Tag Archives: The Banner of Truth Trust

Polycarp of Smyrna by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Ferguson, Sinclair B. Polycarp of Smyrna: The Man Whose Faith Lasted. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2010. 42 pp. $14.00. Purchase at Westminster for $9.80.

Introduction/Summary

Sinclair Ferguson is well known in Reformed circles. He is a noted author and speaker and is now working on helping parents pour a solid foundation of early church history through the children’s series, Heroes of the Faith.

Polycarp is the “linchpin” of the first three books in the series. He connects Ignatius to Ireneaus and also goes back to when the Apostle John was still alive as did Ignatius. The children will learn that he was burned at the stake for his faith in Christ. This is important as all too often today we are told that the Christian life is one of ease and comfort. The life of Polycarp will prove that to be false.

At the end of this short little book, as with the rest of the books in the series, Ferguson offers a one page bio that helps to summarize the book. He includes a helpful timeline that spells out, I believe, the titles forthcoming in the series. The last word of exhortation from the author concerns itself with the use of the word heroes and the child’s propensity to have heroes.

Review

Reading about Polycarp, in the Heroes of Faith series, should be done after reading about Irenaeus and Ignatius as he does bring those two lives together. What is more, the early life of the church, post apostolic age, really comes to life in these children’s books. There is much learned without the child even realizing what is being learned!

Recommendation

Once again, Sinclair Ferguson delivers in his work. This time, he offers a simple and concise biography of one of those who are in that great cloud of witnesses that has gone before us. His work will be appreciated by the adults and the children will find themselves wanting to read more about these heroes whose faith is in Christ. I praise the Lord for the gift of writing that has been given to Sinclair Ferguson.

Irenaeus of Lyons by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Ferguson, Sinclair B. Irenaeus of Lyons: The Man who Wrote Books. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2010. 42 pp.$14.00.  Purchase at Westminster for $9.80.

Introduction

Sinclair Ferguson is well known in Reformed circles. He is a noted author and speaker and is now working toward helping parents pour a solid foundation of early church history through the children’s series, Heroes of the Faith.

Summary

Irenaeus looks quickly at the life of one of the early apologists for the Christian faith. Over the course of 40 short pages, the reader (both child and adult) will be introduced to the central role Irenaeus had in defending the faith against heresy. Specifically, Irenaeus sought to establish the truth of Genesis 1-3 as the foundation for the necessity of Christ.

At the end of this short little book, Ferguson offers a one page bio that helps to summarize the book. He includes a helpful timeline that spells out, I believe, the titles forthcoming in the series. The last word of exhortation from the author concerns itself with the use of the word heroes and the child’s propensity to have heroes.

Review

The colorful pictures help the children to remain engaged to the story. The large print helps the child learning to read continue to read. The adult reading the book will find that in 20 minutes or less, you can introduce children to truly some of the greatest heroes this world has ever known. Ferguson keeps the story of Irenaeus short, sweet, and to the point. In the end, your child will want to reread this book numerous times.

Recommendation

I am so thankful to these children’s books that continue to pour forth from publishers. In a day and age when all our children want is to be entertained mindlessly, we are being presented with resources that will engage the children. The Heroes of Faith series promises to be a wonderful series that you will certainly want to invest in both with your money and your time.

A Guide to Christian Living by John Calvin

Calvin, John.  A Guide to Christian Living.  Edinburgh:  The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009.  152 pp.  $16.00.  Purchase at Westminster for $11.20.

Introduction

Extracted from Calvin’s larger, Institutes, Banner of Truth has offered a gift edition of the last chapter entitled, ” On the Christian Life.”  While written in the 1500’s, Calvin’s thoughts very much apply to us today.

Summary

Calvin lays the foundation for Christian living according to Scripture in the first chapter.  From there it gets rough…if you are not a believer!  The second chapter looks at the importance of denying the self if one really wants to live the Christian life.

Chapter three instructs the reader to live under the cross.  This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.  Finally, we see in the last two chapters the glory that awaits us in the life to come juxtaposed with the blessings that are to be found in this present life.

Review

As I stated above, this book is very much a profitable book to read today.  There is nothing controversial about this book insofar as Calvin is known for controversial doctrines.  Rather, this book is simply an exhortation to the Christian to live a life worthy of your salvation and calling.

Recommendation

This “gift book” makes a perfect…ahem…gift for the new believer.  It also makes an excellent gift to the “seasoned” Christian.  The chapter on the glory of the life to come will be a pleasant and sweet balm to the soul of any believer.  Purchase copies to give to your family and friends.  If you are on staff at a church, I would highly recommend giving a copy away to those who call upon the name of the Lord for salvation.

