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).
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By Evan Knies
James Buchanan was born in Paisley in the west of Scotland, and later studied at the University of Glasgow. In 1840 he was appointed to be minister of the High Church (St. Giles) in Edinburgh, where he became colleague to Dr. Robert Gordon, another evangelical preacher. After Thomas Chalmers’ death in 1847, Buchanan took up the Chair of Systematic Theology, which he held until 1868. In 1866, Buchanan was invited to deliver the Cunningham Lectures, and it was these addresses that became, in printed form, The Doctrine of Justification.
In this classic work, Buchanan addresses a variety of different issues under the umbrella of the important Doctrine of Justification. In the introductory essay, JI Packer uses an analogy of Atlas with the weight of the world on his shoulders and compares this to the Doctrine of Justification. The Doctrine of Justification is vital for the Christian faith. Packer also writes about authority/submission to the Bible, understanding of God’s wrath against sin, and the substitutionary satisfaction of Christ.
In the Introduction, Buchanan addresses the basic overviews of Justification and lays out what will come up in the rest of the work. In Chapters 1-5, they discuss the history of justification in the Old Testament, in the Apostolic Age, during the Early Church Fathers, during the Era of the Reformation, and in the Romish Church after the Reformation.
In Chapters 6-7, Buchanan discusses the History of Doctrine as a Subject of Controversy Among Protestants and Doctrine in the Church of England. In these chapters, Buchanan reflects upon the different views of Justification among protestants, they implications in their day, but the reader can also learn how they are still impacting views in the current day. In Chapters 8-15, Buchanan simply breaks down the doctrine of Justification, meaning in scripture, nature of blessing, relation to the Law and Justice of God, relation to the Work of Christ as Mediator, Imputed Righteousness of Christ, relation to Grace and Works, relation with Faith, and the relation to the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Doctrine of Justification like many other Banner books is beneficial for the Christian to own, read, and read again. This work helps readers understand a primary doctrine of the Christian faith, has a rich scriptural foundation, and shows how Justification provides assurance for the Christian. Those who believe in Christ, are assured in Christ, and are able to rest in Christ. The Doctrine of Justification is not only a dense theological work for a professor or pastor, it is available for the church member who struggles in his faith week to week.
You can purchase The Doctrine of Justification here.
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By Evan Knies
Owen understands that the Lord Jesus was obedient til death upon the cross. He was obedient for our sake, because of his obedience until death; Jesus has fulfilled the law for the saints.
Owen said, “The law which our Lord Jesus Christ came “not to destroy, but to fulfill,” that he might be the end of it for righteousness unto them that do believe”.
Owen states that, “He had by his death obtained a right and liberty of pardoning sin upon what condition he pleased: so that, after the satisfaction of Christ yielded and considered, “as his words are”, it was wholly in God’s free disposal whether he would save any or no; and upon what condition he would, whether of faith or of works”.
Jesus took the Father’s wrath upon the cross. The Son was our Spotless Lamb (Luke 23:44-47). It is important to know that justification is the forgiveness of sins, however, we cannot limit justification merely to forgiveness. It is not enough to have our debt forgiven and removed. We need a positive righteousness to speak for us before a holy God and our positive righteousness is the Lamb. Jesus is our positive righteousness. Our Passover lamb was without spot or blemish.
Owen states that, “His offering for us is only the presentation of himself in the presence of God in heaven; now he hath no more to do for himself in a way of duty. And the truth is, if the obedience of Christ had respect unto himself only, that is, if he yielded it unto God on the necessity of his condition, and did not do it for us, I see no foundation left to assert his merit upon, no more than I do for the imputation of it unto them that believe”.
Evan Knies is married to Lauren and a student at SBTS. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies.