Weekly Recap, June 1

Book Summary:

THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD, by Paul Helm

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance By Steve West   About the Author Paul Helm is a teaching fellow at Regent College, and the author of numerous works of philosophical theology.   Introduction This contribution to the…

ECONOMIC FACTS AND FALLACIES, by Thomas Sowell

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   Editor’s Note: With this “Bonus” Book Summary we continue our series on culture-related issues.   About the Author Thomas Sowell has taught economics at a number of colleges…

“WAS PAUL A COVENANTAL NOMIST?” in JUSTIFICATION AND VARIEGATED NOMISM: VOLUME 2–THE PARADOXES OF PAUL by Peter O’Brien

A “Bonus” Chapter Summary from Books At a Glance By Nathan Sundt   About the Author Peter O’Brien is Senior Research Fellow in New Testament, Moore Theological College.   Overview Peter O’Brien begins his chapter by rehearsing conceptually Sanders’s Covenantal…

Book Review:

50 WORLD-CHANGING EVENTS IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY, by Earl Blackburn

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Bennett W. Rogers   Occasionally I am asked to recommend a popular introductory survey of church history by an interested church member or student, but as fans of the discipline know,…

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Book Notice: FEARING OTHERS: PUTTING GOD FIRST (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by Zach Schlegel

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Fishing for compliments, overcommitting (or never committing), keeping people at a distance . . . when we fear other people more than we fear God, we become anxious slaves to…

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Book Notice: FEARING OTHERS: PUTTING GOD FIRST (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by Zach Schlegel

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

Fishing for compliments, overcommitting (or never committing), keeping people at a distance . . . when we fear other people more than we fear God, we become anxious slaves to their opinions and approval. But we don’t have to compete to be loved! Zach Schlegel uses meditations on God’s Word, reflection questions, and practical suggestions for action to guide you, day by day, toward a freer way of life in service to God. Learn how to fear God alone, rest in his grace, and live in peace, joy, and confidence.

In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God’s Word to your life in practical ways day after day.

About the Author

Zach Schlegel is senior pastor of First Baptist Church Upper Marlboro in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Endorsements

Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; President, 9Marks:

If you fear others, this book can serve as a GPS that God will use to get you out of that person-fearing country, with Zach as a wonderful guide . . . a man who seems to know the Bible as well as he knows his own heart. Profit your soul with this book.

Warren W. Wiersbe, Author, Be Series Bible Commentaries; Former Pastor, Moody Church, Chicago:

Pastor Zach Schlegel has done us all a great favor by writing this book about fear and how to deal with it. His insights are biblical, and his counsel is practical. . . . A book like this . . . would have made me much more effective in my home and in the church.

John Henderson, Council Member, Biblical Counseling Coalition; Executive Director, Center for Church Equipping:

Zach Schlegel helps us to see the true anatomy of this condition and the only remedy for it. . . . These careful reflections on Scripture will call you to a holy fear that puts all other fears to death.

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Fearing Others: Putting God First (31-Day Devotionals for Life)

P&R Publishing, 2019 | 96 pages

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Weekly Recap, May 25

Book Summary:

GOD IN THE WASTELAND: THE REALITY OF TRUTH IN A WORLD OF FADING DREAMS, by David G. Wells

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   About the Author David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.   Introduction…

“ISRAEL AND THE LAW IN ROMANS 5–11: INTERACTION WITH THE NEW PERSPECTIVE” in JUSTIFICATION AND VARIEGATED NOMISM: VOLUME 2–THE PARADOXES OF PAUL by Douglas Moo

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Nathan Sundt   About the Author Douglas Moo is Blanchard Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College Graduate School   Summary Douglas Moo notes at the beginning of the essay how…

Book Review:

DAILY READINGS FROM ALL FOUR GOSPELS: FOR MORNING AND EVENING, by J.C. Ryle

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Bennett W. Rogers   C. Ryle (1816-1900) was born and raised in a wealthy but unspiritual home. He distinguished himself academically and athletically at Eton and Oxford. He experienced an evangelical…

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Book Notice: ESV DEVOTIONAL PSALTER

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance By Fred Zaspel   Over the past months I’ve been reading through this unique devotional aid from Dane Ortlund with genuine pleasure. It was a great idea, and he pulls it…

Book Notice: ASSURANCE: RESTING IN GOD’S SALVATION (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by William P. Smith

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Does God truly love you? Are you really saved? You fear that sin and suffering have a stronger hold on you than God does—but God is not threatened by your…

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Book Notice: ASSURANCE: RESTING IN GOD’S SALVATION (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by William P. Smith

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

Does God truly love you? Are you really saved? You fear that sin and suffering have a stronger hold on you than God does—but God is not threatened by your fears and questions, and he is exactly the one who can show you the heart he has for you. Drawing on his pastoral and counseling experience, William Smith provides scriptural devotions, reflection questions, and practical action points to daily increase your confidence in God’s love, promises, and care.

In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God’s Word to your life in practical ways day after day.

Your doubts can’t be resolved simply with new or better information, such as clever arguments or evidences for your faith. Instead, you must look to God to grow in confidence of his heart for you. As your Maker, Redeemer, and Sustainer, he is not threatened by your fears and questions but graciously answers them.

A pastor experienced in counseling those who struggle with assurance of salvation, William Smith brings hope and help in this month-long devotional.

About the Series

In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God’s Word to your life in practical ways day after day.

About the Author

William P. Smith has served several churches, been a faculty member of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, and taught practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of Parenting with Words of Grace and Loving Well (Even If You Haven t Been).

Endorsements

Donald S. Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean of the School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Author, How Can I Be Sure I m a Christian?

If you’re holding this book because you struggle with whether you are right with God . . . you will find solid, biblical help in these pages.

Dave Harvey, Teaching Pastor, Summit Church, Naples, Florida; Author, When Sinners Say I Do : Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage:

Each daily reading offers fresh perspective, unshackling insights, and biblical wisdom that focuses the mind and fortifies the soul. . . . Take a month and allow Assurance to enrich your faith in God.

Bob Kellemen, Vice President of Strategic Development and Academic Dean, Faith Bible Seminary; Author, Grief: Walking with Jesus:

Bill does not ignore our doubts or diminish our feelings. Instead, he consistently, gently, and wisely shepherds us back to the Shepherd and the Scriptures.

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Assurance: Resting in God’s Salvation (31-Day Devotionals for Life)

P&R Publishing, 2019 | 96 pages

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How to See Human-Trafficking Victims, Even in Your Church

Hollywood movies like Taken infect our understanding of human trafficking with notions of kidnappings on distant shores and a rogue FBI agent saving the day. But is that an accurate picture? What if a human-trafficking victim was a member of your youth group? Is that even possible? Raleigh Sadler, founder and executive director of Let My People Go, says it is.

Sadler tells the story of Anna, a 17-year-old girl trafficked for sex by her boyfriend. Every Sunday, she sat in the back of a neighborhood church. When Sadler asked Anna how her congregation served her during her exploitation, she laughed. “No one noticed anything. Everyone thought I was happy.”

How many Annas are sitting in your church pews?

In 2013, Sadler founded Let My People Go to equip churches to fight human trafficking in their communities. In his book, Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking, he offers an extensive discussion of human trafficking and how the church is uniquely qualified to address the problem.

Understanding Human Trafficking

Sadler defines human trafficking as “the exploitation of vulnerability for commercial gain.” Human trafficking, he asserts, can happen anywhere, “because there are vulnerable people everywhere” (3).

Vulnerable people can be lonely teenagers, a homeless mother desperate for shelter, or an illegal immigrant brought here under false pretenses. They can be runaways—children fleeing physical and sexual abuse in their homes. Their vulnerability places them on a collision course to encounter human traffickers, who are actively looking for them.

Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking
Raleigh Sadler

purchase

Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking
Raleigh Sadler
B&H (2019). 288 pp. $16.99.

There are more than 40 million enslaved people in the world today. This is overwhelming. A number so large leaves us asking, What could I even do to help? In his book Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking, Raleigh Sadler, president and founder of Let My People Go, makes the case that anyone can fight human trafficking by focusing on those who are most often targeted. This book invites the reader to understand their role in the problem of human trafficking, but more importantly, their role in the solution.

Traffickers aren’t “thugs” dressed in black leather jackets. Instead, they can be teachers, intimate partners, or family members, even parents. They use force, fraud, and coercion to manipulate their victims. Traffickers often threaten violence to other family members or deportation to keep the vulnerable working for them. The chains they employ aren’t physical but psychological, yet they are just as real and effective.

Defending the Vulnerable

Vulnerable is written for the reader who is anguished and angry about human trafficking but has no clue what to do. How do we launch a fight when the person we seek to help is invisible, even though she may be sitting right beside us?

Vulnerable is written for the reader who is anguished about human trafficking but has no clue what to do.

We must recognize that many who are vulnerable to human trafficking are people we don’t readily associate with human slavery: the homeless, the poor, and children in the foster-care system. In the quest to be a “voice for the voiceless,” we sometimes don’t hear or see the people who need our help. Sadler challenges us to open our eyes:

We need God to open our eyes to the vulnerability right in front of us—on our commutes, in our neighborhoods, and yes, even in our churches. . . . When we intentionally throw ourselves into the paths of foster children, immigrants, and the homeless, for example, we will find ourselves naturally doing the work of prevention, intervention, and aftercare all at once. (109–10)

Vulnerable offers practical tools to help churches and individuals address human trafficking in their communities. The appendix offers “100 ways you can fight human trafficking today,” which include book, website, and video suggestions as well as trustworthy organizations dedicated to ending human slavery.

Theological and Practical Insight

One of the great strengths of Vulnerable is Sadler’s comprehensive approach. He gives a clear understanding of what modern-day slavery looks like in the United States, but he also drenches his thoughts in robust theology, and his insights are often profound.

“Vulnerability, or the perceived weakness, is actually not a result of the fall, but rather a gift of God to aid us in loving God and serving others,” he writes. “The fall did not produce vulnerability; it produced the exploitation of vulnerability” (120). Vulnerable people can be exploited because someone promised them food, a safe place to stay, or a job—things they desperately need for survival.

Sadler also discusses two opposing motivations for fighting human trafficking—a theology of glory versus a theology of the cross. “A theology of glory will place a premium on our role in the immediate ‘event’ of rescue, while a theology of the cross directs our focus to see the idea of rescue as more of a process than a defining moment” (54).

Where’s the God of Justice?

I’ve seen firsthand the ravages of human trafficking on a young soul. I’ve heard their stories of praying to die rather than face another day of torment at the hands of multiple abusers. It conjures up the age-old question: “Where is the God of justice?” (Mal. 2:17).

Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission, gives a moving answer in his book Terrify No More, which Sadler includes in Vulnerable:

The more I come to know him, the harder it has become for me to ask such a God to explain where he has been. In fact, surprisingly, I don’t generally hear victims of abuse doubting the presence of God either. Much more often I hear them asking me, “Where have you been?” (83)

If you’re angry about the injustice of human trafficking, pick up this book and learn to do something about it.

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Book Notice: ESV DEVOTIONAL PSALTER

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance

By Fred Zaspel

Over the past months I’ve been reading through this unique devotional aid from Dane Ortlund with genuine pleasure. It was a great idea, and he pulls it off well.

Ortlund presents the full text of each psalm (ESV) along with a very brief (one-page) devotional reflection. The reflections are not expositions, as such, but they consistently capture the gist of each psalm with relevant devotional Christian reflection. The Psalms are prayers, and Ortlund’s treatment of each individual psalms both directs our understanding the theme or prominent thoughts in each psalm and aids us in praying accordingly.

A helpful book for personal daily devotional use and for leading others through the Psalms.

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ESV Devotional Psalter

Crossway, 2017 | 464 pages

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Weekly Recap, May 18

Book Summary:

NO PLACE FOR TRUTH: OR WHATEVER HAPPENED TO EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY, David F. Wells

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   About the Author David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.   Introduction…

THE QUEST FOR COSMIC JUSTICE, by Thomas Sowell

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   Editor’s Note: With this “Bonus” Book Summary we continue our series on culturally- and Politically-oriented studies that are of contemporary relevance. We hope you enjoy!   About…

Book Review:

THE GLORY OF GRACE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PURITANS IN THEIR OWN WORDS, by Lewis Allen and Tim Chester

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Andrew Ballitch   Lewis Allen and Tim Chester offer four compelling reasons for why the Puritans remain important today: The Puritans learned to discover grace in suffering. The Puritans were committed…

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Book Notice: REDEEMING SCIENCE: A GOD-CENTERED APPROACH, by Vern S. Poythress

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance Fred Zaspel   I have consulted this book here and there over the years, but today I sat down to read it through, and once again I am struck by the…

Book Notice: ANGER: CALMING YOUR HEART (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by Robert D. Jones

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   Anger is arguably the most common problematic emotion we feel. It permeates our lives and hurts our most intimate relationships. Fortunately, Scripture has much to teach us about this universal…

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Book Notice: ANGER: CALMING YOUR HEART (31-DAY DEVOTIONALS FOR LIFE), by Robert D. Jones

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

Anger is arguably the most common problematic emotion we feel. It permeates our lives and hurts our most intimate relationships. Fortunately, Scripture has much to teach us about this universal problem. In this month-long devotional, counselor Robert Jones teaches you where your anger comes from, how to take it to God and deal with the underlying desires that cause it, and how to respond in Christlike ways to the situations that provoke it in you. Daily reflection questions and practical action steps show you specific godly behaviors that can replace your anger.

The good news is that God has given us the Bible—a book that has much to say about anger and how to deal with it. In this 31-day devotional, biblical counselor Robert Jones guides you through Scripture’s teaching on anger: what it is, how to overcome it, and what behaviors to put in its place. Reflection questions and practical action steps for each reading help you to apply God’s Word to your life. Try spending ten or fifteen minutes each day with this book, and see the difference it makes in:

  • calming your heart,
  • reconciling with others,
  • and growing in patience, contentment, and grace.

In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God’s Word to your life in practical ways day after day.

About the Author

Robert D. Jones is associate professor of biblical counseling at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and has served in pastoral ministry for over thirty years.

Endorsements

R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky:

Every Christian needs to read this book and heed its counsel. . . . [It] is rich in both gospel and Scripture.

Ed Welch, Counselor and Faculty Member, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation; Author, When People Are Big and God Is Small:

This devotional gets right to the point. It [opens] Scripture passages that you might already know . . . so that you see more and are drawn right in.

Amy Baker, Ministry Resource Director, Faith Church, Lafayette, Indiana; Author, Picture Perfect:

Move from discouragement to rejoicing as you see anger’s grip begin to slip and your joy begin to increase.

Greg Gilbert, Senior Pastor, Third Avenue Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky; Author, What is the Gospel? and Who is Jesus?:

Intensely practical and deeply biblical. . . . A book that will encourage every Christian, whether or not their particular struggle is with anger.

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Anger: Calming Your Heart (31-Day Devotionals for Life)

P&R Publishing, 2019 | 104 pages

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Book Notice: REDEEMING SCIENCE: A GOD-CENTERED APPROACH, by Vern S. Poythress

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance

Fred Zaspel

I have consulted this book here and there over the years, but today I sat down to read it through, and once again I am struck by the learning and multi-giftedness of Vern Poythress. Vintage Poythress – profound thinking matched with simplicity and clarity of communication and a heart to see God. I am no scientist, but reading this book was a sheer delight. If only we could have learned science like this the first time!

At the heart of Poythress’s thesis is that the scientific endeavor is an exploration of God’s self-revelation. The scientist may not profess belief in God, but his work presupposes it. Recognizing this makes the scientific endeavor a joy and a marvel for the Christian. Indeed, the implications of Poythress’s work extend far beyond the laboratory and has glorious impact on the way Christians (ought to) think and how we understand our world. For the scientist, for the Christian apologist, for an understanding of creation, for the interpreter of Genesis, and for a broad Christian understanding of the world and God’s self-revelation, this book is very likely the best place to begin. A real gem. I wish I had read it more carefully when it was first released.

If you work in the scientific fields, you must read this book. If you even dabble in apologetics, you must read this book. If you’re not a scientist you may assume you don’t need or want to read this book, but I assure you – you’re missing a treat.

A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Note: Poythress has famously set out to redeem everything, it seems, and his related titles are equally valuable contributions to their respective fields:

  • Redeeming Mathematics
  • Redeeming Philosophy
  • Redeeming Sociology
  • Logic: A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought
  • Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity
  • In the Beginning Was the Word: Language—A God-Centered Approach
  • Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events
  • Philosophy, Science, and the Sovereignty of God

Other Poythress titles related to Genesis and creation:

  • Interpreting Eden
  • Did Adam Exist?
  • Christian Interpretations of Genesis 1

Other

  • Theophany: A Biblical Theology of God’s Appearing
  • Reading the Word of God in the Presence of God: A Handbook for Biblical Interpretation
  • God-Centered Biblical Interpretation
  • The Lordship of Christ: Serving Our Savior All of the Time, in All of Life, with All of Our Heart
  • The Inerrancy of the Gospels: A God-Centered Approach to the Challenges of Harmonization
  • Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible
  • The Miracles of Jesus
  • What Are Spiritual Gifts?
  • The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God’s Words
  • The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation
  • The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses
  • Understanding Dispensationalists
  • Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology
  • Science and Hermeneutics

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Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach

Crossway, 2006 | 384 pages

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Weekly Recap, May 10

Book Summary:

40 QUESTIONS ABOUT SALVATION, by Matthew Barrett

A Brief Book Summary from Books at a Glance By Mark Baker   About the Author Matthew Barrett is associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the executive editor of Credo Magazine and has…

THE BLACK BOOK OF THE AMERICAN LEFT: THE COLLECTED CONSERVATIVE WRITINGS OF DAVID HOROWITZ, by David Horowitz

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   Editor’s Note:  Today we offer another “Bonus Book Summary” to our readers with a culture-related book that has received wide acclaim for its analysis of the agenda…

Book Review:

LIVING LIFE BACKWARDS: HOW ECCLESIASTES TEACHES US TO LIVE IN LIGHT OF THE END, by David Gibson

A Book Review from Books At a Glance   One day we are all going to die. Not only are we going to die, but all the time and effort invested in our worldly pursuits will slip through our fingers…

Kids & Moms:

AMAZING GRACE, by Brian & Sarah Najapfour

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Kristin Stiles   Not only do many hymns of the Christian faith have wonderful theological content, but so many of them have very interesting back stories. Blind Fanny Crosby wrote about…

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Book Notice: 2 KINGS (REFORMED EXPOSITORY COMMENTARY), by Philip Graham Ryken

A Brief Book Notice From Books at a Glance   Despite the tragic events of 2 Kings, hope remains as God holds to his promise never to forsake David’s line. This historical book has everyday relevance as it shows both…

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Book Notice: 2 KINGS (REFORMED EXPOSITORY COMMENTARY), by Philip Graham Ryken

A Brief Book Notice From Books at a Glance

Despite the tragic events of 2 Kings, hope remains as God holds to his promise never to forsake David’s line. This historical book has everyday relevance as it shows both the consequences of idolatry and God’s concern for people in serious hardship. Most important, it prepares us to see our need for the true and greatest Prophet and King. Tracing the overarching narrative, Philip Graham Ryken connects it to Christ and explores its applications for ordinary Christians in today’s world.

As are all Reformed Expository Commentaries, this book is accessible to both pastors and lay readers. Each volume in the series gives careful attention to the biblical text, is doctrinally Reformed, focuses on Christ through the lens of redemptive history, and applies the Bible to our contemporary setting.

About the Author

Philip Ryken is the eighth president of Wheaton College. Following his graduation from Wheaton College in 1988, he earned a master of divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary and a doctorate in historical theology from the University of Oxford.

Dr. Ryken preached at Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church from 1995 until his appointment at Wheaton in 2010. He has published more than 50 books, including Reformed Expository Commentaries on 1 Kings, Luke, Galatians, and 1 Timothy. He teaches the Bible weekly on the broadcast Every Last Word and serves as a board member for the Lausanne Movement, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, and The Gospel Coalition.

Endorsements

Tim Challies, Blogger, Pastor, Grace Fellowship Church, Toronto:

Phil Ryken has consistently proved to be among our most trusted and most helpful contemporary biblical commentators. Each one of his commentaries is marked by faithful interpretation and explanation of the biblical text along with insightful application to today’s believers. His new work on 2 Kings is a welcome addition to his collection. . . . Whether you use it week by week to prepare Bible studies or sermons or whether you read it straight through, you’ll be both edified and encouraged.

Irwyn Ince, Director, Grace DC Institute for Cross-Cultural Mission:

Pastors often struggle to faithfully preach Christ through the narratives [in 2 Kings]. What are we to do with the schools of prophets, mauled teenagers, foreign military commanders, a wealthy but barren woman, evil kings, and ongoing warfare? Dr. Philip Ryken has done us a great service. With remarkable deftness, he puts before us the humanness of these stories, the touch points between the people we meet and our own lives in the twenty-first century. Yet he does so in a way that shows Jesus Christ to be the hero in every story. Which, of course, he is.

Hershael W. York, Dean, School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

I cannot imagine a more comprehensive tool for teaching or sermon preparation than Phil Ryken’s expository commentary on 2 Kings. Combining the head of a scholar, the heart of a pastor, the insightful illustration of a master communicator, the depth of a theologian, and the homiletical skills of an extraordinary preacher, Dr. Ryken takes readers with him from the ancient text through the empty tomb as each exposition locates the narrative in the grand sweep of God’s redemptive work in Christ. Filled with gospel delight that moved me to rejoice in the truth and relevance of God’s Word, this commentary made me want to preach 2 Kings as soon as possible!

Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California:

Phil Ryken is a model of the pastorscholar. This commentary on 2 Kings is an ornament of his skill as an exegete and preacher. I highly recommend it.

Andrew T. Abernethy, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College:

With a remarkable combination of pastoral insight, theological acumen, and sensitivity to the biblical text, Philip Ryken offers a tremendous exposition in this commentary. It is a must-have for all who want to study or preach from 2 Kings.

Colin S. Smith, Senior Pastor, The Orchard; President, Unlocking the Bible:

Philip Ryken is a master of clear and compelling biblical exposition. In every chapter of this commentary, he finds applications that will land in your life and follows trajectories that will lead you to Christ. Preachers, Bible study leaders, and thoughtful Christians will find this a rich and treasured resource.

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2 Kings (Reformed Expository Commentary)

P&R Publishing, 2019 | 480 pages

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Weekly Recap, May 4

Book Summary:

SANCTIFICATION, Michael Allen

A Brief Book Summary from Books at a Glance By Mark Baker   About the Author Michael Allen (PhD, Wheaton College) is the John Dyer Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He has authored…

DARK AGENDA, by David Horowitz

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance By Benjamin Montoya   Editor’s Note We hope you’ll enjoy this “Bonus” Book Summary. Books At a Glance promises to deliver at least one Book Summary per week – last year…

Book Review:

THE FAME OF C.S. LEWIS: A CONTROVERSIALIST’S RECEPTION IN BRITAIN AND AMERICA, by Stephanie Derrick

A Book Review from Books At a Glance By Andrew J. Spencer   There are two perennial questions in C. S. Lewis studies that scholars must perpetually wrestle with. First, why is Lewis still as popular as he is? Many…

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Book Notice: THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH: HOW THE WEST LOST

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance By Fred Zaspel   There are few people in this world who grasp and keep the pulse of culture and then explain it all so the rest of us can get…

Book Notice: JUST WORDS?, by Paul Helm

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance   This book by Paul Helm helps us understand a foundational part of Christian doctrine: Revelation. The book is unashamedly and delightfully doctrinal in nature. ‘Doctrine’ is the body of truths…

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Book Notice: JUST WORDS?, by Paul Helm

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance

This book by Paul Helm helps us understand a foundational part of Christian doctrine: Revelation. The book is unashamedly and delightfully doctrinal in nature. ‘Doctrine’ is the body of truths that are affirmed by Christians as comprising the fundamental truths of the Faith. We need to be aware of the framework of doctrine because we always hold an assumed set of doctrines as the lens through which we view life and through which we read Scripture. Basic assumptions about God, Church, sin and salvation inform our understanding of the Bible and are hopefully renewed, challenged and revised as we read and re-read the Bible.

About the Author

Paul Helm spent many years teaching philosophy at the University of Liverpool, then at King s College, London, where he was Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion, 1993-2000. Among a number of books he is the author of The Beginnings, (1986) The Callings,(1987) and The Last Things, (1989) (Banner of Truth), and The Providence of God (IVP 1993).

From Paul Helm’s Blog on the Book

In this short book we are to consider one important aspect of the ordinariness with which God visits us. God has done things for us and he says things to us.  Some of the things he does are to attract attention. But not like Presidents may command our attention, by their residence or their motorcade or the eloquence of their speech or the might of their army or the size of their entourage. In making himself known, God does not lose anything of his glory, but in what he does his glory shows through in surprising ways. And when all his redemptive work is done his glory will be manifest to all. Christ will come in great glory, and all his angels with him.

We learn that in God’s dealings with the human race, matter and manner are intertwined, vitally connected. In this study we are considering God’s book, what we call The Holy Bible. It is a book made up of other books, spanning hundreds of years. This shelf of books itself has a character that is at one with God’s coming down. For what God says in his book and how he says it are seamlessly woven together. The Bible tracks what has happened in human history when God came down.

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Just Words?

EP Books, 2019 | 114 pages

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Why We Need a More Positive Vision of Contentment

Today’s Western culture has unique temptations created by the abundance of consumer goods available to nearly everyone. We’re bombarded by temptation to pursue material wealth and career success as an end in itself, or at least as a means to get the stuff that makes people in the ads seem so happy. The consistent message of the world is that happiness is found in more, better, and newer experiences and goods that are just around the corner if we work a little harder.

Many Christians need to extricate themselves from this kind of thinking.

The Power of Christian Contentment: Finding Deeper, Richer Christ-Centered Joy
Andrew Davis

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The Power of Christian Contentment: Finding Deeper, Richer Christ-Centered Joy
Andrew Davis
Baker (2019). 224 pp. $15.99.

In 1643, Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a work titled The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment that has as much resonance in our discontented day as it did in his. Now pastor and author Andrew M. Davis helps us rediscover the remarkable truths found in this largely forgotten work. With powerful new illustrations and a keen sense of all that makes modern Christians restless, Davis challenges us to confront the sources of discontent in our lives and embrace Paul’s teaching on contentment in all circumstances.

But they also need an alternative vision to the one offered by the world. What we run to when we flee temptation is just as important as what we’re fleeing from. As Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” In other words, get away from temptation, but chase after biblical virtue. The faithful Christian life is a call to move away from materialism and greed toward a life of joyous contentment in Christ.

In two new books we see contrasting approaches to finding contentment.

Power of Christian Contentment

In Andrew Davis’s book The Power of Christian Contentment: Finding Deeper, Richer Christ-Centered Joy [read an excerpt], he offers a positive vision of pursuing joy in Christ. The Power of Christian Contentment offers a biblical theology of contentment. It uses Puritan sources, discussed in contemporary terms, to argue for pursuing Christ-centered joy in this life. Davis builds on the classic book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, by Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs, to help today’s Christians find the satisfaction Burroughs preached four centuries ago.

For Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church Durham and TGC Council member, contentment isn’t found mainly in rejecting lesser goods, but in becoming disciplined to pursue the greater good found in the gospel. What’s left behind is forgotten in pursuit of a far more valuable prize.

The Power of Christian Contentment explores the issue in four sections. First, Davis outlines the nature of contentment, relying on the teaching of Burroughs and the apostle Paul. It becomes clear why true contentment is so desirable. Second, Davis outlines practical steps to pursue contentment. Here we get a more precise definition, a discussion of God’s providence, a highly practical section on moving toward the habit of contentment, and an explanation of how Christ’s life and work point us toward contentment. Third, Davis deepens his explanation of the value of contentment. He expounds on finding satisfaction in Christ in various circumstances, as well as dealing with the problem of a complaining heart. Fourth, Davis outlines the importance of preserving contentment. There remains no question that complacency and Christian contentment are distinct and that practical steps are necessary to protect our joy in Christ.

Much like Davis’s earlier volume, An Infinite Journey [interview], this book provides both a theoretical framework and also practical techniques for pursuing Christlikeness. Davis explains why the pursuit of material comforts and worldly success will fail, but the bulk of his efforts point us toward a well-defined form for the Christian life.

Less Is More

In his recent book, Less of More: Pursuing Spiritual Abundance in a World of Never Enough, Chris Nye urges readers to avoid material temptations and recognize their emptiness. Nye—a pastor, writer, and teacher living in the San Francisco Bay Area—critiques the perpetual striving of his neighbors in Silicon Valley, who are swamped in misery while they pursue goals that will not satisfy. Nye’s book is applicable beyond his local geography, but it will prove most striking to urban careerists who’ve begun to realize that their latest pay raise won’t deliver happiness.

Less of More is divided into three sections. In the first, Nye shows us why we should be dissatisfied with material affluence. The culturally accepted goals of health, wealth, and happiness, which are essential to capitalism, are causing widespread misery. In the second, he works through attributes of our culture that are unholy and unhealthy—like isolation, a lack of rest, concern for fame, and a lack of generosity. Nye’s analysis is overwhelmingly negative, and he sees few possibilities for gospel joy in our harried culture. The third section offers help for living in such a bleak reality. Nye’s message is largely ascetic, requiring self-denial as the main means to achieve his proposed virtues. There is call to gospel renunciation of worldly goals, but little clear guidance on alternative goals to adopt—other than to lay hold of abstract virtues like generosity, pace, connection, and obscurity.

The faithful Christian life is a call to move away from materialism and greed and toward a life of joyous contentment in Christ.

Nye rightly criticizes much of the materialism in our culture. However, Less of More offers little concrete guidance on how to achieve the abstract goods, how they better embody the gospel, and in what ways pursuing these alternatives advances the mission of God. In short, the book offers critique with little in the way of solutions.

Pursue Contentment in Christ

Both volumes are well written and interesting reading. Nye’s book may shock a contented careerist out of his materialist focus or help diagnose the malaise of the miserable commuter. Davis’s book is spiritually profitable because it directs the reader toward Christian contentment.

Paul urged Timothy toward satisfaction in his material condition: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). In that particular context, Paul was urging Timothy not to pervert his doctrine to bring in more money. If bringing glory to Christ is our main goal, then there is no sacrifice too great for us to make and no comfort so tempting it can draw us away. We must pursue contentment in Christ, not in the metrics of this world.


Chris Nye. Less of More: Pursuing Spiritual Abundance in a World of Never Enough. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2019. 192 pp. $14.99.

Andrew M. Davis. The Power of Christian Contentment: Finding Deeper, Richer Christ-Centered Joy. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2019. 224 pp. $15.99.

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