Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sunday School Reading - December 7, 2008

Here is some recommended reading from this week's Sunday School class. This week we discussed the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, focusing first on his person and then beginning our discussion on the application of redemption. I recommended a number of books on the Holy Spirit last week (including two that you can borrow from the church library). I'll only mention two of those books again this week. Also, I'm only going to recommend two books on the ordo salutis (order of salvation) and refer to the relevant sections over the next few weeks. I will mention papers and books on the specific parts of the application of redemption but I think that either of those books will be a sufficient introduction (though this week I do not have any additional books as I think that the works by Murray and Hoekema are great on this topic and it is heavily covered by Calvin, Bavinck, and A.A. Hodge).

Here are the catechism questions for this week. First on the Holy Spirit and then on the application of redemption:

Q4. What is God?
A4. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

Q5. Are there more Gods than one?
A5. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Q6. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A6. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Q29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A29. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Q30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A30. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Here are some book recommendations:

The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson - I mentioned this book last week and I want to reiterate that this is the best book that I have found on the Holy Spirit. Dr. Ferguson is both academic and pastoral and this book addresses a number of topics including the person and activity of the Holy Spirit, the meaning and nature of the Pentecost event, the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation (ordo salutis), and the gifts of the Spirit.

Father, Son, and Spirit: The Trinity in John's Gospel by Andreas Kostenberger and Scott Swain - This is another book that I have recommended before and want to bring back up. The main reason that I recommend this one here is because of the high value of Kostenberger and Swain's work on the Upper Room discourse where we get the most detailed doctrine about the Holy Spirit from the teaching of Christ.

Redemption: Accomplished and Applied by John Murray - I keep bringing this book up and now we want to focus on the second half of the book (the application of redemption). I will list this book and the below book every week from here through the end of the fall quarter (December). In particular this week you want to look at Part 2, Chapters 1 and 9 (the order of application and union with Christ) regarding our class this week.

Saved By Grace by Anthony Hoekema - This is the other great book that is also used in Systematic classes that deal with soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). Hoekema focuses in particularly on the application of redemption (or the second half of Murray's work). I do think that Murray's book is better but this book by Hoekema is also very good and to be honest is easier to read. For this week you probably want to read the first four chapters (through union with Christ). I will give that Hoekema's discussion of Union with Christ is probably better than Murray's on this particular point.

Justified in Christ: God's Plan for us in Justification ed. by Scott Oliphint - Another book that I have recommended in that past. I want to recommend this book here in particular for Lane Tipton's article on union with the resurrected Christ (the second article in the book). This is just a fantastic article. I could not find the article online to save you the cost of the whole book.

Next we see that these topics are all covered in the recommended systematic theologies. As we noted, Calvin orients all of the benefits of salvation as being given in union with Christ and the whole of book 3 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion are based on this. In particular you want to look at Chapter 1 of that book. Herman Bavinck writes about the activity of the Holy Spirit in Volume 4 (Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation) of Reformed Dogmatics. From here on out all of our recommendations in Bavinck will be from this volume. That said, for this week he writes about the person of the Holy Spirit in Volume 2 (God and Creation), Chapter 8, and union with Christ Volume 3 (Sin and Salvation in Christ), Part IV. A.A. Hodge deals with Union with Christ in Chapter 28 of his Outlines of Theology (available free at Google books).

Finally, here are some articles that you can read online on these topics:
"The Spirit of God in the Old Testament" by B.B. Warfield
"The Holy Spirit" by Charles Hodge
"The Holy Spirit" by Edwin Palmer
"The Divinity of the Holy Spirit and of the Son" by Robert Lewis Dabney - Note that this is Chapter 15 of Dabney's excellent Systematic Theology. I've mentioned before that when reading Dabney we do have to remember that he was certainly guilty of a very visible sin in his support of slavery in the southern States. That said he was a great theologian who was blessed with an outstanding mind and understanding of the Scriptures and his support of slavery reminds us that we all will have errors in our interpretations of Scriptures (this is why we say that the church in Confessional, not in the since that we hold to the Confessions above Scripture, but in that we hold to the church's public confession of what Scripture teaches above our own private interpretation). Both men belong particularly to our heritage as Southern Presbyterians. I do think that anyone who wanted to purchase his Systematic Theology or print it from where it is available online would be quite blessed in reading it - in many places I find him much more consistent than either of the Hodges who are better known and read. His collected writings are available in the church library. Perhaps I will put a post up on Dabney in the future.
"A More Perfect Union: Justification and Union with Christ" by John V. Fesko - I will be recommending Dr. Fesko's new book on Justification when we discuss that doctrine. He is outstanding on this topic.
"Union with Christ" by Michael Horton
"In Christ, With Christ" by Herman Ridderbos - This is an excerpt from his book on Paul's theology.
"Union to Christ" by Robert Lewis Dabney - This is also taken from his Systematic Theology.

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