Review: Acts (EP Study Commentary)

Waters, Guy Prentiss. “Acts: EP Study Commentary,” Evangelical Press, Watchmead, UK: 2014. 614 pp. $44.99

Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews, I’ve had the opportunity to review another book. This time around, to my delight, it is a commentary. I own a few commentaries on Acts, so I was curious to see what this one might offer. The EPSC is a solid series that boasts a handful of renowned scholars and theologians, and it seems that it just keeps getting better. Guy Prentiss Waters’ volume on Acts is a welcome addition.

                                                                               The author dedicates this book to Richard Gaffin (author of “Perspectives on Pentecost”) and relies heavily on commentators such as F.F. Bruce and John Stott, which are good indicators as to where he is coming from. Waters is a confessional Presbyterian (a teaching elder in the PCA) and Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, which are appealing credentials.

The commentary begins with a useful outline and introduction that includes information about the author, date, title, genre, and purpose. Waters breaks the commentary up into 18 chapters, focusing on “a geographical progression—Jerusalem; Judea and Samaria; the end of the earth,” including a supporting role of Jewish and Gentile missions as documented by the respective ministries of the apostles Peter and Paul (pp. 22–23). This is helpful for the reader because it orients the narrative in salvation history—which is crucial for proper interpretation of the book of Acts.

One of things I appreciate the most about this commentary is the “Application”  at the end of each chapter. Waters uses these sections to drive home the practical aspect of the narrative. This is where we catch a glimpse of the authors’ pastoral heart. Though it is clear he has done the heavy exegetical work for the reader, he doesn’t bog the audience down with the intricacies of his scholarship. What we do see is the fruit of a masterful expositor rightly dividing the word of truth.

I would happily recommend this commentary to anyone who has the task of teaching the word of God, or even the lay person who just wants to dig deeper. A commentary on Acts written from a confessionally Reformed perspective is a great benefit to the Church, and Guy Waters’ volume in the EPSC holds a respectful position in the ever-increasing archive of biblical commentaries.

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.

Advertisements

Review: Worshipping with Calvin

Johnson, Terry L. “Worshipping with Calvin: Recovering the Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism,” Darlington, England: 2014. 460 pp. $23.99

The recent resurgence of Calvinistic soteriology and Reformation theology has sparked many a conversation and produced quite a few popular-level books by the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” crowd. Although we’ve seen many responses to these works, typically addressing the theology and general ideology of the New Calvinism movement, Terry Johnson sets out to provide a scholarly work that focuses on the elements of Reformed worship.

In “Worshipping with Calvin,” Johnson presents extensive biblical and historical arguments for how a local church should conduct its worship services. He begins by looking at the contemporary evangelical landscape and the unfortunate historical and theological anemia that plagues it. After offering a comparison between the early Church and the current state of the western Church, and giving a brief historical survey of the 20th century “worship wars,” he provides strong exegetical, historical, and theological arguments in favor of a decidedly Reformed approach to worship and ministry.

Next, the author emphasizes the strengths of Reformed worship and ministry. He contends that this particular approach to liturgy is God-centered, Bible-filled, Gospel-structured, Church-aware, and Spirit-dependent.

This book was a great encouragement to me. I am in agreement with much of what is said within, but there are several arguments that the author gives that either changed my mind or solidified an existing position. For instance, Johnson has convinced me of the use of lectio continua (consecutive reading) Bible readings and singing Psalms in corporate worship. While previously, I have utilized lectio selecta (selective reading) Scripture readings to “reinforce” the passage preached, the author has convinced me of the wisdom in implementing a continuous reading of both the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, while I have understood the importance of the Psalms for corporate worship, this book has convinced me of their necessity. Without dogmatically promoting a strict Psalms-only liturgical model, the author insists the inclusion of the Psalter and has convinced me that it is necessary to regularly and consistently involve Psalms in a worship service.

As a Reformed Baptist, I am in disagreement with the author’s views with regard to Covenant Theology and the sacrament of baptism (it is unfortunate that his treatment of credobaptism in chapter 6 only addresses the 16th century Anabaptists and not the 17th century Particular Baptists—though I acknowledge the book’s emphasis on John Calvin and the potential for anachronism), and while I have reservations with Johnson’s observations about ethnicity, his research is top-notch. Regardless of any covenantal differences I may have with Johnson, I strongly agree with the over-arching theme of this book—that our worship should be prescribed by Scripture and rooted in the historicity of the Church (and particularly that of the Reformation period). The cultural trends and encroachment of worldliness in contemporary American Christianity have spurned a new downgrade in the liturgical life of the Church, and my hope is that books like this will precipitate a doxological reformation in local evangelical churches.

Although this is a book primarily aimed at Presbyterians, I would recommend this book to any one who claims to be a Protestant Christian—particularly Pastors and Elders. Johnson offers a cogent exhortation for modern Christians to compare their liturgy with Scripture and Church history. He provides an abundance of Scriptural references, and quotes a multitude of well-known Pastors, theologians, and church historians (around 37% of the book is comprised of a bibliography and notes) to support his position. Terry Johnson’s “Worshipping with Calvin” is a helpful resource for Christians who want to glorify God in worship according to His Word.

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

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.

Notable & Newsworthy

Here are the links and stories for the day…

Get T. Desmond Alexander’s “Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels to Portray One Person?” for 50% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

Get William Edgar’s “A Transforming Vision: The Lord’s Prayer as a Lens for Life” for up to 67% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

Download R.C. Sproul’s “5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow” for FREE from Reformation Trust and Ligonier Ministries

Enter to win an iPad Mini and a couple of books from 20 Schemes

Get Jeremy Walker’s “Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ” for only 99¢ for Amazon Kindle

Get Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert’s “Preach: Theology Meets Practice” for only $4.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get James Boice and Philip Ryken’s “14 Words from Jesus” for only $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Enter to win Michael Haykin’s “Patrick of Ireland” and Marvin Jones’ “Basil of Caesarea” from Christian Focus Publications

Get Walter Brueggemann’s “Spirituality of the Psalms” for FREE for Logos Bible Software and enter to win the 24-volume collection

Enter to win a subscription to Leadership Journal from The Brave Reviews

Brian Hedges on God’s enduring provision in the midst of distress

Jason Helopoulos on 10 personalities that have no place in Christian marriage

The Confessing Baptist shares Michael Haykin’s top 4 books on credobaptism

Mark Dever of Capital Hill Baptist Church named SBTS “alumnus of the year” by Albert Mohler

Please browse the various pages on this site (you’ll see tabs at the top of this page) for more information. You’ll find book recommendations and articles on subjects like Systematic Theology, Biblical Theology, Apologetics, and more!

Notable & Newsworthy

Here are the links and stories for the day…

Get R.C. Sproul’s “1–2 Peter: Be All the More Diligent to Make Your Calling and Election Sure” (St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary) for 60% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

Download R.C. Sproul’s “5 Things Every Christian Needs to Grow” for FREE from Reformation Trust and Ligonier Ministries

Download Paul Tripp’s “A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You” for FREE from New Growth Press

Get Timothy Witmer’s “The Shepherd Leader at Home: Knowing, Leading, Protecting, and Providing for Your Family” for only 99¢ for Amazon Kindle

Get Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert’s “Preach: Theology Meets Practice” for only $4.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get James Boice and Philip Ryken’s “14 Words from Jesus” for only $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Ligonier Connect is offering FREE web courses on Worldview, Apologetics, and Philosophy

Enter to win Michael Haykin’s “Patrick of Ireland” and Marvin Jones’ “Basil of Caesarea” from Christian Focus Publications

Enter to win an autographed copy of Brian Hedges’ “Active Spirituality”

Get Walter Brueggemann’s “Spirituality of the Psalms” for FREE for Logos Bible Software and enter to win the 24-volume collection

Get Ben Witherington’s “What’s in the Word” for FREE for Logos Bible Software and enter to win the 5-volume collection

Enter to win a subscription to Leadership Journal from The Brave Reviews

Heath Lambert on the situations, seasons, and accountability in balancing family and ministry

William Boekestein on the means of grace and spiritual growth

Paul Tripp on walking with gentleness and tenderly restoring others

Evangelicals increasingly unwelcome on American university campuses

Check out the super bargain book deals at P&R Publishing

“Why should my heart be fixed where my home is not?” (Richard Baxter)

“Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless.” (Francis Schaeffer)

Thank you for visiting ACTIVE/didactic. Please take some time to browse the rest of the site (pages are located in the tabs above). Start with the Pastoral Theology page or Systematic Theology page first. Soli Deo Gloria!

Notable & Newsworthy

This is my first time posting from my phone, so I am sure my OCD tendencies will spike due to formatting and layout… but I want to be more “active” here and my computer is on the fritz.

These are some of the links, articles, and quotes I’ve come across recently:

Win 5 Welwyn Commentaries from Evangelical Press

FREE J.I. Packer e-book on the 10 Commandments

Win Paul Washer’s 3-Volume “Recovering the Gospel” series

Win a stack of books by Jeremy Walker and Mez McConnell plus some other stuff from 20 Schemes

Get J.I. Packer’s “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God” for FREE (audiobook)

Get Douglas Bond’s “The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts” for FREE (e-book) from Reformation Trust and Ligonier

Father arrested after voicing concern over undisclosed questionable content in daughter’s 9th grade reading curriculum

Kevin DeYoung on Elders and confessional subscription

Russell Moore on sexual morality and capitulating to cultural pressures for church growth

Tim Challies’ helpful explanation of how Roman Catholicism is an unbiblical perversion of the Gospel

Also, have you ever wondered “What does Jesus mean when He says, ‘to fulfill all righteousness’ (Matt. 3:15) with regard to His baptism?” Well, here is a helpful answer from Ligon Duncan:

“He doesn’t just say, it is appropriate for Me to fulfill all righteousness by being baptized. He recognizes that there is something that both He and John must do in order to fulfill the plan of God and part of that is going to be done in receiving John’s baptism. Notice as well, that He gives an explanation to John. John, I am not being baptized because I need repentance. I am being baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness.

Baptism as you know, was used in the Old Testament. It was a form of consecration. When a priest reached the age at which he was entering into his public ministry, we are told in Numbers chapter 8, that he was baptized. He was consecrated, set apart, showing that God had called him into service and that he was to serve in God’s kingdom and the Lord Jesus Christ is being consecrated to service in this baptism. What does it mean though? That He was to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness? Well, there are many, many things that that means. But let me just share a few of those things with you.

First, Jesus’ baptism was an affirmation of John’s ministry. By being baptized it was as if Jesus was saying, John I want you to baptize Me, because that will show that your message was true, your ministry was true, and it will link Me, the Messiah, with your ministry, which was to pronounce the coming of the Messiah, and it will link My ministry with your ministry as building upon it. So that is the first thing that His baptism does to fulfill all righteousness.

It also serves to relieve John’s doubts. We know from John 1:31, that John himself had been unsure about the identity of the Messiah up until this time. In fact, we are told in the Gospels elsewhere that John had his doubts later on. Jesus did not turn out to be quite who he was expecting, and he had to ask the Lord on at least one occasion, “Are You the one, or is there another?” This baptism was the Lord Jesus’ gift to John to assure him, “Yes I am the one. John, remember you baptized Me. Remember I am the one that you were preaching towards.”

This baptism also serves to confirm the message of John. It symbolizes the Lord Jesus’ identification with His people and their plight. It is as if Jesus is saying, ‘Yes, John’s message is right. You are sinners, you do need redemption from sin. And My receiving of this baptism, is My sign that I am identifying with you and I will be the sin-bearer so the baptism of repentance has efficacy.’

