Luke: Reformed Expository Commentary

Excerpt taken from Luke, 2-Volume Set by Philip Graham Ryken


away in a Manger

Luke 2:1–7

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6–7)

Death and taxes. Nothing demonstrates the worldly power of nations more clearly than their ability to take people’s money and send them off to war. And when it comes to taxation and militarization, few nations have ever wielded comparatively more power than the Romans. TheLuke Roman army ruled the Mediterranean world, and this enabled Roman officials to collect revenue from all parts of their empire. To this day, we call paying our taxes “rendering unto Caesar” (see Luke 20:25).

The imperial power of Rome was consolidated by Octavian, who was famous for defeating Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, and who was the first Caesar to receive the august title of emperor. Octavian was so powerful that he achieved godlike status in parts of the Roman Empire. Indeed, an inscription at Halicarnassus hails him as the “savior of the whole world.”1

This Octavian is the Caesar we meet at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. He was then at the height of his powers, and Luke describes him doing what the Romans did best: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town” (Luke 2:1–3). All it took was a word from the emperor, and people thousands of miles away were set in motion. Every man in every province had to be registered—almost certainly for the purpose of levying taxes. According to Tacitus, Octavian kept the grand totals by hand, and according to Justin, writing in the second century, the census of Quirinius could still be viewed in Rome.2 No taxation without registration—this was a basic principle of Roman government.

onCe, in royaL david’s City

In chapter 2 Luke shows the far reach of Caesar’s power, and also its undoing. As Kent Hughes describes it, Octavian’s “relentless arm stretched out to squeeze its tribute even in a tiny village at the far end of the Mediterranean. Thus it came about that a village carpenter and his expectant teenage bride were forced to travel to his hometown to be registered for taxation.”3

Although Caesar would never know it, he had unleashed a chain of events that would turn the whole world upside down, for among the millions who had to register was a man named Joseph, with his fiancée Mary. This one little family, seemingly swept up in the tide of earthly power, gave birth to a son who would rule the world. Mary’s song was starting to come true: “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:51–52). God was taking Caesar’s pawns and moving them to checkmate, so that the real Savior would stand alone as the King of kings.

The Roman registration required every man in Israel to return to his ancestral home: “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child” (Luke 2:4–5). Here David receives double mention. Luke has already told us that Mary’s child would be David’s son. The angel said that God would “give to him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32). Zechariah said that God would raise up a savior in “the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:69). Now Luke tells us that Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, came from the royal line of David.

The grand purpose of these statements is to establish the child’s credentials. In order to fulfill the promise of salvation, Jesus had to be a direct descendant of King David (cf. Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8). Joseph’s lineage also explains why he took his family to Bethlehem. Bethlehem was “the city of David”—the hometown of the ancient king—and thus the place where Joseph was required to register. This was another part of the old promise: the Savior had to be born in Bethlehem. In the words of the prophet Micah, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (Mic. 5:2). To qualify as the Savior, Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem.

What is so ironic is that God used Caesar to get him there! Proud Octavian became the unwitting servant of the divine plan. David Gooding writes: “For Augustus the taking of censuses was one of the ways he employed to get control over the various parts of his empire. But—and here is the irony of the thing— in the process, as he thought, of tightening his grip on his huge empire, he so organized things that Jesus, Son of Mary, Son of David, Son of God, destined to sit on the throne of Israel and of the world, was born in the city of David, his royal ancestor.”4 What at first appeared to be a great show of Caesar’s power actually proved the supremacy of God’s sovereignty. Even Caesar’s decree was part of the divine plan. God rules all things for his own glory. This is true not only for the great events of salvation history, but also for the ordinary events of daily life. God is working out his will, and he will see that he gets the glory in the end, even in spite of the things that we do.

Luke tells us where Jesus was born so that we can be sure of his credentials as the Savior. Yet some scholars deny that this part of the Gospel is historically reliable. L. T. Johnson says that Luke “has the facts wrong,”5 and Raymond Brown claims that his “information is dubious on almost every score.”6

One objection is that apart from the Bible, there is no record of a universal registration that spanned the entire Roman world. In response, it should always be remembered that the Bible is a record of historical events, and needs to be respected as such. Furthermore, when Luke speaks of the emperor’s decree, he may be referring to a general policy rather than to a specific census, and it was indeed Caesar’s law to count and tax his subjects. Another objection is that it would have been impractical to require everyone to return to his hometown. Yet we should not underestimate a tyrant’s willingness to inconvenience people. Furthermore, a universal tax census would have been feasible in an age when most people spent their whole lives close to the place where they were born, and it would have been all the more necessary in Israel, where people’s identity was so closely tied to their heredity.

A more serious objection is that Quirinius did not take a census until a.d. 6, which does not fit the chronology of Jesus’ life. Luke was well aware of that census, and in fact mentions it in Acts 5:37. But he was also aware of another census—one taken perhaps a decade earlier. Undoubtedly this is why he specifies that Jesus was born during “the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria” (Luke 2:2). Some scholars reject this solution because they say that Quirinius did not even become governor until A.D. 6, so there was no time for an earlier census. Yet there is also evidence that he served an earlier term in office.7 In any case, we may be sure that Luke knew more about all this than modern scholars do. There is no reason to deny or even to doubt that he has the facts straight.

no vaCanCy

As Luke tells the true story of the nativity, he shows the contrast between the worldly power of Caesar and the apparent weakness of the baby Jesus. But there is another contrast we ought to notice—the one between the welcome Jesus deserved and the one he was actually given. Although he was the son of David and the true king of Israel, Jesus hardly received a royal welcome.

To understand what an indignity this was, we simply need to remember who Jesus was (and is!). Luke describes him as Mary’s firstborn son (Luke 2:7), but he was more than that! By the power of the Holy Spirit, the child in the virgin’s womb was the very Son of God. He was “the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15), with a unique status as God the one and only Son. He was the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He was the Creator of the universe, the Maker of heaven and earth. He was the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Supreme Ruler of all that lives. He was the Second Person of the Trinity, the only begotten Son, the radiance of the Father’s glory. By his divine nature, he shared in the full perfection of God’s triune being. This baby—born in Bethlehem—was the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, and all-glorious Son of God.

What kind of welcome did he deserve? Jesus deserved to have every person from every nation come and worship him. He deserved to have every creature in the entire universe—from the fiercest lion to the tiniest insect—come to his cradle and give him praise. He deserved to have the creation itself offer him worship, with the rocks crying glory and the galaxies dancing for joy. He is God the Son, and anything less than absolute acknowledgment of his royal person is an insult to his divine dignity.

But what kind of welcome did he receive? What accommodation was he given? Luke tells us, “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6–7). Here is another irony of the incarnation: when the Son of God came to earth—the Maker of the universe in all its vast immensity—he couldn’t even get a room!

Most people have some notion where Jesus was born, but some of our ideas are incorrect. The Bible says that there was no room for him at the inn, but what does this mean? Some scholars think that the biblical term (katalyma) refers to a private dwelling, possibly one owned by Joseph’s relatives. More likely it refers to a guesthouse where groups of travelers slept in a common room.8 Such lodgings were fairly primitive in those days, so the Bethlehem inn was hardly a Motel 6, let alone a five-star hotel. In all likelihood it was squalid and dirty, especially by contemporary standards.

On this particular night, the inn was so crowded that there was no room left for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Without blaming the innkeeper or anyone else who was there that night, the fact is that there were no vacancies. So Mary and Joseph took the next best accommodation they could find, which was out with the animals. Perhaps they were stabled in another room, or another building, or even outside in the yard. One early Christian tradition, dating back at least to the second century, maintains that Jesus was born in a cave. According to Justin Martyr: “Since Joseph had nowhere to lodge in that village, he lodged in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there, Mary brought forth the Messiah and laid him in a manger.”9 This is not unlikely. In those days people often stabled their animals in caves like the ones in and around Bethlehem. But in any case, Mary and Joseph were sleeping with animals. We know this because the Bible mentions the manger, which was a feeding trough for livestock, probably not made of wood, but hollowed out of the ground.

This is where the Son of God was born. It was uncomfortable enough to sleep there, but imagine trying to give birth in such a place, and for the first time. This is part of what it meant for Mary to follow through on her promise: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). It meant traveling nearly a hundred miles, either on foot or by donkey, during the later stages of pregnancy. It meant the anxiety of having labor pains in a strange city. It meant suffering her child’s messy entrance into the world. It meant wiping him clean, tearing clothes to bundle him, and then praying that he would live. Kent Hughes vividly imagines the “sweat and pain and blood and cries as Mary reached up to the heavens for help. The earth was cold and hard. The smell of birth mixed with the stench of manure and acrid straw made a contemptible bouquet. Trembling carpenter’s hands, clumsy with fear, grasped God’s Son slippery with blood—the baby’s limbs waving helplessly as if falling through space—his face grimacing as he gasped in the cold and his cry pierced the night.”10

When people sing of the Savior’s birth, they call it a “silent night.” But as Andrew Peterson has written in his song “Labor of Love,”

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town


And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

In short, everything we know about the birth of Jesus points to obscurity, indignity, pain, and rejection. One of the great mysteries of our universe is that when God the Son became a man he spent his first night in a barn.

1. Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, rev. ed., Anchor Bible Reference Library (New York: Doubleday, 1993), 415.

2. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to St. Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 82–83.

3. R. Kent Hughes, Luke: That You May Know the Truth, 2 vols., Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998), 1:82.

4. David Gooding, According to Luke: A New Exposition of the Third Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerd- mans, 1987), 52.

5. L. T. Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, Sacra Pagina (Collegeville, MD: Liturgical, 1991), 49.

6. Brown, Birth, 413.

7. Norval Geldenhuys, The Gospel of Luke, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), 100.

Daily Excerpt taken from The Story

The Story_photo

Day 348   |   Act 5: Jesus to the end

1 John 3:11–24

The young man sat in my office, head in his hands. I had known him for a long time; he was a prominent part of our youth ministry at church, and I was excited about his life, leadership at church, and gospel ministry at school. Yet he had asked to meet with me because he was struggling with serious doubts about his salvation. “How do I know, for sure, that I am really saved?” he asked me, sincere concern in his eyes. Have you been there? Have you wondered how you can know if you truly belong to Jesus forever? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a checklist that you could work through to make sure? Well, the apostle John doesn’t give us a checklist, but he does help us boil this question down to two important marks of a true Christian.

First, a true Christian has genuine love for other believers in Jesus. That’s a repeated theme in John’s letter, and it is a major theme in the passage you read today. John says that the simple command to love one another is one that has been there “from the beginning” (3:11). In other words, this has always been a marker of God’s true people! John even clarifies, helpfully, what kind of love we are to have for other Christians. It’s love like that of Jesus, who “laid down his life for us” (3:16). That is how we know what love is! It’s radically sacrificial love for other believers in Jesus. Does that characterize your life and heart today?

Second, a true Christian affirms that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, come in the flesh as a human being. This is a concept that has shown up more strongly in other parts of John’s letter, but he mentions it again briefly in this passage, as he summarizes the two marks of a real Christian: “This is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (3:23). Real Christians love God’s people, and they believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son in the flesh.

Are those marks of a true Christian evident in your life today? I hope they are! I hope that you find yourself loving God’s people more and more, despite the many imperfections of the church today. I hope that you boldly affirm—in every situation—the divinity and humanity of Jesus, God’s son. Pray that these characteristics would mark you strongly as you follow Jesus!

The Story: The Bible’s Grand Narrative of Redemption by Jon Nielson 10% off — $13.49

Excerpt taken from Come to the Waters

 December 8

BenedIctIon of peace

hebrews 13:20–21

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant . . . Hebrews 13:20

This benediction tells how God has become a God of peace to us rather than a God of wrath. It has three parts.

1. The blood of the eternal covenant. This refers to the death of Jesus by which our Lord by his death on the cross fulfilled the terms of a covenant made between God the Father and himself before the creation of the world, and then received the promise of the covenant, which was to have a great company of people for his own, that is, the church.

This covenant is eternal—established in eternity past, before you or I or the world or any other part of the created order came into being and will endure forever. It is also important because of the parties involved. In the case of this “eternal covenant,” the parties are the persons of the Godhead. God the Father covenants to give to his Son a people who will be the objects of the Father’s love and whom he will forgive of sin. The Holy Spirit covenants that he will regenerate all those whom the Father gives to the Son and will cleanse them of unrighteousness. The Son covenants that he will make atonement for the sins of his people, will intercede for them, and bring them safely to the Father.

2. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second work of God that is mentioned is God’s raising Jesus Christ from the dead. It is part of the covenant, since the Father committed himself to do this even before the incarnation. But it is more. It is a demonstration and proof of the great power of God, which has worked not merely to bring Jesus back from the dead, but also to save us from the penalty of our sins, keep us from sin, and lead us into an abundant and fruitful Christian life. It is an encouragement to us as we try to serve God and do good works.

3. The Shepherd work of Christ. Jesus is referred to as a Shepherd in three separate passages. In John 10:11 Jesus is called “the good shepherd” because he “lays down his life for the sheep.” In 1 Peter 5:4 Jesus is called “the chief Shepherd” to whom the elders of the church must give account. Here Jesus is called “the great Shepherd” because he has triumphed over death and now lives to guide, nourish, and protect the flock that the Father has given him.

When we put these descriptive phrases together we are assured that God, who brought back Jesus Christ from the dead, is able and most certainly will save us from all our sin and take us to heaven to be with him forever.

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Author Interview with Spencer Harmon

This week’s author interview is with Spencer Harmon. He is the coauthor of Letters to a Romantic: On Dating and Letters to a Romantic: On Engagement.

Letters to a Romantic_photo both_small Harmon_Spencer

  • Question #1—Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, family, job, personal interests, unique hobbies, what you do in your spare time, etc.

I’m originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. I moved to Louisville in 2009 for school at Boyce College. In college I met my wife and we were married in 2014. The Lord has given us two precious daughters in our three years of marriage, so our life is full – but we love it!

I have been serving as the senior pastor at Vine Street Baptist Church in Louisville for a little over a year. We’re situated in a tiny neighborhood right outside the city, and we love the saints there.

I love spending time with my wife and girls: from special times away to just grocery shopping together. We really enjoy being together and I’m so grateful for that. If I have spare moments (which are rare these days!) and we have a baby sitter, I love trying a new restaurant with my wife in our city and spending time with her. She’s my best friend, and I love getting one-on-one time with her.


  • Question #2—Which writers inspire you?

My mentor and friend David Gundersen has always inspired me as a writer. He’s not well known, but is a careful thinker, clear writer, and writes beautiful prose and poetry. He’s influenced me (and my writing!) and more ways than I can count – I’d love to see him read by more people. You can read some of his writing at

C.S. Lewis has always inspired me as someone who combines beauty and precision in a way I have never seen before. Anytime I read his books I’m challenged and inspired to say old truths in fresh ways. Outside of the Christian genre, Marilynne Robinson books contain sentences and phrases that have literally taken my breathe away. Her writings contain observations about people and the world that I have yet to find in another writer.


  • Question #3—Have you always enjoyed writing?

Ever since I can remember. Fun fact, I began writing through poetry which developed into a 5-year stint in hip-hop music. The hip-hop genre of music really lends itself to growing in creative writing skills, and I believe my habits and style of writing was shaped by that season. I still believe that hip-hop is one of the more powerful genre’s of music because of its ability to shape people’s minds through words.


  • Question #4—What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

Sean and I wrote Letters to a Romantic: on Dating, and Letters to a Romantic: on Engagement because we both recently walked through these seasons of romance in our own lives. We saw a need for practical wisdom in the myriad of issues that arise during these seasons, and wanted someone to write resources that were committed to the sufficiency of Scripture in these seasons of life. As we began writing about these things on our blog, we saw people resonating with that need, and set out to write the books.

Since their release, that need has only been confirmed. We didn’t set out to write a method of dating or to be exhaustive, but to give people categories of thinking. We like to say that our books are out to “start a conversation” for couples who want to honor the Lord in romance.


  • Question #5—At what time of day do you write most?

Early! I usually do my best writing between the hours of 5:00 AM and 8:00 AM. It’s very rare that I produce anything worth reading in the evenings – I get so tired and foggy headed!


  • Question #6—Favorite food?

I love Buffalo Chicken of any sort. If that’s on the menu at a restaurant, it’s probably what I’ll order.


  • Question #7—Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip – the best ice cream in the world. Seriously.


  • Question #8—If you have a favorite book other than the Bible, what is it and why?

If I measured it by impact on my life, I would say Future Grace by John Piper. That book helped me at a very important time in my life and walk with the Lord. It’s a book I’ll be reading for the rest of my life.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?


Twitter: @SpencerMHarmon

Facebook Page: Spencer Harmon


Recap of September, October, and November Releases

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Theology in Three Dimensions: A Guide to Triperspectivalism and Its Significance by John M. Frame

Pages: 136 | List Price: $12.99 | Paperback | SAMPLE CHAPTER


Because God created all things with coherent unity, everything can be understood from the perspective of everything else. We experience the world in the context of our own bodies, but every day we broaden our understanding through the perspectives of others. Meanwhile, our omniscient God is also omniperspectival. Through his revelation, he allows us a glimpse of his own divine perspective.

What does this mean for us? One valuable dimension of this reality is that theological issues can also be helpfully viewed from multiple perspectives without compromising their unity and truth. In this accessible introduction to his Bible study and theological method, John Frame teaches us to approach doctrine with situational, normative, and existential perspectives modeled on the Trinity.


“A clear and refreshing explanation of John Frame’s insightful approach to studying the Bible (and everything else!) from three different ‘perspectives.’ It is the fruit of a lifetime of thinking and teaching.”

Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary

Preparing Children for Marriage: How to Teach God’s Good Design for Marriage, Sex, Purity, and Datingby Josh Mulvihill

Pages: 256 | List Price: $16.99 | Paperback | SAMPLE CHAPTER


“My kids are way too young to be thinking about dating and marriage already! Why would I begin ‘the talk’ now, before they’ve even started asking questions?”

Many parents find it difficult to broach these topics with their children, especially in age-appropriate ways. But our choice is no longer between teaching them now or later—if we do not reach them first, our culture is happy to step in with messages of its own. Someone is going to shape our children’s beliefs—so the time to start biblical conversations is now!

In this foundation-laying book, Josh Mulvihill offers theological training for a critical area of parenting. He walks parents through how to begin conversations, then teaches them God’s purpose for dating, marriage, and sex so they can pass this teaching on to their children.

The Bible says children are never too young to learn God’s plan for this area of their lives . . . so prepare yourself to prepare them for one of the most important decisions they will ever make.


“Wow! What a great book to empower parents to have early-and-often discussions with their children about love, sex, and marriage.”

—Scott Turansky, Cofounder, National Center for Biblical Parenting

The Complete Husband, Revised and Expanded: A Practical Guide for Improved Biblical Husbanding by Lou Priolo

Pages: 320 | List Price: $17.99 | Paperback | SAMPLE CHAPTER


Being a consistently biblical husband is not for the faint of heart! God has given husbands huge responsibilities to their wives, but the good news is that God also gives husbands the grace and resources to obey his commands. In The Complete Husband, experienced biblical counselor Lou Priolo delves deep into the skills, goals, and attitudes a God-honoring husband must develop, giving practical advice throughout. If you’ve ever wondered how to best protect, please, and lead your wife, how to communicate with her, how to disagree with her—even how to talk to her!—you will find comprehensive guidance here. Yes, being a biblical husband is not for the faint of heart—but those who boldly follow God’s Word will reap great and lasting benefits in their marriages.


“Fills a large, empty space on the pastor’s and parent’s resource shelf. It is simple without being shallow and comprehensive without being tedious. A man will find solid, biblical counsel here on how to know and love his wife. A book to read and return to often.”

—Tedd Tripp, Author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart and Instructing a Child’s Heart

The Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge by Alan D. Strange

Pages: 432 | List Price: $59.99 | Paperback | SAMPLE CHAPTER


Charles Hodge (1797–1878) was arguably the leading Old School Presbyterian of the nineteenth century. He was involved with all the great ecclesiastical controversies of his day, including the question of the spirituality of the church. In Hodge’s hands the spirituality of the church functioned as a complex and subtle doctrine, not serving, as it did with some, as a “muzzle” for the prophetic voice of the church into society, but as a means of keeping its ecclesiastical focus from being swallowed by the political. For Hodge, the spirituality of the church meant that the primary calling of the church was  not, first of all, temporal but spiritual, especially in its carrying out the Great Commission. Hodge believed, however, that even in carrying out its essentially spiritual duties, the scope of the church’s concern was broader temporally than some partisans of the spirituality of the church constructed it.


“Carefully researched, copiously annotated, and enthusiastically written, these pages provide a vibrant and fascinating account . . . of issues that are still profoundly relevant to the church today.”

—Sinclair B. Ferguson, Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries

Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment by James Montgomery Boice

List Price: $22.99 | Hardcover | 400 pages | SAMPLE CHAPTER

ABOUTCome to the Waters_photo 1

“Study of the Bible must be the consuming passion of a believer’s life.” So said James Montgomery Boice—and he practiced what he preached. Throughout the decades of his faithful church ministry, Boice devoted himself to the Word of God for the glory of God. This yearlong devotional selects from the fruit of his labor, distilling his teaching into 365 readings from Genesis to Revelation. A topical index and a Scripture index allow you to tailor your own reading plan.

In the spirit of Boice, the devotions are not moralistically superficial—intended to make you a better person. Instead they are intended to lead you every day to your only hope: Jesus Christ, the life-giving Living Water for your soul.


“James Montgomery Boice was a master Bible teacher. He could make the most difficult passages approachable, clear and practical. That legacy shines in this wonderful day-by-day collection. Read and savor. These devotionals will not only cause you to love the Word of God, but, more importantly, the God of grace who is revealed in every passage.”

—Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries

Departing in Peace: Biblical Decision-Making at the End of Life by Bill Davis

List Price: $19.99 | Paperback | 328 pages | SAMPLE CHAPTER


Decisions at the end of life create deep anxiety for those involved. But it is possible to find peace and comfort amid the hard choices.

As a church elder and hospital ethics consultant, Bill Davis has talked, walked, and prayed with many people in end-of-life situations. Employing varied case studies and biblical, ethical insight, he guides you in making decisions for yourself and others, preparing advance directives, taking financial concerns into account, and navigating new realities in American hospitals.

Free lesson and group discussion plans available.


“This book combines mature biblical teaching with the brass-tacks practical questions that we all face with the death of loved ones. These are the things that we don’t usually think about until they happen. I highly recommend Departing in Peace as essential preparation.”

—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

Thinking through Creation: Genesis 1 and 2 as Tools of Cultural Critique by Christopher Watkin

List Price: $17.99 | Paperback | 192 pages | SAMPLE CHAPTER


Reading Genesis 1 and 2, we are tempted to see only problems to solve. Yet these two chapters burst with glorious truths about God, our world, and ourselves. In fact, their foundational doctrines are among the richest sources of insight as we pursue robust, sensitive, and constructive engagement with others about contemporary culture and ideas.

With deftness and clarity, Christopher Watkin reclaims the Trinity and creation from their cultural despisers and shows how they speak into, question, and reorient some of today’s most important debates.


“Watkin does much more than round up the usual proof texts: he rather calls our attention to biblical patterns that diagonally cut through taken-for-granted false dichotomies. . . . Take up and take heed.”

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Preaching with Biblical Motivation: How to Incorporate the Motivation Found in the Inspired Preaching of the Apostles into Your Sermons by Ray E. Heiple Jr.

List Price: $59.99 | Paperback | 408 pages | SAMPLE CHAPTER | Series: Reformed Academic Dissertations


Reformed theology proposes that the Holy Spirit alone makes the preaching of God’s Word effectual in salvation and sanctification. How can preachers move the hearts of hearers in ways that please and glorify God without being seen as manipulators?

This book traces the development of motivational theories and practices in academia, in the church, and from an assortment of theological persuasions—contrasting them with a study of five sermons in the book of Acts that illustrate biblical principles of motivation.


“An outstanding piece of scholarship. . . . I found myself recommending [it] to every pastor I know. . . . In nineteen years of pulpit ministry, few works have impacted my view of preaching like this one. I am delighted to recommend it to pastors, seminary students, homiletics professors, and anyone who takes pleasure in God’s Word and the preaching of it.”

—C. J. Williams, Professor of Old Testament Studies, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Thomas Aquinas by K. Scott Oliphint

168 pages | $14.99 | Paperback


Thomas Aquinas (1224?–1274) GRT_1_small

“The prince and master of all Scholastic doctors,” Thomas Aquinas has profoundly impacted thinkers both inside and outside the Roman Catholic Church for more than eight hundred years.

Scott Oliphint’s unique study focuses on Aquinas’s dualistic approach to the natural and revealed knowledge of God and his use of Aristotelian metaphysics. Oliphint provides a response to this methodology in the context of historic Reformed thought and the doctrines of revelation and Scripture.

Pastors, theologians, philosophers, and students will benefit from Oliphint’s clear, precise, and succinct analysis—as well as from his forceful critique.


“This brief study focuses appropriately on the foundational principles that control the thought of Aquinas, showing, along with its notable strengths, the deep tensions inherent in it and its incompatibility as a whole with epistemology that would be true to the self-attesting revelation of God in Scripture. This fundamental failing is brought to light especially in his related views of natural reason as neutral and natural theology. The author’s treatment warrants careful consideration by all those interested in understanding Thomas and subsequent Thomist positions.”

—Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Emeritus Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary

Karl Marx by William D. Dennison

144 pages | $14.99 | Paperback


Karl Marx (1818–1883)

Karl Marx is the most influential political philosopher of the past 150 years. Understanding him is essential to understanding post-WWII Europe, American foreign policy, contemporary China and North Korea, and much of the rhetoric in today’s colleges and political circles in the United States.

William Dennison’s concise volume highlights the key features of Marx’s worldview, including several valuable insights. Dennison’s critical analysis uncovers Marx’s internal contradictions, examines the inherently religious nature of his anti-religious materialism, and documents the horrifying effects of his political philosophy—horrors consistent with Marx’s convictions.


“There are few good, concise books on Karl Marx, his philosophy, and his worldview. There are still fewer written from a biblical, Reformed perspective. This solid treatment by Bill Dennison fills an important niche. I highly recommend it. . . . Here we see Marx examined, at last, from the vantage of innocence, sin, grace, and God’s plan versus Marx’s plan. Alas, this should be how Marx is always viewed. But it has taken Bill Dennison to finally do the job. For that, we owe him a debt of gratitude.”

—Paul G. Kengor, Professor of Political Science and Executive Director, Center for Vision & Values, Grove City College

Jacques Derrida by Christopher Watkin

184 pages | $14.99 | Paperback


Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) 

One of the most important thinkers of our time, Jacques Derrida continues to have a profound influence on postmodern thought and society.

Christopher Watkin explains Derrida’s complex philosophy with clarity and precision, showing not only what Derrida says about metaphysics, ethics, politics, and theology but also what assumptions and commitments underlie his positions. He then brings Derrida into conversation with Reformed theology through the lens of John 1:1–18, examining both similarities and differences between Derrida and the Bible.

Learn why Derrida says what he says and how Christians can receive and respond to his writing in a balanced, biblical way that is truly beneficial to cultural engagement.


“Chris Watkin has done what I thought was impossible. He has explained Derrida’s deconstruction with lucidity, brevity, and charity. Not only that: he has imagined what it would be like for Cornelius Van Til to go toe-to-toe with Derrida in a discussion about language, logic, and the Logos made flesh, all of which figure prominently in John 1:1–18. And if that were not enough, he has done it in just over a hundred pages. Readers who want to know what all the fuss over postmodernity is about would do well to consult this book.”

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School