This book contains a number of studies prepared over the years by Eric Alexander, for the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology organised by Dr James Montgomery Boice. The collection has sixteen studies divided into three sections – the character of God; the salvation of God; and the church of God.
These studies are a breath of fresh air. They are thoroughly biblical and gimmick-free (as one might say in Yorkshire, with ‘nowt left out and with nowt added that should not be there’). Each is carefully structured, written with great clarity, and contains correct doctrine allied to helpful and challenging practical application.
In addition, the book is overflowing with striking and memorable statements, such as: ‘The Bible is full of God’s saving covenant. God comes to us with something like a marriage proposal: I will be your God; you will be my people. I will bless you and keep you’; ‘When we see Abraham not sparing Isaac, we cry out, “How he loved God!” And when we see God not sparing Christ, we need to cry out, “How God loved me!”’
‘God has founded his church at the very centre of his purpose in history. The rest of history is, in a sense, the scaffolding within which God is building his church’, ‘The church is not a democracy, the rule of the majority. The church, if anything, is a theocracy and even a monarchy; that is, it has Christ as its king and head’.
The author also makes good use of other authors: ‘When we believe that we ought to be satisfied rather than God glorified, we set God below ourselves … as though we were not made for him, but he hath a being only for us’ (Stephen Charnock); ‘It is the spiritual thing done naturally, and the natural thing done spiritually, that marks the true man of God’ (William Still).
This is how Mr Alexander structures his study entitled ‘The purpose of the church’, on 1 Peter 2:4-10. Purpose number one: worship. We are the temple of God; worship is primary in terms of importance. Purpose number two: fellowship. The vertical dimension of this is with the Godhead through Christ; the horizontal dimension is with the people of God, also through Christ.
Purpose number three: evangelism. 1 Peter 2:9 says: ‘You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood etc. … that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light’.