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Our Ancient Foe: Essays From Reformed Theologians


The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has recently published essay type books from the content in some of their PCRT conferences.  I previously reviewed Only One Way, with a great selection of chapters dealing with the many ‘only one way’ doctrines and their implications for our lives as Christians.

Another in this series is Our Ancient Foe: The History, Activity, and Demise of the Devil (Best of Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology), with nine essays from selected conferences.  Last year I referenced some of the lectures in the actual “Our Ancient Foe” 2017 Quakertown conference, focusing on the lectures from Dr. Peter Jones.

The book version features some of the 2017 conference content, four chapters from two of the speakers – Kent Hughes and Tom Nettles – along with additional chapters from authors/theologians Joel Beeke, Derek W.H. Thomas, Sinclair Ferguson, Roger Nicole, and Ronald L. Kohl (the editor).

As with Only One Way, the chapters are very readable and interesting for the layperson audience, and include a lot of interesting teaching and great quotes.  Derek Thomas references the motivation for Christian living, that we need to see other motives besides basic gratitude, to the motivations understood in confessional Reformed theology (imperatives, indicatives, and the wrath of God).  Joel Beeke talks about our weakness and besetting sins:

“The frightening truth about Satan is that he knows us.  He observes our character, moment by moment, and he knows our weakest points.  Isn’t that true in your life?  Haven’t you noticed that the things that you easily stumble over surface repeatedly?  Satan keeps presenting them to you, and you often fall so easily that it’s embarrassing. … in our weakness, we stumble over measly little worms.  My friend, may I warn you in the words of Jesus today, ‘Simon, Simon, behold.’  Don’t eat the little worms of this world in the place of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Tom Nettles references the devil having the power of death, and the deeper mystery from eternity past, in a Narnia-esque passage (a similar point made in C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” in reference to the White Witch and Aslan):

It’s not that Satan controls who lives and who dies.  It’s that he thinks that, because God is always true to His promises, he can hold the Word of God before God himself and say, ‘This is what you declared would happen and must happen.’  But God has a wisdom that Satan cannot foresee—that the redemptive purpose of God comes out in these interesting and sometimes baffling providential arrangements.  And now this deeper mystery, from before the beginning of time, has come to pass:  the death of the Son of God, who took our nature and was made like his brethren in everything.  In doing that, Jesus has fulfilled the particular verse that Satan has clung to as his ace in the hole—the verse he’s been holding before God: they sinned, they must die.

Sinclair Ferguson, on Satan’s final demise, provides an interesting simple perspective of Revelation as God’s “picture book”:
There is a sense in which the book of Revelation is the easiest, not the most difficult, book in the New Testament. It’s easiest because it is the book in which, more than in any other, God comes down to the simplest of us.  Instead of explaining the gospel to us in the great doctrinal expositions that we find, for example, in some of Paul’s letters, and instead of showing us the glory of God and the glory of the gospel … simply by means of words, God sits down beside us in the book of Revelation as though we were his little children and says to us, ‘Look at the picture book that I’ve made for you.’
 Our Ancient Foe is another great Reformed Conference series publication, a great reference with helpful and edifying content in an easy to read format, on an important doctrinal topic.

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