Tag Archives: The Banner of Truth Trust

Knowing Christ by Mark Jones

Knowing ChristJones, Mark. Knowing Christ. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 256 pp. $16.00. Purchase at Amazon or Westminster Books for less.

Introduction

Mark Jones has been the minister at Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA), Canada since 2007. He is also Research Associate in the Faculty of Theology at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein) and Lecturer in Dogmatic Theology at John Wycliffe Theological College, in association with North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus), South Africa.

Mark is a lover of the Puritans, and has written or co-authored a number of books on the Puritans.

Watch this 16 minute conversation between Mark Jones and JI Packer (author of Knowing God).

Summary

Divided into 27 chapters, Mark looks at differing aspects of who Christ is. Among the obvious of Christ’s divinity, Incarnation, and resurrection, the reader will also look at Christ’s faith, His emotions, His reading, and His prayers.

Following is a complete list of the chapters (all preceded by “Christ’s”:

  • Declaration
  • Dignity
  • Covenant
  • Incarnation
  • Divinity
  • Humanity
  • Companion
  • Faith
  • Emotions
  • Growth
  • Reading
  • Prayers
  • Sinlessness
  • Temptations
  • Humiliation
  • Transfiguration
  • Miracles
  • Sayings
  • Death
  • Resurrection
  • Exaltation
  • Intercession
  • People
  • Wrath
  • Face
  • Names
  • Offices

Review

This is as close to an exhaustive treatise on the doctrine of Jesus Christ, or Christology if you prefer, as I have read. I genuinely had to read it one chapter a day for fear of being overwhelmed by the information. The chapters are not very long, but will have you meditating and thinking on Christ all day long.

The end notes will point the reader where they can read more in depth on each one of the twenty-seven aspects of Christ discussed in the book. Let’s be honest, we will never exhaust our understanding of Christ or God or the Holy Spirit for all eternity. We can, however, get a good running start!

Mark’s ability to weave history and Scripture together to show the importance of a right understanding of who Christ is and what He accomplished. I found myself feeling like a first grader reading some of these chapters. I could not believe I had either missed so much of who Christ was or had so many misunderstandings myself. Keep in mind, none of them were heretical, but they were all less than what the Bible teaches.

You can take this quiz that was posted by Challies a while back to see how much you know (or do not know about Christ).

This is a well-researched and well-written book that, in my opinion, is already a classic. It will become one of those indispensable resources that every serious believer will want to have for their own library as well as to be able to give away copies.

Recommendation

I have read/skimmed over a 1,000 books for this website. I have offered a qualified positive recommendation for most of them (a conscious choice I made years ago). There are many I have declared to be “must reads” for various reasons or another. I have only read two other books (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and Knowing God), save the Bible, that became foundational to my understanding of theology and the Christian life. Knowing Christ is now the third. This book will challenge what you think you know about your Savior and Lord and will lead you to worship your Lord and Savior.

The Works of John Newton Volume 2

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 2. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 766 pp. 4-Volume set – $150.00 Purchase the entire set from The Banner of Truth Trust for much less.

Introduction

You can read the review of Volume 1 here. You can read the review of Volume 3 here. You can read the review of volume 4 here.

From the dust jacket:

When John Newton, ex-sea captain and, as yet, unsuccessful candidate for the Church of England ministry, finished his first book (an autobiography) in 1762 there was no ready publisher. Any thought that he was destined to become one of the best known authors of his age would have been as fantastic as the last 37 years of his life. But in both cases the improbable came about. Becoming curate of Olney, a small village in the south of England, in 1764, Newton there laid his reputation as an evangelical writer, pre-eminently by his published letters and by the Olney Hymns (including ‘How Great the Name of Jesus Sounds, ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘Amazing grace’). Before the end of his subsequent pastorate at St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807), his writings were prized around the world from America to Australia.

Newton has a firm place in the classics of Christian literature. While his style is strong and clear, it is the spiritual attractiveness and importance of his main themes which secure the permanent value of his writings. Most of his books came, unpremeditated, out of a need to help his congregation or individual hearers, and it is in practical helpfulness towards Christian living that he excels. If he is loved rather than admired, it is for this reason. Conformity to Christ is the one subject upon which his themes finally focus (‘It will not be a burden to me at the hour of death that I have thought too highly of Jesus, expected too much from Him myself, or laboured too much in commending and setting Him forth to others’). Not surprisingly, Alexander Whyte could write, ‘For myself, I keep John Newton on my selectest shelf of spiritual books: by far the best kind of books in the whole world of books.’

The text of this new four-volume edition of The Works of John Newton has been entirely reformatted, producing a clear and easily navigable set of documents for today’s reader.

Summary

Volume 2 continues where volume 1 left off with more letters followed by an appendix for all the letters.

Next, in this volume is six sermons Newton intended for the pulpit. These include a look at the deceitfulness of the heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10) and all things being given to us with Christ (Romans 8:32). The third section is comprised of twenty sermons delivered at his church in Olney. Part of the allure here is also the addition of the hymns sung at Olney that conclude this particular volume.

Also included is a two-part “review of ecclesiastical history” that is more than 200 of the over 750 pages of the book.

Review

This particular volume introduces the reader to the Pastor Newton who preached in the pulpit. With over 26 sermons, you will be able to see what made John Newton tick. His proclamation of the gospel as a pastor is, in my estimation, one of the most lacking areas of information the church has today on this giant of the faith. He is known primarily as a hymn-writer with a wonderful gospel testimony.

While his letters are of inestimable value, I have found his sermons to be of even greater value. This may be due to my being a pastor, but it helps to explain a lot of the theology behind the hymns and such. Also, it shows that a pastor who loves his congregation (and Newton certainly did if the letters are any indication) is able to speak with great boldness in the pulpit. This is to be emulated today though it is too much work for too many pastors…unfortunately.

Recommendation

As the larger portrait of John Newton unfolds in these 4 volumes of works, I am finding each particular volume is excellent in its own right. Yet, when you bring them all together, you have one excellent picture of a godly man who loved His Lord more than anything else. I highly recommend this 4-volume set to all Christians.

The Works of John Newton Volume 1

Works of John NewtonNew Edition – The Works of John Newton: Volume 1. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 636 pp. 4-Volume set – $150.00 Purchase the entire set from The Banner of Truth Trust for much less.

Introduction

You can read the review of Volume 2 here. You can read the review of Volume 3 here. You can read the review of volume 4 here.

From the dust jacket:

When John Newton, ex-sea captain and, as yet, unsuccessful candidate for the Church of England ministry, finished his first book (an autobiography) in 1762 there was no ready publisher. Any thought that he was destined to become one of the best known authors of his age would have been as fantastic as the last 37 years of his life. But in both cases the improbable came about. Becoming curate of Olney, a small village in the south of England, in 1764, Newton there laid his reputation as an evangelical writer, pre-eminently by his published letters and by the Olney Hymns (including ‘How Great the Name of Jesus Sounds, ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘Amazing grace’). Before the end of his subsequent pastorate at St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807), his writings were prized around the world from America to Australia.

Newton has a firm place in the classics of Christian literature. While his style is strong and clear, it is the spiritual attractiveness and importance of his main themes which secure the permanent value of his writings. Most of his books came, unpremeditated, out of a need to help his congregation or individual hearers, and it is in practical helpfulness towards Christian living that he excels. If he is loved rather than admired, it is for this reason. Conformity to Christ is the one subject upon which his themes finally focus (‘It will not be a burden to me at the hour of death that I have thought too highly of Jesus, expected too much from Him myself, or laboured too much in commending and setting Him forth to others’). Not surprisingly, Alexander Whyte could write, ‘For myself, I keep John Newton on my selectest shelf of spiritual books: by far the best kind of books in the whole world of books.’

The text of this new four-volume edition of The Works of John Newton has been entirely reformatted, producing a clear and easily navigable set of documents for today’s reader.

Summary

This first volume is comprised of some 165 letters written by John Newton. These letters are grouped according to subject matter. The first 14 letters are more biographical in nature while the next 41 all deal with various subjects that are religious in nature.  While the final 110 letters are simply correspondence with a number of different people that offers a look at the thinking of John Newton in various circumstances.

Many of the letters have a short introduction in order to help the reader understand the greater context of the letter.

Review

We have lost the art of writing a letter. That is what I learned from reading through this volume of Newton’s Works. Many biographies abound concerning John Newton which are drawn from many of these letters, I am sure. To read his own writings, however, elevates the biographical information to whole new level.

Through these letters, we see the heart of a pastor to be sure. More importantly, we catch a glimpse of just how amazing the grace was that saved a wretch like John. To read these letters is to be taken to a depth of pastoral concern and care that is sadly missing in today’s age of text messages and blogs. There is depth to theology and an obvious care for the love of those who are pilgrims in this life.

These letters would serve as a phenomenal daily read which would most certainly aid today’s Christian to navigate the stormy sea that never seems to abate.

Recommendation

While I cannot find the individual volumes on sale at this time, nor can I find these works available on Kindle, I can say that this first volume is so rich with pastoral care and biblical theology that every Christian would do well to read it. I highly recommend this particular volume to all and look forward to reviewing the next three.

Preparation for Ministry by Allan Harman

Preparation for MinistryHarman, Allan. Preparation for Ministry. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 124 pp. $9.00. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Allan Macdonald Harman is Research Professor of Old Testament, Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne, Australia. Born in Lismore, New South Wales in 1936, he attended Taree High School and the University of Sydney (BA, 1957), before studying overseas at the Free Church College, Edinburgh, the University of Edinburgh (BD, 1960; MLitt, 1974) and at Westminster Theological Seminary (ThM, 1961; ThD 1968).

After his initial theological training, he returned to Australia to pastor Geelong Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia, to which he was ordained and inducted in March 1962.

After doctoral studies at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (1964-66), Allan began his long career as a Professor of Old Testament, first at the Free Church of Scotland College in Edinburgh (1966-74), and then back in his native Australia at the Reformed Theological College, Geelong (1974-77). While at the RTC he taught part-time in the newly re-started theological education programme of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, following the departure of all of the previous faculty when the Uniting Church came into existence in 1977. This led to his appointment as a professor at the Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne, serving there from 1978 until his retirement in 2001. He was the Principal at PTC from 1982 until 2001, and maintains the connection with it as a Research Professor. His work in theological education was recognised by the award of an honorary doctorate (ThD) from the Australian College of Theology in 2003.

You can purchase a number of his books and commentaries here.

Summary

An extremely short work, this introduction to the subject of the calling to pastoral ministry is concise. Beginning with the necessity of coming to faith in Christ, Allan next looks at the call to the ministry and the importance of theological and pre-theological study.

He concludes the body of the book with commentary on early ministry expectations and how to stay fresh in ministry. Finally, he offers a small bibliography of recommended reading as well as four appendices meant to help the aspiring pastor to consider further the calling he believes God has on his life.

Review

I have read many of these types of books and yet I wish I had read this one over and above the rest. Harmon is not too wordy and he is does not sugar coat the importance of the calling or the lifestyle demanded by the calling. Furthermore, he writes with great understanding and experience after having trained numerous men in various academic settings since 1966.

You can easily read this book in less than an hour if you read only the body of the book. I would highly recommend, however, that these be read along with the contents of the book.

Recommendation

If you are considering the ministry, this book is a must read. Its size is such that it will be a resource you will refer to over and over again early in your ministry and one you will want to have on hand to give to other aspiring young ministers.

The Works of John Flavel Volume 6

Works of FlavelFlavel, John. The Works in Six Volumes. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 568 pp. Purchase all 6 volumes at Westminster Books or Kindle for less.

Introduction

I reviewed Volume 1 here, and Volume 2 here, Volume 3 here, Volume 4 here, and Volume 6 here.

You can read all my reviews on books by John Flavel.

The following is adapted from an article written by Iain Murray in The Banner of Truth in 1968.

The eldest son of the Rev. Richard Flavel, John Flavel was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, about 1628, and thus spent his childhood in the stormy years which led up to the Civil War in 1642. In 1650, he entered the ministry.

Flavel’s life and work was carried on in the county of Devon, first in the country parish of Diptford and from 1656 in the thriving sea-port of Dartmouth. Through the last years of the Protectorate and until that August day in 1662 when about 120 ministers in Devon and approaching 1,800 in England as a whole were turned out of their livings for failing to comply with the terms of the Act of Uniformity, Flavel preached every week at Townstall, the mother-church which stood on the hill outside the town, and fortnightly at the Wednesday Lecture in Dartmouth.

Thereafter he took his place in the suffering ranks of the nonconformists and had a full share of the persecution which with greater or less intensity, and short intermissions, was to continue until James II fled the country in 1688.

Taking advantage of the Indulgence given by Charles II in 1672 (for which he and 163 of his congregation wrote an address of thanks to the King) Flavel obtained licence for a Nonconformist meeting-house in the town, and, when this was withdrawn, he stayed at his post until the summer of 1682 when his person was in such danger that he took ship to London on July 10.

While visiting Exeter in order to preach he died suddenly of a massive stroke on June 26, 1691, in his 64th year.

Summary

Volume 6 is the final volume in the Works of John Flavel. There are twelve different writings included in this volume. The most recognizable may be the Preparation for Suffering. Other notable writings are his Balm of the Covenant Applied to the Bleeding Wounds of Afflicted Saints and The Reasonableness of Personal Reformation and the Necessity of Conversion.

Included in this volume is a complete index of both texts and subjects for the entire collection.

Review

While this may be one of the least recognizable volumes in the entire set, there is complete gold to be found in these pages. His writing entitled Twelve Meditations helps the reader to understand the importance of the Lord’s Supper. All of these meditations are rooted in Scripture and are meant to draw the reader closer to the Lord through intentional communion with Him before partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

For my friends who hold to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Flavel’s commentary can be found here. Again, pure gold even if you simply read through his writings on this time honored catechism.

As a pastor, I appreciated his Character of an Evangelical Pastor Drawn by Christ as there is much food for thought to be found. Further, in this day and age of social media coupled with our increasing lack of transparency, Flavel will open the pastor’s eyes to the need of holiness.

Recommendation

In its own right, this volume is worth reading for it’s meditative qualities and pure devotion to Christ. Though it may be one of the least recognizable of the six volumes, it does contain much to consider for today’s Christian. I recommend it to all. At the very least, you can purchase it on Kindle (as many have already) and peruse it at your convenience.

The Works of John Flavel Volume 5

Works of FlavelFlavel, John. The Works in Six Volumes. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 568 pp. Purchase all 6 volumes at Westminster Books or Kindle for less.

Introduction

I reviewed Volume 1 here and Volume 2 here Volume 3 here and Volume 4 here.

You can read all my reviews on books by John Flavel.

The following is adapted from an article written by Iain Murray in The Banner of Truth in 1968.

The eldest son of the Rev. Richard Flavel, John Flavel was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, about 1628, and thus spent his childhood in the stormy years which led up to the Civil War in 1642. In 1650, he entered the ministry.

Flavel’s life and work was carried on in the county of Devon, first in the country parish of Diptford and from 1656 in the thriving sea-port of Dartmouth. Through the last years of the Protectorate and until that August day in 1662 when about 120 ministers in Devon and approaching 1,800 in England as a whole were turned out of their livings for failing to comply with the terms of the Act of Uniformity, Flavel preached every week at Townstall, the mother-church which stood on the hill outside the town, and fortnightly at the Wednesday Lecture in Dartmouth.

Thereafter he took his place in the suffering ranks of the nonconformists and had a full share of the persecution which with greater or less intensity, and short intermissions, was to continue until James II fled the country in 1688.

Taking advantage of the Indulgence given by Charles II in 1672 (for which he and 163 of his congregation wrote an address of thanks to the King) Flavel obtained licence for a Nonconformist meeting-house in the town, and, when this was withdrawn, he stayed at his post until the summer of 1682 when his person was in such danger that he took ship to London on July 10.

While visiting Exeter in order to preach he died suddenly of a massive stroke on June 26, 1691, in his 64th year.

Summary

The particular volume offers much in the way of practical theology for today. Of note in this fifth volume is A Caution to Seaman: A Dissuasive against Several Horrid and Destable Sins. I draw attention to this particular sermon because The Banner of Truth has featured three aspects in their Pocket Puritans SeriesBinge Drinking, Impure Lust, and Sinful Speech.

Also of note is Flavel’s treatise on the heavenly use of earthly things. As I write this, there is a firestorm over the use of coffee cups with or without snowflakes and other secular images of Christmas. Flavel would have gone berserk over this as he instructs Christians of his day, and ours, that we ought to seek to redeem the worldly goods we use rather than draw negative attention to them.

Further sermons include a look at how a Christian should be at work in this world. That is followed up with a look at whether or not a person claiming to be a Christian is a genuine believer or a hypocrite. The final sermon is entitled A Token for Mourners.

Review

Of the five volumes I have now reviewed (including this one), volume 5 may be the most practical and useful today. In our world of consumerism, Flavel knocks it out of the park with his sermon on the heavenly use of earthly things.

His ministry to the seamen of his day is very much needed in our modern, anything goes age of secularism. Yet another practical need is his look at Christians. So many who claim to be Christian today are shallow and immature at best and deceived at worst. Reading Flavel would help to rectify this problem in the lives of many and in the church at large.

I genuinely cannot get enough of John Flavel as his ministry is extremely practical for his day and for ours. I believe reading Flavel would be an antidote to the common Christian today.

Recommendation

I must confess that this is my second favorite volume in the Works of John Flavel. I heartily recommend this volume to all Christians and pastors. I believe that if more Christians today read John Flavel, we would see a genuine revival in our churches that floods the world with hope from a genuine gospel call of repentance and trust in Christ.

The Church of Christ by James Bannerman

The Church of ChristBannerman, James. The Church of Christ. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 1040 pp. $50.00. Purchase at Westminster for less. You can also get a scanned digital copy on Kindle for only $0.99.

Introduction

James Bannerman (1807-1868) was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland. He also served as Professor of Apologetics and Pastoral Theology at New College, Edinburgh. This work is his magnum opus and its full title is The Church of Christ: a treatise on the nature, powers, ordinances, discipline, and government of the Christian church.

Summary

From the dust jacket:

The New Testament places the church at the centre of its practical vision of the Christian life and at the heart of the Great Commission. A church-less Christianity is no real Christianity at all.

As we head into a world very similar to Paul’s own context, in which pluralism dominates and Christianity is regarded with intellectual and moral suspicion, it is vital that Christians have a clear understanding of what the church actually is.

James Bannerman’s The Church of Christ is one of the key historic texts of the doctrine of the church. Few will agree with everything the author has to say, but as Carl Trueman states in his foreword, ‘the great thing about the book is that it will stimulate the reader to reflect on the nature of the church in a profoundly biblical and historically sensitive way’.

After dealing with basic principles and distinctions, such as the contrast between the visible and invisible church, and between the local and universal church, Bannerman takes up the important and far-reaching question of the relation between church and state. But the body of the work is really a treatise on church power—the nature, limits and exercise of Christ’s power in the church in its connexional and local aspects. In what does the ordained ministry consist? Should the church micro-manage the lives of her members? To what extent should the church campaign for wider political or social causes? Is the church to be an agent for the transformation of society as a whole? What tools does the church have for making disciples and, if necessary, disciplining them? Answers to these questions can only come from a correct understanding of the nature of the church’s power.

Although Presbyterian in conviction, the author has undertaken a ‘comparative’ study of the various classic positions on each issue under consideration as these are expressed in the confessional symbols and standard authors. It is this method which makes the book so useful for all serious-minded readers. The appendix also contains valuable bibliographical material.

This is classic Scottish theology at its best, and those who take the time to digest it will be richly rewarded.

Review

I shared what was on the dust jacket because quite honestly, this book is daunting to pick up let alone purchase. I must confess that I have skimmed a majority of the book and have been already blessed in what I have skimmed. The first part is a historical sketch of the nature of the church and how its existence is defined in Scripture. His discussion on church and state relations is much needed today for the Christian to seriously consider.

The second part describes the power of the church and again offers much thought for the pastor and congregation member to think through in regards to the authority of the local church. He painstakingly explains that the power is not in an office or membership but in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the head of the church.

The final two parts offer explanations of how church power is to be exercised and who is to exercise the power.

As stated above, you are not going to agree with everything. As a Southern Baptist, I was challenged on many interpretations of Scripture and obviously disagreed with much in the way of church government and even the qualifications of church membership. That being said, this was both a challenge to read (obviously) and a joy to read (skim).

There is much to consider in these pages. Bannerman, back in the 19th century, offers modern day Christians a resource for which to reconsider the church’s role in society at large as well as the life of the believer. In this day and age where the church is losing ground statistically and influentially all of over the world, Bannerman submits that we have done this to ourselves and if we are to recapture the glory of the church as a beacon of light in a lost world, we must once again think of the church as the necessary means by which God is going to bless the world.

Recommendation

This book is not for everyone. If you love the church and love history, I cannot recommend it highly enough. You can purchase it on Kindle for less than a dollar, but I believe this will be a book that you will want to own as a hardback as it could very well be a resource you refer to time and again as you seek to reclaim the authority of the church in an ever changing world. Pastor, you will want to seriously consider purchasing a copy for your library.

The Works of John Flavel Volume 4

Works of FlavelFlavel, John. The Works in Six Volumes. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 568 pp. Purchase all 6 volumes at Westminster Books or Kindle for less.

Introduction

I reviewed Volume 1 here and Volume 2 here and Volume 3 here.

You can read all my reviews on books by John Flavel.

The following is adapted from an article written by Iain Murray in The Banner of Truth in 1968.

The eldest son of the Rev. Richard Flavel, John Flavel was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, about 1628, and thus spent his childhood in the stormy years which led up to the Civil War in 1642. In 1650, he entered the ministry.

Flavel’s life and work was carried on in the county of Devon, first in the country parish of Diptford and from 1656 in the thriving sea-port of Dartmouth. Through the last years of the Protectorate and until that August day in 1662 when about 120 ministers in Devon and approaching 1,800 in England as a whole were turned out of their livings for failing to comply with the terms of the Act of Uniformity, Flavel preached every week at Townstall, the mother-church which stood on the hill outside the town, and fortnightly at the Wednesday Lecture in Dartmouth.

Thereafter he took his place in the suffering ranks of the nonconformists and had a full share of the persecution which with greater or less intensity, and short intermissions, was to continue until James II fled the country in 1688.

Taking advantage of the Indulgence given by Charles II in 1672 (for which he and 163 of his congregation wrote an address of thanks to the King) Flavel obtained licence for a Nonconformist meeting-house in the town, and, when this was withdrawn, he stayed at his post until the summer of 1682 when his person was in such danger that he took ship to London on July 10.

While visiting Exeter in order to preach he died suddenly of a massive stroke on June 26, 1691, in his 64th year.

Summary

As I continue to look at each volume in the six-volume Works of John Flavel, I am discovering a dearth of sermons and practical knowledge that will benefit every Christian.

Volume four is a compilation of sermons geared toward the various duties of the Christian in the late 17th century as well as a work of deep theology. Most of this volume, however, looks at the practical theology that every Christian needs to  live a life of holiness.

For many, the draw of this volume will be the treatise we know as the Mystery of Providence. For the evangelists among us, there is great hope found in the “Narrative of some late and wonderful sea deliverances.” Yet another practical treatise is that of “A serious and seasonable caveat to all the saints in this hour of temptation.”

Review

As I stated above, The Mystery of Providence will be the draw for many, but that is only the beginning to the deep riches of this particular book. To read of how the kingdom of God advanced in the late 1700’s through diligent preaching and teaching and evangelizing is encouraging for the modern reader. While the culture may always be changing, we are able to see how the timeless truth of the message of the gospel continues to impact souls.

It is important to note that the sea-faring peoples were a fairly rough and tumble crowd not unlike the LGBQT crowd of today. I say this as a reminder that Flavel ministered and preached in as similar circumstances as what we experience if not worse than today.

Flavel’s writings will challenge our modern Christianity as one that is a mile wide and an inch deep. Of course, I am speaking in general terms and I am aware that those who quite honestly need to read this work will not. That being said, those who will read this volume need to be ready to share what they have read with others.

Recommendation

As with all of the previous volumes, I recommend this one as well. And being able to purchase this set on Kindle for a few bucks means that you have no excuse to read such fine quality theology. To be able to drink from the well of Flavel’s piety and mind is a joy for the modern Christian.

The Works of John Flavel Volume 3

Works of FlavelFlavel, John. The Works in Six Volumes. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 568 pp. Purchase all 6 volumes at Westminster Books or Kindle for less.

Introduction

I reviewed Volume 1 here and Volume 2 here.

The following is adapted from an article written by Iain Murray in The Banner of Truth in 1968.

The eldest son of the Rev. Richard Flavel, John Flavel was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, about 1628, and thus spent his childhood in the stormy years which led up to the Civil War in 1642. In 1650, he entered the ministry.

Flavel’s life and work was carried on in the county of Devon, first in the country parish of Diptford and from 1656 in the thriving sea-port of Dartmouth. Through the last years of the Protectorate and until that August day in 1662 when about 120 ministers in Devon and approaching 1,800 in England as a whole were turned out of their livings for failing to comply with the terms of the Act of Uniformity, Flavel preached every week at Townstall, the mother-church which stood on the hill outside the town, and fortnightly at the Wednesday Lecture in Dartmouth.

Thereafter he took his place in the suffering ranks of the nonconformists and had a full share of the persecution which with greater or less intensity, and short intermissions, was to continue until James II fled the country in 1688.

Taking advantage of the Indulgence given by Charles II in 1672 (for which he and 163 of his congregation wrote an address of thanks to the King) Flavel obtained licence for a Nonconformist meeting-house in the town, and, when this was withdrawn, he stayed at his post until the summer of 1682 when his person was in such danger that he took ship to London on July 10.

