The ABC’s of Assurance, by John H. Gerstner. Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1991. 112 pages. Paper. $7.95. [Reviewed by the Editor.]
Dr. Gerstner treats the biblical . doctrine of the Christian’s assurance of salvation by chapter headings that follow the alphabet: “Assurance of Eternal Salvation”; “Beating the Body”; “captain of Our Salvation”; etc. In short chapters, usually three or four pages, and in simple language, the book explains and defends the precious truth that the believing child of God can and must be sure of his or her eternal salvation. All of the glorious doctrines of salvation by grace alone, upon which assurance rests, come up for consideration.
Attacks on assurance are answered. Biblical passages that seem to deny assurance are explained. Gerstner’s explanation of the perishing of many members of the nation of Israel is excellent:
God had not rejected Israel, for the calling and election of God are without repentance. The Apostle explains that God never called all Israel to eternal salvation, but only some within Israel (such as the 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal, and Paul himself). The principle was that not all are Israel who are in Israel, Romans 9:6 (p. 32).
The reason why so many churches and people lack assurance is pointed out: The 16th chapter is entitled, “Free-will Makes Assurance Impossible.”
Assurance belongs to true faith. It is sin for a believer to lack assurance, just as it is a “crime for non-Christians to have assurance” (p. ii).
The publisher should take note of a serious typographical mistake in the chapter, “Question: Can You be an Unsure Christian?” The important reference to II Peter 1:10 (“make your calling and election sure”) is persistently misstated, first as II Peter 2:10 and then asI Peter 2:10. The reader will not agree with Dr. Gerstner’s interpretation of Scripture in every instance, e.g., that Jesus’ choice of Judas as a disciple is to be explained as the choice of His human nature, which was ignorant of the state of Judas’ heart (cf. pp. 28-32).
This little book is a fine, popular treatment of a truth that is vital for every child of God.
The Shepherd Psalm, by F.B. Meyer, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1991; 139 pp., paper $8.95. [Reviewed by Rev. Richard Moore.]
This book is a devotional commentary on the twenty-third Psalm. It is written by a certain F. B. Meyer, who was born and raised in London, received his theological training in the Regent’s Park Baptist College, and was a minister during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
This book serves to set forth in a very attractive style an exposition of the twenty-third Psalm. It sets forth the Psalm in a very spiritual way, to lead us to contemplate the wondrous care of God over His sheep. The strength of this book is in the many references to other passages of the Scriptures when applying the instruction of this Psalm to the lives of God’s children.
The language used is such that it will lead the one reading this little book to contemplate the deep love that God has for His children. And, if read from the perspective of a strong biblical and therefore Reformed point of view, it can be profitable as a devotional tool for us in our daily life.
However, the weakness of this book is that the free-willism of the author shows through and detracts from an otherwise fundamentally sound setting forth of the Scriptures. In speaking of the daily provision that God gives to His people, for example, the author writes with colorful language this: “All sentient things depend upon His sustaining power. Not a seraph cleaves the air bat what derives his power of obedience from his sovereign Lord; and not a mote of life floats in the sunbeam, flashing in the light but it is dependent upon the light and life of the central Sun, before whom angels veil their faces.” On the other hand we have the author saying, in speaking of the care of Christ over the church, that “the one question is whether you have so completely handed over the responsibility of your lives to Him as to make Him the sole custodian and safeguard of your being, both for this world and the next.”
The author’s ability to use the English language, and his obvious familiarity with the Scriptures and the use of the same, make this book a pleasure to read; and if, in his mind, one changes the statements that are free-will in nature or that embrace an idea of common favor to all men to Scriptural concepts, then the majority of this book is spiritually helpful and comforting. It is too bad that the writer could not see the contradictions that come into his own writing because of the free-will theology to which he bound himself. But for the discerning reader this book is worth reading.