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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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
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
By Mathew Gilbert
It’s always difficult to see someone you really respect fall deep into sin. Even the slightest accusation of moral failure in someone you respect changes the way you look at them forever. When we see crucial authority figures in our lives fall into sin, we struggle to trust not only that person, but that position in the future. If you catch one of your parents having an affair, you will struggle to ever trust them again. And you will also have a negative view of marriage, which likely means it will affect your own marriage if unchecked. If you hear about your pastor, teacher, or coach indulging in sin, your trust in them and their position will be shaken. It is so hard to think about people you respect sinning so deeply. It’s one thing to know we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), but it’s quite another to see sin creep out of the hearts of those we most respect.
I think about popular pastors who have recently been relieved of pastoral duties due to moral or leadership failures. There was a literal shockwave that ran through my social media feeds when Darrin Patrick and Perry Noble were outed for deep, latent sin in their lives and ministries. In our celebrity pastor culture, it is easy to forget that even the most charismatic leader is not immune to sin. I have lamented the number of times I’ve seen “This doesn’t surprise me” or, “I told you so” in response to the meteoric fall of evangelical leaders like Driscoll, Tchividjian, Patrick, Noble, and others. There is no place in the church for this kind of proud posturing. The shock of sin has drastic immediate and long-term effects on a church when one of her leaders falls.
I believe the life of David is a testament to the shock of sin and grace in the life of a leader. There are many lessons to be learned from David’s fall into sin, but two that help us when leaders in our lives sin revolve around the shock and awe of sin and grace.
David was a man after God’s heart and handpicked by the Lord to lead Israel as king. God even promised that David’s kingly line would culminate in a kingdom that would never end. One day, a Davidic King would sit on his throne and never give it up. David was righteous and desired to obey the Lord. But, David surprised his own people and even us by falling into a deep spiral of sin. He fell for a woman who was not his wife, and was in fact someone else’s wife! Then, in an attempt to cover his sin, David had the woman’s (Bathsheba) husband (Uriah) killed. David gave in to temptation and brought everyone around him down with him. Failing to kill his sin led him to continue in his sin. Instead of confessing his sin and trusting God to cover it with his grace, David tried to cover his sin by killing another man.
Despite David’s shocking downward spiral into dark sin, God’s shows him tremendous mercy. When David was confronted with his sin by Nathan the prophet, he confessed his sin to God and received his compassion. David shares what this experience was like in Psalm 51. There are a couple things that do surprise us about David’s sin and God’s grace that really shouldn’t.
First, we are surprised that a man like David can sin the way he did. While we should expect to grow in Christlikeness throughout our Christian life, sin remains in our hearts until we die or Christ returns. Anyone is capable of dreadful sinful actions, because the dreaded enemy of sin has invaded the heart of every person. So, don’t be surprised when you or people you respect sin. Sin should always be unwanted, but it should never been unexpected.
It is a sign of either a healthy or deceived church when the people are shocked when a pastor falls into sin. It is healthy, in one sense, to be shocked at deep sin in the life of a pastor. Christians are on a path of righteousness. They are being conformed into the image of Christ. Day by day, sin is being rooted out of their hearts. However, sanctification isn’t an overnight process. It is a lifelong process. There are many battles–some won, others lost. But, we fight knowing the war has been won by Christ on the cross as he defeated the dominions of darkness and death. While we should expect sin to still be in the heart and life of ourselves and our leaders, our hearts should be broken and in one sense shocked by unrepentant sin in the life of leaders.
Second, we are surprised that God would show David such compassion in the midst of his deep and dark sin. But, we know the character of God. He is slow to anger and abounds in steadfast love (Ex. 34:6). We should never be surprised at God’s grace, but we should always be amazed by it. Learn from David’s sin and God’s grace that covering your own sin with more sin will never satisfy. However, trusting God’s grace in the cross of Christ to cover your sin will always satisfy.
As deep as sin goes in the human heart, the grace of God in the gospel goes even deeper. Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, Darrin Patrick, Perry Noble, and any other Christian leader who has fallen into deep sin has not exhausted the riches of God’s grace in Christ. The tank of God’s benevolence toward them isn’t on empty. It is as full as it has always been. And assuming these men are in Christ, there is a fountain of mercy and forgiveness for the mountain of sin they have allowed to grow.
The fall of leaders in our lives is devastating. It is detrimental to the influence of a local church and the Church as a whole. No one is helped when a pastor bullies his way to power, commits an affair, or launders money from the church fund. We should guard our hearts from the treacherous lure of sin, knowing that none of us are beyond a Davidic descent into a pit of sin. But we should always marvel at the grace of God, which he bestows on unworthy and fallen sinners like us. As devastating as the fall of broken leaders is, the restoration of repentant leaders by God’s grace is an incomparably sweet reality. Whenever you see a leader in your life fail morally and fall into sin, don’t point your fingers and shake your head in arrogant self-aggrandizement. Instead, bow your head in humble prayer that God would restore these men to himself and their people.
God pursues us in his grace like a relentless mother searching for her lost son at the mall. He will not rest until his children are found! And for those of us in Christ, he will bring to completion the work he began in us (Phil. 1:6).
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.