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TBS Reformation Reference Bible Review

TBS Reformation Reference Bible Review


My favorite KJV publisher has done it again; The Trinitarian Bible Society has introduced the Compact Westminster Reference Bible, Reformation Commemorative Edition. Since that happens to be a lot of name, I will refer to it, moving forward, as the Reformation Reference Bible.

The Reformation Reference Bible was design by TBS with active missionaries in mind and, in the process, created one of the best compact Bible that you will be able to acquire. It is ideal for the minister on the go, the missionary, or the Christian in need of a portable Bible. Before we go any further, I need to provide a short disclaimer: (The Reformation Reference Bible, in brown meriva calfskin, free of charge by Trinitarian Bible Society {TBS} in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and TBS had no influence over the review process.)


Translation Choice

TBS only publishes English Bibles in the King James Version. For some, this is not an appealing choice. In that old Baptist tradition, however, I tend to enjoy it. KJV is universally recognizable and after 400 years it remains one of the most dominant forces in the English speaking world. It is majestic, reverent, timeless; KJV represents the pinnacle of the English language.



Westminster Reference Bible, both full size and compact, contain over 200,000 references and it is, truly, without rival. Only two Bibles even come close to the Westminster in terms of references, Thompson Chain Reference (100,000 references in 8,000 topical chains) and New American Standard Bible Side Column Reference Bible (95,000 references). TBS takes its references from what can, easily, be called the best reference Bibles ever produced, the Concord Reference Bible from Cambridge and the Self-Interpreting Bible by Rev. John Brown of Haddington. These references make this a pure study Bible; it lives up to the Reformation Principle that Scripture Interprets Scripture. In point of fact, if the Reformation Reference Bible or the full size Westminster Reference Bible was the only Bible that you owned, you would have a life time of self-interpreting helps to carry you through your study/lesson prep.



Page Size: 6.5″ x 4.6″

Thickness: 1.2″

Print Size: 7.3 point


I have to hand it to TBS here: I normally do not use compact Bibles because of the font size. The Reformation Reference Bible is as close to the perfect compact edition of the Bible that you can get your hands on.


As a carry Bible

The Reformation Reference Bible is one of the most portable KJV Bibles that I have ever carried; It is close in size to the other compact from TBS, the Classic Reference Bible. It fits perfectly into a small pocket into my briefcase. As mentioned earlier, it is designed for the minister or missionary who constantly finds himself on the go.

As a teaching/preaching Bible

I do most of my teaching one on one or in fairly small groups and, to my surprise, I found that I had no issues with the font size in the Reformation Reference Bible. I compared the fonts in the Reformation Reference Bible, the Cambridge Cameo Reference, the Cambridge Pitt Minion Reference Bible, an Oxford Brevier Blackface Reference Bible and the TBS Classic Reference Bible and the Reformation Reference Bible was the most readable of the group, especially with the references. I tried using this in multiple light settings and found that it was up to the challenge; even in direct sunlight I had no issues reading the Bible.

Physical Form

True to form, TBS uses an ironed calfskin on this Bible and it is extremely touchable; this type of leather is called Meriva Calfskin and I admit I am not altogether certain what that means. I am not sure, but I think that Reformation Reference uses the same calfskin as its larger sibling. There is a paste down liner; I am not a fan (this is actually my only complaint) but many of my colleagues appreciate a paste down liner. In my case I prefer a leather lined cover, but its not a deal breaker.

The paper is nearly identical to its big sibling so I will repeat what I said previously… The paper is a major win for this Bible; it’s cream colored with excellent opacity. Unfortunately, TBS does not offer much in the way of technical details on their website and, at the time of my writing, I have not successfully reached them to find out the specifications on the paper, though I am not certain that it matters unless, like me, you are a total nerd and cannot properly geek out without knowing such things.


I have used this Bible in several settings with various lighting conditions: at church with the bright lights in our massive auditorium, the break room at work, the restaurant with breakfast, and in the soft light of my bedside table (40W Bulb); in every instance it was totally successful. Sometimes, I enjoy a Psalm or two before bed and this is where I would usually find ghosting. There are one or two spots but if I were to complain about that, it would be nothing more than ungrateful nitpicking.


The texture and feel is amazing. Some paper feels abrupt, coarse and heavy. This paper, though, is quite soft and (if you will pardon the cliché) smooth like ice cream fresh from the churn. It begs to be touched, to caress the hand, to draw you into an interaction with the Word. I said earlier and I will repeat myself, this Bible, to my hands, feels like someone came and noticed every flaw, every callous, every ridge on my hands and then custom crafted a Bible just for me.


Actually, to say that it has excellent opacity was an understatement. From a normal distance I could not distinguish any ghosting or see through. I could see a little when I held up a single page, but as I said to go any further on that would be ungrateful nitpicking.


Of the Bibles that I compared this too, I find the Compact Westminster to be most comparanle to the Oxford Blackface.


Overall Impression/Final Thoughts

The Compact Westminster Reference Bible, Reformation Commemorative edition is, without doubt the best compact KJV Bible available. I heartily recommend purchasing one.



FAQ’s About the Levitical Feasts

FAQ’s About the Levitical Feasts

Many people have questions regarding the feasts in the Book of Leviticus (Vayikra) in the Bible. This week, in an effort to help answer those questions, we are sharing a PDF that was provided by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. It should prove most useful to you. Click the link below to download your copy.


The Unfolding Revelation of Jesus

The Unfolding Revelation of Jesus

The whole of the Bible is the story of Jesus: Our Savior, Healer, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, and soon coming King. The following is how each book presents Jesus and the verse associated with each presentation.


  • Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15)
  • Shiloh (Genesis 49:10)


  • Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:3)


  • Anointed High Priest (Leviticus 8:7-12)


  • The lifted up healer {Bronze serpent} (Numbers 21:8-9; )
  • Star of Jacob (Numbers 24:17)
  • Scepter of Israel (Numbers 24:17)


  • Future Prophet Like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15)
  • The great Rock (Deuteronomy 32:4)


  • Captain of the Lord’s army/Lord of the Hosts (Joshua 5:14)


  • Angel of the LORD (Judges 2:1)


  • Kinsman redeemer

1 Samuel

  • The great judge (1 Samuel 2:10)

2 Samuel

  • Son of David (2 Samuel 7:12-13)

1 Kings

  • Lord God of Israel (1 Kings 8:15, 25)

2 Kings

  • Lord of the cherubim (2 Kings 19:15)

1 Chronicles

  • God of our salvation (1 Chronicles 16:35)

2 Chronicles

  • God of our ancestors (2 Chronicles 20:6)


  • Lord of heaven and earth (Ezra 1:2)


  • Covenant-keeping God (Nehemiah 1:5)


  • God of providence


  • Risen and returning Redeemer (Job 19:25)


  • Anointed Son (Psalm 2:2, 12)
  • Holy One (Psalm 16:10)
  • Good Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
  • King of glory (Psalm 24:7-10)


  • Wisdom of God/Embodiment of wisdom (Proverbs 8)
  • Architect at Creation (Proverbs 8:30)


  • The one above the sun

Song of Songs

  • Fairest among 10,000 (Song 5:10)
  • Altogether lovely (Song 5:16)
  • Our Beloved (Song 6:3)
  • Him who our soul loves (Song 3:4)


  • Virgin-born Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14)
  • Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Servant (Isaiah 52:13)
  • Man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3)


  • The Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 33:16)


  • Faithful and compassionate (Lamentations 3:22-23, 31-33)


  • The tender shoot (Ezekiel 17:22)
  • The one who has the right to judge (Ezekiel 21:27)


  • The rock (Daniel 2:34)
  • One like a divine being (or like “the Son of God”) (Daniel 3:25)
  • One like the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13)


  • King of the resurrection (Hosea 13:10-14)


  • God of the battle (Joel 2:11; Joel 3:2, 9-17)
  • Giver of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-32)


  • