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.

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!

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 links and stories for the day…

Get Dennis Johnson’s “Heralds of the King: Christ-Centered Sermons in the Tradition of Edmund P. Clowney” for 50% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

Get John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” and Leland Ryken’s “A Christian Guide to Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress” for just $15 at Westminster Bookstore

Last day to get Iain Duguid’s “Esther/Ruth” and “Daniel” (Reformed Expository Commentaries), and “Ezekiel” (NIV Application Commentary) for only $20 (73% OFF) at Westminster Bookstore

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

Get Iain Duguid’s “Hero of Heroes: Seeing Christ in the Beatitudes” for just $1.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Mark Dever’s “The Church: The Gospel Made Visible” for just $2.99 for Amazon Kindle

Get Kevin DeYoung’s “The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness” for just 99¢ for Amazon Kindle

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

Brian Croft offers 4 questions to ask before joining a local church

Some scattered tips for not being a jerk at conferences

Jason Helopoulos on the beautiful diversity of the Church

“It is better to confess our ignorance than to indulge ourselves in frivolous conjectures.” (John Calvin)

“He who has gone to prepare heaven for us will not leave us without provision for the journey there.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Please take some time to browse the other pages on this site. You’ll find several articles, book reviews and recommendations, and even FREE e-books for your edification. Check out the Pastoral Theology page or Biblical Theology page first. Soli Deo Gloria!

Notable & Newsworthy

Here are the links and stories for the day…

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

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

Get a FREE $5 gift certificate to Gospel Tract Planet

Dane Ortlund on what the Bible says about swearing

Nehemiah Coxe on the relationship between the Abrahamic Covenant and Mosaic Covenant

Ken Puls on singing the great hymns of the Faith

The common denominator of declining churches

“The redemptive message has implications for all of life; a truncated life results from a truncated message.” (Carl Henry)

“All true and saving repentance tends to holy practice.” (Jonathan Edwards)

Please take some time to browse the other pages on this site (located in the tabs above). You’ll find several articles, FREE e-books, and book recommendations for your edification. Check out the Exegetical Theology page or Pastoral Theology page first. Thanks!

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:

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.

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:

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:

Thanksgiving Thursday

BE PARTICULAR IN YOUR THANKS TO GOD

“Thank God for success in our callings and affairs, comfort in relations, and comfortable places of abode…

It is God who equips us with strength and makes our way blameless, who has blessed the work of our hands; and it may be that though our beginning was small, yet our latter days will be very great.

Our houses have been safe from fear, and there has been no rod of God upon us; so that glad songs of salvation have been in our tents from day to day.

With our staff it may be we have crossed this Jordan, and now we have become two camps; and it is God who settles the solitary in homes.

If we have enjoyed life with our relations, and they have been to us as a lovely deer, a graceful doe, we must give you thanks for it; for every creature is that to us, and no more, that you make it to be.” (Matthew Henry)

 

SUPPORTS AND COMFORT

 

 

For more on this subject, please visit Method for Prayer.

 

Recommended reading: