Tuesday, November 25, 2008

John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology

As the five hundredth anniversary of John Calvin’s birth approaches (2009), a new book entitled John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology has brought together an impressive group of pastors and scholars to reconsider Calvin’s life and legacy. Contributors include Jay Adams, Eric Alexander, Thabiti Anyabwile, Joel Beeke, Jerry Bridges, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, D. G. Hart, Michael Horton, Phillip R. Johnson, Steve Lawson, John MacArthur, Keith Mathison, Richard Phillips, Harry Reeder, Philip Graham Ryken, Derek Thomas, Thomas Ascol, and others.

More info here. Order from Amazon or Ligonier Ministries.

Thanks to my brother, Jason, for informing me of this book.

Building a Commentary Collection

If you love to study the Bible, you probably love commentaries as well. A good strategy for building your commentary library on a budget is to purchase the best one or two commentaries on each book of the Bible. This will allow you to gradually build your collection over time. The difficulty, of course, is discovering which are the best.

BestCommentaries.com provides reviews and ratings from trustworthy sources. Check out the best of the best page that lists the 2 highest rated commentaries for each book of the Bible. In addition to ratings and reviews, it shows what series they are in (if any), categorization and places to buy. For more info on their rating system click here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Valley of Vision

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers & devotions. When asked what books have had a great influence on his life, John MacArthur included The Valley of Vision among them.

Puritans like John Bunyan, Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, and Isaac Watts knew their hearts, their Bibles, and their God much better than we do. Their prayers reveal a personal, humble, passionate relationship with an awesome God, a living Savior, and an active Spirit. Reading their meditations should inspire us to pursue the same level of reality as we worship God.

I have also been greatly encouraged by an album of songs inspired by The Valley of Vision released by
Sovereign Grace Music. Available here or on iTunes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Perseverance of the Saints...Our Joy and Confidence in Salvation

Once God has saved someone from their sin, he continues to keep and preserve them by his power and grace and will never let them go. Thus, they persevere to the end and can never be lost. If God did not do this, we would inevitably turn back again to the world, because of the sin that is around us and within us. Thus God enables his children to continue in faith and obedience throughout their earthly lives, then to pass into God's presence forever.

This doctrine is not to be taken as a license to go on sinning, as if the believer is free to act in any way he chooses now that he is eternally secure in Christ Jesus. The true believer will show signs of a growing desire for holiness and an increasing loathing of sin. The one who attempts to use the grace of God as an excuse for sinful living is in all probability not a true believer, for where there is spiritual life, the fruit of the Spirit will become evident.


The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.
Wayne Grudem from Systematic Theology (pg. 788)

If our religion be of our own getting or making, it will perish; and the sooner it goes, the better; but if our religion is a matter of God's giving, we know that He shall never take back what He gives, and that, if He has commenced to work in us by His grace, He will never leave it unfinished.
C.H. Spurgeon

For non-reformed theologies..."at the end of the day, the security of the believer finally rests with the believer. For those in the opposite camp [Reformed], the security of the believer finally rests with God -- and that, I suggest, rightly taught, draws the believer back to God himself, to trust in God, to a renewed faith that is of a piece with trusting him in the first place."
D.A. Carson

Click here for many other resources on this doctrine.

(hover over or click the reference)
1 Samuel 2:9; Job 17:9; Psalm 31:23; Psalm 32:7; Psalm 34:7; Psalm 84:5-7; Psalm 89:30-33; Psalm 94:14; Psalm 97:10; Psalm 121:7; Psalm 125:1; Proverbs 2:8; Proverbs 4:18; Isaiah 54:4-10; Jeremiah 31:3; Jeremiah 32:38-42; Ezekiel 11:19-20; Matthew 7:24-27; Matthew 18:12-14; Matthew 24:22-24; Luke 6:46-49; Luke 22:31-32; John 5:24; John 6:37-40; John 6:44; John 6:51; John 8:31-32; John 10:3-5; John 10:14-16; John 10:26-30; John 15:16; John 17:1-2; John 17:9; John 17:11; John 17:15; John 17:24; Romans 6:1-4; Romans 7:24-8:4; Romans 8:28-39; Romans 11:28-29; Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:19-21; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 1:11-14; Ephesians 2:8-10; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 1:19; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:19-21; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:14; Hebrews 10:36-39; Hebrews 12:2; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 1:10; 1 John 2:13-14; 1 John 2:19-20; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:4; 1 John 5:11-13; 1 John 5:18; Jude 1; Jude 24-25

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Deal of the Day - Great Hymns of Faith

You can’t beat this. Covenant Life Church has released a great album of hymns—traditional hymns with traditional melodies. I have been really enjoying this album. You can get it here for whatever you feel is fair—no questions asked (or for free if you tell five friends about the album).

Hymns have served the people of God for generations and will endure long after we’re gone. They are time-tested and true. They speak to every circumstance of life and point us to the wisdom, love and power of our gracious God and Savior.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It Is Well With My Soul

As we sang "It Is Well With My Soul" this past Sunday at church, I thought of the traumatic events in the life of Horatio Spafford that led him to write this much loved hymn.

It is only by God's grace that one could experience such personal tragedies and sorrows as did Horatio Spafford, yet, be able to say with such convincing clarity, "It is well with my soul." It is an enormous challenge to embrace the significance of this hymn. (Psalm 46: 1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.")

Hymn-Writer Horatio G. Spafford

Spafford was born on October 20, 1828 in North Troy, New York. He was a successful lawyer in Chicago. He was deeply spiritual and devoted to scripture.

Death of Only Son & The Great Chicago Fire

The first tragedy was the death of his only son in 1871. Shortly after, on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire swept through the city. Horatio was a prominent lawyer in Chicago and had invested heavily in the city's real estate, and the fire destroyed almost everything he owned.

The Wreck of the Ville Du Havre

Two years later, in 1873, Spafford decided his family should take a vacation somewhere in Europe, and chose England knowing that his friend D. L. Moody would be preaching there in the fall. Delayed because of business, he sent ahead of him his family: his wife, Anna, and four children, daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and Tanetta.

On November 21, 1873, while crossing the Atlantic on the steamship Ville du Havre, their ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and two hundred and twenty-six people lost their lives, including all four of Spafford's daughters. Anna Spafford survived the tragedy. Upon arriving in England, she sent a telegram to Spafford beginning "Saved alone." Spafford then sailed to England, going over the location of his daughters' deaths. According to Bertha Spafford, a daughter born after the tragedy, "It Is Well With My Soul" was written on this journey.

It is Well with My Soul

Horatio Spafford wrote this most poignant text so significantly descriptive of his own personal grief – "When sorrows like sea billows roll..." It is noteworthy that he did not dwell on the theme of life's sorrows and trials, instead, focused in the third stanza on the redemptive work of Christ, and in the fourth verse, anticipates His glorious second coming.

Composer Philip Bliss

Philip P. Bliss, the hymn composer, was a prolific writer of gospel songs. He was so impressed with the experience and expression of Spafford's text that he wrote the music for it. Shortly after writing 'It is Well With My Soul,' Bliss died in a tragic train accident.


When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Gospel According to Jesus

20 years ago, John MacArthur wrote the classic The Gospel According to Jesus which carefully examined how the Lord Himself proclaimed the gospel. The book deals with such questions as What is Authentic Faith?...and What does Jesus mean when He says, "Follow Me"? The Word of God clearly teaches that Jesus' "follow me" was a call to surrender to His lorship.

Many people profess to follow Christ, yet don’t display the fruit of Christian living in their lives. Others are leaving the faith altogether, sometimes after years of church involvement.

Were those people ever truly saved? That question forces us to go back and examine the substance of the gospel being preached in today’s church. We need to ask, “What truths must a person know and believe to be saved? What is the complete gospel message?” And finally, “Does true saving faith always produce fruit?”

Close scrutiny reveals that today’s gospel message does not match up with the gospel Jesus taught.

In addition to MacArthur's landmark book, there is an audio series that he did back when the book first came out. I have linked to each one of those messages below. You can listen online, download the mp3 for free or read the sermon text. This is a valuable resource that will enable you to share your faith more effectively as you see what comprises an accurate gospel message.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"The Shack" Reviewed

“Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”
-Charles Spurgeon

The other night at our Home Fellowship Group, we briefly discussed a book entitled The Shack (written by William P. Young). Someone who had read the book noted that they saw some doctrinal issues in regards to the trinity. A couple of individuals mentioned that it had been recommended to them by friends and they wanted to know what all of the buzz was about. There is no doubt that it is incredibly popular in Christian circles. Although I have not read it and do not plan on reading it, I expressed my concerns about the book due to some reviews that I have read online. These reviews are from respected sources and I find them to be very discerning. Here are some of those reviews...

Written Reviews:
Audio Reviews:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

John MacArthur's Sermons Now Available for Free

Election Day

Great post by Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs contrasting today's election and the eternal election. Read it here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Some Thoughts On The Election...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Reformation Wall - Geneva, Switzerland

Some friends from church commented on the cover photo of the free Calvin audiobook (see post below). The photo is of The Reformation Wall. Since Reformation Day was just yesterday...I was interested to find out a bit more about the monument.

The Wall is in the grounds of the University of Geneva, which was founded by John Calvin, and was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Calvin's birth and the 350th anniversary of the university's establishment. It is built into the old city walls of Geneva, and the monument's location was designed to represent the city of Geneva's integral importance to the Reformation.

The center grouping of the monument represent:
  • William Farel - brought Calvin to Geneva and the first to preach the Reformation in Geneva
  • John Calvin - leader of the Reformation movement
  • Theodore Beza - succeeded Calvin as leader of the Swiss Reformation
  • John Knox - taught in Geneva before taking the Reformation to Scotland

Free Calvin Audiobook Download

Calvin: Of Prayer and The Christian Life

Go here and use the coupon code NOV2008 to redeem this month's free audiobook download from christianaudio.com

High School Musical 3 "Bible Study"?

The folks at Saddleback Church are pleased to offer the High School Musical 3 "bible study". Why? Because actually studying God's Word in context by itself is sooooo not relevant. Ripping verses out of context and providing a 'group therapy' session that explores the 'spiritual' themes of the latest teen film sensation is soooo much more fun and exciting.

God's Word is simply not enough for today's 'purpose-driven' youth.


HT: A Little Leaven