Book review: Salvation belongs to the Lord by John M. Frame (1596380187)

Book review:

Salvation belongs to the Lord by John M. Frame

God is in sovereign control. He has the right to tell people what to do and what not to do. He is powerful, wonderful, holy and awesome (in the true sense of the word). This big-God matrix frames everything else in John Frame’s new systematic theology, Salvation Belongs to the Lord.

Written in a warm, conversational, and engaging style for readers, Frame explains the main subjects of systematic theology. It is a great book for beginners, though the content is consistent with seminary level courses.

The content is very similar to Wayne Grudem’s, Systematic Theology. Frame considers Grudem “The best one-volume systematic theology written in recent years” (p. 351), and quotes him in many areas. The two however, do not agree on all things. Frame writes from a cessational perspective and Grudem from the charismatic.

The book is divided into two halves: (1) objective and unrepeated and (2) the subjective and the repeated. For example, the division is between the incarnation of Christ (unrepeated in history) and regeneration (repeated over and over in history with each believer).

I especially enjoyed the section on the church. He argues for a plurality of elders in each church, and his section on church discipline is very clear and helpful. Frame explains not only how to do church discipline, but why church discipline is important. He writes,

“There are at least three purposes of discipline. The first is to restore a sinning believer (Matt. 18:15; 1 Cor. 5:5; Gal. 6:1; 1 Tim. 1:20; James 5:20) … church discipline is not a cruel thing but a loving thing. Second, discipline exists to deter such sins by others, to instruct the congregation as to what is and is not acceptable (Heb. 12:15; 1 Cor. 5:2, 6-7; 1 Tim. 5:20). Third, discipline exists to protect the honor of Christ and his church (Rom. 2:24; 1 Cor. 6:6; Eph. 5:27). When churches ignore sin, the world despises them and the reputation of Jesus Christ himself is dragged through the mud” (p. 243).

This excerpt reveals the biblical depth, firm convictions, and pastoral concern of Frame in engaging and contemporary words. The entire book is marked with these characteristics.

The book is solidly reformed, quotes frequently from the Westminster Confessions, and uses the ESV translation. Frame is not shy about rebuffing falsehoods like Roman Catholic ‘justification’ and annihilationalism. He argues for padobaptism and sides with Postmillinialists. Frame displays a full awareness of the distinctions between errors that undercut the central tenants of biblical Christianity (justification) from secondary issues (like spiritual gifts and eschatology). He is strong and resolute on the first, and open and fair on the second.

John Frame has given us a wonderful gift. Such a high view of God’s holiness and Lordship; such a reminder of God’s presence with us; such an enjoyable read! I heartily recommend John Frame’s Salvation Belongs to the Lord.

Binding: Paperback
Pages: 383
Topical Index: yes (excellent)
Textual index: yes (excellent)
Bibliography: yes (excellent)
Photos: 0
Charts: 1
Reading level: Adult / moderate
Publisher: P&R
Price: $24.99
Where this book fits into my library:
(1) Systematic Theology > General

Salvation belongs to the Lord, John M. Frame, 978-1-59638-018-9, 9781596380189, 1596380187, 1-59638-018-7

Church discipline

“When I first entered upon the work of the ministry among you, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline. I thought that my great and almost only work was to pray and preach. I saw your souls to be so precious, and the time so short, that I devoted all my time, and care, and strength, to labor in word and doctrine. When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence. It was a duty I shrank from; and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry among you altogether. But it pleased God, who teaches His servants in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline to the manifest and undeniable conversion of the souls of those under our care; and from that hour a new light broke in upon my mind, and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline. I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God – that two keys are committed to us by Christ: the one the key of doctrine, by means of which we unlock the treasures of the Bible; the other the key of discipline, by which we open or shut the way to the sealing ordinances of the faith. Both are Christ’s gift, and neither is to be resigned without sin.”

– Robert Murray M’Cheyne in Andrew Bonar, Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Banner of Truth: 1844/2004), p. 73.

See Matthew 18:15-20 (clearly defined steps of church discipline), 1 Cor. 5:4-5 with 5:9-13; 2 Cor. 7:8-12 (the fruit of godly confrontation); 1 Tim. 1:18-20; Tit. 3:9-11 (notice the difference between church discipline and dealing with the divisive man); Rev. 2:1-7 (notice how a disciplining and discerning church can still lack in passionate love for Christ).