Quick Takes: God, You, & Sex by David White; Entering God’s Rest by Ken Golden; Redemptive Reversals by G. K. Beale; Grace and Glory by Geerhardus Vos

The point of these quick takes post to catch up on my “To Write About” stack—emphasizing pithiness, not thoroughness.

 God, You & Sex

God, You, & Sex: A Profound Mystery

by David White
Paperback, 240 pg.
New Growth Press, 2019
Read: November 3, 2019
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
Okay, I’ve read Ephesians 5:32 and Solomon’s Song—I know there’s much to be learned about the relationship between Christ and the Church from human marriage (and vice versa), but…I still feel squeamish about aspects of that. Nothing against Mr. White, but he’s not Solomon, and I couldn’t really get behind much of what he said on that topic (not that he was wrong, necessarily, I just couldn’t agree with him).

But beyond that—it was refreshing to read actual positive teaching about human sexuality from a Christian perspective and not just a list of “No”s, “Don’t Do That”s, and so on. Yes, the positive teaching necessitates some of the “Nope”s, and I have no problem with that, but it just seems that all the conservative Protestant world can come up with are the anti-whatever books.

In the end, I quite liked most of this and got something out of it.
3 Stars

Entering God's Rest

Entering God’s Rest: The Sabbath from Genesis to Revelation—And What It Means for You

by Ken Golden
Kindle Edition, 112 pg.
Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, 2018
Read: November 17, 2019
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
This is a really good book to cut your teeth with on the subject of the Christian Sabbath/The Lord’s Day. Golden does a decent job in tracing the doctrine of the Sabbath through the Scriptures, gives some good principles for modern observance of the Christian Sabbath and how we ought to think of it—and those who disagree with us.

In the end, he gives some examples of ways one might put those principles to use. Honestly, this last chapter is the weakest, and it seems to me that he wasn’t consistent in his application of his own principles, and ended up with suggestions that were pretty weak (and maybe a compromise?)

Ignoring the last chapter, it was a decent, quick and easy read. But I’d recommend Ryan McGraw’s The Day of Worship: Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath, Joseph A. Pipa’s The Lord’s Day, or Nicholas Bownd’s The True Doctrine of the Sabbath instead (ranked by increasing length, depth, and complexity).
3 Stars

Redemptive Reversals

Redemptive Reversals and the Ironic Overturning of Human Wisdom

by G. K. Beale
Series: Short Studies in Biblical Theology
Paperback, 189 pg.
Crossway, 2019
Read: November 10, 2019
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
I’m not really certain what it was that I expected this book to be, but I didn’t get it. What Beale gave us are looks at various topics in Scripture, showing how the way God has/is working is both counter to the ways of the world as well as human intuition.

It was a pretty approachable book, almost deceptive in its simplicity—most of what he says is worth more thought and meditation than your initial impressions might lead you to think. There’s also a lot of rich application for both thought and life—I didn’t expect a book about irony to give me things to do.

I’m not convinced that I walked away from this having learned anything, but Beale did make me think of things that I knew in a different way, with ideas on how to approach similar Scriptural topics/themes in a similar fashion in my own study.
3.5 Stars

Grace & Glory

Grace and Glory: Sermons Preached in the Chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary

by Geerhardus Vos
Paperback, 155 pg.
Solid Ground Christian Books, 2007
Read: December 8-15, 2019
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
For most people (who’ve heard of him), Geerhardus Vos is known as a theologian—one of the Twentieth Century’s brightest stars, the man who showed that the academic discipline known as Biblical Theology wasn’t the domain solely of Theological Liberalism, but that a robust, Bible-believing thinker could (and should) contribute to the field.

But before he was a theologian or professor, Vos was a preacher. And this small collection of sermons shows how capable he must have been.

Yes, there’s rich theology behind these sermons, but they’re primarily expositions and applications of the texts for the hearers. And, yes, the audiences of these sermons were students at Princeton Theological Seminary (before the downgrade that led to the creation of Westminster Theological Seminary), but these were not airy, academic addresses.

