Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday School Reading - April 5, 2009

Here is some recommended additional reading from Sunday School yesterday. This week we began to discuss matters of eschatology by examining the importance of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as a once-for-all work of the ascended Lord Jesus and discussed how the presence of the Spirit frames the already but not yet of Christian life.

Last quarter we tried to show how our discussion tied in with the Westminster Shorter Catechism. While the Shorter Catechism does not deal very much with eschatology we can see in the Larger Catechism how the Assembly did understand that the coming of the Holy Spirit introduced a new era in redemptive history:
Q32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?
A32. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provides and offers to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promises and gives his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he has appointed them to salvation.

Q38. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God?
A38. It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that he might sustain and keep the human nature from sinking under the infinite wrath of God, and the power of death; give worth and efficacy to his sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and to satisfy God's justice, procure his favor, purchase a peculiar people, give his Spirit to them, conquer all their enemies, and bring them to everlasting salvation.

Next week we'll mention where the topics that we discussed are examined in Reformed systematic theologies but since our study was more biblical theological in nature this week here are some book recommendations on the person and work of the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson - I recommended this book a few times in the last quarter and it is still probably the best book out there on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. There are a few chapters in here that deal with both the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and the redemptive historical and eschatological aspects of his coming at Pentecost. Dr. Ferguson's discussion is very helpful and if you want to have a book on the doctrine of the Spirit on your shelf then this is the one you want.

Knowing the Holy Spirit through the Old Testament by Christopher J.H. Wright - Dr. Wright has written a number of books on biblical theology. In this book, he surveys the Old Testament to show how the Third Person of the Trinity is revealed there pointing to his full revelation and coming in the New Testament.

The Work of the Holy Spirit by Abraham Kuyper - This book divides into three sections. The first section surveys the work of the Third Person of the Trinity in the Old Testament and his activities therein and then leads up to the importance of his coming at Pentecost in the New Testament. The book is available for free through Google Books with the link provided above. I will mention that in the second section of the book Kuyper advocates eternal justification, which is the idea that God never looks at the elect as condemned but always views them as just. We reject this view of justification so take what Kuyper says there with a grain of salt. Feel free to e-mail me if you're curious about why we do not hold to eternal justification.

Finally, here are some articles and essays that you can read online for free on these topics:

"The Spirit of God in the Old Testament" by Benjamin B. Warfield
"Luke's Presentation of the Spirit in Acts" by F.F. Bruce
"Pentecost: Before and After" by Richard B. Gaffin Jr.
"The Holy Spirit and Eschatology" by Richard B. Gaffin Jr. - If you only read one of these articles make sure that it is this one. It is not the easiest read but it is well worth the effort put in.
"The Eschatological Aspect of the Pauline Conception of the Spirit" by Geerhardus Vos - Much of what Dr. Gaffin has to say in the above article is related to this earlier article by Vos. That said, while Gaffin's work is not a simple read Vos' is even denser and will be slower going through. If you can take the time to read this one twice and try to absorb it but I would recommend starting with the Ferguson book and the Gaffin article before tackling this.

As a footnote, the question did come up yesterday on how the Holy Spirit was present in the lives of the Old Testament saints. If you want to think and read more about this then I would recommend Richard Gaffin's book, Perspectives on Pentecost.

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