Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Book Review: The Good Portion: Scripture

"…happiness cannot be fully discovered as long as we remain ignorant of God's Word" (95).

Do you long to hear from God and to know Him more intimately? Do you spend time in the Bible daily, share it with others, and turn to it first in the face of trials, suffering, and weakness? Do you find yourself longing for and delighting in the Word each day? Are the Words of God in the Bible more precious to you than your most valuable possession and sweeter to you than the sweetest treat? How and when we approach the Bible betrays what we believe about the Bible

Christian Focus Publications has begun a promising ten-book series called The Good Portion. In in its first volume, Scripture, Keri Folmar shows us where and how we can hear God most clearly. Her ultimate goal is to "shed light on the treasure and the sweetness of the sacred Scriptures" (pg. 17). She begins by addressing the nature of the Scriptures as God's revelation of Himself and then, progresses to the characteristics of the Bible that naturally flow as a result of its Author. She shows us that the Bible is, above all, about a relationship with the living God. Utilizing insightful analogies, she demonstrates the practical implications of what we  believe about Scripture, including how those beliefs influence our handling of the Word.

At first glance, Folmar asks questions that may appear to have easy answers:

  • Can we know God?
  • How can we know God?
  • Is the Bible really God's Word?
  • Has the Bible been corrupted?
  • Can we trust the Bible? (and what difference does it make)?
  • Can we understand what God has to say?
  • Is the Bible really necessary to know God?
  • Is the Bible enough for us today?

However, Folmar reveals that there is much more to these questions than initially meets the eye. Most importantly, she encourages her readers to keep their eyes on Jesus Christ as the central character of the Bible. Folmar rightly recognizes that we need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand Scripture and yet, reminds her readers that this help does not negate the need for hard work (111). Affirming that "there is only one right interpretation" to the text before us, Folmar helpfully shares "several overarching principles or guidelines for interpreting the Bible" (111-112). Additionally, she illustrates the importance, role, and limitations of historical and cultural context for determining meaning. If we fail to answer these questions in accordance with the Scriptures, we will believe the wrong things and live in ways that do not honor God.

Keri Folmar’s bibliography includes some of the best works on the Scriptures including John Frame's Doctrine of the Word of God, Michael Kruger's Canon Revisited, and Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Throughout The Good Portion: Scripture, Folmar seeks to make biblically faithful, Scripture saturated, sound doctrine accessible to a wider audience. She avoids getting bogged down by over-technical vocabulary without diluting the truth. At the close of each chapter, Folmar includes a chapter summary and numerous questions covering both content and practical application making this book a good option for group or individual study. Although there were a couple of places where I would have liked to see more depth, Folmar intentionally weeds out excessive details to keep this book manageable and ultimately, provides an excellent introduction to the subject.

In a day when women are longing to hear a word from God, Keri Folmar shows us that we need look no further than the Book that He has already graciously given us. All we need to do is take it up and read it well. I pray that this will open many women's eyes to the wonder of the Word and its Author and whet their appetites to study with vigilance seeking to rightly divide the Word of truth!! May we derive sustenance from the Scriptures that enables us to bear fruit (128).

"Believer! There is enough in the Bible for you to live upon forever. If you should number the years of Methuselah, there would be no need for a fresh revelation [Methuselah lived 689 years!]; if you should live until Christ should return to the earth, there would be no necessity for the addition of a single word; if you should go down as deep as Jonah, or even descend as David said he did, into the depths of hell, still there would be enough in the Bible to comfort you without a supplementary sentence" (Spurgeon as quoted by Folmar, 165).

*Many thanks to Christian Focus Publications for sending me a complimentary copy of The Good Portion: Scripture in exchange for my honest opinion!

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