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Tag Archives: Theology Proper (The Study of God)

Book Review: Trusting God by Jerry Bridges

I just finished leading a group from my church (my third time) through this book. I don’t know who benefits more, the people I take through this book, or myself. As far as I’m concerned the two greatest truths we as Christians should have a good grasp on are the Gospel and God’s Sovereignty. There are excellent books on both these subjects, but the most practical book (in my opinion) on the latter topic is this one by Bridges.

The reason God’s Sovereignty is such an important subject is that the Christian life is a life of faith in God’s promises, His character, nature, and plans – all of which require our trust when we can’t see what’s in front of us, or why things happen the way they do. The more we know what God is really like – biblically – the more we are able to trust Him daily.

Jerry Bridges covers the following topics with biblical support, practical insight, and wise application:

1)    Can You Trust God?

2)    Is God in Control?

3)    The Sovereignty of God

4)    God’s Sovereignty Over People

5)    God’s Rule Over Nations

6)    God’s Power Over Nature

7)    God’s Sovereignty and Our Responsibility

8)    The Wisdom of God

9)    Knowing God’s Love

10) Experiencing God’s Love

11) Trusting God for Who You Are

12) Growing Through Adversity

13) Choosing to Trust God

14) Giving Thanks Always

The author provides a myriad of reasons in this book into the how, why, what, and when’s involved in trusting God and His infinite trustworthiness for living the Christian life. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s been a tremendous source of encouragement for me in incredibly tough seasons of life.

 

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Book Review: Foundations of the Christian Faith by James Montgomery Boice

First of all – *Dr. James Montgomery Boice (He could have easily been a theologian – with degrees from Harvard and Basel – but chose to be the senior pastor at the Historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA) was a theologian/pastor extraordinaire. All his writings are worth reading for their clarity, depth of theological insight and precision, cogent exposition of the Scriptures, and exaltation of Christ. I have read everything Dr. Boice has written and I can’t recommend him highly enough. Heaven’s gain was certainly our loss (he died of cancer in 2000) – but at least we can still benefit from his many books on theology and various books of the Bible that have been left behind.

This “Systematic Theology” was originally released as four distinct books on: 1) The Sovereignty of God; 2) God the Redeemer; 3) Awakening to God; and 4) God and History. Dr. Boice was a tremendous gift to the Body of Christ. He was one of the few Biblical Expositors and Scholars that had the ability to build bridges among the Dispensational and Reformed camps and do so with scholarly and pastoral integrity. There is virtually no discussion of angels, demons, or Satan in this book. The weakest part of this book is in the area of eschatology – but I think his intent was merely to focus on the Sovereignty of God in salvation and history with the emphasis on being primarily on God’s redemptive plan for mankind. I hope that IVP or some other publishing company reprints this book – its simply too good to miss – it’s God-centered; practical; concise; clear and elevates and exalts Jesus Christ like few theologies today. I can’t recommend Boice’s theology highly enough. I have included below all that Dr. Boice covers in these four books in one place, so you can see what a big bang for your buck you are getting.

BOOK 1: THE SOVEREIGN GOD

PART I – The Knowledge of God

Chapter 1 – On Knowing God

Chapter 2 – The Unknown God

PART II: The Word of God

Chapter 3 – The Bible

Chapter 4 – The Authority of the Scriptures

Chapter 5 – The Proof of the Scriptures

Chapter 6 – How True is the Bible?

