My Thoughts On Better Than The Beginning By Dr. Richard Barcellos

Let me say upfront that this is not a technical review. Not only do I not know how to write them, I’m not always a fan of them. With that said I simply wish to offer my thoughts on this book.
I’ll begin with my review at Amazon. Then I’ll elaborate further with some quotes from the book itself.
I wrote (and mean every whit of it):

There are certain books that are theologically informative. Then there are certain books which are theologically informative while causing you to look and behold the beauty and majesty of the greatness of our triune God through the face of Christ Jesus. Dr. Richard Barcellos’ book Better Than The Beginning does just that. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 3:16, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh…” Why was God manifested in the flesh? Why such condescension? I once thought I had a great handle on that question until I read Better than the Beginning. I heartily recommend this work to pastors and their congregations. It will help you understand God’s great work of creation and its consummation. While many books deal with creation, they can often get bogged down in scientific evidence and other technicalities and lose focus on Christ. While Dr. Barcellos deals with some of those other issues, he does so in a way where you will not leave from staring at the beauty of Christ. As he expounds in the book, the work of creation and consummation is truly “Son-tilted.” The end is better than the beginning.

 While I am an avid book reader this is the first book I’ve reviewed on Amazon. It has impacted me that much. This book really helped me get a better grasp on creation, the incarnation of Christ, His resurrection, ascension and His return. Simply put, I love Christ all the more because of it.

I’m an avid theological book reader. I’ve read many great and good theological books. Yet there are times when the author can get a bit too technical and academic that my attention and focus can be taken from Christ to mere concepts and issues. In fact I’ve read many commentaries like that. While those are very helpful and good, I would much prefer those books where my attention is brought to the beauty and majesty of the greatness of our triune God through the face of Christ Jesus. The first thing I observed in reading this book (I’ve read it twice) is it does just that.
Make no mistake about it, Dr. Barcellos can write and speak in an academic and technical fashion. His two chapters in the Southern California Reformed Baptist Pastors’ Conference Papers (these two chapters are the foundational exegetical work for Better Than The Beginning, and a very good book in and of themselves) demonstrate this. He can and does break down prepositional phrases and such, but he does so in a way where the reader is left gazing and rejoicing in the glory of Christ.
I believe the reason for this is because Dr. Barcellos is not only an academic and theologian but also a pastor and therefore an expositor. This becomes evident in the book. Here’s an example where he breaks down the prepositional phrase “to Him are all things” (Romans. 11:36), where he writes:

All things redound to His glory, they reverberate His value, His worth, His beauty, and His majesty. Everything that is, is for Him…How come no one knows the mind of the LORD? How come no one has been His counselor? How come no one has first given to Him that it might be repaid to him? Because God has made all things and sustains all things for His glory and does not need to consult us concerning how to bring glory to Himself in what He does. God’s supreme goal in all things, therefore, is His own glory, His own majesty on display, His own good, His own honor, His own value, His own praise, His own fame. God is in the business of fetching glory for Himself; He’s in the business of self-advertisement. He regards Himself supremely. God created all things so that He would have a stage on which to display Himself.*

The above quote is what I mean when I wrote “…there are certain books which are theologically informative while causing you to look and behold the beauty and majesty of the greatness of our triune God through the face of Christ Jesus. Dr. Richard Barcellos’ book Better Than The Beginning does just that.” That is not one little isolated quote. The book is full of precious quotable gems, causing you to behold the beauty of our triune God through the face of Christ the Lord.
In the book Dr. Barcellos uses a phrase about the work of creation being “Son-tilted.” His theology in the book proves this to be true. He writes:

Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God become man, is God’s remedy for Adam’s failure. Jesus Christ takes His seed where Adam failed to take his. Salvation in Christ is better than creation in the image of God and citizenship in the garden of Eden. God does not place believers in Christ back at the starting line in the same position in which Adam was created. He grants irrevocable, eternal life based on the doing and dying of Jesus to all who believe the gospel. The end is the beginning glorified. It is better than the beginning. Christ takes all sinners who believe the gospel to His land, His eschatological temple, His paradise–the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwells only righteousness. Praise God–Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!*

And:

The Father sent the Son to become one of us to save us and give us the Spirit. The Father prepared a body for the Son to assume that believers might possess the Holy Spirit. The Son, who created all things, became what He was not in order that we might become what we were not. The Son of God became man for us and for our salvation….Notice that Christ is both Creator of all things (Col. 1:16) and head of the church (Col. 1:18). Notice also that Christ reconciles all things (Col. 1:20). Sin brought a rupture to the cosmos. Sin brought distortion and curse. Mankind is fallen in sin and under a divine curse. Even some angels fell from their first abode (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). It all seemed to go so wrong. God gave His first earthly son, Adam (Luke 3:38), the earth to subdue (Gen. 1:28) for His glory (Rom. 11:36). But Adam failed miserably. The last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:45), however, will not fail. He will bring many sons to a glorified state of sinless perfection (Heb. 2:10), wherein all the glory, all the lauding, and all the honoring goes to Him, and rightly so.*

I once thought I had a good grasp on understanding the work of creation being “Son-tilted” and the condescension of Christ until I read Better Than The Beginning. I was preaching through 1 Timothy, on the mystery of godliness and our great confession (1 Timothy 3:16). This book changed the direction of my sermon(s). I was dealing with the phrase “He was manifested in the flesh.” Oftentimes preachers can get so caught up in the salvation of sinners that we forget the rest of creation. Sometimes this has led to undermining and failing to appreciate the whole work of Christ. The “new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells” speaks of the eschatological wonder of the end being better than the beginning (1 Peter 3:13); Not only is Christ the redeemer of sinners (which I believe is the heart of the Gospel) but also of the whole cosmos. The two cannot be separated. Sometimes preachers are guilty of forgetting to preach and teach this (I know I have I have been). Dr. James Renihan points out the implications of this in his endorsement of the book. He writes:

After reading this book, I wonder, ‘is it possible that we are functional deists?’ Have we been so profoundly influenced by the secular culture around us that we fail to see the centrality and foundational character of the doctrine of creation? Is it possible that even while giving lip-service to the doctrine we fail to live in the light of its implications? In this work, Dr. Barcellos shows us why this doctrine is so very important. Not only does he reflect upon the account of creation in Genesis, but he also demonstrates the implications of creation found throughout Scripture. In a day of increasing secularization, it is refreshing to think of the divine purpose in making and sustaining the world. Read this book, and you will deepen your understanding of the Lord’s purposes in bringing the world into existence.*

After reading this book I now have a more robust understanding of the work of Christ. I no longer wish to preach in such a way where I unintentionally lead people to only appreciate one aspect of the work of Christ.
It is very encouraging to see that the author follows in the footsteps of such great men as John Owen, Geerhardus Vos and G.K. Beale to name a few. He cites them and makes no apologies for standing upon their shoulders. In my opinion, and to his credit, Dr. Barcellos writes in like-mindedness with these men but in a much simpler fashion (this is not an insult, but a compliment). Anyone who reads these men should understand what I mean. It is no easy task to take such rich and deep truths and break them down in the manner that is done in this book. It takes much time, effort and thought.
One of the things I really appreciate about Better Than The Beginning is that the book deals with several issues in regards to creation. It deals with scientific evidence, the days of creation, the Sabbath, being created in the image of God, the new creation and other issues. It also deals with a very important issue sometimes neglected in other books on creation – evangelism. Here is an example:

God made all things for His own glory. Let that sink into your soul. He is sovereign in all things, including the withholding and dispensing of mercy. The reason why we all need mercy is because we are sinners. We have all broken God’s law. We are in a most pitiable state due to our sin. We are guilty and polluted, and we cannot change the state of our souls. We need God to look upon us with a pitiful eye, a merciful eye. He does just that through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He sent Him to be the channel through which mercy gets from heaven to sinful souls on the earth. If you do not know God’s mercy in Christ, if you know yourself as a guilty sinner, if you feel your need for a Savior, if you fear death (which I know you do because God tells me so in His Word) and judgment and hell, I’ve got wonderful news for you. The day of grace is today. Today is the day to receive the mercy of God. Heaven is still in the business of dispensing mercy upon the needy, upon the helpless, upon the guilty. And heaven’s mercy-dispenser is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. His hands are full of pity joined with power to save. Turn from your sins to Christ. Turn to Him foul and filthy, come as you are. He is willing and able to save. If you do not know yourself to be a guilty sinner, if you do not feel your need for a Savior, if you do not think you fear death, and judgment, and hell, these things are sinful in themselves. Come to Christ with these sins as well, acknowledging them as such, and He will cleanse you.*

In dealing with the work of creation and re-creation Dr. Barcellos does not forget the Gospel. Rather he brings forth the riches of it!
In closing I would like to say that this should be a book for all to read. I agree with Dr. David Murray when he writes that the book is “God-glorifying, soul-edifying, life-transforming…” (My church will certainly be getting their hands on this one!) I’m thankful to Dr. Barcellos for taking the time to write it. I love Christ all the more because of it.
I’ll end with a final quote and a link to where to purchase the book.

Preachers need to insure that they are proclaiming God’s Word in such a manner that hearers at least come away acknowledging that the preacher thinks God is due respect and awe from the souls of men. The same goes for the verbal witness of the everyday Christian.*

Reformed Baptist Academic Press will make the book available soon, but for now you can purchase it at Amazon (click on the link and it will take you there).
Soli Deo Gloria!
Fernando
*Richard Barcellos, Better Than The Beginning: Creation In Biblical Perspective (Palmdale: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2013), p. 19- 20
*Ibid., p. 131
* Ibid., found in the endorsement section
* Ibid., p.23-24

*Ibid., p. 38-39

*. Ibid., p. 60

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About lalvin1517

I'm married with two children and pastor McCall Baptist Church in McCall, Idaho.
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5 Responses to My Thoughts On Better Than The Beginning By Dr. Richard Barcellos

  1. I'm up to chapter 4 and completely agree “…there are certain books which are theologically informative while causing you to look and behold the beauty and majesty of the greatness of our triune God through the face of Christ Jesus. Dr. Richard Barcellos' book Better Than The Beginning does just that”

  2. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for stopping by our blog. Dr. Barcellos' book is superb.

    Also, I enjoy your blog. It looks great.

  3. Pingback: Better Than The Beginning: Around The Web | The Confessing Baptist

  4. Pingback: Book Review: Better Than the Beginning by Richard Barcellos | I'm All Booked

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