25 January 2013

A Reader's Review of "Puritan Portraits"

"In former days, preaching and devotion were seen as correlates—faithful Bible teaching fed hearers with truth to trust, digest, and live out, and faithful Christians looked for, and longed for, didactic displays of biblical thought and teaching by which to shape their self-management in both living with God and relating to family, friends, colleagues and other human beings." (J.I. Packer)

It is this truth, set against the backdrop of "the slimmed down, man-centred idea of devotion to God that has currently become all too common," that J.I. Packer seeks to bring to the forefront as he introduces us to the book "Puritan Portraits," a compilation of introductions he wrote for the Christian Heritage editions of some of the most celebrated Puritan classics.

One might ask, "What is appealing about reading a bunch of introductions?" I would reply, "You obviously have not read a book with a J.I. Packer introduction." Many who are familiar with the author and some of his books ("Knowing God," "A Quest for Godliness," "Concise Theology," etc.) will most likely know of his intimate knowledge of the Puritans... and perhaps, in their own reading of the Puritans, they have come across an introduction written by Packer (many will be familiar with his introduction to John Owen's "Death of Death in the Death of Christ").

Packer, in the book "Puritan Portraits,"  introduces us to:

Stephen Charnock, "Christ Crucified"
John Bunyan, "The Heavenly Footman"
John Flavel, "Keeping the Heart"

...and gives us an in-depth look at two giants of the Puritan era:William Perkins and Richard Baxter.


"Puritan Pastors at Work," Packer shares the rich pastoral legacy of the Puritans, complete with a strong emphasis on the historical context in which these men served. In the midst of the persecution that arose from The 1662 Act of Uniformity, many of these men stayed the course and dedicated their lives to shepherding God's flock. He writes, "They put their preaching of the gospel first, because they believed that in God's economy this was the prime means of the grace by which God saves souls; but they buttressed their preaching ministry with catechizing on the one hand and counseling on the other, and thus made it immeasurably stronger in its impact." This threefold trajectory of gospel ministry was the Puritan standard, a methodology that is (unfortunately) vastly missing from the modern evangelical landscape.


"Puritan Pastors in Profile" is the second part of the book, in which Packer's biographical introductions are showcased...

Henry Scougal

Scougal (a favorite of George Whitefield), according to Packer, was "a holy man excelling as a preacher, catechist, and worship leader." In "The Life of God in the Soul of Man," Packer celebrates the fact that he "never loses sight of the inwardness of true religion, as a state of being that starts in our hearts, nor of the fact that it is a supernatural product, 'having God for its author, and being wrought in the souls of men by the power of the Holy Spirit'... we do not find him slipping into the self-reliant, performance-oriented, surface-level, ego-focused, living-by-numbers type of instruction that is all too common among Christians today."

Stephen Charnock

This ministry partner of Thomas Watson, was "intensely analytical," and the author has no qualms about pointing out some of his quixotic quirks. Of Charnock, Packer writes, "his power of boiling down and compressing... can leave the wisdom and truth he sets forth... at a distance from our inner being... his writing reveals him as a man of bony thoughts who sees it as our part rather than his to put flesh on the bones and warm up the thoughts so that they gain heart-piercing power... Evidently, he thought that the dramatising and interiorising of gospel truth was for his hearers to do by personal meditation, rather than for him to attempt by pulpit rhetoric." Nonetheless, in his book "Christ Crucified," the "Reformed and Puritan understanding of penal substitution at Calvary is expressed with plain and simple precision."

John Bunyan

Packer writes of Bunyan's conversion (for more on this, see "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners") and call to ministry (pulpit and pen), and then mentions his incarceration for nonconformity before closing the biographical portion by mentioning his "years of distinction" as a powerful preacher and accomplished author (it was during this time that he authored "The Pilgrim's Progess"). "The Heavenly Footman," the author explains, "is a single sustained exhortation to run, to run hard, and to keep running, along the path of life." He continues, "Bunyan assumes that his readers already know the objective truths of the gospel... and now concentrates on raising consciousness and generating commitment with regard to gaining heaven and escaping hell... his intensity almost overwhelms you."

Matthew Henry

This "precocious, bright, lively and Bible-loving" man, explains Packer, was grounded in "Puritan beliefs and behaviour patterns (daily prayer, Bible reading, self-watch, and self-examination; journal keeping, and practice of the presence of God; scrupulous morality and generous philanthropy, thorough-going Sabbatarianism, and hard work for the other six days of the week." Shortly after he died, "The Pleasantness of a Religious Life" (a compilation of six sermons he preached on the Christian life) was released. In this book, "Henry's aim is to make us see that real Christianity is a journey into joy, always moving us on from  one joy to another, and that this is one of many good and strong reasons for being excited and wholehearted in our discipleship."

John Owen

Of Owen and his classic book, "The Mortification of Sin," Packer says: "I owe more... to John Owen, than to any other theologian, ancient or modern... [he] has contributed more than anyone else to make me as much of a moral, spiritual, and theological realist as I have so far become. He searched me to the root of my being. He taught me the nature of sin, the need to fight it and the method of doing so. He made me see the importance of the thoughts of the heart in one's spiritual life, He made clear to me the real nature of the Holy Spirit's ministry in and to the believer, and of spiritual growth and progress and of faith's victory. He showed me how to understand myself as a Christian and live before God humbly and honestly, without pretending either to be what I am not or not to be what I am." Coming from a man like J.I. Packer, this is noteworthy... we would do well to follow suit and seek counsel from the pen of John Owen. After rightly affirming Owen's status as "the weightiest Puritan theologian," the author proceeds to describe his ministry. The literary audience of this brilliant Puritan were "readers who, once they take up a subject, cannot rest till they see to the bottom of it..." those who consider "exhaustiveness of coverage and presentation of the same truths from many different angles not exhausting, but refreshing." In preaching, he "bowed before his own maxim, that 'a man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul.'" The classic work on killing sin (a set of sermons on Romans 8:13) entitled "The Mortification of Sin" helps the reader to understand what sin is in order to put it to death. "Mortification is Owen's subject, and he is resolved to explain from Scripture the theology of it–that is, God's will, wisdom, work and ways regarding it–as fully as he can."

John Flavel

After describing the Puritan (and biblical) understanding of the heart, Packer chronicles the ministry of John Flavel. During his first six years of pastoral ministry, Flavel "gained distinction as a preacher of the classic Puritan type, expository, analytical, didactic, applicatory, searching, converting and edifying, with divine unction regularly empowering his pulpit work. His writings reveal him as clear-headed and eloquent in the plain Puritan style, orthodox, Christ-focused and life-centered in his subject-matter, with his mind always set on advancing true godliness, with peace and joy in the Lord." Like many of the other Puritans written about in this book, Flavel endured persecution after he was forcibly removed from his pulpit due to the Act of Uniformity, but pressed on with a type of "renegade ministry" (like any nonconformist would). In his book, "Keeping the Heart," "Flavel leads us into... the most basic of all the disciplines of the Christian's inner life–basic to worship and prayer; basic to faith, hope and love; basic to humility, peace and joy; basic to pure-heartedness and steady obedience."

Thomas Boston

"As Boston had a sensitive spirit," says Packer, "so he had a first-class mind, a retentive memory, and a way with words... He had matured early; his theological convictions were clear, his sense of call to a preaching and shepherding ministry was strong, and his insight into the vistas opened by biblical texts was already deep." J.I. Packer does an excellent job of prefacing Boston's views on "the call of God to shepherd His flock" (a concise summary of "The Art of Manfishing" full of sound biblical wisdom for the pastor) with Westminster (as in The Westminster Assembly) theology and Puritan evangelism and catechesis. Of "The Crook and the Lot," Packer says, "along with his permanent purpose of leading the unconverted to faith and the new birth, his clear purpose is to discipline Christ's disciples in reverent, realistic, hope-filled humility, as they face up to the inescapable imperfections of life in general and their own lives in particular." In the third section of Packer's biographical sketch of Thomas Boston, he lays out the biblical view of repentance (contrasted with the unbiblical view held by many in the Middle Ages), before introducing us to Boston's own treatise, "Repentance". In it, he writes of "the necessity, nature, and urgency of repentance, and the folly of ignoring or postponing this life-and-death issue" and "explains that repentance is a matter of the heart, a lifetime's task, a gift of God's Spirit through God's Word, a change involving conviction, distress, faith in Christ, humiliation of heart, 'holy shame' and violent self-dislike, a confessing, renouncing, and turning from all one's sins as one knows them and a sincere, whole-hearted turning to God in total commitment to obedience henceforth and forever."


In "Puritan Paragons," the author takes a closer look at two eminent Puritan pastor-theologians [on the eve of publishing this review, my computer crashed... this section of my review has been limited to a set of quotes from the book that pertain to these men]...

William Perkins

"At first Perkins ran wild, but then was converted (details not known); a passion for theology now replaced the devotion to astrological studies that had marked him hitherto, and he impressed his peers by the thoroughness and speed with which he mastered the things of God."

"During the years that Perkins preached his pen was busy and he left behind him almost fifty separate treatises of various kinds, covering the whole range of theology, spirituality and ethics, and including several major pieces of biblical exposition. Perkins’s special strength both in preaching and on paper was to be systematic, scholarly, solid and simple at the same time. No one else in world Protestantism had hitherto produced material of Perkins’s type and range, at Perkins’s level of lucidity"

"in daily life he was a man of peace, studied moderation, and a personal sanctity that impressed everyone. He was faithful in fulfilling his role as a professional academic and a college tutor, but it is clear that his wider ministry at Great St Andrews, and the popular writing that went with it, were his chief concerns."

"Perkins gave prime attention throughout his ministry to the religious concerns already indicated—each person’s need of regeneration; the quest for the peace and joy of assurance; the duty and discipline of self-examination to uncover one’s sins, and of invoking Christ constantly by faith to cover them by His blood; the experience of flesh-spirit conflict; the reality of falls and recoveries as one travels the path of obedience; battles against doubts, discouragements and depression; the practice of lifelong repentance, and conscientious avoidance of wrongdoing."

"Basic too to all Perkins’s work was his insistence that Holy Scripture must be received as the teaching and testimony of God, and that interpretation must take the form of applying biblical principles to the interpreter’s own times and needs."
"Majestic and magisterial, expository and evangelical, informal and applicatory, Perkins’s preaching set standards for the whole Puritan movement thereafter, just as it brought benefit to great numbers in the Cambridge of his own day."

"...we should call William Perkins the Father of Puritanism, for it was he more than anyone else who crystallised and delimited the essence of mainstream Puritan Christianity for the next hundred years."

Richard Baxter

"Though he was, as we would say, ecumenically oriented, sympathetically alert to all the main Christian traditions and happy to learn from them all, he constantly equated the Puritan ideal with Christianity... and all his writings display him as the classic mainstream Puritan that he ever sought to be."

"Baxter appears throughout his ministry as the very epitome of single-minded ardour in seeking the glory of God through the salvation of souls and the sanctification of the church."

"The quiet peace and joy that shine through these almost clinical observations on himself are truly impressive; here is an endlessly active man whose soul is at rest in God all the time as he labours in prayer Godward and in persuasion manward."

"Puritanism, as Baxter understood it and as modern scholarship, correcting centuries of caricature, now depicts it, was a total view of Christianity, Bible-based, church-centred, God-honouring, literate, orthodox, pastoral, and Reformational, that saw personal, domestic, professional, political, churchly, and economic existence as aspects of a single whole, and that called on everybody to order every department and every relationship of their life according to the Word of God, so that all would be sanctified and become ‘holiness to the Lord’.

"Puritanism’s spearhead activity was pastoral evangelism and nurture through preaching, catechizing, and counselling (which the Puritans themselves called casuistry), and Puritan teaching harped constantly on the themes of self-knowledge, self-humbling, and repentance; faith in, and love for, Jesus Christ the Saviour; the necessity of regeneration, and of sanctification (holy living, by God’s power) as proof of it; the need of conscientious conformity to all God’s law, and for a disciplined use of the means of grace; and the blessedness of the assurance and joy from the Holy Spirit that all faithful believers under ordinary circumstances may know."


In the epilogue, Packer poses a sobering question: "Should clergy no longer spend their strength teaching the faith, preaching the gospel, and seeking the salvation of souls; should believing parents no longer labour to share their faith with their children, and believers with their neighbours; should the practice of evangelism be abandoned; should the Bible and Christian books be left around the house unread; and should church people settle for being the nicest persons in the world according to the world's specifications; how long do you think the church would remain a going concern?" Next, he lays out the Puritan pastoral ideal as put forth by John Owen in his "The True Nature of a Gospel Church" and Richard Baxter in his "The Reformed Pastor". The book closes with the reexamination and continuation of the previous question: "can the church survive without pastors of this quality today, fulfilling their ministry according to Puritan specifications?"

I recommend that the contemporary western Christian culture reflect upon this line of questioning and meditate upon what the Scriptures say before answering. I agree with J.I. Packer that we would do well to recover the Puritan pastoral ideal, and I recommend the book "Puritan Portraits" as both a primer for those who are unfamiliar with the Puritans, and a guidebook to Pastoral Theology for those already acquainted with them.

Other books by J.I. Packer:

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product... that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE DIGITAL COPY OF THE BOOK. CLEAR ENOUGH?

30 November 2012

30 E-Books Under $5

While searching for some inexpensive e-books for a friend the other day, I discovered some really great books at ridiculously low price. Here are thirty that I found on Amazon throughout the week...

                                    $1.99                         99¢                         99¢

                                    $2.99                        99¢                       $3.03

                                    $3.99                      $2.99                      $3.03

                                    $3.03                      $4.99                     $2.99

                                     $4.93                     $2.99                      $3.99

                                    $3.60                      $4.61                      $2.51

                                    $2.99                     $2.99                      $3.47  

                                    $4.99                      $1.99                      $1.99

                                    $1.99                      $4.08                     $4.93       

                                    $2.99                      $1.99                      $4.99

For more from these authors, check out Westminster Bookstore and Monergism Books!

07 November 2012

Post-Election Quotables

There is no shortage of commentary the day after an important election in this country. The following is a compilation of excerpts from several helpful articles I read this morning. There is a lot of information to take into consideration as we move ahead as The (seemingly) Divided States of America, and we would be wise to observe and reflect upon much of what is said...

In Michael Barone's article, "Two Americas," he describes the great divide amongst this countries' citizens as evidenced by the stark contrast between conservatism and liberalism:

There are plenty of smart and creative and successful people in both Americas. But they don’t like to mix with each other these days...

...One America tends to be traditionally religious, personally charitable, appreciative of entrepreneurs, and suspicious of government. The other tends to be secular or only mildly religious, less charitable, skeptical of business, and supportive of government as an instrument to advance liberal causes.

The more conservative America tends to be relatively cohesive. Evangelical Protestants and white Catholics make common cause; the 17th-century religious wars are over. Southern or northern accents don’t much matter...

...The more liberal America tends to be diverse. Like Obama’s 2008 coalition, it includes many at the top and at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Albert Mohler, in his article, "Aftermath: Lessons from the 2012 Election" calls Christians to pray for civil leadership in the midst of moral decline.  We have a sovereign Savior who is in control and calls for us to be in the world, but not of it... and though He upholds the universe by His power, we have a responsibility in proclaiming the truth of the gospel to our fellow image-bearers:

Christians must now pray for our President. As the Apostle Paul instructs us, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV) We should eagerly and urgently pray for our President. We should pray for his health and his family, for his stamina and his character. We should even pray that he and his administration will be remembered as one of the greatest of our nation’s history, measured even by the convictions that are most important to us.

