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
In the later part of the book of Genesis readers are confronted with the story of Joseph. His jealous brothers sell Joseph into slavery and he is brought to Egypt. Joseph is put in places by God to carry out His Will. Before Joseph was second in command in Egypt, he did not give into temptation by laying with Pharaoh’s wife. Joseph is punished by not giving into sin.
By this action of Joseph being imprisoned, Pharaoh at a later date realizes that there is one who can interpret a dream that he has received. Pharaoh calls Joseph up to interpret a dream and throughout Joseph’s life he has remained faithful. Joseph tells of the famine that is coming and by doing this Egypt is allowed to prepare. God has taken this evil act of his brothers sending him into slavery; the tempting of Pharaoh’s wife and God is bringing all of this about for His glory. Joseph’s struggle brought life to his family and to Egypt. He saves the entire kingdom. (Victor Hamilton also compares Joseph and his brother’s evil intentions to those who conspired against Noah).
When Joseph is sees his brothers again after all that has taken place, Joseph is able to say that God had brought this about. His brothers meant evil and harm against him, but God used it to save them (Genesis 50:19). Joseph uses the verb “sent” to show that it was God who brought him to Egypt, not his brothers. Even though Joseph’s own flesh and blood are the ones who sold him into slavery, God providentially brought about their evil deed against Joseph to save the kingdom. The Lord placed Joseph as a leader in Egypt to keep a remnant that would continue to exist and Scripture bears this out in Exodus 1.
 Hamilton, Genesis, 706.
 Hamilton, Genesis, 577.
JC Ryle was born in 1816. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1841. He became the rector of St. Thomas’s, Winchester in 1843, then to Helmingham, Suffolk the following year. From 1843 to 1879, he wrote various works and gospel tracts. In 1880, Ryle became the bishop of Liverpool and retired in 1900 at age 83. He died later that year.
I have benefited from the writings of Bunyan, Calvin, Luther, etc. But none have been more beneficial than JC Ryle. In his work Practical Religion, Ryle cuts to the heart of the Christian life. He saw problems in his day and addressed those. But those same problems are present today.
Practical Religion is divided into 21 Chapters: Self-Inquiry, Self-Exertion, Reality, Prayer, Bible Reading, Going to the Table, Charity, Zeal, Freedom, Happiness, Formality, The World, Riches and Poverty, The Best Friend, Sickness, The Family of God, Our Home, Heirs of God, The Great Gathering, The Great Separation, and Eternity.
Ryle addressed the skewed views of the gospel of grace such as “nominal Christianity”. Ryle calls it “churchianity”. But it is the same problem that still exists in many of our Churches today. Some claim Christ when it benefits them, but when life is tough, those “nominal” believers are found not to be true. In reading Practical Religion, the Christian will be encouraged in Praying and Reading their Bible. But they will also feel conviction on living this life for eternity, not for the “here and now”.
I am thankful to God for the life of JC Ryle and his influence in my life. But I am also thankful for Banner of Truth for publishing his works and other various works that are so important for the Christian life.
If you would like to purchase Practical Religion, you may do so here.
Banner has recently released Ryle’s Autobiography, you can purchase it here.
Evan Knies is a student at SBTS, grad of Boyce College, and Minister of Students at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. He is married to Lauren and you can follow him on Twitter at @Evan_Knies.