The Atonement: Books on the Atonement.

Each Saturday, during this series on the atonement of Jesus Christ, I will submit some books for you to consider reading which concern the substitutionary atonement of and by Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners. Some of these books are by authors you may readily recognize. Others you may not. Some of the books are by contemporary authors and pastors. Others are by pastors and theologians from church history. All are beneficial.

Today’s book originates from a series of plenary session messages given by various pastors and theologians at the 2008 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, which is annually sponsored by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. The book, compiled by Editor Richard D. Phillips, is entitled Precious Blood:  The Atoning Work of Christ.

Richard Phillips writes in the preface that, “At the very heart of our Christian faith is a precious red substance: the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sin-atoning death of Christ is remarkable for being at once most offensive to the world, most treasured by the church, most astonishing to the mind, and most stirring to the soul. Simply put, the one thing we would least expect to hear about God is that he sent his own Son to die for our sins. Thus it is Christ’s precious blood that puts the amazing into grace, puts the wonderful into the gospel, and puts the marvelous into God’s plan of salvation. There can be no greater truth to be faced than the gospel message of the cross, not greater mystery to be considered, and no greater comfort to be received. The cross is a theme that Christians will meditate on forever without exhausting its wonder, and of the cross God’s redeemed will sing glorious praise to unending ages.”  

The book is structured by two major divisions: Part 1: The Atonement in Biblical Revelation features a series of chapters addressing where the atonement of Jesus Christ is taught in the Scriptures. The chapter titles, and their respective authors, are as follows: 1. Necessary Blood, by Joel R. Beeke; 2. Redeeming Blood, by W. Robert Godfrey; 3. Atoning Blood, by Philip Graham Ryken; 4. Cleansing Blood, by Richard D. Phillips; 5. Offensive Blood, by W. Robert Godfrey; and 6. Precious Blood, by R. C. Sproul.

Part 2 examines The Atonement in Christian Thought. The chapter titles, and their respective authors, are also as follows. 7. Early Church Reflections on the Atonement, Derek W. H. Thomas; 8. The Medieval Achievement: Anselm on the Atonement, Philip Graham Ryken; 9. The Reformation Consensus on the Atonement, W. Robert Godfrey; 10. The Blood of Christ in Puritan Piety, Joel R. Beeke; 11. Post-Reformation Developments in the Doctrine of the Atonement, Carl R. Trueman and 12. Penal Substitutionary Atonement and its “Non-Violent” Critics, Richard D. Phillips.

Having attended several Philadelphia Conferences on Reformed Theology, I appreciate the various pastors and theologians who provide valuable and biblical insight to any given topic at this annual gathering. Reading this book gives the reader the sense of being at the 2008 conference. It will refresh the souls and minds of veteran believers and instruct and inspire those who come to grips with the cross of Christ for the very first time.

Whether you are familiar with all the contributing authors, or only some of them, you will be inspired, encouraged, enlightened and blessed. This is not only because of the ability of the men presenting the information, but also because of the subject which consumes the men presenting the information: the Lord Jesus Christ and His substitutionary atonement on the cross for His people.

Precious Blood:  The Atoning Work of Christ is published by Crossway Books and is available in various formats at

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!



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