Category Archives: Resources

Don’t Waste Your Time Reading Leviticus

If you’re like me and you follow some kind of Bible reading plan, inevitably you arrive at Leviticus.  The plan I’ve been using this year had me in this book for about 2 chapters a day over 2 weeks.  Chapters about clean and unclean, different sacrifices, ceremonial laws regarding priests – in the past I’ve read through it all, but, to be honest, not without much pleasure or profit.  This year I thought to myself:  “How can I make the best use of my time in this part of God’s revelation?  How can I avoid wasting my time as I read this book?” 

There are different ways.  One would be to find a readable and reliable commentary which both explains Leviticus in its original context and also shows how it points to Christ and applies to Christians (if anyone knows of such a commentary, I will allow comments for this post – please do share!).  Another way would be to use the notes in a sound study Bible.  Sometimes those notes can steer you in the right direction.

Another way, which I used this time around, is to find reliable sermons on Leviticus.  If you go to SermonAudio, there are some 3,260 sermons on Leviticus.  I can’t vouch for how reliable all of them are, but I’m sure some of them would be, especially those preached in confessionally Reformed and Presbyterian churches.  However, listening to a sermon on even one chapter of Leviticus could involve a significant time investment.  Some might have that time, but many others won’t. 

For many others, reading a sermon on a chapter or two might be more feasible.  If you go to a website called The Seed, you’ll find 17 sermons on Leviticus.  These sermons are suitable for reading and personal study.  There aren’t sermons on every chapter, but on enough to at least generally read one per day.

The last resource I’ll mention is the Family Worship Bible Guide.  As the title indicates, it was originally written for family devotions, but it can be equally useful for personal Bible study.  Each chapter of the Bible has notes to help Christians understand and reflect on what God is saying to us.  Let me give a couple of examples from Leviticus.  One of the notes on Leviticus 3 reads:

There are significant parallels between the peace offering and the communal meal that believers can experience at the Lord’s Table.  The table is not a sacrifice but it declares the fact of the sacrifice Christ offered that removed every barrier, obstacle, and impediment to our fellowship with God as believers; it declares that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Rejoice in the One who accomplished this on your behalf!

And this is one of the notes on Leviticus 9:

After Aaron offered the sacrifice to the Lord, he lifted up his hand toward the people and blessed them (v.22).  We are reminded of when our Lord “came out” from death and the grave having finished His work.  As He ascended to heaven, “he lifted up his hands and blessed them” (Luke 24:50).  How is the blessing of Christ better than that of Aaron?

The Family Worship Bible Guide is written from a Reformed perspective – it’s both reliable and helpful.  I can’t recommend it enough.

We believe the Bible is clear.  God’s written revelation is not an impenetrable mystery.  However, even Scripture itself says that not all parts of the Bible are equally clear.  Peter famously says that some passages of Paul are “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16).  With Leviticus the passages are not always hard to understand in their original context.  The challenge really comes in understanding their relevance for us as Christians.  We can be thankful that help is available and we ought to avail ourselves of it.    


Some Recommended Links

A very deeply concerning piece of legislation passed Victoria’s lower house today. It has profound implications for all of Australia. This interview provides all the details: Suppression or Oppression? Victoria’s Anti-Conversion Bill.

Meanwhile, here in Tasmania similar legislation is being discussed by the influential Tasmania Law Reform Institute. They have put out a paper on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conversion Practices and are asking for community input. The deadline is January 7, 2021. Concerned Christians should speak up. All the relevant information is here, including a link to the paper.

On the same topic, check out this article by someone who used to identify as gay, but now identifies as Christian: Why Hollywood Praises Elliot Page (and Blacklists Me).

Finally, on something completely different, the Australian Association for Reformed Political Action continues to do good work on a variety of subjects. This past week they issued a research paper on vaccinations, especially in view of the new COVID vaccines just beginning to receive approval in various countries. Solid stuff.


Recommended General Resources for Elders

I created this resource for my elders and I’ll share it here too. These are just general resources about the office of elder — I haven’t included books, etc. that focus on specific elements of the office like home visits, counselling, or church polity.

Books

The Elder: Today’s Ministry Rooted in All of Scripture, Cornelis Van Dam.  Phillipsburg: P &R, 2009.  Paperback, 283 pages.

An excellent biblical study of the office of elder, with many practical pieces of wisdom scattered throughout.  Written by a retired OT professor from the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary.  A full review can be found here.

https://yinkahdinay.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/book-review-the-elder-todays-ministry-rooted-in-all-of-scripture/

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The Elder and His Work, David Dickson.  Phillipsburg: P & R, 2004.  Paperback, 129 pages.

Even though it’s an older book (first appearing in 1883), this one has retained its value over the years.  If you’re going to read just one book on the eldership, make it this one.  It’s not long, plus it’s both practical and biblical.  Dickson was a Presbyterian, but it’s not difficult to transfer what he writes over to a continental Reformed context. 

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With a Shepherd’s Heart: Reclaiming the Pastoral Office of Elder, John R. Sittema.  Grandville:  Reformed Fellowship Inc., 1996.  Paperback, 271 pages.

In every church I’ve served, the elders have studied this book.  It’s a classic.

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Called to Serve: Essays for Elders and Deacons, ed. Michael Brown.  Grandville: Reformed Fellowship Inc., 2008.  Paperback, 274 pages.

This volume is multi-author, with all the writers being pastors/professors who (at that time) hailed from the United Reformed Churches of North America.  Tends to be more on the biblical/theological side, but there are many practical pointers and discussions as well.

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Faithful and Fruitful: Essays for Elders and Deacons, eds. William Boekestein and Steven Swets.  Grandville: Reformed Fellowship Inc., 2019.  Paperback, 306 pages.

A follow-up to Called to Serve with much more practical content.  Our elders are currently studying this one together. 

Websites

–The online edition of a resource created by CanRC pastor Rev. D. Agema. 

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https://headhearthand.org/blog/2011/01/06/the-shepherd-leader/

–A helpful blog post by Dr. David Murray on what it means to lead the sheep, applies to pastors and elders.


New/Old Reformed Apologetics Resources

As a 21 year old young man I was singularly blessed. My introduction to apologetics (the defense of the faith) was directly to Reformed apologetics. In God’s providence, no one told me to read Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig or even Lee Strobel. No, when I came to apologetics, I was brought directly to Cornelius Van Til. My first book on apologetics was Van Til’s The Defense of the Faith (Third Edition). I devoured it over the course of a couple weeks during my first summer off from university. It set my mind ablaze. I started telling everyone who’d listen about Reformed, presuppositional apologetics. You couldn’t shut me up about it.

How I was introduced to Van Til is a peculiar story. It involves a number of Canadian Reformed folks in northern Alberta who were enamoured with a movement known as Christian Reconstructionism. One of the planks of Christian Reconstruction is theonomy. One of the things theonomy teaches is that there is a continuing divine obligation for civil government today “to obey and enforce the relevant laws of the Old Testament, including the penal sanctions specified by the just Judge of all the earth” (Bahnsen, By This Standard, 4). As a young man, I was introduced to this notion and attempted to engage it critically.

However, another plank of Christian Reconstruction is the Reformed, presuppositional apologetics pioneered by Cornelius Van Til. I was reading theonomists and they often mentioned Van Til’s apologetic method. So, one day in mid-1994, I was visiting Reg Barrow at Still Waters Revival Books. SWRB at that time was not only the chief purveyor of Christian Reconstructionism in Canada, but also one of the best sources for Reformed books in general, certainly in Edmonton. At SWRB I spotted Van Til’s The Defense of the Faith. I recalled his name from the theonomists I’d been reading, but was also fresh out of my first year of university and licking my wounds from battles with secularists in academia. I needed this book.

After finishing The Defense of the Faith, I started reading anything else by Van Til I could get my hands on. I noticed that Van Til had students, some better than others. To my mind, there was no better student of Van Til’s apologetics than Greg Bahnsen, especially after I listened to his epic debate with Gordon Stein. I subscribed to Bahnsen’s “Penpoint” newsletters, sent via snail mail back in the day. One thing led to another and, after my B.A., I was even enrolled in the M.A. in Apologetics program at the Southern California Center for Christian Studies for a brief time. However, I didn’t get to study with Bahnsen himself — he died from complications during heart surgery in December 1995.

That was 25 years ago. Over this past quarter-century, Bahnsen’s work on apologetics has been available. Several books were published posthumously, including his magnificent Van Til’s Apologetic. Many of his articles on apologetics (and other subjects) have been freely available all along. But this past week, finally, after 25 years, all of Bahnsen’s recordings are being made freely available (previously only available for sale). This includes all his individual lectures and lecture series on apologetics.

At the moment, you can already download MP3s for free from Covenant Media Foundation here. Apparently, arrangements have been made with two other organizations to also host material from Greg Bahnsen, though the material isn’t yet available. One of those is the Bahnsen Project. The other is Apologia Studios (associated with Jeff Durbin/James White). My understanding is that these two organizations will remaster the audio recordings so they’re of a higher quality.

The other day I heard someone describe our day as a “golden age” for Reformed apologetics. Certainly the wealth of available resources is unparalleled. If you want to learn apologetics from a Reformed perspective, it’s all out there. You are without excuse if you ignore it.

A final disclaimer: Greg Bahnsen was a theonomist — in fact, he popularized the term with his Theonomy in Christian Ethics. By recommending him as a teacher of apologetics, I’m not endorsing every jot and tittle of his political ethics. Still, there’s just no denying the obvious: he was and remains one of the best teachers of Reformed apologetics. Van Til himself is heavy going for many people, but Bahnsen had a way to bring it home. Do yourself a favour and listen to one of his lecture series on apologetics. You won’t regret it!


New Dutch Resource Added

With thanks to Een in waarheid, I have another blog post that’s been translated into Dutch:

Hoe COVID mijn preken veranderde

Sixteen other articles appear on my Dutch page here.