BIBLIOPHILE BOOKNOTES: Learn New Testament Greek, Think Biblically! and Other Books I Am Reading

I thought I would share with you more books on my current reading list:

1. Murray, Iain. Evangelicalism Divided. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth. 2000.

2. MacArthur, John. et. al. Think Biblically! Wheaton: Crossway. 2003.

3. Frame, John. The Doctrine of God. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing. 2002.
4. Dobson, John. Learn New Testament Greek. 2nd. ed. Grand Rapids: Baker. 1993. (Picture is of Learn New Testament Greek with CDROM, 3rd ed., but I am actually using the older 2nd. edition).

The Role of Faith in Salvation — John M. Frame

John Frame,

We say that we are “saved by faith” or “justified by faith.” What does that mean? Faith, after all, is something we do. We are the ones who believe, not God. But isn’t salvation entirely of God? Isn’t it entirely by God’s grace? Or is faith the one thing we do in order to merit God’s forgiveness? Certainly not. It’s important to be precise about this, to see what faith does and what it doesn’t do for us.

First, faith is not the ground of our salvation. The ground is what entitles us to eternal life. The sacrifice of Christ is the only ground of our salvation. His righteousness, not ours, entitles us to fellowship with God. Nothing we do is good enough to gain God’s forgiveness and fellowship. Not even our faith is worthy of him.

For the same reason, our faith is never the cause of our salvation. The cause is the power that brings us into relation with Christ. As we’ve seen, this power does not come from ourselves; it comes from the power of the Spirit, making us believe the Word and trust in Christ. We cannot do anything to save ourselves, to bring about our own salvation.

So, what is the role of faith? Theologians struggle for words here, but the word that Reformed theology has settled on is instrument. By this we mean to say that faith, even though imperfect and unworthy, is the means (“instrument” = “means”) by which we reach out and receive God’s grace. Some have compared it to an empty hand reaching out to be filled. As the hymn “Rock of Ages” puts it, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

Rather than tying yourself in knots trying to understand these technical expressions, it is better just to remember that faith is trust. Jesus has died for you; that is your only hope, the only means by which you can be saved. Your faith is simply trust in him. Your trust is not going to earn you anything, but it connects you with Christ, who has earned everything for you.

Taken from “Salvation Belongs to the Lord” by John Frame ISBN 978-1-59638-018-9 pages pp. 192-193. Used with permission from P&R Publishing Co., P.O. Box 817, Phillipsburg N.J. 08865 (Click here to purchase book)

Dr. John M. Frame serves as J.D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

John M. Frame on Cultivating Humility Through Daily Repentance

John Frame,

We need more Christians who will lead lives of repentance, for repentance always challenges pride. If you’re coming to God daily to confess to him how much you have sinned, you will find it hard to pretend that you are holier than everybody else. You’ll find it hard to put on airs, to pose as the perfect Christian. When others accuse you of sin, you won’t immediately jump to defend yourself, as if of course you could never do wrong and any accusation must be a misunderstanding. Rather, when someone accuses you of sin, you’ll respond by thinking there is a high probability that the accusation is true, and you won’t be embarrassed to say, “Oh, yes, I did do that. And I am terribly sorry. Will you forgive me?” If we are able to humble ourselves before God, we will be humble before men as well. And the church will be far better if there are more of us who are like that.

Reprinted from Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by John M. Frame, copyright 2006 P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ. (pg. 199)

Dr. John M. Frame serves as J.D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

John Frame: On the Absolute Authority of God’s Infallible Word

Dr. Frame,

The written Word is the covenant constitution of the people of God, and its authority is absolute, because the authority of its author is absolute.

Without authoritative words from God, there would be no story of redemption. Everything we know about salvation comes through such words. The law that we have broken to deserve hell is a divine word. The gospel that promises forgiveness to those who trust Jesus is also a divine word. And we prove our love by obeying Jesus’ commands—again, divine words.

So without authoritative, divine words, it is quite meaningless to claim that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. As our Lord, he speaks words that we must obey. And as our Savior, he brings a reliable promise, without which we cannot be saved. Without words from God of absolute authority, there can be no gospel and no Christianity.

Absolute authority entails infallibility. A word of ultimate authority is beyond human criticism. We may never judge it to have failed or to have been mistaken. So God’s word in Scripture, as all his other words, must be judged to be infallible and inerrant.

Theologians who try to play down the importance of God’s authority—whether to avoid “patriarchalism,” to promote the freedom of human thought and choice, to allow greater latitude to science and philosophy, or whatever—have lost something that is central to the biblical revelation. Everything in Scripture comes to us as an authoritative communication. Pervasively, Scripture claims our thoughts and decisions. To miss that is in one sense to miss everything, for it is to miss the lordship of Yahweh and the lordship of Christ.

Reprinted from The Doctrine of God by John M. Frame, copyright 2002 P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ. (pp. 91-92)

Dr. John M. Frame serves as J.D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.