Anyone who hasn’t read Joel Beeke is missing out. Beeke has steeped himself in the biblical, practical, and theological mindset of the 16th-17th century Puritans and it shows. His writing is winsome and wise, accessible and arresting, devotional and deep. In his new book: “Portraits of Faith: What Five Biblical Characters Teach Us about Our Life with God” Beeke draws a rich and textured picture of what faith looks like from the stories of the Bible. He speaks in the first chapter of the challenge of merely defining faith. Faith is a rich biblical word that is laden with theological significance. Hours have been spent and pages have been written in the attempt to define it fully. Beeke tells the story of how he was given the task in seminary of writing a description of faith. Yet, he writes, “As I tried these ways of describing faith, I began to realize that faith is something far richer than all my theological language. It is as all-embracing as life itself, for faith is the heart of our relationship to God. […] You can best understand faith by seeing how faith operates by the Spirit in the lives of fallen sinners like us. And when I understood that, I began to make real progress.” (pg. 5, 7-8)
With this as his starting point, Beeke walks us through the stories of five biblical characters (Adam & Eve, the Shunammite woman, the Canaanite woman, and Caleb) and challenges his readers to, “ask yourself three questions. First, do I have saving faith? Second, am I exercising the particular aspect of faith evident in this biblical person? Third, and most important, how can this particular dimension of faith mature me in the most holy faith?” (pg. 8). Beeke’s book is short, simple, and refreshing. His chapters speak to both believers and unbelievers of the centrality of saving faith and challenge us all to grow in our faith.
I would like to thank the good folks over at Cross Focused Reviews for providing me with a free review copy of this book. I was not obligated to provide a positive review.