2007 Sermons of the Year

The end of December is an ideal time to reflect on God’s blessings from the past year. And today I am reminded of some specific memories from the Spring.

The Banner of Truth invited me to attend their minister’s conference in Grantham, Pennsylvania. To my surprise, when I landed in the Harrisburg airport I was kindly chauffeured to the conference in the same car as Dr. Sinclair Ferguson and Dr. Derek Thomas. It was a memorable 45 minutes, as the two men laughed over funny pulpit experiences. Ferguson’s humor had me rolling the entire trip, like the time he bought some marmalade as a gift for his wife and attempted to bring it through airport security. The gift was confiscated. Apparently, he concluded, the United States is fearful of being attacked by marmalade. The story seemed especially funny with the punch line packaged in a thick Scottish accent.

The conference at Messiah College was sunny and hot. Derek Thomas took a chance of speaking without a jacket on, and his friends caught word over at Reformation21. Dr. Thomas took the brunt of some public correction and perhaps lost points with Mississippi Presbyterians and “British Lloyd Jonesites.” The heat was too intense for a jacket. I think I was wearing jean shorts.

At the end of the first night of messages I experienced the now-famous Ferguson walk through the conference bookstore. The bookstore was stuffed with onlookers, and Ferguson wove his way around the tables of Banner treasures, holding up specific volumes long enough to expound their value in the library of a “gospel minister” (another phrase that sounds great with the Scottish accent). Among others, he lifted Iain Murray’s 2-volume biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, B.B. Warfield’s Faith and Life, Charles Bridges’ The Christian Ministry, J.C. Ryle’s The Upper Room, and Gerhard Vos’ Biblical Theology. Every book he mentioned was drastically cut in price and snatched up quickly. He began the walk through the bookstore with a memorable preface. When he graduated seminary, the really useful books printed by Evangelical publishers could easily fit on one shelf. In other words, we are blessed to have so many excellent volumes available today.

Overall, I had great roommates in the shared dorms. We shared a lot of laughs, ate some wonderful food, and met several new friends. The format of the conference was a bit more formal than I’m used to, but experiencing the Holy Spirit’s work in different settings and formats is always encouraging. And my time with Steve was encouraging and edifying, especially the late drive from the conference to the Banner of Truth warehouse in Carlisle, PA. Because of a tight schedule, time allowed only a midnight tour of the Banner warehouse. It was a conference highlight.

These conference memories come back because last week (after I released my top books of the year), I received an email from a reader (Dean) inquiring about my list of favorite messages I’d heard this year. My “Now on my iPod…” on the sidebar spikes listener interest and some assume that I compile a lot of audio messages (which I don’t). But I like the idea, and off Dean’s advice I set out to complete a top-10 list of favorite messages from 2007. As much as I tried, the list never came together for me. Next year I’ll take note of favorite messages throughout the year (as I do in compiling favorite books).

Despite being unable to complete a top 10-list, there is no debate over my top two favorite messages from 2007. Sitting in an oak pew in the balcony of a hot Pennsylvania chapel, I remember frantically writing down notes in a Moleskine as I absorbed every word from Ferguson’s two messages. It was the first time seeing Ferguson in person, and his messages struck deep because he turned my attention to the Cross in a way I had not previously considered.

Taking his cue from Titus 2:11-15, Ferguson expounded how our sanctification is the purchase of the Cross. In other words, when we consider our personal growth in holiness, we should be reminded that Christ purchased this sanctification for us. It was a stirring message, and I left with a deeper appreciation for the Cross.

I could explain both messages in detail, but I’ve already written summaries and your time would be best spent listening to the audio for yourselves. Enjoy.

“Our Holiness: The Father’s Purpose and the Son’s Purchase” (Titus 2:11-14)
by Sinclair Ferguson
May 29, 2007
Blog summary
Download MP3 (1:02:31, 35.8 MB)

“Our Holiness: Abiding in Christ’s Love” (John 15:1-11)
by Sinclair Ferguson
May 30, 2007
Blog summary
Download MP3 (1:07:52, 38.5 MB)

……………

Related: Transcripted excerpt from the first message titled Supporting the imperatives to holiness.

Related: Transcripted excerpt from the second message titled No such ‘thing’ as grace.

