Book Briefs: The Wonderful Decree

Dr. Campbell has written an important work on the Decree of God. This work begins by telling readers the story of his wife dying and he articulates that is what pressed him into studying and examining the scriptures. His story will grip every reader and those seeking to search through these truths with him throughout the rest of the book. He then addresses some of the potential reservations for Calvinism. But sees that suffering strengthens faith (pg. 11), good has come from his wife’s death (pg. 14), and the existence of God deals with evils and sufferings (pg. 16). 

He then walks throughout the various challenges to the decree of God from theism – polytheism – pantheism – atheism. He describes each term and shows the differences that exist between each term. He discusses compatibilism and libertarianism. Dr. Campbell defines the doctrine of election and says that election is compatible with love (pg. 71). He gives one of the best biblical cases for the doctrine of election and walks through the scriptures.

I believe his story of his wife and how he wrestled through those things during her death is worth the price of the book. But this is one of the most helpful and soul-stirring arguments for understanding biblical election that I have ever read. 

As he moves forward, he gives a critique of Arminianism and then continues to give a strong case for unconditional election. He spends time discussing infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism. He says that God’s love is an act of free grace (pg. 220). He shows how the decree of God is incompatible with Molinism and then ends this work with an epilogue (pg. 281). 

Click to purchase on Amazon

Click to purchase on Lexham Press

Book Briefs: On Education

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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

15 Quotes from Foundations of the Christian Faith

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James Montgomery Boice was the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia until his death in 2000. He also wrote a book called “The Doctrines of Grace” which was heavily influential in my life.

To purchase a copy of Foundations of the Christian Faith, click here.

 

 

1. Knowledge of God takes place in the context of Christian piety, worship, and devotion (pg. 9).

2. A weak god produces no strong followers, nor does he deserve to be worshiped. A strong God, the God of the Bible, is a source of strength to those who know Him (pg. 12).

3. To know God would require change (pg. 19).

4. The church did not create the canon; if it had, it would place itself over Scripture. Rather the church submitted to Scripture as a higher authority (pg. 34).

5. The power of the living Christ operating by means of the Holy Spirit through the written Word changes lives (pg. 56).

6. A God who needs to be defended is no God. Rather, the God of the Bible is the self-existent one who is the true defender of His people (pg. 95).

7. Because God knows, believers can rest (pg. 134).

8. The blessings of salvation come, not by fighting against God’s ways or by hating Him for what we consider to be an injustice, but rather by accepting His verdict on our true nature as fallen beings and turning to Christ in faith for salvation (pg. 204).

9. The initiating cause in salvation is God’s free grace, but the formal cause is, and has always been, the death of the mediator (pg. 259).

10. In the act of propitiation, we have the great good news that the one who is our Creator, but from whom we have turned in sin, is nevertheless at the same time our Redeemer (pg. 322).

11. Only after we have come to appreciate the meaning of the Cross can we appreciate the love behind it. Seeing this, Augustine once called the Cross “a pulpit” from which Christ preached God’s love to the world (pg. 337).

12. To confess that Jesus is the Christ is to confess the Christ of the Scriptures. To deny that Christ, by whatever means, is heresy – a heresy with terrible consequences (pg. 445).

13. If we are secure in Christ, although we may stumble and fall, we know that nothing will ever pluck us out of Christ’s hand (pg. 464).

14. Living by grace actually leads to holiness, for our desire is to please the one who has saved us by that grace (pg. 492).

15. Perseverance means that once one is in the family of God, he or she is always in that family (pg. 534).

For more information on Foundations of the Christian Faith, visit Intervarsity Press 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

 

Meditations on 1 John: That You May Know! (Part Two)

By Colton Corter 

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13 ESV)

The Christian can know for certain that he is, in fact, a Christian. Assurance of salvation is a beautiful reality and is a fountain of holiness and happiness in Christ. Unlike all other systems of thought, the gospel motivates joy and obedience by giving certainty. Islam, Roman Catholic and any other man-made religions reject the notion of assurance of whatever they deem to be salvation. Wouldn’t assurance lead to presumption and moral laxity? Not in the gospel that creates joy in God and works from the inside out. The gospel, really the whole Christian life, is based on certainty. 

Assurance is possible first because of the objective work of Christ on our behalf. The gospel lies ever outside of us. Again it is the objective person and work of Christ that happened 2,00o years before many of us were born that is our confidence before God. God is ferociously holy. God created out of an overflow of His own glory and enjoyment of that glory with the Godhead so that He might display the riches of His glory in the gladness of a redeemed people. God’s worth demands His creatures total pleasure and worship. But we have all sinned and decided that our own glory is the goal of our universe. We have rebelled against a holy God and have lied about the worth and character of the only eternal God! For this reason, God’s wrath hangs over against us as the only good response to the heinous sin that we all have committed. Sin is the disatisfaction in God that begins in the affections and hearts that only then is expressed in thought, word and deed. We are very evil people. Our only hope is that God sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life unto the Father. He, unlike us, relied on his Father, enjoyed His Father and glorified the Father on our behalf. He fulfilled the righteous demands of the Law. But then He was drowned by the wrath of God that was reserved for us. Like the Passover lamb, Jesus died as a substitute for all those whom the Father would call to Himself. Jesus rose from the dead, proving His power over death and the Father’s acceptance of His payment for our sins. Now everyone who comes to Christ as Savior, Lord and Supreme Treasure, forsaking their sin and running to superior joy in Jesus, will be saved! This is really good news. It is the work of Jesus on our behalf, through the instrument of saving faith, that serves as our only confidence before the Father. No one will boast before Him on that Last Day.

But the question of assurance is often not asking about this type of assurance. Many know the glory of the gospel and that Christ is there only plea. Their question, our question, is how we can know that we have true saving faith in that work? How can we have confidence that we should be confident in the gospel? We all know people who have proven that they were not really in the faith. Biblically, we know that we cannot lose our salvation but sometimes we struggle with our own sinful hearts to really know that we are children of God.

1 John 5:13 says this is the purpose of the whole book. This verse  is near the end of the book as so the “these things” he says are to give them assurance in his letter are the things found in the previous four chapters. We’ll be looking at these for the duration of this series, Lord willingly. All of these things that John writes are evidences that we have repented and trusted in Christ. Again, our confidence before God is ultimately the righteousness of Christ. But we can know by our lives that we have been born again. Justification is proceeded by sanctification. Being set apart as holy leads to real life holiness in everyday life.

John wants us to know that we have eternal life. He gives us these Spirit-inspired criteria so that we can examine ourselves to see if these things characterize our lives. The fruit of the Spirit is recognizable and grows. The emphasis on knowing contributes to something we saw earlier. Assurance begets enjoyment of God and obedience to God. Holiness and happiness may not be separated in the Christian life. When we lose assurance, for any reason, our souls shrink. But when we see these things in our life and the Spirit testifies with our Spirit that we are really children of God who are hidden with Christ, we can boldly live lives that display the glory of God!


 

Colton Corter is from Arkansas, a student at SBTS, and a member of Third Avenue Baptist Church.