Supplement your Faith


For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7

The very title of this post should give even the most tenuous confessor of justification by faith alone reason to set up and take notice. Anytime we hear of anything coming alongside faith an internal red-flag goes up and all defenses say ignore what follows, lest it derail into notions of legalism. Immediately the Luther-like debate of Paul versus James comes to mind and we divorce ourselves from any responsibilities other than a one-time belief in Christ at the moment of our justification. That idea has become popular today, a sort of Lutheran revival of effortless Christian living. But that is not what James was saying and that is not what Peter is saying in the passage above. Let there be no mistake, justification is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but the Christian life is one of effort, not passivity.  Let us not be guilty of quoting Ephesians 2:8-9 and forgetful of verse 10 that follows, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Those twin truths need to be held together.

In 2 Peter, the Apostle begins his letter with the charge that believers (those who have obtained faith, vs. 1) ought to make their calling and election sure. The foundation for his exhortation comes in verses 3 and 4 when he states,

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

In stating this, he ensures that his message to follow is grounded in the saving and justifying work of Christ who has granted divine power, via the Holy Spirit, and united believers with Himself such that they now are partakers of the divine nature and consequently have separated themselves from worldly corruption that comes by way of sinful desires. It is because of that he exhorts believers to supplement their faith with:

  • Virtue
  • Knowledge
  • Self-Control
  • Steadfastness
  • Godliness
  • Brotherly affection
  • Love

With this encouragement in mind, we should not shrink back from good works, but instead should push forward and desire high moral standards, a desire to grow in our knowledge of God, fight for self-control in battling the desires of the flesh, determined and resolute to stay the course of faithfulness, with a character defined by godliness in loving the things that God loves and hating the things that God hates, evidencing itself in love towards fellow believers and love toward others. If we make these our duty, not in the hopes to add to our salvation, but working from the basis of our salvation then Peter says, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8

Have you wondered why you may be unfruitful or ineffective in your Christian walk? Like a weightlifter with muscle atrophy it becomes all the more necessary to take the necessary supplements to ensure proper strength and growth. In doing so, we will find ourselves growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), fruitful and effective in all that He calls us to do.

Required Reading


One of the many positive impacts of a good seminary or bible college education is the required reading that many of the courses include. Many of the publications which are brought into your path you may not have otherwise encountered[1]. Sometimes, however, this can also be a drawback. A student may find themselves trudging through a book that wouldn’t normally have drawn their attention. Likewise, there may be books that would benefit your soul greatly to spend time going through, but due to the quantity of required reading, there is simply no “free-time” for these books. Fortunately, many of the courses I‘ve been privileged to take at Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary cross over these lines and have set before me many books that I have wanted to read or subjects that I have wanted to study and have done a good job of selected representative, quality publications. Below is a list of some of the courses I’ve either taken or am currently enrolled in and the required reading for each. I always enjoy getting the syllabus for a new class and finding out what the required books are. Perhaps this list may help you in building your own library or in reading books for particular subjects. I’ve graded some of these books (and there are excellent online articles mixed in as well): Green for Recommended; Orange for Informative but not necessarily must read; and Red for I wish I hadn’t been forced to read this. Thankfully, there are very few of the latter category.

Old Testament I (2 hrs; Dr. Bob Gonzeles):

Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. B & H Academic, 2011.

Kitchen, Kenneth A. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 2003.

Arnold, Bill T., and Bryan Beyer. Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey. 2nd edition. Baker Academic, 2008.

Old Testament II (2 hrs; Dr. Bob Gonzales):

Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. B & H Academic, 2011. (Continued from OT I)

200 pages from an extensive supplemental reading list; I chose to read more from:Arnold, Bill T., and Bryan Beyer. Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey. 2nd edition. Baker Academic, 2008. And excerpts from: Greidanus, Sidney. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Eerdmans, 1999.

Hermeneutics (3 hrs; Dr. Richard Barcellos):  

Baugh, S. M. “Hermeneutics and Biblical Theology” in Modern Reformation 2/2 (November-December 1993)

Beale, G. K. “Did Jesus and his Followers Preach the Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts?” Themelios 14.3 (April 1989): 91-96.

Beale, G.K. “Did Jesus and the Apostles Preach the Right Doctrine from the Wrong Text? Revisiting the Debate Seventeen Years Later in the Light of Peter Enns’ Book, Inspiration and Incarnation” in Themelios 32.1 (October 2006): 18-43

Berkhof, Louis. Principles of Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1950 (various editions; 166pp.).

Carson, D. A. Exegetical Fallacies. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984 (various printings)

Foulkes, Francis. “The Acts of God: A Study of the Basis of Typology in the Old Testament” a paper delivered at a meeting convened by the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Research on July 1, 1955.

Glenny, W. Edward. “Typology: A Summary Of The Present Evangelical Discussion” in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40:4 (March 1997): 627-38.

Johnson, Dennis E. Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2007.

McCartney, Dan G. “Should we employ the hermeneutics of the New Testament writers?” a paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2003 (14pp.).

McCartney Dan and Clayton, Charles. Let the Reader Understand. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2002.

Poythress, Vern S. “The Presence of God Qualifying Our Notions of Grammatical-Historical Interpretation: Genesis 3:15 as a Test Case” in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50/1 (2007): 87-103 (14pp.).

Poythress, Vern S. “What is Literal Interpretation?” in Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 11, Number 29, July 19 to July 25 2009.


Symbolics (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):             

Sam Waldron, A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 2009).

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994).


Historical I – Early Church History (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

N. R. Needham, 2000 Years of Christ’s Power: Part One—The Age of the Early Church Fathers, Revised and Updated (London: Grace Publications Trust, 2011).

J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (New York: Harper & Row, 1978).

Hendrick F. Stander, Johannes P. Louw, Baptism in the Early Church (EP Books, 2004).


Historical II – Medieval Church History (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967).

Augustine, On Grace and Free Will; On Rebuke and Grace; On The Predestination of the Saints; On The Gift of Perseverance (Approximately 150 pages)

J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (New York: Harper&Row, 1978).

Major Reformation Documents (150 pages):

  • The Council of Trent, 3rd to 6th Session
  • Augsburg Confession, First Part
  • Martin Luther, Preface to the Commentary on Galatians
  • John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 1: The Things Spoken concerning Christ Profit Us by the Secret Working of the Spirit
  • The Canons of Dordt


Historical III – Modern Church History (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 5: Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700) (University of Chicago Press, 1991).

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1923).

The Great Commission: Evangelicals and the History of World Missions, edited by Martin Klauber and Scott Manetsch (B&H Publishing Group: Nashville, 2007).

Geoff Thomas, Ernest C. Reisinger: A Biography (Banner of Truth, 2002).


Doctrine of Last Things (2 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future

313 pages from Other Reading:

  • Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism (did not read)
  • Charles Hill, Regnum Caelorum (did not read)
  • Sam Waldron, Eschatology Made Simple
  • Sam Waldron, More of the End Times Made Simple
  • Sam Waldron, MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response


Evangelism and Missions (3 hrs; Dr. David Sills):

Ashford, Bruce R. Theology and Practice of Mission: God, the Church, and the Nations. Nashville: B&H, 2011.

DeYoung, Kevin and Greg Gilbert. What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.

Piper, John. Let the Nations be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions. 3rd edition. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010.

Sills, M. David. The Missionary Call: Find your place in God’s plan for the world. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008.

Sills, M. David. Reaching and Teaching: A call to Great Commission obedience. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010.


Doctrine of the Church (3 hrs; Dr. Samuel Waldron):

Edmund P. Clowney, The Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995).

Who Runs the Church?: 4 View on Church Government, ed. Steven B. Cowan (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004).

James Bannerman, The Church of Christ (2 volumes) (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1974).


Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology (2 hrs; Dr. Fred Malone):

Palmer Robertson. The Christ of the Covenants (Philipsburg, N. J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers, 1980).

Samuel E. Waldron. A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 1989).

Pascal Denault. The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology (Birmingham: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2013).

Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen. Covenant Theology from Adam to Christ. (Palmdale, CA: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2004).

Samuel Bolton. True Bounds of Christian Freedom (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1647).


Biblical Theology I (3 hrs; Dr. Richard Barcellos)[2] :

Alexander, T. Desmond. From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2008.

Beale, G. K. “Did Jesus and His Followers Preach the Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? An Examination of the Presuppositions of Jesus’ and the Apostles’ Exegetical Method” in G. K. Beale, Editor, The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994.

Dempster, Stephen G. Dominion and dynasty: A theology of the Hebrew Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Foulkes, Francis. “The Acts of God: A Study of the Basis of Typology in the Old Testament” in G. K. Beale, Editor, The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994.

Goldsworthy, Graeme. Christ-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and Principles. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012. – Have not read this yet, but looks really good.

Thompson, Alan J. The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus: Luke’s account of God’s unfolding plan. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

[1] This of course isn’t to say that one cannot read on the seminary or college level independent of the educational requirements. Most certainly, many can and do read broadly and widely, perhaps even more in quantity and quality than most academic institutions.

[2] Not yet enrolled, but I have begun the reading


Behold Our God


In 2011 I was serving as the interim youth group minister at my local church. In order to inform the other youth workers and leaders on the direction and leadership that they should expect during my interim role, I called a meeting and a member of senior leadership attended also. One of the first items of business was to unify our usage of Bible versions and in doing so distance ourselves from the latest version of the New International Version (NIV), around which there had already been much debate over the neutering of language and shift to gender inclusive language. At the time, there had already been much discussion within our local body and broader evangelicalism concerning this latest version. I’ve written elsewhere about the differences in translations, including a brief background of translation philosophy to help determine which translation is right for you.

In my discussion of the translations, I was unprepared for the push-back I received regarding my stance against this latest version of the NIV and my pro-English Standard Version (ESV) usage in our youth group. It’s not a perfect translation, as none are, but my choice of the ESV was based on its literal translation philosophy and its level of readability. When doing exposition, it’s been my experience that the more literal translations (KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV) are simply easier to navigate, closer to the original meaning, and easier to explain than more dynamic translations.

One particular area of pushback from the senior leader was an off-the-cuff comparison between the antiquated language that the ESV often uses and the more modern, contemporary language of the NIV, specifically as it relates to the ESV’s use of the word “behold.” The argument against the ESV, as I remember it, went something like this: “I seriously doubt that as you are driving around with your wife that you point something out to her and say ‘Behold!’ Instead, you say ‘Look!’” Senior leader for the win, as the kids say. FTW

That public rebuke aside, the content of the statement bothered me then and it bothers me now, particularly as I heard a statement recently by Dr. Wayne Grudem explaining the ESV’s use of the word “behold” over 1100 times. In regards to the abundance of usage he states “I love them.” In contrast, the latest NIV uses the word behold 1 time, in Numbers 24:17.

But what’s in a word, as the saying goes. Is there really that big of a difference between the words Behold and Look? Take the well-known passage from John 1:29 as an example comparison:

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 NIV

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 ESV

Interestingly, the word used here ide carries with it much more significance than merely a visual observation. HELPS Word Studies points out that this Greek imperative literally means, “Be sure to see . . . !,” i.e. “Don’t miss this! It is an observable, objective fact!” Additionally, Strong’s concordance and Vines Expository Dictionary imply that this word involves a spiritual perception, again not merely the outward sight with the eyes that the word “look” carries with it.

So then, is there significance in the ESV’s decision to use the word “behold”? Clearly there is. Behold is pregnant with meaning and intensity that the word “look” simply cannot convey. In the example above, the Apostle John is not merely saying “”Look,” as in visibly observe, “the Lamb of God”. He is calling attention to Christ that people should behold, literally to spiritually perceive and embrace the Lamb of God and pay attention to who He is and what He says.

Wayne_Grudem_Photo_2014Grudem comments on the ESV translation committee’s decision to retain the use of behold:

“I find one of the primary advantages of the ESV to be more literal accuracy in the details of a translation. This is evident in the ESV’s use of “behold” in Exodus 2:6, a word which the HCSB, NIV and NLT all omit. But it translates a word in the text, the Hebrew word hinneh. In earlier translations (KJV, ASV, RSV), the word “behold” was found many times. It was the common translation used for the Hebrew word hinneh in the Old Testament and the Greek word idou in the New Testament. Both words simply mean something like “Pay attention – what follows is especially important or surprising!” Early in our translation work on the ESV, our committee discussed what to do about “behold.” We realized that in some cases there was an alternative such as “look!” or “listen!” and in a few cases that was what we used. But in hundreds of other cases, neither “look” nor “listen” seemed quite suitable (as in Exod. 2:6 above). We also found that some modern translations had just decided to leave Hebrew hinneh and Greek idou untranslated in many places where “look” or “listen” did not seem to fit (the HCSB, NIV, and NLT simply fail to translate it here). But we believed that all the words of God are important, and we did not want to leave hinneh and idou untranslated.

After a lot of discussion, we concluded that there simply was no other English word that meant, “Pay attention to what follows because it is important or surprising.” But the word “behold” still carried that meaning in English. We realized that people didn’t often use the word “behold” in conversation today, but we also recognized that almost everyone knew what it meant. It was in people’s “passive” vocabulary rather than in their “active” vocabulary. So we decided to retain “behold” as the common translation that we would use for hinneh in the Old Testament and for idou in the New Testament. We were striving for literal accuracy in the details, and we recognized that these words conveyed meaning for the original reader, meaning that we did not want today’s readers to miss. Therefore readers will find “behold” 1,102 times in the ESV. Often it seems to me to add dignity and strength to important verses in the Bible, such as the following: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isa.7:14 ESV)

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 ESV)

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (1Cor. 15:51-52 ESV)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Rev. 3:20 ESV)

I have come to really enjoy the “beholds” in the ESV. They make me pay attention to what follows and ask why the author put emphasis here. And they seem to me much stronger than the great variety of alternatives that other translations use when they do translate hinneh or idou at all. For instance, in Revelation 3:20 (see above) other translations have a variety: “Listen!” (HCSB). “Here I am!” (NIV). “Look!” (NLT). It seems to me that “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” is much stronger, and more consistent.

In addition, now I actually notice “behold” from time to time in contemporary English, whether it be in a shop window with a sign that says “Behold: New low prices!” or an ad on TV that says something like, “Behold! The new Honda sedan!” This example also shows one reason I don’t put too much stock in statistical counts of word frequency such as the Collins Word Bank that was used by the NIV translators. No doubt it would show “behold” to be uncommon in modern English. But if we ask, “How did they say it back then?” we find the need to use “behold” quite frequently, because there is no other single word in English today that means, “Pay attention—what follows is important or surprising.”[1]

If that’s not compelling enough, then perhaps the song below might help (excuse the ad at the beginning). Though far from inspired Scripture, the use of behold certainly carries the same emphasis that the ESV translators were trying to convey.  After all, what would it sound like if the chorus were, “Look, our God”? Not quite the same resounding emotion.