Living for God’s Glory, by Joel Beeke (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2008), 416 pgs.
Living for God’s Glory is a very good and very unique book. It is a book on Calvinism, but it is unlike any book on Calvinism I have ever read. Instead of being primarily an exegetical or theological defense of the doctrines of grace, such as John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied or RC Sproul’s Chosen by God, respectively, Beeke’s volume is a series of reflections on the practical and devotional implications of Reformed theology. As such it is one of the most worship-prompting books I have ever read.
The book is comprised of twenty-eight chapters, organized into six parts. While Beeke is the primary author (and editor), writing about eighty percent of the book, eight other individuals contribute chapters as well. The six parts are entitled “Calvinism in History,” “Calvinism in the Mind,” “Calvinism in the Heart,” “Calvinism in the Church,” “Calvinism in Practice,” and “Calvinism’s Goal.” These section headings should be clear enough to suggest what topics might be covered under each. With the exception of a couple chapters, I found every chapter interesting, informative, easy-to-read, devotional in tone, and generally very practical. In my limited experience, this is the book to give to those desiring to understand how a Reformed worldview influences every aspect of life.
Here is how – Just read every book that Dr. Joel R. Beeke put together for you to learn the Puritans… Meet the Puritans-bib.
Joel R. Beeke is president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, a minister of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as an international conference speaker and author of numerous books.
Publisher’s Description: When some people smile, they ignite smiles in people around them. They have contagious smiles. If that’s what a contagious smile is, what is contagious Christian living? It is living that is so godly and so consistent that people around them cannot help but be impacted and inspired. In Contagious Christian Living, Joel R. Beeke looks at four people in the Bible to find out how people today can live an influential life in dependence on the Holy Spirit. Here is your invitation to read about, and pray for, the sacrificial submission of Jephthah’s daughter, the Christ-centeredness of Bartimaeus, the contagious blessings of Jacob, and the consistent integrity of Daniel.
(Posted by Joel Beeke)
The purpose of the Bible—Genesis in particular—is to reveal God to us. It is to show us His person and nature, insofar as we are able to know Him; His plans and works, insofar as we are able to understand them. The very first words in the divine canon—“In the beginning God”—set us in the presence of the living God in whom we live, move, and have our being, both physically and spiritually.
The Bible begins with God. His existence is presupposed as a fact to be believed. With a few strokes of his pen, Moses, the author of Genesis, repudiates atheism (for he declares the existence of God), materialism (for he distinguishes between God and His material creation), pantheism (for he presents God as a personal Creator), and polytheism (for he sets God forth as the only God).
The infinite source of true blessedness is set before us in four words: “In the beginning God.” The purpose of Genesis is to reveal God to us in His person as the Creator and Provider, as the Redeemer and Lord of history. Like all of Scripture, Genesis is not so much a history of man as of God’s sovereign, gracious redemption of fallen sinners.
Genesis is primarily theocentric (God-centered) and only secondarily anthropocentric (man-centered) and geocentric (earth-centered). “In the beginning God” is the foundational truth of Genesis, the Bible, and all theology. False systems of theology begin with man or this earth and attempt to work up to God, whereas true theology begins with God and works down to man.
Genesis is not primarily a book about biology or geology but theology. That does not mean it is scientifically inaccurate. Rather, the focus of the book of Genesis is on God, which sets the foundation for the God-centeredness of the Bible. Genesis is written and designed that we as needy sinners might come to know and worship God in Jesus Christ, whom God has sent to us unto our everlasting life (John 17:3).
Is God the center and focus of your life? Do you know Him in Jesus Christ?
(Posted by David Wheaton)
“Once upon a time in America, godly preachers shaped the worldview of the citizens of this country by preaching the Word of God “line upon line and precept upon precept.” No more. Now, the entertainment industry, the media, and the educational system, all with their humanistic, ungodly, unbiblical worldview, are the primary influencers of our society. Is it any wonder why evil is called good now and good called evil?
This Saturday in Hour 1 of The Christian Worldview, we’ll take a look back at the common distinctives of the great preachers of the past that had immense influence on America – from John Calvin and Martin Luther of the Reformation to the Puritan preachers of the 1600’s to George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards of the Great Awakening to Charles Spurgeon in the 1800’s and several more who revived the hearts of millions for Christ.
Dr. Joel Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan and conference speaker with Dr. Steven Lawson at this past week’s Expositor’s Conference in Mobile, AL, will join us to explain what made these preachers so effective and what we need to learn from them.”
(Posted by Joel Beeke)
The Arminian view is by far the most popular of the four views of the atonement in the Christian church today. However, serious objections must be lodged against Arminian universal redemption, among which are these:
It slanders God’s attributes, such as his love. Arminianism presents a love that actually doesn’t save. It is a love that loves and then, if refused, turns to hatred and anger. It is not unchangeable love that endures from everlasting to everlasting. It provides atonement for all, but then withholds the means of grace that would make that salvation effectual in all lives. Are we to believe that Christ died for everyone in the deepest jungle and the darkest city, but his love doesn’t provide the missionaries, preachers, or sermons that would make his death effectual?
It slanders God’s wisdom. Why would God make a plan to save everyone, then not carry it out? Would he be so foolish as to have his Son pay for the salvation of all if he knew that Christ would not be able to obtain what he paid for? Some say he didn’t realise the consequences; he saw far enough to provide atonement, but couldn’t see that some wouldn’t take it. Does not that assertion slander the wisdom of God? Could God plan and provide atonement, but not realise that his atonement would not be accepted?
I would feel foolish if I went into a store and bought something, then walked out without it. Yet Arminianism asks us to believe that this is true of salvation — that there was a purchase made, a redemption, and yet the Lord walked away without those whom he had redeemed. That view slanders the wisdom of God.
It slanders God’s power. Arminian universalism obliges us to believe that God was able to accomplish the meriting aspect of salvation, but that the applying aspect is dependent on man and his free will. It asks us to believe that God has worked out everyone’s salvation up to a point, but no further for anyone. The implication is that God has built the bridge of salvation between him and us, and we have only to walk over it by accepting his terms of salvation through a free act of the will. ‘God does his part,’ Arminians say, ‘and now we must do our part.’
Calvinists respond by saying that this makes salvation dependent on the will of humanity, thereby reducing God and his power. Instead of our coming to God with our withered hands and saying, ‘If Thou wilt, Thou canst make us whole,’ this view has God coming to us with a withered hand, a hand that is not strong enough to save anyone, and saying, ‘If thou wilt, thou canst complete this salvation; thou canst make me whole.’ In essence, modern evangelistic sermons often take such an approach: ‘God has done much, but he needs you to complete the job.’ Does that way of thinking not slander the all-sufficient power of God? It makes God dependent on the will of man.
It slanders God’s justice. Did Christ satisfy God’s justice for everyone? Did Christ take the punishment due to everybody? If he did, how can God punish anyone? Is it justice to punish one person for the sins of another and later to punish the initial offender again? As Augustus Toplady said,
Payment God cannot twice demand;
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.
God can’t and won’t demand payment twice. Double punishment is injustice.
It disables the deity of Christ A defeated Saviour is not God. This error teaches that Christ tried to save everyone but didn’t succeed. It denies the power and efficacy of Christ’s blood, since not all for whom he died are saved. Hence, Christ’s blood was wasted on Judas and Esau. Much of his labour, tears, and blood was poured out in vain. In other words, he will not see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied (Isa. 53:11) on behalf of many for whom he died. There will be many miscarriages — those with whom he travailed in soul yet who will not ultimately be saved. Does such defeat not make Christ less than God? No wonder Charles H. Spurgeon called this a ‘monstrous’ doctrine.1
It undermines the unity of the Trinity. Just as parents must work together to run a family effectively, so the triune God co-labours in each of his persons with identical purposes and goals. One person cannot possibly have in mind to save some that another person has not determined to save, but Arminian universalism implicitly teaches just that. It denies the Father’s sovereign election, since Christ would have died for more than God decreed to save, thereby making Christ seem to have a different agenda from that of the Father. That would have been anathema to Jesus, who asserted that his entire redemptive ministry was consciously designed to carry out a divinely arranged plan (John 6:38-39). T. J. Crawford writes,
The atonement originated in the love of God. It is the consequence and not the cause of God’s willingness to save sinners. In this light the Savior Himself is careful to present it. Instead of ascribing to His Father all the sternness and severity, and claiming as His own all the tenderness and compassion, He takes special pains to impress us with the assurance that the purpose of His mission was to proclaim the loving message and to execute the loving will of His Father who is in heaven.2
In the atonement, we are not running from the Father, who as a stern Judge is ready to condemn us, to the Son, who is more gracious than the Father. Rather, in the atonement we have a way to run to the Father and rest in him, for Christ’s sake, the way a child runs to and rests in the lap of his or her father.
Then, too, Arminian redemption divides Christ from Christ, as it were. Calvinism insists that Christ’s entire priestly work must be viewed as a harmonious whole. His expiation by atoning death and his priestly intercession are co-extensive. What an oxymoron it is to maintain that Christ died for everyone but intercedes only for some (John 17:2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 20, 24).
Finally, Arminian redemption disavows the saving ministry of the Holy Spirit, since it claims that Christ’s blood has a wider application than does the Spirit’s saving work. Any presentation of salvation that makes the Father’s or the Spirit’s work in salvation lag behind Christ’s work contradicts the inherent unity of the Trinity. The Father and the Son are one. The Spirit and the Son are one. Christ cannot possibly have died for those whom the Father did not decree to save and in whom the Spirit does not savingly work. God cannot be at odds with himself. Arminianism is inconsistent universalism.
It rejects all of the other points of Calvinism. The Arminian view of the atonement rejects the doctrine of man’s total depravity, teaching that man has the ability within himself to receive and accept Christ. It rejects unconditional election, teaching that God elects on the basis of foreseen faith. It rejects irresistible grace, teaching that man’s will is stronger than God’s. It rejects perseverance of the saints, teaching that man can apostatize from the faith. J. I. Packer says,
It cannot be over-emphasized that we have not seen the full meaning of the cross till we have seen it as the centre of the gospel, flanked on the one hand by total inability and unconditional election and on the other by irresistible grace and final preservation.3
It detracts from the glory of God. If God does everything in salvation, he gets all the glory. But if God can only do so much and not everything, then the person who completes the bridge gets at least some glory. That is why there is so much emphasis in mass evangelism on the free will of man. The glory of God is not exalted, and neither is the glory of Christ lifted up for providing a perfect and complete salvation. We are told of the free will of man, without which salvation cannot be put into effect. We are told to exercise our free will without being told that this will is in bondage due to our depraved nature. We cannot freely choose God and salvation on our own. We cannot complete the bridge. God completes the bridge, as we are told in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, so that ‘no flesh should glory in his presence.’ Universal atonement exalts the will of man and debases the glory of God.
It undermines thankfulness and assurance. Why should I thank God for something that I achieved? If the Lord Jesus did no more for me than he did for Judas and the inhabitants of Sodom, why should I thank him rather than myself? And if there are some for whom Christ died who are in hell today, how can I be sure the atonement will atone for me?
It perverts evangelism. We repeatedly hear today in evangelistic messages: “Christ died for you. What will you do for him?’ But do we ever find in the Bible that someone is told personally, ‘Christ died for you’? Rather, we find the work of Christ explained, followed by a call to everyone: ‘Repent and believe the gospel.’ The message is not ‘Believe that Christ died for you’ or ‘Believe that you are one of the elect.’ It is ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.’
It disparages the intrinsic efficacy of the atonement itself. Arminians teach that Christ’s work induces the Father to accept graciously what Jesus accomplished in the place of a full satisfaction of his justice. It is as if Jesus persuaded his Father to accept something less than justice demanded. That is why Arminius claimed that when God saved sinners, he moved from his throne of justice to his throne of grace. But God does not have two thrones; his throne of justice is his throne of grace (Psa. 85:10). Arminianism forgets that the atonement does not win God’s love but is the provision of his love. In that provision, Christ paid the full price of justice. He did not make a down payment on the debt owed; he paid the full price of sin so that the Father as Judge could justly cancel the debt (Heb. 10:14-18).
Arminianism, then, is ultimately inconsistent universalism, as John Owen showed powerfully in his A Display of Arminianism. Owen explains the fallacy of the Arminian view of the divine design of the atonement as follows:
God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell, for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men. If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved. If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world. If the first, why, then, are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? You will say, ‘Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.’ But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins.4
1. Autobiography, Volume 1: The Early Years (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1962), p. 172. This chapter from The Early Years is also available in booklet form from the Trust, A Defence of Calvinism.
2. The Doctrine of Holy Scripture Respecting the Atonement (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1954), p. 192. My heartfelt thanks to David Murray for several thoughts contained in this article.
3. Quoted in John Blanchard, The Complete Gathered Gold (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2006), p. 35; cf. Ronald Cammenga and Ronald Hanko, Saved by Grace: A Study of the Five Points of Calvinism 2nd ed. (Grandville, Mich.: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2002), pp. 122-123.
4. The Works of John Owen, Volume 10 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1967), pp. 173-4.
Taken with permission from the October 2009 Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth. Note 1 added.
(Posted by Joel Beeke)
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” —Genesis 2:15–17
The Bible is covenant-centered. It consists of the Old Testament, or old covenant, and the New Testament, or new covenant. The word covenant, which is used more than three hundred times in the Bible, comes from the Latin term con venire, meaning “coming together.” It presupposes that two or more parties come together in an agreement that includes promises, stipulations, privileges, and responsibilities. A covenant is an agreement between parties that binds them to certain acts on each other’s behalf.
When the Bible speaks of covenant, it speaks mostly of God making a covenant with man. God is a covenant God. He deals with man in a covenantal way. A biblical covenant is an agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of our relationship with Him.
The covenant between God and man that is commonly called the covenant of works almost jumps out at us in Genesis 2:15–17, even though the word covenant is absent. All the essential parts of a covenant are here:
● The sovereign God and sinless Adam, representing all mankind, are the two parties of the covenant of works (vv. 15–16).
● The condition of the covenant of works is perfect obedience (v. 17). No allowance is made for repentance or forgiveness, and the smallest infraction moves God to exact judgment (Gal. 3:10).
● God offers a clear test or stipulation. Genesis 2:16 says, “The LORD God commanded the man” not to eat of the forbidden tree.
● In this covenant, God promises life. He condescends to affirm that He will graciously reward obedience by attaching a token of His promise in the tree of life (Gen. 3:24).
● The penalty for violating this covenant is death: physical death of the body, spiritual death of the soul, and eternal death of the soul and body in hell (Gen. 2:17). Eternal death, which includes the loss of God’s favor, is the ultimate punishment for sin. Hell is the loss of all good and the gain of all evil; it is ultimate despair.
Such punishment is just because sin is injurious to an infinite God. Sin is an offense to infinite majesty. It is contempt of infinite authority, abuse of infinite mercy, and dishonor to infinite excellence. It is an affront to infinite holiness, a reproach to infinite glory, and an enemy of infinite love.
Has the Holy Spirit convinced you of your lost state before God? Have you identified with Adam in his tragic fall and seen yourself as a covenant breaker? Have you then taken refuge in Christ and the covenant of grace? Everything you need is offered by our able and willing Savior, Jesus Christ.
For further reading: Romans 5:12–21
From Christ Fellowship Baptist Church:
“Here at Christ Fellowship, we believe in, and are passionate about, the careful and accurate exposition of God’s Word. We believe that Scripture alone is what the church needs, what the world needs to hear. Therefore, it is the Word that must be proclaimed from the pulpit. For this reason, we want to encourage and help equip those who preach the Word of God. We want to fan the flames of hearts to be assiduous in the handling of sacred Scripture and to proclaim God’s Word faithfully, powerfully, and accurately for the glory of God.
Therefore, for you men who are pastors, preachers, or teachers of God’s Word, we would like to personally invite you to be a part of our Expositors’ Conference on September 28th and 29th, 2009, with a pre-conference scheduled on September 27th.”
The Reformation did not happen instantaneously; it was something God patiently arranged over a number of years.
As you read this book, you will learn how the Lord used some people to plant the seeds of church reform long before October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther published his ninety-five theses. Luther’s story is well-known; we trust you will find it interesting and instructive to read about him and about forty others (John Knox, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Zacharias Ursinus, Willem Teellinck, etc.) who contributed to the Reformation – some well known and others not so – most of whom are Reformation heroes.
To provide a more full picture of the many sided Reformation, chapters are also included on the Anabaptist and Counter Reformation movements. The book concludes with a brief summary of the influence of the Reformation in different areas of life.
Diana Kleyn with Joel R. Beeke Diana Kleyn is a member of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is the mother of three children, and has a heart for helping children understand and embrace the truths of God’s Word. She writes monthly for the children’s section in The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth magazine, and is co-author with Joel R. Beeke of the series Building on the Rock. Dr. Joel R. Beeke (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Serminary, pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, editor of The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, and author of numerous books.
(Guest Post by Joel Beeke)
Matthew 8 presents several portraits of Christ in ministry. A comparison of Matthew’s accounts with those in other gospels makes it clear that Matthew’s portraits are not arranged in chronological order. Rather, they are given to us to teach us how Jesus is Savior, Master, and Lord of All. Let us walk through this portrait gallery, one room at a time.
First Room (vv. 1–17): The Savior who bears our griefs and sorrows
In the first portrait, Christ has given His great Sermon on the Mount with such authority that great multitudes of people are compelled to follow Him. From amid the crowd a leper presents himself to Jesus, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (v. 12). This simple prayer is a confession of faith in the authority of Jesus and Jesus honors it. In granting this request, He both speaks and acts. It would be enough to speak the healing word (see v. 8), but the Lord is moved to do more: He extends His hand to touch and bless the leper. We today might not appreciate how shocking this action was to onlookers, or how welcome it must have been to the leper. The holiness of Christ comes into direct contact with the uncleanness of the leper, conveying the blessing, healing, and love of God.
The next portrait of Christ is in Capernaum. A Roman centurion, perhaps the ranking officer of the local garrison, pleads with Jesus to deliver his personal servant from the torments of paralytic disease. The Lord agrees to go home with the centurion and heal the servant. This action, too, is shocking, since a pious Jew of that time would not have entered a Gentile home. Knowing this, the centurion protests, saying that Jesus has such power that he need “speak the word only.” Jesus marvels at the man’s great faith and cites it as proof that many other Gentiles will likewise believe to the shame of unbelieving “children of the kingdom,” that is, fellow Jews who “received him not” (John 1:11).
Next we see Jesus in Peter’s home, where the disciple’s mother-in-law lies sick with fever. Jesus administers healing to the woman with the touch of His hand.
In the last portrait of the room, we see before Jesus a large number of people afflicted not only with physical illness but also demonic possession. The Lord speaks the word; devils are cast out and their illnesses are healed.
All of these portraits show how Christ’s ministry of healing fulfills the prophecy of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant who “shall justify many” by bearing their sins (Isa. 53:4, 11,12).
Second Room (vv. 18–27): The master and His disciples
At the height of his popularity, Jesus chooses to separate Himself from the multitude. He crosses the sea, putting more than seven miles of space between Himself and His eager followers. In the three portraits of this second room, Jesus asserts his authority as master. Note that the Greek word for “master” (kurios) can mean the teacher who has authority over disciples, the master who has command over servants, or the lord who has power over all. With Jesus, all three meanings apply.
In the first portrait, Jesus says that following him involves living in the world as strangers and pilgrims (Heb. 11:13) and knowing “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). In the second portrait, Jesus teaches that the highest duty of a disciple is to follow Him first. This takes precedence even over what a son owes to a dead father. Finally, Christ stills a tempest on the Sea of Galilee and rebukes the unbelief of His disciples. They are to trust Him regardless of the dangers or trials they face; He is altogether worthy of such abiding faith. A disciple must believe at all times, especially in a time of crisis.
Third Room (vv. 28–34): Lord of all
This last room holds one, colorful portrait. Christ goes to the dangerous territory of the Gergesenes (in other versions, the Gerasenes or Gadarenes), where he meets two men possessed with demons who live among the tombs. They are so fierce that they scare off anyone who might pass that way. Jesus puts Himself in physical danger to show that he is Lord of all, even of the powers of darkness that bind men and torment them unto death. The demons themselves know and address Christ as “the son of God,” a truth His disciples are slow to grasp and most unbelievers outright deny.
Even more remarkable is the response of the Gergesenes. Although they are Jews, they seem more like the Gentiles around them. Indeed, later excavations of ruins in the area reveal a thoroughly Hellenized or Greek settlement. Perhaps, like the Saducees, these Gergesenes scoffed at the notion of supernatural beings such as angels or devils. What’s more, Christ’s very presence is an embarrassment to these nominal Jews. His display of divine authority brings them no comfort or joy. They are more concerned with the economic loss of their herd of swine than the deliverance granted to their fellow suffering men. Unwilling to believe and sensing a threat to their shallow religion, their economic way of life, and their friendship with the world, the Gergesenes beg Jesus to go away.
If Jesus visited our churches today, how many, do you suppose, might be inclined to ask Him to leave rather than threaten our way of life? Are you bowing before Christ as Savior, Master, and Lord with your entire life?
(Posted by Joel Beeke)
If I could have $5 for every time someone has asked me the question, “Who is your favourite Puritan to read?,” I suppose I’d be a wealthy man by now. Though I would probably answer that question today by saying, “Anthony Burgess—and he’s also one of the most neglected!,” for nearly two decades I would have said, “Thomas Goodwin.” I may be an oddball, but—dare I say it—I’ve usually gotten more out of reading Goodwin than reading John Owen.
The first collection of Goodwin’s works was published in five folio volumes in London from 1681 to 1704, under the editorship of Thankful Owen, Thomas Baron, and Thomas Goodwin Jr. An abridged version of those works was later printed in four volumes (London, 1847–50). This reprinted twelve-volume edition was printed by James Nichol (Edinburgh, 1861–66) in the Nichol’s Series of Standard Divines. It is far superior to the original five folio volumes.
Goodwin’s exegesis is massive; he leaves no stone unturned. His first editors (1681) said of his work: “He had a genius to dive into the bottom of points, to ‘study them down,’ as he used to express it, not contenting himself with superficial knowledge, without wading into the depths of things.” Edmund Calamy put it this way: “It is evident from his writings, he studied not words, but things. His style is plain and familiar; but very diffuse, homely and tedious.” One does need patience to read Goodwin; however, along with depth and prolixity, he offers a wonderful sense of warmth and experience. A reader’s patience will be amply rewarded.
How should a beginner proceed in reading Goodwin’s works? Here is a suggested plan. (Note: Books marked by * have been printed at least once since the 1950s.)
1. Begin by reading some of the shorter, more practical writings of Goodwin, such as Patience and Its Perfect Work,* which includes four sermons on James 1:1–5. This was written after much of Goodwin’s personal library was destroyed by fire (2:429–467). It contains much practical instruction on enhancing a spirit of submission.
2. Read Certain Select Cases Resolved, which offers three experimental treatises. They reveal Goodwin’s pastoral heart for afflicted Christians. Each addresses specific struggles in the believer’s soul: (a) “A Child of Light Walking in Darkness” is a classic work of encouragement for the spiritually depressed based on Isaiah 50:10–11 (3:241–350). The subtitle summarizes its contents: “A Treatise shewing The Causes by which, The Cases wherein, and the Ends for which, God leaves His Children to Distress of Conscience, Together with Directions How to Walk so as to Come Forth of Such a Condition.” (b) “The Return of Prayers,”* based on Psalm 85:8, is a uniquely practical work. It offers help in ascertaining “God’s answers to our prayers” (3:353–429). (c) “The Trial of a Christian’s Growth” (3:433–506), based on John 15:1–2, is a masterpiece on sanctification. It focuses on mortification and vivification. For a mini-classic on spiritual growth, this gem remains unsurpassed.
You might also read The Vanity of Thoughts,* based on Jeremiah 4:14 (3:509–528). This work, often republished in paperback, stresses the need for bringing every thought captive to Christ. It also describes ways to foster that obedience.
3. Read some of Goodwin’s great sermons. Inevitably, they are strong, biblical, Christological, and experimental (2:359–425; 4:151–224; 5:439–548; 7:473–576; 9:499–514; 12:1–127).
4. Delve into Goodwin’s works that explain major doctrines, such as:
· An Unregenerate Man’s Guiltiness Before God in Respect of Sin and Punishment* (10:1–567). This is a weighty treatise on human guilt, corruption, and the imputation and punishment of sin. In exposing the total depravity of the natural man’s heart, this book is unparalleled. Its aim is to produce a heartfelt need for saving faith in Christ rather than offer the quick fix of superficial Christendom.
· The Object and Acts of Justifying Faith (8:1–593).* This is a frequently reprinted classic on faith. Part 1, on the objects of faith, focuses on God’s nature, Christ, and the free grace of God revealed in His absolute promises. Part 2 deals with the acts of faith—what it means to believe in Christ, to obtain assurance, to find joy in the Holy Ghost, and to make use of God’s electing love. One section beautifully explains the “actings of faith in prayer.” Part 3 addresses the properties of faith—its excellence in giving all honor to God and Christ; its difficulty in reaching beyond the natural abilities of man; its necessity in requiring us to believe in the strength of God. The conclusion provides “directions to guide us in our endeavours to believe.”
· Christ the Mediator* (2 Cor. 5:18–19), Christ Set Forth (Rom. 8:34), and The Heart of Christ in Heaven Towards Sinners on Earth are great works on Christology (5:1–438; 4:1–92; 4:93–150). Christ the Mediator sets forth Jesus in His substitutionary work of humiliation. It rightly deserves to be called a classic. Christ Set Forth proclaims Christ in His exaltation, and The Heart of Christ explores the tenderness of Christ’s glorified human nature shown to His people on earth. Goodwin is more mystical in this work than anywhere else in his writings, but as Paul Cook has ably shown, his mysticism is kept within the boundaries of Scripture. Cook says Goodwin is unparalleled “in his combination of intellectual and theological power with evangelical and homiletical comfort.”
· Gospel Holiness in Heart and Life (7:129–336) is a convicting masterpiece, based on Philippians 1:9–11. It explains the doctrine of sanctification in every sphere of life.
· The Knowledge of God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ (4:347–569), combined with The Work of the Holy Spirit* (6:1–522), explore the profound work in the believer’s soul of each of the three divine persons. The Work of the Spirit is particularly helpful for understanding the doctrines of regeneration and conversion. It carefully distinguishes the work of “the natural conscience” from the Spirit’s saving work.
· The Glory of the Gospel (4:227–346) consists of two sermons and a treatise based on Colossians 1:26–27. It should be read along with The Blessed State of Glory Which the Saints Possess After Death (7:339–472), based on Revelation 14:13.
· A Discourse of Election* (9:1-498) delves deeply into issues such as the supralapsarian-infralapsarian debate, which wrestles with the moral or rational order of God’s decrees. It also deals with the fruits of election (e.g., see Book IV on 1 Peter 5:10 and Book V on how God fulfils His covenant of grace in the generations of believers).
· The Creatures and the Condition of Their State by Creation (7:1–128). Goodwin is more philosophical in this work than in others.
5. Prayerfully and slowly digest Goodwin’s 900-plus page exposition of Ephesians 1:1 to 2:11* (1:1–564; 2:1–355). Alexander Whyte wrote of this work, “Not even Luther on the Galatians is such an expositor of Paul’s mind and heart as is Goodwin on the Ephesians.”
6. Save for last Goodwin’s exposition of Revelation* (3:1–226) and his only polemical work, The Constitution, Right Order, and Government of the Churches of Christ (11:1–546). Independents would highly value this polemic, while Presbyterians probably wouldn’t, saying Goodwin is trustworthy on every subject except church government. Goodwin’s work does not degrade Presbyterians, however. One of his contemporaries who argued against Goodwin’s view on church government confessed that Goodwin conveyed “a truly great and noble spirit” throughout the work.
This weeks “book of the week” deals with a number of areas to look into, listed below.
Adoption Interview with,
About the Author: JoeL R. Beeke is pastor of Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and a prolific author.
Endorsements: Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption
“Dr. Beeke is well-known for his landmark work setting the record straight on the Puritan doctrine of assurance. Now he comes to our aid again with a superb treatment of the Puritans on adoption. I welcome his expert entry into this important field, and commend his keen insights and careful analysis to all who are interested in knowing ‘what the Puritans really said’ about adoption.” —Ligon Duncan
“In this short but spiritually substantive book, Dr. Beeke—a wise and careful ‘pastor theologian’ in the best sense of both words—introduces us to the Puritans’ comforting and transforming work on spiritual adoption. More than just historically informative, this volume should be warmly welcomed by all Christians who want to learn more about this crucial aspect of our identity as sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ.”
Pre-Order: @ Reformation Heritage Books
There is a new book being published by Reformation Heritage Books coming out June 3rd. Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption, by Dr. Joel R. Beeke will survey the beauty that lied in the Puritans firm foundation of the Spiritual Adoption. Below is some of the information that is on the book. Later this week will come more information about the book, samples from the book, and what you can expect to read in Heirs with Christ.
Description: The Puritans have gotten bad press for their supposed lack of teaching on the doctrine of spiritual adoption. In Heirs with Christ, Joel R. Beeke dispels this caricature and shows that the Puritan era did more to advance the idea that every true Christian is God’s adopted child than any other age of church history. This little book lets the Puritans speak for themselves, showing how they recognized adoption’s far-reaching, transforming power and comfort for the children of God.
If you are just starting to read the Puritans, begin with John Bunyan’s The Fear of God, John Flavel’s Keeping the Heart, and Thomas Watson’s The Art of Divine Contentment, then move on to the works of John Owen, Thomas Goodwin, and Jonathan Edwards.
For sources that introduce you to the Puritans and their literature, begin with Meet the Puritans. Then, to learn more about the lifestyle and theology of the Puritans, read Leland Ryken’s Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), Peter Lewis’s The Genius of Puritanism (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1997), and Erroll Hulse’s Who are the Puritans? and what do they teach? (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2000). Then move on to James I. Packer’s A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1990) and my Puritan Reformed Spirituality (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2006).
Whitefield was right: the Puritans, though long dead, still speak through their writings. Their books still praise them in the gates. Reading the Puritans will place you and keep you on the right path theologically, experientially, and practically. As Packer writes, “The Puritans were strongest just where Protestants today are weakest, and their writings can give us more real help than those of any other body of Christian teachers, past or present, since the days of the apostles” (quoted in Hulse, Reformation & Revival, 44). I wholeheartedly agree. I have been reading Christian literature for more than forty years and can freely say that I know of no group of writers in church history that can so benefit your mind and soul as the Puritans. God used their books to convert me as a teenager, and He has been using their books ever since to help me grow in understanding John the Baptists’s summary of Christian sanctification: “Christ must increase and I must decrease.”
In his endorsement of Meet the Puritans, R.C. Sproul says, “The recent revival of interest in and commitment to the truths of Reformed theology is due in large measure to the rediscovery of Puritan literature. The Puritans of old have become the prophets for our time. This book is a treasure for the church.” So, our prayer is that God will use Meet the Puritans to inspire you to read Puritan writings. With the Spirit’s blessing, they will enrich your life in many ways as they open the Scriptures to you, probe your conscience, bare yours sins, lead you to repentance, and conform your life to Christ. Let the Puritans bring you into full assurance of salvation and a lifestyle of gratitude to the Triune God for His great salvation.
