Book Briefs: Lexham Geographic Commentary

– The graphics and pictures are fantastic!
– Bibliography at the end of each chapter on what was covered in the chapter
– This work walks in order of passages mentioned

Page Count for the Gospels – 583

Page Count for Acts through Revelation – 763

Interesting Chapters in the Gospels: Fishing in the Sea of Galilee and The Words & Teachings of Jesus in the Context of Judea

Interesting Chapters in Acts through Revelation: Early Church Demographics and The Social & Geographical World of Ephesus

To Purchase on the Gospels

To Purchase Acts through Revelation 


Evan Knies is from West Monroe, LA. He is married to Lauren and father to Maesyn. He is a graduate of Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies

Book Briefs: On Education

oneducation

On Education – Lexham Press

Abraham Kuyper was a leading Dutch figure in education, politics, and theology. He was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church, was appointed to Parliament, and served as prime minister. Kuyper also founded the Free University in Amsterdam. 

Lexham Press has published some of Kuyper’s works in a new series of Collected Works of Theology. Most recently, Lexham has published Kuyper’s volume On Education. If you are able to purchase these volumes from Lexham, you will not regret it! 

The layout of this volume is helpful for the reader. When I have read some older works by theologians, the layout of various volumes can make it harder to read. But this cannot be said about this volume. The print, chapter divisions, and introductions have helped make this a great resource for pastors, teachers, and churches. 

In the introduction of On Education, Kuyper is quoted from one of his speeches at Parliament. He said, “Education is a distinct public interest. Education touches on one of the most complicated and intricate questions, one that involves every issue, including the deepest issues that invite humanity’s search for knowledge – issues of anthropology and psychology, religion and sociology, pedagogy and morality, in short, issues that encroach upon every branch of social life. Now it seems to me that such an element of cultural life has the right in every respect to an absolutely independent organization; always in the sense that education should function in the spirit of what the British call a body corporate” (pg. xxii). 

The editor uses a quote of Kuyper’s from Parlementaire Redevoeringen, “Unity of the nation is not brought into danger by having children attend different kinds of schools but by wounding the right and limiting the freedom so that our citizens are offended not in their material interests but in their deepest life convictions, which is all-determinative fro the best of them. That sows bitterness in the hearts and divides a nation. Instead of asking what the state school will receive and what the free school will receive, as sons of the same fatherland we should commit to raising the development of our entire nation. Then the feeling of unity will grow stronger and more inspired” (pg. xxxviii). 

Education will always be a very important topic for discussion in our communities and churches. This volume will help pastors now and help pastors 100 years from now. Use this resource, think about the importance of education, and invest in your communities for God’s glory and our good. You only get one life and it will soon pass. Only what is done for Christ will last!


Evan Knies is from West Monroe, LA. He is married to Lauren and father to Maesyn. He is a graduate of Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies

Recovering Church Membership

As a body of believers, Christians are called to be together and not neglect the local assembly (Hebrews 10:25, “Not neglecting to meet together” ESV). We are covenanted together by Christ and what we confess. 

The local church displays the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who confesses Christ as the forgiveness of sins should gather with fellow believers every Lord’s Day and be renewed in the good news. The people of God are first and foremost united in the Gospel. When the world looks at the church, and they ask what we have in common. The people of God should unanimously say, “Christ!”. We forgive one another, we teach one another, we hold one another accountable, we comfort one another, and we exhort one another to press on in the faith. Membership matters because the people of God and the Gospel matters. 

John Hammett in Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches lays out some reasons in which Baptist Churches can recover meaningful church membership. (pg. 114-116)

  1. Recovery of meaningful church membership should be the number one priority of Baptist churches today because of the effect it would have on our corporate witness. 
  2. Our corporate health would be strengthened. 
  3. Doing the hard work in recovering meaningful membership is the potential for awakening literally millions of lost church members. 
  4. Recovering meaningful church membership would honor Christ. 

“Christ is honored when churches are composed of people whose church membership means first of all a genuine, vital commitment to Christ, and second, a commitment to the people of that local body. Christ is honored when church membership is meaningful.” – John Hammett, pg. 116, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches

So may our churches once again pursue meaningful church membership! For God’s Glory and our good!

To purchase a copy of Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches, click here. (2nd Edition)


Evan Knies is from West Monroe, LA. He is married to Lauren and father to Maesyn. He serves as Minister of Students at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, KY. He also serves as the Executive Assistant of the Nelson Baptist Association. He is a graduate of Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies

Book Briefs: Facing Snarls and Scowls

facingsnarlsBrian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, and Founder of Practical Shepherding.

James Carroll is the Senior Pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Bardstown, KY.

Facing Snarls and Scowls is an encouraging work that does not dim down the weight of preaching in revitalization. It shows that revitalization is hard work, but by God’s grace, one may be able to see the sinking ship turn in the right direction. The authors remind readers of endurance in Christ and that we are to be good stewards of what we have been given. They provide winsome words throughout this book to encourage pastors to do so.

Readers will be reminded that the trials of this life are here to stay and there will always be threats to the gospel among us. But our hope by God’s power is that faithful preaching will produce a harvest. Preaching and struggles go hand in hand, and preaching may not always have positive results. But Brian and James do a fantastic job of walking through passages that show trials will come with those who strive to be faithful. We should glean from examples who have come before us.

Brian and James argue, “Since preaching is a vital instrument for God’s work in individuals and His church, the last thing needed in the church, and particularly in revitalization settings, is the unhealthy concoction of bad preaching and snarling congregants” (pg. 61). They show that pastors should steward their pulpits well and preach well! The proclamation of the gospel is vital and preachers should strive to be better in the pulpit. After these warnings, Brian and James give huge practical advice so that our preaching points to Jesus, not just principles.

Brian and James recognize that there has been a revival of preaching today. They define it as, “The task in Expository Preaching is to allow the theme, thrust, and structure of the text to provide the theme, thrust, and structure of the sermon” (pg. 83). Christians are people who are bound to the Word of God. Preachers are called to handle the Text well!

The authors throughout this work exhort readers to be patient in church revitalizations. They call readers to press on! One of the benefits of this book is that I personally know James Carroll. He practices what he preaches. Towards the end of the book, there is a quote on pg. 152, “One of the most significant blind-spots for pastors, and especially young pastors, is a lack of self-awareness”. James has repeatedly told me this and it has been a point of some of our fruitful discussions.

This is a work that pours out practical wisdom that is rooted in Biblical Truth. Chruch Revitalizations, Church Planters, Pastors, and Christians as a whole will benefit from this work.

Purchase here.


Evan Knies is from West Monroe, LA. He is married to Lauren and father to Maesyn. He serves as Minister of Students at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, KY. He also serves as the Executive Assistant of the Nelson Baptist Association. He is a graduate of Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies

Convictional and Compassionate: Being an All-Around Calvinist

What comes to your mind when you hear the term “Calvinist” or “Calvinism” mentioned? For some people, the term represents a theology and a people who are cold, selfish, eggheads, academics, not practical, and isolated. The caricature of Calvinism oozes forth from many people as if being a Calvinist and being a leper were synonymous with one another. As someone who gladly embraces the term (with qualifiers as a Baptist), along with unashamedly declaring the doctrines of grace from the pulpit, it raises a concern that perhaps our zeal apart from love contributes to the scarecrow straw-man constructed by those who oppose Calvinism. A Calvinist must be a man or woman who is a Calvinist all-around. This is a play on C.H. Spurgeon’s work An All-Around Ministry where the Prince of Preachers guides young pastors into seeing the many elements that must be a part of ministry. I would suggest a few elements that are needed for us to be all-around Calvinists.

Experiential Religion

Some might get the impression (fairly and unfairly) that to be a Calvinist requires an oath to reject any type of feelings and emotions in regards to the Christian faith. If one reads just a few Puritan works, the conclusion will be made that this is not true. As I read The Valley of Vision (which you should too) prayers, my heart stirs within me considering the greatness of our God and His grace manifest in the life and work of Jesus Christ. Calvinism fuels true experiential religion built upon the Word of God. In his work The Practical Implications of Calvinism, Pastor Albert N. Martin makes a striking observation: “I submit that a man has no right to speak of being a Calvinist because he can repeat like a parrot phrases brought to him in the great heritage of Reformed literature. He must ask himself, Has the Holy Spirit brought be me to this profound sense of God that has worked in me at least in some measure the grace of humility.” [1] It is not enough for us to systemize if we do not internalize. The doctrines of grace are the marrow for experiential religion for they are anchored to the text of the Bible, beholding the majesty of God, humbling our prideful spirits, and taking us upward to behold the Lamb of God. Is your Calvinism causing you to be a man or woman of biblical, experiential religion? May God help us if our Calvinism causes us to be cold and indifferent! Such an experience would indict us of not truly knowing the doctrines of grace.

An Informed Worldview

Calvinism extends far beyond TULIP and the latest conferences. Biblical and historic Calvinism provides a guide for how to view all of life. A person’s theology better be more than what takes them to corporate worship for an hour on Sunday. In fact, this is one of the great problems of the day. A ritualistic morality is a poor and cheap substitute for biblical Christianity. The great Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield defined a Calvinist in the following way:

He who believes in God without reserve and is determined that God shall be God to him in all his thinking, feeling and willing – in the entire compass of his life activities, intellectual, moral, and spiritual – throughout all his individual social and religious relations, is, by force of that strictest of all logic which presides over the outworking of principles into thought and life, by the very necessity of the case, a Calvinist. [2]

Warfield expands the playing field when it comes to Calvinism as being more than a theological acrostic. Theology can never be impractical due to the fact that doctrine fuels our lives. Each day decisions are made based upon a worldview, a grid for life. Calvinism will influence how you parent, how you relate to your spouse, the way you view your job, politics, and so forth. If Calvinism only comes into play when TULIP is spoken of, then it is not Calvinism but a sort of pragmatism that reigns in the heart and mind of an individual. J.I. Packer beautifully summarizes this in his introductory essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ:

        “Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of God as the whole world’s Maker and King. Calvinism is the consistent endeavor to acknowledge the Creator as the Lord, working all things after the counsel of his will. Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible – the God-centered outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace. Calvinism is thus theism (belief in God as the ground of all things), religion (dependence on God as the giver of all things), and evangelicalism (trust in God through Christ for all things), all in their purest and most highly developed form. And Calvinism is a unified philosophy of history which sees the whole diversity of processes and events that take place in God’s world as no more, and no less, than the outworking of his great preordained plan for his creatures and his church. The five points assert no more than God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism, as such, is concerned with the much broader assertion that he is sovereign everywhere.” [3]

A Gracious Outlook

Confessing a theology known as the doctrines of grace must impact us in being gracious to others. Sometimes I cringe reading Twitter and seeing how men who I am persuaded are true believers, who call themselves Calvinists, and yet speak to each other in ways that lack any type of grace and charity. Keyboard Calvinism is as dangerous as pragmatism. Calvinism is not a badge to wear for admittance into the cool kids’ club nor is it a club to beat people over the head with. When one gets a true sense of the grace that God has shown, how can that not humble us and guide us in our dealings with others?

One of the great concerns I have is that many Facebook and Twitter Calvinists are pragmatists when it comes to their ecclesiology. If you choose where you attend church and are a member at based on pragmatic values, then it does not matter how well you can articulate the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace. One of the greatest changes in my life when I came to understand the doctrines of grace involved how I viewed the local church. If you want to destroy the caricature of cold Calvinism, band together with like-minded believers. The beauty of Calvinism should be seen in gracious cooperation: serve the community like ministering at a children’s home or a nursing home, show grace to one another knowing all of us are feeble human beings who need Christ and remember that the pilgrimage to Zion is not a road of isolation.

Steadfast Convictions

The false dichotomy that states being gracious and compassionate means the absence of convictions and beliefs must be rejected. Our Lord is all-gracious and compassionate yet He is dogmatic and narrow as He declares that He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. Calvinism must be compassionate and convictional. Our theology does matter. Our beliefs do matter. For someone to say that it is not a big deal what one believes concerning God’s sovereignty, man’s depravity and Christ’s sufficiency moves closer and closer to a false gospel. Further reformation is needed today when it comes to the regulative principle of worship, the perpetuity of the moral law of God, confessionalism, and covenant theology. However, a person can be fervently committed to the 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith without being obnoxious about it. In my opinion, no one combined the doctrinal fidelity of Calvinism with experiential religion, powerful evangelism, compassionate ministry, and selfless service like C.H. Spurgeon. Yet, Spurgeon was no ecumenical in the sense of watering down doctrine and theological railing. [4]

Conclusion

In recent months, there seems to be a growing trend that to be aligned with the 2nd London Baptist Confession indicates that one carries it as a badge of cantankerous religion and a fundamentalist zeal. In fact, “1689 Twitter” became a hashtag on social media in regards to the unsavory attitudes displayed by those who claim subscription to the confession. A few bad apples claiming confessionalism should not distort the richness of the 2LBCF. The tradition of this confession is a Christ-centered, church-oriented Calvinism that calls us to be convictional and compassionate. May those who claim confessional Calvinism emulate the Christian piety and warmth of men like John Newton, George Liele, Lemuel Haynes, Andrew Fuller, J.C. Ryle, and C.H. Spurgeon.


[1] Albert N. Martin, The Practical Implications of Calvinism. (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1979), 10.

[2] Ibid., 4.

[3] See https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/packer_intro.html for the full essay.

[4] See https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2001/are-you-sure-you-like-spurgeon/


Jake Stone is a native of Gulfport, MS and has lived on the MS Gulf Coast his entire life. Pastor Jake began to serve full-time at New Testament beginning in August 2011 and this began the relaunch and revitalization process of the church. Jake is a graduate of William Carey University in Hattiesburg, MS. Follow Jake on Twitter @ntbcpastor.