Book Reviews

Richard Baxter’s, “The Reformed Pastor” published by, “The Banner of Truth” is just as relevant today as it was in 1651.

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Richard Baxter’s, “The Reformed Pastor” published by, “The Banner of Truth” is just as relevant today as it was in 1651.  It is a timeless classic of Christian writing and should be in every Pastor’s library and read by every Christian.  This book was written to address problems Baxter saw with his contemporaries.  He was going to address them with a speech, but fell ill.  Instead, he wrote to them, the words recorded in this book.  Some Pastors were unbelievers, some were, cold intellectuals with great educations, others were passionate, but not qualified to serve as Pastors, yet still others were just as crass and base as the carnal world they wallowed in.  Baxter took them all to task, and not just them, but himself also.

Don’t be mistaken.  This book is not a polemic, but a call to repent and be a loyal and true servant of God.  The work is broken down into three chapters.  Chapter one, “The oversight of ourselves” starts as a check up or a self-diagnostic per se.  Baxter effectively brings to light the necessity of a Pastor being truly regenerated.  Then, he warns Pastors about pitfalls of bad practices, as well encourages them.  Chapter two, “The oversight of the flock” is just that.  Instruction on how to perform the vocation dutifully for the Lord’s service and man’s benefit.  If it weren’t full enough of good applicable information, then comes chapter three, “Application.”  This Chapter is the largest of the book, and encompasses the most directly applicable information for Pastors.  The book in its entirety, convicts, informs, and exhorts.

Some of you might be concerned that this book will be difficult to read due to it being in Modern English. (like the King James)  I want to assure you that it was not a difficult read.  Baxter put much emphasis on being comprehensible.  He encourage the Pastors of the time to employ language and nomenclature that the common man would readily understand.  With that in mind, Baxter wrote.  This book, at times might slow you down, but not excessively or without easy remedy.  

One of the points that grabbed my attention and seemed anachronistic was his preaching against Pastors using their positions as a means to easy and comfortable lives.  It brought to mind many of the Television Pastors living in sixteen thousand square foot palatial homes, while owning fleets of private jets.  I guess bilking the hurting and needy in the name of God has been around for a long time.  That is why it, “seemed” anachronistic when it actually wasn’t.  

There is so much in this book to like.  I found myself underlining and highlighting entire sections.  It is extremely relevant for today, just as I am sure it was for the time in which Baxter wrote.  It reminds me of, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan, but only for Pastors and from the perspective of a Pastor.  That being said, there are theological notions that Baxter held that I do not affirm.  He held to a sort of middle way when it came to soteriology.  He wasn’t Arminian and he wasn’t Reformed.  While I may not hold to Baxter’s theological convictions, I did thoroughly enjoy this book and will probably read it again and again over the years to come.  You can purchase your copy from the Banner of Truth here, or Amazon here, and finally Christianbook here.

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Richard Baxter, Oversight of the Flock, Motives to this Oversight. Feed my Sheep.

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Pastors have a duty to Christ, and His bride.

John 21:15-17 NASB So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.” (16) He *said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” (17) He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.

When we are healthy and well trained, we will go out and preach the gospel, each and every one of us.  If we are malnourished and uneducated, we will be ill equipped to engage in the great commission.  The Church will grow when we go out and evangelize.  The cross will always be offensive to the lost.  There is no way to make such a brutal thing, that denies self-righteousness appealing to the lost.  They must hear it and see it in all of its gory detail, and be humbled.  Those who have been saved see the beauty and love of their Saviour through this.

Here is what Richard Baxter had to say about the oversight of the flock in his book, “The Reformed Pastor.”

3. The third motive in the text is drawn from the dignity of the object which is committed to our charge. It is the Church of GOD which we must oversee – that Church for which the world is chiefly upheld, which is sanctified by the Holy Spirit, which is the mystical body of Christ, that Church with which angels are present, and on which they attend as ministering spirits, whose little ones have their angels beholding the face of God in heaven (Heb. 1:14, Mt. 18:10). Oh what a charge is it that we have undertaken! And shall we be unfaithful to it? Have we the stewardship of God’s own family, and shall we neglect it? Have we the conduct of those saints that shall live for ever with God in glory, and shall we neglect them? God forbid! I beseech you, brethren, let this thought awaken the negligent. You that draw back from painful, displeasing, suffering duties, and put off men’s souls with ineffectual formalities, do you think this is honorable treatment of Christ’s spouse? Are the souls of men thought meet by God to see his face, and live forever in heaven, and are they not worthy of your utmost cost and labor on earth? Do you think so basely of the Church of God, as if it deserved not the best of your care and help? Were you the keepers of sheep or swine, you would scarcely let them go, and say, They are not worth the looking after; especially if they were your own. And dare you say so of the souls of men, of the Church of God? Christ walks among them: remember his presence, and see that you are diligent in your work. They are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, to show forth the praises of him that has called them (I Peter 2:8-9).” And yet will you neglect them? What a high honor is it to be but one of them yes, but a door–keeper in the house of God! But to be the priest of these priests, and the ruler of these kings – this is such an honor as multiplies your obligations to diligence and fidelity in so noble an employment.
4. The last motive that is mentioned in my text, is drawn from the price that was paid for the Church which we oversee: “Which God,” says the apostle, “has purchased with his own blood.” Oh what an argument is this to quicken the negligent, and to condemn those who will not be quickened to their duty by it! “Oh,” says one of the ancient doctors, “if Christ had but committed to my keeping one spoonful of his blood in a fragile glass, how curiously would I preserve it, and how tender would I be of that glass! If then he have committed to me the purchase of his blood, should I not as carefully look to my charge?” What! sirs, shall we despise the blood of Christ? Shall we think it was shed for them who are not worthy of our utmost care? You may see here, it is not a little fault that negligent pastors are guilty of. As much as in them lies, the blood of Christ would be shed in vain. They would lose him those souls which he has so dearly purchased.
Oh, then, let us hear these arguments of Christ, whenever we feel ourselves grow dull and careless: “Did I die for these souls, and will not you look after them? Were they worth my blood, and are they not worth your labor? Did I come down from heaven to earth, to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10);” and will you not go to the next door, or street, or village, to seek them? “How small is your condescension and labor compared to mine. I debased myself to this, but it is your honor to be so employed. Have I done and suffered so much for their salvation, and was I willing to make you a fellow–worker with me, and will you refuse to do that little which lies upon your hands?” Every time we look upon our congregations, let us believingly remember that they are the purchase of Christ’s blood, and therefore should be regarded by us with the deepest interest and the most tender affection. Oh, think what a confusion it will be to a negligent minister, at the last day, to have this blood of the Son of God pleaded against him; and for Christ to say, ” It was the purchase of my blood of which you did make so light, and do you think to be saved by it yourself?” O brethren, seeing Christ will bring his blood to plead with us, let it plead us to our duty, lest it plead us to damnation.
I have now done with the motives which I find in the text itself. There are many more that might be gathered from the rest of this exhortation of the apostle, but we must not stay to take in all. If the Lord set home but these few upon our hearts, I doubt not we shall see reason to mend our pace; and the change will be such on our hearts and in our ministry, that ourselves and our congregations will have cause to bless God for it. I know myself to be unworthy to be your monitor, but a monitor you must have; and it is better for us to hear of our sin and duty from anybody than from nobody. Receive the admonition, and you will see no cause in the monitor’s unworthiness to repent of it. But if you reject it, the unworthiest messenger may bear that witness against you another day which will then confound you.

Book Reviews

A Review of, “A Guide to Christian Living” by the Protestant Reformer John Calvin, as Translated by Robert White for The Banner of Truth Trust.

A Review of, “A Guide to Christian Living” by the Protestant Reformer John Calvin, as Translated by Robert White for The Banner of Truth Trust.

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This book is an excerpt of the beginning of, “Book 3, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1560 French edition.” It is 140 pages long. It has a short introduction providing some background information about John Calvin and his, “Institutes.” It also explains Calvin’s purpose in writing, “Book 3” His purpose is also made clear in this book’s title. At the end of the book are, the endnotes, and indexes of scripture references, as well as subjects. This book is published by The Banner of Truth Trust. It is printed by Versa Press Inc., of East Peoria Illinois USA. The font is a very legible 10.5/13.5 Adobe Caslon Pro typeset. It is available in print, e-pub, and Kindle.

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I found the paper to be very thick and easy to highlight. It is covered in green faux leather. The cover is decorated with a perimeter channel, image of Calvin, and the title stamped in it to resemble tooling.

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The spine looks to be sewn and glued.

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It has the title stamped parallel to the spine, John Calvin under that, and The Banner of Truth’s logo at the foot. Overall I found the book to be well constructed and easy to read.

If you are familiar with the works of Calvin, you’ll recognize this when you start reading it. Unlike many of his Latin works that were translated into English, this translation seems less formal and verbose. Due to that fact it lends itself to devotional reading. It works well for that purpose, and gives you something to ponder while you go about your day. I found myself nodding my head in agreement several times and wondering what other sections of Calvin’s works could be arranged as devotionals. It was very refreshing to read something scriptural in Modern English. As of late, the choices have been dismal.  Most devotionals in Modern English are full of extra-biblical revelations, or pseudo-self-help drivel. People have been feasting on cotton candy theology and as a result are malnutritioned.  Reading something that makes you truly consider what is being communicated is stimulating.  You have to engage your head and your heart, not just one or the other.  People say that Calvin is to dry, but if you read his work, you will see his passion for God come through.

My copy of Spurgeon’s, “Morning and Evening” is a bit too large to carry with me to work. This book is much smaller. I can fit it in my pocket. The paper is very thick and heavy, not like Bible paper at all. Highlighting and underlining works well. I was underlining and highlighting sections to quote on social media later on. This way you don’t have to mark up your nicer complete volume of Calvin’s Institutes.  This little book, unlike many devotionals, is more durable it stands up to being carried about.

I recommend this for personal devotions as well as a gift to the newly born again. I think it will aid them in getting their foundational doctrines in order. It can be purchased directly from The Banner of Truth, or you can purchase it from, Christianbook.com as well as Amazon.com.

To see all the pictures I took visit my flickr page.