BOOK REVIEWS

Maturity: Growing Up and Going on in the Christian Life – Sinclair Ferguson

matSinclair B. Ferguson, Maturity: Growing Up and Going On in the Christian Life (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2019), 231 pp.

In a style that Christians have grown fond of, Sinclair Ferguson gifts the church with Maturity: Growing Up and Going On in the Christian Life. Originally penned in 1980 and distributed with the title, Add to Your Faith, and in 1981 as Taking the Christian Life Seriously in the United States. To refer to this short work as a treasure would be an understatement as Dr. Ferguson presents the high points of the Christian life.

The high points are set forth in five sections, namely, growing up, standing firm, facing difficulties, pressing on, and maturity. At the heart of Ferguson’s work is the Pauline mandate for Christ-followers to be mature in Christ: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Ferguson adds, “The mature Christian has been finely shaped by the Holy Spirit and has been ‘filled out’ in a character which showed the fruit of the Spirit. Mature Christians possess the qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, because he alone has exhibited them perfectly. This is maturity.” As such, we are not only “bound to the example of Christ, we are under the lordship of Christ.”

Each of the five sections assumes that readers desire to grow in Christian maturity. With the divine standard in place, the author carefully explains how maturity develops throughout the course of our lives. The various themes that emerge in these sections are deeply biblical and profoundly practical. Christians at all stages of maturity will benefit from Ferguson’s sound exegesis and practical application.

Maturity: Growing Up and Going On in the Christian Life truly lives up to its calling and invites readers to press and continue the sanctification process that was initiated at the point of conversion.

Highly recommended.

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

For more information in Banner of Truth titles, please visit https://banneroftruth.org/us/

BOOK REVIEWS

Some Pastors and Teachers – Sinclair Ferguson

fergSinclair Ferguson, Some Pastors and Teachers. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2017, 802 pp. $45.00

The day that Sinclair Ferguson’s new book, Some Pastors and Teachers arrived, I was like a kid in a candy store; a monkey in a banana factory; a shark in blood-infested waters. Gazing at the table of contents caused my heart to race, which is a testimony of my deep love for the church, theology, and pastoral ministry.

It was immediately apparent that Dr. Ferguson was attaching a high degree of importance to the past by acknowledging some of the great pastor-teachers in church history – men like John Calvin, John Owen, John Murray, and the Puritans.

Some Pastors and Teachers is a mixture of biography, systematic and biblical theology, and pastoral theology. Ferguson writes with theological precision and pastoral compassion and experience. He writes with a gravitas that is both weighty and inspirational.

While each of the thirty-nine chapters are commendable in their own right, chapter thirty-seven, was especially meaningful to me. Ferguson argues with great force that “all truly biblical preaching is preaching to the heart.” This kind of preaching is marked by several characteristics:

  1. A right use of the Bible which must first be directed to the mind. Ferguson adds, “When we preach to the heart, the mind is not so much the terminus of our preaching, but the channel through which we appeal to the whole person, leading to the transformation of the whole life.
  2. Nourishment of the whole person. Ferguson makes it clear that spiritual nourishment must be carefully defined: “There is a difference between a well-instructed congregation and a well-nourished one.”
  3. An understanding of the condition of hearers.
  4. The use of the imagination.
  5. Grace in Christ.

This behemoth of a book is filled with rich material that promises deep pastoral encouragement, comfort, and instruction. This “doxological Calvinism” is the best of all worlds. Such a theological framework strengthens minds, nourishes hearts, and ultimately equips pastors to feed, lead, love, and protect the flock – all for God’s glory.

Biography · BOOK REVIEWS · Calvinism · Church History · Puritans

THE TRINITARIAN DEVOTION OF JOHN OWEN – Sinclair Ferguson (2014)

aowenThe Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson is the latest installment in the Long Line of Godly Men Profile Series, edited by Dr. Steven Lawson.  Ferguson presents a readable introduction to the most well-known Puritan, John Owen.

The book includes five chapters which overview Owen’s life and theological commitments.  Chapter one focuses on his life as a pastor and theologian.  Owen’s upbringing is discussed and his pastoral experience is surveyed.  Additionally, the author touches on Owen’s tenure as vice-chancellor at Oxford University.

The remaining chapters overview Owen’s theological framework which focuses more narrowly on his robust doctrine of the Trinity.  Sinclair Ferguson carefully summarizes Owen’s pursuit of the God in all his glory as expressed in the three persons – Father, Son, and Spirit.  Ferguson adds, “To become a Christian believer is to be brought into a reality far grander than anything we could ever have imagined.  It means communion with the triune God.”  The author demonstrates how Owen regarded the Trinity as a chief cornerstone of the Christian faith.  Numerous primary sources are cited and explained.  In addition, Dr. Ferguson provides helpful analysis along the way.  He beautifully captures the essence of John Owen’s devotion to the Trinity.

The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen is a perfect introduction for the beginning student of the Puritan divine.  But this work is also suitable for veteran students of Owen as well.  Ferguson bring his typical scholarly approach to the table but writes with the heart of a pastor/shepherd.  This work should help revive further interest in Puritanical studies and is a welcome guest at the table of these godly men.  My hope is that Ferguson’s work will catapult readers to Owen primary sources – a practice which is certain to encourage, edify, and equip a new generation of Christians.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review. 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS · Theology

NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES – Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson (2013)

1433537753_l“Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?”  These were among the first words I heard from the lips of Dr. John G. Mitchell, founder of Multnomah School of the Bible – recently renamed Multnomah University.  I’ll never forget the time Dr. Mitchell walked up to me, a man in his mid 80’s with clenched fists and asked if I wanted to fight!  Joking of course, the elder Scotsman truly loved the student body at Multnomah.  Not many months before he went to be with the Lord, we were instructed to stop applauding him as he took to the lectern.  The sound of 800 students clapping jangled his nerves and wreaked havoc on his hearing aids.  So in those last days, we merely stood as a sign of respect as the great teacher made his way to the preachers desk.  “Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?” he would ask, with a glimmer in his eye.  He would challenge us with fiery passion to preach Christ faithfully and  to pursue holiness – all to the glory of God.  Dr. Mitchell would constantly encourage us, “I want you to know the glory of the Savior.”  He knew the Savior; he knew the saving benefits of his cross-work; and he wanted everyone to experience the same.  He wanted us to know the name above all names, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson, who like Dr. Mitchell also hail from Scotland have an identical passion.  They want the world to know, embrace and worship –  The Name Above All Names.  The Crossway title is a solid offering that explores some core components of Christology.  The authors do not intend to present a full-orbed Christology; rather their aim is to present seven snapshots that concern the person and work of Christ:

1. Jesus Christ, the Seed of the Woman

2. Jesus Christ, the True Prophet

3. Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest

4. Jesus Christ, the Conquering King

5. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man

6. Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant

7. Jesus Christ, the Lamb on the Throne

The book while intensely theological, is written is a devotional tone that is suitable for beginners and veterans of the Christian faith.  Like Dr. Mitchell who went before them, these Scottish writers have a passion for Christ that needs fanning in America.  Perhaps the flicker will turn into a flame!

BOOK REVIEWS · Theology

BY GRACE ALONE: How the Grace of God Amazes Me – Sinclair Ferguson (2010)

Sinclair Ferguson unpacks God’s amazing grace in his newest book, By Grace Alone.  He traces the depth of God’s grace by means of the general themes of E.T. Sibomana’s excellent hymn, “O How the Grace of God Amazes Me.”

Ferguson chronicles how the grace of God transforms the people of God.  His approach is rooted in Reformed theology which is Christ-centered and cross saturated throughout.  He lingers on key doctrinal areas which magnify the grace of God.

By Grace Alone reminds us of sola gratia, one of the five sola’s that was revived by the Protestant Reformers.  It reminds us of depths of the Gospel and the freedom and forgiveness that Christ promises for anyone who repents of sin and believes.

4 stars