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). 

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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

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

 

This Is Not the Way We Mourn: Living With Sadness in the Shadow of Mother’s Day

By Amy and Cade Campbell

Mother’s Day weekend is really hard to get through.

I miss my brother. I don’t know of a greater pain than that felt by a parent who’s lost a child. It sends a shockwave through our system, physically and spiritually. We know, deep down we know, that it isn’t supposed to be this way. Children, regardless of their age, shouldn’t die before their parents, and when they do, the grieving mamas and daddies never really get over it.

Oh, I know people say you’ll get over it. People say it gets easier in time. People say it won’t hurt quite so much, but I don’t know if I believe them. It isn’t true for my family.

When I was thirteen my little brother Johnathan, who was two at the time, died after accidentally falling into a swimming pool. A lot of time has gone by. We’ve all grown up. My older brother Chris is married with two adorable kids. My parents are grandparents now. Life is good, but I’d be lying if I said we’ve ever really gotten over what happened that summer. It’s not something you do get over. Johnathan is still gone. There’s a little boy who will always be a little boy in our memories who should be a young man by now, but he isn’t here. That really hurts.

The older I get the more I ache for my mom who has a little boy in heaven who can’t celebrate with her or send her a card. Cade hurts for his mom who also has a little baby in heaven whom she lost through a miscarriage.

And I miss my grandmother. This year will be the first Mother’s Day without her. My mom will be going through this day for the first time without her mom. I know other friends who’ll be doing the same.

And I really want to be a mother too, but I’m not. Mother’s Day rubs the wound of our own childlessness raw. Cade and I both want to be parents. We want a baby, but God hasn’t given us one yet, and that sadness is related to the sorrow felt by those whose children have died. Losing a child makes you mourn by looking back into the past and remembering someone who isn’t here. Longing for a child causes you to mourn by looking into the future and hurting for a child that isn’t here either, reaching down for a little hand that isn’t there to hold, listening at night for the sound of little feet that aren’t there to run.

Those are some of the reasons I’m not looking forward to the weekend, and I know I’m not alone. There’s a lot of you reading this who feel the exact same way. Maybe you’ve lost a child who died too young. Maybe, like me, you really want to be a mom yourself. Maybe you never really had a mother, so this weekend just pours salt into your heart’s hurts by reminding you of what so many other people have that you never got to experience. Maybe you’re still grieving your mother’s death and would give anything just to be able to pick up the phone and tell her you love her one more time. Mother’s Day casts a really painful shadow, and regardless of what your own story is, I bet that you can relate, I bet you know why we are all just trying to get through the next few days any way we can.

If I’m honest I want to get through the next few days by avoiding them altogether. Mother’s Day is the one day of the year I want to forget because it’s the one day of the year I dread the most. I wish it would disappear, and I’d like to avoid it by avoiding other people, by staying home and secluded, calling in sick, and not seeing anyone until it’s over. Can I be honest? I don’t even want to go to church on Sunday. I don’t want to stay seated when all the other moms stand up. I don’t want to force a smile at my friends who are enjoying their first Mother’s Day with beautiful little babies. I don’t want to have to endure the awkward words of well-meaning friends who’ll call me an “honorary” mother, or want to give me a rose just so I won’t feel left out. I don’t want any part of it. I’d rather just grieve alone. I want to block it out. I want to clock-out on Friday and not leave my house again until Monday morning.

And yet, as much as I may want to close the curtains, lock the doors, and boycott the weekend, I’m convinced that I can’t.

As a believer in Jesus’ gospel, I know that’s not the way we grieve. This weekend is going to hurt no matter what I do, and avoiding people and skipping church won’t help. Wallowing in a pity-party won’t remove the pain. My heart won’t feel less heavy by staying home. It would just feel worse. So on Sunday morning Cade and I will both call our moms and then drive to church. We’ll gather with our church family. We’ll sing songs of praise. We’ll hear God’s Word preached, and I know that in spite of the wound(s) that I’ll feel, that’s really what I need.

In the midst of our grief, the gospel teaches me to hope, and I don’t need a weekend where I forget it or act like it isn’t true. I desperately need to be with other believers because I need to celebrate the gospel that tells me that the grave isn’t the end. I need to anchor my life in the fact that the tombstones on my little brother’s and my grandmother’s graves won’t get the last word – Instead Jesus, who will one day say “get up,” will. In the same way, I need to have the gospel applied to my own heart to bear my own childlessness during this time of my life. If the task of a believing mother is to “treasure Christ when her hands are full,” my calling right now is to treasure Christ when my hands are empty. I have to embrace the pain of Mother’s Day because I desperately need to be reminded that Jesus is better, sweeter, sufficient, and sovereign.

What I’ve lost and what I lack do not get to dictate how I grieve. Jesus does. He gets to set the agenda for the way I mourn. If I really believe that he walked out of his own grave and crashed his own funeral, then that fact has to impact the way I practice my own grief, not just on most weekends, but even on Mother’s Day weekend. My identity is not found in either death or infertility. It is found in Christ’s resurrection, and that makes me a part of his community of dead people who come back to life. I am part of a community of the risen, and my calling in life is to live like it.

Scripture teaches me to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). Christ’s resurrection tells me that I don’t get to pick and choose which part of that verse I want to apply to my own life. And it doesn’t tell me I only have to obey it when I feel like it. I want a fellowship of believers who will mourn alongside me. And I really want to be faithful to rejoice alongside those who celebrate.

The Bible also calls me not to mourn like the rest of the world, not to grieve in the same way as those who have no hope, and ultimately not to confront my childlessness like those who don’t know Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13). And that’s true for all of us, whether our pain is infertility, abandonment, or loss. We have hope because Jesus is in charge. Even in all of the sadness Mother’s Day brings, it’s still a day when we need to join with one another in hearing, speaking, and singing the message of the cross and the crucified carpenter who wouldn’t stay dead. It is his life, death, and life again that teaches us how to hurt.

I can’t hurt by pretending the hurt will go away. I can only hurt by resting in the promise that the gospel will never go away. We can’t mourn by pretending to be okay. We must mourn (even on Mother’s Day) by living all of life rooted in the soil of God’s promises, promises that assure us that even in our brokenness, hurts, sadness, darkness, disappointments, and wounds, there is a good and gracious God who loves us and is wisely governing his creation and orchestrating all things for the ultimate and eternal good of his people (Romans 8:28). Since that’s true, I can cast my cares on him, knowing that he understands, relates, and cares (Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7).

In other words, I can go to church on Sunday not holding a little hand only because his wounded hand is holding mine.


Amy Campbell, a native of Natchez, Mississippi is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (B.A.) as well as the Seminary Wives Institute of Boyce College (Certificate in Women’s Ministry Studies). She works in the central office of Communities in Schools of Clark County, Indiana. You can follow her on Twitter at @itsamycampbell. 

Cade Campbell serves as the Associate Pastor for Preaching and Discipleship at First Baptist Church Henryville, Indiana. He is a graduate of Mississippi College (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div). You can follow him on Twitter at @DCadeCampbell.