Free Book: Come Unto Me by Tony Reinke

Free book
Come Unto Me: God’s Invitation to the World
by Tony Reinke

This time last year I was staying up late and getting out of bed very early to put the final touches on my undergraduate thesis. I convinced my secular academic adviser that it would be good to clarify the contours of the biblical gospel. I’m sure he wasn’t too thrilled.

03spurgeoncumcover.jpgFor me, the opportunity to concentrate my attention on the character of our priceless gospel was incredible. The product was the book titled Come Unto Me: God’s Invitation to the World. My primarily goal was to take advantage of an opportunity to articulate the biblical gospel — both the work of Christ and the act of faith — with my academic adviser and fellow classmates.

Secondly, my non-Christian audience pushed me to think hard at how to best articulate the biblical worldview, something I had not consciously worked through in the past.

Finally, the book helps me retain an important balance in my personal ministry. There are several contours of the gospel and each are easy to forget or minimize.

The invitation to God, from God, is a biblical message filled with rich diversity. For those who accept it, this message requires sorrow and promises inexpressible joy. The invitation comes without price and costs everything. The invitation includes an offer of a relationship to God that is both forensic (or legal) and yet conjugal (or marital). The invitation to God is a call to leave past burdens and take up new burdens.

Frequently I need to be reminded of these important contours.

And so now I offer this book for your reading. It’s free for you to download and read. Thanks to the help of gracious friends, it now comes in three mouth-watering flavors:

1. Come Unto Me in HTML format. This is the basic text format but ideal if you are interested in browsing or reading the content online. Click here for HTML.

2. Come Unto Me in PDF format. Ideal if you are interested in downloading and printing the book. This file preserves the original pagination and formatting. Click here to download the PDF file.

3. Come Unto Me in LOGOS format. Ideal if you want to incorporate my research of the biblical gospel into your own research. Thanks to my friends at StillTruth, you can download and install my book into your Logos software. Click here to access the StillTruth Webpage and download.


Humble Calvinism (2): Why John Calvin?

Why John Calvin?

We’re pushing off into a 5-month voyage of the life and thought of John Calvin. Where this boat will float us I cannot say. Augustine said that he wrote to learn and that’s my intention. But I can predict with certainty that these will not be easy seas. Understanding God’s motives and actions require the utmost humility. Calvin leads us off the path of human wisdom to the cliff edge of divine mystery. Scripture leads us here, so we go.

My goal is to uncover the implications of Calvinism for the Christian life (If you want a 20-point defense of limited atonement, you will not find it here). But this will not be a difficult task. Calvin never strays very far into theology without showing the practical implications.

Here are a few answers that come to mind when we ask: Why Calvin? Why now?

1. Because Calvinism is biblical. No system of theology has better (notice I did not say ‘perfectly’) displayed a consistently biblical framework. If you want to be consistent with Scripture, Calvinism is your system. Because of this, Calvinism is a firm confrontation to theological reductionism (those who build theological systems from only parts of Scripture). We must deal with themes like God’s sovereignty, our depravity, His election, etc. These Calvinistic themes are carried throughout the Old and New Testaments.

2. Because Calvinism is tested. The greatest theological minds in church history were Calvinists. Augustine, who predates Calvin by centuries, laid a foundation Calvin could easily build on (“Augustine is totally ours!” Calvin once wrote). After Calvin, men like Jonathan Edwards and John Owen stand atop the list of theological elites who were Calvinists which should not surprise since the Puritan movement itself was “a kind of vigorous Calvinism” (Joel Beeke, Meet the Puritans). John Bunyan was a Calvinist. Mathematical genius and philosopher Blaise Pascal was a Calvinist. Great evangelists like David Brainerd and George Whitefield were Calvinists (Whitefield frequently preached of election to non-believers). Calvinist theologians include B.B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, Charles Hodge, Cornelius Van Til and the other early Princeton Seminary leaders. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Francis Schaeffer were Calvinists. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon equated Calvinism with the gospel itself. Representing several denominations, many contemporary Evangelical leaders are Calvinists (Al Mohler, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney, Joshua Harris, R.C. Sproul, Ligon Duncan, John MacArthur, J.I. Packer and Mark Dever). A ministry producing some of the most powerful sermons and worship music goes by a very Calvinistic name, Sovereign Grace Ministries. And this is just a sampling. For centuries (right up to 2007) Calvinism has caught the eye of the brightest theological minds, evangelists, preachers, philosophers and musicians.

