Review: Robert A. Peterson’s Salvation Applied by the Spirit: Union with Christ (Crossway)

Union with Christ was integral in the soteriology of the Reformers, and especially that of Calvin. As Marcus Peter Johnson notes in One With Christ, “when Calvin wrote of being united to Christ, he meant that believers are personally joined to the living, incarnate, crucified, resurrected Jesus...this union with Christ, which Calvin described in strikingly graphic and intimate terms, constituted for him the very essence of salvation. To be saved by Christ, Calvin kept insisting, means to be included in the person of Christ. That is what salvation is” (Johnson 12, emphasis original). And it wasn't just a heady doctrine, either; for the Reformers, union with Christ had multifaceted implications for the life of the believer and the life of the Church. Many, myself included, can attest to a fundamental change in personal spirituality as well as approach to life and ministry upon discovering and plunging the depths of the doctrine of union with Christ. I've therefore been delighted by the steady stream of excellent books on the topic in recent years (e.g. R. Letham, J. Billings, M. Johnson, C. Campbell, G. Macaskill, etc), many written from a Reformed perspective. Naturally, I was very eager to read the latest offering from Robert Peterson, Salvation Applied by the Spirit: Union with Christ.

Structurally this book is similar to the volumes in Crossway's Theology in Community series, with a bulk of the book (twenty chapters in this case) providing a sweeping overview of what the entire Bible has to say about the topic. Then a chapter is devoted to a biblical theology of union with Christ, followed by seven chapters treating the doctrine from a systematic perspective.

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Review: Mike Cosper’s The Stories We Tell

Some Christians are allergic to the surrounding culture whether that’s books or tv’s or movies. Before Mike Cosper submerges the reader into the pursuit of understanding these cultural artifacts, in the Foreword Tim Keller says,

[In] the end, learning this discipline—of seeing God’s story in the stories we tell today—will be a way for us to deepen our own understanding of and joy in the gospel we believe. (12)

That’s what most Christians must understand before they might be willing to give this kind of cultural handiwork a fair hearing. Knowing the cultural stories you are already submerged in assists in seeing God’s story with clarity. Cosper calls stories “a great gift from a great storytelling God” (25 also see 216)—and he’s right. That’s the heart of what Cosper is striving for and what he achieves.

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Review: Michael Horton’s Calvin on the Christian Life

Jean Calvin. Perhaps instead: John Calvin. The man behind the soteriology that bears his name. Author of commentaries on a majority of the Bible. Author of one of the most important systematic theologies in Christian history, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Despite the impact he has had his history has been lost amidst theological debates that often occur over coffee and beer.

If it sounds like this review is a little more personal than my normal work that’s because it is. John Calvin is a hero to me. Reading his Institutes brought to life for me the full wealth of Christian theology. I can say with no deceit that I would not be where I am right now except for the life changing thought of this man. Because of this, it has pained me to his theology boiled down to TULIP.

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Review: Gloria Furman’s Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full

I am a busy mama. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve the three kiddos whom I adore, the husband I love and care for, dedication to serving my church and up until recently full time work outside of my home as a university accountant. I’m a busy mama. Try as I might, reading the many books I purchase just doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Most nights I collapse in bed exhausted with “just one more hug and kiss!” still ringing in my ears. So when Mathew asked if I would be interested in reviewing a book for him I jumped at the chance because I knew the only way I would finish a book is if someone else was depending on me to do it. What grace to me that the book was Gloria Furman’s Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Mamas. I just have to laugh at how applicable that title is to my own life.

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Review: Andreas Köstenberger & Justin Taylor’s The Final Days of Jesus

The Final Days of Jesus walks steadfastly towards the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t veer to the left or to the right. And it succeeds in driving us towards Jesus as we go along for the journey.

I’ve had this one for a few weeks, but was saving it for holy week to use as a personal devotional of sorts. It refreshed my soul and reminded me of my Savior during the week and drew my attention afresh to the activities of the Savior so that I could meditate on him.

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Review: Jared C. Wilson’s The Storytelling God

The Storytelling God approaches the parables through Jesus and kingdom spectacles. “The rightful king has landed, and he is leading an insurrection against the pretenders to his throne” (17) and “The glory of Christ is to be had in the parables, provided the parables are had at all” (21). These loci help Jared see the “mosaic of God’s vision” in the variety of genres within all of Scripture (22), while also avoiding a “literary scavenger hunt” (28) as he examines the parables’ meaning. Some who are great theologians, but don’t have much if any literary chops, miss this. They’re searching for a direct one for one in all these stories, when they should be hearing and understanding the one main point of that parable. They should be interpreting them for what they are. Instead of wringing these parables dry of every last ounce of “meaning.”

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Review: Paul Miller’s A Loving Life

A Loving Life is an winsome exposition of Ruth through the lens of God’s covenant love. “‘[A]t the heart of love is incarnation that leads to death” Miller explains. “Death is at the center of love. It happened to Jesus. It happened to us’” (11). “Suffering is the crucible of love,” Miller says. “We don’t learn to how to love anywhere else. Don’t misunderstand; suffering doesn’t create love, but it is a hot-house where love can emerge” (19).

Love colors Miller’s exposition of Ruth in A Loving Life. It’s a focus that by necessity drives us into the narrow land where we will run headlong into Jesus Christ.

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