Calvin, Bavinck, and Beeke! Oh My!

I recently wanted to take up reading Bavinck’s Wonderful Works alongside Calvin’s Institutes. I haven’t read either of them, and both are systematic theology staples in reformedom. I had been hoping to find a reading list that matched the authors’ chapters up with their systematic topics sequentially. After not finding anything, I decided to take the plunge and make my own.

However, after starting with the tedious task of building the reading list, I came across another systematic that I’ve dabbled in, but as of yet haven’t read all the way through, Beeke’s Puritan Theology. So… after mulling it over a while, I decided to include it too. Why not right? 

Below you’ll find a reading list for Herman Bavinck’s Wonderful Works of God, John Calvin’s Institutes (final revision), and Joel Beeke’s A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life – ordered sequentially by theological topic. I did my best to get the chapters in order so that one will read each author in the corresponding section back to back to back. Most likely there will be some mistakes, but all in all I think I did a fair job of it. Also, Beeke’s Puritan Theology has several chapters that are practical in nature (There’s an entire section at the end of the book devoted to practical life and sanctification). I evenly distributed these chapters throughout the reading list. I thought this would make for some good breaks from the more heady theological reading. The list below includes the chapter name in the original book, then the author name of that chapter, followed by the chapter number in the original book. Be prepared to have your reading schedule booked out!



  1. Man’s Highest Good Bavinck 1
  2. The Knowledge of God Calvin 1-2
  3. The Knowledge of God Bavinck 2
  4. The Knowledge of God Calvin 3-5
  5. General Revelation Bavinck 3-4
  6. Manner of Special Revelation Bavinck 5
  7. Content of Special Revelation Bavinck 6
  8. Scripture Calvin 6-9
  9. Scripture Bavinck 7-8
  10. Puritans on Nat. & Sup. Rev Beeke 1
  11. Puritan Exegesis Beeke 2
  12. William Ames’ Marrow Beeke 3
  13. Pilgrim Mentality Beeke 52

Theology Proper

  1. The Being of God Calvin 10-12
  2. The Being of God Bavinck 9
  3. Charnock on the Attributes Beeke 4
  4. The Trinity Calvin 13
  5. The Trinity Bavinck 10
  6. Puritans on Trinity Beeke 5
  7. Owen on the Trinity Beeke 6
  8. Creation Calvin 14
  9. Man Calvin 15
  10. Providence Calvin 16
  11. Creation & Providence Bavinck 11
  12. Man Bavinck 12
  13. Godly Home Beeke 53
  14. Puritans on Providence Beeke 10
  15. Angels Beeke 11
  16. Demons Beeke 12

Anthropology & Covenant Theology

  1. Sin Calvin 2.1-3
  2. Sin Bavinck 13
  3. Puritans on Sin Beeke 13
  4. Redemption & the Law Calvin 2.4-8
  5. Puritans on Works Beeke 14
  6. Covenant of Grace Calvin 2.9-11
  7. Covenant of Grace Bavinck 14
  8. Puritans on Redemption Beeke 15
  9. Puritans on Grace Beeke 16
  10. Henry on Prayer Beeke 54
  11. Puritans on Old & New Cov. Beeke 17
  12. Owen on Sinai Beeke 18
  13. Puritans on Cov Cond. Beeke 19
  14. Puritans on Law & Gospel Beeke 20
  15. Christ Mediator Calvin 2.12
  16. Natures of Christ Calvin 2.13-14
  17. Christology Cont. Calvin 2.15-17
  18. Christ Mediator Bavinck 15
  19. Christ’s 2 Natures Bavinck 16
  20. Humiliation of Christ Bavinck 17
  21. Exaltation of Christ Bavinck 18
  22. Puritan Christology Beeke 21
  23. Puritan Meditation Beeke 55
  24. Puritans on the Offices Beeke 22
  25. Blood of Christ Beeke 23
  26. Burgess on Intercession Beeke 24
  27. Goodwin on Christ’s Heart Beeke 25
  28. Promises of God Beeke 26


  1. Spirit, Faith, Regeneration Calvin 3.1-3
  2. Distortions of the Gospel Calvin 3.4-5
  3. The Christian Life Calvin 3.6-10
  4. The Holy Spirit Bavinck 19
  5. Puritans on the Spirit Beeke 27
  6. Puritan Prep. Grace Beeke 28
  7. Christian Calling Bavinck 20
  8. Puritans on Conscience Beeke 56
  9. Puritans on Regeneration Beeke 29
  10. Justification Calvin 3.11-14
  11. Justification Contd. Calvin 3.15-18
  12. Justification Bavinck 21
  13. Puritans on Justification Beeke 30
  14. Owen on Justification Beeke 31
  15. Puritans on Coming to Christ Beeke 32
  16. Christian Freedom Calvin 3.19
  17. Prayer Calvin 3.20
  18. Sanctification Bavinck 22
  19. Puritans on Living Beeke 33
  20. Puritans on Adoption Beeke 34
  21. Puritan Causistry Beeke 57
  22. Third Use of the Law Beeke 35
  23. Sibbes on Entertain. the Sp. Beeke 36
  24. Perkins Conscience Beeke 37
  25. Eternal Election Calvin 3.21-22
  26. Eternal Election contd. Calvin 3.23-24
  27. Perkins on Predest. Beeke 7
  28. Goodwin on Et. Just. Beeke 8
  29. Goodwin’s Supralapsarianism Beeke 9
  30. Puritans on Perseverance Beeke 38


  1. The Church (1) Calvin 4.1-3
  2. Puritans on Offices Beeke 40
  3. The Church (2) Calvin 4.4-6
  4. Sacrificial Zeal Beeke 58
  5. Church Government Beeke 39
  6. The Church (3) Calvin 4.7-9
  7. Owen on Sabbath Beeke 41
  8. The Church (4) Calvin 4.10-13
  9. Puritan Preaching Beeke 42-43
  10. Bunyan’s Preaching Beeke 44
  11. The Sacraments Calvin 4.14
  12. Baptism Calvin 4.15-16
  13. Puritan Paedo. Beeke 45
  14. Baptism Berkhoff (for us Reformed Baptists)
  15. Baptism Grudem (for extra credit)
  16. Lord’s Supper Calvin 4.17
  17. Practical Lessons Beeke 59
  18. Puritans Lord’s Supper Beeke 46
  19. False Sacraments Calvin 4.18-19
  20. The Church Bavinck 23
  21. Puritan Missions Beeke 47
  22. Civil Government Calvin 4.20


  1. Final Resurrection Calvin 3.25
  2. City on a Hill Beeke 48
  3. Eternal Life Bavinck 24
  4. Manton’s Works Judgment Beeke 49
  5. Goodwin’s Revelation Beeke 50
  6. Love’s Heaven & Hell Beeke 51
  7. Interlude: Beeke 60

Thomas Boston’s Directions on Theological Meditation

These directions on how to meditate are taken from the 18th century Puritan theologian Thomas Boston. The type of meditation Boston is describing is the Puritan practice of meditation by theological subject. In this type of meditation, the topics meditated on were often the attributes of God, or other systematic theological subjects.

How to Meditate

  1. Begin with a short prayer asking God to bless your time in meditation. A good example is David’s prayer in the Psalms, ‘O Lord, open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
  2. Be resolute to meditate on this subject and finish. Your mind will be pulled in all kinds of ways. Satan will try to divert you. Do not have it.
  3. Write out a short description of what the subject you have chosen is.
  4. If there are different kinds or categories within your subject list them out and consider the differences.
  5. If possible, consider the causes of your subject and write them out.
  6. Consider the effects of your subject and write them out.
  7. Consider the properties of your subject. Of what does it consist? Write these out.
  8. Consider if there are opposites of your subject. What are they and why are they opposites?
  9. What things can your subject be compared to? Is there anything similar?
  10. Look up and examine all the Scriptural testimony concerning your subject. Does it shed further light for any of the previous? A topical concordance would be good for this.
  11. Think and enlarge on the subject that your heart my be affected and touched with it. Pray that God would give you a suitable relish and affection for the subject at hand.
  12. Mourn the lack of this affection in your soul to God.
  13. Work to deeply desire the affection for this spiritual subject that you lack.
  14. Confess your inability to do for yourself what you lack to God.
  15. Ask God to work in you this desire, and petition him for it dearly.
  16. Believe that God will grant your request.
  17. Conclude all of this with thankfulness to God and commit yourselves to him.

For further reading see The Whole Works of Thomas Boston, Volume 4, p. 453. The Duty of Solemn Meditation. For help in which subjects to consider, Thomas Watson (a contemporary of Boston), offers an abundance of different topics for this type of meditation in his classic treatise on meditation titled, ‘The Christian on the Mount.’

Fear and Trembling

[Originally Published in 2017]

by Liam Walsh

This is an updated version of my last post, Beholding the Glory of the Gospel. Essentially this is a step by step guide for what to do when reading your Bible. I have updated this post to better reflect what most helps me get into the presence of God and to experience him. This is something to go through once you have your Bible in front of you and have a Bible reading plan to start. If you’re more of a neat-nic like me, you might find this helpful (if not, you may just be overwhelmed). I find that if I don’t have a plan for how to read, I simply read my Bible and just go on my way without it having any affect on me.

This plan is something I’ve gathered together from a few different sources over a few years. It really helps my Bible reading affect my soul, and work change in me, rather than just being something I glance over. Before starting you may want to grab a coffee, get out a journal, maybe light a candle, or turn on some quiet music that helps you get into God’s presence. To go through everything here will probably take a few sittings, so some people may find it better to pick and choose some things that are most helpful for them. My hope is that this will help you to more deeply enjoy, know, and be swallowed up in the glorious majesty of Jesus our king!

Luke 8:18

Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”

2 Corinthians 2:16

to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.


  1. Remove other cares from my thoughts. If necessary list them out for dealing with later.
  2. Get my heart impressed with an awful sense of the majesty and holiness of God into who’s presence I am going, and who’s word I am about to hear. See Psa. 89:5-14; Isa. 6:1-5; Psa. 46:1-11.
  3. Apply Christ’s suffering, death, and his imputed righteous life in my place, to myself and my sin and even my self made righteousness that stands between my soul and God.
  4. Examine myself and stir up in my heart great spiritual desires for my own soul’s needs and deficiencies.
  5. Pray that God would give me assistance in seeing, feeling, and hearing what he has for me in his word. Pray that he would direct the word to me as I need it, and that he would press it home on my heart with his blessing in order that I may be enlightened, sanctified, strengthened, humbled, or raised up by it, as my case requires according to Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
  6. Ask that God would pour out his Spirit on me through the reading of his word, knowing that none of these actions procure God’s action toward me, but that he acts according to his own will, and pours out his Spirit on whom he wills. Ask this according to the promise in Proverbs 1:23: “If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.”


  1. Treat the reading with great respect and read without many distractions or breaks which show contempt for God who is speaking to me by his word.
  2. Read each verse as if it is to me. See Thomas Watson here: “Take every word as spoken to yourselves. When the word thunders against sin, think thus: “God means my sins;” when it presseth any duty, “God intends me in this.” Many put off Scripture from themselves, as if it only concerned those who lived in the time when it was written; but if you intend to profit by the word, bring it home to yourselves: a medicine will do no good, unless it be applied.” (See Watson’s great little book on spiritual disciplines, Heaven Taken by Storm.) Donald Whitney says of this quote: “Watson was right when he said, “Take every word as spoken to yourselves.” But we cannot do that until we understand how it was intended for those who heard it first. If you take every word of God’s call to Abram in Genesis 12:1-7 as spoken to yourself, you’ll soon be moving to Israel. But if you understand that particular call as unique to Abram, you can still discover the timeless truths within it and apply every word to yourself. Have you followed the call of God to come to Christ? Are you willing to obey the voice of God wherever He might call you—to a new job, a new location, the mission field, etc.?” (See Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life).
  3. Consider each section of Scripture prayerfully, diligently, and slowly, not carelessly passing by anything so as to miss anything God would have for me.
  4. Prayerfully consider how each verse makes me feel, and also how the author (both the Biblical, and ultimate author, God the Holy Spirit) feels in this writing. Think on the emotion that rises and send it up to prayer to God for every sentence or so. This is the gateway to real interaction with God.
  5. Do this until a word from God stands out in my heart by the Power of the Holy Spirit. This can be a word specifically to my spiritual need, situation, fear; or a word that frightens me or gives me deep concern.

If nothing in God’s word seems to be jumping out and speaking to me directly:

  1. Then make a list of everything it says about God (Father, Son, and Spirit).
  2. List anything that it tells you about yourself.
  3. List any examples to be followed (or things that need to be avoided).
  4. List any commands to be obeyed.
  5. Finally, list any promises to claim.
  6. When this is all done, choose the verse and truth that is most striking and helpful to you (sometimes nothing in particular will really stand out, if this happens just choose the one that most strikes you, even if it doesn’t seem that great – often God will surprise you with these).
  7. Paraphrase the thought or verse in your own words.


Write down answers to the following questions:

  1. What does this text show me about God for which I should praise or thank him? Adore, praise, and thank him for this.
  2. What does the text show me about my sin that I should confess and repent of? What false attitudes, behavior, emotions, or idols come alive in me whenever I forget this truth? Confess and repent of this in prayer to God.
  3. What does the text show me about a need that I have? What do I need to do or become in light of this? How shall I petition God for it? Petition and plead with God for this in prayer.
  4. How is Jesus Christ or the grace that I have in him crucial to helping me overcome the sin I have confessed or to answering the need I have? Pour out your thanks to God for Jesus and his salvation.
  5. How would this change my life if I took it seriously— if this truth were fully alive and effective in my inward being? Also, why might God be showing this to me now? What is going on in my life that he would be bringing this to my attention today? How must I apply this to my life. Are there things I can implement in life to make trusting Jesus in this area a reality?
  6. Pray for all of your needs and pressing concerns.
  7. Pray for others on the truth that God has revealed to you. If you have a prayer list, use it here.
  8. Take a final moment just to enjoy God and his presence. Do this however you would like. I personally prefer enjoying God’s presence as I read a devotion on the Bible text I just read. Good devotions I’ve found that follow a Bible reading plan are:

Older Devotions (Dead Guys)

Philip Doddridge’s Family Expositor (Usually 2-6 volumes depending on the edition; contains a devotion for every section in the New Testament (about every 4-10 verses), and by far, my very favorite) Paperback V1 V2 | Hardcover V1 V2

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (very devotional throughout, goes through the entire Bible by sections (usually 2-5 pages for every 10-15 verses give or take) Single Volume | Six Volume Edition

Joseph Hall’s Contemplations (contains a 2 or 3 page devotion for every narrative section (typically a chapter) of the Bible) Kindle Edition V1 V2 V3 | Hardcover

Robert Hawker’s Poor Man Commentaries (contains a devotion (about a page long) for every chapter of the Bible) Kindle Edition | New Testament Hardcover | Old Testament Hardcover | Abridged New Testament & Psalms Hardcover

Isaac Watts’ Psalms & Hymns (the Psalms; typically one to three hymns for each Psalm) Paperback | Hardcover

Thomas Chalmers’ Sabbath Scripture Readings Volumes I & II (I haven’t spent much time in these, but they contain devotions for every chapter of the New Testament in volume I and Gen. 1 – 2 Kings 11 in volume II) Paperback V1 V2

Modern Devotions

D. A. Carson’s For the Love of God, Volumes I & II (this follows the McCheyne Bible reading plan and pretty much covers the whole Bible, (although there are some chapters that don’t get a devotion); the devotions typically correspond to a single Bible chapter) Paperback V1 V2 | Hardcover V1 V2

Joel Beeke’s Family Worship Guide (entire Bible) (I haven’t looked at this yet, but it is likely very good) Hardcover | Leather

ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible (entire Bible) (I haven’t seen much of this one either, but it’s supposed to be great) Many Editions

There are many other good devotionals that I didn’t list because they aren’t really arranged chronologically in order to be a companion to reading through the Bible, but rather as something to be read on their own. I’m also sure that there are other devotions that are arranged to be read chronologically with Bible reading that I haven’t heard of yet. If you know of any, feel free to post them in the comments!

I’ve gleaned these directions from several authors. The Approaching God and Hearing Godsections are mostly adaptations from a sermon (which I can no longer find) of the puritan Thomas Boston. Some of the content in the Hearing God section is from Donald Whitney’s excellent Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. The Tilling the Soil and Meditation sections are taken directly from Tim Keller’s great book Prayer. All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version.

May God provoke you to more awe, delight, and satisfaction in him through his word in the coming year!

Jesus Before Jesus

Prophetic Poetry

One of the great turning-points that led me to have a greater awe in the Bible was when I found that the Bible spoke of Jesus before he ever came. The Bible spoke of him hundreds, and almost thousands of years before he came. There are scores of prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament. My favorite one though, is the twenty-second Psalm.

Psalm 22 depicts the whole crucifixion scene. Here are verses 12-18:

Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

they open wide they’re mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;

my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me;

they have pierced my hands and my feet- I can count all of my bones-

they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them,and for my clothing they cast lots.

Psalm 22:12-18 ESV

Now let me rehash some of what we read above in case you missed it.

  1. The person speaking here dies at the hands of persecutors (you lay me in the dust of death)
  2. The person here is in deep physical anguish (my heart is like wax; my strength is dried up)
  3. The person here has their hands and feet pierced (they have pierced my hands and feet)
  4. The person’s garments are taken by the persecutors (they divide my garments among them)
  5. The person’s clothing -seemingly a different article of it than above- is also gambled for (for my clothing they cast lots)

The Awe of God’s Foretelling

This is astonishing! In the beautiful mysterious way that Biblical prophecy does, this Psalm startlingly, even pointedly, depicts Jesus’ last moments. What’s even more fascinating, is that not only does it mention his hands and feet being pierced, but it also mentions both the dividing of Jesus’ garment, and the gambling for his cloak. This is detailed in the Gospel of John chapter 19, verse 23:

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.

John 19:23 ESV

Another interesting fact is that this Psalm couldn’t fully represent David, its Old Testament author, because these events do not line up with how David died, or even how he was persecuted.

So how long before Jesus’ crucifixion was this Psalm written? Biblical scholars place the composition of this Psalm in the time of the Davidic Dynasty, somewhere around 1000 BC. But even scholars who push for a later date, date the writing of this Psalm around 587 BC. So this Psalm was written at the latest about 600 years before Jesus underwent crucifixion. Now, what’s incredible about this date, even the later date, is that this is before the practice of crucifixion even existed yet. So the Psalmist mentioning hands and feet being pierced has no natural explanation. (See the featured image above for the Oldest Existing Psalm 22 Manuscript [5/6HevPs Scroll]).

The Consolation of God’s Promise and His Plan

Why would God go through the trouble of announcing this beforehand in this strange mysterious way? Because God delights to fill us with awe at the beauty and mystery of his coming as a man. Jesus quoted this Psalm from the cross. It was one of his last words before he died. He cried out from the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” which is the first line of Psalm 22. This was Jesus pointing us to this Psalm, and his death as the fulfillment of it.

This Psalm is the poetry of God, displaying to us the agony of his own suffering for us. It is fitting that the most glorious event in the cosmos was foretold by it’s creator in song. In his infinite mercy, God became a man, was born into human history, and lived a perfectly righteous life, in order that he could take all our sin, shame, condemnation, punishment, and death, – all of it, on himself through the cross, and give us his brilliantly perfect righteous life in place of our own sinful one.

Why was Jesus forsaken on the cross? So that we never will be. We will never be forsaken, left, forgotten, or neglected by him. There no longer remains punishment, shame, guilt, or fear. They were all placed on Jesus in the brutality of the cross. Instead he pours out on us his love, kindness, delight, and nearness. You are so dear to him, that he died for you. There is no more religious working, white knuckling, measuring up, earning, or trying to merit his approval, because his perfect, sinless, earthly life he gives to you; it is counted as yours. You are adored. Your sins are gone. You are free. And you will be an example of the glorious depth of his unparalleled love throughout the ages of eternity future.

Welcome to Stumblingstone Press!

Welcome to Stumblingstone Press! If you want to learn more about this site, please read the About page. I am excited to now have a website for my publishing excursions! Be sure to check out the new release An Authentic Faith: The Epistle of James by Charles Spurgeon. There are still some kinks that I’m working out on the site, so thank you for your patience. Also I’ll be working on getting an Instagram profile up soon! More books are in the works! Explore the site and enjoy – and thanks for checking everything out!