There never seems to be any shortage of books being published. Thankfully some among them are genuinely excellent. It’s common at this time of year to look back at the best books of the year. It can be a useful exercise. Here are the best books published during 2019 from Second Reformation authors.
Naturally, we could highlight more than one or two Reformation Scotland resources but we will look at what others have produced instead.
1. Be Reconciled With God
These 12 rare sermons have not been printed for almost 300 years. But they still communicate the fervour of a young preacher who made the deepest possible impact within the two years of ministry he had. They are packed with both simple and profound thought communicated with almost tangible passion and highly recommended. There are sermons with evangelistic appeal as well as those that reach the hearts of believers with a uniquely penetrating power.
They display an unusual spiritual maturity in handling the matters of eternity and how things ought to go with our souls.
We have obtained the following special discounts exclusively for Reformation Scotland readers.
UK Customers: Buy it for
£24.95 £14.36 using the code ref.scot2019.
North America: Buy it for
$30 $15 using the code BERECONCILED50OFF.
2. The Sum of Saving Knowledge
‘The work which I think first of all wrought a saving change in me. How gladly would I renew the reading of it, if that change might be carried on to perfection’ – Robert Murray M’Cheyne
This book offers is a clear brief statement of key truths that relate to salvation followed by a rich and warm practical application of them. Every professing Christian, whether possessing or lacking assurance, and all ministers should know the key points of saving knowledge, and they should know where to turn for such instruction. Anyone may beneﬁt from The Sum of Saving Knowledge. Ministers will find it helps them better declare the fulness of salvation.
Too often people in all kinds of churches assume that professing Christians have a ﬁrmer and clearer grasp on such truths than they really do. The Sum is a sure guide in relation to the matters of salvation, and anyone can return to it regularly with great beneﬁt. To grow in both appreciation and appropriation of it is to grow in ‘the life and marrow of religion’.
The Sum of Saving Knowledge is frequently overlooked because it has been included in editions of the Westminster Confession. It stands on its own here with an extensive introduction and is highly recommended.
3. Hope during desperate times
We live in desperate times—in moral and in other concerns. Things are also collapsing in on themselves spiritually in terms of widespread decline in what the professing Church believes and the standards by which it lives. But William Guthrie shows that our problem is not just living in a time of destruction, but self-destruction. We may be concerned about moral deterioration in society, but also need to see ourselves as personally implicated. Where can we ﬁnd hope? It is only in that God is able to help those who have destroyed themselves. As Guthrie puts it: ‘the Church of God in her lowest condition may warrantably look and wait for help from God’.
This book provides encouragement despite being realistic about the times in which we live. It’s spiritual counsel remains as relevant today as ever in our own challenging context.
4. Advancing Christian Unity
In John 17, Jesus prayed for the unity of the church. Yet today, we tend to accept disunity as inevitable. In this book, Anthony Burgess calls us to addresses the spiritual and visible unity that Jesus desires for His people.
Anthony Burgess ministered in a period of division. He became involved in a project to unite the whole of the British Isles in the same doctrinal standards and church order. It was a unity that prioritised the truth. Besides the Westminster Assembly, he engaged in important defence of vital doctrines such as justification, original sin and the moral law.
In expounding John chapter 17 Burgess emphasises both the spiritual and visible unity that should exist within the Church. It is not a man-made unity that compromises the whole counsel of God. Burgess deals realistically and honestly with the divisions that exist amongst Christ’s people and the reasons for them. He does not accept that lack of unity is inevitable but boldly calls it what it is according to Scripture: sin.
Burgess gives practical counsel in this area in demonstrating the spirit that Christians ought to have one to another. He will not allow us simply to show regret and concern but do nothing about the divisions of the Church. We are under the strongest obligations, not only to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ (Psalm 122:6) but also to do what we can. In the following extract from his sermons on John 17 he shows the attractiveness of unity.
5. Preparing for eternity
‘make timely preparation for death and judgment’ – Alexander Nisbet
The signs of bodily decline in ourselves and others are a call to young and old to prepare for eternity. There may be sudden degeneration through severe illness or gradual deterioration. It reminds us that the best time to prepare for our long home is now when we have a measure of strength and health.
This is a book for young and old, whether in good or poor health. We must prepare for eternity and we cannot put this off until we think it is imminent. We cannot guarantee that we will have the ability to do this in the time of sickness or old age. Ecclesiastes 12 urges this wise instruction through striking pictures of physical decline. Alexander Nisbet draws out the way in which this spiritual wisdom applies urgently to each one of us.
Intended as a brief exposition for the ordinary reader. Nisbet prepared his exposition of Ecclesiastes for publication during his final years.
Stop Press! The Covenanters
This has literally just been published. Subtitled ‘A History of the Church in Scotland from 1540 to 1690’ this is the classic and definitive history of the period. It comes in two large volumes of painstaking research but the story is told in an accessible way. It is accurate and carefully weighed history not mere hero worship. If you are looking for something to progress to having read other shorter books giving an overview of the period these volumes are a must have.
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