Book to Look For: Reformed Systematic Theology

Joel Beeke and Crossway appear to have a burgeoning relationship that will bless the church. Reformed Preaching is hot off the press, and coming in March is the first volume in the Reformed Experiential Systematic Theology Series.

I’m making two assumptions about the first volume Reformed Systematic Theology: Revelation and God. First, because it’s a co-write with Paul Smalley, the volume is undoubtedly the fruit of Dr. Beeke’s seminary lectures on systematic theology. Second, I reckon the experiential component will make it a modern-day systematic theology a la Wilhelmus a Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service.

Publisher’s Description

The aim of systematic theology is to engage not only the head, but also the heart and hands. Only recently has the church compartmentalized these aspects of life—separating the academic discipline of theology from the spiritual disciplines of faith and obedience. This new multi-volume work brings together rigorous historical and theological scholarship with spiritual disciplines and practicality—characterized by a simple, accessible, comprehensive, Reformed, and experiential approach. In this volume, Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley explore the first 2 central themes of theology: revelation and God.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Prolegomena: Introduction to Theology and the Doctrine of Revelation

Section A: Introduction to Theology

1. What Is Theology? Part 1: An Academic Discipline

2. What Is Theology? Part 2: A Spiritual Discipline

3. Who Does Theology? Where? When?

4. Which Theology Do We Do? Part 1: Christian, Catholic, Evangelical

5. Which Theology Do We Do? Part 2: Reformed

6. Which Theology Do We Do? Part 3: Polemical and Experiential

7. Why Do We Do Theology?

8. How Do We Do Theology? Part 1: Spiritual Dynamics

9. How Do We Do Theology? Part 2: Academic Methods

Section B: The Doctrine of Revelation

10. Theological Fundamentals of Divine Revelation

11. General Revelation, Part 1: Biblical Teaching

12. General Revelation, Part 2: Philosophy and Science

13. General Revelation, Part 3: Natural Theology and Theistic Arguments

Excursus: Some Historical Perspective on Natural Theology and Theistic Proofs

14. Special Revelation: Biblical Teaching

15. Errors Regarding Special Revelation, Part 1: Romanism and Liberalism

16. Errors Regarding Special Revelation, Part 2: Liberalism’s Offspring

17. The Bible as the Word of God

18. The Properties of the Written Word, Part 1: Authority and Clarity

19. The Properties of the Written Word, Part 2: Necessity, Unity, and Efficacy

20. The Properties of the Written Word, Part 3: Inerrant Veracity

21. The Properties of the Written Word, Part 4: Objections to Inerrancy

22. The Properties of the Written Word, Part 5: Sufficiency

23. The Cessation of Special Revelation, Part 1: Charismatic Continuationism

24. The Cessation of Special Revelation, Part 2: Prophecy Today

25. Applied Revelation for Practical Fruit

Part 2: Theology Proper: The Doctrine of God

Section A: The Doctrine of God’s Triune Glory

26. Introduction: The True Knowledge of God

27. Introduction to God’s Nature and Attributes, Part 1: Biblical Teaching

28. Introduction to God’s Nature and Attributes, Part 2: Theological Questions

29. The Name of “the Lord” (YHWH)

30. The Holiness of the Lord

31. Gods That Are Not God

32. God’s Spirituality

33. God’s Simplicity: “The Lord Our God Is One Lord”

34. God’s Infinity, Incomprehensibility, Aseity, and Immensity

35. God’s Eternity: Infinity with Respect to Time

Excursus: Problems of Time and Eternity

36. God’s Immutability, Part 1: Biblical Teaching

37. God’s Immutability, Part 2: Theological Questions

38. God’s Knowledge, Part 1: Omniscience and Wisdom

38. God’s Knowledge, Part 2: Foreknowledge

40. God’s Sovereignty: An Introduction to Omnipotence

41. God’s Moral Excellence, Part 1: Goodness and Love

42. God’s Moral Excellence, Part 2: Truth and Righteousness

43. God’s Moral Excellence, Part 3: Jealousy, Impassibility, and Joy

44. God’s Moral Excellence, Part 4: Wrath and Compassion

45. The Trinity, Part 1: Biblical Teaching

46. The Trinity, Part 2: Historical Development

47. The Trinity, Part 3: Theological and Practical Considerations

Section B: The Doctrine of God’s Sovereign Purpose

48. The Decree of God: General Considerations

49. Predestination, Part 1: Election and Reprobation

50. Predestination, Part 2: Historical Development through Reformed Orthodoxy

51. Predestination, Part 3: Questions and Uses

52. God’s Providence, Part 1: Biblical Teaching

53. God’s Providence, Part 2: Problems and Applications

Section C: The Doctrine of Angels and Demons

54. The Holy Angels of God

55. Satan and the Demons

Book Notice: Puritan Piety

I’ve met Joel Beeke once. It was at T4G 2010 when he was behind the Reformation Heritage book table. We’ve corresponded on a few occasions in the years since, but I have no reason to think he’d remember me. Yet, few preachers and scholars have influenced me like Dr. Beeke. His sermons and books have indelibly shaped my views on experiential preaching, Reformed piety, and historical theology.

When I saw that Michael Haykin and Paul Smalley had edited a festschrift for Dr. Beeke entitled, Puritan Piety: Essay in Honors of Joel R. Beeke, I was thrilled. The book just came in the mail and looks to be a feast for the soul.


The puritan movement, its leading figures, and the resulting principles were not only pivotal in Church history, but remain greatly influential today. This work looks at the puritan doctrine of piety. Contributors such as Sinclair Ferguson, Michael Haykin, and Mark Jones explore the theology, history, and application of this doctrine, presenting concise biographies of individual Puritans alongside modern heirs who seek to mimic their example. Puritan Piety is written in honour of Joel R. Beeke, inspired by his writings and the passionate piety with which he has strived to live and rightly influence those around him.

Table of Contents

Preface: On Puritans and Piety—Past and Contemporary (Michael A. G. Haykin)

1. Introduction: The Puritan Piety of Joel Beeke (Paul M. Smalley)

Part 1: Reformed Theology and Puritan Piety

2. What is Theology? A Puritan and Reformed Vision of Living to God, through Christ, by the Spirit (Ryan M. McGraw)

3. Christology and Piety in Puritan Thought (Mark Jones)

4. The Kingdom of God in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Paul M. Smalley)

Part 2: Means of Grace and Puritan Piety

5. Calvin the Preacher and the Puritans (Joseph Pipa)

6. The Highway of Holiness: Puritan Moral Reform in the English Revolution (Chad Van Dixhoorn)

7. John Cotton and the Spiritual Value of Psalm-Singing (W. Robert Godfrey)

8. John Owen and the Lord’s Supper (Sinclair B. Ferguson)

9. Principles and Practice for the Household: Thomas Gouge’s Catechesis  ‘with Practical Applications’ (Richard A. Muller)

Part 3: Individual Snapshots of Puritan Piety

10. Daniel Dyke and The Mystery of Self-Deceiving (Randall J. Pederson)

11. Milton’s Sonnet on His Blindness and the Puritan Soul (Leland Ryken)

12. A String of Pearls (Psalm 119): The Biblical Piety of Thomas Manton (J. Stephen Yuille)

Part 4: Later Heirs of Puritan Piety

13. J. C. Philpot and Experimental Calvinism (Robert W. Oliver)

14. Eminent Spirituality and Eminent Usefulness: True Spirituality According to Andrew Fuller (Michael A. G. Haykin)

Book to Look For: On Sanctification

I consider Sinclair Ferguson the greatest living guide for pilgrims on the way to heaven—at least when it comes to biblical/theological books. His publishing output is broad and comprehensive. Rarely does a year go by without another contribution from the Scotsman. In late October he’ll published Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification. It surely will be a candidate for book of the year.

devoted7a-810x1280According to the Trust

The Banner writes:

Christians are transformed by the renewing of their minds. They understand that in large measure how they think about the gospel will determine how they will live for God’s glory. They learn to allow the word of God to do its own work, informing and influencing the way they think in order to shape the way they live.

In a series of Scripture-enriched chapters Sinclair B. Ferguson’s Devoted to God works out this principle in detail. It provides what he describes as ‘blueprints for sanctification’—an orderly exposition of central New Testament passages on holiness. Devoted to God thus builds a strong and reliable structural framework for practical Christian living. It stresses the foundational importance of fundamental issues such as union with Christ, the rhythms of spiritual growth, the reality of spiritual conflict, and the role of God’s law. Here is a fresh approach to an always relevant subject, and a working manual to which the Christian can turn again and again for biblical instruction and spiritual direction.

According to Ferguson

Here’s what Ferguson himself had to say about the book in an interview with Fred Zaspel:

Do you have any new books in the works that we can expect?

Thank you for asking, Fred. The Lord willing, yes. The next one is entitled Devoted to God, and is a treatment of sanctification. I realize there are excellent books on the theme of holiness (Walter Marshall’s classic, Ryle’s great work, and more recently Kevin de Young has written on the subject)—so obviously one needs to “justify” writing another one. The subtitle is Blueprints for Sanctification and the book begins with a somewhat different “take” on what “holiness” means. If there is a distinctive feature that justifies another book on the theme (can we have too many?) it probably lies in the approach. I have tried to focus on a selection of central New Testament passages that provide the groundwork for sanctification (“blueprints”) and work through them in a progressive and cumulative way. If readers know George Smeaton’s two great classic volumes on the atonement, Devoted to God is a kind of more modest (and doubtless very inferior!) attempt to do something similar with sanctification. In harmony with the principles of our Lord’s prayer in John 17 that sanctification takes place through his word, my aim has been to draw the blueprints for sanctification from within both the context and the atmosphere of the text of Scripture itself. I think the book is due out by the Summer of this year.

Tolle lege!

Ferguson’s “Best and Most Important Book”

9781433548000Every once in a while a book comes along and you just know it will stir up evangelical discussion. This kind of a book usually addresses a topic of peculiar interest or debate for the time. It does so with uncommon wisdom and skill. And it regularly comes from the pen of a most trusted author.

If those criteria are true, then Sinclair Ferguson’s forthcoming The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters will surely be a conversation starter in our circles. The sanctification debates of recent times have often needed a mature, seasoned voice to cut through all the rhetorical noise. Sinclair Ferguson is indeed a voice worth listening to on this most timely topic. He uses the Marrow Controversy as the backdrop for rightly understanding the gospel’s relation to holiness and assurance. If you know nothing about the Marrow Men you are in for a historical treat. If you know all about Marrow theology you know why this context is vital for our day.

Read the summary below and then check out the endorsements—the praise is already running unusually high. The Whole Christ is scheduled to drop January 31, 2016.

Book Summary

Since the days of the early church, Christians have struggled to understand the relationship between two seemingly contradictory concepts in the Bible: law and gospel. If, as the apostle Paul says, the law cannot save, what can it do? Is it merely an ancient relic from Old Testament Israel to be discarded? Or is it still valuable for Christians today? Helping modern Christians think through this complex issue, seasoned pastor and theologian Sinclair Ferguson carefully leads readers to rediscover an eighteenth-century debate that sheds light on this present-day doctrinal conundrum: the Marrow Controversy. After sketching the history of the debate, Ferguson moves on to discuss the theology itself, acting as a wise guide for walking the path between legalism (overemphasis on the law) on the one side and antinomianism (wholesale rejection of the law) on the other.


“The volume in your hands is not just a helpful historical reflection but also a tract for the times. Sinclair does a good job of recounting the Marrow Controversy in an accessible and interesting way. However, his real aim is not merely to do that. Against the background and features of that older dispute, he wants to help us understand the character of this perpetual problem—one that bedevils the church today. He does so in the most illuminating and compelling way I’ve seen in recent evangelical literature.”
Timothy J. Keller, Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City; best-selling author, The Reason for God

“This book has three things I’m very interested in: eighteenth century Scottish church history, doctrinal clarity on the gospel, and learning from Sinclair Ferguson. As fascinating as this work is as a piece of historical analysis, it is even more important as a careful biblical and theological guide to the always-relevant controversies surrounding legalism, antinomianism, and assurance. I’m thankful Ferguson has put his scholarly mind and pastoral heart to work on such an important topic.”
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

“This book could not come at a better time or from a better source. Sinclair Ferguson brings to life a very important controversy in the past to shed light on contemporary debates. But The Whole Christ is more than a deeply informed survey of the Marrow Controversy. It is the highest-quality pastoral wisdom and doctrinal reflection on the most central issue in any age.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Calvin on the Christian Life

“Ferguson unearths an ancient debate and shows its compelling relevance to gospel preaching and Christian living. This may be Sinclair’s best and most important book. Take up and read!”
Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

“Sinclair Ferguson scratches through the surface definitions that we have become comfortable with when it comes to legalism and antinomianism, to reveal the marrow, the whole Christ. When we are offered the whole Christ in the gospel, we do not want to settle for anything that undermines the greatness and power of God’s grace. Both pastors and lay people will benefit from reading this historical, theological, and practical book.”
Aimee Byrdauthor, Housewife Theologian and Theological Fitness

“Would it be an exaggeration to insist that the issue dealt with in this book is more important than any other that one might suggest? No, it would not be an exaggeration! For, as Ferguson makes all too clear, the issue is the very definition of the gospel itself. Preaching Christ requires constant and diligent self-examination of what we understand by and how we communicate the gospel. The errors of antinomianism and legalism lie ready to allure unwary hucksters content with mere slogans and rhetoric. I can think of no one I trust more to explore and examine this vital subject than Sinclair Ferguson. For my part, this is one of the most important and definitive books I have read in over four decades.”
Derek Thomas, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina; Robert Strong Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia

“I marvel at Sinclair Ferguson’s grasp of historical detail, but I praise God more for Sinclair’s love of and zeal for gospel clarity. The grace that saves our souls and enables our obedience is defined, distinguished, and treasured in this discussion of our faith forefather’s wrestling to keep the proclamation of the gospel free from human error or contribution.”
Bryan Chapell, President Emeritus, Covenant Theological Seminary; Senior Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Illinois

“This is a stellar exposition. It takes up the perennial issue of how grace and works relate to each other in our salvation. Ferguson begins with an old debate that took place in Scotland to illumine the issues at stake. He writes with deep knowledge and acute judgment, bringing clarity and insight to this issue and showing us the way out of our contemporary muddle.”
David F. Wells, Distinguished Senior Research Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Book to Look For: Transforming Homosexuality

prpbooks_images_covers_md_9781596381391Few cultural issues are as pastorally pressing as the subject of homosexuality. As we know, the subject itself is much more complex than it might seem on the surface. In God’s kindness, a bevy of resources keep flowing off the press to equip church leaders and members to think through it all with biblical care and compassion.

Due to land on September 25th is Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says About Sexual Orientation and Change from Denny Burk and Heath Lambert. (Am I the only one that finds it fascinating the Baptist men put this out with a traditionally Presbyterian publisher? I’m not intimating anything, just pointing out something unusual.) Read the description below and I think you’ll agree this will be a book worth your attention. If the description isn’t enough to convince you of the book’s timeliness, check out the endorsements from Allberry and Butterfield—their praise is surely worth particular attention.


Faithful Christians today agree that the Bible forbids homosexual behavior. But when it comes to underlying desires, the jury is out. Some Christians view homosexual desire as morally neutral, while others believe it calls for repentance and gospel renewal.

Is same-sex attraction sinful, even if it is not acted on? How we answer this urgent question determines how we counsel brothers and sisters who wrestle with same-sex desires. Denny Burk and Heath Lambert challenge misconceptions on all sides as they unpack the concepts of same-sex orientation, temptation, and desire. They show that ultimately a biblical view gives hope for profound personal change, with patterns remolded and rethought in faithfulness to Christ.


“Denny Burk and Heath Lambert have written a clear, compassionate, and thought-provoking book on how the gospel brings transformation to those struggling with homosexuality. Our hope is not the heterosexuality-or-bust shtick of reparative therapy, but the wondrous prospect of growing in holiness and Christlikeness that comes through repentance and faith. This is essential reading for every pastor and for any seeking to bless and minister to those with same-sex attraction in our churches.”

—Sam Allberry

“In Principles of Conduct, John Murray reminds us that ‘the line of demarcation between virtue and vice is not a chasm but a razor’s edge.’ In Transforming Homosexuality, Denny Burk and Heath Lambert shine scholarly and pastoral light on that razor’s edge, helping Christians to discern the difference between sexual temptation and sexual lust as it bears on same-sex attraction. This is a bold and provocative book. It will also likely be a controversial book. But it is predominantly a loving book that seeks to help people with unwanted homosexual desires be transformed by the full knowledge that God’s grace for us in Christ is sufficient for all our various struggles and sins.”

—Rosaria Butterfield

“Under pressure from worldly trendsetters, many in the church (including several key evangelical leaders) have adopted the position that homosexual desire may in some sense be ‘normal.’ Homosexual acts are sinful, they say, but a homosexual orientation is not inherently unrighteous. In Transforming Homosexuality, Denny Burk and Heath Lambert address that idea with biblical clarity and godly wisdom. This is an important book about an issue that has overwhelmed our culture.”

—John MacArthur

7 Books to Look For

Every so often I scour the “Coming Soon” lists from evangelical publishing houses to see if there’s anything worthy of anticipation. My most recent search turned up seven soon-to-be-published titles I think are of unique interest to ordinary pastors—to read and/or pass around in their churches.

9781433681042_cvr_webBaptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age edited by Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman. Today is an anti-polity age, perhaps more than any other time in the history of the church. Yet polity remains as important now as it was in the New Testament church. Right polity strengthens Christians and their ties to one another. It is the platinum prongs that hold the diamond of the gospel in place, protecting the gospel from one generation to the next. Wrong polity, on the other hand, weakens Christians and their ties. It leaves heresies and hypocrites unchecked. It lets hurting sheep wander off and fall into canyons. It loosens the prongs so that the diamond of the gospel eventually falls to the ground and gets lost.

What then is a right or biblical polity? In this volume, representatives of several North American Baptist seminaries and a Baptist university make the exegetical and theological case for a Baptist polity. Right polity, they argue, is congregationalism, elder leadership, diaconal service, regenerate church membership, church discipline, and a Baptist approach to the ordinances.

9781433546914Caring for Widows: Ministering God’s Grace by Brian Croft and Austin Walker. Pastors and church leaders are responsible for countless things. Unfortunately, in many churches, ministry to widows remains largely neglected and forgotten.

Highlighting the Bible’s recurring commands to care for widows with sensitivity and compassion, this book encourages church leaders to think carefully about how to serve the widows in their congregations and suggests practical strategies to that end. In part 1, the authors summarize the Bible’s consistent teaching regarding the care of widows. In part 2, the authors offer hands-on counseling and a host of practical suggestions related to ensuring that widows receive the support and encouragement they need to thrive in the church.

GPGoing Public: Why Baptism is Required for Church Membership by Bobby Jamieson. Does everyone who joins a local church need to be baptized? What should churches that practice believer baptism do about those who were “baptized” as infants? This is a live question for many churches today, and it raises a host of other crucial questions: What is the meaning and function of baptism? Does baptism have any inherent relationship to the local church? How do baptism and the Lord’s Supper fit together? What exactly is “church membership”?

To answer the question of whether baptism is required for church membership, Going Public seeks to rebuild ecclesiological foundations, digging deep into the Bible’s teaching on baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and church membership. Bobby Jamieson describes how baptism and the Lord’s Supper transform a scattered group of Christians into a gathered local church. It traces the trajectory of a church’s birth, how gospel people form a gospel polity.

9780801097713The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan. Many pastors today see themselves primarily as counselors, leaders, and motivators. Yet this often comes at the expense of the fundamental reality of the pastorate as a theological office. The most important role is to be a theologian mediating God to the people. The church needs pastors who can contextualize the Word of God to help their congregations think theologically about all aspects of their lives, such as work, end-of-life decisions, political involvement, and entertainment.

Drawing on the depiction of pastors in the Bible, key figures from church history, and Christian theology, this brief and accessible book offers a clarion call for pastors to serve as public theologians in their congregations and communities. The church needs pastors to read the world in light of Scripture and to direct their congregations in ways of wisdom, shalom, and human flourishing. The Pastor as Public Theologian calls for a paradigm shift in the very idea of what a pastor is and does, setting forth a positive alternative picture.

9781433547843Praying the Bible by Don Whitney. All Christians know they should pray, but sometimes it’s hard to know how—especially if the minutes start to drag and our minds start to wander. Offering readers hope, encouragement, and the practical advice they’re looking for, this concise book by professor Donald Whitney outlines a simple, time-tested method that can help transform our prayer lives: praying the words of the Bible. Praying the Bible shows readers how to pray through portions of Scripture one line at a time, helping us stay focused by allowing God’s Word itself to direct our thoughts and words. Simple yet profound, this resource will prove invaluable to all Christians as they seek to commune with their heavenly Father in prayer each and every day.

prpbooks_images_covers_md_9781596389953Theological Fitness: Why We Need a Fighting Faith by Aimee Byrd. Your spiritual life should be a battle! The writer of Hebrews tells us to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering” (10:23 ESV). What (and whom) do we need to meet this challenge? How does simply “holding fast” turn into such a workout of faith? Author and blogger Aimee Byrd invites us to join her in some “theological fitness” training as she unpacks our call to perseverance and explores the great metaphor that physical fitness lends to theology. Learn about the “fighting grace” God has given us, and discover how we are equipped to live lives of obedience even amidst the suffering and irritations of ordinary life.

9781433545238Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church edited by Gloria Furman and Kathleen Nielson. The Bible is clear that women as well as men are created in God’s image and intended to serve him with their lives. But what does this look like for women in the church? Helping church leaders think through what a Bible-centered women’s ministry looks like, this collection of essays by respected Bible teachers and authors such as Gloria Furman, Nancy Guthrie, and Susan Hunt addresses a variety of topics relevant to women. Whether exploring the importance of intergenerational relationships, the Bible’s teaching on sexuality, or women’s roles in the church and the home, this book of wise teaching and practical instruction will become a must-have resource for anyone interested in bolstering the health and vitality of Christian women in the context of the local church.

Book to Look For: On Bible Meditation

Depending on your background the practice of meditation may sound thoroughly orthodox or totally New Age. We ought to think of it as utterly biblical.

No book in the Bible speaks more frequently about meditation than the Psalms. Psalm 1 says the blessed man meditates on God’s law day and night. In Psalm 63 David speaks of a deep thirsting after the Lord which leads him to meditate upon the God’s greatness during the night. Psalm 119:148 says, “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.”

Let the Puritans Guide the Way

Battle_plan__38771.1421098002.315.315One group in church history that understood the usefulness of meditation was the Puritans. Joel Beeke writes, “The Puritans never tired of saying that biblical meditation involves thinking upon the Triune God and His Word. By anchoring meditation in the living Word, Jesus Christ, and God’s written Word, the Bible, the Puritans distanced themselves from the kind of bogus spirituality or mysticism that stresses contemplation at the expense of action, and flights of the imagination at the expense of biblical content.

“For the Puritans, meditation exercises both the mind and the heart; he who meditates approaches a subject with his intellect as well as his affections. Thomas Watson defined meditation as ‘a holy exercise of the mind whereby we bring the truths of God to remembrance, and do seriously ponder upon them and apply them to ourselves.’”
Praise God that Reformation Heritage is about to publish a promising work by David Saxton titled, God’s Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation.
Here’s what RHB has to say about the book:
During the seventeenth century, English Puritan pastors often encouraged their congregations in the spiritual discipline of meditating on God and His Word. Today, however, much of evangelicalism is either ignorant of or turned off to the idea of meditation. In God’s Battle Plan for the Mind, pastor David Saxton seeks to convince God’s people of the absolute necessity for personal meditation and motivate them to begin this work themselves. But he has not done this alone. Rather, he has labored through numerous Puritan works in order to bring together the best of their insights on meditation. Standing on the shoulders of these giants, Saxton teaches us how to meditate on divine truth and gives valuable guidance about how to rightly pattern our thinking throughout the day. With the rich experiential theology of the Puritans, this book lays out a course for enjoying true meditation on God’s Word.
John Macarthur exhorts, “You need to get a copy, read it, put its principles into practice, and ‘be transformed by the renewal of your mind.’” Tolle lege!

Rejoicing in Christ

9780830840229Our main avenue for discipling men at Imago Dei is the weekly gathered worship service. But it’s not the only avenue. Another road is something we call The Upper Room.

On the second Sunday of each month a few dozen men from our church get together to eat BBQ breakfast tacos and encourage each other in Christ. In 2013 our gatherings revolved around a particular book I had the men read each month.  Vaughn Roberts’ God’s Big Picture was the first title to step up to the plate. I remember feeling great joy as men, for the first time, were getting a sense of God’s unified movement throughout redemptive history. If you’ve ever read Roberts’ book you know it is gloriously accessible. It thus seemed like a safe bet for the men, many of whom hadn’t read a Christian book cover to cover in a long time.


So it was with some trepidation I announced the second book to the brothers, Michael Reeves’ Delighting in the Trinity. Would the men enjoy a dive into deeper theological waters? Or would it stifle the excited momentum we were experiencing? I had read Reeves’ book the year before and it opened new vistas of wonder in my understanding of God, and I longed for it to do the same with my flock. The book is short, but it does demand some level of serious attention. I waited with baited pastoral breath as I watched more than thirty men buy the book that day. Would it help them delight in the Trinity?

I didn’t take long to find out.

Within a few days I began to get texts and emails saying things like, “I’ve never understood God in this way!” “This may be the best book on knowing God I’ve ever read!” “The Trinity finally makes sense to me!” “I love God more than I did before I read this book.”

As the next few weeks went by I noticed the men kept buying up additional copies to give to family members and friends. Reeves’ clearly struck a chord of soul-satisfying joy in the souls of our men.

I have sense sat with great anticipation for Reeves’ next publication.

So it was with peculiar excitement I recently saw a publication date for Reeves’ next book to be published in America, Rejoicing in Christ. IVP is putting it out on March 13th of this year.

I have no doubt the book will lead countless lives to do exactly what the title says.


IVP’s summary says,

If we want to know who God is, the best thing we can do is look at Christ. If we want to live the life to which God calls us, we look to Christ. In Jesus we see the true meaning of the love, power, wisdom, justice, peace, care and majesty of God.

Michael Reeves, author of Delighting in the Trinity, opens to readers the glory and wonder of Christ, offering a bigger and more exciting picture than many have imagined. Jesus didn’t just bring us the good news. He is the good news. Reeves helps us celebrate who Christ is, his work on earth, his death and resurrection, his anticipated return and how we share in his life.

This book, then, aims for something deeper than a new technique or a call to action. In an age that virtually compels us to look at ourselves, Michael Reeves calls us to look at Christ. As we focus our hearts on him, we see how he is our life, our righteousness, our holiness and our hope.

Yes, let’s stare at the Son together. To whet your appetite even more, here’s an excerpt from the introduction. Oh! this book is going to be good.

Michael Horton writes, “If you want to love Christ more, you need a better view of him. Rejoicing in Christ gives you a front-row seat.” “This is a scintillating treatment of a vital subject,” says Robert Letham.

Like Reeves’ other popular works, this book is short (137 pages) and to the point, containing only five chapters:

Introduction: Christianity Is Christ
1. In the Beginning
2. Behold the Man!
3. There and Back Again
4. Life in Christ
5. Come, Lord Jesus!
Conclusion: No Other Name Under Heaven

Set aside some of your church’s book budget to buy multiple copies Rejoicing in Christ. The financial investment will surely reap an untold spiritual reward.

Books to Look For From DeYoung

Every once in a while an author comes along with that rare, and envious, mixture of authorial mastery: wisdom, wit, and warmth. Were those “W’s of Writing” are present you can almost assuredly count on the work being useful.

One of the few authors in our evangelical landscape who has those attributes in spades is Kevin DeYoung.

I have follow his publishing career from he and Ted Kluck’s timely addressing of “The Theological/Philosophical Fad of the Moment” in Why We’re Not Emergent By Two Guys Who Should Be to the recent masterpiece on Scripture, Taking God at His Word.

If DeYoung writes it, I will read it. And [much] more often than not I find myself writing things like “amen,” “good point,” or “challenging” in the margin of his works.

From what I can see, he’s slated to publish two books next year well worth our attention, for drastically different reasons. The first seeks to offer clarity on the cultural issue most pressing on the church at the moment, while the second looks like it will be a fun family read around the dinner table. And we always need wisdom, wit, and warmth in both those categories. Here are the respective titles, both from the good folks at Crossway.

9781433549373What Does the Bible Really Say About Homosexuality? In just a few short years, massive shifts in public opinion have radically reshaped society’s views on homosexuality. Feeling the pressure to forsake long-held beliefs about sex and marriage, some argue that Christians have historically misunderstood the Bible’s teaching on this issue. But does this approach do justice to what the Bible really teaches about homosexuality? In this timely book, award-winning author Kevin DeYoung challenges each of us—the skeptic, the seeker, the certain, and the confused—to take a humble look at God’s Word. Examining key biblical passages in both the Old and New Testaments and the Bible’s overarching teaching regarding sexuality, DeYoung responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike—offering readers an indispensable resource for thinking through one of the most pressing issues of our day. Publication Date: April 30, 2015.

9781433542442The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden. The burning bush. David and Goliath. Joseph and the coat of many colors. The Bible is full of classic stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those beloved stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s love for the world. In The Biggest Story, best-selling author and father of six, Kevin DeYoung, leads readers on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to the return of Christ. Short and extremely readable, this imaginative retelling of the biblical narrative can be read in one sitting and features action-packed illustrations that will bring the message of the Bible to life for the whole family. Publication Date: August 31, 2015.

Book to Look For: On the Church

9781433543548On of my favorite books on ecclesiology is The Deliberate Church by Paul Alexander and Mark Dever.

I’ve always thought of it as a “Best Of” volume on all things 9Marks, for it presents a sweeping ecclesiological vision on everything from polity, to worship, to running elders meetings. Yet, if The Deliberate Church lacks anything it is extended discussion on the nitty-gritty of a church life together.

Enter The Compelling Community.


Someone told me this forthcoming book by Dever and Jamie Dunlop (an Associate Pastor at Dever’s church) is something of a companion volume to The Deliberate Church. Where the first book constructed a foundation on which the church can stand, this new book seeks to build pillars and buttresses of truth for church life. Here’s what Crossway says:

The local church is meant to embody the vibrant diversity of the global church, transcending racial, cultural, and economic boundaries. Yet local churches too often simply reflect the same societal divisions prevalent in our world today—making them more akin to social clubs filled with like-minded people than the supernatural community the New Testament prescribes. Pastors Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop argue that authentic fellowship is made up of two crucial ingredients: commitment (depth) and diversity (breadth). Theologically rooted yet extremely practical, this book sets forth basic principles that will help pastors guide their churches toward the compelling community that we all long for.

The Compelling Community is due to land on April 30th.