Category Archives: Focus on the Bible

New in the Focus on the Bible Series – John: Jesus Christ Is God by William F. Cook

John: Jesus Christ is God by William F. CookJohn’s Gospel is the mature reflections of the last living apostle. John the apostle wrote this book approximately fifty-five years after the resurrection of Jesus. During those years he had reflected on the words and deeds of Jesus and the result is that the pages of the Gospel contain the seasoned thinking of one of Jesus’ closest friends.

New Testament scholar William F. Cook brings us the latest in the popular Focus on the Bible series. In a lucid and engaging style, he leads us through the Gospel of John.

Additional Resources:

  • Table of Contents: PDF
  • Sample Pages: PDF

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William F. CookAbout the author:
William F. Cook has taught New Testament for twenty-four years. For the past fifteen years at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to his teaching, Dr. Cook has been the Lead Pastor at The Ninth and O Baptist Church in Louisville for over fourteen years.

Where to Buy:
John: Jesus Christ Is God is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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New in the Focus on the Bible Series: Joel & Obadiah by Iwan Rhys Jones

Joel & Obadiah: Disaster And Deliverance by Iwan Rhys JonesDisaster and Deliverance, these two words sum up something of the message of both Joel and Obadiah. In Joel, the prophet begins by announcing a disaster in terms of a locust invasion, which has affected Judah. This, however, is but the pretext for warning of an even greater disaster on the horizon for Judah. Nevertheless, the prophet holds out the prospect of deliverance. In the case of Obadiah, the focus is on Edom. Edom’s pride and longstanding hostility against the people of God has led her to be party to an attack upon them, and as a result, she is threatened with disaster. The people of God, meanwhile, are assured of better things at the hand of the LORD.

These two prophets and their message of disaster and deliverance will both challenge and reassure all who have ears to hear.

Praise for Joel & Obadiah:

“Writing in an accessible and succinct style, Jones introduces us to grand theological themes that run throughout the prophetic writing of Joel and Obadiah. His ear is attuned to the linguistic and literary features found in both books, and he explains them in a way that will benefit both the pastor and the layperson. As with many commentaries in this series, Jones’s treatment is fitting for both sermon preparation and small group Bible study.”
-John Scott Redd, Jr., President and Associate Professor of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.

“Sometimes it is difficult to understand the writings of the Old Testament, especially those writings that come from the minor prophets. It is sometimes even more difficult to see their relevance to people today. It is for this reason Rhys-Jones’ work on Joel and Obadiah is such a welcome contribution. It provides meaningful material for historical background and theological interpretation along with a clear message of the application and relevance of these prophets to the 21st century church.”
-T. J. Betts, Associate Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

About the Author:
Iwan Rhys Jones is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament Studies at Wales Evangelical School of Theology in Bridgend, Wales. He is an elder at Freeschool Court Evangelical Church and he and his wife Julie have two grown-up children.

Additional Resources:

  • Table of Contents: PDF
  • Sample Pages: PDF
  • A full list of volumes in the Focus on the Bible commentary series is available at ChristianFocus.com.

Where to Buy:
Joel & Obadiah: Disaster And Deliverance is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Why You Need to Preach the Song of Songs – Dr. Jim Hamilton

hamilton-header
Dr. Hamilton serves as Professor of Biblical Theology at SBTS and as Preaching Pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. He’s also the author of the new book, Song of Songs: A Biblical-Theological, Allegorical, Christological Interpretation. Connect with Dr. Hamilton online at jimhamilton.info.

Song of Songs by Jim HamiltonThe smut is everywhere. On billboards, on TV screens, and eye-level in the checkout line at the grocery store, to say nothing of what is one click away on the device in your pocket or the screen on your desk. Beyond the superficial temptation of all the eye-catchers, the smut comes with a story. These sirens aren’t just singing an isolated hypnotizing song, they are selling a vision of the good life, appealing to your ideas about what pleasure is, about how you can have it now, and trying to convince you there won’t be a reckoning later. As though no one has ever foundered on the rocks trying to get to that shore.

These advertisements—from the billboards to the commercials to the mannequins—are all presenting themselves as icons that symbolize a wider story. They whisper in your ear: this is who you can be. This is how you can live. This is what you can look like. This is who you can have. And this life will satisfy all your longings.

But will it?

And if we’re convinced that there are longings deeper than the ones they’re stroking, how do we counter the intrusive message that saturates our surroundings? How do we convince other people that what they’re seeing is the harlot Babylon posing with that girl next door look? Can we woo them with something better, something that will entice them away from the lust that looses disaster?

Can I suggest to you that this is exactly why the Song of Songs is in the Bible?

What if there was something so beautiful it could break the spell of all that eye-candy? What if there was something so satisfying it would empower us to hear the siren song for what it is—an invitation to ruin and misery with the smoke of your destruction going up forever and ever?

Would God be so good to us that he would give us a book that could describe the lost intimacy of Eden? Not only describing it: holding it out as a possibility, offering it to us, inviting us to partake, inspiring us to imitate.

The Song of Songs, Solomon’s most sublime Song, is no more an isolated statement than those Viagra commercials are. The Song of Songs has to be read in the context of the story of the whole Bible.

That story starts with a couple in a garden, naked and without shame, in perfect harmony and bliss. Sin ruins their safety and shatters their intimacy, and they hide themselves from God and one another. God searches them out, and he promises a redeemer who will defeat the one who tempted them to sin. That redeemer’s line of descent is carefully traced, and eventually God promises that a descendant of David will rise up to redeem. When the prophets speak of what life will be like when he comes, it sounds like things will be better than they were in Eden before sin.

When God put that couple in the Garden in the beginning, he gave them to each other in marriage. Then when God made a covenant with the nation of Israel, he spoke of the relationship as a though it were a marriage. The unfaithfulness of Israel to the Lord was illustrated in the book of Hosea. The Lord commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute, and faithful Hosea stood for the Lord himself, while his wife’s promiscuity and unfaithfulness stood for Israel’s spiritual adultery.

The book of Hosea communicates the failure of the covenant between the Lord and Israel, leading to the “divorce” of the exile of the people from the land. There are plenty of indications in Hosea, however, that the Lord intends to make a new marital covenant with his people, after he has disciplined them for their sin (see esp. Hos 2:16–23).

If the book of Hosea presents a failed marriage, the Song of Songs presents a poetic success. The Song of Solomon depicts an idealized Solomon, scion of David, king in Jerusalem, who overcomes every barrier to intimacy between himself and his bride. This picture provides the wider backdrop that explains the way that carpenter’s kid from Nazareth came hailed as “the bridegroom.”

Once that Galilean had shown himself to be the long awaited Redeemer, the apostle Paul explained in Ephesians 5 that marriage exists so that the world will understand the relationship between him and his people: the new covenant between Christ and his Bride, the church. Then in Revelation 19 we read that the great celebration of his conquering kingdom is going to be a marriage feast.

The good life isn’t the lie of a non-stop, no-consequence orgy with the whore of Babylon. The good life is a permanent, exclusive, comprehensive union of one man and one woman in procreative marriage. In such marriages, husband and wife follow in the footsteps of the one who has made it so that the gates to the Garden of Eden stand open to those who keep his word.

Whatever those billboards say, your life is not about your looks and your identity and your pleasure. Your life is about God, in whose image you were made, and every marriage —including yours—is about Jesus and the church.

The Song of Songs is one movement in the Bible’s grand symphony. Heard in the context of the whole orchestral production, its movements, harmonies, and developments will ravish and purify, enrich and sanctify, deepen and delight. We need to listen closely. You need to preach it. So the Bride will be pure.

This article originally appeared at LifeWayPastors.com.

Where to Buy:
Song of Songs is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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James Hamilton Discusses Song of Songs on The Shaun Tabatt Show

James Hamilton recently sat down with Shaun Tabatt to discuss his new Songs of Songs volume from our Focus on the Bible commentary series. Listen to the interview below:

About The Book:
In the Song of Songs the son of David, King in Jerusalem, overcomes hostility and alienation to renew intimacy between himself and his Bride. This most sublime Song sings of a love sure as the seal of Yahweh, a flashing flame of fire many waters could never quench. James M. Hamilton Jr, in this latest addition to the popular Focus on the Bible series, pours fresh light on this inspiring and uplifting book.

About James M. Hamilton Jr.:
James M. Hamilton Jr. is Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Preaching Pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Where to Buy:
Song of Songs is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

Song of Songs by Jim Hamilton  Buy Now:

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Song of Songs – An Interview with James M. Hamilton Jr.

Song of Songs An Interview With James M Hamilton Jr
What are some common misunderstandings today about the Song of Songs?
The biggest problem is when interpreters fail to connect the Song of Songs to the rest of the Bible and treat it as though it is not informed by the Bible’s storyline, enriched by the Bible’s Symbols, and imbued with the Bible’s hope.

