REVIEW: Discovering God in Stories from the Bible by Philip Graham Ryken

Another book about the attributes of God! Who needs it?

This might be the reaction of many in our day. This book, however, is uniquely approached and extremely helpful. Here is systematic theology (the Queen of the Sciences) set forth in the context of Biblical stories. People of all ages today have a need for genuine heroes and God is the ultimate Hero. We need to learn about Him and come to know Him and to know Him better. This book points us in that direction.

The use of Biblical stories enables us to understand God’s attributes more clearly and to remember them more easily. Stories stick in our minds.

Discovering God in Stories from the Bible is organized around the outstanding definition for God found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” Dr. Ryken also covers the glory of God before the attributes listed and the love of God at the end.

In a day in which many sermons do not have a lot of Biblical content or depth, Dr. Ryken points out that “the evangelical church has lost Spurgeon’s enthusiasm for investigating God….We want to be entertained rather than enlightened, distracted rather than discipled”(p. 13)

This book can be a great help to a pastor to understand and teach God’s attributes because it has the explanation of an attribute and then a Bible story to illustrate it and apply it to everyday life. He also relates the attribute to Jesus Christ and the New Testament.

In writing about the attributes of God, Dr. Ryken addresses perverted theological teachings that attack the biblical doctrine of God. For example, he points to the teaching of the so-called “openness of God.” This false god “does not know what the future holds because the future depends partly on us.”(pp. 71-72).

The book includes both very contemporary illustrations and quotes from Puritan writers and other well known historical figures. Dr. Ryken asks specific questions of the reader to move him to think seriously about his own life. Some of these questions are evangelistic in nature.

After the attributes are dealt with, there are a study guide with an ice-breaker question, a series of thought-provoking questions, and a parallel passage suggested for further study. At the end of the book there are a very thorough index of topics, people etc. and a Scripture verse index that appears to list every Scripture verse used anywhere in the book

Discovering God from Stories in the Bible would be very useful not only for pastors, but also for Sunday School classes, Bible study classes, small groups, and personal Bible study. Don’t miss getting this gem of a book. It is a mine of gold nuggets.

This book was first published in 1999 by Crossway and that edition is now out of print. Presbyterian and Reformed has published this reprint version.

Stuart B. Latimer is a Minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and is currently serving as Pastor of Devenger Road Presbyterian Church in Greer, South Carolina