BOOK REVIEWS

Story of Redemption Bible

Since introduces the ESV, its popularity has been unparalleled. Several noteworthy publications have been launched, including the Gospel Transformation Bible, Reformation Study Bible, and the ESV Readers’ Bible.

In 2001, Crossway Books introduced the English Standard Version (ESV). After reading about the translation philosophy and the scholars involved in the project, I was convinced that this translation would serve as my primary preaching and teaching Bible. For nearly twenty years, I have enjoyed the ESV and recommended it to many people.

The newest ESV project the Story of Redemption Bible: A Journey through the Unfolding Promises of God. What makes this version of the English Standard version special is the emphasis upon biblical theology. This Bible is edited by Greg Gilbert and contains almost 900 notes of commentary. These notes help readers see and understand the metanarrative that explodes in the biblical text. Creation, fall, redemption, and consummation are the worldview pillars that help readers connect the dots of redemptive history.

The Story of Redemption Bible is a stunning book. The hardback edition is both stout and sturdy. But it is also beautiful. The publisher went to great lengths to make the font readable, which makes the biblical text stand out. The commentary by Gilbert is sprinkled throughout the text in a thoughtful way. What is especially appealing is that the commentary is always subordinate to the biblical text.

I commend the Story of Redemption Bible and trust that it will serve thousands and thousands of Christ-followers for many generations to come.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS · Theology

The Unity of the Bible: Unfolding God’s Plan For Humanity – Daniel Fuller (1992)

The Unity of the Bible by Daniel P. Fuller sets out to discover the theme that gives coherence to the teaching of Scripture.  It presents the logic behind God’s unfolding revelation from Genesis to Revelation.  Dr. Fuller writes, “Only by seeing the whole of God’s purpose in creation and redemptive history can one appreciate God’s individual actions in realizing this purpose.”  The author sees a need to summarize the whole Bible along the time line of redemptive history, instead of getting trapped in timeless categories that have been popularized in the discipline of systematic theology.  The bottom line: God does everything in the creation of the world and its history in order to uphold the glory of his name (Isa. 48:9-11).

Part One

Dr. Fuller maintains the Bible proceeds according to a plan.  Beginning with the creation of the world, it then relates and interprets a series of historical events that lead to the grand climax and goal of the world’s history.  He overviews the formation of the Old Testament canon and points out that God has always been in the business of working for the benefit of his people so long as they trust in him (Isa. 64:4).  The emergence of the New Testament canon is presented with careful attention given to the closing of the Apostolic age.

Part Two

Part two is devoted to explaining the foundations of redemptive history by doing an inductive study of Genesis 1:1-3:24 and by demonstrating God’s necessary work of being a Trinity.  Fuller argues persuasively that God’s purpose in creation and redemption is “that the earth might be filled with the glory of his desire to service people and … to do them good with his whole heart and soul.”  The author proceeds to explain man’s responsibility in responding to God’s purpose and outlines the purpose of hell (for those who fail to respond to God’s purpose) and the riches of God’s mercy demonstrated on the cross.

Part Three

Part three details the Abrahamic covenant and a comprehensive treatment of faith’s futuristic and past orientation is presented.  Specific steps are given for battling attitudes of unbelief.  The author argues that the justified and forgiven sinner always perseveres in faith.  The purpose of the law is also discussed and is seen by Fuller to be in continuum with the gospel rather than in contrast.

Part Four

Part four explain the plan of God in getting the gospel to the world and includes an important discussion on the kingdom of God and the conversion of Israel.

Summary

Dan Fuller writes with clarity and backs his views up with solid biblical theology and thorough exegesis.  The author maintains a Berean mindset as he surfaces key points which challenge my Bible study habits and encourage me to dig deeper.  This book like no other has challenged my thinking in significant ways and has influenced my approach to studying redemptive history and teaching practical issues of the Christian life.  The Unity of the Bible is an underrated masterpiece.  It is a true encouragement for those weary of classical dispensational charts that are riddled with proof texts.  This work offers a better approach – a true biblical theology that is sure to encourage many in the days ahead.

BOOK REVIEWS

Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World – Thomas Schreiner (2017)

covenantThomas R. Schreiner, Covenant and God’s Purpose For the World, Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2017, 136 pp. $9.97

Biblical theology is the discipline that reveals the storyline of Scripture. It looks at the big picture, which begins at creation and culminates with the new earth, where God makes all things new. “The purpose of biblical theology,” according to James Hamilton “is to sharpen our understanding of the theology contained in the Bible itself through an inductive, salvation-historical examination of the Bible’s themes and the relationships between those themes in their canonical context and literary form.”1

Thomas Schreiner makes a significant contribution to the field of biblical theology with his latest work, Covenant and God’s Purposes For the World. This volume, which is part of Crossway’s Short Studies in Biblical Theology Series is not as extensive as Hamilton’s work noted above or Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum’s, excellent volume, Kingdom Through Covenant. But the brevity of Schreiner’s short book is a real strength, as we shall see.

Dr. Schreiner’s book unpacks the various covenants that unfold in Redemptive history including the covenant with creation, Noah, Abraham, Israel, David, and the new covenant. “The covenants,” writes Schreiner, “help us, then, to see the harmony and unity of the biblical message.” Ultimately, the author achieves this goal as he alerts readers to the apex of God’s saving work: “The promises of Abraham are fulfilled in the new covenant that Jesus brings, for he is the true offspring of Abraham, and all those who belong to him are the children of Abraham. The land promise is fulfilled in an inaugural way in his resurrection and then in a consummate way in the new creation.”

Covenant and God’s Purposes For the World demolishes the “cookie cutter” approach to hermeneutics that Dispensationalism offers. In its place, is a clear portrait of God’s redemptive plans for his people – a plan that promises “a new world of peace and righteousness is coming in which God the Lamb will reign … The promise that David won’t lack a man on the throne is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He reigns now from heaven at God’s right hand as the son of David, as and Lord and Christ.”

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

  1. James Hamilton, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 47.
BOOK REVIEWS · Theology

The Unity of the Bible: Unfolding God’s Plan For Humanity – Dan Fuller (1992)

The Unity of the Bible by Daniel P. Fuller sets out to discover the theme that gives coherence to the teaching of Scripture.  It presents the logic behind God’s unfolding revelation from Genesis to Revelation.  Dr. Fuller writes, “Only by seeing the whole of God’s purpose in creation and redemptive history can one appreciate God’s individual actions in realizing this purpose.”  The author sees a need to summarize the whole Bible along the time line of redemptive history, instead of getting trapped in timeless categories that have been popularized in the discipline of systematic theology.  The bottom line: God does everything in the creation of the world and its history in order to uphold the glory of his name (Isa. 48:9-11).

Part One

Dr. Fuller maintains the Bible proceeds according to a plan.  Beginning with the creation of the world, it then relates and interprets a series of historical events that lead to the grand climax and goal of the world’s history.  He overviews the formation of the Old Testament canon and points out that God has always been in the business of working for the benefit of his people so long as they trust in him (Isa. 64:4).  The emergence of the New Testament canon is presented with careful attention given to the closing of the Apostolic age.

Part Two

Part two is devoted to explaining the foundations of redemptive history by doing an inductive study of Genesis 1:1-3:24 and by demonstrating God’s necessary work of being a Trinity.  Fuller argues persuasively that God’s purpose in creation and redemption is “that the earth might be filled with the glory of his desire to service people and … to do them good with his whole heart and soul.”  The author proceeds to explain man’s responsibility in responding to God’s purpose and outlines the purpose of hell (for those who fail to respond to God’s purpose) and the riches of God’s mercy demonstrated on the cross.

Part Three

Part three details the Abrahamic covenant and a comprehensive treatment of faith’s futuristic and past orientation is presented.  Specific steps are given for battling attitudes of unbelief.  The author argues that the justified and forgiven sinner always perseveres in faith.  The purpose of the law is also discussed and is seen by Fuller to be in continuum with the gospel rather than in contrast.

Part Four

Part four explain the plan of God in getting the gospel to the world and includes an important discussion on the kingdom of God and the conversion of Israel.

Summary

Dan Fuller writes with clarity and backs his views up with solid biblical theology and thorough exegesis.  The author maintains a Berean mindset as he surfaces key points which challenge my Bible study habits and encourage me to dig deeper.  This book like no other has challenged my thinking in significant ways and has influenced my approach to studying redemptive history and teaching practical issues of the Christian life.  The Unity of the Bible is an underrated masterpiece.  It is a true encouragement for those weary of classical dispensational charts that are riddled with proof texts.  This work offers a better approach – a true biblical theology that is sure to encourage many in the days ahead.

Apologetics and Worldview · BOOK REVIEWS · Discipleship · Theology

THE GOD WHO IS THERE: Finding Your Place in God’s Story – D.A. Carson (2010)

This year I have been teaching my kids the game of baseball. When one stops to consider, there are a lot of rules in this game: three outs, nine innings, four balls, fly outs, tag outs, force outs, relief pitchers, pitch hitters, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, infield fly rule, ad infinitum.

For years I have also been teaching my kids about a much more important subject, namely, the Bible.  The Bible is a little bit like baseball.  Again consider, there is an awful lot of information in the Book!  Commandments and covenants, warnings and worship, promises and parables, sacrifices and substitution, prophets and predestination, tabernacles and temples.  You get the idea.  A little bit intimidating for a rookie Bible reader.

D.A. Carson invites readers to “Spring Training” in his newest book, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story.  He assumes that many readers will “step up to the plate” with little or no knowledge of the Bible.  So unlike most of Carson’s other books, this little gem is designed specifically for new believers and folks who have never been to the “ball park”; folks who are new to the content of the Bible.

Carson begins where the Bible begins – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  His first pitch may be difficult for postmodern people to handle.   God made everything.  He is the Creator.  He is the first cause.  In many ways, the first chapter is one of the most (or perhaps the most important) chapter in the book.  Carson carefully and gently refutes evolutionary theory.  And he shares some simple and undeniable truths about God:

  • God simply is
  • God made everything that is non-God
  • There is only one of him
  • God is a talking God
  • Everything God makes is good – very good
  • God comes to an end of his creative works, and he rests
  • The creation proclaims his greatness and his glory

Carson continues by contrasting the Creator with the creature:

  • We are made in the image of God
  • We were made male and female
  • The man and his wife were innocent

The author clearly delineates the Creator-creator distinction and continues to articulate a biblical anthropology in chapter two.  Man has fallen and has rebelled against a good God.  He makes it clear that sin is more than merely “breaking rules.”  Carson writes, “What is at stake here is something deeper, bigger, sadder, uglier, more heinous.  It is a revolution.  It makes me god and thus de-gods God.”

Sinful man has been separated from God.  Therefore his greatest need is reconciliation and forgiveness.  We need someone to save us from our sins.  The rest of  the book unfolds how God saves sinful people.  Carson skillfully weaves his way through Scripture to demonstrate how God keeps his promise in Genesis 3 and Genesis 12.  The chapter titles give a general idea of the book’s flow:

  1. The God Who Made Everything
  2. The God Who Does Not Wipe Out Rebels
  3. The God Who Writes His Own Agreements
  4. The God Who Legislates
  5. The God Who Reigns
  6. The God Who is Unfathomably Wise
  7. The God Who Becomes a Human Being
  8. The God Who Grants the New Birth
  9. The God Who Loves
  10. The God Who Dies – and Lives Again
  11. The God Who Declares the Guilty Just
  12. The God Who Gathers and Transforms His People
  13. The God Who Is Very Angry
  14. The God Who Triumphs

This book has many strengths worth discussing.  But the chief strength is the author’s ability to present the biblical meta-narrative and make sense of the puzzle pieces that emerge in Scripture.  Carson make a compelling case for the Christian worldview and accurately describes the flow of redemptive history.

The God Who is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story is a book that can be utilized at multiple levels.  Most importantly, the book should be utilized in personal evangelism and small groups.  Video content may be downloaded at http://www.thegospelcoalition.org.

Readers who have never “been to the park” should check out D.A. Carson’s book.  It truly is an invitation to the “big game.”

4.5 stars