Ronald L. Kohl, Ed.
Reviewed by: Arthur J. Fox
Our Ancient Foe: Satan’s History, Activity, and Ultimate Demise, edited by Ronald L. Kohl. P&R, 2019. Paperback, 168 pages, $12.00. Reviewed by OP pastor Arthur J. Fox.
For me, having begun my walk with Christ over forty-five years ago in dispensational and charismatic circles, a book about Satan from a Reformed perspective seems a peculiarly delightful prospect. I was more than pleased, therefore, to find both depth of theological insight and simple, effective communication in this book.
The book is basically a transcript, prepared by the original speakers, of the 2017 Quakertown (Pennsylvania) Conference on Reformed Theology. It contains contributions by R. Kent Hughes (two chapters), Thomas J. Nettles (two chapters), Ronald L. Kohl (editor), Derek W. H. Thomas, Roger Nicole, Joel Beeke, and Sinclair Ferguson. The range of the devil’s history and activity is covered from the garden through the end of the age. We are masterfully told by Hughes how the devil operated in Eden, and the nature and cleverness of his lies; given by Nettles an accurate description of his character; clued in on his methodology by Kohl; warned to take Satan seriously in light of our fallenness as creatures by Thomas; taught to know our enemy by Nicole; shown how to fight and resist him by Hughes and Beeke; told of his inevitable demise by Nettles; and then promised by Ferguson that our story as God’s people will end happily in the Satan-free new heavens and new earth.
All of the chapters are easy to read and even fun to explore because they are written in plain English. Even a mature believer will find refreshing meditation in this book. By far my favorite chapter was the unexpected help in reading the book of Revelation by Sinclair Ferguson, who tells us that, as a whole, Revelation is best understood as a picture book of redemptive history and that the final overthrow of Satan is simply the closing chapter as the saints are brought into eternal glory in the new heavens and new earth. In fact, he mentions Satan only twice, using the following five words, “our enemy has been defeated” (139), and then in a passing reference to “Satan and his demons” (140). He then proceeds to show how our lives and the heavens and the earth will be transformed at the end.
This is a gloriously refreshing and encouraging book that should make us thankful for Christ’s work in overcoming the world, the flesh, and the devil, and for our being united to Christ in his victory. This book is literary fruit plucked from a tree of biblical knowledge that will do you good and help you to live faithfully.
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