Disconnecting the Song from the Bible then leads to all kings of misuses, some of which are more harmful than others. It’s one thing to find it difficult to see how the Song links up with the rest of the Bible, it’s quite another to conclude that it doesn’t and then to read it as though it’s some kind of ancient sex-help guide, or as though it celebrates Solomon’s sin, or as though it’s an opportunity to play free-association and let the allegorical imagination spiritualize the text’s meaning out of all recognition.

You’ve said that your new commentary seeks to “vindicate the age-old Christian reading of the Song of Songs.” How would you describe this traditional view of the book?

The traditional view of the book for Jews was that it was an allegorical love story of the relationship between Yahweh and Israel, for Christians that it was about Christ and the Church. I try to show from valid exegesis and biblical theology that these impulses are going in the right direction.

How does the Song of Songs guide Christians in our marriages?

The Song of Songs is the closest we get in the Bible to a description of life in the Garden of Eden, under the blessing of God, in the presence of God, naked and unashamed. This vision is meant to inspire us with what life looks like when we fear God appropriately and live in his presence. It’s meant to give us hope that the King from David’s line has overcome every obstacle and will roll back every curse. It’s meant to give us his footsteps in which we can follow, imitating the example that typifies the one to come.

Poetry works on us at a different level than Paul’s epistles do. Paul’s letters speak to our mind, to our reason, logically convincing and explaining (not denying for a second that he can inspire the heart as well!). But Poetry has a way of working its way into our hearts and emotions, speaking to us in a visceral way, causing us to feel what we should, desire what we should, and love what we should.

We need Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5, and we need the poetic picture of the Song of Songs that Paul is expositing as he points to its fulfillment in Christ and the church.

How does the message ultimately point to Christ?

Paul says that marriage is about Christ and the church in Ephesians 5. I try to show how the covenant between Yahweh and Israel is evoked in the Song of Songs in such a way that it organically finds its culmination and fulfillment in the relationship between Christ and the Church. The details about how to get from point A at Mount Sinai, to point B in the Song of Songs, to the destination of point C at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, are in the book.

Jim HamiltonAbout James M. Hamilton Jr.:
James M. Hamilton Jr. is Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Preaching Pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Where to Buy:
Song of Songs is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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New in the ‘Focus on the Bible’ Series: Song of Songs: A Biblical-Theological, Allegorical, Christological Interpretation by James M. Hamilton Jr.

Song of Songs by Jim HamiltonIn the Song of Songs the son of David, King in Jerusalem, overcomes hostility and alienation to renew intimacy between himself and his Bride. This most sublime Song sings of a love sure as the seal of Yahweh, a flashing flame of fire many waters could never quench. James M. Hamilton Jr, in this latest addition to the popular Focus on the Bible series, pours fresh light on this inspiring and uplifting book.

Praise for Song of Songs:

“This beautifully written book of sound Christ-centered biblical exposition and skillful personal application, will not only strengthen and heal many marriages, but will also draw many Christians into a deeper appreciation and enjoyment of their marriage to Christ. Unlike most books on the Song of Songs, this one will make you sing!”
-David Murray, Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“…a fresh, biblically-theologically informed approach to the Song of Solomon. This is a commentary pastors should regularly turn to when preaching through this important but difficult book of Scripture. And make no mistake-reading this commentary will make you want to preach this book.”
-R. Albert Mohler, President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

About James M. Hamilton Jr.:
James M. Hamilton Jr. is Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Preaching Pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Other books by James M. Hamilton Jr.:
The Bible's Big Story Salvation History for Kids by James M Hamilton Jr

Where to Buy:
Song of Songs is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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New in the Focus on the Bible series: Hosea: The Passion of God by Tim Chester

Hosea: The Passion of God by Tim ChesterIn the message of Hosea we see the passion of God. We see the jealousy of God, the commitment of God, the heartbreak of God, the enthusiasm of God, the love of God. People often talk about what they feel about God. Hosea tells us what God feels about us. It is the author’s prayer that as we explore the message of Hosea the Spirit of God would reveal God’s passion so that He stirs our passion: our jealousy for God, our commitment to God, our heartbreak at sin, our enthusiasm to serve, our love for the lost.

See the full range of commentaries in the Focus on the Bible series at ChristianFocus.com.

Praise for Hosea: The Passion of God:

“In his commentary Tim Chester has left few scholarly stones unturned yet we are not invited to behave as academic spectators on the text …difficult issues are not avoided and the prophet’s ministry is unerringly allowed to lead us to Christ …The prayer that accompanies this commentary is that it might stir our passion for God and his ways and to that we add our ‘amen’.”
-Ken Armstrong ~ Pastor, Bessacarr Evangelical Church, Doncaster, England

“This is an excellent commentary on an under-preached part of God’s word. It is exegetically faithful so that there is a clear sense of what this would have meant to Hosea and his contemporaries. Moreover, it treats Hosea as Christian Scripture, and each part of the commentary takes us clearly to the Lord Jesus. This book has deepened my love for the One who first loved me, and I think it is a valuable addition to the existing commentaries on Hosea.”
-Robin Weekes ~ Minister, Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon, London

“This fresh, readable, insightful commentary will lead you to worship a God who is jealous for our affections, and loves us too much to leave us sitting comfortably in apathy! Christians cannot fail to profit from this sound and exciting read.”
-Jeremy McQuoid ~ Teaching Pastor, Deeside Christian Fellowship, Aberdeen, Scotland

Tim ChesterAbout the Author:
Tim Chester is an author, Pastor of The Crowded House, Sheffield and a leader of The Crowded House church planting network. He is married with two daughters.

Connect with Tim at:

Other books by Tim Chester:
The Ascension: Humanity in the Presence of God by Jonny Woodrow & Tim Chester

Where to Buy:
Hosea: The Passion of God by Tim Chester is available at any good  Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Jeremiah & Lamentations: the Death of a Dream, and What Came After by Michael Wilcock

Jeremiah & Lamentations: The death of a dream and what came after by Michael WilcockJeremiah was set aside to be the prophet to the nations. Set apart to be a voice that was not afraid to stand up for sharing the message of the Lord to those aiming headlong for judgement. There are responsibilities for those who belong to God. However God still loves his people even when they have sinned against him. We are reassured that hope can be found even in times of suffering.

Lamentations tells Jerusalem’s story of suffering, starvation, and despair, till finally the walls are breached, the survivors deported, the goods looted and the city torched.

Praise for Jeremiah & Lamentations:

“It is a pleasure to commend this fine piece of commentary writing by Michael Wilcock. Over the years he has produced many commentaries on both Testaments, including some fine examples in the BST series. Here he has lost none of his touch as with sure-footed exegesis, spiritual insight and elegant writing he tackles the difficult books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. All Bible readers will profit from reading these books with a sympathetic and knowledgeable guide. However, they will also be of great use to preachers who will find themselves stimulated, enlightened and emboldened to tackle these often neglected books in the company of an experienced and erudite preacher.”
-Bob Fyall ~ Senior Tutor in Ministry, Cornhill Training Course, Scotland.

“In this book, Michael Wilcock has done a real service to students of Scripture: he has made Jeremiah and Lamentations accessible and applicable. From page 1, it is clear that the reader is in the hands of a careful scholar and faithful guide to the life and writings of the prophet Jeremiah. In short, this is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to preach, teach, or simply study these sometimes intimidating books. When people in my church ask for a resource to help them read Jeremiah and Lamentations, this book will be at the top of my list!”
-Michael McKinley ~ Senior Pastor, Guilford Baptist Church, Sterling, Virginia

“Michael Wilcock’s thorough and creative exposition of the books of Lamentations and Jeremiah is a joy to read. His clear style and pastoral perspective provide a valuable resource for preachers in the pulpit, teachers in the classroom, and other students of this important, and at times, difficult prophetic pair. I recommend it to those who would encounter Jeremiah’s message in light of its ancient context, the redemptive work of Christ, and its application into the contemporary Christian life.”
-John Scott Redd, Jr. ~ President and Associate Professor of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.

Michael WilcockAbout the Author:
Michael Wilcock is a respected author and Bible teacher. He has spent many years in pastoral ministry including his most recent charge, St Nicholas, Durham. He was formerly Director of Pastoral Studies at Trinity College, Bristol.

Books by Michael Wilcock:
Jeremiah & Lamentations: The death of a dream and what came after by Michael WilcockIn The Days of The Kings by Michael Wilcock

Where to Buy:
Jeremiah & Lamentations: the Death of a Dream, and What Came After by Michael Wilcock is available at any good  Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Hear Richard P. Belcher Jr. Live on ReformedCast – 1/7/2013 @ 7:00 PM ET

Richard P. Belcher, Jr.Christian Focus author Richard P. Belcher, Jr. will be interviewed live Monday January 7, 2013 at 7:00 PM ET on ReformedCast to discuss his book Genesis: The Beginning of God’s Plan of Salvation, one of the latest additions to the Focus on the Bible commentary series. You can tune in to the live broadcast at www.reformedcast.com.

The archive of this interview is now available for download here: LINK.

About the Book:
Genesis provides us with a foundation for correctly understanding the world. Within Genesis, the character and the role of human beings within the world God has created is revealed. In reading Genesis we find on every occasion, in his dealings with mankind, God steps in by his grace and demonstrates that he is in control.

Commentaries in the Focus on the Bible series are popular level commentaries especially useful for pastors and small group leaders. They are useful for personal devotions and spiritual growth. Many of the authors of the commentaries are leading expositors of God’s Word on their speciality subjects. The series holds to the inerrancy of scripture and the uniqueness of Christ in salvation.

About the Author:
Richard Belcher, Jr. is the Professor of Old Testament and academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. His previous books include The Messiah and the Psalms.

Where to Buy:
 Genesis: The Beginning of God’s Plan of Salvation is available at any good  Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

Genesis: The Beginning of God's Plan of Salvation (Focus on the Bible) by Richard P. Belcher, Jr. Buy Now:

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Genesis: The Beginning of God’s Plan of Salvation by Richard P. Belcher, Jr.

Genesis: The Beginning of God's Plan of Salvation (Focus on the Bible) by Richard P. Belcher, Jr.Genesis provides us with a foundation for correctly understanding the world. Within Genesis, the character and the role of human beings within the world God has created is revealed. In reading Genesis we find on every occasion, in his dealings with mankind, God steps in by his grace and demonstrates that he is in control.

Commentaries in the Focus on the Bible series are popular level commentaries especially useful for pastors and small group leaders. They are useful for personal devotions and spiritual growth. Many of the authors of the commentaries are leading expositors of God’s Word on their speciality subjects. The series holds to the inerrancy of scripture and the uniqueness of Christ in salvation.

Richard P. Belcher, Jr.About the Author:
Richard Belcher, Jr. is the Professor of Old Testament and academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. His previous books include The Messiah and the Psalms.

Praise for Genesis: The Beginning of God’s Plan of Salvation:

“The meaning of creation (and/or evolution) has taken its place at the front of the intellectual/cultural stage for over a century and a half, and shows no sign of moving from the center of discussion and debate. Secularists and Christians – both liberal and conservative – instinctively understand the high significance of the issue, and hence, the intensity of the continuing debate. Whether God is real and Scripture is true are both tied up in the foundational text of the Bible: Genesis chapters one to three. Richard Belcher’s Genesis is a clearly written and judiciously researched guide to the entire question of the meaning of the book of Genesis (not just to its first three chapters, pivotal though these are).”
Douglas F. Kelly ~ Richard Jordan Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina

“It is hard to think that more material was ever packed into a brief compass, or with greater clarity, helpfulness and ease of reading than Dr. Belcher has managed in this commentary. The words ‘thoroughness’, ‘fairness’ and ‘lucidity’ spring to mind to describe the whole work. Indeed, I cannot think of an important ‘stone left unturned’! The treatment, for example, of the creation narrative ranks among the fullest and fairest I have ever read, but, without exaggeration every page has its quota of good things, problems solved, and truths illuminated. In a word, I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and warmly commend it.”
Alec Motyer ~ Well known Bible expositor and commentary writer

“Richard Belcher’s commentary focuses on the big picture of Genesis, tracing God’s story of redemption through the biblical narrative. His careful exposition shows how Genesis reveals God’s intentions for his creation and his unstoppable purpose to bless his people and redeem them out of slavery, bringing good out of evil. God’s people can live with confidence that God will be faithful to his promises to redeem and restore the broken and the suffering. He is able to take what people mean for evil and turn it into good. This commentary deserves a wide appreciation, as it will help pastors, leaders, and Christians see how Genesis proclaims the deepest message of the Bible: the grace of God for sinners and those who suffer.”
Justin Holcomb ~ Executive director of the Resurgence, lead pastor of Mars Hill Church | U-District, Seattle, Washington, & adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary

Where to Buy:
 Genesis: The Beginning of God’s Plan of Salvation is available at any good  Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

Genesis: The Beginning of God's Plan of Salvation (Focus on the Bible) by Richard P. Belcher, Jr. Buy Now:

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