I don’t think it was by design, it just worked out this way, but the second, fourth and sixth sermons were the ones that I appreciated most—my notes weren’t really that helpful, especially now. All I wrote about #2 “Hungering and Thirsting after Righteousness” was “Wow! Fantastic.” True, but that’s not really helpful—Vos opens up the idea about how Christ uses the believer’s faith (hungering and thirsting) to fill and bless them. The sermon “‘Rabboni'” (about Mary’s encounter with the risen Christ near the tomb) is less than twenty pages long, but was better than Richard Sibbes’ sermon series (184 pages in the Banner of Truth edition) on the same passage—I can’t do it justice here, so I won’t try. And the last sermon? It’s worth more than the purchase price of the whole book.

(I fully expect when I re-read this book in 2021 or so, I’ll say something just as strong about the odd-numbered sermons and wonder what I was talking about now.)

As Scott Clark mentions in his forward, Vos was a poet (particularly in retirement, but before then, too). And you can see that in some of these sermons—they practically sing. I can only imagine how captivating these were hearing them, they’re stirring just reading them.

One of the best collections of sermons I’ve ever read. My only complaint is that there were only six. Get this one.
5 Stars

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from any of them, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

Quick Takes: Grace Defined & Defended by Kevin DeYoung, Josiah’s Reformation by Richard Sibbes, The Future of Everything by William Boekestein

One or two of these didn’t end up being as “quick” as I’d intended, but I still don’t think of them as full-fledged posts, I think I’d need another 3-6 paragraphs each before I’d think of them as done. Oh well, what’s important (to me) is that they’re done and I can move on to the next books under consideration.

Grace Defined and Defended

Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us about Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God

by Kevin DeYoung

Hardcover, 95 pg.
Crossway, 2019

Read: May 5, 2019

Read the Official Synopsis here.

At their very heart, the Canons of Dort are about the nature of grace—supernatural, unilateral, sovereign, effecting, redeeming, resurrecting grace, with all of its angularity all of its offense to human pride, and all of its comfort for the weary soul. That’s what Dort wanted to settle. That’s what they were jealous to protect. Some words are worth the most careful definitions, just as some truths are too precious not to defend.

This is the second book about the Canons of Dort I’ve read in this 400th Anniversary year, and it’s (not surprisingly) a handy little book.

DeYoung starts off with an introduction sketching the theological and historical context for the Canons of Dort, and explains why we should care about them today. It’s called “In Praise of Precision” and sets the tone for the whole book (the above paragraph is from it).

Then he moves into an examination of each Main Point of Doctrine (what most translations call “Heads of Doctrine”), one chapter for every Point. DeYoung covers them concisely, but thoroughly (well, as thoroughly as you can while being concise). It’s polemical as it has to be, but no further. Honestly, DeYoung saves his most pointed words for those who (on paper, anyway) agree with the Canons, but don’t share the spirit of them.

I’d prefer something deeper, but that’s never what you’re going to get from a DeYoung book, I know it. So that’s not something I hold against it. Really, my only complaint is that there’s no conclusion. The book screams for one, if nothing else, just a couple of pages tying the Points back to the introduction. But other than that, I don’t think I have a bad thing to say about it.

It’s succinct, accessible, full of DeYoung’s typical charm and focused on the precision those assembled at Dort. It’s an entry point to the Canons of Dort, but there are more in-depth studies that readers should pursue (e.g., this)—but this will get you started in the right direction. I should add that it’d be a decent enough examination of them if you’re not curious enough to read more (but you totally should).
3 Stars

Josiah's Reformation

Josiah’s Reformation

by Richard Sibbes

Kindle Edition, 176 pg.
Banner of Truth Trust, 2011

Read: May 19-26, 2019

Read the Official Synopsis here.

