25 Quotes from “Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief” by John Frame

I had the pleasure of reading this book with a small group of men in my church. It’s quite a long book, so it was great to have the accountability of friends to keep me motivated. Frame definitely  has the ability to bog me down at times with some of the real dense and technical stuff, so the reading group was also helpful becasue it allowed for an opportunity to discuss some of the more weighty and/or challenging topics, and I think that helped us all understand it better. From a critical standpoint, he, at times, seemed to see things as too cut and dry giving little room for mystery where it seems there may be more to the story. Further, his triads tended to come off too simplistic in many cases which seemed to domesticate the magnitude of the doctrine it was meant to explain. Now with the couple of critiques out of the way, my overwhelming reaction to the book is gratitude to Dr. Frame. This was, and is, an amazing resource. The time and effort to read this book was not in vain, and believe I will benefit from it for years to come.

If you’re interested in reading an honest review of the book by Kevin DeYoung look here, if you would like to read an excerpt you can find that here, and if you would like to purchase the book for yourself you can do so here.

The following is a list of 25 of my favorite quotes from the book. Enjoy!

1. Page 3

Definitions are useful, but we should be warned that they are rarely, if ever, found in Scripture itself. Such definitions are themselves theology in that they are the work of human beings trying to understand Scripture.

2. Page 93

Since Jesus’ ascension, the kingdom of God is the work of God through his people, bringing Jesus’ Kingship to bear on the whole world. It is bringing people to bow the knee to him, and every tongue to confess his lordship. It is turning people into disciples, baptizing, and teaching them to observe everything that Jesus has taught us.

3. Page 121

God is the ultimate context of the biblical story. In that story, everything is “from him and through him and to him,” and therefore to his glory forever (Rom. 11:36).

4. Page 155

But here we must face the fact that our decisions are not independent of God, and therefore that our definition of freedom must be, somehow, consistent with God’s sovereignty over the human will.

5. Page 217

The difference between the old and new covenants is that the blood of the new covenant, the blood of Christ, actually cleanses from sin.

6. Page 269

In the Bible’s emphasis on God’s jealousy, we see that there is a profound analogy between God’s covenant and the marriage relation. Idolatry is like adultery. The same attitude of covenant disloyalty lies behind both sins. Husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25). That love is exclusive in both cases. So God’s jealousy clearly manifests his lordship.

7. Page 345

…though Scripture often refers to God’s will (much more often than to God’s mind), it does not typically speak of the will as some metaphysical or psychological entity in God that enables him to make decisions or exercise power. Rather, God’s will is the decisions themselves.

8. Page 450

The most concise, and arguably most fundamental, summary of OT teaching is “Yahweh is Lord.” But the NT, over and over again, represents Jesus as Lord in the same way that Yahweh is Lord. The most fundamental summary of NT teaching is “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:11; see also Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3).

9. Page 531

So the personal presence of God always accompanies the Word, speaking the Word to our hearts. Where the Word is, God is, and where God is, the Word is. We should never try to seek fellowship with God apart form the Word. And when we do hear or read the Word, we should understand that we are entering the temple of God himself. That is of say, God’s word is holy (2 Tim. 3:15).

10. Page 601

The historical portions of Scripture (chiefly Genesis-Esther and the four Gospels) are not academic histories in the modern sense. Their purpose is to narrate the acts of God to redeem his people.

11. Page 619

Certainly Scripture contains more specific information relevant to theology than to dentistry. But sufficient in the present context is not sufficiency of specific information but sufficiency of divine words. Scripture contains divine words sufficient for all of life.

12. Page 659

…we need theology because we have a problem understanding Scripture. Theology is the teaching ministry of the church, addressing that need.

13. Page 668

God’s word is the ultimate criterion of truth and right. it is the judge of what reasoning is valid and sound. The ultimate test of a scholar is whether his work agrees with Scripture. And Scripture determines what evidences are to be believed.

14. Page 697

In [his Institutes], Calvin points out that the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are interconnected, so that we cannot know ourselves without knowing God, or vice versa.

15. Page 704

We do not believe that God is so far removed from us that he cannot be known or that we can know him at all by autonomous reasoning. We believe, rather, that although we cannot know God as he knows himself, as ultimate controller and authority, we do know him as he has chosen to reveal himself to us, in a way appropriate to creatures.

16. Page 740

This is the process of ethical renewal, and it is by this process, Paul says, that we are able to “prove” what the will of God is. This is the opposite from what we usually hear: generally the advice we hear is to learn the will of God, and then we will be able to become more holy. That advice is true enough. But it also works the other way: be transformed, and then your renewed mind will be able to discern God’s will.

17. Page 823

Moral Freedom is the most important kind of freedom mentioned in Scripture, the freedom from sin given to us by the redemptive work of Christ. But is is not a condition of moral responsibility. Those who are bound in slavery to sin are morally responsible, no more or less so than those who are free in Christ.

18. Page 858

If we object to God’s act of condemning us in Adam, we should equally object to his justifying us in Christ. In Romans 5:12-19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, these two relationships are parallel. We should, then, reject Christ’s sacrifice and accept the task of trying to save ourselves as individuals. But that task is doomed from the start. Scripture gives us no hope that we can save ourselves. We cannot atone for our past sins, nor can we force ourselves to stop sinning, apart form divine grace (Eph. 2:8-9).

19. Page 968

The ground of justification is the basis on which we are justified. It answers the questions: why should God declare me to be just? The answer is, simply: Christ.

20. Page 980

…adoption, belonging to God’s family, is the height of our privilege as God’s people, and the beginning of our heavenly reward. It is the foundation of all our relationship with God and one another. God’s name is our family name, the name by which we will be known through all eternity.

21. Page 988

A gun will subdue a man, but only the sword of God’s Word, wielded in prayer, will subdue Satan.

22. Page 1003

If you are concerned about your faithfulness and devotion to Christ, your concern is a mark of true faith. Wolves in sheep’s clothing are not concerned about such things.

23. Page 1091

When people embrace the spiritual benefits of the gospel, it changes their lives comprehensively. It gives them new values and a new power to emulate God’s holiness… So Christians throughout history have indeed transformed many spheres of human life: science, the arts, politics, education, the care of the poor and sick. This is almost inevitable: regenerate people renew the institutions and practices of the world.

24. Page 1101

We are not saved by works, but we are certainly saved for works.

25. Page 1109

Understanding Scripture, understanding its meaning, is applying it to situations. A person who understands the Bible is a person who is able to use the Bible to answer his questions, to guide his life… theology is application.