The Jerusalem Sinner Saved by John Bunyan

Bunyan, John.  The Jerusalem Sinner Saved or, Good News for the Vilest of Men.  Edinburgh:  Banner of Truth Trust, 2005.  128 pp.  $10.00.  Purchase at Westminster for $7.00.

Introduction

Do you struggle with loving the person next to you?  Do you ever think that so-and-so cannot possibly be saved by Christ?  Reading The Jerusalem Sinner Saved will change your heart for those around you who you think cannot possibly be saved.  You can read reviews of more of John Bunyan’s works here.

Summary

John Bunyan looks at the importance of Christ’s commission for the disciples found in Luke 24:47, here the Lord tells them that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached to all the nations beginning at Jerusalem.

In showing that those in Jerusalem were to first be exhorted with the gospel, Bunyan explains that this shows the greatest of mercies by Jesus Christ.  This is so because it was the Jerusalem sinner that crucified Christ.  It was the Jerusalem sinner that mocked Christ.  It was the Jerusalem sinner that ultimately rejected Christ while here on earth.

By preaching first to the Jerusalem sinner, Christ is showing that there is no one having ever sinned so much or so bad that they are beyond salvation.  The only person beyond salvation is the one who has lived a complete life as an unrepentant sinner.  That is, the one who has died in his sin is the only one incapable of being saved.

Review

I was constantly humbled to see the grace and mercy extended by Christ to the worst of sinners.  While most believers I know will say they are (rightly) the worst sinner they know, Bunyan shows us how Christ viewed the absolute worst of sinners in His day–those who executed Him.

Bunyan, in fine Puritanical exposition, takes three English words, “Beginning at Jerusalem,” from Luke 24:47 and expounds upon it in such detail that the reader closes the book time and again asking to have this same heart for the sinner next door.

Recommendation

If you struggle with sharing the gospel, The Jerusalem Sinner Saved is the book for you.  If you know someone who makes the claim that they have done too much to be saved, then you need to read this book.  You will be better equipped to show the great grace and mercy that Christ has bestowed upon us!  To read Bunyan is to be exhorted practical Christian walk.

United We Stand by Thomas Brooks

Brooks, Thomas.  United We Stand.  Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009.  64 pp.  $6.00.  Purchase at Westminster Books for $4.20.

Introduction

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680), was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1640 while serving as a naval chaplain for seven years. became minister at the church of St. Thomas the Apostle, Queen Street, London (1648-1651). He was often called to preach before Parliament. In 1652, he became rector of St. Margaret’s, New Fish Street Hill, which was the first church that burned to the ground in the Great Fire of London (1666). You can purchase his various books (all reprinted by Banner of Truth) at a discounted price here.

Summary

This little 64 page book from the Pocket Puritan Series being published by Banner of Truth is taken from his larger work Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices. Here, we read of 12 remedies against one of Satan’s most evident devices to destroy the church–division. All over the Christian landscape we see division within the body. This camp argues for a more conservative understanding of man’s choice and God’s sovereignty, that camp thinks drums ought to be used in worship, this camp over here thinks the carpet should be blue and not red.

It is abundantly clear that the Christian church needs to come together and be united so that Satan will not be able to prevail against those individuals that he has. These 12 remedies (read it to find them out) are rooted in Scripture and most certainly apply to us today.

Review/Recommendation

This little booklet will only whet the appetite of the reader. Once the clear teaching and application of God’s word from a divine like Boston is understood, the reader will want to drink further from his well. United We Stand offers a brief look at the strategies of Satan and the means by which God has offered us to stand against him as a body with Christ as our head.

I would greatly recommend this resource to any pastor or church leader who 1) wants to prevent Satan from sneaking into the church through the means of division or 2) has experienced a recent division in a church and wants to better equip the saints to avoid another one. This 64 page book makes a great study for church leadership or Sunday School or even in the home.

A Puritan Golden Treasury by I.D.E. Thomas

Thomas, I.D.E.  A Puritan Golden Treasury.  Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.  322 pp. $12.00.  Purchase at Westminster Books for $8.40.

Introduction

Isaac David Ellis Thomas was minister of Zion Baptist Church in Llanelli, Wales before conducting preaching-missions work in Europe, Canada and the United States.  Since finishing that work, he has moved to the United States where he has served as a minister at First Baptist Church in Maywood, California.  He also serves as a chancellor of a seminary in California while having established seminaries in the Far East.

Summary

A Puritan Golden Treasury is a compilation of some 1,500 quotes from the 17th century men known as the Puritans.  The purpose of this book is to introduce to the modern reader, the wide array of available literature from the pens of these great saints from yesteryear. The Puritans are generally characterized by:

  1. A Calvinistic Theology (sovereignty of God)
  2. Supreme authority of Scripture
  3. The importance of preaching as a means of grace
  4. a desire for church purity
  5. strict morality (in a much needed way today)
  6. advocacy of civil liberty

This book of choice quotes is arranged topically in alphabetical order.  Thomas starts with Adoption and ends with Worship.  He selects only quotes from the English Puritans; thus, men like Jonathan Edwards is not in this book though he is generally considered a Puritan.

Recommendation

If you are a pastor, a student, or a lover of sound theology, then you need this book.  Many pastors like to find choice quotes to sprinkle throughout their sermons.  This will be a lasting resource for that!  As a student, you will find that the Puritans probably discussed many of the topics that you will write about in your papers.  As a Christian in general, you will be introduced to some men, though dead, still speak to us today.

I confess I have had this book for some time and have not really cracked it until last week.  Once I did, I couldn’t put it down!  There is a quote for just about everything.  I was amazed at the breadth and depth of these men as I read page after page.  I highly recommend that you pick up a copy today and chase the rabbit down the hole as far as it will go.  You will not be disappointed by the universe you discover.

All Things for Good by Thomas Watson

Watson, Thomas. All Things for Good. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1986. 127 pp. $8.00. Purchase at Westminster for $4.80. Was titled A Divine Cordial when originally published in 1663.

Introduction

Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686) was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. In 1646 he was commenced a sixteen year pastorate at St. Stephen’s Walbrook. In 1651 he was imprisoned briefly with some other ministers for his share in Christopher Love’s plot to recall Charles II. He was released on 30 June 1652, and was formally reinstated vicar of St. Stephen’s Walbrook. Upon the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 he obtained a license for the great hall in Crosby House. After preaching there for several years, his health gave way, and he retired to Barnston in Essex, where he died suddenly while praying in secret. He was buried on 28 July 1686.

You can read more about Thomas Watson here.

Summary

All Things for Good is Thomas Watson’s treatise on Romans 8:28,

We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Chapter one details how the best things work for the good of the godly. Watson looks at the attributes, promises, and mercies of God. He also discusses the intercession of Christ (a doctrine I fear is not discussed often enough today) and the prayers of the saints.

The second chapter next looks at how the worst things work for the good of the godly. Here, Watson shows how the evils of affliction, desertion, sin, and temptation actually work for the benefit of the saint. Again, something that is not thought much of today.

In what could be described as the second part of the book, we read of God’s love. Chapter four looks at the nature, ground, properties, and degrees of God’s love while the fifth chapter looks at the tests of God’s love. Chapter six concludes with the author’s exhortation to love God more than anything.

The final section, again my description, is a discussion on God’s effectual calling. In chapter seven Watson lays before the reader the sinner’s condition before being called and the means by which God calls the sinner unto repentance. The eight chapter consists of more exhortations to the saint who has been called by God while chapter nine is a short, three-page treatise on the meaning of God’s purpose–our assurance of salvation.

Review/Recommendation

To read a 127 page book on one verse in the Bible is like taking honey as medicine and its having the desired healing effects on the body. The book is a bit dated as evidenced by the talk of using leeches to suck out “the bad blood” in the body, but the eternal truths are still the same. Truth be told, every Christian would do well to read this book. I read this book at a time in my life when I really needed these truths expounded to my heart and soul.

Yes, he talks of the doctrines of Grace. Yes, that will make some upset. No, he is not argumentative. What Watson does do is point the reader to the Bible as our basis of understanding what is going on in our lives. The wonderful truth that all things work for the good of those who are called and love God is, in the words of Thomas Watson, “A sovereign elixir of unspeakable comfort.” I would highly recommend you purchase this book for yourself. Since it is only $4.80 at Westminster, purchase some for giveaway. You certainly know someone who could use this book.

My God is True! by Paul D. Wolfe

Wolfe, Paul D. My God is True! Lessons Learned Along Cancer’s Dark Road. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009. 150 pp. $15.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for $10.50.

Introduction

One might ask who Paul Wolfe is and why is he writing a book published by Banner of Truth. He certainly is not a name many are going to recognize right away, but I believe that will change with the publication of this book. Paul Wolfe, like so many others, is a cancer survivor. My God is True! is his journal of what he learned by the grace of God through his bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He currently serves as Associate Pastor of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, VA.

Review

Written as a three act play, Wolfe describes the discovery, treatment, and ultimate eradication of the cancer cells in his body. Coinciding with each “act” is a part of the book consisting of three chapters. The first chapter of each part is Paul’s progress in life–what he was experiencing at a particular time in his journey. The second chapter of each part consists of his own questions and how he wrestled with God at various times with God teaching him major life and theological lessons. The third chapter to each section is more like an exhortation to the reader to “learn from my ordeals” (my words not his).

His first lesson learned was the sovereignty of God and the accountability of man. He says he begins with this lesson because it was the sweetest lesson to learn. To know that his God brought about the cancer for His glory and Paul’s growth was a source of hope. Yes, he is aware that this is a hotly debated topic, but he puts it quite succinctly, “When it comes to cancer, our consideration of sovereignty cannot wait. The truth of God’s good and purposeful rule cannot be consigned to an appendix” (28).

The last lesson he shares as he reflects on his eleven month journey “along cancer’s dark road” is that of being heavenly-minded. He readily admits that this is difficult to do all of the time, but he also shows how God uses everything in your life to conform you into His Son, Jesus Christ, but to also cause your gaze to go heavenward. I share only these two lessons of the many lessons he shares because these are two lessons that most of us as Christians need to either be learned for ourselves or reminded of again.

Recommendation

I wrote in the front cover of the book that Paul writes of the gravity and weight of God’s glory found in cancer mixed with the humor of man. What I mean by that statement is that Paul Wolfe strips away the academic theology of God’s sovereignty, man’s accountability, God’s goodness, man’s sinfulness, etc, and applies it to real life. When you are told you have cancer (by the grace of God, at this point in my life, I cannot relate to those words), you need to know that God is sovereign over your cancer and that it is working for your good even though in your finite understanding that is tainted by sin you cannot begin to comprehend how that is possible.

I think Alistair Begg’s blurb on the back of the book best sums up the recommendation. He writes in part, “My search is over for the one book to give to someone battling cancer.” I believe every pastor, elder, and deacon ought to read this book and be conversant with the lessons learned by Paul Wolfe which are rooted in Scripture, in order to be better prepared to minister to those who have been diagnosed with or are currently going through treatment for cancer.

Pocket Puritans by Banner of Truth

Banner of Truth (BoT) has once again served up some thick Puritan theology in bite-sized morsels. I previously reviewed Heaven by Jonathan Edwards, Anger Management by Richard Baxter, Living Faith by Samuel Ward, and Impure Lust by John Flavel. Now, BoT has blessed us with Repent and Believe by Thomas Brooks and Binge Drinking by John Flavel. Also in the series is The Loveliness of Christ by Samuel Rutherford (reviewed here) and Truth for All Time by John Calvin (review forthcoming).

As I did with the previous review of the Pocket Puritans, I would like to quote Sinclair Ferguson as to why these little books are worth your attention.

To read the work of a Puritan doctor of the soul is to enter a rich world of spiritual theology to feed the mind, heart-searching analysis to probe the conscience, Christ-centered grace to transform the heart, and wise counsel to direct the life. This series of Pocket Puritans provides all this in miniature, but also in abundance.

Repent and Believe by Thomas Brooks

This little 94 page book is a great asset to the pastor. There are days in the ministry when you wonder why people do not repent and believe. It is hard for us believers sometimes to understand why people do not turn to Christ.

Taken from the larger work, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, Brooks lays it all on the line for his readers. He offers six devices as to how Satan keeps the sinner from repentance and the various remedies to each device. Written in the 1600’s, Brooks’ remedies are still effective today. Every Christian will want to read this particular Pocket Puritan so that they may better understand why their family member or friend will not come to Christ.

You can read the entire book in a .pdf file here.

Binge Drinking by John Flavel

Adapted from A Caution to Seamen: A Dissuasive Against Several Horrid and Detestable Sins, one might think that this book is not needed as much today in Christendom. Perhaps the use of the word “binge” in the title may be off a bit, but after reading this short book, I believe it is more needed today than ever.

Flavel does not set out to argue a Christian cannot partake of alcohol as some would hope. Rather, he concedes, as is proper, that the Bible does not prohibit all use of alcohol, but instead prohibits drunkenness. He lists 10 reasons as to why one should not be drunkard or seek to become drunk while drinking. This little book, in my opinion, is one of the most cogent writings on what the Bible says about alcohol and why one should not become drunk with it. Also, since the book was also originally written in the 1600’s, it predates any political arguments found within Christianity today.

An added bonus in this particular Pocket Puritan is the short essay written by Charles H. Spurgeon entitled, He has a Hole in His Nose and His Money Runs Through it. It is short, but it is to the point and it furthers the arguments brought forth by Flavel.

Conclusion

I would once again highly recommend these books. For many, they say the Puritans are too difficult to read. That problem is solved with this series. The Pocket Puritans are definitely worth your time and money and make for an excellent introduction to the Puritans.

Book Reviews

The Pocket Puritans Series

Banner of Truth has done us a great service by publishing what they are calling the Pocket Puritans. On the back of every book they include this quote from Sinclair Ferguson that best introduces the series:

To read the work of a Puritan doctor of the soul is to enter a rich world of spiritual theology to feed the mind, heart-searching analysis to probe the conscience, Christ-centered grace to transform the heart, and wise counsel to direct the life. This series of Pocket Puritans provides all this in miniature, but also in abundance.

Continue reading The Pocket Puritans Series