BOOK REVIEWS

Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter – Thomas Schreiner (2018)

schreinerThomas R. Schreiner, Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2018), 172 pp.

The subject of spiritual gifts is an ongoing topic in the church that often times generates more heat than light. The matter of the sign gifts, in particular, is especially controversial. Continuationists set forth arguments in favor of the sign gifts. And advocates of cessationism do the same, marshaling arguments in the opposite direction. It is not unusual for the two sides to polarize, leading brothers and sisters in Christ in opposite directions.

Thomas R. Schreiner’s book, Spiritual Gifts: What They Are & Why They Matter offers a different approach, which seeks to unify continuationists and cessastionists. Alert readers will notice that Dr. Schreiner dedicates the book to three well-known continuationists: Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and Sam Storms. They are referred to as “Beloved friends and coworkers in the gospel of Christ.” So immediately, it is apparent that Schreiner has motives which are virtuous and seek to unify.

The author begins by noting the general strengths and weaknesses of the charismatic movement. This delicate task is done in a humble, tasteful manner.  After establishing the pros and cons of the charismatic movement, Schreiner launches into a discussion that concerns the spiritual gifts. He defines these gifts and offers ten foundational truths that help establish their importance.

The sign gifts are discussed in general as Schreiner presents the nature and significance of the gift of tongues in particular. Additionally, the author familiarizes readers with some erroneous arguments for cessatioinism. But the book concludes with the central argument for cessastionism. Schreiner writes, “The basis for cessationism is the claim that the church was ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ (Eph. 2:20). This argument is developed and convincingly presented.

Whether readers agree or disagree with the presentation and conclusions of the author, all will appreciate his careful exegesis, humility, and desire to build bridges with brothers and sisters whose hearts yearn to please the Lord.

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

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.
Biblical Theology · BOOK REVIEWS · Calvinism

THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments – Thomas R. Schreiner (2013)

The King In His Beauty by Tom Schreiner is a book about biblical theology.  But my suspicion is 0801039398_bthe author would agree enthusiastically with my assertion that the book is a worship manual.  Schreiner’s work weighs in at 646 pages.  Each page is filled with heart-warming theology and mind-stretching propositions.  But when the work is considered as a whole – it is, in the final analysis a worship manual.

The book is arranged in nine parts.

Part 1: Creation to the Edge of Canaan

Part 2: The Story of Possession, Exile, and Return

Part 3: lsrael’s Songs and Wisdom

Part 4: Judgment and Salvation in the Prophets

Part 5: The Kingdom in Matthew, Mark, and Luke-Acts

Part 6: Eternal Life in the Gospel and Epistles of John

Part 7: The End of Ages Has Come According to the Apostle Paul

Part 8: Living in the Last Days According to the General Epistles

Part 9: The Kingdom Will Come

Schreiner makes it clear that Redemptive history is going somewhere: “The Scriptures promise that there will be a new heaven and a new earth – a new creation where the glory of God will illumine the cosmos.  So, the kingdom of God has a threefold dimension, focusing on God as King, on human beings as subjects of the King, and the universe as the place where his kingship is worked out.”

The author demonstrates over and over again that Christ is the King; Christ intends to fulfill his promises; that the offspring of the woman will be the Victor; he will triumph over the serpent through the son of David (Gen. 3:15).  He reiterates the theme that runs throughout the Scripture, namely, the theme of judgment followed by salvation.  But the most penetrating reality in Schreiner’s work is the main truth he wishes to communicate, namely, the people of God will see the King in his beauty.

This is the book I’ve been searching for since my days as a Seminary student.  For years, I was taught the distinctives of classical Dispensationalism that saw two peoples of God, a distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven, a rigid distinction between Israel and the church, and a pre-tribulational rapture.  Schreiner is not content to rest in the land of classical dispensational theology, a terrain that is filled with horrible hermeneutics and wacky exegetical propositions.   He moves forward and as far as I can tell, lands squarely in a historical premillennial arena.

One paragraph in particular is worth citing; a paragraph that has ended a thirty year search for answers to the dispensational dilemma.  Schreiner writes, “The coming of Jesus Christ means that the old covenant, the Sinai covenant, has passed away, and the new covenant has become a reality.  The promises of Abraham are being fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Now inclusion in the people of God is not restricted to Israel but is open to both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus.  Those who trust in him are truly children of Abraham (emphasis mine).  Those who belong to Jesus Christ and who have received the gift of the Spirit are truly circumcised.  Those who are members of the new creation are the new and true Israel of God.  In the church of Jesus Christ the worldwide promises given to Abraham are becoming a reality, for Jews and Gentiles are one body in Christ, equally members of the people of God together” (p. 642).

Schreiner also clears up the essence of the land promises that are a major part of the dispensational warp and woof: “The new new heavens and the new earth fulfill the land promise given to the patriarchs, but now the promise encompasses the entire universe” (p 617).

The King in His Beauty is a fitting companion to recent works that have also jettisoned classical dispensational distinctives, namely, Kingdom Through Covenant by Gentry and Wellum and God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment by James Hamilton.  Indeed, it is an essential part of every pastoral toolbox.  But “toolbox” is the wrong metaphor.  The King in His Beauty is a treasure chest.  Readers who open this treasure chest will be immediately struck with the majesty, sovereignty, and the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ!  Open the worship manual and respond rightly with God-centered worship!

Highly recommended