3. Because Calvinism is a relevant worldview. We are not talking merely about theology and doctrine! Calvinism puts every detail of this world – not in the hands of mere men or fate or luck – but in a personal God who is working all of world history towards one final goal. To say it another way, “there is nothing casual nor contingent in the world.” So what does a Calvinist look like? B.B. Warfield wrote, “He [the Calvinist] has caught sight of the ineffable Vision, and he will not let it fade for a moment from his eyes – God in nature, God in history, God in grace. Everywhere he sees God in His mighty stepping, everywhere he feels the working of his mighty arm, the throbbing of His mighty heart.” Calvinism is a worldview that embraces music, art, history, natural sciences, medicine, politics, economics, labor and race relations. Fittingly, McGrath closes his biographical account of Calvin with these words: “Although Calvin lies buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Geneva, his ideas and influences live on in the outlooks of the culture he helped to create” (p. 261).

4. Because Calvinism brings reverence and trust in God. According to Calvin, without reverence towards God and worshipping Him as the giver of all things, we cannot know God. Understanding God is not about scholarship and academic degrees but of piety, submission and love towards God. A true study of Calvin and Calvinism will help us foster these godly characteristics.

5. Because Calvinism protects the church. Whether we are talking about open theism, theological liberalism, religious relativism, emergent church movement, church-growth methods, new perspectives of Paul or misunderstandings of the fundamental differences between the gospels of Evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism, Calvinism will keep our attention on Scripture. In the book The Doctrines of Grace, Boice and Ryken write, “The pathway from Calvinism to liberalism – and even atheism – is well worn, and it usually passes through Arminianism” (p. 66). Churches who preach a god unable to sovereignly manage the world to his own glory become vulnerable to the most grave errors.

6. Because Calvinism brings comfort. When life is tough, there is no comfort in a powerless god. Only when we understand God to be firmly in control of our pain and discomforts can we say with Job, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!” And only then can we say with Paul, “All things work together for the good of those who love God.” Only a sovereign God can comfort us in our deepest trials.

7. Because Calvinism is high. If you want to grasp God, you must stand on the highest plateau to get a glimpse of his majesty. Steven Lawson’s newest book reminds us that Calvinism is where “The lofty truths of divine sovereignty provide the greatest and grandest view of God” and “The doctrines of grace serve to elevate the entire life of the church.” Calvinism forces us to climb higher than we imagined, to see bigger things then we thought possible, and elevates the worship and reverence of the church beyond the routine and mundane.

8. Because Calvinism is cool. That’s right. Last Fall Christianity Today called Calvinists, “Young, Restless and Reformed,” which is another way of saying Calvinists are now the cool kids in school. Seriously, people can see through the wafer thin glazing of seeker sensitive church growth movement. Confusing conversations and open theism simply will not do. Christians want the mighty God of Scripture. One who sits high and exalted, who shakes the heavens and whose right hand controls every detail of life to His own glory and to the good of believers. Calvinism is very relevant today.


Loraine Boettner wrote of John Calvin that he “ventured boldly but reverently upon the brink of that abyss of speculation where all human knowledge is lost in mystery and adoration.” And in pursuing the depths of Scripture, Calvin has set before us the Christian life as it flows from the most profound theology.

Together we will learn Humble Calvinism. Will you join us?


Click here to access previous posts in the Humble Calvinism index.


John Calvin (1509-1564)

Between January and May here at The Shepherd’s Scrapbook we will be focusing our attention on French reformer John Calvin (with other posts and topics scattered along the way).

Calvin was a lawyer-turned-Reformer whose written works provide readers a 51-volume depository of Reformed theology and exegesis of Scripture. His commentaries, systematic theology (The Institutes), letters and sermons continue in print nearly 500 years after his birth.

We are focusing on Calvin, but not because he was perfect. He had character faults. Calvin was irritable, distant and a bit cold (not unlike myself at times). Nor was Calvin infallible. At some secondary points in his teachings I must disagree. John Owen said of the patristic writers we should take the gold and leave the dung. There is much gold in Calvin, but not all of it. Would Calvin want to be considered an infallibly guide anyways?

Why do Calvin’s massive works live on? Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Calvin is a tree whose ‘leaf also shall not wither’; whatever he has written lives on, and is never out of date, because he expounded the word without bias or partiality.” Calvin wrote — not as a man defending an extra-biblical framework — but as an honest man seeking to discover the biblical framework.

Calvin is an incredible example for us today. He buffeted his body and made it his slave for the sake of the gospel. Calvin strove to be a great preacher, a great theologian and a diligent pastor to his flock. He is an example for all pastors. His testimony exhorts me to preach boldly, think clearly and minister personally. When I reflect on Calvin (or Spurgeon for that matter) I am reminded just how fruitful one life can be for the gospel. Bearing the fruit of Calvin requires the self-denial of Calvin.

So whether were looking at his radical self-discipline, sober critical thinking, careful exegesis of Scripture, command of the Greek and Hebrew languages, clear and simple expositions from the pulpit or his brilliant theological framework, Calvin remains a giant of church history.

The life and teaching of John Calvin (and the many books in print about him and by him) we believe are worthy of extended study.


Click here to access previous posts in the Humble Calvinism index.


A slave beaten … a Son killed: Illustrating the weight of Sin (John Owen)

“To see a slave beaten and corrected, it argues a fault committed; but yet perhaps the demerit of it was not very great. The correction of a son argues a great provocation; that of an only son, the greatest imaginable. Never was sin seen to be more abominably sinful and full of provocation, than when the burden of it was upon the shoulders of the Son of God. God having made his Son, the Son of his love, his only begotten, full of grace and truth, sin for us, to manifest his indignation against it, and how utterly impossible it is that he should let the least sin go unpunished, he lays hand on him, and spares him not.”

John Owen, Communion with God from The Works of John Owen (Banner of Truth), 2:96.

A Christmas Tree in the Courtroom

The contemporary church measures sin primarily by its effect upon marriages (divorce), the Internet (pornography), kids (rebellion towards parents), culture (racial tension, crime), nature (floods, tsunamis), and physical pain (sickness, cancer, death). These are all effects of sin. But the bible points us to a greater reality, beyond the reach of counselors, doctors, Internet filters, global warming and social scientists. I am talking about measuring sin by God’s Law and seeing our condemnation under it (see Romans 4:15).

John tells us that, “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Sin is a breach of God’s Law by sinners who – by breaking one Law – are guilty of every Law (James 2:10). We have a legal problem and we need a legal solution.

This week Horatius Bonar has been supplying us excellent material for meditation. His words on this subject are fitting.

“Man has always treated sin as a misfortune, not a crime; as disease, not as guilt; as a case for the physician, not for the judge. Herein lies the essential faultiness of all mere human religions or theologies. They fail to acknowledge the judicial aspect of the question, as that on which the real answer must hinge.”

-Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness (Banner of Truth: Edinburgh) 1874/1993, p. 3.

In this Christmas season we can sing, ‘Joy to the world!’ not because sin and it’s effects have been removed from the world, but because guilty sinners can now enter the courtroom of God’s Law and be judged innocent of sin! Let us think of baby Jesus being born “under the law” (Galatians 4:4) to live and die to be the end of the law for everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). Christ has come, He has been crucified and He has taken away God’s judgments against us (Zephaniah 3:15)!

Here is my personal prayer this Christmas season: I want to search deeper into what it means to be justified – declared perfect! – in the courtroom of God’s Law. I want to see more clearly that because this baby lived and died “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Joy to the Word! Christ has come to ransom sinners! Let the criminals walk free.

– Tony


Have a wonderful Christmas season!