You might want to pass along Meet the Puritans and Puritan books to your friends as well. There is no better gift than a good book. I sometimes wonder what would happen if Christians spent only fifteen minutes a day reading Puritan writings. Over a year that would add up to reading about twenty average-size books a year and, over a lifetime, 1,500 books. Who knows how the Holy Spirit might use such a spiritual diet of reading! Would it usher in a worldwide revival? Would it fill the earth again with the knowledge of the Lord from sea to sea? That is my prayer, my vision, my dream. Tolle Lege—take up and read! You will be glad you did.
9. Puritan writings show how to live in two worlds.
The Puritans said we should have heaven “in our eye” throughout our earthly pilgrimage. They took seriously the New Testament passages that say we must keep the “hope of glory” before our minds to guide and shape our lives here on earth. They viewed this life as “the gymnasium and dressing room where we are prepared for heaven,” teaching us that preparation for death is the first step in learning to truly live (Packer, Quest, 13). If you would live in this world in light of the better world to come, read the Puritans. Read Richard Baxter’s The Saint’s Everlasting Life and Richard Alleine’s Heaven Opened.
8. Puritan writings teach the importance and primacy of preaching.
To the Puritans, preaching was the high point of public worship. Preaching must be expository and didactic, they said; evangelistic and convicting, experiential and applicatory, powerful and “plain” in its presentation, ever respecting the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit.
If you would help evangelicals recover the pulpit and a high view of the ministry in our day, read Puritan sermons. Read William Perkins’s The Art of Prophesying and Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor.
The Puritans were excellent covenant theologians. They lived covenant theology, covenanting themselves, their families, their churches, and their nations to God. Yet they did not fall into the error of hyper-covenantalism, in which the covenant of grace becomes a substitute for personal conversion. They promoted a comprehensive worldview, a total Christian philosophy, a holistic approach of bringing the whole gospel to bear on all of life, striving to bring every action in conformity with Christ, so that believers would mature and grow in faith. The Puritans wrote on practical subjects such as how to pray, how to develop genuine piety, how to conduct family worship, and how to raise children for Christ. In short, they taught how to develop a “rational, resolute, passionate piety [that is] conscientious without becoming obsessive, law-oriented without lapsing into legalism, and expressive of Christian liberty without any shameful lurches into license” (ibid., xii).
If you would grow in practical Christianity and vital piety, read the compilation of The Puritans on Prayer, Richard Steele’s The Character of an Upright Man, George Hamond’s Case for Family Worship, Cotton Mather’s Help for Distressed Parents, and Arthur Hildersham’s Dealing with Sin in Our Children.
6. Puritan writings explain true spirituality.
The Puritans stress the spirituality of the law, spiritual warfare against indwelling sin, the childlike fear of God, the wonder of grace, the art of meditation, the dreadfulness of hell, and the glories of heaven. If you want to live deep as a Christian, read Oliver Heywood’s Heart Treasure. Read the Puritans devotionally, and then pray to be like them. Ask questions such as: Am I, like the Puritans, thirsting to glorify the Triune God? Am I motivated by biblical truth and biblical fire? Do I share their view of the vital necessity of conversion and of being clothed with the righteousness of Christ? Do I follow them as far as they followed Christ?
5. Puritan writings show you how to handle trials.
Puritanism grew out of a great struggle between the truth of God’s Word and its enemies. Reformed Christianity was under attack in Great Britain, much like Reformed Christianity is under attack today. The Puritans were good soldiers in the conflict, enduring great hardships and suffering much. Their lives and their writings stand ready to arm us for our battles, and to encourage us in our suffering. The Puritans teach us how we need affliction to humble us (Deut. 8:2), to teach us what sin is (Zeph. 1:12), and how that brings us to God (Hos. 5:15). As Robert Leighton wrote, “Affliction is the diamond dust that heaven polishes its jewels with.” The Puritans show us how God’s rod of affliction is His means to write Christ’s image more fully upon us, so that we may be partakers of His righteousness and holiness (Heb. 12:10–11).
If you would learn how to handle your trials in a truly Christ-exalting way, read Thomas Boston’s The Crook in the Lot: The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God Displayed in the Afflictions of Men.
The Puritans loved Christ and exalted in His beauty. Samuel Rutherford wrote: “Put the beauty of ten thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden in one; put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all loveliness, all sweetness in one. O what a fair and excellent thing would that be? And yet it would be less to that fair and dearest well-beloved Christ than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and foundations of ten thousand earths.”
If you would know Christ better and love Him more fully, immerse yourself in Puritan literature. Read Robert Asty’s Rejoicing in the Lord Jesus.