of a documentary. Dr. Beeke strives to let the Puritans speak in their own words. He merely provides guidance as we peer back in time and see how the Puritans emphasized the doctrine of adoption and how it was foundational too much of their teachings.


If you are a believer in Christ, then you need to read this book. To see the richness and glory of being adopted by God into His Family will have you shouting “Amen!” To be completely honest, the footnotes and the bibliography are worth the price of the book. Personally, I found the introduction to Cotton Mather (chapter nine) to be worth the read! Having only heard of him in passing, I was not prepared for his pastoral writings and the blessing they would be to my soul.

This book certainly deserves to be read over and over. For those who struggle with assurance—and many do—they can read about their adoption into the family of Christ and rejoice to know that their assurance rests solely on God and not themselves. What a joy to realize that all over again “for the first time.”