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Book Review

The View from Mount Calvary: 24 Portraits of the Cross Throughout Scripture by John Phillips; published by Kregel Publications; price £10.99. Available from John Ritchie Ltd.

Respected author John Phillips, skilfully guides the reader through the entire Bible, on an unforgettable journey, centred at Calvary.

24 portraits of the cross fill our wondering gaze. The shadow of Calvary is seen to fall firstly across the pages of the Old Testament. In the first portrait, "Before the Foundation of the World", the author, being very adept in his use of alliteration, hangs his thoughts on three relevant pegs: 1) The Splendour of the Lord’s Person. 2) The Selection of the Lord’s People. 3) The Scope of the Lord’s Passion. Thus it is clearly established from the outset that Calvary was no afterthought with God.

Each succeeding chapter is outlined in a similar alliterative way and the method employed certainly assists memory retention.

Prior to each portrait, a relevant hymn in harmony with the theme has been inserted, to help stimulate praise and worship from thankful hearts. An index of these hymns has also been included, along with a comprehensive Scripture index which will prove useful to the diligent reader.

As the author stops at strategic places through the Bible, the cross is viewed pictorially in the types and illustrations of the Old Testament. Stand in silent awe before Mount Moriah then marvel at the five offerings. See Calvary loom into view poetically in the Psalms and in Jeremiah’s Lamentations. Catch a precious foreview of the cross presented prophetically by the Hebrew prophets.

Moving into the New Testament, pause subdued in holy wonder as you try in vain to fully grasp what Calvary meant personally to God’s beloved Son. Travel through the Epistles and see the truths of the Lord’s death applied to the believer practically.

This profitable journey ends with an inspiring consideration of what Calvary will mean perennially for this world at the Saviour’s return. The believer’s heart should leap for joy at the author’s comment: "Those nail-scarred hands will one day hold the sceptre".

A stirring devotional study, this book is to be recommended to those who have deep longings after Christ.


The Promise of God by George Bristow; published by Gospel Folio Press; price £13.95. Available from John Ritchie Ltd.

From 1987, the author, has served the Lord among Muslims in Turkey. His involvement with Turkish Muslims has provided him with at least one motive for considering whether the great theme of the promises of God "flows like a mighty river through all of God’s dealings with the human race". The Muslim perspective he describes is that the authority and validity of the Old Testament books and of the Gospel writings only lasted until Mohammed. The other influence upon him whom he acknowledges is Walter C Kaiser, from whose writings he draws in The Promise of God.

Bristow endeavours to show that one integrating concept in the Bible is the theme of promise. To do so he surveys over 13 chapters the development of the promise motif in the Old Testament, and in one chapter how the answer is found in the New Testament in its presentation of truth in respect of both the present and the future. The Old Testament survey is the section that would be of help to most readers. Although the chapter dealing with the New Testament picks up on important aspects of promise in relation to Israel, including the Law, the kingdom of God and the tribulation period, and does distinguish between the Church and Israel, the 8 pages are dense, and for most readers would require considerable unpacking. That chapter does acknowledge the importance of Romans 11 but in the limited space afforded cannot open its teaching to the reader.

In other ways, the author is thorough, and from that standpoint the volume will be of help to Christians seeking to understand the purpose of both Testaments. Within its 278 pages, The Promise of God devotes 30 pages to indexes and another 30 pages to 8 appendices. Each appendix is helpful. However, without the 6 pages dealing with Theophanies, the themes of The Promise of God could have been developed and these pages used to provide a fuller overview of the New Testament.



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