Recommended Resources on God

Living in the United States in the 21st century, we are blessed with a plethora of theological resources. The Bible, the gospel, and the things of God have never been so accessible as they are now in our society. Below are some of the books and articles that have been most helpful to me both to know God better and to love God better, the focus of Article II of Friendship’s statement of faith.

Resources on the Attributes of God

All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism by James E. Dolezal

God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith by Bruce Ware

Knowing God by J. I. Packer

The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul

Resources on the Trinity

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce Ware

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief by John M. Frame

Resources on God the Son

God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen J. Wellum

The Person of Christ by Donald MacLeod

Resources on the Holy Spirit

God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments by James M. Hamilton Jr.

Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter by Thomas R. Schreiner

The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson

“The Witness of the Spirit in Romans 8:16: Interpretation and Applications” by Daniel B. Wallace. Pp. 37-52 in Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? An Investigation into the Ministry of the Spirit of God Today, edited by Daniel B. Wallace and M. James Sawyer. (He has published an online version of this essay at

The Holy Spirit and Scripture

The Baptist Faith and Message first confesses of the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ.” This paragraph of Friendship’s statement of faith focuses on the Holy Spirit’s relationship to Scripture. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture in the past. He presently illuminates the meaning of Scripture to Christians and applies it to non-Christians in conversion to regenerate them and make them Christians.

The Holy Spirit’s Inspiration and Illumination of Scripture

The first article of The Baptist Faith and Message described the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of Scripture. That topic is also the subject of the first blog post in this series.

The Holy Spirit illuminates the meaning of Scripture so that people can understand it in the present. As Paul told the Corinthians, “we have received … the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Cor 2:12). The Spirit makes it so that Scripture takes root in a Christian’s heart (1 Cor 2:13). Non-Christians cannot comprehend Scripture or its message of salvation on their own, apart from the illumination of Scripture (1 Cor 2:14-15). We Christians can understand and apply Scripture to our lives only by God’s grace through the power of his Holy Spirit at work in us (1 Cor 2:16).

The Holy Spirit especially illuminates us Christians to understand how Scripture exalts Christ, and he teaches us through Scripture how we are to exalt Christ in our everyday lives, by our thoughts, words, and actions. Such was one of the key themes of Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse following the Last Supper. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would bear witness about him to the disciples (John 15:26). Twice Jesus later told his disciples that the Holy Spirit “will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14, 15). The apostle Peter also taught that the Holy Spirit exalts Christ through the Old Testament prophets: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Pet 1:10-11).

The Holy Spirit’s Application of Scripture in Conversion

In addition to illuminating Christians’ minds to understand the Bible, the Holy Spirit also uses God’s word to convert people. The Holy Spirit takes people who are dead in their trespasses and sin and makes them alive in Christ (Eph 2:1-10). The Baptist Faith and Message summarizes Jesus’ teaching about the Holy Spirit in John 16:8-11 by saying, “He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” James Hamilton explains these verses: “The world stands condemned by the righteousness manifested in God’s judgment of sin at the cross because it has not believed in Jesus” (God’s Indwelling Presence, p. 90). Jesus had previously taught his disciples, “‘Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die” (John 12:31-33). Jesus taught that after his death and resurrection, he would send the Holy Spirit to convict people of the judgment that God rendered at the cross. Jesus defeated Satan at the cross. At the cross, Jesus paid the sin debt of anyone and everyone who would ever trust in him for salvation. The Holy Spirit applies the redemption that Jesus accomplished at the cross. He is the one who convicts sinners to feel the weight of their sin and the just condemnation it has earned them.

Connected to his work of conviction, the Holy Spirit “calls men to the Saviour.” The Holy Spirit does the work both of the gospel call and the effectual call. The Holy Spirit calls all people everywhere to repent as they encounter God’s word, the Bible, either by reading it for themselves or by hearing it read or preached. People are responsible to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit in the gospel, but on their own they resist him (Acts 7:51). In sin, a person’s natural response to the gospel is to reject it. Those who reject the gospel are not rejecting the preacher of the gospel but the God of the gospel (1 Thess 4:8). However, the Holy Spirit also effectually calls people to Christ, as Paul writes: “those whom he called, he also justified” (Rom 8:30). The Holy Spirit by his grace and power makes people to feel the weight of their sin, he calls them to the Savior, and by his power they respond in faith.

Those who are effectually called by the Holy Spirit in this way respond in faith because the Holy Spirit regenerates them. As The Baptist Faith and Message says, the Holy Spirit “effects regeneration.” Jesus told Nicodemus clearly, for a person to be saved, he or she must be born again, born from above, born of the Spirit (John 3:1-8). Jesus chides Nicodemus for his inability to understand Jesus’ teaching about regeneration, since God had promised to regenerate his people in the Old Testament (Ezek 36:25-27). One of the blessings of the new covenant would be that God would give people new hearts and put his Spirit within them so that they would be able to obey him from the heart (Jer 31:31-34).

The New Testament closely relates regeneration and baptism. Paul writes that God “saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). In the earliest church, people were baptized the same day that they were reborn by the Holy Spirit. Baptism is an outward sign of the inward reality of regeneration. The Baptist Faith and Message explains why that is the case: “At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ.” There is no biblical evidence for a second baptism of the Holy Spirit that is normative for Christians throughout time and across diverse cultures. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is just another way of talking about regeneration (1 Cor 12:13). The baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a special event to fulfill John the Baptist’s prophecy that Jesus would baptize people “in the Holy Spirit and in fire” (Luke 3:16; Acts 2:3-4). Later in Acts, we get the normative experience of Christian conversion described by how the first Gentile converts received the Holy Spirit and were regenerated and promptly baptized (Acts 10:44-48). (Those Gentiles spoke in tongues as a special sign confirming to the Jewish Christians there that the Gentiles had in fact received the Holy Spirit just as they had.)


The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and continues to illuminate its contents to people today. Apart from the Holy Spirit, none of us can truly understand God’s word and apply it to our lives properly. The Holy Spirit applies Scripture in conversion to non-Christians. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin, calls them to repent and believe in the gospel, and regenerates their hearts. A person goes from being dead in sin to alive in Christ by the Spirit. When the Spirit regenerates someone, the person is simultaneously baptized into the body of Christ.

The Bible’s Christ-Centered Testimony

We at Friendship Baptist confess, “All Scripture is a testimony to Christ.” Previous blog posts have shown that both Jesus and the apostles teach us to read the Bible in a Christ-centered way. This blog post gives examples of how both the Old Testament and the New Testament testify to Christ.

Old Testament Testimony to Christ

Three word pictures in the Old Testament are especially clear in their testimony to Christ: offspring, son of God, and prophet.

First, Christ is the offspring anticipated throughout the Old Testament. This prophecy goes all the way back to Genesis 3:15, when God judged the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This prophecy foretold that someone would someday ultimately overcome the source of evil, though suffering in the process. Later biblical passages picked up on this prophecy (e.g., Num 24:17; Isa 28:3; Hab 3:13). Adam seems to have believed in the good news of this prophecy, based on his name of Eve (Gen 3:20). This prophecy also seems to have been handed down through the generations, as Lamech echoes it when he names his son, Noah (Gen 5:28-29). God further specifies that this offspring will descend from Abraham (Gen 22:17-18) and later David (2 Sam 7:12-13). Christ is this long-awaited offspring (Gal 3:16).*

Second, Christ is the perfect Son of God. In a previous blog, I noted the Adam-Christ typology that Paul uses in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. In addition to being a tied to biblical covenants, the Adam-Christ typology is also rooted in both Adam and Christ’s identity as sons of God. Genesis itself portrays Adam as the son of God. God made Adam “in the likeness of God,” and Adam later “fathered a son in his own likeness” (Gen 5:2-3). “Likeness” communicates the idea of sonship. In his Gospel, Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Adam, whom he identifies as “Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38). Jesus is the long-awaited perfect Son of God. Jesus existed as God the Son from eternity past, and he became incarnate as the Son of God. He was Son of God in his incarnation first by virtue of his virgin birth (Luke 1:35). He was also son of God as the Davidic heir (Luke 1:32). Davidic kings were referred to as God’s sons (e.g., 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 2). Davidic kings were God’s sons in that they were the representative head of Israel, which was collectively God’s son (Exod 4:22-23). All the failed sons of God in the Old Testament, from Adam to Israel to David and the subsequent Davidic kings, are foils for the one Perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Third, Christ is the perfect prophet. Moses had prophesied, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” (Deut 18:15). Moses told the people that they would be obligated to listen to this prophet (Deut 18:19), but they should not listen to false prophets, who would be known by their immorality or by the untruthfulness of their prophecies (Deut 18:20-22). Though true prophets ministered after Moses, Deuteronomy ends with an indication that a final, perfect prophet was expected: “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deut 34:10). But Jesus was this long-awaited prophet, as the Messiah (John 4:16-19, 25-26), and as the one identified as better than Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8). All the faithful prophets of the Old Testament foreshadowed Jesus, and all the false prophets were the inverse of him.

New Testament Testimony to Christ

It may seem obvious that the New Testament testifies about Christ, but even sermons and Bible studies based on various New Testament passages may be Christ-less and gospel-less. Such is a travesty, for indeed the New Testament testifies to Christ as the Savior and Lord of the world. For the sake of space, the rest of this post will only summarize how various sections of the New Testament testify to Christ and the gospel of his salvation.

Jesus is the long-awaited Davidic king (Matt 1-4) and new Moses (Matt 5-7) who brings about the kingdom of heaven (Matt 8-28). Christ is the Son of Man, with power over diseases, demons, disasters, and death (Mark). Jesus is the Son of God, who inaugurates God’s new covenant not only with Jews but also with Gentiles (Luke). Christ is the Word of God who inaugurates God’s new creation through the destruction and resurrection of God’s temple, his body (John). Jesus is the Lord whose gospel spreads to all (Acts). The epistles (Romans-Jude) collectively proclaim that Christ is the Lord of the church, which should submit to him by obeying all his commands. Revelation concludes the New Testament and all Scripture by identifying Jesus as the Lord who will return to judge all the earth.

We Christians should attend to all of Scripture, not only the New Testament but also the Old Testament, as testimony to Jesus Christ. We should read and apply the Old Testament to our lives today in light of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and as the head of the new covenant. Let us therefore read all of Scripture as a testimony to Christ and as a means of conforming us more into his image!

*A former pastor and professor of mine, Jim Hamilton, has written two really helpful articles about Genesis 3:15 and the identification of the offspring of Abraham with the offspring of the woman.