Category Archives: Mentor

Solus Christus

By J. V. Fesko

One of the Protestant Reformation’s five solas is solus Christus, or Christ alone. But what, exactly, does this sola mean and why is it still important to Christians five hundred years later? The answer to this question lies in the Reformation’s reawakening to the authority of Scripture, especially the Pauline epistles. Reformers like Martin Luther read Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians and saw that in the earliest days of the church, well-intended but nevertheless mistaken Christians thought that they needed to supplement the work of Christ. The false teachers in Galatia claimed that faith in Christ was necessary for salvation, but they also taught that the Gentile Christians needed to be circumcised. According to the false teachers salvation was a combination of faith and obedience. Paul responded quite forcefully and clearly that salvation was by faith alone in Christ alone (e.g., Gal. 3:10-14). This is where the theologians like Luther derived and created the Reformation slogans, solus Christus and sola fide.

When Luther and the reformers read Paul’s letter to Galatia and then looked around at their own theological context, they saw people in their own day trying to repeat the Galatian error. Rather than circumcision plus faith in Jesus, sixteenth-century Christians were trying to combine faith in Christ with their good works. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1545-65) was the official response to the Protestant Reformation and codified common beliefs such as the idea that God justifies people on the basis of faith in Christ and their good works. Trent, for example, states: “Justification itself, which is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man” (Sixth session, chp. 7). This means that a person’s right standing before God rests both on the forgiveness of his sins and his sanctification, or his good works. In fact, Trent taught that people received their initial justification in their baptism and with this infusion of grace, they could then grow and increase in righteousness through their obedience so they could then be finally justified at the last judgment (Sixth session, chp. 10).

The reformers rejected such ideas because they recognized this was another version of the Galatian error. John Calvin, for example, writes: “Surely the material cause [of justification] is Christ, with his obedience through which he acquired righteousness for us” (Institutes, III.xiv.17). Or in the words of the famous hymn Rock of Ages:

Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

These poignant words capture the heart of solus Christus, namely, that God saves us by the work of Christ alone—only his perfect obedience to the law and suffering the penalty of the law’s violation constitutes the unbreakable and sole foundation for our salvation.

Some might think that all of these things are true, but believe that the Roman Catholic Church has changed and no longer rejects solus Christus. As popular as such sentiments might be, the truth is sadly different. The official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church remains committed to the proclamations of the Council of Trent (e.g., Catholic Catechism, §§ 1989, 2019, 1992, 2010). This means that solus Christus is still relevant even though five hundred years have passed since it was first forged in the fires of the Reformation. But even then, solus Christus will never cease to be relevant because it reminds us of the all-important biblical truth that Christ alone saves. This is certainly a message that was desperately needed on the heels of the sin of our first parents in the garden of Eden, in Paul’s day, during the sixteenth-century, in our own day, and until Christ returns.

J. V. Fesko is Academic Dean and Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary in California. He is author of Death in Adam, Life in Christ: The Doctrine of Imputation.

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Get Amos: A Mentor Commentary Free on Logos Bible Software

Get Amos Free on Logos Bible Software
During the month of September, Amos: A Mentor Commentary by Gary V. Smith is free on Logos Bible Software. Get your free download at

Don’t miss out on a special bonus opportunity to get the Joel & Obadiah volume by Irvin A. Busenitz for only $1.99. Find out more at

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Preaching With Spiritual Power by Ralph Cunnington

Preaching With Spiritual PowerThe nature of the relationship between the Spirit of God and the Word of God has been debated among believers for centuries. Is the Spirit present wherever and whenever the Word is preached?

Ralph Cunnington explores this and in particular the narrow historical theological question of what the Protestant Reformers, in particular John Calvin, actually taught on this topic. With careful and
incisive scholarship, and writing that is both clear and cogent, we travel through this question.

Look inside:

Praise For Preaching With Spiritual Power:

“… the first book-length treatment of an important issue that has been simmering just under the surface of British Evangelicalism for a number of years… I hope this will not lead to a full-blown controversy, but to a closer examination of the Scriptures.”
-Sinclair B. Ferguson, Associate Preacher, St Peter’s Free Church, Dundee, Scotland

“… stimulating, challenging and timely. It is of great importance that our doctrine of preaching is robust and biblical and I found this volume’s careful assessment of Calvin a great help in achieving these aims.”
-Adrian Reynolds, Director of Ministry, The Proclamation Trust

Ralph CunningtonAbout Ralph Cunnington:
Ralph Cunnington is co-pastor of City Church Manchester. He is a member of the Theological Teams of FIEC and Affinity and editor of Affinity’s theological journal Foundations.

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Where to Buy:
Preaching With Spiritual Power 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 From Matthew Harmon: Philippians: A Mentor Commentary

Philippians: A Mentor Commentary by Matthew HarmonChristians throughout the centuries have loved Paul’s letter to the Philippians for its call to rejoice in the gospel of Jesus Christ regardless of life’s circumstances. But our familiarity with the letter can cause us to neglect or overlook Paul’s message to the Philippians. Dr. Matthew Harmon in this uplifting and inspiring work brings context and application to this wonderful book.

See the full list of Mentor Commentaries here:  LINK

Praise for Philippians: A Mentor Commentary:

“… a model of good commentary writing…I commend his work to students, teachers, and preachers who seek better to understand this important letter of Paul.”
-Douglas Moo, Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

“Matthew Harmon has given us a fresh and faithful reading of Philippians that will be a powerful help to all who preach and teach the Word.”
-James M. Hamilton Jr., Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

“Matt Harmon explains Paul’s letter clause by clause, traces Paul’s argument, reads Paul’s argument in light of the rest of the Bible, and applies the letter to people today.”
-Andy Naselli, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Bethlehem College and Seminary, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Matthew HarmonAbout Matthew Harmon:
Dr. Matthew Harmon serves as Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He also serves on the preaching team of Christ’s Covenant Church.

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Where to Buy:
Philippians: A Mentor Commentary 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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US New Releases – March 2015

Here are all of our March 2015 US new releases at a glance. Click any of the cover images below to learn more.

Christian Focus:
Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross by Colin S. Smith full size image Tough Topics 2: Biblical answers to 25 challenging questions by Sam Storms In Defense of the Fatherless: Redeeming International Adoption and Orphan Care by Amanda Bennett & Sara Brinton
Mea Culpa: Learning from Mistakes in the Ministry by Kyle McClellan A Little Bird Told Me: Everyday Expressions from Scripture by Timothy Cross

Philippians: A Mentor Commentary by Matthew Harmon

The Easter Story: The Bible Version by Carine MacKenzie Children's Stories By J.C. Ryle The Bible Is God's Word by Catherine MacKenzie

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New from Mentor: Unashamed Workmen: How Expositors Prepare and Preach by Rhett Dodson (Editor)

Unashamed WorkmenUnashamed Workman brings together some of the finest preachers of our day,  focusing on the methods they use to prepare their sermons. You will find a variety of approaches and styles but they all share a passion for the Word of God to be explained and applied clearly.

Contributors include:

  • Peter Adam
  • Rhett Dodson
  • Iain Duguid
  • Ajith Fernando
  • David Jackman
  • Simon Manchester
  • David Meredith
  • Josh Moody
  • Douglas Sean O’Donnell
  • Richard D. Phillips.

Praise for Unashamed Workmen:

“…a tour of the workshops of talented preachers, enabling us to look over the shoulders of these master craftsmen of proclaimed truth in order to learn how we might produce messages reflecting the beauty and utility of their sermons.”
-Bryan Chapell, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Illinois

“This is a great book. It brings together diverse and complementary voices from experienced expository preachers who are thoroughly committed to the Gospel. It is not a textbook. Its strength and freshness depend on the sweep of voices.”
-D. A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois

“…remarkably helpful and practical. Prepare to be inspired, challenged, and exhorted.”
-Jason Helopoulos, Assistant Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

Rhett DodsonAbout Rhett Dodson:
Rhett Dodson is pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, Hudson, Ohio.

Where to Buy:
Unashamed Workmen: How Expositors Prepare and Preach by Rhett Dodson (Editor) 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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May 2014 New Releases

Take a look at our lineup of May 2014 new releases, all available now in the US. Click the book covers for more information.

Patrick of Ireland: His Life and Impact by Michael A. G. Haykin  Basil of Caesarea: His Life and Impact by Marvin Jones  Systematic Theology (Volume 2): The Beauty of Christ - a Trinitarian Vision by Douglas F. Kelly

The First Chapters of Everything by Alasdair Paine  Big God by Orlando Saer

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Systematic Theology (Volume 2) Giveaway Winner

Systematic Theology (Volume 2): The Beauty of Christ - a Trinitarian Vision by Douglas F. KellyCongratulations to Matthew Johnson, who won a copy of Systematic Theology (Volume 2): The Beauty of Christ – a Trinitarian Vision by Douglas F. Kelly in our recent giveaway hosted here on the Christian Focus Booknotes blog.

Systematic Theology (Volume 2) releases in the US this week. Order your own copy from one of the online retailers listed below:

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Win It Before You Can Buy It – Systematic Theology (Volume 2) by Douglas F. Kelly

The long awaited second volume of Douglas F. Kelly’s Systematic Theology will be releasing early next month. Enter below for a chance to win it before you can even buy it.

*If you are unable to see the contest widget in your RSS Reader or e-mail client, Click Here to view this article on the Christian Focus Booknotes Blog.

Systematic Theology (Volume 2): The Beauty of Christ - a Trinitarian Vision by Douglas F. KellyAbout the Book:
Douglas F. Kelly returns to the writings of saints and scholars to exemplify the beauty and the wonder of Christ, the Son of God, in this highly-anticipated second volume of systematic theology. Kelly delves through a treasure trove of Patristics, Scholastics, Reformers, Puritans, and Moderns to recover an Augustinian reverence for the beauty of Christ, to illustrate that the Father and the Spirit are most fully revealed through Him, and to make clear that His coming is the restoration of the universe.

Praise for Systematic Theology (Volume 2): The Beauty of Christ – a Trinitarian Vision:

“One of those rare books that will shape both scholarly and pastoral theology for generations to come.”
-Richard Pratt ~ President, Third Millenium Ministries, Orlando, Florida

“Nothing less than remarkable.”
-William Edgar ~ Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“A joy to witness… a model to which others should aspire.”
-Carl R. Trueman ~ Paul Woolley Professor of Historical Theology and Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“Striking indeed… Reminds us of Jonathan Edwards, Augustine, and many other great writers of the church.”
-John M. Frame ~ Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Florida

“In the forest of recent and not-so recent systematic theologies… this tree stands out.”
-Paul Wells ~ Adjunct dean of the Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en- Provence France

“Impressive and invaluable.”
-George Dion Dragas ~ Protopresbyter, General Editor of the Patristic and Ecclesiastical Texts and Translations, Orthodox Research Institute

“There is no other book of this magnitude.”
-Joseph Chien ~ Director, Calvin Publications, Pastor, Chinese Reformed Congregation of Taipei

About the Author:
Douglas F. Kelly is the Richard Jordan Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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New From A. Donald MacLeod: A Kirk Disrupted

A Kirk Disrupted by A. Donald MacLeodCharles Cowan, advocate of science, art, and social science, spent thirteen years as a Member of Parliament and over thirty years as a founding member and advocate of the Sustention Fund Committee of the newly formed Free Church of Scotland. Within fifty years the fledgling denomination had built 730 new churches, 400 manses, 500 schools and a new theological college, in addition to paying the salaries of all its clergy through its Sustentation Fund. Cowan’s legacy is deeply felt in the country of Scotland and the church today.

Praise For A Kirk Disrupted:

“Readers of biography are in for a treat, and students of church history will see the Disruption for what it was: a church crisis that absorbed and impacted the lives of real people.”
-Iain D. Campbell ~ Minister, Point Free Church of Scotland, Isle of Lewis

“In telling this tale, Macleod has vividly brought to life the story of a man who was gregarious and generous. This book is a splendid example of the best kind of history.”
-Sandy Finlayson ~ Director of Library Services & Professor of Theological Bibliography, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“This book, with its detailed yet highly readable story, sets the pattern for others to follow. It is high-class biography, accurate and broad in scope, yet immensely interesting and informative.”
-Allan Harman ~ Research Professor of Old Testament, Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne, Australia

About the Author:
A. Donald MacLeod is Research Professor of Church History at Tyndale Theological Seminary, Toronto, Ontario. He is married to Judith and they have two sons and 5 grandchildren. To learn more about Donald and his writing, visit his website at

Where to Buy:
A Kirk Disrupted: Charles Cowan MP and the Free Church of Scotland by A. Donald MacLeod 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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