We are rightly and deeply concerned. We must pray that God will change President Obama’s heart on a host of issues, ranging from the sanctity of unborn life to the integrity of marriage. We must push back against his contraception mandate that tramples upon religious liberty. Given the trajectory of his first term in office, we are urgently concerned about a second term, knowing that the President will never again face the electorate.

As the President acknowledged in his speech last night, our nation faces huge challenges. We must pray that President Obama will lead in a spirit of national unity and mutual respect, bringing Americans together to resolve these ominous problems. Incredible responsibility now rests on his shoulders. He has won a second term, now he must rightly lead...

...The nation is divided politically, but that divide points to a division at the level of worldview. The 2012 election makes clear that Americans are divided over fundamental questions. Americans are divided into camps that define and see the world in fundamentally different terms. The election did not cause this division, it merely revealed it. This deep division at the level of worldview presents President Obama with a daunting political challenge, but a worldview crisis is an even greater challenge for the church...

...Evangelical Christians must see the 2012 election as a catastrophe for crucial moral concerns. The election of President Obama returns a radically pro-abortion President to the White House, soon after he had endorsed same-sex marriage. President Obama is likely to have the opportunity to appoint one or more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they are almost sure to agree with his constitutional philosophy...

...Clearly, we face a new moral landscape in America, and huge challenge to those of us who care passionately about these issues. We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues. This will not be easy. It is, however, an urgent call to action...

...Christians must never see political action as an end, but only as a means. We can never seek salvation through the voting booth, and we must never look for a political messiah. Nevertheless, Christians do bear a political responsibility, established in love of God and love of neighbor. We are rightly concerned about this world, but only to a limited extent. Our main concern is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Over at American Vision, Leah Smith offers some wise counsel to Christians in her article, "The Election is Over... Now What?" She presents a much-needed critique against professing evangelicals and provides pratical steps toward obtaining a robust biblical worldview while making disciples:

Once upon a time Christians knew what they believed. They knew why they believed it. We often shake our heads at what goes on the world. We don’t like the anti-Christian laws being passed, more government control, our freedoms regulated and the general secularized state of our nation. However we have failed to recognize who dropped the ball. Christians have lost something very basic and precious: the ability to articulate the gospel. Most Christians profess to believe in the Great Commission that Jesus commanded, to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:19)

How do we suppose nations will become discipled if we are unable to give even a reasonable answer for the hope that lies within us? How do we expect to handle confrontations without being blown away by any intelligent worldly answer?

She concludes with a call to action...

1. Get a biblical worldview. We are secular humanists and we don’t even know it. The Barna Group reports that only 19% of Christians who profess they “have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today” and who “are certain that they will go to Heaven after they die only because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior” — hold a biblical worldview. Even if you love the Lord with all your heart– statistically, it’s very likely you do not have a biblical worldview. It is imperative we get one.

2. Get married and have a family. Atheists can do this too, so it is imperative that we hold a biblical worldview with which we approach every thought, action, decision and idea within the family unit. Why have a family? It is the backbone of society. That is why when you delve into the roots of socialism, you find the strategic intent to destroy Christianity and the family. Do we want a biblical society? Start by having a biblical family. I believe there are very few who have the “gift” of singleness. Find a good mate. Use wisdom... Raise up godly, clear-thinking Christians who will take dominion as God commands.

3. Have children, and if possible, lots of them. The Bible doesn’t suggest that we “be fruitful and multiply”, it commands us to. Having one or two kids is not multiplying; it is not growing the population. That is barely a replacement rate. Meanwhile, the Muslim culture continues to out-populate everyone with an average birth rate of 6 per household. Get busy people.

4. Bring up my children with a Christian, bible-based education. If we want to expand the Kingdom, do not, I repeat, do not give our kids away to the government. I cannot be so arrogant as to think I can compete with the humanistic brain washing they receive five days a week.  They are not “salt” or “light” yet, so I mustn’t be pretentious in thinking my one child is going to evangelize or survive a humanist indoctrination centre. That’s like throwing your kid in a shark-infested pool and thinking he’s a good swimmer, so he should be able to make it to the other side, no problem.  There is too much to say on this, but basically, if I am a Christian parent, a Christian education needs to be mandatory.

5. Get educated in:

Basic apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith): The Bible doesn’t require us to be experts. However, 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to have a logical answer for the hope that lies within us. The fact that most of us don’t understand logic and reason is beyond pathetic. It’s apathetic. There are some great resources out there for some basic training and education. There are even audio books, so no one has an excuse to be a dumb Christian anymore.

Basic theology: We have a problem. There are atheists that understand our Christian history and theological background better than we do. It is a skewed and distorted version, but it is sad that they know more than many of us. And because we don’t know our own presuppositions (or what that even means), they are formulating new and absurd arguments daily that we can’t refute. That is not good. Not good at all. So learn about presuppositions and learn some basic orthodox Christian doctrine and theology – and even more importantly, why it is truth.

Basic evangelism: I need to learn how to witness. Not hand out a tract, I mean how to present the gospel in a real conversation with people I meet... My goal is to learn of the most prevailing religions and cults in my city (where I am it would be atheism, Sikhism, Mormonism, J.W.’s, etc) and be well read enough that I can carry a conversation with them and understand what it is I am dealing with. I would love to see churches offer classes on the religions in their community and teach their congregations how to talk and witness to their community. Churches ought to teach basic apologetics as it is a good foundation for evangelism.

6. Women... know your feminine role. I believe the discipling of the nations will happen quickly when women go back to being women, with joy and celebration. When there is family harmony within a biblical context, and husbands love their wives and are leading as the Bible outlines, societies change. Governments change. Children are back in the hands of their own parents and that affects everything. Yes, sacrifices must be made to make this happen, however, we are in a time that if we want our grand children to live in a nation free of slavery and persecution, it is crucial that we make these sacrifices now.

Russell Moore presents a biblical paradigm that is sure to hit many professing Christians of the "religious right" between the eyes. In "Christians, Let's Honor the President," Moore reminds us of our responsibility to submit to authority and pray for our nation's leaders. Most importantly, he rightly divides Scripture to state his case:

Many of us have some disagreements with the President. As a conservative Christian, I believe unborn children have certain inalienable rights, including the right to life, and I wish President Obama would work to protect them. I believe freedom of conscience is the preeminent right in a civil society, and the Administration’s incursions on religious liberty are troubling. I don’t plan to back down one bit on these matters, even as our forefathers Isaac Backus and John Leland relentlessly stood up to the founding generation of leaders on behalf of religious freedom and human dignity.

We are going to disagree with the President on some (important) things; there will be other areas where we can work with the President. But whether in agreement or disagreement, we can honor. Honor doesn’t mean blanket endorsement...

...Christians, above all people, should pray for and show respect for our President and all of our elected officials. After all, unlike those who see politics as ultimate, we recognize that our political structures are important, but temporal, before an inbreaking kingdom of Christ. We don’t then need to be fomented into the kind of faux outrage that passes for much of contemporary political discourse. And, unlike those who see history as impersonal or capricious, we see behind everything a God who is sovereign over his universe...

...There’s a time to vote. There’s a time to campaign. And there’s a time to petition. But, through it all, let’s be the people who, even as we speak with conviction, are marked by kindness and respect. When we have to differ with President Obama, let’s do that, with backbone. But let’s make sure we do all this with honor, with respect, with prayer, and, most of all, with love.

I will be praying for our civil leadership; for their salvation and ability to govern righteously. By grace, I will submit to their authority while challenging foolish and/or ungodly policy. I will continue to labor in the Gospel to the glory of God and for the joy of the saints. I will seek the Kingdom of Heaven first and praise the Lord Jesus Christ... the King of kings and Lord of lords. Christians are not a defeated people, even when the future looks bleak. We share in Christ's victory!