It is also a sign that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah. He is publicly showing and claiming that He is the Messiah who comes to take away the sins of the world. And that is why He enters into the baptism of repentance even though He is sinless. For He is the Messiah who comes to eradicate sin in the lives of His people.

The baptism also serves, and this is clear from verses 16 and 17, that God has anointed and appointed and equipped Christ for ministry. The baptism is a sign of God’s approval of the Lord Jesus. A sign that God has chosen the Lord Jesus to be Messiah on the part of His people.

And finally, the baptism fulfills all righteousness because it is a sign Christ Himself is willing to take on the role as our Mediator. He is willing to be our Redeemer. In the baptism, the Lord steps down. He enters humbly and receives the baptism. He acknowledges, Lord, I will receive all the humiliation that is necessary to fulfill My work on behalf of My people. I will take any humiliation necessary in order to save My people from their sins. The baptism shows Jesus’ willing acceptance of the Messianic role. And so John, how much he understood, we don’t know, John says, ‘Okay, Lord, I will baptize You.’

The Lord Jesus’ baptism was an act that He performed on our behalf as the mediator of the covenant of grace. He did not need the baptism of repentance. And He did not repent on our behalf. But He did identify Himself with His people as the one who would be the sin bearer and the whose baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit would bring renovation of our hearts and lives.”

Here is a great quote from Graeme Goldsworthy’s “According to Plan” on the work of the Holy Spirit and the temple in the New Covenant:

“Wherever the Holy Spirit takes the word of Christ and gathers people to the Savior, there is the new temple.”

JD Hall of Reformation Montana shared this excellent quote from Charles Spurgeon the other day:

“I do not hear him say, ‘Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow.’ Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.”

Developing a Trinitarian Mind

DEVELOPING A TRINITARIAN MIND

“In all the works of God He takes the initiative. He created in accordance with His free and sovereign will; no one was there to advise Him. In grace, the Son became incarnate ‘for us and our salvation’; this too was the result purely of the grace of God, undeserved, unprompted. In our own experience, God Himself brought us to new life by His Spirit; our faith and repentance is a response to His prior grace. We love Him because He first loved us. Is it any different in worship? Is that primarily something we do? No, first of all God goes before us. He has called His church to Himself. He is there to greet us. As we gather, it is to meet with Him, but first he has drawn us. Moreover, our acts of worship are accepted because they are offered in union with Christ. He, in our nature, is at the Father’s right hand. From this it follows that the elements of worship are a dialog in which the holy Trinity takes the initiative. Through His ordained servant, the Father through his Son by the Holy Spirit calls us to worship. He speaks to us in His Word read and proclaimed. He receives our praise and prayers. He communes with us in the sacrament. In the benediction he dismisses us with His blessing—which is far from a pious wish or prayer that such things might be, if it is the will of God. Rather, the benediction is a declaration of a real state of affairs, undergirded by His covenant promises. This is a dynamic view of worship, one that follows squarely in the Reformed tradition and is rooted in biblical teaching. Our congregations need to hear it, they need to understand it, they need to imbibe it and be permeated by it.” (Robert Letham)

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

 

Recommended reading:

Before the Throne

BEFORE THE THRONE

“God has chosen us despite our unworthiness. He has sent Christ to die for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification. He has called us to faith through the preaching of the gospel and he has confirmed those promises through the sacraments. And he has done all of this so that we might be numbered among the assembly of those who enter his presence on the Lord’s Day and add our voices to the heavenly choir, singing praises to the one who sits and the throne and to the lamb.” (Kim Riddlebarger)

For more on this subject, please visit The Riddleblog.

 

Recommended reading:

FREE: “Crucial Questions” Series

Ligonier Ministries has made their popular “Crucial Questions” series available for FREE (in e-book format). Click the images below to download…

You can also get paperback copies of books 1–3 during Ligonier’s $5 Friday promotion (today only).

                                                                                                                                                   More titles from Ligonier/Reformation Trust: