Here is book that you must read, preach, and teach. John Frame has produced another outstanding kingdom-building book. Though the title could be a bit misleading, true and wonderful as it is, it is more than about salvation. It is an introduction to systematic theology. Before you disregard it as just another theology book, remember from Frame’s other books, he views theology as life and life as theology. Even though he says that this is a book for beginners in theology, it will challenge us all to think more biblically. He says he has written for a college-level audience which I believe would also include new seminarians.
Salvation Belongs to the Lord is unique in that it will challenge those engaged in full-time teaching and preaching, but it is also very readable for others in the church. He says that this is not a part of his Theology of Lordship series, but I believe it should be read before the others in that series. In a readable and understandable style, Frame gives us the big picture of the Sovereign God and Lordship over all things, including the church and salvation. I agree that understanding the big picture of God’s truth and reality will enable us to handle the details more effectively.
This is also a timely book in that we are living in a time when studying doctrine, at least in a systematic way, is not very popular. Systematics is a pedagogical device to help us understand more of God and his Word as it relates the parts to the whole and ties the teachings of the Bible together. Frame is right when he says, “the Bible is not a miscellaneous collection of ideas but a coherent, consistent system of truth in which major doctrines depend on one another.” I believe that is why it is difficult for people to know how to think biblically, because they cannot always connect the dots in the Scriptures. This book will enable the reader and student to do that better and more practically than many other books that have been written.
The book contains two parts. Part one lays the foundation for what he writes about in his Lordship series books. It is about the Sovereign and Triune God, His Word, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. Part two deals with the ordo salutis, salvation, thus the title.
In part two he opens up the doctrines of grace, including the means of grace. He also treats the topic of the church and kingdom clearly. For example, while the Reformers listed three marks of the true visible church, Frame suggests that several others should be part of that list: love among the brothers and sisters, worship, and the Great Commission.
He gives good insight into the government of the church. His conclusion on the “Nature of the Church” challenges us to remember that “the well-being of the church has more to do with the work of the Spirit than with the form of government.” His section on the Church and Kingdom is also helpful. For example, he says that God’s kingdom is synonymous with God’s sovereignty. “The church consists of those who have been conquered by God’s saving power, who are now enlisted in the warfare of God’s kingdom against the kingdom of Satan…The church is the headquarters of the kingdom of God, the base from which God’s dominion extends and expands,” (page 249).
He also uses the term “missional church” to underscore the church’s task in making kingdom disciples. He highlights three elements that make up the missional church–worship, nurture, and witness.
Because of the value of this book, I would hope that a leader’s or teacher’s guide would be produced to assist churches in building this into their kingdom discipleship curriculum. Dr. William Edgar, professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, made a descriptive comment on the cover of the book, “We can be grateful for such a powerful and clear exposition of the whole range of theology. It is at once vigorously orthodox and sweetly pastoral.”