My Recommendations: Books of the Week, September 17 — Drs. Thomas & Toussaint

On September 5 Dr. Stanley D. Toussaint entered glory and the following day Dr. Robert L. Thomas went to heaven as well. Interestingly, both men were born in 1928 (Dr. Toussaint in Minnesota and Dr. Thomas in Georgia). Both also were New Testament scholars majoring on the Gospels, the Book of Revelation, dispensationalism, and eschatology. Dr. Thomas contributed many significant articles to The Master’s Seminary Journal, which he edited from 1990 until 2011. Dr. Toussaint published around twenty-five important articles in Bibliotheca Sacra. Dr. Thomas began his seminary teaching ministry in 1959 and continued full-time until 2008 — he taught first at Talbot Seminary and became the first full-time faculty hire at The Master’s Seminary in 1986. Dr. Toussaint started teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary and continued until his retirement in 2012.

 

As a contributor to ParkingSpace23, I posted Two Fallen Towers and Two Fallen Giants about the two men on September 11. In addition, at Dispensational Publishing I contributed a comment to Remembering Two Great Teachers and then they posted my Reflections on the Life of Robert L. Thomas, Th.D.

Below I have supplied links below to these two scholars’ best published works. Their labors will continue to bless many students of the New Testament for years to come. They were faithful men who loved the churches in which they served. Both men employed sound exegesis to prepare great expositions of the Word of God. Both of these two spiritual giants impacted the lives of literally hundreds and hundreds of students who continue to follow their example. We praise God for these two men, who still speak through the examples they left us and the products of their labors in both lives and published materials.

The photo above shows Dr. Robert Thomas (right) with one of his favorite students, and his boss, Dr. John MacArthur (left), on the occasion of celebrating Dr. Thomas’ 50 years of seminary teaching in 2009.

The photo at left shows Dr. Stanley Toussaint teaching for a YouTube video.

Click on book thumbnails below for links to the books on Amazon — the first three rows are Dr. Thomas’ books and the last two rows are Dr. Toussaint’s books.

The Self-Existence of God: What does it mean? Why does it matter?

When someone uses words like “the self-existence of” anything, it sounds like something philosophical and esoteric. And, with that comment, my philosopher friends just cringe and think, “No one appreciates philosophers.” If I had used the term “aseity,” the reaction might be even more quizzical: “What … ? Get real, man. Let’s just talk about fly fishing or the coming World Series.”

For those of us who believe that God truly exists and truly cares about His creation, God’s self-existence matters — if it exists within the teachings of the Bible itself. As human beings we can involve ourselves in unending speculation and preoccupy ourselves with reading “the white spaces,” rather than simply looking at the print. Philosophical speculation, however, normally falls within the realm of “what if …” — not absolute truth. And, yes, I realize that we’ve just passed through an era (indeed, might still be in it) of nearly wholesale denial of absolute truth. But, I digress. Let’s get on with the topic at hand.

God is self-existent. Why? Because, as God He was not created. He has no source, no maker, no origin. Instead, He Himself is the Creator of all else. God exists from all eternity and to all eternity. Scripture opens with “In the beginning God …” (Genesis 1:1). Moses doesn’t write about the origin of God, but about the origin of the universe. He assumes the existence of God. We might also look at God’s self-description to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God doesn’t defend His existence; He declares His existence. No one else and nothing else caused itself or themselves to exist. Everything and everyone has an origin — except God. He is the only uncaused Cause — something you might have heard in either a theology class or a philosophy class.

The prophet Isaiah provides us with much needed help with regard to why the self-existence of God matters, how it impacts our lives — assuming we believe in a God who truly exists:

  • God alone is God — there is no other. Isaiah 45:5-7, 14, 21-22
  • God alone is Creator. Isaiah 45:18; 48:12-13
  • God’s word alone is true and based upon who He is. Isaiah 45:23
  • God alone is Lord. Isaiah 45:23
  • God alone is completely holy and righteous. Isaiah 6:3; 40:25; 45:24
  • God alone can be trusted completely. Isaiah 44:8
  • God alone can save us from our sins and forgive us. Isaiah 45:21-22

In other words, God’s self-existence makes Him the sole determiner of absolute truth — truth we can depend upon. God is someone we can trust completely. He is always there. Therefore, He will not leave us or forsake us the way others do. Since He alone is completely holy and righteous, He sets the standard for truth, for holiness, and for righteousness or justice. God is the only one who doesn’t fail, default on a promise, run out when trouble comes, lie, or die. He provides us with everything we look for in the character of someone we can rely on. And, that even extends to our great need to be completely forgiven.

Perhaps the writer to the Hebrews summarized all of this best by concluding that our hope finds an anchor in God (Hebrews 6:13-20). That’s why the self-existence of God matters. He provides hope in the midst of a world that is too often rocked by relativism, confusion, hypocrisy, hatred, rejection, violence, and death.

Home with the Lord: Dr. James A. Barrick (1948-2017)

My post on ParkingSpace23’s blog this week expounds 2 Timothy 4:6-8 in regard to my brother Jim’s sudden and unexpected death on August 11. On August 15 I conducted his memorial and graveside services in Cody, WY. Jim had pastored First Baptist Church there for the past 28 years. You can access his obituary here: James A. Barrick. The picture at the right shows Jim in a boat on the Sea of Galilee in April 2015 when his church sent him and his wife Rhoda to Israel on a tour with my church, Placerita Bible Church, as thanks for 25 years of pastoral ministry at First Baptist.

The Garden Tomb became the site for a family picture–Rhoda (Jim’s wife), Jim, yours truly, and Barbara (my wife). No one can visit this site without deep contemplation of the significance of the resurrection of our Savior. Jesus went to prepare a place for us and Jim has arrived there ahead of the other three of us.

At Genesis World most of our group got to ride a camel–either to Abraham’s tent or back from his tent. Jim and Rhoda road a camel to the tent where we experienced a wonderful meal while reclining at the tables. Riding a camel certainly seemed to be quite different than driving his school bus or his old Suburban to and from Meeteetse and Cody (see the link to a newspaper article about that later on this page). But, as with everything else he did, he was game to give it a go–and enjoyed it in the process.

The last Sunday I heard my brother preach was in April 2015 at En Gedi in Israel. I’m only sorry that I didn’t get a better picture of him on that occasion. Jim loved the Lord and His Word. He believed that it was inspired and inerrant. His favorite English version was the old King James Version, which he loved for its rich literary cadences that made it easy to memorize. Our family’s pastor, Dr. John Weidenaar, who led our parents to the Lord in 1962, would be pleased to know that Jim preached the Word so faithfully.

On September 21, 2014 First Baptist Church of Cody honored Jim and Rhoda for 25 years of ministry as pastor of that church. Jim had also pastored for a year in Ennis, MT and was an associate pastor under Dr. Ralph Martin and Memorial Baptist Church in Rockford, IL for 17 years. Jim’s total pastoral ministry experience at the time the Lord called him home amounted to 46 years. Jim served faithfully and filled many roles–pastor, counselor, Christian school administrator, Christian school teacher, Christian camp director, and coach for a variety of sports. The local newspaper published “Team-driving Preacher” about the coaching experience and practices of this remarkable man for whom God allowed me to be big brother.

Blessing–Even in Affliction

Sometimes our lives seem as fragile as a bluebell clinging to its perch on an ancient chapel’s stone wall. The prophet Jeremiah caught the deep emotional pain disobedient Jerusalem must endure as the Lord brings upon her the covenant curses as discipline. Lamentations 3:1-6 reads as follows in the ESV:

I am the man who has seen affliction
under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand
again and again the whole day long.
He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;
he has broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead of long ago.

As I read and meditated on this significant central chapter of the Book of Lamentations, the thought came to mind that, through Christ, the believer’s experience, even in the midst of affliction–be it discipline for disobedience or just refining fire–should be markedly different. Significantly, an interior portion of Lamentations 3 (vv. 19-33) focuses on the steadfast love and mercy of God. Thankfully, we, unlike Jeremiah’s lament on behalf of disobedient Jerusalem, might sing the following (a psalm of my own composition attempting to reflect the truths of Scripture texts reflecting similar terminology and phraseology):

I am the one who has seen blessing
even in affliction–a
he has removed his wrath and protects me with his rod.b
He has brought me out of darkness
into his glorious light;c
surely his good hand is upon me
again and again the whole day long.d
He has made my flesh dwell secure;
he has healed my bones–
and kept each one from breaking.e
The LORD surrounds me all day long
and preserves me amidst shouts of deliverance.f
He is my lamp and has turned darkness
into his marvelous light.g

Footnotes:

a Genesis 33:11; Psalms 21:3-7; 144:15; Romans 4:5-9; Ephesians 1:3

b Psalms 23:4; 85:1-3; Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9

c 2 Samuel 22:29; Job 33:28-30; Psalms 27:1; 112:4; Isaiah 9:2; 42:16; Micah 7:8-9; John 8:12; Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Peter 2:9

d Ezra 7:6, 9; 7:28; 8:18, 22, 31; Nehemiah 2:8, 18; Psalm 111:7; Isaiah 49:2; Matthew 8:3

e Job 19:26; Psalms 16:9; 34:19-20; 51:8; 73:26; Proverbs 3:7-8; Isaiah 58:10-11

f Deuteronomy 32:10; 33:12; Psalms 31:21; 32:7, 10; 125:2

g 2 Samuel 22:29; Job 29:3; Psalms 107:13-15; 112:4; Isaiah 9:2; 42:16; Micah 7:8; John 8:12; 12:35-36; Acts 26:17-18; Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 5:7-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Peter 2:9

My Recommendations: Book of the Week, July 9

No greater subject for our contemplation exists aside from Jesus Christ Himself. We all need to spend significant time meditating on our Savior’s work and His role in our world, our life, and our future. John Owen’s classic, The Glory of Christ: His Office and Grace, will profoundly impact your life. It is not an easy read, because of the richness of its topic and the depths that Owen plumbs. This edition provides definitions for old English terms that have gone out of use to help the reader understand him better. Occasional boxes provide summaries and charts organizing some of the key observations. Consider just a few of the jewels to be gleaned from this superb work on Christ:

  • “The revelation made of Christ in the blessed gospel is far more excellent, more glorious, and more filled with rays of divine wisdom and goodness, that the whole creation and the just comprehension of it, if attainable, can contain or afford.”
  • “he knows not Christ, he knows not the Gospel”
  • “It is in Christ alone that we may have a clear, distinct view of the glory of God and his excellencies.”
  • “all our present glory consists in our preparation for future glory”

Click on picture for link.

My Recommendations: Book of the Week, June 26

Pastoral leadership in corporate worship requires both passion and wisdom. John Newton was just such a pastor. He not only pastored his church through his sermons and letters, he also wrote worship-filled hymns. Beyond Amazing Grace: Timeless Pastoral Wisdom from the Letters, Hymns, and Sermons of John Newton, compiled and edited by J. Todd Murray, breathes the rarified atmosphere of the Word of God through a man of God. Newton’s pastoral example and words will rekindle spiritual fire in the reader’s own heart and life. D. A. Carson wrote of this book, it “deserves to become a classic in confessional evangelical spirituality, on par with Andrew Bonar’s Memoirs of M’Cheyne.”

Click on picture for link.