05 November 2012

The Covenant of Works Demonstrated from the Prophets

Over at Reformed Baptist Fellowship, there is a great article authored by Dr. Richard Barcellos, where he presents the biblical evidence of a covenant between God and Adam at creation. Here is a notable excerpt:

5 The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left. (Isa. 24:5-6)

The curse which extends to the earth came about due to a violated covenant. Since the earth was cursed due to Adam’s sin as our representative, Adam broke covenant with God in the garden of Eden.

The prophet Hosea may help us further. In Hosea 6:7 Israel is likened unto Adam. “But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me” (Hos. 6:7). Both Adam and Israel broke a covenant imposed upon them by God. Both disobeyed and violated a covenant. Both covenants were conditional, requiring the obedience of those in the covenant to enjoy the benefits of the covenant. “…in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17; cf. Exod. 19:5-6 for the conditional nature of the Mosaic Covenant).

Barcellos concludes:

A sinless image-bearer was called by God to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth with others like him. He was to subdue the earth and rule over other creatures, starting in the garden of Eden and going out from there. He was made of body and soul outside the garden. He was put in the garden to begin the task assigned to him as a priest. He was given a law to obey and a helper to compliment him so he could fulfill his task. He was a son of God. He was a spokesman for God (i.e., a prophet) and a ruler (i.e., king). He was in covenant with God. But he violated God’s covenant. He sinned. He transgressed God’s law. He was subsequently cursed, clothed with animal skins, then exiled from the garden at its eastern edge (Gen. 3:8-24). In essence, Adam got kicked out of God’s house. Now he’s sinful, is a terrible image of God, a covenant breaker, and no longer the keeper of God’s garden-temple. What will God do now?

4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal. 4:4-7 NASB)

You can read the full article HERE

More resources by Dr. Richard Barcellos...

31 October 2012

Reformation Day 2012

Happy Reformation Day! Today, we Protestants celebrate the symbolic beginning of the Protestant Reformation (it was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" on the door of "Castle Church" in Wittenberg, Germany). I'd like to highlight some great "Reformation Day" resources I've found throughout the web...

Over at Crossway, they've made Greg Forster's book "The Joy of Calvinism" available for FREE download:

At Ligonier, along with the Mystery of the Trinity special I mentioned the other day, they are offering R.C. Sproul's "Luther and the Reformation" series for FREE download (MP3 & MP4) as well:

Desiring God has FREE digital downloads of John Piper's biographical sketch entitled,"Martin Luther: Lessons from His Life and Labor":

More Reformation resources:

Don't forget to check out the various pages on this blog... there are some great Reformation resources in the "Historical Theology" section as well as a number of classic and contemporary Reformed/Evangelical articles on the other pages.

30 October 2012

What Is the Trinity?

R.C. Sproul's "What Is the Trinity?" (from the popular "Crucial Questions" series) is available as a FREE download (until 10/31) over at Ligonier:

 Click below for more information...

You can also download Dr. Sproul's "The Mystery of the Trinity" series...

"Monotheism" | Audio | Video |
"The Biblical Witness" | Audio | Video |
"Early Controversies" | Audio | Video |
"Fifth-Century Heresies" | Audio | Video |
"Contradiction vs. Mystery" | Audio | Video |
"One in Essence, Three in Person" | Audio | Video |

More from the "Crucial Questions" series...

29 October 2012

Dangerous Calling

There is a special at Westminster Bookstore (ends 10/31) featuring "Dangerous Calling" by Paul Tripp. It looks like a much-needed resource for Pastoral Ministry, and a must-have for ministers of the Gospel. The book is only $12 (or $10 if you order 5 or more) and the conference DVD is only $15!

Check out this video from Paul Tripp:

Also, there's a free Leader's Guide and Discussion Guide to the DVD, in order to assist you in your small group or leadership training.

Additional books by Paul Tripp: