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Portraits of Faith

By Joel Beeke
October 2016 | Review by Grahame Wray
  • Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
  • ISBN: 978-1-60178-447-6
  • Pages: 104
  • Price: 4.99
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Book Review

It can be difficult to fully comprehend biblical concepts such as ‘grace’, ‘faith’ and ‘hope’. In his student years Dr Beeke had been challenged to consider the meaning of ‘faith’. After 50 hours’ hard work, he still felt his efforts far too abstract.

Then, inspired by the ‘hall of the faithful’ in Hebrews 11, Beeke decided to examine four Old Testament characters to discover how faith empowered them. Readers are subsequently challenged to look for evidence of similar empowering in their own lives as evidence that they too have what the Bible means by true saving faith.

Who better to start with than Adam and Eve? Refreshingly, Beeke takes the opening chapters of the Bible as history. He shows how our first parents exemplified the childlike simplicity of faith. We discover how Adam and Eve demonstrated by their conduct that God had said enough for them to trust that all was not lost when they lost Paradise.

Next we have an example of submissive faith, demonstrated by the Shunammite woman. This chapter shows how God-given faith enabled a simple believer to not only accept tribulation and testing but benefit from them. However, caution should be exercised in this section: the author suggests that one way we can learn to submit under trials is to consider that they serve as punishment for our sin, albeit not nearly as much as we deserve.

Mature faith is then considered. Beeke draws upon the story of the Canaanite woman who refused to take ‘no’ for an answer from Jesus. Readers are challenged to use God’s apparent absences, silences and rejections as an opportunity to flex their spiritual muscles, pressing on to lay hold of all the promises of God.

Many younger readers will be encouraged with the final example of faith: Caleb. He demonstrates persevering faith amid unbelieving peers. Tips on how to deal with peer pressure make this a practical closing chapter.

Grahame Wray

Leeds

 

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