Thursday Book Review: Pillars of Grace by Dr. Steve Lawson

Today, my friends, I will review the previously promised book by Dr. Steve Lawson. Pillars of Grace: AD 100-1564 was published in 2011 by Reformation Trust Publishing and contains over 500 pages of church history. As you can see, from the title, it starts at roughly the time of the Patristic Fathers and moves straight through to the Reformation. As you know, if you follow my homeschooling updates, Kayliegh is going backward through time following the lives, testimonies, accomplishments for God, and deaths of these same men. This is the main reason why I decided to bite the bullet and actually spend money on a book. When I complete a lesson plan for homeschoolers I’ll be including references to this book, and Dr. Nathan Businetz lectures through church history. For that reason, I would highly recommend you read this book alongside listening to those lectures. You’ll have your church history down like no one’s business!

Before I proceed with a review of this book I have to confess that I am not an unbiased observer. I have been so blessed by Dr. Lawson’s preaching, teaching, and Men’s Bible Study’s which he, of course, invites women to listen to and learn from. That being said, I found his book very easy to read. Often times history can seem dry, and impersonal, but Dr. Lawson’s humor and passion shine through making this historical book a smooth and interesting read. Specifically, he links the men throughout church history who taught Gods sovereignty, showing that the doctrines of Grace were nothing new to the Reformers. I found this very fascinating and needed in a society that frequently feels disconnected from its history.

We’ve all been told, as Protestants, that church history belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. That’s not only patently false, with clear historical evidence from religious and secular texts, it’s also discouraging to those who desire to know how the church got to where she is today. Who among us hasn’t finished the book of Acts with curiosity? What happened to the men in Paul’s letters who he lifts up as Godly men, what happened to the men taught by Peter, Paul, and John? Where did Timothy go, who did he pass on the knowledge given to him by Paul? If you do a quick Google search you’ll be hard pressed to find any mention of Patristic Fathers that don’t have the title Saint before their name. They do happen to be saints, not because a church centuries later decided so, but because God saved them by His grace. This book will help give a proper, historical, context for where the church has been over the past 1900 years.

This book is actually the second, the first being Foundations of Grace which takes a look at the same topic but throughout the Biblical times, Genesis to Revelation. That one is on my list, and I look forward to reading it in the future. As for the second book, I recommend it for all ages. This book does contain the Gospel, several times detailed by the writer, so this would be a great book for your curious Catholic friends or family members. It’s also great for anyone who wants to take a trip through time to get to know our brothers in Christ already gone to glory, the ones who gave their lives for the Gospel, for the Word, for the truth. The ones who lived their lives as shining examples for us all. The ones who loved the Lord our God as we, ourselves do, imperfectly but with tremendous humility. I pray this review, and the book blesses you all as it blessed me. You can find it in hardcover, Kindle, and audiobook. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

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Thursday Book Review – Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ

Today, my friends, I’d like to review John MacArthur’s book Slave. Published in January of 2012, Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ a book detailing the importance of one word which expanded his understanding of our relationship to God. That word is the Greek word for slavery often translated servant.

https://www.gty.org/store/books/451170S/slave-the-hidden-truth-about-your-identity-in-christ-study-guide-included#.XG7QxZ0S-e8.link

This book was not only a fascinating read, and a great exegesis of Scripture, but also a real encouragement. If you’ve ever doubted salvation, or wondered if you could lose what has been freely given, this book will clear that up. It was also convicting, in such an intense and deeply felt way, that I can genuinely say it’s changed the way I obey my God and Savior. Understanding the Biblical truths that MacArthur explains in this book makes obedience a greater joy than I before imagined. It will bless you, edify you, and possibly rebuke you. I recommend this book to all audiences, and in particular those believers you know who struggle with assurance. You can find this book here at Grace to You, or in paperback, hardcover, Kindle, and audio. As well as the book, there’s also a two part sermon series that goes into what’s covered in the book. If you’re unable to afford the book, the sermons are a great replacement! I’ll include the links below. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Thursday Book Review: Susie

Have you ever awoken in the middle of the night so thirsty that you dragged yourself out of the comfort and warmth of your bed to get a glass of ice water? This book is as refreshing as that first drink! Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Wife of Charles Spurgeon was written by Author and Pastor Ray Rhodes. This biography of Susie Spurgeon was published in September of last year by Moody Publishers.

Rhodes uses letters, autobiographies, journals, and books written by Charles, Susie, their children, friends, and family members to piece together this masterful work. It is, at the heart, a love story. Unlike the vomit worthy love stories of today, with sickly sweet, unrealistic characters filled with lust and obsession, Susie is a story of genuine, Godly love. The book begins with the end of their marriage, when Charles passes from death to life, leaving behind his adoring wife and twin sons. This first part alone is worth the price of the book, I had to set it aside and cry while explaining to my husband through the tears what was wrong. After this Rhodes gives a more clear picture of Susie’s childhood and young adulthood, contrasting it with Charles’. You can see the sovereign hand of God bringing the two together.

If you’ve read about, or watched a documentary on, Spurgeon’s ministry I promise you’ve not heard it with the level of detail brought out in this book. Rhodes takes you through their meeting, courtship, wedding, and marriage showing how Charles’ work effected each aspect. This is certainly Susie’s story, but no telling of her life would be right without giving the full picture of the difficulties and blessing unique to being a Pastors wife. You read their triumphs and their trials, their sickness and health, and their unwavering devotion to God and one another. Eventually, Rhodes takes you to Charles’ last days on earth, through Susie’s eyes. It will make you hug your spouse a little lot tighter! 36 years of marriage, that doesn’t seem nearly long enough for me. None of us are promised tomorrow, not even our spouses.

Lastly, Rhodes shows you the work Susie continued in her husbands absence. You’ll see her faithfulness, and cry alongside her as she struggles to honor the love of her life. You see her sons go on, becoming pastors as well. You see her final days, and the legacy she left behind her. This book is replete with the Gospel, with Biblical truth, with edification for pastors, husbands, wives, children, and friends. How do we help our Pastor, bless his wife, his children? How can we encourage one another when trials come, when pain comes? How can we share the Gospel with our children? This biography edifies in all these areas. I finished reading it, and immediately started it over again. Much like Pilgrims Progress, which it references many times, this book is a joy and a pleasure to read! I recommend it to all ages, all people, and particularly to ALL pastors wives. To all wives. To all husbands. Everyone should read this book, it’s that good. You can find the Kindle, Paperback, Hardback, and Audible copies all on Amazon here. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Thursday Book Review – All Dressed Up With Nothing to Review

Hello beloved brethren! I hope you had a fantastic Reformation Day yesterday. I had hoped to be done with John Calvin’s third book of The Institutes. It’s meaty, dear ones. It’s taking me a while to get through. So instead, I want to hear what you’re reading! Currently, besides Biblical study, all my reading time is going towards The Institutes. It feels odd to only be reading one thing at a time. Let me know in the comments, friends, what books are you digging into? What books do you recommend?

Also, if you missed my last two reviews of The Institutes you can catch up here, and here. Here’s a little throw back Thursday to my first ever book review! Oh the graphics…the poor, poor graphics! I look forward to hearing what you’re all reading. I pray the Lord blesses you all. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Thursday Book Review: The Institutes of the Christian Religion Book 2

I’m so excited, dear ones, to finally be writing this book review. If you missed my review of Book 1 you can find it here. The four books of the Institutes of the Christian Religion were written by the French Reformer John Calvin, who was a theologian and a pastor in Geneva. This work was originally published in 1536, although he updated it, and translated it, in the years following. The second book, while still addressing the papacy and other heretics of his time, focusing mostly on the will of man, and the similarities and differences between the New and Old Testaments. Amazingly, at the time, this was considered introductory reading on the Protestant Faith. That I could agree with in the first book, which was not just easy to read and understand, but a complete joy to do so. This book, on the other hand, is deep and rich, and precise. While still joyful, it required much more time and study.

Why? Well for starters, as a toddler in the faith, much of what he wrote about I hadn’t considered deeply enough to comprehend the conclusions. So, during the reading of his second book I did a great deal more study and prayer than was needed in the first. I would say that this was a great joy! Anything that pushes us to pray, and study, is needed. Again, I failed to see any hot button issues in this book, nor did I read even a hint of the accusations lobbied against Calvin today. On the contrary, it seemed as if, perhaps, those who judge so harshly haven’t read the Institutes. I genuinely hope that’s not the case, as believers we need to be very careful before we accuse our brethren of anything as weighty as the accusations I’ve seen lightly banded around the internet.

The two main issues I had expected to see in these books were the often repeated accusations that Calvin taught not to evangelize, and that Calvin taught man has no will therefor blaming God for mans mistakes. The exact opposite can be found in these first two books, both of which preached the Law and the Gospel more than once, and both place the blame of sin squarely on mankind’s fallen nature. Perhaps there is confusion in regards to the difference in word usage from then to now? Or perhaps there are some claiming to be Calvinists who have also not read and understood the Institutes, which teach incorrectly? I’m not sure yet, perhaps I will understand better the more I read and study.

I do recommend this book for all theologically inclined believers, or anyone who is confused by the divide between the Calvinists and Arminians. So far, the only difference I can see is whether or not man plays any roll in salvation. There are so many who fall on a range of explanations in that area, although all born again believers will give God the glory for His grace in sending His Son to save us. I certainly do not mean to make light of such a serious issue, but am inclined to suspect the other allegations against the Institutes are either misunderstandings, or incorrect arguments being repeated. Only time will tell, beloved brethren, as I eagerly delve into the third book!

I can tell you, friends, that the differences in opinions should not stop you from reading these masterpieces of Christian theology. Calvin outlines every chapter precisely, so notes are easier, and explanations are clearer. He makes his points using Scripture, church fathers, and brethren from the past, though mostly leaning on Scripture. It’s not the type of book I would recommend for a quick read, or for those who barely have time to read the Bible. Gods Word is of upmost importance, though this book is a great accompaniment with Bible study as it digs into verses with careful exegesis. The second book, like the first one, is in the public domain. Yay, free! You can read the PDF here, the audio here, the Kindle here, or a hard copy (which I recommend for a book this deep in theology) here. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Thursday Book Review – A Divine Cordial by Thomas Watson

Hello again, dear ones, I hope this post finds you all well! Today I’d like to review another Thomas Watson book. As you’ll recall, Thomas Watson was a Puritan preacher in the 17th Century. His books have been a tremendous blessing to me, so it should come as little surprise that I loved A Divine Cordial as well. This book was first published in 1663, so you guessed it, it’s in the public domain. Translate free. I read it as a result of the wilderness wondering I’m in at the moment. This past month has been a series of difficulties, which made this book a beautiful read. A Divine Cordial is Thomas Watson’s exposition of Romans 8:28, in which he explains how God works the joyful, and the sorrowful for our good as born again believers.

I recall when I was first born again that year was simultaneously the best of times, and the worst of times. The wilderness I was brought through effectively worked sanctification in my life, and drew me to lean more fully on Christ crucified. I earnestly look forward to the results of the hardships I’m facing now, though I’d not wish the pain on my worst enemy, the pruning always brings forth greater fruit. And that, beloved, I do wish on you all. This is why A Divine Cordial was so timely, although I wish I had read it a few weeks ago. Not only does Watson exegete this verse, along with many other, in a clear and concise manner, he also presents the Gospel. Which makes this book a perfect gift for everyone struggling, including those we love who are lost. It explains why we go through difficult times, and how we can still bring glory to God in them. That being said, I whole heartedly recommend this book to all believers, with a suggestion that you read it before the hard times come, so you’ll be better prepared. This book is, like I said, in the public domain so you can read it for free here, listen to the audiobook free here, get the kindle here, or a hard copy here.

Thursday Book Review – Institutes of the Christian Religion Book 1

Good afternoon, dear ones, I hope this post has found you all well! I’m so excited about reviewing this book today, and I can’t wait to finish the rest of the books in the Institutes. I was actually really nervous when I began reading this book, assuming from the start that there must be some sort of scandalous teaching within. I suppose to the man-centered prosperity peddling churches I spent so much time in before being born again, it would have been terribly scandalous. This is probably why I put off reading it for so long, I don’t like contention. However, recently I saw someone on social media assert that Calvinists, also known as Reformed, follow a false god. That was awfully grievous to see, I have many friends who are Calvinists, some of you are probably reading this right now. Besides that, I’ve researched Calvin’s life and read some of his other writings and held a great deal of respect for him. Did this book change my mind, or in the least explain why anyone would consider it idolatry?

The answer, simply, is no. I didn’t read anything in this book that I haven’t read in Owens, Edwards, or Spurgeons work. Throughout each chapter I found nothing scandalous whatsoever, though he rightly hits the Roman Catholic Church hard for their falsehoods. He also deals with many others who had strayed from the Bible, and refutes them with the full counsel of Gods Word. I saw no Scripture taken out of context, or a point made without Biblical backup. In short, I can see no evidence for the assertion made on social media. Also, I must say, this book is an absolute delight!

The Institute was first published by John Calvin in 1536, though he continued updating it until 1560, when it’s final edition was published. There are four books, each tackling different major theological issues, patterned after the Apostles Creed. It helped me to think more deeply about God, and His sovereign will. Calvin’s love for God, Gods Word, and Gods people are clear in his writing, and were a genuine encouragement to me. His explanations were thorough, yet easy to understand, even for someone like me! I hope that more people will read his writings before accusing him of being a false brother, and before accusing those who admire him of following a false god. I, personally, can not wait to read the other books and review them for you all.

Beloved, we should never glorify any one man, all glory goes to God, as Calvin himself would have wanted. I can’t imagine he would take to kindly to having a group named after him. In fact, woven between Scripture, he speaks of Church fathers, and believers who had come and gone long before his time. It is a blessing that we’re able to read his, and so many others writings today with a click of a button. It seems a shame not to take advantage of that wonderful opportunity. You can find all four books of the Institutes of the Christian Religion in audio, pdf download, and online here. The kindle version is only a dollar here, and a relatively cheap paperback can be purchased here. I hope this review was helpful, my friends, as always be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.