Chapter 7 – Modern Biblical Criticism

Chapter 8 – How To Interpret the Bible

PART III: The Attributes of God

Chapter 9 – The True God

Chapter 10 – God in Three Persons

Chapter 11 – Our Sovereign God

Chapter 12 – Holy, Holy, Holy

Chapter 13 – The God Who Knows

Chapter 14 – God Who Changes Not

PART IV: God’s Creation

Chapter 15 – The Creation of Man

Chapter 16 – Nature

Chapter 17 – The Spirit World

Chapter 18 – God’s Providence

BOOK 2: GOD THE REDEEMER

PART I – The Fall of the Race

Chapter 1 – The Fall

Chapter 2 – The Results of the Fall

Chapter 3 – The Bondage of the Will

PART II – Law And Grace

Chapter 4 – The Purpose of God’s Law

Chapter 5 – The Ten Commandments: Love of God

Chapter 6 – The Ten Commandments: Love of Others

Chapter 7 – The Wrath of God

Chapter 8 – Salvation in the Old Testament

PART III – The Person of Christ

Chapter 9 – The Deity of Jesus Christ

Chapter 10 – The Humanity of Jesus Christ

Chapter 11 – Why Christ Became Man

PART IV – The Work of Christ

Chapter 12 – Prophet, Priest, and King

Chapter 13 – Quenching God’s Wrath

Chapter 14 – Paid In Full

Chapter 15 – The Greatness of God’s Love

Chapter 16 – The Pivotal Doctrine: Resurrection

Chapter 17 – Verifying The Resurrection

Chapter 18 – He Ascended Into Heaven

BOOK 3: AWAKENING TO GOD

PART I – The Spirit of God

Chapter 1 – Personal Christianity

Chapter 2 – The Work of the Holy Spirit

Chapter 3 – Union With Christ

PART II – How God Saves Sinners

Chapter 4 – The New Birth

Chapter 5 – Faith And Repentance

Chapter 6 – Justification By Faith: The Hinge of Salvation

Chapter 7 – Justification By Faith: The Place of Works

Chapter 8 – The Tests of Faith

Chapter 9 – A New Family

Chapter 10 – The Upward Way

PART III – The Life of the Christian

Chapter 11 – Embrace The Negative

Chapter 12 – Freedom, Freedom

Chapter 13 – Knowing The Will of God

Chapter 14 – Talking To God

Chapter 15 – God Talking To Us

Chapter 16 – Serving

PART IV: The Work of God

Chapter 17 – Called By God

Chapter 18 – The Keeping Power of God

 BOOK 4: GOD AND HISTORY

PART I – Time And History

Chapter 1 – What’s Wrong With Me?

Chapter 2 – The March Of Time

Chapter 3 – Christ, The Focal Point of History

PART II: The Church of God

Chapter 4 – Christ’s Church

Chapter 5 – The Marks Of The Church

Chapter 6 – How To Worship God

Chapter 7 – Salvation’s Signs And Seals

Chapter 8 – Spiritual Gifts

Chapter 9 – Equipping The Saints

Chapter 10 – Church Government

Chapter 11 – Body Life

Chapter 12 – The Great Commission

PART III: A Tale Of Two Cities

Chapter 13 – The Secular City

Chapter 14 – The Secular Church

Chapter 15 – God’s City

Chapter 16 – Church And State

PART IV: The End of History

Chapter 17 – How Will It End

Chapter 18 – Home At Last

Subject Index

Scripture Index

*Dr. James Montgomery Boice, just 8 weeks after being diagnosed with a fatal liver cancer, died in his sleep on June 15, 2000. The senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, he was a world-famous Bible teacher, author, and statesman for Reformed theology. He informed his congregation of 32 years of his condition on May 7, proclaiming his complete confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness.

In the past 72 years, historic Tenth Presbyterian Church has had two senior pastors, Donald Grey Barnhouse and James Montgomery Boice. Founded in 1828, the church itself predates their tenure by another hundred years. Tenth Presbyterian Church lies in the very heart of the city and today has about 1,200 members.

James Montgomery Boice accepted the position as senior pastor in 1968, and was the teacher of the Bible Study Hour since 1969 and the more recent God’s Word Today broadcast as well. Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Basel, Switzerland. He had written or contributed to nearly 50 books, including Foundations of the Christian FaithLiving by the Book, and exegetical commentaries on Genesis, Psalms, Acts, and Romans.

He was no less involved in the preserving of the fundamentals of the faith than his predecessor, Dr. Barnhouse. In 1985, Boice assumed the presidency of Evangelical Ministries, Inc., the parent organization of the Bible Study Hour, Bible Study Seminars, Bible Studies magazine, and other teaching ministries. In 1997, Evangelical Ministries merged with Christians United for Reformation and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, taking the latter as the new organization’s name, and Dr. Boice assumed the presidency. In 1997, he was a founding member of, and chaired, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.

Of particular concern to Boice was the matter of the church and her relationship to and engagement of society. His recent book, Two Cities, Two Loves, maintains that Christians are citizens of the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of heaven and that they have responsibilities in each. He urged Christians to “participate in secular life rather than merely shoot from the sidelines at secular people.”

Dr. Boice is survived by his wife, Linda, and three daughters. Characteristic of his ministry was his pushing Christians to commit themselves to staying in one place. He lived what he preached, committing to the church and his downtown neighborhood for 30 years. A gifted pastor and leader, he turned down many attractive opportunities in order to build a sense of permanence and belonging. And he urged his parishioners to do the same.

 

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Book Review: Historical Theology by Gregg R. Allison

*Dr. Gregg R. Allison has made a very useful and practical contribution to the study of historical theology – especially for those familiar with Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology.” Gregg writes clearly and cogently for those of us who desire to go deeper into the historical foundations, development, and significance of each major doctrine of the Bible.

 Allison gives us eight solid reasons for studying Historical Theology:

1)    “helping [those who study it to] distinguish orthodoxy from heresy.”

2)    “it provides sound biblical interpretations and theological formulations.”

3)    “it presents stellar examples of faith, love, courage, hope, obedience, and mercy.”

4)    “to protect against the individualism that is rampant today among Christians.”

5)    “it not only helps the church understand the historical development of its beliefs, but enables it to express those beliefs in contemporary form.”

6)    “it encourages the church to focus on the essentials, that is, to major on those areas that have been emphasized repeatedly throughout the history of the church.”

7)    “it gives the church hope by providing assurance that Jesus is fulfilling his promise to his people.”

8)    “finally, as beneficiaries of the heritage of doctrinal development sovereignly overseen by Jesus Christ, the church of today is privileged to enjoy a sense of belonging to the church of the past.”

This book is simply a marvelous plethora of useful information on the development of theology gathered in one place, synthesized masterfully by Allison for those who want to know how theology has come to us by the greatest theological minds in history. The author follows the same outline of Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology,” (also available from Zondervan), and thus it makes this resource an excellent companion of Grudem’s outstanding work. I highly recommend both of these resources to be used together for anyone who desires to know what we believe and how the greatest God-centered theologians of history have developed the sound theology needed to transform lives and culture today in the 21st century.

 

*Dr. Greg Allison in his own words: I am Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where, in addition to teaching the three core theology courses, I teach electives on the doctrine of Scripture, the doctrine of humanity (with a focus on human embodiment), the doctrine of the church, historical theology, and Roman Catholic theology. I do occasional teaching for the Institute of Biblical Studies and Re:train. I am also secretary for the Evangelical Theological Society and serve on the editorial committee as book review editor (in the areas of theology, history, philosophy, etc.) and referee (for articles).

I was born and raised in Chicago, which means I am a Bears fan, Bulls fan, Blackhawks fan, and Cubs fan (and hate the White Sox). I have a B.S. in biology, a M.Div., and the Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. Beside teaching and writing, I enjoy reading, sports, music, and the outdoors. I swim a mile five times a week to keep healthy.

My wife Nora and I were married in 1976 and have three grown children: Lauren is married to Troy, lives in the Seattle area, and has two kids (Caleb and Alia) with another on the way; Hanell is married to Mike, lives in Louisville, and has two kids (Annelie and Hudson); Luke is a senior at Union University majoring in math and secondary education with a minor in Church history.

Some unusual tidbits about me: while in high school I designed the offical seal of my city (Riverdale, Ill.); my wife and I had a private audience with Pope John Paul II (along with 9,998 other invited guests); we lived in Rome and the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland for a total of seven years.

 

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Ten Books I Would Want Every Christian to Read – by Dr. David P. Craig

1)    The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul – Why? Because we need to be exposed to the Majesty of God in a culture that deifies mankind and the creation above the Creator. Next to the Bible – no other book has influenced me more than this one. I could easily include several other works by Sproul in my top 10 – but I believe that if you start with this book – you will be hooked and read many of the other 50 plus books he’s written.

2)    Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero – Why? Because this book goes to the depths of the soul to reveal how original and generational sin has impacted our natures to show us the depths of our sin, and our need of Christ to make us whole again.

3)    Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing by Peter Kreeft – Why? This is the most difficult read (for me, anyway) on the list, but well worth the effort. I think Kreeft does a masterful job of giving a fantastic apologetic for the afterlife, and in particular demonstrating that all that we long for in this life will be fulfilled in Christ for the rest of eternity.

4)    The Prodigal God by Tim Keller – Why? Tim Keller distills the gospel in a most eloquent manner by giving a masterful exposition of Luke 15:11-32. He shows how we have a tendency to err on the side of legalism and how to correct this by coming to a deeper understanding of the grace of God as revealed by Jesus – the Master story teller.

5)    The Reason For God by Tim Keller – Why? I debated on whether to have “Reason to Believe” by R.C. Sproul, or this book by Keller on my list. I chose this one, because it is better at tackling the post-modern objections that people have to believing in God, and more specifically – Christianity. Keller does a masterful job of making a compelling argument for the logic and cogency of believing in the God of the Bible.

6)    Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem – Why? Dr. Grudem is a humble and scholarly theologian who has given us his Magnum Opus in a readable, clear, an articulate fashion. He covers all the major doctrines of the Bible with thoroughness, balance, and grace. I would love for Christians to read more theology than they do, but if they only read one book of theology in their life time – I would want this to be it! God-centered, Christ-centered, and very relevant and practical with application questions for each chapter.

7)    Desiring God by John Piper – Why? I had to have something by Piper in here! I have to admit, that Piper is difficult for me to read. However, the thesis he develops in this book “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him” is strongly and powerfully developed in this book. You can’t read this book without being more powerfully drawn into the glorious presence of our wonderful Maker and Sustainer of all the desires of our heart.

8)    Humility by C.J. Mahaney – Why? Because God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble! This is the shortest and easiest read on my list. However, that doesn’t minimize how important an understanding of Christ’s humility can radically change our lives for the greater good of the Kingdom. Too many Christians are prideful, fleshly, and live in a status quo state. Mahaney’s book is extremely enjoyable and Christ-centered.

9)    Spiritual Depression by David Martyn-Lloyd-Jones – Why? This book is one of many that I could have selected by the Welsh Medical Doctor turned Preacher. It consists of various sermons he preached and distills his mastery of Biblical exposition and combining that with his understanding of the human soul. It covers various topics (more than depression) and really the focus of the book is on how to have more joy because of the person and work of Jesus Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit in our soul.

10) Trusting God – by Jerry Bridges – Why? Because as a pastor – the issue I deal with more than any other is people dealing with worry, anxiety, fear (whatever you want to call it). Bottom-line many Christians live like atheists. They live as if God is NOT sovereign or good. Yet the Bible, and reality teach otherwise – if we view things from His perspective. This book is an excellent practical read that combines good theology with practical encouragement for those who struggle with doubting God’s goodness in their lives.

 

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Book Review: Handbook of Basic Bible Texts by John Jefferson Davis

Great Resource for Bible Students – Especially those who Teach God’s Word

John Jefferson Davis, professor of Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, has provided a very practical resource for Bible Students who desire to check out what the Bible has to say on the various aspects of Systematic Theology (what the whole Bible has to say on a given topic/doctrine).

Each chapter in the book includes a major subject of the Bible followed by a brief introduction; all the relevant verses on the topic in sequential order; brief theological comments on most of the verses; and recommended resources for each subject at the end of each chapter.

Here are the Subjects Covered in the Book:

1)    Scripture – Verbal inspiration and Inerrancy.

2)    God – His existence; Divine attributes – Metaphysical & Moral; The Trinity, and Election (verses supported by both Calvinists and Arminians).

3)    Creation.

4)    Providence – Nature, World History, and Personal Circumstances.

5)    Person of Christ – Humanity and Divinity; Divine Titles; Divine Attributes or Qualities; Divine Actions and Prerogatives; etc.

6)    Man – Man’s Original State; Aspects of Human Nature (Trichotomy and Dichotomy); Man in the State of Sin (Original Sin; Personal Sin, Manifestations and Consequences of Sin.

7)    Work of Christ – Preaching, Teaching, Miracles; Obedience; Death; Resurrection; and Ascension.

8)    Salvation and the Christian Life – Calling and Regeneration; Repentance and Faith; Justification; Sanctification (Wesleyan, Reformed, Pentecostal Distinctives); Perseverance (Reformed and Wesleyan/Arminian Views).

9)    The Church – Nature of the Church; Government of the Church; Mission of the Church.

10) Sacraments – Baptism (General Texts; Believer’s Baptism; Infant Baptism); Lord’s Supper (General Texts, Lutheran, Reformed, and Zwinglian Views).

11) Individual Eschatology – Death and the Intermediate State

12) General Eschatology – The Second Coming of Christ; Millenial Views (all four major views); The General Resurrection; The Final Judgment; The Eternal State.

As a teacher, preacher, disciple maker, mentor, counselor, and life coach for Christ – I find myself coming to this book over and over again to provide just the right verse/s for my understanding and instruction on a particular topic. I like the fact that Davis allows you to formulate your doctrine based on the Biblical evidence. It is more helpful than a concordance in that theological truths are taught throughout the Bible without using theological words (e.g. “Trinity;” “pre-millennial”; etc.) I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

*John Jefferson Davis is Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he has taught since 1975. He is an ordained Presbyterian pastor.

 

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Book Review: The Story of the Bible by Larry Stone

Larry Stone has served us well by giving us a beautiful book that can sit nicely on one’s coffee table and tells the compelling story of the development, translation and transmission of the Scriptures in various languages, it’s historical development, and the current status of translation today around the world. With his selection of various pictures, pullouts, and interesting stories, Stone does not fail to captivate the reader of this book. He does a superb job of giving information that is scholarly and yet accessible to anyone who is interested in knowing more about how the Bible came to be and its impact on civilization.

Having had classes in Bibliology in Bible college, and seminary – I still learned things from the book that I had never known before. We have a nightstand at the entryway to our home and I have found visitors and my two teenagers sitting down looking through the book and being captivated by its contents, pictures, and pullouts. The visual aspects of the book make it almost irresistible to look at.

Stone’s book gives the reader a greater appreciation of the Scriptures and the cost and sacrifice involved in making them available in our language. I would suggest three additions for a future addition to this book for even more usefulness: larger font, a glossary in the back of key terms discussed in the book, and another chapter on the authority, sufficiency, and relevancy of the Bible for salvation and sanctification. However, as the book stands, I would still highly recommend it to everyone who wants to know more about how the Bible came to be.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I am under no compulsion to write a positive or negative review of this book. The opinions expressed are exclusively my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

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Excellent Concise Summary of Liberal Theology

H. Richard Niebuhr famously once distilled liberal theology into this sentence: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

 

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