DEAL: Puritan Theology

Joel Beeke and Mark Jones’ amazing book, “A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life” is currently available for only $4.99 (kindle format) at Westminster Bookstore. The hard copy sells for $45 (MSRP is $60), so this is a steal for an incredible wealth of theological insight. Click the image below for more information.

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More recommended titles:

SALE: The Pilgrim’s Progress

Crossway‘s 2009 edition of John Bunyan’s classic “The Pilgrim’s Progress” is now available for the excellent price of $15 at Westminster Bookstore. Even better, they’re throwing in a FREE copy of Leland Ryken’s “Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress” from the Christian Guides to the Classics series (valued at $5.99)!

For more on Bunyan and “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” please visit Chapel Library

Recommended reading:

Review: “Spiritual Warfare”

The latest book review from Cross Focused Reviews is the new title from Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura, “Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical & Balanced Perspective” (Reformation Heritage). As always, I appreciate the opportunity given to me by Cross Focused Media to review books… it is especially nice when they are titles I am looking forward to reading. There was a lot of momentum building up with the release of “Spiritual Warfare,” and by the grace of God, I’ve had the pleasure of reading it in order to provide my thoughts to prospective readers.

“Spiritual Warfare” is a short book (124 pages) that covers the biblical teaching of “The Armor of God” in Ephesians 6. The foreword is written by Steven Lawson, who, in my opinion, is one of the best expositors of our time. He rightly points out: “There are three  formidable foes with which we contend—the world, the flesh, and the devil.” (p. vii) This is the basic theme of the book, which authors Borgman and Ventura seek to unpack.

The introduction is a call for balance. The authors contend that the biblical approach to spiritual warfare is to avoid naturalism and over-spiritualizing. We are right to recognize the “supernatural” reality of things unseen, but this is an area of much theological confusion, fantasy, and even false teaching. But, as Christians, “have been delivered from Satan’s dominion through the finished work of Christ, yet we still battle.” (p. 5) The importance of biblical literacy and discernment cannot be stressed enough.

Through the next four chapters, Borgman and Ventura lay the foundational context for comprehending the “whole armor of God.” We must have explanation prior to application. In order for us to employ this text in our lives, we need to know something of the historical background of the epistle to the Ephesians. The authors give us a guided tour of the “spiritual city” of Ephesus (pp. 7–10) and help us understand the apostle’s exhortation in the midst of spiritual warfare. We are called to “be strong in the Lord” (chapter 1), and to “put on the whole armor of God” (chapter 2), so we can “stand against the wiles of the Devil” (chapter 3), because we “wrestle against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (chapter 4).

Chapter 5 marks the beginning of the exposition on the armor passage (Ephesians 6:14–17) and continues through to chapter 11. We learn what it is to stand and survive in the fight of our lives. Below are some highlights:

The Belt of Truth:

“As the soldier’s belt was placed at the center of his body, so truth must be central in our lives, encompassing all that we do if we are to be prepared for the fight with Satan, our crafty foe.” (p. 44)

The Breastplate of Righteousness:

“The breastplate was a chief piece of defensive armor for a soldier because it protected his vital organs during battle, and it serves the same function for us spiritually in our battle with Satan.” (p. 50)

The Gospel of Peace Footwear:

“Under enemy attack, we can dig firmly into the soil of the good news. The gospel is an indispensable part of our spiritual military equipment. It makes us immovable in the day of trouble.” (p. 63)

The Shield of Faith:

“As the shield protected a soldier in combat, so also faith spiritually protects us in every situation from whatever the devil might launch at us.” (p. 66)

The Helmet of Salvation:

“As the soldier’s helmet protected his head in battle against enemy fire, so the helmet of salvation spiritually protects our minds against Satan’s attacks.” (p. 74)

The Sword of the Spirit:

“The sword of the Spirit comes from the Spirit. Certainly, the sword belongs to the Spirit, but the emphasis falls on the Spirit as the source of this sword… When the Word is in our heart and mind, when we apply it and use it, it is the sword of the Spirit…” (pp. 80–81)

In chapter 11, the authors explain the centrality of prayer in spiritual warfare. As the apostle Paul concludes his section with an exhortation for constant prayer and watchfulness, Borgman and Ventura rightly emphasize the importance of prayer. “Prayer is not a seventh piece of armor,” they write, “but the means by which each piece is effectively employed… We can only appropriate the armor through prayer. The armor of God does not consist of literal pieces we can put on; rather, it consists of spiritual truths that the Christian appropriates through prayer.” (p. 88) The theme of prayer carries over into chapter 12. As the apostle’s teaching on prayer moves from combat supplication (Ephesians 6:18) to wartime proclamation (Ephesians 6:19), so does the book in this section. Borgman and Ventura explain the components of warfare proclamation: The Word must be given (pp. 101–102), the mystery of the gospel must be made known boldly (p. 102), and the Spirit must empower the preacher in his holy obligation. (pp. 102–103)

The book closes out with a “Spiritual Warfare Debriefing,” in which the authors help the reader understand the nature of the Christian life. It is a struggle that must be lived in God’s strength, so that we may stand and resist in order to advance the gospel. This is done by way of union with Christ—we must utilize the spiritual blessings that we have in Him. (pp. 106–110).

There are also a few appendices that the reader may find helpful as well. Appendix 1 is a pastoral approach to explaining God’s sovereignty over Satan, featuring case studies of Job and Paul. The second appendix considers the question, “Can a Christian Be Demon-Possessed?” and exposes some false teaching on the issue. The final appendix is a plea for people to pray for their elders. The authors’ hope is for the reader to consider the reality of the enemy’s strategy—Satan seeks to attack leaders in order to inflict the most possible damage upon Christ’s flock. Our pastors and elders desperately need our prayer so that they may lead effectively in the war against sin, the flesh, and the devil.

This book was a fairly easy read and I would recommend it as a good introduction to the topic of Spiritual warfare. It may also be a useful teaching or preaching resource for this section of the Bible. I found some of the information to be very helpful, but I was expecting a little more from this book. While I was hoping for it to be an in-depth teaching on the subject akin to Thomas Brooks’ “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” or William Gurnall’s “The Christian in Complete Armour,” it read more like a beginner’s guide to “the whole armor of God.” Be that as it may, my preconceived notions should not take away from the importance and potency of this small book. With so much sensationalism and false teaching going around on the topic of spiritual warfare, this is a solid presentation of the biblical teaching on the subject and is a valuable resource for the Church militant.

For more on the subject, please visit the Pastoral Theology page.

See also:

Rob Ventura interviewed on The Janet Mefford Show

Borgman and Ventura interviewed at The Confessing Baptist

Recommended reading:

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.

Reformed Forum & Geerhardus Vos

Lane Tipton and Camden Bucey have just started a new series over at Christ the Center (Reformed Forum) focused on Geerhardus Vos’ classic “Biblical Theology of Old and New Testaments”.

Here is the summary:

“Roughly each month, Lane and Camden will work through the pages of Vos’ Biblical Theology. While Vos’ book is foundational, it’s tough for the ‘uninitiated’ to access. This will be a great opportunity for study groups to listen to our discussions and work things out together. We hope everyone who participates will learn more about Reformed biblical theology.”

Click below to order the book and follow along!

Here is the first episode: Introduction

More on Geerhardus Vos:

Christ the Center: Interview with Danny Olinger on the life and word of Geerhardus Vos

The Writings of Geerhardus Vos

Other recommended reading:

Covenant of Grace

COVENANT OF GRACE

“The origin of the covenant of grace was the unparalleled, incomprehensible love of God to sinners of the human race. The obstacles in the way of accomplishing the salvation of those, whose death was demanded by law and justice, were apparently insuperable. It may be presumed, that if the problem, how God could be just and yet justify the ungodly, had been proposed to a conclave of the brightest angels in heaven, they could not have worked out a satisfactory answer: it would have baffled their utmost intellectual efforts. That God cannot cease to treat his creatures according to the principles of eternal justice is most evident; and that justice required that the sinner should suffer, according to his demerit, is equally evident. Where, then, is there any foundation for hope in regard to those who have once transgressed? And not only the justice, but the truth of God stood in the way of the sinner’s salvation. God had threatened the penalty of death, interminable death; and the Ruler of the universe must maintain the truth of his word, as it respects his threatenings as well as his promises… But that which could not be discovered by the wisdom of creatures, was devised by the infinite wisdom of God. In the counsels of the adorable Trinity the plan was agreed upon. Between the Father and the Son, a transaction took place, which may strictly be termed a covenant, for, speaking after the manner of men, there were mutual stipulations entered into between the high contracting parties.” (Archibald Alexander)

For more on this subject, please visit the Biblical Theology page.

Recommended reading:

The Glory of the Gospel

THE GLORY OF THE GOSPEL

“Our all-wise and infinitely blessed Lord, who had from everlasting riches of glorious perfections of holiness, justice, wisdom, mercy in him, which though he himself knew and was infinitely blessed in the knowledge of them, though no saint or angel had ever been, or over knew them, yet all these his glorious perfections being crowned with goodness, both made him willing to make known what riches of glory were in him unto some creatures which yet were in Christ, his goodness moved him to it… This act him upon some ways to make known his riches and his glory to some that should be made happy by it, and to that end he would have saints be his saints, as being beloved of him, unto whom he might as it were unbosom himself and display all the riches of glory which are in him, into whose laps he might withal pour out all his riches, that they might see his glory, and be glorified in seeing of it.” (Thomas Goodwin)

For more on this subject, visit Third Millennium Ministries.

 

Recommended reading:

Thanksgiving Thursday

BE PARTICULAR IN YOUR THANKS TO GOD

“We must give thanks for our preservation; that our lives are prolonged and the use of our reason and understanding, our limbs and senses, are continued to us…

It was owing to your good providence that we did not die at birth, and did not come out from the womb and expire; that the knees received us, and the breasts, that we should nurse.

Though before birth we were called rebels, yet by your power we have been borne by you from before our birth and carried from the womb; and you keep our souls among the living and have not let our foot slip.

All our bones shall say, ‘O LORD, who is like you!’ For you keep the bones, and not one of them is broken.

We lay down and sleep, for you, LORD, make us to dwell in safety.

You have commanded your angels concerning us, to guard us in all our ways; to bear us up in their hands, lest we strike our foot against a stone. And they are all ministering spirits, sent out to serve for the good of those who are to inherit salvation.” (Matthew Henry)

CREATED IN HIS IMAGE

For more on the subject, visit Method for Prayer.

Recommended reading:

Thanksgiving Thursday

BE PARTICULAR IN YOUR THANKS TO GOD

“Thank God for making you in His image…

We must give thanks that he has made us reasonable creatures, capable of knowing, loving, serving, and enjoying him, and that he has not made us like the beasts that perish.

We praise you, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made; and that our souls, our nobler part, know very well; for no man knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him.

You have made us of that rank of beings which is a little lower than the heavenly beings and is crowned with glory and honor; for it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand;  and the spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD.

Our bodies are capable of being the temples of the Holy Spirit, and our souls of having the Spirit of God dwell in them; we therefore glorify you with our bodies and with our spirits, which are both yours.

You, Lord, have formed us for yourself, that we might declare your praise.” (Matthew Henry)

THE GOODNESS OF HIS NATURE

 

For more on this subject, visit Method for Prayer.

 

Recommended reading:

Theophany Thursday

THE HEIR OF THE PROMISE

“The appearing of the Lord as a man or as an Angel of the covenant anticipates the Incarnation. The term ‘theophany’ describes such appearances of the Lord. God told the nation of Israel in the wilderness that He was sending His Angel before them to keep on the way, and to bring them to the Promised Land. ‘Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him’ (Ex. 23:21). As the possessor of the divine Name, the Angel is the representative of God’s presence, the form in which God Himself appears-distinct from the Lord, yet identified with Him.” (Edmund Clowney)

For more on the subject, please visit the Biblical Theology page.

 

Recommended reading: