Tag Archives: Reformation Heritage Books

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).

Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr

Marie DurandCarr, Simonetta. Christian Biographies for Young Readers – Marie Durand. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015. 64 pp. $18.00. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is back with the 9th volume in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series. You can read reviews of many of her books as well as interview here.

Summary

From the back of the book:

In 1730, nineteen-year-old Marie Durand was arrested and taken from her home in a village in Southern France for the crime of having a brother who was a Protestant preacher. Imprisoned in the Tower of Constance, Marie would spend the next thirty-eight years there. Simonetta Carr introduces us to the inspiring life of a woman who could have recanted her Protestant faith and gained release, but held fast to the truth and encouraged others to do so as well. Beautiful illustrations, a simply told story, and interesting facts acquaint young readers with the challenges facing Protestants in eighteenth-century France and show them that even a life spent in prison can be lived in service to Christ and others.

Review

I honestly had never heard of Marie Durand until reading this children’s biography. Simonetta expertly tells the story of the 18th century wranglings between the Protestant and Catholic churches in France from the perspective of Marie.

Through the retelling of her life, children today will learn that faith does indeed cost and sometimes the price exacted is more than we think. In the end, God will reward one’s faith in Him as only He can.

Recommendation

As with all of the biographies in this series, I highly recommend this to all readers of any age. There are many stories to be told about God’s faithfulness in the lives of His children. Many stories have gone untold until now. The church remains indebted to Simonetta Carr for her work on this series. Pick up a copy today and you will see why.

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.

Introduction

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.

Summary

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.

Review

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.

Recommendation

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 Foundation of Communion with God edited by Ryan M. McGraw

The Foundation of Communion with GodProfiles in Reformed Spirituality – The Foundation of Communion with God: The Trinitarian Piety of John Owen edited by Ryan M. McGraw. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 136 pp. $10.00. Purchase at Westminster Books or on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Ryan McGraw is pastor of First Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, CA as well as serving as a research associate at the University of the Free State.

John Owen is known the world over for his works on sin and temptation. In this resource, McGraw seeks to show how Owen’s Trinitarian understanding of how one can cultivate a deeper communion with God.

Summary

He opens with a lengthy apologetic of John Owen’s theology and life and explains how his piety was peculiarly one rooted in the Triune Godhead.  From there, the work is divided into three parts: Knowing God as Triune, Heavenly-mindedness and apostasy, and covenant and church.  There are forty-one choice selections grouped together according to these three sections.

He ends the work with a suggestion on how to read this most difficult of Puritans. Interestingly enough, he does not recommend immediately the reading of Mortification of Sin (or volume 6 of his Works). Rather, he suggests starting with volume 9 (a selection of various sermons) and then moving back to volumes 2-4 in order to read Communion with God and his treatises on the Holy Spirit.

Review

I have reviewed most of the works in the Profiles in Reformed Spirituality set and have found each one to be beneficial both to my soul and to the introducing of these men of God to a newer generation. Ryan almost does the impossible when he takes the writings of Owens and arranges them in such a manner that they are readily understandable.

His ability to arrange them topically in the three categories he did helps the reader to understand Owen’s foundation for pretty much everything he wrote. Reading this work first may be the best way to slowly wade into the deep sea that is the writing of John Owen.

Recommendation

As I stated above, I really enjoy this series and have found each one to be excellent in its presentation of the particular theologian from years gone by. In this case, I highly recommend The Foundation of Communion with God to all Christians yearning for a deeper relationship with the Lord.

The Blessed and Boundless God by George Swinnock

The Blessed and Boundless GodSwinnock, George. The Blessed and Boundless God. Edited by J. Stephen Yuille. Grand Rapids, Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 119 pp. $10.00. Purchase at Westminster Books or Amazon Kindle for less.

Introduction

George Swinnock was an English Puritan who lived from 1627-1673.   You can get a succinct introduction to this divine by reading Trading and Thriving in Godliness, a book in the Profiles in Reformed Spirituality Series published by Reformation Heritage Books.  Also, I have reviewed The Fading of the Flesh and the Flourishing of the Faith in this same Puritan Treasures for Today series. J. Stephen Yuille edited both of those works as well.

Summary

This work was a meditation on Psalm 89:6, “For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?”

According to Yuille, “In chapters 1-30, he proves his doctrine by demonstrating God’s incomparableness in His being, attributes, works, and words. In chapters 31-45, he applies his doctrine by demonstrating how God’s incomparableness informs, counsels, and comforts us” (p. xiv).

The work is further divided into five parts: God’s incomparable being, God’s incomparable attributes, God’s incomparable works, God’s incomparable Words, and the application.

Review

Most chapters are three to five pages in length and pack a week’s worth of meditative material. On one hand, you can read this as I did…in one sitting. It took maybe an hour and fifteen minutes to read. The problem with this was I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant. Swinnock led me, even reading so fast, to a glimpse of God that I will savor for the rest of my life.

One of the quotes I underlined and shared was, “The only thing that can be known of God is that He can never be fully known.” That seems to beg the question of why should we even try to know about God. The answer is, we ought to so fill ourselves with the thoughts of God that we more and more are conformed into His image. Swinnock does his best to aid that conformity.

Recommendation

I said above that I read this in one sitting. While I do recommend this resource to everyone, I would recommend it more as a devotional as it can serve as a 45-day devotional. I believe the publication of this work in 2014 should be to the 21st century what Tozer’s Attributes of God was to the 20th century.

Jonathan Edwards by Simonetta Carr

Jonathan EdwardsCarr, Simonetta. Christian Biographies for Young Readers – Jonathan Edwards. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. $18.00.  Purchase at Westminster Books. Also, at Amazon.

Introduction

Readers here at Christian Book Notes know Simonetta Carr. Every book in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series has been reviewed here to date.  Also, I have been bless to have interviewed her as well.  She is certainly a favorite of the readers of this book site as well as a personal favorite of mine.

Summary

Simonetta takes a different approach to this biography given her younger audience.  She looks first and foremost at a young Edwards which also happens to be the inspiration of the cover.  She then moves quickly through his being a student and a young pastor only to spend much time on The Great Awakening and his work as a missionary to the Native Americans.  She closes the book with a copy of a letter from a concerned father to his daughter, Mary.

Review

In only 64 pages, Carr delivers an excellent summary of the life of Jonathan Edwards. For those that know Simonetta personally or via Facebook, they will be aware that this particular biography took on a very personal aspect for the author as she endured great tragedy in her own family.  The providence of God would be such that she was working on the final touches and one can’t help but read the final chapter with great gravity as Simonetta pours her heart and soul into its pages.

To be able to say so much in such a small biography about America’s greatest theologian of which so much has been written is a testimony to Simonetta’s ability as a biographer and writer.  She has become a master of the informative highlights of these great clouds of witnesses that have gone before that I would hardly trust another biographer to write such succinct and historically accurate biographies than Simonetta Carr.

Recommmendation

I have recommended every one of these biographies in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series and I do not see any reason why I cannot recommend this biography to all.

Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries Vol. 4 by James T. Dennison, Jr.

RCFIVDennison, Jr. James T. Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: Volume 4 – 1600-1693. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2014. 758 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster or Amazon for less.

Introduction

This fourth, and final volume, in the Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries concludes a 7 year publishing adventure to bring to the modern, English-speaking reader the riches of the past.  You can read the reviews of volume 2 and 3 here.

NOTE: You can purchase the 4-volume Hardback set at Westminster for $150.00.
You can purchase the 4-volume set on Kindle for $89.99.

Summary

These particular documents are more familiar to the modern reader than many in the first three volumes. Included in this final volume is The Remonstrance (1611), the Scottish Confession (1616), The Canons of Dort (1618-1619), The London Baptist Confession (1644), The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), the London Confession (1646), The Westminster Larger (and Shorter) Catechism (1647), the London Baptist Confession (1677), and The Baptist Catechism (1693) just to name a few.

Again, Dennison includes introductory notes and historical contextualization in order that the modern reader may understand the importance of each document. Alost included in this final volume is an index for the entire series. These multiple indices include separate entries for Scripture references, names of persons, and subjects.

Review

With the publication of this final volume, we now have a complete set of Reformed Confessions found in the 16th and 17th centuries. Note, however, this is not an exhaustive list though it does contain 127 different documents in the four volumes. As one moves from the first document in volume 1 – the 67 articles of Zwingli (1523) and follow all the way to the Baptist Catechism in 1693, the careful reader will see how the church narrowed down what they believed and what they did not believe. Further, you will see how splits and fractures were dealt with concerning secondary and tertiary issues.

The index in this fourth volume is extremely helpful to also trace the thoughts of key figures throughout the Reformation. For what it is worth, it must be stated that one need not be Reformed in their eschatology to glean insight from these documents. Rather, if one is a Protestant, they will quickly discover the rich heritage from which they now descend.

Recommendation

If you are going to get one volume in this four volume set, I would recommend this one. This is because so many today are familiar with the documents found in this fourth volume. Further, the index will whet your whistle for what came before these documents. Irena Backus of the University of Geneva rightly proclaims this set of books “a must have for every library.” I agree.

Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries Volume 3 edited by James T. Dennison, Jr.

RCFIIIDennison, Jr. James T. Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: Volume 3 – 1567-1599. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2012. 790 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster or Amazon for less.

Introduction

James T. Dennison Jr. is back with volume three of the Reformed Confessions encyclopedia. Many of these confessions are translated for the first time into the English language. Not only has he compiled these confessions himself, but he also set out to introduce each one. In these introductions, he offers the historical context for the necessity of the confession. I reviewed Volume 2 here.

Summary

Volume three offers a total of 23 new documents between the years 1567 and 1599. Many of these confessions and Synods were brand new to me personally. For example, how many have heard of the Synod of Hercegszoloski (1576)? This synod was designed to bring a harmony of three different confessions. This was not accomplished.

Dennison also offers explanation as to which text was used to translate the particular document. He offers the dates in which the article, confession, consensus, or minutes from the synod were written.

Review

What Dennison has compiled in this third volume has been largely lost to the church at large today. In translating these documents into English, he has enabled modern readers to peer back in time and attempt to understand the context in which the 16th and 17th century churches found themselves. In other words, our beliefs and traditions were not formed in a vacuum.

Just like we have to refine our respective confessions to meet current issues in the world and church today, so, too, we see how the various churches of the Reformation met the needs in their own context. To that end, every Christian leader should be grateful for the work of James T. Dennison, Jr.

Recommendation

I could recommend this resource to every Christian, but, sadly, not every Christian would be excited or even care about the magnitude of this series. I do, however, think that any Christian pastor today whose denominational roots are found in the Reformation ought to have a copy of Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries. We can learn much from those that have gone before us in times of tumult. To that end, I highly recommend this work to all.

John Knox by Simonetta Carr

John KnoxCarr, Simonetta. John Knox. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 64pp. $18.00. Purchase at Westminster books for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is no stranger to readers here at Christian Book Notes.  I have been blessed to review most everything she has written as well as interview her.  You can find all of our interactions together here.

Matt Abraxas, the illustrator for a number of the books in this series, is renown for his work on display at the SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder, Colorado.  He has traveled from California to France, studying different approaches to art.  You can watch many of his videos on his YouTube channel.

Summary

From the back of the book:

From armed bodyguard to galley slave, from loving husband and father to fiery preacher, John Knox was moved by a relentless passion for the honor of God and the purity of His truth and worship. Yet when he was a schoolboy growing up in the small Scottish town of Haddington, he could never have imagined that he would become a major leader of the powerful movement that transformed Scotland into one of the most committed Protestant countries in the world. Simonetta Carr tells the story of how this great Reformer, whose life began humbly, in a faraway, mysterious part of the world, influenced the church and its beliefs far beyond the borders of Scotland, shaping our thinking still today.

Review

What child knows about John Knox? For that matter, how many adults know about John Knox? After reading this biography, they will not only know the pertinent information about one of the more fiery men of church history, but it is almost certain they will want to know more about the man.  Furthermore, this particular edition in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers will reinforce the reality of the bloodiness that was the Reformation.

If the reader would take the timelines from the various biographies previously published in this series, they will begin to see just how much overlap there was in the many lives that constituted and directed the Protestant Reformation.  For example, Lady Jane Grey, was born, rose to become Queen, and was executed all within the lifetime of John Knox.

Recommendation

Here is yet another winner in this very important series.  Given the wide swath of men and women included in this series of biographies, a child will have an excellent understanding of the giants in the faith who have gone before them.  Also, these biographies are quickly becoming a clarion call to a new generation to stand fast in the faith and fight for salvation of lost souls through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Every Christian home should have these biographies available to read.

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible

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Introduction/Summary

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.

Review

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).

Recommendation

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.