Dr. Joel Beeke Gives His Top Reads of 2009

#10 A Treatise on the Law and Gospel, by John Colquhoun, published by Soli Deo Gloria a Division of Reformation Heritage Books. In this book, Colquhoun helps us understand the precise relationship between law and gospel. He also impresses us with the importance of knowing this relationship. Colquhoun especially excels in showing how important the law is as a believer’s rule of life without doing injury to the freeness and fullness of the gospel. By implication, he enables us to draw four practical conclusions: 1) the law shows us how to live, 2) the law as a rule of life combats both antinomianism and legalism, 3) the law shows us how to love, and 4) the law promotes true freedom.

#9 Princeton Sermons, by The Princeton Faculty, published by Solid Ground Christian Books. This rare volume contains sixteen powerful sermons preached in the chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary during the academic year of 1891-92. One needs only to read these addresses to understand why Princeton had a worldwide influence for the Gospel of Christ during these years. This volume was especially prized because of two of the beloved professors, Caspar W. Hodge and Charles A. Aiken, were removed by death in the midst of that academic year.

#8 Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland, Jr., by Grant Gordon, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. John Newton (1725-
1807) has rightly been called ‘the letter-writer par excellence of the Evangelical Revival’. Newton himself seems to have come to the conclusion, albeit reluctantly, that letter-writing was his greatest gift. In a letter to a friend he confessed, ‘I rather reckoned upon doing more good by some of my other works than by my ‘Letters’, which I wrote without study, or any public design; but the Lord said, ‘You shall be most useful by them,’ and I learned to say, ‘Thy will be done! Use me as Thou pleasest, only make me useful.’ Indeed, he wrote to his close friend William Bull that if the letters were ‘owned to comfort the afflicted, to quicken the careless, to confirm the wavering, I may rejoice in the honour He has done me’, and not envy the greatest writers of the age.

#7 The Fading of The Flesh and the Flourishing of Faith, by George Swinnock, published by Reformation Heritage Books. Interest in the Puritans continues to grow, but many people find the reading these giants of the faith a bit unnerving. This series seeks to overcome that barrier by presenting Puritan books that are convenient in size and unintimidating in length. Each book is carefully edited with modern readers in mind, smoothing out difficult language of a bygone era while retaining the meaning of the original authors. Books for the series are thoughtfully selected to provide some of the best counsel on important subjects that people continue to wrestle with today. What will satisfy you when your flesh and heart fail?

#6 The Westminster Assembly: Reading its Theology in Historical Context, by Robert Letham, published by P&R Publishing. Drawing on new primary source material, it considers the Assembly’s theology in terms of the unfolding development of doctrine in the Reformed churches, in connection with the preceding and current events in English history, and locates it in relation to the catholic tradition of the western church. The book asks exactly what the divines meant at each stage of their task. At a time when claims are made that particular theologies represent historic Reformed doctrine, it is particularly important to grasp what this actually is.

#5 Concise Reformed Dogmatics, by J. van Genderen and W.H. Velema, published by P&R Publishing. A full treatment of Reformed systematic theology that is accessible to church officers and interested lay readers, as well as teachers and students of theology. Formatted in two visually distinct levels of discussion for use as an introduction or for more in-depth study. The appearance of this work in English is most welcome. Written from a confessionally Reformed perspective, with a special affinity for the work of Calvin and Herman Bavinck, it is alert to contemporary issues and problems without obscuring its primary concern to show the biblical basis of doctrines. Without sacrificing depth, it succeeds admirably with the wider circle of readers it has in view—other theologically interested persons as well as pastors, and teachers and students of theology

#4 Calvin, by Bruce Gordon, Published by Yale Press. During the glory days of the French Renaissance, young John Calvin (1509-64) experienced a profound conversion to the faith of the Reformation. For the rest of his days he lived out the implications of that transformation-as exile, inspired reformer and ultimately the dominant figure of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin’s vision of the Christian religion has inspired many volumes of analysis, but this engaging biography examines a remarkable life. Bruce Gordon presents Calvin as a human being, a man at once brilliant, arrogant, charismatic, unforgiving, generous and shrewd.

#3 The Righteous Shall Live by Faith: Romans, by R.C. Sproul, Published by Crossway. How exciting! Thousands of us have long been indebted to Sproul the teacher, and now, through the St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary series, we are indebted to Sproul the preacher, whose sermons are thoroughly biblical, sound doctrinal, warmly practical, and wonderfully readable. This series of volumes is an absolute must for every Reformed preacher and church member who yearns to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus. Tolle lege, and buy these volumes for your friends.

#2 The Calvin Handbook, by Herman J. Selderhuis, Published by Eerdmans. Research on French theologian John Calvin is flourishing around the world today, and Calvin’s quincentennial this year has lent such research even greater momentum. The Calvin Handbook is designed to support and stimulate this research. An international team of renowned scholars here offers a comprehensive view of Calvin’s biography, his theology, and the history of his reception. The Calvin Handbook is a uniquely helpful resource on Calvin for readers of every interest level.

#1 The Happiness of Heaven, by Maurice Roberts, published by Reformation Heritage Books. While belief in heaven is essential to the Christian faith, the fact that pilgrim believers have not yet experienced heaven leaves us with many questions about what it will be like. In The Happiness of Heaven, Maurice Roberts surveys Holy Scripture to tell us what heaven is all about. In his characteristic style, Roberts discusses the biblical data clearly and relevantly, making soul-searching application at every turn. This is not just a book of interesting facts about what heaven is like; it is an appeal to men and women to find their happiness in the eternal comfort of God in Christ.

In Dr. Beeke’s own words,

“I have seldom heard a minister preach with more relish, glow, and frequency about heaven than Rev. Maurice Roberts. In The Happiness of Heaven, Roberts shows that same giftedness in writing about the glorious state of eternal bliss. He writes with warmth, conviction, and longing, while not fearing to address biblically the difficult questions in masterful chapters such as ‘Children and Heaven’ and ‘The Dark Side of Heaven.’ This is one of the author’s best books yet. If you’re a believer, it will move you deeply and make you more homesick. Read it repeatedly to lift your soul up above the sin and mundane trivialities of this world and to set your affections on the Triune God and things above.”

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