For the longest time, Richard Sibbes has been my go-to Puritan. His writing taps right into my heart. The doctrine is strong, the application wise, but throughout it all he’s convicting and assuring (in the best way). This collection, sadly, just missed for me.

This is a collection of four sermons from 2 Chronicles describing the work of Josiah. It’s a call to sincerity in the faith, of killing hypocrisy within, of the change that the preaching of free grace can make in the heart which spills into our lives. First and foremost, the goal isn’t the benefits of Christ and desiring them, but to desire Him, to love Him—which will protect from hypocrisy and surface holiness by driving us to something deeper and truer. He then preaches about the art of self-humbling and mourning for our sin. The final sermon focuses on the true desire of the renewed heart—being gathered to Christ. Who doesn’t need to hear/read this message?

It was probably me coming to it when I did, and nothing off in Sibbes’ work. I can’t point to a problem with the book, I just never connected with it. I can see the encouragement, the comfort, the urging to pursue holiness—it’s all on-target, Biblical and well-written. But it left me feeling disappointed. Again, it’s probably really good, and in a couple of years when I try it again, I won’t understand my reaction.
3 Stars
2019 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge

The Future of Everything

The Future of Everything: Essential Truths about the End Times

by William Boekestein

Paperback, 135 pg.
Reformation Heritage Books, 2019

Read: April 7, 2019

Read the Official Synopsis here.

This is a great primer on Eschatology—it covers all the major points, develops them pretty well and shows how one can continue in the study of them as well as how they connect to the other points of the study of the End without losing sight of the rest of life and doctrine.

After setting the stage with a discussion of what Eschatology entails and how we can best understand prophecy, Boekestein moves on to Personal Eschatology—the death that awaits everyone (barring Christ’s return) and then what happens between that death and The End.

Then he moves on to General Eschatology (the End for everyone as a whole), with chapters on Christ’s Return, the meaning of the millennium, the general Resurrection, final Judgement, Hell and the New Heavens and Earth.

The last two chapters involve applying Eschatology to the New Covenant and Missions. How are we to act, think, and live in light of the coming End? These are things that are too often ignored when it comes to the study of Eschatology and it’s wonderful when they’re focused on.

One thing I really appreciated about this was that with the majority (possibly all, but I didn’t take notes on it) of the references to the Psalms that he made, Boekestein quoted/footnoted the Trinity Psalter Hymnal that the URCNA and OPC published last year. It’s a great way to get those metrical versions of the Psalms into your head, and hopefully into your heart (and vice versa).

One other thought I had while reading this is that there’s no need for my pastor to write a book on Eschatology. From his frequently cited sources, his perspectives, and even some of his phrasing, this could easily have had my pastor’s name on it. This doesn’t help any of you, but it is something I couldn’t stop thinking about.

I do wish his coverage of Postmillennialism was a bit more nuanced (and positive). I’m not a card-carrying post-mill anymore, but I still know the position isn’t quite as deficient and problematic as he makes it out to be.

This would a great introduction to Reformed eschatology—I want to stress the Reformed part, because the tradition is rich in its eschatological vision. Not in a focus on the end of the world, the timing of it, and how that’ll look, etc., etc. But how everything since the Ascension has been moving toward this point under the Kingship of Jesus Christ. It’s an assuring book, a helpful book, a great starting point (or refresher) for anyone studying Eschatology. Particularly for those who have no interest in starting such a confusing and volatile subject.
4 Stars

Finding God in the Ordinary by Pierce Taylor Hibbs: Essays to Inspire Devotion

Finding God in the OrdinaryFinding God in the Ordinary

by Pierce Taylor Hibbs
Paperback, 73 pg.
Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2018

Read: August 25, 2019

In the greatness of God, the smallest of things is given tremendous weight.

Hibbs, the associate director of the Theological English Department at Westminster Theological Seminary, has given us a great collection of thirteen essays (semi-inspired by an interview Hibbs heard with Karl Ove Knausgard on NPR but from a very different perspective) based on that idea. As you can guess from the title, Hibbs looks at the minutiae of life and sees how it testifies to the Triune God of the Christian Scriptures.

Some of the everyday, ordinary, common things that he muses on include:

  • dust particles
  • his son’s laugh
  • swirling coffee
  • light
  • wind
  • shadows
  • falling snow

Not your everyday subjects for short essays—particularly not from a theologian, are they? From these everyday things, Hibbs goes on to mediate and wax lyrically on God’s nature, being, truth, care, light, providence, and grace (and other things). These are not theological treatises, but musings on small things around him. Yes, they are theologically-inclined and theologically-informed (and he slips in enough nuggets to make me want to check out his other work). I can’t think of anything else to compare it to, which annoys me, because it’d help explain the volume.

I wondered from time to time if he was going to dance close to pantheism, but he never got that close, really. But he was clearly aware of the hazard, and addressed it in his Epilogue.

The prose is frequently poetic (and there are the occasional bits of actual verse), and gorgeously written. It’s not often that you read theologically-inclined books that possess beautiful language—the ideas are often wonderful, sure, but the language typically fails to live up to it. Not Hibbs—he knows how to phrase things to make an impression, not just impart ideas.

Not only are these essays well-written and thought-provoking, they ought to train the reader to start to find God in the ordinary around them—which is probably the best use of the book. It’s a little on the thin side, honestly, but I don’t know if you could read more than this in a sitting (if you manage to only do one sitting of it) without it losing some power. An interview I heard with him seemed to suggest there might be further collections like this, if there are, I will jump on them. Recommended.

—–

3 Stars

The Lord’s Supper: Answers to Common Questions by Keith A. Mathison: A Helpful, Careful, Encouraging and Challenging Look at some Tricky Questions

The Lord's Supper: Answers to Common QuestionsThe Lord’s Supper: Answers to Common Questions

by Keith A. Mathison

eARC, 99 pg.
Reformation Trust Publishing, 2019
Read: August 4, 2019

There were many laudable things about Mathison’s Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (P & R Publishing, 2002), one of the personal highlights was the final chapter, “Practical Issues and Debates.” This new release from Reformation Trust takes the same impulses that were behind that chapter (and the rest of the book) and delivers a concise introduction to the Reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, looking at the doctrinal landscape, a survey of the relevant passages, and some pressing questions (both theological and practical) for those with little background in the Sacrament, or those who wish to have their understanding sharpened.

Because the chapter titles represent just what you get in this book, let me post them:

1. What Is the Lord’s Supper?
2. What Are the Different Views of the Lord’s Supper?
3. Why Did Jesus Institute the Lord’s Supper on the Passover?
4. What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “This Is My Body” and “This Is My Blood of the Covenant”?
5. What Does Paul Teach concerning the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 10– 11?
6. Is Jesus Present In The Lord’s Supper?
7. Is the Lord’s Supper a Sacrifice?
8. What Are the Elements of the Lord’s Supper?
9. How Frequently Should the Lord’s Supper Be Observed?
10. How Should Believers Prepare for and Partake of the Lord’s Supper?
11. Should Children Partake of the Lord’s Supper?

The first two chapters cover the ground that a lot of books on the subject doevery author (and reader) need to start with the basics in view, and Mathison handles a survey these ideas very capably.

Chapter 3 is honestly not something I’ve considered before (at least not in a lot of detail)after all, when else could the Last Supper have been held? But I’m glad he covered this idea, and it gave me a good perspective on redemptive-historical place of the sacrament instituted that night.

Chapters 4 and 5 are very helpful and clear while guiding the reader through the passages in question. He doesn’t get too technical with the passages (due to space and the focus of the book), but is efficient enough in his explanation that he provides a solid grounding for further study and meditation. I particularly appreciated that in Chapter 5, Mathison is careful to point out that not only does the sacrament look back (“Do this in remembrance”), but it looks forward in eschatological hope to the consummation.

Chapter 6 is obviously going to be controversial and might cause problems for many. Mathison is irenic, yet he doesn’t waver from his position (or provide much wiggle room for those who might disagree). Carefully building on the aforementioned texts and the Niceno-Chalcedonian doctrine concerning the person of Christ, he then explains the teachings of the magisterial Reformers (the non-Lutheran ones, anyway) in a way relevant to today’s believer.

Like Chapter 6, Chapter 9 covers ground that he focused on in the longer previous workand those who want more on those subjects have a ready resource in his work. What’s here is a great start, but it’s not everything Mathison has to say on the ideas.

Chapter 10 is pure gold, it’s one of the best things I’ve read this year. It’s helpful and encouraging (and, yes, a little challenging)worth the purchase price alone.

Overall the writing is cleareasy enough for anyone to approach and understand, while not losing the depth and rigor necessary when dealing with something as important as this. Mathison cites other authors (contemporary and historical) to help (and the footnotes provide great fodder for further study), but shoulders most of the work himself. If you’ve never read Mathison, this is a good way to see one of his strengths is always taking complex ideas and presenting them in an accessible fashion.

I have two complaintsneither are enough to keep me from recommending the book, and possibly gifting itbut they’re things that bugged me. Brevity. It’s just too short, it doesn’t have to be as long as Given for You, but each chapter could be just a little longer and more developed.

The second complaint (semi-related) is the lack of a conclusion, just a page or two of wrap-up, an exhortation to use these answerssomething. It just ends abruptly after Chapter 11*, and the absence of anything else was a deafening silence.

*There’s a bankruptcy joke begging to be made there, but it seems cheap.

Those a great resource for those with questions about the Reformed position on the sacrament. Like Guy Prentiss Waters’ The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant from last year, it’s a great introductory work and would make a great companion to it, the two would round out each other. Mathison helps to deal with practical and theoretical issues that young believers, or believers new to the Reformed tradition, stumble on and struggle with. Faithful, helpful, wise, and encouraging, this book is a great help and you’d do well to check it out.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Reformation Trust Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this, I appreciate the opportunity, but not enough to change my opinion of the book.

—–

3.5 Stars

Not Home Yet by Ian K. Smith: This *is* My Father’s World

Not Home YetNot Home Yet: How the Renewal of the Earth Fits into God’s Plan for the World

by Ian K. Smith

eARC, 176 pg.
Crossway, 2019
Read: August 4, 2019

In the beginning, we’re told, God created the heavens and the earth. As Rod Rosenbladt used to say (maybe still does, it’s been a while since I heard him), “God likes matter, He made it.” The Scriptures are replete with post-Fall references to God visiting Earth, coming to Earth and dwelling with His people. This is what the Incarnation and the bodily resurrection are about. Yes, the risen Christ ascends to Heaven—but He’s coming back to renew the planet. That’s what it’s all about. The goal of humanity is not going to Heaven after we die, but to live with Him in our resurrection bodies on a renewed Earth. That’s what this book is about, in a nutshell—how Creation isn’t to be abandoned, discarded and therefore it doesn’t matter what we do. Instead, we’re caretakers of this place waiting to be renewed when our pilgrimage is complete.

Smith begins his case with Genesis 1-2 and what this tells us about God’s attitude toward His creation. Then he moves on to the Fall and God’s work through his redeemed people to renew the Earth, through the Flood and the covenant made with Earth, to the eventual establishment of Israel and his dwelling with His people in the Tabernacle and Temple—all of which points to the ultimate tabernacling with humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. Then Smith moves into a discussion of Christ’s resurrection and what it means for His people and this world as explained by the Apostles—what it means for this world and how we should view the world.

Now, I shared the general, overall thesis of the book before I read this—but I hadn’t given it much thought, and didn’t see it in the kind of detail that Smith brought out. I found most of this book fascinating and relish the opportunity to give it a slower, more careful read in the future. I found the explanations and arguments carefully framed and well-reasoned. There’s a chapter or two that I highlighted the majority of, and every chapter has a good amount of highlighting, the way he put certain points was very helpful. I could’ve used a little more depth (not possible in a book of this length, and the goal was probably something involving length to draw in—or not scare off—readers).

There are some problems with the book if you ask me. I can’t buy, at all, his arguments about Genesis 6:1-4 (that “sons of God”=angels*), but as it’s not pivotal to his overall argument, it’s not a big deal for me (it just gave me a little pause).

* I know it’s not unique to Smith, but it’s rare enough that I run into it that it stuck out to me. And, no, I won’t waste anyone’s time debating that here, it’s not that type of book. Read Bavinck for one of the quickest arguments against it, or check out Christ the Center, Episode 373.

My major reservation about this book is the lack of application—I’d have preferred a chapter or two (or four?) of “given this, how then should we live?” Smith hints at, even points toward, what the believer should do in light of this thinking. But to me, it seemed as if he was reticent to show how these ideas should affect the way that readers should put these ideas into action, how they should impact what they do from day to day—or how to think about their actions and society (ecclesiastical, political, geographic—take your pick). Yes, a good deal is self-evident, but I’d appreciate having it spelled out (if for no other reason than it’d be good to put some meat on these bones).

The book is a bit brief, and (again) I’d like to see some of what he said expanded upon, but what’s there is really good, thought-provoking, faithful to the text of Scripture and consistent. It was a rewarding read, and I think it’ll be an even more rewarding re-read. It’s an accessible book and one that I’d encourage people to pick up and discuss.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Crossway via NetGalley in exchange for this post—I am grateful that both groups gave me the opportunity.

—–

3 Stars

The Whole Armor of God by Iain M. Duguid: An Encouraging and Devotional Look at a Famous (and oft Misunderstood) Passage

(slightly updated)

The Whole Armor of GodThe Whole Armor of God: How Christ’s Victory Strengthens Us for Spiritual Warfare

by Iain M. Duguid


eARC, 128 pg.
Crossway, 2019

Read: July 28, 2019

When I was in High School, it would’ve been easy to get the idea that the central defining pericope for the New Testament believer’s life was Ephesians 6:10-18 — thanks to Frank Peretti, Carmen, ETW, and the like. The idea was this is a call to arms — notably with a stirring call to victory — to stand against Satan’s schemes and wrestle with the spiritual forces. It’s a militant type of sanctification, and while well-intentioned, it’s sloppy exegesis and ignores too many other things that Paul, Peter, other apostles, and the rest of Scripture tell us about the struggle of faith and the slow work of repentance. Of course, that was a long time ago, and many of those names would be unfamiliar to people (especially contemporary high schoolers), but the ideas are not. I know that Duguid is familiar with this because he talks about it in Chapter 1, which was pretty encouraging, because I’d mentally drafted this paragraph before I started the book.

After that dash of synchronicity, Duguid goes on to describe the armor Paul is actually describing in the passage — the armor that God Himself wore into battle and now provides for His people to wear. The rest of the book is devoted to him showing how Christ’s work and benefits are depicted through this armor. He spends a chapter per piece of armor: The Belt of Truth, The Breastplate of Righteousness, Gospel Boots, The Shield of Faith, The Helmet of Salvation, The Sword of the Spirit and Praying Always. He traces the use of the imagery throughout Scripture, showing Paul’s lines of thought — primarily through the Psalms and Prophets. These are not new ideas that Paul introduces to the Ephesians, but part of the warp and woof of redemptive history.

Yes, frequently Duguid calls his readers to use the armor in ways similar to the abuses I mentioned above (abuses might be too strong a word in some cases, but I think it fits the overall movement). But he does so while they’re properly rooted, and done in faith. And that’s always the last thing in his chapters.

Primarily, this book is an encouragement for the believer. I remember when I first encountered Reformed Theology what a revolutionary and wonderful thing it was to discover that the Gospel is for Christians, too. Duguid’s main task is demonstrating how each part of the armor is Good News for those united to Christ by faith first and foremost. There are parts of this book that I’ll go back to for further study on that point alone.

There are moments of evangelism for the non-believer as well. For the Gospel is to be indiscriminately proclaimed and this book reflects that as much as it argues for it.

Yes, I wish the book was about twice as long and a little more detailed and technical. But that’s not the intention, nor the audience he’s writing for, so I’m not complaining, just noting. Iain Duguid isn’t William Gurnall and doesn’t try to be (the book would be about six times as long if he was), but he does follow similar trajectories. Duguid writes crisply, clearly and effectively. So much so that it’d be easy to breeze through the book without giving it the thought its subject deserves. There’s a lot of meat for reflection and consideration here, and the discriminating reader will take advantage of it — hopefully, less-than-discriminating readers will, too.

I enjoyed this a lot, and will likely be giving copies as gifts, as well as returning to it myself. Recommended for all ages.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Crossway via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.

—–

3.5 Stars

The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant by Guy Prentiss Waters: A Thoughtful & Encouraging Look at the Supper in its Redemptive-Historical Context

The Lord's Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New CovenantThe Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant

by Guy Prentiss Waters
Series: Short Studies in Biblical Theology

eARC, 128 pg.
Crossway, 2019
Read: November 18, 2018

“All the salvation and redemption brought about by Christ for his disciples is founded in the body and blood he gives them to eat and drink at the Eucharist”
                                                                           — Herman Ridderbos

Waters uses that insight from Ridderbos to help explain the significance of the Lord’s Supper in the Christian religion, and thinking along these lines undergirds this entire book — not just that the Supper is something we ought to do, but something it’s vital to participate in — for our own spiritual health.

Waters begins by reviewing the basics of covenant theology — defining covenant and looking at the major covenants and how they point to Christ. Then Waters shifts to looking at the signs and seals of the various covenants — with a focus on the purpose of visible, tangible signs. The third chapter narrows that focus to covenant meals throughout redemptive history. Once the context has been firmly established, Waters introduces the Lord’s Supper with a survey of applicable biblical texts. Finally, Waters considers some practical and contemporary questions and applications. I’m not going to get into any specifics beyond this because what I want to focus on takes a lot of foundation work, and this would stop being about the book and would become a recap of the whole thing.

In a book this short (by design), I’m not sure Waters did his readers any favors by being as thorough in the first two chapters — it will be review material for many readers, and those who aren’t that grounded in covenant thinking are going to need more explanation of the ideas. Still, I appreciated what he wrote. The other three chapters were just great — I could’ve used more of all of them, but that’s not the point of the books in this series. The careful consideration of the Supper in its redemptive-historical context is so important and putting these ideas in a size and format that aren’t intimidating is going to be valuable.

I wish I had this book twenty years ago when I started studying the Lord’s Supper, it would’ve been very helpful and would’ve saved me a lot of time. I took a lot of notes while reading this and am going to spend a lot of time following up on them — and rereading this a couple of times. It’s the kind of book you want to hand out to your friends so you can talk about it with them. The last chapter was particularly helpful and encouraging. This would be a great companion read to Letham, Mathison, and Wallace (to be read after Letham, but before Mathison, probably).

Waters is one of the better academic writers the Reformed world has — thankfully, he’s also capable of producing concise and clear works for laity. This short volume demonstrates that well. It’s helpful, encouraging and I have no doubt will strengthen some believers’ in their use of the Supper as it shows others how important it is.

I’d been previously unaware of the series Short Studies in Biblical Theology, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be getting my hands on some of the other volumes. I love the idea behind the series and if they’re all this helpful, it’ll be worth it.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Crossway via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.

—–

4 Stars