First Quarter 2014 Featured Resource

Holland Michigan Tulip Festival - Windmill and Tulip Flowers

Books change lives. I believe that with all my heart. Over forty-one years of walking with Jesus now, I have experienced over and over again the power of God unleashed in my life through an extra-biblical resource devoured at just the right time.

That’s why we have a resource center at OGC. And it’s why we feature various works from time to time in order to commend them to folks. For the first quarter of 2014 I have decided to draw attention to Richard Phillips’ excellent volume called “What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace.” For my previous review of this primer on the doctrines of grace click here.

Doctrines of Grace

Why beat the drum for a book for a second time? Couple of reasons. First, new folks to OGC will profit immensely from reading these pages, especially if the grid of reformed theology is something of a new concept. You won’t find an exhaustive treatment of TULIP within, but you will get a first-rate introduction to glorious truth.

Second, the volume will accompany quite nicely one of our new Equipping Hour (9:30-10:30 AM) classes starting this Sunday, January 5. Deacon Matt West will teach an introduction to reformed theology (meets in W1). If you have yet to take this core class in our three-year discipleship scope and sequence, I urge you to do so this time around. Of course you won’t go wrong with either of the other two offerings, namely biblical finance (F4) and New Testament (G0spels, Acts, & Hebrews – W5), but for a church with our confession of faith, everyone needs to take the reformed theology intro at least once.

I am happy to say that we have nearly a dozen or so copies in the resource center for the low price (our cost) of $7.00. Pick up a copy this Sunday!

For Me a Ministry Milestone

In a matter of minutes after completing this post I will facilitate my final tutorial session in our confession of faith. For a couple of years now, every other week, I have met with a devoted group of hardcore learners who have climbed mountain peak after mountain peak of sound doctrine as outlined in the thirty-two chapters of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.

Originally I undertook the assignment to teach this for the benefit I would gain as the pastor of a confessional church. Teachers always learn more than their students. And the exercise has not disappointed. I feel so much more grounded in the truths of our historic faith as a result that it really does constitute a milestone for me to conclude the journey.

I opened part one of our treatment of chapter thirty-two on the last judgment with an illustration borrowed from John Piper in a blog post of his entitled How Do I Love Reformed Theology? He wrote:

I am a lover of the Reformed faith — the legacy of the protestant Reformation expressed broadly in the writings of John Calvin and John Owen and Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards, and contemporaries like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer and John Frame.

I speak of love for this legacy the way I speak of loving a cherished photo of my wife. I say, “I love that picture.” You won’t surprise me if you point out, “But that’s not your wife, that’s a picture.” Yes. Yes. I know it’s only a picture. I don’t love the picture instead of her, I love the picture because of her. She is precious in herself.

The picture is precious not in itself, but because it reveals her. That’s the way theology is precious. God is valuable in himself. The theology is not valuable in itself. It is valuable as a picture. That’s what I mean when I say, “I love reformed theology.” It’s the best composite, Bible-distilled picture of God that I have.

I exhorted my tutorial gang to treasure the truths contained in our confession to that end gazing upon and treasuring thirty-two amazingly textured and layered pictures that represent the glory of God and the greatness of His salvation. Thus should all our study of God and His word accomplish if we are to amount to something more than puffed up academics who don’t get the picture at all.

When my growth group finishes going through How People Change, I may decide form another tutorial troupe for a second go around on this rich resource. We’ll keep you posted.