Exciting Times at Puritan Reformed Seminary

As you can see from the pictures below, exciting things are taking place at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Students are back on campus, classes have commenced, and the building project is in full swing.

Although it only seems like yesterday that the present 20,000 square foot building was completed (2005 actually), we are already bursting at the seams. Additional professors, additional distance learning and library staff, and, above all, an increasing number of students from North America and overseas have put huge pressure on office, lecture room, and study space. We’re therefore,expanding the current facility by approximately 18,000 square feet to give us larger classrooms, 75% extra library space, several new offices, room for additional student carrels, enlarged student cafeteria and more. Click here to see a PDF of the architect’s conceptual drawings.

Expansion costs are approximately $3.1 million (including furnishings and IT), of which we have about $2.3 million collected. That’s been a fantastic achievement, but it’s also meant that our operating find has taken a major hit as donations have focused on the new building fund. If you have a love for Reformed, experiential doctrine and piety, and wish to train students from North America and all over the world to go out into the world with the Gospel of sovereign grace, please consider partnering with the Seminary. To donate online or for more information simply visit INVESTING IN PRTS or email our Development Director, Chris Hanna <chis.hanna@puritanseminary.org>

Or come and visit us. Dr Beeke or I would be delighted to show you around and share the Seminary’s vision of a Reformed Church in every city of the world.

Simple, Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire

Simple, Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire

Simple, Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire

Simple, Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire

And here’s the artists’ impression of what it will look like when it’s finished.Seminary Plan

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Children’s Bible Reading Plan

Here’s this week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books. Further explanation of that here.

Old Testament

New Testament

Biblical Counseling and the Sufficiency of Scripture

A Review of Chapter 6: The Sufficiency of Scripture by Steve Viars and Rob Green in Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling.

As I’ve said before, I think the book as a whole is tremendous, and a must-have resource for anyone involved in pastoral ministry. However, I also said that there were a couple of weaker chapters and I’m afraid this is one of them. There’s still really good stuff in it, but it’s lacking in some key areas.

The chapter starts with a moving story about Andrew Viars, the special-needs son of Steve Viars, one of the authors of this chapter. Andrew has suffered with a long list of physical challenges and disorders throughout his life, even recently being diagnosed as having multiple seizures every day.

So, when the authors ask, “Is the Bible sufficient for people with physical problems?” you know it’s not a merely theoretical or academic question. It’s a very real question that Steve has clearly wrestled with.

The chapter then moves from the “nature” question to the “nurture” question and asks, “Does our belief in the sufficiency of Scripture lead us to conclude that shaping influences in days gone by or instances of present suffering are unimportant?”

I was encouraged to see these two great questions posed right up front, because in many ways, they get to the heart of present-day debates about what the sufficiency of Scripture means.

The authors then set the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture in its historical context of being part of the protest of the reformers against the Church of Rome who did not think the Bible was sufficient without their own interpretations and additions. It’s so important to recognize this historical context for this doctrine – not opposing science, but rather opposing the view of Scripture held by the Church of Rome.

The chapter then lists the claims the Word of God makes about its sufficiency:

  • The Bible has all we need to draw us to Christ
  • The Bible has all we need to help us order our affections
  • The Bible has all we need to explain our identity in Jesus
  • The Bible has all we need to reveal the motivations of our hearts
  • The Bible has all we need to change into the image of Christ
  • The Bible has all we need to find our hope in eternity

This is a clear and helpful list, and I love the way Steve weaves his son’s story throughout to illustrate each point. However, I’d like to suggest a couple of areas that need a bit more thought.

First, take the area of ordering our affections. I totally agree with the authors, that we have responsibility to exercise faith in God’s Word in a way that re-orders our affections, and that the Bible is an incredibly powerful  force for good in this area. However, even if we didn’t have the benefit of all the research about the relationship between food and mood, we all experience the way certain foods or eating habits can impact our affections. There is a physical element to at least some of our affections at least some of the time. PMT, tiredness, brain injuries, and some brain, gland, and organ disorders, can also have a significant impact upon our affections.

I’d like to have seen a greater recognition here that at least some feelings, at least some times, have at least some physical component to them that requires more than Scripture to fix. To me this does not undermine the sufficiency of the Scripture, unless the Bible claims to be sufficient to order all our affections, which I don’t believe it does. Instead, the Bible claims to be sufficient to reorder the spiritual element of our affections, which is usually the majority, but not the totality, of our emotions. With such serious long-term health issues, I presume Drew takes some medications which, to some degree, helps stabilize him?

Second, what about the Bible’s sufficiency for changing us into the image of Christ? Part of the image of Christ in us is realized in our various vocations. In our daily work, we image Christ as we serve Him and do our work to Him. However, that means that we have to train and learn using manuals, courses, mentoring, etc., none of which we find in the Bible. The pilot is not imaging Christ if he tries to fly a plane based on Isaiah 40:31.

Another part of our imaging Christ is in caring for our bodies, which also involves researching training programs, diets, nutrition, etc. Again, this does not undermine the sufficiency of Scripture, because the Bible does not claim to have everything we need to pursue godliness in our careers, health-care, etc.

Clarification and Negation
Sometimes I worry that by overstating the sufficiency of Scripture, by claiming more for Scripture that it claims for itself, we risk losing this precious doctrine. Take this summary statement on page 98 as an example:

But God has given him (Drew) and us a Bible that is sufficient. He truly offers all we need for life and godliness.

No doctors?  No medications? No scans? No physical therapy? No child health experts?

Of course not. That’s why such statements should be followed with important clarifications and negations. “Now that does not mean…We’re not saying…etc.” Otherwise people end up thinking either we don’t mean what we say or we don’t do what we say. Or, even worse, they give no credit whatsoever to the sufficiency of Scripture.

Previous Posts in this Series

Introduction to Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling
John Piper on Biblical Counseling
Charity and Clarity in Counseling
The Counselor’s Role in the Holy Spirit’s Counseling
Is the Trinity Relevant in Counseling?
Counseling and the Grand Narrative of the Bible

Top 50 Books on Christ in the Old Testament

I’m often asked to recommend books on Christ in the Old Testament. Here’s a bibliography of 50 of the books I consulted in writing Jesus on Every Page. They are in alphabetical order by author. I’ve put a double asterisk (**) beside my favorite books on the list. Any others you’d recommend?

ADAMS, JAMES E., War Psalms of the Prince of Peace. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed,, 1991.

BARRETT, MICHAEL P., Beginning at Moses. Greenville, SC: Ambassador-Emerald, 2001. **

BEEKE, JOEL and SELVAGGIO, ANTHONY (eds), Sing a New Song. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010.

CHAPELL, BRYAN, Redeeming the Expository Sermon. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

CHAPELL, BRYAN, Christ-centered Preaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005. **

CLOWNEY, EDMUND, The Unfolding Mystery. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1988. **

CLOWNEY, EDMUND, Preaching Christ in All of Scripture. Illinois: Crossway, 2003. **

DE GRAAF, S.G., Promise and Deliverance (4 vols). Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1977.

DILLARD, RAYMOND AND LONGMAN , TREMPER, An Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

EDWARDS, JONATHAN, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 9, A History of the Work of Redemption. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989. **

DREW, CHARLES, The Ancient Love Song. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2000. **

FAIRBAIRN, PATRICK, The Typology of Scripture, 2 Vols. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1989. **

FAIRBAIRN, PATRICK, The Interpretation of Prophecy. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1993.

FRANCE, RICHARD T., Jesus and the Old Testament. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1998. **

GOLDSWORTHY, GRAEME, According to Plan. Illinois: IVP, 1991. **

GOLDSWORTHY, GRAEME, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. **

GORDON, ROBERT, Christ in the Old Testament, 4 Vols. Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications, 2002. **

GREIDANUS, SIDNEY, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. **

GREIDANUS, SIDNEY, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text. Leicester: IVP, 1988.

HANSON, ANTHONY T., Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. London: SPCK, 1965.

HENGSTENBERG, ERNST W., Christology of the Old Testament, 2 Vols. London: T & T Clark, 1875.

HOWARD, DAVID M., Interpreting the Historical Books. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2006.

KAISER, WALTER C., The Uses of the Old Testament in the New. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001. **

KAISER, WALTER C., Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.

KAISER, WALTER C., Messiah in the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985. **

KEACH, BENJAMIN, Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Kregel, MI, 1972.

KENT, KISSLING, AND TURNER (eds), Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching. Downer’s Grove: IVP, 2010.

LAW, HENRY, Christ is All, 5 Vols. Staffs, England: Tentmaker Publications, 2005.

LEVEBVRE, MICHAEL, Singing the Songs of Jesus. Tain, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2010. **

MACARTHUR, JOHN, The Jesus You Can’t Ignore. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008.

MASTERS, PETER, Not like any other book. London: Wakeman Trust, 2004.

MATHEWSON, STEVEN, The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.

MERRILL, EUGENE H., A Kingdom of Priests. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.

PENNY, ROBERT L. (ed), The Hope Fulfilled. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2008.

POYTHRESS, VERN S, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1991. **

PRATT, RICHARD L., Designed for Dignity. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2000. **

PRATT, RICHARD L., He Gave Us Stories. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1993. **

ROBERTSON, O. PALMER, The Christ of the Covenants. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1980. **

ROBERTSON, O. PALMER, The Christ of the Prophets. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2004.

ROBINSON, HADDON, Biblical Preaching. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001.

ROBINSON , HADDON AND LARSON,CRAIG BRIAN  The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching: A Comprehensive Resource for Today. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

RYDELNIK , MICHAEL, The Messianic Hope. Nashville: B&H, 2010.

RYKEN , LEYLAND AND LONGMAN III, TREMPER (eds), The Complete Literary Guide to the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993.

SELVAGGIO, ANTHONY, A Proverbs-driven Life. Wapwallopen: Shepherd Press, 2008.

STEPHEN, JONATHAN. Close Encounters with the Son of God. Epsom: DayOne, 1998. **

STEWART, ALEXANDER, The Tree of Promise. Edinburgh: W P Kennedy, 1864.

STUART, DOUGLAS, Old Testament Exegesis. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

VAN GRONINGEN, GERARD, Messianic Revelation in the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1990.

WALVOORD, JOHN F, Jesus Christ Our Lord. Chicago: Moody, 1969.

WRIGHT, CHRISTOPHER J. H., Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament. Illinois: IVP, 1992. **

YOUNG, EDWARD J., My servants the prophets. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001.

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