Review: None Greater

None Greater

Barrett, Matthew. “None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God,” Baker, Grand Rapids, MI: 2019. 283 pages. $16.99

I recently had the privilege of reviewing Matthew Barrett‘s book “None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God” thanks to the good folks at Baker Publishing.

Over the past couple of years there has been a lot of commotion in the evangelical world regarding the Doctrine of God or Theology Proper. Some of the issues dealt with the doctrine of the Trinity and yet others had to do with the attributes of God. In my own studies, I began to see the importance of what is known as Classical Theism, which this book seeks to promote and defend.

Theology can be intimidating. Weighty concepts and challenging terminology can make it difficult for people to take an interest. Thankfully, Barrett weaves personal anecdotes into the teachings and provides helpful tables to make Theology Proper more attainable. Some parts of the book may still pose a challenge for those new to the study of theology, but he presents the subject matter in a thoughtful and accessible way.

The first three chapters captivated me. Barrett writes on the incomprehensibility of God, the analogical nature of our knowledge of God, and God’s infinite and unlimited perfections. He continues with chapters on aseity, simplicity, immutability, impassibility, and eternity (chapters 6 and 7 on immutability and impassibility are of special importance due to the aforementioned controversy surrounding “modified” Classical Theism). The following two chapters deal with God’s omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnisapience; and the book closes by covering the righteousness, goodness, love, jealousy, and glory of God.

This is an important book that I heartily recommend. Barrett seeks to reclaim Classical Theism from contemporary obscurity and bring it to bear on the hearts and minds of 21st century Christians. His efforts to help laypeople understand immensely significant doctrine is commendable. The way in which he relates with the reader through story is winsome and pastoral, and I hope to imitate this kind of affable instruction in my own interaction with others in the future.

Recommended reading:

9781601785541_1024x9781433543289_1024x41LxG38u5GL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

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

SALE: What is the Gospel?

Westminster Bookstore has an awesome deal on Greg Gilbert’s “What is the Gospel?”—up to 65% OFF (case quantity), or get single copies for 50% OFF! This book is a great for evangelism and outreach, as a gift for new believers, or even for mature Christians who want to bask in the glory of the gospel. Click the image or links for more information.

For more on this subject, please visit 9Marks.

Recommended reading:

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:

Notable & Newsworthy

Here are the top stories and links for the day…

Get G.K. Beale’s “The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God” for 56% OFF from Westminster Bookstore

Get Richard Phillips’ “The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men” for up to 50% OFF from Westminster Bookstore

Get Timothy Witmer’s “The Shepherd Leader at Home: Knowing, Leading, Protecting, and Providing for Your Family” for up to 50% OFF from Westminster Bookstore

Get 5-packs of New Growth Press’ minibooks for only $8 (over 50% OFF) at Westminster Bookstore

Enter to win a stack of books by Matthias Media from 20 Schemes and The Philip Center

Enter to win some autographed books by Mike McKinley from 9 Marks, The Good Book Company, and 20 Schemes

Get Kevin DeYoung’s “Crazy Busy” for just $3.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Jeremiah Burrough’s “A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness” for just $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Donald MacLeod’s “From Glory to Golgotha: Controversial Issues in the Life of Christ” for just $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Charles Quarles’ “Buried Hope or Risen Savior?” for just $0.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get R.C. Sproul’s “How Then Shall We Worship?: Biblical Principles to Guide Us Today” for just $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get R.C. Sproul’s “Pleasing God: Discovering the Meaning and Importance of Sanctification” for just $3.03 for Amazon Kindle

Get R.C. Sproul’s “God’s Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children” for just $3.03 for Amazon Kindle

Get R.C. Sproul’s “The Promises of God: Discovering the One Who Keeps His Word” for just $3.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Paul Tripp’s “Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad” for just $1.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Tedd & Margy Tripp’s “Instructing a Child’s Heart” for just $1.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Tedd Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” for just $1.99 for Amazon Kindle

Nick Batzig on the third use of the law and the finished work of Christ

10 things older church leaders need to hear from young church leaders

R.C. Sproul Jr.’s list of 10 fiction books for home school teenagers

Preaching in order to whet peoples appetite for the Word of God

Jesus and His Church are the best help for the poor

Richard Barcellos on the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace

“It is far more important, and will do you far more good, to read a smaller number of Christian books which have been well-tried and have proved their value than to develop the Athenian spirit which is attracted to anything so long as it is new.” (Sinclair Ferguson)

“As the painter intermixes bright colors with dark shadows; so the wise God mixes mercy with judgment.” (Thomas Watson)

Please take the time to browse the rest of the site (see the tabs above). You’ll find FREE e-books, articles, and book recommendations to help you grow. Check out the Pastoral Theology page or Systematic Theology page first. Soli Deo Gloria!

Notable & Newsworthy

Here are the links and stories for the day:

Paul Tripp and Elyse Fitzpatrick discuss parenting with grace

Only 2 days left to enter to win a stack of books from Practical Shepherding and 20Schemes

Lane Tipton on J. Gresham Machen’s charge to train Systematic Theologians

10 types of Pastors that may be contributing to the church’s decline

Crowd-funding for movie about baby murderer Kermit Gosnel has succeeded

39 FREE resources for missions in 10 different languages

Evangelical brothers’ home improvement/charity makeover show cancelled by HGTV—rumors of discrimination against Christian values

Hip Hop group Beautiful Eulogy uses Logos Bible Software to assist in writing lyrics

Happy birthday to J.C. Ryle

Two anonymous Columbus, OH students create amazing covert chalk art

“The minute a professing Christian admits that he can find neutral ground with non-Christians in the study of ‘religion’ in general, he has given up the battle and has made common cause with that syncretism which is today, as it was in the first century, the deadliest enemy of the Christian Faith.” (J. Gresham Machen)

“If you and sin are friends, you and God are not reconciled.” (J.C. Ryle)

Please take some time to browse other pages (you will find these located in the tabs above). There are a number of articles, book recommendations, and even some e-books. I recommend taking a look at the Systematic Theology page or the Biblical Theology page. Enjoy!

Review: Salvation by Crucifixion

This season is a time for renewal. People everywhere rejoice as the gloom and chill of winter gives way to the warmth and freshness of spring. There is no question that this annual climate change has been orchestrated by God to be a creative parable for redemption. For instance, Richard Sibbes, the great 16th and 17th century Puritan theologian, once said: “As the winter prepares the earth for the spring, so do afflictions sanctified prepare the soul for glory.” It is no wonder, to us who celebrate Resurrection Day, that death and resurrection also apply metaphorically.

Philip Graham Ryken’s latest book, “Salvation by Crucifixion” (Christian Focus Publications), has arrived just in time for Easter and I have the privilege of reviewing it for Cross Focused Reviews. This short book is based on a series of evangelistic sermons given at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA. Ryken and the late James Montgomery Boice revived an old tradition of preaching during the lunch hour in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Day, and this book is the fruit of that ministry.

The books consists of seven chapters, which are sermons on the cross of Christ. Each sermon explains a characteristic or result of the crucifixion of Jesus. Ryken seeks to show the reader why “the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the most important event in human history.” (p. 13)

In the first chapter, the author tells us of the necessity of the cross—that it was necessary to fulfill God’s plan, pay for sin, and to save sinners. Chapter two speaks of the “offense” of the cross. It was an abomination to the Romans and a curse to the Jews, but it is also insulting to any “moral” person. (pp. 35–37) “The Peace of the Cross” is the title of the next chapter. Here, Ryken writes of the enmity between humanity and God and the reconciliation that Christ has provided in His cross-work.  The fourth chapter is similar to the second, in that the shame of the cross (Heb. 12:2) is closely related to its foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). The author spells out the power and wisdom of God in the saving cross of Christ. Chapter five is probably my favorite exposition in the book. Entitled “The Triumph of the Cross,” it speaks of the debt acquired by our sin and its cancellation upon the cross. Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities [and]… made  a public spectacle of them,” (Col. 2:15) which has wrought victory over death for those united with Christ. In the sixth chapter, Ryken shows us the humiliation of Christ in His incarnation and (active/passive) obedience. He was humble in life and even unto death—by willingly being nailed to a vile cross in obedience! The reader can’t help but ask, “How should I then live?” Finally, in chapter seven, the author concludes by helping us understand the “unusual obsession” of boasting in the cross of Christ. (pp. 86–87) This boasting is unusual because it is other-focused, rather than self-centered. The Christian knows he has not brought anything to the salvation equation except for his sin, and so his boast is in the cross that saves.

“Salvation by Crucifixion” is a wonderful little book. It’s helpful for preachers and teachers in that it shows what an evangelistic, cross-focused sermon is supposed to look like. It’s an encouragement to Christians everywhere because the gospel is laid bare and the doctrines of salvation are clearly explained. And since the content is evangelistic, it is an excellent resource for outreach. The book is small and short, so one could very easily hand them out while witnessing to others. I recommend having a few on hand for the purpose of distribution.

For more on this topic, please see the Pastoral 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.

 

SALE: Douglas Kelly’s Systematic Theology


Volume Two of Douglas Kelly‘s critically acclaimed Systematic Theology, “The Beauty of Christ: A Trinitarian Vision” (Christian Focus Publications) has just been released, and Westminster Bookstore has an awesome deal on it. You can purchase either volume individually at 40% OFF, or buy both volumes at 50% OFF.

Click the links or images above and below to be redirected.

The God Who Is—The Holy Trinity
“Douglas F. Kelly is one of the English-speaking world’s leading Reformed theologians. Here we begin to enjoy the fruits of his labors. What a feast it is. Few Protestant theologians in our day know the terrain of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Person of Christ, as well as Professor Kelly… He is at his best when opening up to us the unrealized importance and glory of these foundational truths about our Savior God. For those who yearn for an orthodox Reformed catholicity, Kelly shows the way forward.” (Ligon Duncan)

 

 

The Beauty of Christ: A Trinitarian Vision
“Among the several systematic theologies that have recently been released, Doug Kelly’s three-volume work deserves special attention. It is comprehensive in its coverage of the doctrinal issues, and it combines exegesis with careful analysis of the historical and present-day theological literature. Volume Two, The Beauty of Christ: a Trinitarian Vision, is now available, and its approach to Christology is striking indeed. Quite remarkably, and delightfully, it organizes the biblical teaching under the category of “beauty”––the beauty of three divine persons united to one another in love.” (John Frame)

 

For more information, please visit the Systematic Theology page.

 

Recommended reading:

Sale: David F. Wells

Over at Westminster Bookstore, they have an excellent deal on a number of books by David F. Wells (Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary).

For one week, you will be able to purchase his newest book, “God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-Love of God Reorients Our World” at a 45% discount and the other three volumes of his masterful quartet on American Evangelicalism at a 50% discount.

Click the images or links below:

“No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?”

Publisher’s Description:
Has something indeed happened to evangelical theology and to evangelical churches? According to David Wells, the evidence indicates that evangelical pastors have abandoned their traditional role as ministers of the Word to become therapists and “managers of the small enterprises we call churches.” Along with their parishioners, they have abandoned genuine Christianity and biblical truth in favor of the sort of inner-directed experiential religion that now pervades Western society.

Specifically, Wells explores the wholesale disappearance of theology in the church, the academy, and modern culture. Western culture as a whole, argues Wells, has been transformed by modernity, and the church has simply gone with the flow. The new environment in which we live, with its huge cities, triumphant capitalism, invasive technology, and pervasive amusements, has vanquished and homogenized the entire world. While the modern world has produced astonishing abundance, it has also taken a toll on the human spirit, emptying it of enduring meaning and morality.

“God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams”

Publisher’s Description:
Building on the trenchant cultural and religious analyses of evangelical Protestantism set forth in his first volume, Wells argues in God in the Wasteland that the church is now enfeebled because it has lost its sense of God’s sovereignty and holiness. God, says Wells, has become weightless. He has lost the power to shape the church’s character, outlook, and practice.

By looking afresh at the way God’s transcendence and immanence have been taken captive by modern appetites, Wells is able to argue for a reform of the evangelical world—a reform without which evangelical faith will be lost—and develop a powerful biblical antidote to the modernity which has invaded the church.

“Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World”

Publisher’s Description:
Above All Earthly Pow’rs, the fourth and final volume of the series that began in 1993 with No Place for Truth, portrays the West in all its complexity, brilliance, and emptiness. As David F. Wells masterfully depicts it, the postmodern ethos of the West is relativistic, individualistic, therapeutic, and yet remarkably spiritual. Wells shows how this postmodern ethos has incorporated into itself the new religious and cultural relativism, the fear and confusion, that began with the last century’s waves of immigration and have continued apace in recent decades.
Wells’ book culminates in a critique of contemporary evangelicalism aimed at both unsettling and reinvigorating readers. Churches that market themselves as relevant and palatable to consumption-oriented postmoderns are indeed swelling in size. But they are doing so, Wells contends, at the expense of the truth of the gospel. By placing a premium on marketing rather than truth, the evangelical church is in danger of trading authentic engagement with culture for worldly success.

“God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-Love of God Reorients Our World”

Publisher’s Description:
Building on years of research, writing, and cross-cultural ministry, renowned author and theologian David Wells calls our attention to that which defines God’s greatness and gives shape to the Christian life: the holy-love of God.

In God in the Whirlwind, Wells explores the depths of the paradox that God is both holy and loving, showing how his holy-love provides the foundation for our understanding of the cross, sanctification, the nature of worship, and our life of service in the world. What’s more, a renewed vision of God’s character is the cure for evangelicalism’s shallow theology, with its weightless God and sentimental gospel.

For more on this subject, please visit the Apologetics Page.

Recommended Reading:

Review: Life in Christ

The good folks at Cross Focused Reviews have blessed me with another book to review. I was really excited about the prospect of reviewing this book, as it deals with what I see as one of the most neglected aspects of the Christian life as represented in mainstream American evangelicalism: Discipleship. As the title implies, the book also covers the glorious doctrine of Union with Christ—which in its own right is a teaching that is largely overlooked. Jeremy Walker‘s “Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ” is a welcome addition to contemporary discipleship resources that is not only pastoral, but thoroughly biblical and theologically precise.

In the first chapter, “Looking to Jesus,” he instructs the reader as to how one comes to Christ for salvation. Walker examines the command and invitation of the gospel, as well as the purpose and promise of the gospel. Beginning with the contrast between human depravity and the necessity of regeneration, the author weaves biblical references in and through to help the reader understand the Bible’s teaching of conversion–repentance and faith–and the grace of being declared righteous according to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

In chapter two, Walker seeks to unpack the doctrine of Union with Christ. He points to the teachings of the apostle Paul to explain the Christian’s position “in Christ” and the Christian’s nature as a “new creation.” (pp. 22–27) The author continues by rightfully expounding upon 2 Corinthians 5:17. He explains that for the Christian, “the old has gone and is gone for good; the new has come and keeps on coming.” (p. 28) Walker then closes out the chapter with an evangelistic appeal: “Whoever comes to Christ in faith–repenting of his sins, seeing his misery without Christ, seeking grace to be in Christ–and earnestly desiring that one day he might see and be with Christ–will find Christ to be his Savior and Lord and will enter into the blessed realities of the new creation in himself now and look forward to a life in a new heaven and new earth with Christ in days to come, the very heaven of heaven.” (p. 34)

Walker speaks of “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ” in the third chapter, and described the glorious riches of Christ. Surveying the book of Ephesians, he shows the reader the “unsearchable” love, grace, forgiveness, wisdom, power, joy, truth, assurance, hope, and mercy in Christ (pp. 38–44). The glorious person of Christ is next to be considered, as the author gives a Christological overview regarding the deity, humanity, agony, and glory of the Savior. The chapter concludes with an explanation of the glorious mystery of the gospel and the revelation of Jesus Christ. “The unsearchable riches of Christ are proclaimed in order that they might be known and enjoyed, received by sinners who have come to rest in the boundless resources of Jesus Christ as their Deliverer, the One given for the very purpose of meeting the needs of fallen people. That in itself is unsearchable!” (p. 48) All other pursuits leave something to be desired, but the knowledge and loveliness of Christ, which is inexhaustible, is satisfying beyond measure.

Chapter four is about the blessed doctrine of adoption. Rooted in the writings of the apostle John, the author presents the breathtaking reality of God’s love towards His children: “This is indeed a love that comes from God the Father, the God who does abiding good to the utterly undeserving, establishing an intimate relation with them in giving, as a gift of love, His own beloved Son. This is a love without measure flowing from the infinite heart of a good and loving God, an ocean without shore, a realm without frontier.” (p. 58) The author shows how the love of God is everlasting and unchangeable, abounding and unlimited, and undeserved and overwhelming. (pp. 58–59) He has given us a new nature and calls us His sons, and Walker beckons us to behold this truth for wonder and encouragement, for trust and confidence, for obedience and fortitude, for joy and thankfulness, and finally, for joy. (pp. 60–65)

Continuing with his examination of the apostle John’s writings, Walker addresses eternal security in chapter nine: “The Jewel of Assurance.” He points to the pastoral mindset of John in his first epistle and how he wanted his readers to know Christ and have life in Him (cf. 1 John 5:13). We see that assurance of salvation is definable, desirable, and possible. (pp. 67–76) The author closes the chapter with the pneumatological reality of assurance: “It is the Spirit of adoption who works in us faith and its fruits, implanting and stimulating graces which are the evidence of new life and witnessing with our spirit to their presence and reality and owning us by His sweet influences and by these means as children of God. The good grounds of confidence in the life of a saved person produce, through the Spirit’s witness, their full gift in our minds and hearts.” (p.77)

In what I see as the most important chapter of the book, “The Marks of God’s Children” seeks to present a framework of the Christian life. The author begins by laying to rest some common “inconclusive indications” of assurance of salvation like visible morality, head knowledge, and external religion. (pp. 80–84). He then devotes the rest of the chapter to showcase the marks of a true Christian. These “indispensable indications” of biblical assurance are repentance and faith, devotion to God, growth in holiness, and love for the saints. (pp. 85–108) This section alone is worth the cost of the book and is a spiritual gem for the newly converted and veteran Christian alike. I will certainly be using this material for disciple-making in the future.

“A Work in Progress” is the title of chapter seven, in which the author surveys the apostle Paul’s writings on sanctification. It is a masterful call to persevere; to press on in the Christian life. We should strive to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) and not be passive in our pursuit of holiness. Walker rightly points out that Paul’s exhortation to put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:13–17) “is not a call to occasional endeavor but a command constantly and thoroughly to work at a task until the point of completion.” (p. 113) This is not works-righteousness… the indicatives of the gospel (what Christ has done) are prior to the imperatives of the gospel (what is expected of us). “Our joy and blessing as God’s children,” says Walker, “are bound up in God’s ultimate purpose for us, and he is sovereignly bringing it to pass.” (p. 125)

The final chapter focuses on the apostle Paul’s later writings, particularly those sections where we gain some insight into his impending death. “A Life in Review” is a heartfelt look at the apostle’s unending endurance in the fight and race of the faith. Paul looks around, looks back, and finally looks ahead to a great crown, a great Christ, and a great company of redeemed sinners in the consummation. (pp. 130–138)

Review

Jeremy Walker’s “Life in Christ” is a warm and encouraging explanation on what it means to be a Christian. With pastoral sensitivity and theological clarity, he presents a biblical faithful work on being a disciple and living life to the glory of God. Like a modern-day Puritan, Walker marries doctrine and practice to create a magnificent resource for instructing maturing disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For more on this subject…

Jeremy Walker interviewed on the Janet Mefferd Show

Jeremy Walker interview with The Confessing Baptist

A Reader’s Review of “The New Calvinism Considered”

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.

John Owen Kindle Sale

All five volumes of John Owen’s writings published by Christian Focus Publications is currently on sale for Amazon Kindle. Click the link or image below to be redirected…

 

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

Recommended reading: