(Taken from Milk and Honey)

I will avenge. – Hosea 1:4

The ‘I will’ of God dominates the book of Hosea. The phrase appears over seventy times in fourteen chapters. A few times, it appears in the negative ‘I will not,’ and tells us what God will not do. Mostly it is stated positively and tells us what God will do to and for His people.

There are two main classes of ‘I will’ statements in Hosea. The first class is judgmental and reveals God’s resolute determination to chastise His erring people. The second and largest class is redemptive and reveals God’s emphatic determination to restore His chastised people to the fullest possible experience of His love

God’s people need both of these divine ‘I wills’ in their lives. Both are rooted in God’s love, both reveal God’s love, and both result in God’s love being shed abroad in the heart. Without the ‘I will avenge,’ we would become complacent and cold. Without the ‘I will allure,’ we would give in and give up. Sometimes we need to hear the solemn ‘I will avenge.’ Sometimes we need to hear the soothing ‘I will allure.’ The Christian’s life oscillates between these two poles. Indeed, it might be said that we are constantly experiencing either ‘I will allure’ or ‘I will avenge.’

Here, Hosea is promising God’s vengeance on Israel for King Jehu’s brutal role in Ahab’s gruesome death at Jezreel (2 Kings 9-10). Though Jehu had obeyed God’s commission to execute, he had displayed trickery, butchery, and hypocrisy in doing so. And, in calling his child by the name of this site of murderous bloodlust, Hosea was reminding Israel that though this event had happened over a hundred years previously, it had still not been repented of, that the attitudes behind it were still prevalent in the land, and that God would punish them for this.

Dear Children, are you experiencing the ‘I will avenge’ of God? Are you under the rod of His anger? Are you mystified as to why? Could it be that there is a specific sin, perhaps committed many years ago, which you have not honestly faced up to and repented of? Or are some of the sinful attitudes behind such a sin still lingering and still poisoning your soul? If so, then be thankful for the ‘I will avenge’ of God. Mercifully, He will not leave you to perish or pine away in your sin.

reasonableThe Christian's Reasonable Service, 4 vols.

Wilhelmus à Brakel

Hardcover, 2704 pages

Retail Price: $150.00 / Our Price: $100.00

First published in 1700, The Christian’s Reasonable Service (De Redelijke Godsdienst) ran through twenty Dutch editions in the eighteenth century alone! The title is derived from Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” It expresses what God requires from man, and particularly from the Christian, that he serve Him in Spirit and in truth—intelligently, rationally, and in harmony with and response to God’s revelation of Himself, His Word. With a decidedly Puritan flavor and representing  Reformed experiential religion at its best, Wilhelmus à Brakel systematically moves through the major doctrines of the Bible in hopes of seeing the minds of God’s people renewed for the purpose of promoting godliness. Throughout his work, but particularly in the practical application of each doctrine, à Brakel strives unceasingly to exalt the name of Jesus as the name that the Father has given above every other name—there being no other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Endorsement

“Wilhelmus à Brakel’s The Christian's Reasonable Service is a tremendously insightful work that showcases the marriage between scholastic precision and a warm pastoral piety. À Brakel not only challenges the mind as he plumbs the depths of the teachings of Scripture, but he also challenges the heart as readers must grapple with the truth and its implications for their growth in grace. Not only can historians read à Brakel to learn about historic Reformed theology, but scholars, pastors, and laymen can all benefit from a close reading of these wonderful volumes.” — J. V. Fesko, Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Seminary California

God's battle(Review by Dave Jenkins of God's Battle Plan for the Mind by David Saxton)

Few issues related to the doctrine of the Bible are as confusing to people as the issue of meditation. With the rise of New Age thinking combined with the popular practice of secular meditation, we should not be surprised by confusion on biblical meditation. The Church has a long history of teaching on meditation from the Word of God. Understanding this teaching is critical since every Christian is to read and study the Word. Every Christian is to delight in the Word of the Lord in the Word of God. David Sexton’s new book God’s Battle Plan For The Mind The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation is a very helpful new book that will help readers to understand from the Word of God and church history what the Church has taught about meditation.

This book is an extended look at the meditation—what it is and what it isn’t. As the author sweeps away the secular ideas of meditation, he replaces them with a biblical view on meditation that is splendid and glorious. Also along the way are a plethora of Reformation and Puritan quotes that will help readers to grasp the biblical teaching on meditation.

God’s Battle Plan For The Mind would be a good book for new or seasoned Christians to learn from on biblical meditation. Even though I’ve read and studied the spiritual disciplines several times there was much in this book, especially from the Puritans that I’ve never read before. This is a truly excellent book, one when combined with its focus on the Bible, teaching from the history of the Church, and practical theology will help new and mature Christians to grow in their knowledge and understanding of biblical meditation.

I highly recommend God’s Battle Plan For The Mind and believe every Christian will benefit from reading this book. My prayer is that as you read this book you’ll linger long not only over the text of this book, but also over the Scriptures about which Saxton writes about.

Available at heritagebooks.org

men(Taken from How Should Men Lead Their Families? by Joel R. Beeke)

John Paton (1824–1907) was a notable Presbyterian missionary to people in the islands of the South Pacific. Though he was threatened with death, he preached faithfully to cannibals and was used by God for the conversion of many heathen as well as to influence many other godly men to become missionaries. He faced enormous difficulties and sorrows but persevered in the name of Christ. One way God prepared Paton for his work was through his father’s example.

Paton’s father, James, worked in a shop in the family home in Scotland. James used a small room in the house as a prayer closet, and his regular visits to it deeply affected his son. John said, “Thither daily, and oftentimes a day, generally after each meal, we saw our father retire, and ‘shut the door’; and we children got to understand...that prayers were being poured out there for us, as of old by the High Priest within the veil in the Most High Place.” The Paton children often sensed their father’s fervency in pleading for them before the throne of grace.

When John Paton left his home to study theology in Glasgow, he had to walk forty miles to a train station. His father walked the first six miles with him. They spoke about the Lord, and his father gave counsel. For the last half mile, they walked in silence, but James’s lips moved in silent prayer for his son while tears streamed down his face. When they parted, the father grasped his son, saying, “God bless you, my son! May your father’s God prosper you and keep you from all evil.” Overcome, he could say no more, but his lips continued to move in prayer. Paton later wrote that as he walked the remainder of the distance, he “vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonor such a father and mother as He had given [him].”

Oh to be a father like James Paton! Christian fathers long to impart spiritual good to their children, but how can we do that when we are so foolish, so weak, and so corrupt in our own sins? We can do it only by walking in the anointing of Jesus Christ.

The Heidelberg Catechism (Q. 31) says Jesus is called the Christ because Christ means “anointed,” and He was ordained by God and anointed by the Spirit for His work as our prophet, priest, and king. What is perhaps more startling is the way the Catechism applies this to us in Christ. After asking, “But why art thou called a Christian?” (Q. 32), the Catechism answers,

Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus am partaker of His anointing; that so I may confess His name [that is our prophetic anointing]; and present myself a living sacrifice of thankful- ness to Him [that is our priestly anointing]; and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life, and after- wards reign with Him eternally, over all creatures [that is our kingly anointing].

Jesus is our mediator. He is our prophet to teach us; our priest to sacrifice, intercede, and bless us; and our king to rule and guide us. In union with Him, we share His offices in a limited but important way. If Christ is not yet your living head, I beg you to be reconciled to God by trusting in Christ alone to save you. You who are in Christ, from the least to the greatest, are all office bearers by union with Christ.

This office-bearing has huge implications for leading our families. As God’s ordained representatives to our wives and children, we should serve them as prophets, priests, and kings. The word father implies that we should be images of the Father of glory, whose brilliance shines fully in His Son. Similarly, if you bear the title husband, God calls you to bear the image of our heavenly Husband who loved His bride, the church, and laid down His life to make her holy.

Available at heritagebooks.org

reformed(Reviewed by Rev. Angus Stewart, British Reformed Journal)

These four magnificent volumes, compiled and introduced by James Dennison, Jr., contain 127 confessional documents in the 171 years from Sixty-Seven Articles of Huldrych Zwingli (1523) to the Baptist Catechism (1693). Surpassing all previous compilations of Reformed confessions, this is now the definitive and by far the most complete, compilation in English of Reformed creeds from the foundational period of the Reformed churches.

Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries teaches many lessons very necessary for our day. First, Reformed churches are not some new thing lately sprung up. We are rooted in a centuries-long tradition of faith, worship and life drawn from the sacred Scriptures. Second, the Reformed faith and Reformed churches are not merely parochial. We are international and truly catholic. Third, true Reformed churches are not creedless or anti-creedal or content merely with short or ecumenical creeds. We hold to lengthy, developed and detailed creeds, the full-blooded confessions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Fourth, faithful creedal Reformed churches are not dry or dying or dead. Loving, knowing, preaching, witnessing to and suffering for the biblical truth of our creeds reveals that we live unto the Triune God by the Grace of the incarnate Son who died and rose again for us.

What else should we say about this largest-ever collection in English of the Reformed confessions from all of Reformed family in all the Reformed world in its foundational two centuries? It would serve well as the core text in seminary courses on the Reformed creeds and it is a vital resource for Reformed ministers and any wanting to learn more about our creedal heritage. From this compilation of Reformed confessions, one can trace the growth of the Reformed creeds, which is of great value in understanding the development of Reformed theology. Along with the very helpful, brief introductions to each of the confessions, this provides a fascinating perspective on Reformed church history. This set would also serve to better acquaint western Reformed believers with the eastern Reformed churches of Hungary and Romania, Poland and Lithuania, and Bohemia, which produced twenty-five of the 127 confessions, about 20% of the total.

James Dennison, we salute you! We commend you for your vision and perseverance in this grand project.

Available for purchase!

The Bible implores us to take a long look at Jesus, forcefully beckoning us to “come and see” through profound questions connected with Jesus’ death and resurrection. These questions drive us to consider not just the events themselves but also their meaning as we take a long look beneath the surface and find more of the never-ending treasures of Christ. In Captivated, Thabiti Anyabwile invites you to set aside your early lessons on politeness and stare (yes, do stare) into the mystery of the cross and empty tomb.

 

Available for purchase!

daringThe Daring Mission of William Tyndale

Steven J. Lawson 

Hardcover, 185 pages

Retail Price: $16.00/ Our Price: $11.00

Early in the sixteenth century, legislative decree in England controlled people’s access to Scripture and prohibited an English Bible. But theologian and linguist, William Tyndale, was determined to provide his fellow countrymen with Scripture they could read.

In The Daring Mission of William Tyndale, the latest addition to the Long Line of Godly Men series, Dr. Steven J. Lawson traces this daring mission, which was ultimately used by God to ignite the English Reformation and would cost Tyndale his life. From one man’s labor, we’re reminded of God’s faithfulness to preserve His Word and equip His people.

Endorsements

Few people reading the Bible in English today understand the debt they owe to the martyr William Tyndale. Even among those who know the name of the fountainhead of modern English Bible translation, few realize that Tyndale fervently stood for the doctrines of justification by faith alone and salvation by grace alone. This little gem of a book reveals Tyndale’s labors for the truth, his sufferings for the truth, and his love for the truth. May God use Steven Lawson’s book to cause such love to burn in many others.” — Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

Much more than a biography, this thrilling chronicle quickens the Christian heart and stokes the fires of resolve to coura- geously defend and proclaim the truth. Dr. Lawson’s diligent work on William Tyndale should be considered essential reading for every English-speaking believer, as it carefully unfolds the forgotten legacy of God’s faithfulness in using one man, against all odds, to bring us the gospel in the English language.” — David Parsons, Founder, Truth Remains

In the history of the Christian faith among English-speaking peoples, it was William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible that made of them a people of the Book. His life was poured out even to the point of death to achieve this goal, and every generation of believers needs to hear the story of his life and death afresh. And one of the best guides to his story and its lessons for our day is this new study by Steve Lawson. Highly recommended!” — Michael A.G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Spear_Covenanted Uniformity

(Review of Covenanted Uniformity in Religion)

Dr. Spear is professor emeritus of systematic theology at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. The title of his book derives from a phrase in the Solemn League and Covenant regarding the work of the Scottish commissioners as they joined the ongoing labors of the Westminster Assembly in 1643. This study originated as Spear’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Pittsburgh.

As the book jacket notes, Spear focuses primarily on the Form of Church Government. He begins by surveying the historical setting and explaining how the assembly conducted its business. Then, following the order of the Form of Church Government, he traces each significant expression from its origin in a committee, through its debate and modification in the Assembly, to its final placement in the document. Spear evaluates the significance of the Form of Government by considering the responses it received in England and Scotland. The Scots failed to achieve some of their most cherished goals in the Assembly debates, which demonstrate that the Assembly operated as a truly deliberative body. This book provides an accurate snapshot of the Westminster Assembly as it debated the proper structure and function of the Christian church.

It may seem unimportant to know about the debates that went on behind the scenes, but it’s actually quite practical, especially for pastors who will be asked the very same questions that were debated at Westminster. If you have already thought through your answers with differing views in mind, then you will be better equipped to humbly help others work their way through the same questions. Many pastors, for instance, have been asked why only ministers can administer the sacraments. Or what’s the difference between an elder and a deacon? Although this book has a definitely academic feel, it provides accessible answers to such ecclesiastical questions and thus can really help the church wrestle with questions about church government.

The history of the Westminster Assembly shows that there was a noteworthy amount of diversity among the views of the commissioners. For instance, the Assembly actually voted by one vote to ordain women to the office of deacon. The Assembly’s editors dropped this from the final document, but it reveals a genuine diversity among those whom many of us consider the fathers of our Presbyterian heritage. Spear also conveys what may seem like a surprising diversity about the nature of classical assemblies or what we call a presbytery. This calls us to a sense of modesty as we continue to discuss and to think about some of the same issues today. Too often we are quick to dismiss those with whom we disagree, failing to remember that similar differences existed in the Westminster Assembly – an assembly that we sometimes consider the depository of Reformed theological wisdom.

I highly recommend this book to pastors and church libraries everywhere as a helpful reference for questions about church government.

Available for Purchase!