Top TSS posts from 2007

tsslogo.jpgAt the end of the year I take interest in looking at which TSS posts caught the attention of you, the readers. And so today I offer a list of the top 20 (or so) posts from 2007.

At nearly 10,000 hits in the past year, The Blank Bible series remained our most popular posts throughout 2007. Though the series was completed in 2006, it was encouraging to see a number of TSS readers complete Blank Bibles in 2007. The Holy Spirit illuminates our hearts by His Word when carefully read and study the Bible for ourselves. So I find the popularity of this series encouraging because the additional pages for notes and reflection shows that you eagerly anticipate hearing from God Himself through His Word. This is very encouraging!

And I was very encouraged and (to be honest) a bit surprised at the interest in our Spring series hiking step-by-step up a steep chunk of Calvin’s Institutes. Along with learning much about the life, piety, and complexities of Calvin I also gained a deeper appreciation for my title as a “Calvinist.” Watching Calvin make systematic conclusions with Scripture and seeing his exegesis dive into the depths of God’s wisdom has helped me to embrace “Calvinism” rather than make excuses for the label. I wish to return to this series at some time in the future to further discover the full depth and breadth of Calvin-ism. Calvin was much deeper than I thought and more relevant than I anticipated. It appears from these hit stats that many other TSS readers would agree.

But it was no surprise that my wife’s posts in 2007 captured your interest. Karalee wrote numbers 11, 16 and 17 on this list. Hopefully in the future she will have a spare moment to make some other TSS appearances!

Based upon the number of hits per post in 2007, here are the top 20 (or so) …

1. TSS Blank Bible > Series Index

2. Humble Calvinism > Series index

3. Review: ESV Literary Study Bible

4. The Puritan Study > Series Index

5. History and Theology of the Puritans by Packer

6. TSS Book of the Year, 2006: Meet the Puritans

7. Photo tour through Crossway Books

8. Interview with C.J. Mahaney on biblical manhood

9. Review The Future of Justification by John Piper

10. Derek Thomas on John Owen

11. Books for Your Bride series

12. Review: Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

13. Dever on books > 2007 Sovereign Grace Leaders Conference

14. TSS Books of the Year, 2007

15. Powlison on introspection > 2007 Sovereign Grace Leaders Conference

16. Books for Your Bride: One Size Fits All

17. Review: Shopping for Time by the girltalk bloggers

18. Free Book: Come Unto Me by Tony Reinke

19. Review: The Complete Works of Thomas Boston

20. My personal sermon notes on Psalm 73

21. On writing book reviews

22. Dave Harvey > Critiquing the Missional Movement

23. Interview with Leland Ryken on The Literary Study Bible

Farewell to Minnesota

tsslogo.jpgAs life becomes busy for my family, the blog will grow quiet. Over the next few weeks we will be moving from Minneapolis out to Maryland for new ministry opportunities. Your prayers over the next two weeks would be greatly appreciated by our family.

We look forward to the transition, but at the same time we are very sad to be leaving our good friends at Sovereign Grace Fellowship. Our 12-month stay here in Minneapolis has been marked by the open arms and heartfelt loving kindness of our church. ‘Remarkable’ is not too strong of a word for this place.

Leaving our friends will be tough, but we leave here appreciating everything our friends have taught us here in “So-tah” (as my 2-year-old daughter says it).

For example, my friend Peter trained me to track rabbits. The key is in looking for coyote or wolf tracks or some other animal that hunts rabbits. Apparently I’ve already forgotten his advice, so if my family is starving and I have only a rifle and acres of woodlands I hope the advice will come back to me (or we’ll live off wild berries and salad). But Peter also helped me to learn the fine craft of firing a .22 rifle at a canister of gasoline beneath a flaming bonfire in driving wind and snow. As you can see it’s not easy to shoot accurately into a flickering flame.

Some other friends (who will remain nameless) introduced me to Minnesotan snow bathing in sub-zero winter air. But that knowledge will serve no apparent purpose in my near future. I learned this technique on a retreat last winter with my friend Chad and some other guys. Our long overnight drive North ended early in the frigid morning hours somewhere through South Canada and then into the little spike on the head of Minnesota called the Northwest Triangle, where Minnesota, Manitoba and Ontario collide. The final two miles of the journey were completed on snowmobile through a dark and heavily wooded little trail that wound around until bumping into a river where the cabin sat. Over these dark few miles we nearly ran into deer on a snowmobile at 30-MPH which I’m certain would have hurt. It was a memorable trip (though images of late-night snow bathing I would like to forget).

And I will miss the local scenery. Compared to the flatlands of Nebraska, Minnesota is beautiful. My wife and I live within a few blocks of a gorgeous, rocky, wooded creek area. It takes a steep climb down into a valley to see the creek and walk along the trails, but in that descent, the bustle of city life fades away. And in the bottom of the valley, the rushing water of the creek splitting around the large rocks drowns out any remaining noises of the civilized world. The trail and view are both stunning and have provided many wonderful family outings, personal walks, times for meditation, moments of prayer, and hours of reading. At least once my walk along the trail was blocked by a stalled deer. I walked within about 20-feet of the deer and we just tilted our heads and stared at each other for a moment as if mutually puzzled by how out-of-place we seemed to one another. He eventually moved along into the woods and I continued my normal 2-mile hike along the graveled trail. But I walked along even more amazed at God’s glory in this place.

But despite leaving the wildlife (both men and wild animals), I will also miss the pastors up here – Rick Gamache and Mark Alderton. These men have modeled Christ-like humility towards their flock. The public preaching has always been challenging and biblically faithful. Many of their messages I have shared with you on TSS and you also confirm the special giftedness of these men. And I wish I had more time to express my thankfulness for their caring, discerning leadership. This is especially displayed in their very careful stewardship of the eternal souls and spiritual gifts given them. I know of at least one TSS reader planning to move his family to Bloomington simply to experience this church! I am grateful that he and his family, along with the rest of the flock, will continue to benefit from these men. I have no regrets that we left our life-long home in Nebraska to move 400-miles to experience this church for ourselves.

From pastor Rick I’ve also gleaned an appreciation for the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was born on January 3rd. Each year on this date the Gamache clan gathers together around the TV to watch all three extended LOTR DVDs in one day! Now, I don’t think I have that impressive an attention span, but I like their celebration and it’s one my family and I will be following this year. Kinda. We plan to be in our new home January 2nd and after a few days of unpacking and transitioning we’re going to break out the family Christmas present – Lord of the Rings on DVD. So while the snow bathing techniques I picked up from my friends will stay in Minneapolis, this Tolkienathon Christmas tradition will follow us East (albeit modified a bit).

But no movies tonight. Tonight our friends join us to help load essentially the same stuff we brought from Omaha into essentially the same moving truck we backed into the driveway one year ago.

When we arrived in Minneapolis on December 7th, 2006, we were greeted by several fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who appeared on a weekday afternoon to help unload the moving truck. Our crammed truck was unloaded in 20 minutes. But that wasn’t all. We came inside to find a fully stocked refrigerator and pantry, and a list of families who would be bringing meals in the week ahead. Offers for help with babysitting, unpacking, and cleaning abounded. Our new friends at Sovereign Grace Fellowship did not just show up for duty, but they actually thought through ways they could serve our family specifically (thank you, Jon Hansel, and your wonderful small group!). This obvious and deliberate sacrifice was (and the memory still remains) a very powerful example for our family. And this is an evidence of God’s work in the life of the church that brings its humble, Christ-like love to everything else they do.

Specifically we will miss our neighbors. For 12 months we’ve enjoyed the rare (once-in-a-lifetime?) gift of living directly behind likeminded precious saints. The Bice family – Steve, Joy, Rebecca, Grace and Josiah – are precious friends, and we delight in them (Ps. 16:3)! They have served us, encouraged us, fed us and babysat for us. Our families have experienced a close bond and friendship that is truly unique, made obvious last winter when we snowplowed a path through the yard from backdoor to backdoor. We will miss the times hanging out. We will miss the times spent around the bonfire in the back. We will miss the impromptu baseball games in the wide field our shared backyards afforded. God has been very kind to give us this precious year with the Bices!

And if I had more time I would share with you all that my wife and I have learned from our small group – which is for the record the coolest small group at Sovereign Grace Fellowship (i.e. the one who gave Gamache a life-sized Spiderman statue for his birthday). The group is led by Chris and Dianne, a couple who have modeled for my wife and I the character of Christ in some incredible ways. So we say, “Thank you” to them. Thank you, Whipples, Blooms, Huspenis, Anderstroms, Nygrens, Johnsons, Pepins, and everyone else who made the group a special place to share struggles and refuel with encouragement. How Chris and Dianne have stretched their group into sanctification and maintained a group level of ‘coolest’ status is a remarkable feat. And they will be greatly missed.

One year ago we pulled into the driveway of our house in Bloomington, Minnesota. We were welcomed by a large sign in the front window that read “Welcome Reinkes.” It was a special welcome indeed. But now it’s time to say goodbye to these precious friends, a goodbye that we always anticipated but never expected so soon. Sure, we will miss the ATF retreats, the wildlife, and the creek — but especially we will miss our friends, neighbors, small group, and pastors of Sovereign Grace Fellowship. Thank you all for caring for us so well and magnifying the beauty of the Cross along the way.

Much love and grace to you all!

2007 TSS Books of the Year Award

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The stack of excellent Christian books published in 2007 would reach at least 5 feet in the air. So while I’m privileged to have read so many great books, whittling down my top 30 favorites is no easy assignment.

In the past, some TSS readers have asked what criteria I use in making this determination and I admit it’s very subjective. My list of top books is based upon a personal opinion of the overall value of individual volumes. Which volumes pioneer new territory? Which books clarify topics of great importance? Which books from 2007 will my kids read in 10 years?

Included in the list are complex doctrinal books, academic polemics, historical biographies, children’s books, marriage books, exegetical guides, etc. My reading interests are wide open, and so is the TSS book of the year competition. There are book recommendations for pretty much all readers.

Themes in 2007

Topically, 2007 will be remembered as the year where precious doctrines like justification and the atonement took rightful center stage (see The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul, The Great Exchange by Bridges and Bevington, and also #3, #12, and #25 on the top-30 list). The doctrine of assurance was the focus of two excellent new volumes (see #13 and #23). Church history and the events of the Reformation found themselves in three excellent volumes (see #8, #11, and #30). But 2007 will also be remembered as the year of John Owen, reformed spirituality, and communion with God (see #6, #14, #15, and #21). We also saw the publishing of one of the best new children’s books (see #4). All around, it was a very fruitful year for some very important topics.

2007 Books of the Year

But two books stand apart from the rest in 2007, because they are volumes that promise to shed a wealth of understanding over large sections of Scripture. They captured my attention because I know I myself have some work to do in discovering the richness of God’s revealed truth in Scripture (and especially in the Old Testament narratives).

So today I happily announce the 2007 TSS books of the year – The ESV Literary Study Bible by Leland and Philip Ryken and An Old Testament Theology by Bruce Waltke.

TSS top-30 books from 2007

1 (tie). ESV Literary Study Bible edited by Leland and Philip Ryken (Crossway). Getting readers comfortable enough to read large selections of Scripture was formerly the work of dynamic equivalent translations like The Message. But the Rykens establish a framework for readers to comprehend large sections of Scripture for themselves by introducing each chapter, exposing the literary style of the work, and providing a general outline of what to expect. Then readers can jump into the literature of Scripture to experience the text for themselves. In the end, the Rykens have produced a Bible that retains the “word-for-word” literal language of the ancient Scriptures (ESV) while helping readers along in fruitful comprehension. Readers who have never enjoyed the Bible from cover-to-cover will especially benefit and find the biblical storyline easier to follow. This is no ordinary study Bible, and it is one that will be cherished by the church long into the future. We wrote a full review of the LSB and also talked with Leland Ryken about it this Summer. $31.49

1 (tie). An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach by Bruce Waltke (Zondervan). Some of the details of the Old Testament appear to simply hang suspended for the modern reader. Let’s take Exodus 2:11 for example: Why is it important that Moses became angry when he saw the harsh treatment of the Israelite by an Egyptian? Why did Moses kill the Egyptian? Why would the biblical author record this event in the first place? Some events in the Old Testament don’t entirely make sense on the surface. Waltke takes these events from the biblical narratives and weaves them into the bigger storyline of Scripture. For this specific example, it helps to understand that Moses was in transition from his identity in Pharaoh’s palace to his new identity with Israel (p. 352). Exodus 2:11 is actually critical in establishing Moses’ transition from Egyptian-raised to Israel’s front-man in the Exodus. And this is just one itsy-bitsy detail from the Old Testament. By taking these seemingly disconnected events and connecting them into the bigger picture of Scripture, Waltke has given us a very helpful guide to understanding the Old Testament. And his insights into the Ten Commandments are worth the price of the volume (see pp. 415-433). In the end, Waltke’s clear articulation of the Old Testament informs the church of her past and thereby informs her present identity. This is a volume you will want to read slowly and digest fully, perhaps within a group of fellow Christians. It will open up the theology and storyline of the Old Testament like no other book I’ve seen. Read more about this volume in our full review. $29.69

3. Pierced for our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution (UK:IVP/US:Crossway). Written by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach, this book has proven to be a huge success in both the UK and the US in defending the core of the atonement of Jesus Christ. If you want to understand the Cross at a deeper level (don’t we all) you will cherish this volume. It will go on my shelf along with some of the giants on this topic (like Stott). But what makes this volume especially important is the central role it represents in bringing together a worldwide brotherhood of Christians who believe and cherish the penal substitutionary atonement of the Cross. What Together for the Gospel and the Gospel Coalition conferences have done to unify American churches and ministries around these precious truths, Pierced for Our Transgressions has accomplished on an international scale. $16.50

4. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones (Zondervan). Finding children’s books that introduce little ones to the major stories of the Bible while simultaneously pointing their souls to the Cross is a rarity. This is perhaps the best children’s storybook Bible on the market, and a must-have for any parent of young children. Incredible illustrations, too. $11.65

5. When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage by Dave Harvey (Shepherd Press). Harvey has blessed couples with an excellent book for connecting the Cross to the daily trials and triumphs of marriage. Don’t attempt marriage without the Gospel. Bring Harvey along to explain why. $11.16

6. Communion with the Triune God by John Owen (Crossway). The classic book written by English Puritan John Owen resurfaced in 2007, in a new edition edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor. It’s unlikely I can overstate the importance of Taylor and Kapic’s editorial work in introducing Owen to the new generation of young, reformed Christians. An excellent follow-up to last year’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Crossway). $14.96

7. Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart by John Ensor (Crossway). Ensor provides an excellent introduction to biblical manhood and femininity that will help engaged or married couples understand their God-ordained roles. This book is perhaps the best introductory volume on these often controversial topics. $9.59

8. The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen Nichols (Crossway). With brevity, pictures, call-out boxes and humor, Stephen Nichols walks through the highlights of the Reformation to help us see that “the Reformers saw nothing less than the gospel at stake” (p. 21). It’s cliché, but true: I couldn’t put this volume down. Nichols is always good, but especially here. $10.39

9. The Reading and Preaching of the Scripture in the Worship of the Christian Church: The Modern Age by Hughes Oliphant Old (Eerdmans). This is volume six of Old’s large series tracing out the history of preaching from the Biblical era (vol. 1; 1998), the Patristic age (vol. 2; 1998), the Medieval church (vol. 3; 1999), the Reformation period (vol. 4; 2002), during Moderatism, Pietism and Awakening (vol. 5; 2004) and now the most recent volume covering the modern age of 1789-1989. Volume six alone is about 1,000 pages and covers preachers like Broadus, Kuyper, Maclaren, Moody, Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones. Very insightful work on the history of preaching that has replaced Dargan on my shelves. $36.50

10. Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’ ‘Religious Affections’ by Samuel Storms (Crossway). Edwards’ work is classic, and Storms helps the contemporary reader glean its gold. Excellent commentary on one of Edwards’ most valuable works. $10.87

11. Church History: A Crash Course for the Curious by Christopher Catherwood (Crossway). Catherwood sets out the history of the Church from a global perspective, and at all times relays the implications of history to contemporary events. This “crash course” is another volume published this year for a popular audience that will help readers grown in appreciation for developments in the church’s history. $12.99

12. The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright by John Piper (Crossway). Piper excels with a clarification on justification in light of the contemporary debate. $12.23

13. Assured by God: Living in the Fullness of God’s Grace by Philip Graham Ryken, Al Mohler, Joel Beeke, Sinclair Ferguson, John MacArthur, Jerry Bridges and R.C. Sproul (P&R). This collaborative effort is a very helpful collection of essays on the topic of the reformed doctrine of assurance. How do we know that we know God? (see Tullian Tchividjian’s work later.) $12.24

14. Sweet Communion: Trajectories of Spirituality from the Middle Ages through the Further Reformation (Baker Academic). Written originally in Dutch by Arie de Reuver, this academic work was made available in English in 2007. It traces the influences of Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) and Thomas à Kempis (1379-1471) upon the “Dutch Puritans” like Willem Teellinck, Herman Witsius and Thodorus and Wilhelmus à Brakel. The seven biographies that fill this volume are excellent. This volumes helps us develop a “reformed spirituality,” a seeking after God’s presence illuminated by genuine theology. $21.89

15. The Inner Sanctum of Puritan Piety: John Flavel’s Doctrine of Mystical Union with Christ (Reformation Heritage Books). Flavel is one of the most valuable Puritans, and this study by Stephen J. Yuille looks at one facet of his theology. The doctrine of the believer’s union with Christ lies at the heart of the Puritan pursuit of godliness, and this small but wonderful outline traces the doctrine generally and highlights Flavel’s rich teaching specifically. $12.00

16. Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election (Crossway) by Sam Storms. Originally published in 1987 by Baker under the title, Chosen for Life: An introductory guide to the doctrine of divine election, Storms’ work was republished in 2007 and remains one of the clearest defenses for reformed soteriology. $12.23

17. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges (NavPress). Hitting from all sides, Bridges confronts all those sins we would rather not talk about, and provides a very Cross-centered approach to killing the flesh. $12.91

18. B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought edited by Gary L.W. Johnson (P&R). Part biography, part theology, this new book on Warfield provides a treasure of essays on the thought and life of the outstanding theologian. $15.59

19. A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards by Michael A.G. Haykin (Reformation Heritage Books). A short but excellent collection of Edwards’ most important and moving personal letters, this little volume makes a great gift. $7.50

20. By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification edited by Gary L.W. Johnson and Guy P. Waters (Crossway). Including chapters by David Wells, Cornelius Venema and Al Mohler, this work tackles contemporary attacks upon the gospel (and especially those of N.T. Wright). $12.23

21. Communion with God: The Divine and the Human in the Theology of John Owen by Kelly Kapic (Baker Academic). The long-awaited printing of Kapic’s research did not disappoint. On these same lines, Kapic also wrote the introduction to Communion with God (see #6). $18.47

22. The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steven J. Lawson (Reformation Trust). This short work traces out 32 distinctives from the expositional ministry of the great Reformer, and sets them out as patterns for contemporary preachers. A short and encouraging work for pastors.

23. Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship by Tullian Tchividjian (Random House). An understanding of assurance written from a very personal and compelling vantage point. Excellent in content, but I especially appreciate the format that other writers can follow in communicating biblical doctrine to a new generation of readers. $11.55

24. Interpreting the Psalms: An Exegetical Handbook by Mark D. Futato (Kregel). Excellent little handbook in helping expositors pull all the meat from the Psalms for their their sermon preparations. Not just exegetical, but also helpful in determining the overall theology of the Psalms. $14.27

25. Justified in Christ: God’s Plan for us in Justification (Christian Focus). Edited by K. Scott Oliphant this compilation includes an intro by Sinclair Ferguson and chapters by men like Carl Trueman, William Edgar and Peter Lillback on the importance of justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. Looks at traditional problems with Roman Catholic theology and contemporary concerns with N.T. Wright on union and imputation. $12.99

26. The Majesty of God in the Old Testament: A Guide for Preaching and Teaching (Baker Academic). Renowned Old Testament scholar Walter C. Kaiser Jr. says we should preach more of the Old Testament and in his newest book he takes the preacher by the hand and shows them exactly how. Walking through 10 texts, Kaiser models exegesis and outlining of each specific texts. But in it’s easy-to-read format and concluding application questions in each chapter, this book will double as a group study of God in the Old Testament. $11.55

27. Preaching the Cross: Together for the Gospel (Crossway). The transcripts from the 2006 Together for the Gospel conference written and delivered by Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney, John MacArthur, John Piper and R.C. Sproul. An all-star lineup and one of the best compilation on the topic of preaching the gospel. $13.59

28. Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics (P&R). Edited by K. Scott Oliphint and Lane G. Tipton. Yet another excellent collection of essays from P&R that captured my attention and helped me work through various difficulties in apologetics. $18.24

29. The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors by Thabiti Anyabwile (Crossway). Highlights Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833), Daniel A. Payne (1811-1893) and Francis J. Grimké (1850-1937). The book contains one short biography of each man, but is largely comprised of sermon transcripts. Anyabwile’s book is especially important because he is challenging the contemporary African-American churches to consider the gospel of first importance and is thereby calling for large-scale reform. $10.87

30. Reformation Heroes: A Simple, Illustrated Overview of People Who Assisted in the Great Work of the Reformation by Joel R. Beeke and Diana Kleyn (Reformation Heritage). The men, women and events of the Reformation written for older children and teens to boost their appreciation for the church. $18.00

And here are some other titles that are likely worthy of the above list, and I wish I made time to read:

So these are my favorite books of 2007. I hope this list serves you in your book-purchasing for the glory of Christ!

Blessings to you all and Merry Christmas from your friends at TSS,

Tony

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies

With the recent release of the single-volume works from the Banner of Truth, I expect a spiked interest in the writings and ministry of Andrew Fuller (1754-1815). For more on Fuller I direct your attention to The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies under the supervision of Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin. You can find more information about Fuller at the Center’s blog: http://andrewfuller.blogspot.com

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Jonathan Edwards and Supralapsarianism

Today we received a question from TSS reader, Jason Dalton. He asks:

Dear Tony,

I’ve been listening to J.I. Packer’s RTS “History and Theology of the Puritans” on iTunes U that you graciously pointed out awhile back. It is very enjoyable, and I am very grateful to RTS for making it free to the public. Thank you for letting more people know about it.

Dr. Packer goes on a bit of a long tangent about supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism in the lectures and comes down very strongly against supralapsarianism.

I still have much to learn on the subject, but I believe I would label myself as a supralapsarian. My hero is John Piper, and it is from him that I have come to believe that God’s glory and Him displaying all facets of that glory is the most preeminent goal in all the universe.

Seeing from your post that Jonathan Edwards liked William Perkins, did Jonathan Edwards consider himself a supralapsarian, do you know? Do you think John Piper would consider himself a supralapsarian?

Thank you for any knowledge you might be able to pass on. Thank you for all your work. God has used it to bless me.

Jason Dalton

Great question, Jason!

Let me define the terms for those interested in this question but lost in the terminology. It’s a question of timing. What did God decree first, second, etc.? A supralapsarian believes that God first decrees (or elected) some for salvation, then decreed creation, the fall and then redemption. He elects some and then decrees to create them, decrees the fall and redemption to establish this relationship with the elect. An infralapsarian however believes God first decrees creation, then the fall, then election and redemption. So the question is this: Did God decree the elect before decreeing the fall (supralapsarian) or does He decree election after decreeing the fall (infralapsarian)?

This is a noteworthy distinction although some of my favorite theologians simply throw their hands in the air and say the order of decrees is not revealed in Scripture (see John Frame for example).

Now, about your question specifically. Yes, William Perkins was supralapsarian and, yes, Edwards liked Perkins. I’m uncertain of Piper’s official position, though.

From what I’ve read Jonathan Edwards reacted against the supralapsarian position. I say that based upon John Gerstner’s conclusion in his multi-volume work The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Ligonier: 1992). Gerstner writes:

“he [Edwards] refutes the fundamental argument of the supralapsarians. They contend that the last thing in execution was always the first in intention. That is, the actual reprobation and salvation of some proved that this was the original intention behind the creation, fall, salvation and damnation. Edwards critiques this … man was not created that he should be converted or reprobated. … God decreed the fall of man, yet Edwards sees this as an anti-supralapsarian. As we shall show in the Edwardsian doctrine of man, the Holy Spirit was Edwards’ donum superadditum. Adam’s failure to call upon Him was the occasion of the fall. God did not first harden Adam’s heart; this wicked deed was Adam’s own doing” (2:161, 164).

Clear as mud? Great question. Does anyone else have insight into answering this question?

Tony