For the thirteenth week commemorating our 20th anniversary, we are giving away a copy of The Law of Kindness.

The Law of Kindness is the only book my wife Mary has written. She spent six years writing it. All that time it was burning on her heart. Being a very kind woman herself, she felt deeply the need for a book on the subject of kindness from a biblical, theological, and practical perspective. Kindness is needed everywhere, she felt—so the book addresses chapters on the need for kindness in the home, the church, society, at school, etc.  Study questions made this book a great read for various study groups. - Joel R. Beeke

Purchase book here -->

raisingBuilding a Godly Home, Volume 3: A Holy Vision for Raising Children

William Gouge

Hardcover, 200 pages

Retail Price: $18.00/ Our Price: $14.00

For years, William Gouge’s Domestical Duties has stood as the foremost Puritan treatment of Christian family life. Yet due to its size and antiquated expression, it has become almost unknown among current generations of believers. To help revive the usefulness of this classic book, Scott Brown and Joel R. Beeke divided Gouge’s work into three manageable volumes, updated the language to modern standards, and have given it the title Building a Godly Home.

In the third volume, A Holy Vision for Raising Children, Gouge offers wise and practical advice to both children and parents on how to relate to each other with love and honor. Drawing from a wealth of biblical principles and examples, he fleshes out how a household of affectionate authority provides for children and prepares them to live as God’s servants in the world. Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters will find much here to challenge and guide them.

Author 

William Gouge (1575–1653) was a Puritan minster who served for forty-five years at St. Ann Blackfriars in London and was a member of the Westminster Assembly. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had thirteen children.

Endorsement 

“Few issues spell countercultural Christianity as does a biblical view of the home and its various relationships and responsibilities. Those like the seventeenth-century Presbyterian William Gouge, who provided a lengthy exposition of domestic life as outlined in Scripture, got themselves into trouble with those who viewed biblical teaching burdensome (Gouge was vilified by wealthy city women, for example). But domestic reform is essential if we are to reflect godliness in the home, and Gouge’s once enormously popular Of Domestical Duties is without equal in describing what it looks like. A masterful guide, Gouge is pastoral, clearheaded, thoughtful, and eminently Bible-focused as he writes about the tasks, ideals, and problems of Christian family life. Once as popular as Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Gouge’s Of Domestical Duties deserves a central place in the modern Christian home." — Derek W. H. Thomas, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina

 

(Taken from A Vine-Ripened Life by Stanley D. Gale)

Part 1

a-vine-ripened-lifeThe Fruit of the Spirit Is...

What are we to think, then, when we turn to Galatians 5 and find Paul saying in verse 22 that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,” and so forth. Wouldn’t subject-verb agreement dictate “fruits...are” since multiple fruits are mentioned?

No, when a writer uses grammar in a way that seems improper, we should examine his or her reason rather than assume a mistake. What is Paul telling us? Some say that the verb is singular because Paul is just speaking singularly about love. All the other fruits flow from love, just like we see patience (or longsuffering) and kindness in the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is a blossom layered in the petals of joy, peace, patience, and the rest, fragrant with the scent of grace.

That image is certainly lovely and poetic. But there is another possible reason for Paul’s sentence structure. In the New Testament, we are taught of the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. When Paul speaks of the gifts of the Spirit, he refers to many gifts: some in speaking, some in serving, and some in giving. Not every believer has every gift. For example, I believe my gift involves teaching. I don’t have the gift of singing, or any musical ability for that matter. At the counsel of others, I turn my microphone off before I join in singing a hymn from the pulpit.

However, when it comes to the fruit of the Spirit, all believers are to manifest every fruit of Christlikeness, every character quality of godliness that belongs to new life in Christ. We don’t have the option of picking six of nine or even eight of nine from the list in Galatians 5:22–23. We can’t say, “Oh, I’m just not a patient person” and so excuse ourselves from that fruit in our lives. We have no ground to rationalize our lack of self-control by saying, “I’m only human.” Just as there is one Christ, so the fruit of the Spirit that flows from our union with Him is expressive of one character. In fact, the list in Galatians 5 is itself not exhaustive in describing Christian character. The Bible talks about other fruit, like righteousness and humility, both exhibited in Christ and in which we are to grow.

Moreover, we can never fall into the trap of believing our natural strengths and abilities substitute for the redemptive characteristics of life in Christ. We can’t think, “Hey, I’m already gentle,” or, “I have self-control. I don’t need to abide in Christ for those.” We need to find our capability in both our weaknesses and our strengths through abiding in Christ.

Fruit Formation

A pastor friend wrote an article on the subject of discipleship. He stressed that a threefold response to the call of Christ is required: repentance, faith, and following. None of these contribute to our salvation, but all of them are the fruit of God’s work of grace in our lives. Discipleship involves more than development of Christian character, but it does involve such character as a matter of first importance. In the Bible, a disciple is not just a student, but one who becomes like his teacher.

We are to grow in the character of Christ our Lord. While that growth is by grace at the hand of God, we are actively involved in the cultivation of the fruit of a godly life. We’ll see this in practical terms as we explore various fruit of the Vine in the chapters ahead. But we can note this now: every fruit of a Christlike life is presented to us as both a noun and a verb. For each of the nouns listed in Galatians 5:22–23, we can find corresponding verbs and commands elsewhere: to love, to rejoice, to exercise peace, to be patient, and to be kind and forgiving.

Yet this fruit is formed by reliance on the Holy Spirit. Paul brackets the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 with this emphasis and strategy: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Though we are called to purpose and to do, we are completely dependent on the Spirit to act and to achieve anything genuine and lasting.

Notice also that we are not simply to stop indulging in sexual impurity or deal with our anger issues by biting our tongues. Galatians 5:16 instructs us that as we “walk in the Spirit,” we “shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Like some oak trees produce new leaves by pushing out the old ones, so we grow out of the old character we had before our conversion by pursuing the new character in Christ.

This is no trivial endeavor. At its heart is a battle. When we diet, we fight the battle of the waistline. Our cravings for food wage war with our desire for a smaller us. Spiritual growth involves spiritual warfare, confronting the desires of the flesh and refusing to be ruled by them (Gal. 5:17). We cannot live as though we are still in bondage to the kingdom of Satan (Gal. 5:21). We have been emancipated from servitude to sin and empowered for the new life.

Freedom from bondage to sin for development of the fruit of the Spirit is forged by union with Christ (Gal. 5:24). Growth in the spiritual formation of the fruit of the Spirit will involve learning to abide in Christ. The question is, How do we go about abiding?

The final selection will be published next week. 

For the thirteenth week commemorating our 20th anniversary, we are giving away a copy of Meet the Puritans.


meet"Meet the Puritans was a labor of love. For two decades I had been writing up brief biographies of various Puritans. Together with Randall Pederson, we decided to revise these articles and broaden our scope to include every single Puritan that had been reprinted since the resurgence of Puritan literature in the late 1950s. To that, we added Puritan-minded men from the same era from the Dutch and Scottish traditions, bringing the total number of mini-biographies to about 150. Then, we also decided to include a brief summary review of all 700 titles that were reprinted by these 150 divines. Our idea was that the book could then be a reference tool for book-buying as well as a kind of daily biographical devotional. We’ve been thrilled at the warm reception of this volume." - Dr. Joel R. Beeke

(Post written by Bruce Baugus on reformation21.org)

The accusation that Protestants were slow to take up the evangelical mission to the world and that this exposes some sort of fundamental flaw in our faith has been almost as sticky as it is spurious. Already in the air by the late sixteenth century, Rome's great counter-Reformation polemicist, Robert Bellarmine, likened Protestants to heretics on this count (see, for example, his ninth mark of the true church in Disputationum de Controversiis Christianae Fidei).

The suggestion, popularized by Stephen Neill in A History of Christian Missions, that Protestants failed to join the mission to the world until the late eighteenth century is now conventional wisdom. Lutherans no doubt have their own critics, but anti-Reformed writers have ludicrously suggested Reformed churches failed in part due to their views on predestination and apostle-focused understanding of the Great Commission.

The accusation is difficult to square with theological or historical reality. The Reformation was an evangelical mission to the world from the beginning. Beneath the political and social upheavals of the age was an attempt to recover the gospel from Rome's sacerdotal system, preach and teach the good news to people in the vernacular, and build up biblically ordered churches to sustain God's people and the evangelical ministry in every nation. Wherever Reformed folk ventured, some of them evangelized their neighbors, including indigenous peoples in new lands. That the mission began where Reformed believers happened to be located can hardly be surprising or a point of criticism.

There's much (for someone else) to say about the mission activity of the Reformed churches prior to the so-called modern missionary movement. Certainly late medieval and early modern Europe did not lack the gospel in just the way other parts of the world did; if it had, the Reformation would have never taken hold and there would have been nothing to reform. The work of reform is not the same as evangelizing new fields, either. But the heart of the evangelical mission to the world is to proclaim the gospel in order to build up the church and from that perspective it seems reasonable to view our sixteenth- and seventeenth-century forbears as engaged in a great missionary endeavor.

But I am not as interested in defending the missionary honor of earlier generations as I am convincing you that there are rich insights to be gleaned from these historical fields--valuable lessons that are sometimes startlingly relevant to our contemporary context.

frenchI have been reminded of this most recently while reading through a forthcoming volume edited by Martin I. Klauber: The Theology of the French Reformed Churches From Henry IV to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (Reformation Heritage Books, available here). This is the next installment of the Reformed Historical-Theological Studies series, and a great addition.

The volume opens with six chapters of historical overview followed by nine studies of key and sometimes controversial figures within the French Reformed churches of the era. There is little to no attempt to draw out the lessons of the age for the contemporary scene, much less to apply those lessons to the current mission to the world, but the lessons are there for the taking. This intriguing and I suspect much neglected history deserves our attention and this book on the course of Reformed church development in what was once a place of intense missionary activity is an rewarding place to start.

(Taken from A Vine-Ripened Life by Stanley D. Gale)a-vine-ripened-life

My wife and I are officially empty nesters. After thirty-three years of having at least one child at home, we are now left with just our dog. We recently deposited our last born, Nathan, in western Pennsylvania to begin his studies at Grove City College. It seems it wasn’t that long ago that Nathan emerged from the womb to enter our home. Now he’s leaving to enter college. I remember watching him jump his highest in an effort to touch the top of the doorway to our living room. Now his head almost brushes against it.

Nathan has entered the next phase of his life. That’s a good thing (I keep reminding myself). He has grown in every way: physically, spiritually, intellectually, and relationally. His mother and I take some credit for that growth. We fed and clothed him, supervised his studies, and cultivated friendships. We also raised him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, living out the gospel before him through our instruction and example. Nathan also had a role, though. He ate the food we provided. As he grew into a teenager, he ate more than we provided. His going to college halved our food bill.

But what caused Nathan to grow? What spurred on his physical development into the strapping young man that he is? I would suggest that it was not just the food. It was the way his body worked to assimilate that food to his physical growth and nourishment. God designed his body to act upon that intake.

That’s how sanctification works. We, as believers, take in the nourishment of God’s Word. That Word enters the open mouth of our minds. We chew on it through study and meditation. Prayer aids in its digestion to our spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sanctification: “Sanctification is the work of God’s grace, wherein we are renewed in the whole man, after the image of God; and are enabled to die more and more unto sin; and live more and more unto righteousness” (Q&A 35). This definition offers a comprehensive explanation. It describes the breadth of the sanctifying process (the whole man); the goal (the renewed image of God); and the process itself (die to sin and live to righteousness).

Another way we can look at the spiritual growth process of sanctification is by way of fruit. In His Upper Room Discourse in John 13 to 17, Jesus talks about fruit: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (15:4–5). Among the fruit to which Jesus refers is that of a changed life, which flows out of being partakers of the new life bound up in Christ. Abiding in Christ produces “much fruit,” fruit that will last (15:5, 16).

In this metaphor Jesus indicates that abiding is accomplished in large part through utter dependence on Him. The grace of sanctification flows from experiential union with Christ. We must abide in Christ so that the fruit of character change in our lives is not the product of self-will or best effort. Such efforts at love or joy or patience will be meager and short lived.

We want the fruit of a changed life to grow organically and not artificially. Organic spiritual fruit grows from the good soil of a well-tended heart. Artificial fruit is akin to religious hypocrisy that is different in public than it is in private. Such fruit is as removable as an article of clothing, detachable as false eyelashes.

But artificial fruit is not merely the product of pretense. It can flow from good intentions as well. We try our best to be patient, loving, or self-controlled. We know that’s what our Father wants of us. We want it for ourselves. But our best efforts will produce only imitation fruit. It may look great in our eyes and others’, but it is not the fruit of abiding in the Vine. We want the fruit of a changed life to grow from the inside out by the hand of our God—a Vine-ripened life. Let’s enter this vineyard of life and explore God’s design for our spiritual development and growth in grace.

Fruit of the Vine

Complete the following: Red, white, and . Most people, especially if they are Americans, would reflexively write blue in the blank. Let’s try another: Peanut butter and . There are those who might fill in banana or marshmallow, but I suspect 90 percent of respondents would write jelly. One more: Fruit of the . My guess is those reading this book would automatically respond Spirit (if they had not been tipped off by the chapter title).

Normally when we think of fruit related to Christian character, we think of fruit of the Spirit. Fruit of the Vine, on the other hand, brings to mind Jesus’ words at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, not character qualities. But actually, fruit of the Vine gives us a better orientation to what our heavenly Father has in mind for us.

How do we grow as Christians? Does the Holy Spirit just come to us on His own, like one of those independent contractors who knocks on our door asking if we want a free estimate on home repair? Does He just show up to start a spiritual makeover of us? No, He brings Christ to us and us to Christ.

Jesus made it clear in John 15 that fruitfulness in the Christian life comes from abiding in Him as the Vine. Both before and after His teaching on fruitfulness in John 15, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in John 14 and 16. The production of “much fruit” in John 15:5 is framed by the work of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus would send upon His ascension. Like a power cord to a wall outlet, the Holy Spirit conveys the life, power, and fruitfulness of Christ to us for our growth in grace.

Rather than calling the fruit of the Christian life “the fruit of the Spirit,” we might call it the “fruit of abiding in Christ through the Holy Spirit who unites us to Him.” “Fruit of the Spirit” is shorthand for God’s handiwork of grace to conform us to Christ. The fruit the Spirit works in us is not apart from Christ, but is bound up in Christ. We abound in that fruit through abiding in Christ. The fruit of new life comes about through union with Christ that flows from the inside out. It grows from the good soil of a changed heart that is transformed by God’s Spirit.

I was laid up following surgery. Turning the tables on pastoral visitation, a woman from my church and a friend visited me at my home. They thoughtfully brought me one of those edible arrangements, fresh fruit cut to look like flowers. It had pineapple blossoms, cantaloupe and honeydew leaves, strawberry buds, and grape sprigs. It was pleasing to the eye and to the taste.

As beautiful as that fruit was, it would not last. It would not multiply. No matter how well tended, it would spoil. But the fruit God wants of us will grow heartily by virtue of being united to Jesus Christ as the Vine of life. It will display the grace and vigor of God’s workmanship as the Vinedresser. It will be Christlike, Christ drawn—like a flower draws life- giving nutrients from the soil in which it is rooted.

This fruit will not be produced by sheer willpower or determination to be more loving or patient or kind. Those of us who have attempted to produce fruit by our own efforts have learned how fruitless that is. Rather, bountiful and enduring Christlike character will grow organically by abiding in Christ, through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

As we explore the fruit of the Spirit, our approach will not be self-reformation: no “get your act together” or kick-in-the-pants “try harder.” If we come away from this study without a deeper knowledge of Christ and more pro- found dependence upon Him, we have missed the point.

Part 2 will be published next week. 

treatiseA Treatise on True Theology with the Life of Franciscus Junius

Franciscus Junius

Hardcover, 300 pages

Retail Price: $40.00/ Our Price: $30.00

Available: October 10, 2014

Franciscus Junius (1545–1602) was an influential pastor and professor during the developmental years of Reformed orthodoxy. As a skilled linguist, biblical exegete, and theologian, Junius shaped the Reformed tradition in profound ways.

Junius’s Treatise on True Theology is a scholastic introduction to the discipline of theology. He reflects on the definition of theology, where it comes from, and the variety of modes it takes. This book set a lasting pattern for many Reformed theologians in their approach to dogmatics, establishing a benchmark for theological prolegomena for years to come. Accompanying this work is The Life of Franciscus Junius, which provides an autobiographical account of the tumultuous days of Junius’s life and the complex circumstances that the Reformed churches faced during the French and Spanish wars of religion.

Although Junius’s significance in the history of Protestant theology is increasingly valued by historians, most of his impressive body of works is not available to English-speaking readers. David C. Noe’s fine translation of these two important writings will certainly rectify this deficit. Readers are further aided by Willem van Asselt’s valuable introductory essay, which offers a scholarly perspective on the treatise and on Junius’s life and work in the context of the rise of Reformed scholasticism and orthodoxy.

Author  Franciscus Junius (1545–1602) taught theology at the Casimirianum Neustadt, the University of Heidelberg, and the University of Leiden.

Endorsements  “Lambert Daneau (1530–1595) described Franciscus Junius as ‘a man of singular learning’—and that he was. His biblical scholarship was cited widely by writers from a variety of traditions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His influence on the Reformed tradition has been profound, even if not all Reformed folk are aware of it. Now, English readers will be able to see for themselves why that was. This work, with Willem van Asselt’s introduction and Junius’s moving and delightful autobiography, is a most valuable source for the continuing recovery of the Reformed tradition and a window into the theology and piety of classic Reformed theology.” — R. Scott Clark, professor of church history and historical theology, Westminster Seminary California

“The present volume is a significant effort on several counts. It presents an invaluable and highly influential work to contemporary students of Reformed thought. It offers the first English translation of Junius’s autobiography, a work published posthumously in the seventeenth-century edition of Junius’s complete works. It also offers,by way of the introduction, a perspective on the treatise and on Junius’s life and work in the context of the rise of Reformed scholasticism and orthodoxy.” — Richard A. Muller, from the foreword

“True Theology is an excellent example that early modern Reformed theology was not a rationalistic, deterministic, or decreetal system, but rather a relational enterprise, determined by and determinative of the divine–human relationship.The important role Junius played in helping shape this Reformed tradition and the significance of his True Theology for the development of Reformed dogmatics cannot be overestimated.” — Willem J. van Asselt, from the introduction

Institutes of the Christian Religion: 1541 EDITIONinstitutes

John Calvin

Hardcover, 882 pages

Retail Price: $38.00/ Our Price: $26.00

Among the intermediate editions of the Institutes, none deserves to be better known than the first French edition of 1541. Avoiding the technical details and much of the polemics of the final work, the Institutes of 1541 offer a clear and comprehensive account of the work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creation, revelation and redemption, in the life of the individual Christian and in the worship and witness of the church.

Not doctrine only but its practical use is Calvin’s abiding concern. The author of the Institutes invites us both to know and to live the truth, and thus allow God’s Spirit to transform us.

The present translation is newly made from the French of 1541. It has been designed and annotated with the needs of a wide readership in mind.

For the twelfth week commemorating our 20th anniversary, we are giving away two copies of Evening Thoughts.


eveningThis companion to Morning Thoughts will engage and comfort the believer as they end their day. This book provides a detailed exposition of portions of a Scripture text and applies them to the reader. The selections are deep, heart-warming, and inspirational—just what is needed to promote a Christ-centered ending to each day. This daily devotional engages the heart as it transforms the will and sure-footedly guides us in the good fight of faith on the way to glory.

Author  Octavius Winslow (1808-1878) was born in London, England, and raised in New York. He was ordained as a pastor in 1833 and held pastorates in New York, Leamington Spa, Bath, and Brighton. A prolific author, his devotional writings exhibit his Reformed, experiential convictions and distinctive, warm, ardent style.

(Taken from The Theology of the French Reformed Churches by Martin I. Klauber)

The theologians of the seventeenth ­century French Reformed churches displayed a theological richness rarely remembered even among Reformed believers in the centuries following their labor. This particular volume is an attempt to resurrect some of this vitality to a new audience. The book is divided into two sections. The first focuses on the history of the movement and the second on particular theolo­gians. The idea is that we must get a sense of the historical context in which they ministered to gain a full appreciation for the depth of their thought. The period was an unusual one in which France boasted two state religions, Roman Catholic and Protestant, due to the protections afforded the latter by the Edict of Nantes. These protections limited the locations in which they could worship, but the clergy were supported by the state. The Edict also afforded them military protection. Few of the French Reformed theologians of the early seventeenth century still had personal memories of the religious wars, but they had heard the stories and never regained trust for the Roman Catholic elite, although they remained loyal to the king.

The opening salvo in Roman Catholic ­Protestant polemics in seventeenth­ century France began with a major theological debate at Fontainebleau, the palace of King Henri IV. The major combatants were the Roman Catholic Jacques­Davy du Perron and the Huguenot leader, Philippe du Plessis­Mornay at the famed Conference at Fontainebleau presided over by King Henri IV. Du Perron was one of the most capable Roman Catholic scholars of his generation. He was raised in the Reformed faith of his father, a physician turned Reformed pas­ tor who fled to Bern to escape persecution in France. As a teenager, Jacques­Davy converted to Roman Catholicism while under the tutelage of the French abbot and poet Philippe Desportes, and then devoted himself to the study of theology and service in the Roman Catholic Church. He then returned to Normandy and became such an impressive scholar that he was made a reader to King Henri III. He also delivered the funeral oration for the famous poet Ronsard and delivered the eulogy for Mary, queen of Scots. Having obtained the bishopric of Évreux in 1591, he then was responsible for the negotiations with Henri IV that led to the king’s conversion to Rome, leading the delegation sent to Rome to obtain Henri’s official absolution from the pope.

The focus of the conference was to determine the accuracy of Mornay’s five thousand citations from the church fathers cited in his De l’institution, usage et doctrine du Saint Sacrament de l’Eucharistie en l’Eglise ancienne (1598). This was a comprehensive treatise that served as a foundational document for the debates on the church fathers that raged between Protestant and Roman Catholic polemicists through­ out the following century. It also became the talk of the town within the French intellectual and religious world because Mornay challenged the twofold argument that the teachings of the early church supported Roman Catholic theology and that Protestantism was an innovation. Mornay claimed that transubstantiation had been a theological innovation, unknown in the early church. His use of patristic sources continued the trend that went back to the earliest days of the Reformation. Although the early Reformers held to sola Scriptura, they also believed that they had the testimony of the fathers to support them and to show that Protestant theology was not new, but could trace its roots back to the New Testament era. Mornay’s defeat at Fontainebleau threatened this narrative, and many of his followers took up the pen to vindicate his honor.

Although the Lord’s Supper was the subject of much controversy, there were a host of other matters that occupied the attention of Reformed theologians. One major issue was how they were going to respond to the canons of the Synod of Dort in 1618–1619. King Louis XIII would not allow the French Reformed delegates to attend the conference, so the French input was limited. However, the French Reformed synods weighed in and adopted the Canons of Dort at the Synod of Alais in 1620. Acceptance of these decisions was by no means unanimous; many, most prominently the theologians at the Academy of Saumur led by Moïse Amyraut, posited a response to the doc­ trine of limited atonement, referred to as hypothetical universalism or sublapsarianism. The real architect of this view was John Cameron, a Scotsman, who taught briefly at Saumur and influenced a host of French theologians, including Amyraut and Jean Daillé.