- File Size: 3555 KB
- Print Length: 252 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Free Grace Press (May 28, 2016)
- Publication Date: May 28, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01GAW3QDE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
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The Kingdom of God: A Baptist Expression of Covenant Theology Kindle Edition
|Length: 252 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||
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There are two parts. Part one is a little longer and more theologically polemic (yet generous) than part two. In part one, Johnson reveals baptist covenant theology primarily through the lens of the dichotomous nature of the Abrahamic covenant. This was extremely well written, and successfully accounts for the contrast between the physical/spiritual seed that thematically runs throughout scripture.
Part two is a beautiful expression of biblical theology. Johnson commits roughly 100 pages to a simple narration of the whole storyline of scripture from a reformed baptist covenant presupposition. This was an enjoyable read. This part, in particular, is something I would recommend to those who are new to covenant & biblical theology.
Unfortunately there were several silly grammatical errors throughout. Perhaps a future new edition will use an editor that cleans up those careless mistakes.
For some two thousand years since Christ's incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, the church of Christ has had its ups and downs because of the guilt of sin and the corruptions of flesh inherent in every human being since Adam's disobedience toward a holy God. These days, there is so much out there that calls itself Christianity that is NOT Biblical Christianity, that Jeff Johnson's book, THE KINGDOM OF GOD: a Baptist Expression of Covenant & Biblical Theology, is an oasis in a wasteland; a well of refreshment as we weep and grieve and struggle in the valley of Baca.
Except for the works of Bunyan and Spurgeon and a select handful of others (who have all passed into glory many years ago), rarely will I read the works of an author more than once. Jeffrey D. Johnson has been added to my personal list re-readables. His book, THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and his earlier book, The Church, Why Bother?, are two of his titles that stand proudly on my ready-reference bookshelf in my home office, next to my worn and cherished copy of John Bunyan's THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS and my favorite works of C. H. Spurgeon.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD is not a long book, but it is deep and wide. Dr. Johnson brings forth serious theological thought without being overly academic. The points he ponders and presents are as deep as anything John Owen has written, in my humble opinion, yet they are accessible to every child of God. Like my favorite authors, Bunyan and Spurgeon, author Johnson has a pastor's heart and desires Christ's sheep to draw near to the Master in the Biblical truths that sanctify and uplift the humble reader. His passion for Christ's person and work run passionately through the pages of this book and because of the gospel back of every chapter and every thought, Jeff Johnson makes theology palatable for the everyman. In that regard, he reminds me of Richard Hawker, who points to Christ in everything, whose brevity speaks volumes. Jeff says more in 278 pages than others writing 1200 pages, and have said much less. Because of that, every Christian believer will benefit from this book; and I believe that it is a must-read for every Baptist believer, whether they are Reformed in theology or not. The perspectives gained from the insights contained therein are, as the back of the dust jacket states, "CLEAR, COHESIVE, [and] HISTORICAL."
If you have read this far in my review, you will have obviously gathered that I most highly recommend this book. I read through it twice since I got my copy in September and I'm sure I will read it again as I can hear many of the truths expounded by Pastor Johnson spilling forth in my own sermons on Sunday mornings and evenings.
The only negative thing I can say about this book is that it is not yet in paperback or on Kindle eBooks. I would love to see this work reach as wide an audience as possible.
But something still wasn't right. The predominate teaching in the reformed world is from the Presbyterians. And while I can accept their church practices (though I cannot agree with them), I could not see how they made the church equal to the nation of Israel. This perspective, and a couple others closely related to it, cause our Presbyterian brothers to view virtually all Scripture as applicable to the church. It was the complete opposite of what I was taught in my dispensational churches, where there is near complete separation between the church and the nation of Israel. Neither system made sense to me.
By the providential hand of God, the early part of the 21st century has brought us a renewed interest in historical Baptist views. While several very good books have been written in this rather large field, the one that made the biggest impact on me was The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism, by a man who has become a dear friend to me, Jeffrey D. Johnson. That book made a very clear, biblical argument against the underlying theology of paedobaptism and introduced me to an historic and biblical Baptist view of covenant theology. This title, plus a couple of books on biblical theology (a process that keeps systematic theology from losing its place in Scripture - biblical theology is the contextual study of what the Bible says. The historic, redemptive context of a passage provides more clues to its meaning than anything other than related Scripture.), were foundational in helping me the Word of God even more clearly.
And now, much to my joy, our brother and servant of God, Jeff Johnson, has written another book: The Kingdom of God, A Baptist Expression of Covenant and Biblical Theology. Rather than a polemic pointing out the errors of paedobaptist theology (in an effort to convince Baptist to stay in the camp and comprehend a better view of the covenants), Jeff's new book is a focused apologetic in favor of the historic Baptist view of covenant theology and biblical theology.
Is this stuff important? While it's not as important as a biblical comprehension of who you are and who is the Christ, it is pretty important stuff. Because it will help the reader see the importance of approaching the Scriptures with humility rather than with unexamined presuppositions that subtly influence your understanding of what you read. When we open the Bible, we are taking into our minds the Word of God. The right fear of God and humility because we rightly see ourselves are essential attitudes for certain understanding of His Word and the covenants revealed therein. Charles Spurgeon went as far as to say, "The doctrine of the covenant lies at the root of all true theology. It has been said that he who well understands the distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, is a master of divinity. I am persuaded that most of the mistakes which men make concerning the doctrines of Scripture are based on fundamental errors with regard to the covenants of law and grace"
Johnson's writing style is straight forward and easy to read. The main focus on his study of covenant theology is the Abrahamic Covenant and the duality therein. Failure to see the continuity as well as the discontinuity would leave one embracing paedobaptist theology on the first hand or dispensationalism on the other. From an early chapter in his new book, "In one sense, the debate between the continuity and discontinuity of the Old and New Covenants centers on the true identity of the people of God and the relationship between Abraham's physical seed and Abraham's spiritual seed, which returns us to the original question. Who are the true people of God? Are God's people "the nation of Israel"? Are the people of God "believers and their seed?" Are the people of God "believers only?" Are God's people some sort of combination of the two groups? The differing answers given to this question are what separate these theological positions from one another."
He ends this section of the book with an examination of the covenant theology revealed in the book of Romans, showing how the Apostle who wrote Galatians was consistent in his theology, even when it went against his deepest human concerns.
The second part of the book is relatively short introduction to biblical theology which makes this topic approachable by any child of God. The historical record from Scripture shows the rise and fall of kingdoms and peoples, all of which were brought to pass to deliver, preserve, and protect the promised Seed. Creator God is the God of means as well as ends. Biblical theology helps us see His hand of providence in history and keeps us from falling into the error of thinking man is in charge of his own destiny.
There is a BONUS appendix in this book, where brother Johnson takes a quick look at The New Perspectives on Paul. Some who are impressed with the wisdom of man have been swept away by this new view; Jeff shows us why the wisdom of God is to be trusted - even in the face of all the king's men with all their advanced degrees. The biblical Apostle Paul, not the one found in The New Perspectives, told us he did not come to us with brilliance of speech or wisdom, for he didn't think it was a good idea to know anything among us except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He came to us in weakness, in fear, in much trembling. His speech and proclamation were not with impressive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that our faith would not rest on the wisdom of men but on God's power.
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