While visiting Exeter in order to preach he died suddenly of a massive stroke on June 26, 1691, in his 64th year.

Summary

Volume 3 continues the Treatise of the Soul of Man and then begins what I call the practical theology of John Flavel. He has a treatise on fear which is less than 100 pages (and would make an excellent Pocket Puritan edition). This is a much needed discussion point today with the proliferation of around the clock news and social media.

That treatise is followed by The Righteous Man’s Refuge. He springs from Isaiah 26:20, “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by” (ESV).

The third complete treatise is a look at mental errors which again seems appropriate in this day and age of frank discussion on the rise of anti-denominations and the churches fleeing orthodoxy on account of the culture. He concludes with a call for unity in the church of Christ.

Review

I am quickly coming to the conclusion that the world needs Flavel. Christendom needs Flavel. While his writing style may be antiquated for some, his content is timeless.  This volume, as mentioned above, begins to allow the reader to engage in the practical, everyday theology of John Flavel and how it must impact the Christian .

Furthermore, reading Flavel will cause the Christian to pause and reflect on how they engage the culture when it comes to fear. His final two treatises look at the need for unity in the church. Sadly, this may be more needed than the fight against fear. That being said, his words are sound and directed right at the soul.

Recommendation

Again, I can highly recommend Flavel to all Christians. His theology is sound and well-reasoned. This third volume is appropriate for a generation living in fear and disunity. You would do well to pick it up and read.

The Works of John Flavel Volume 2

Works of FlavelFlavel, John. The Works in Six Volumes. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2015. 568 pp. Purchase all 6 volumes at Westminster Books or Kindle for less.

Introduction

I reviewed Volume 1 here.

The following is adapted from an article written by Iain Murray in The Banner of Truth in 1968.

The eldest son of the Rev. Richard Flavel, John Flavel was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, about 1628, and thus spent his childhood in the stormy years which led up to the Civil War in 1642. In 1650, he entered the ministry.

Flavel’s life and work was carried on in the county of Devon, first in the country parish of Diptford and from 1656 in the thriving sea-port of Dartmouth. Through the last years of the Protectorate and until that August day in 1662 when about 120 ministers in Devon and approaching 1,800 in England as a whole were turned out of their livings for failing to comply with the terms of the Act of Uniformity, Flavel preached every week at Townstall, the mother-church which stood on the hill outside the town, and fortnightly at the Wednesday Lecture in Dartmouth.

Thereafter he took his place in the suffering ranks of the nonconformists and had a full share of the persecution which with greater or less intensity, and short intermissions, was to continue until James II fled the country in 1688.

Taking advantage of the Indulgence given by Charles II in 1672 (for which he and 163 of his congregation wrote an address of thanks to the King) Flavel obtained licence for a Nonconformist meeting-house in the town, and, when this was withdrawn, he stayed at his post until the summer of 1682 when his person was in such danger that he took ship to London on July 10.

While visiting Exeter in order to preach he died suddenly of a massive stroke on June 26, 1691, in his 64th year.

Summary

This volume consists of only two selections of writings of John Flavel: The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption and Pneumatologia: A Treatise of the Soul of Man. The first work comprises roughly 4/5 of this second volume.

For those that are not familiar with “pneumatologia,” it is either a study of the interaction of humans with God or of the Holy Spirit. In this case, Flavel is discussing the importance of understanding the nature of the soul of man and the newness of the new birth as we continue in this old world as a new creation.

Review

To read The Method of Grace is to read the theological understanding of the importance of being the spoken means by which the sinner becomes a saint. Flavel, in fine Puritan fashion, looks first at how the redemption of man is applied to us today. His section on motives to draw sinners to Christ is one that ought to be read by every Christian today.

The fourth section of The Method is also one in which all pastors and Christian ought to become intimate with. Here, he talks of that which “ordinarily precedes” one’s coming to Christ. Again, he looks at many different angles and helps the reader to really engage the subject and to meditate on the importance of what must be known before salvation. In other words, a person must first be lost before they can be saved.

Recommendation

Flavel needs to be read today. The Banner of Truth Trust has done a great service to all Christianity with this republication. This second volume will greatly aid the Christian in sharing his faith by showing him or her the right motives and the necessity of showing the reason for salvation being rooted in God’s holiness.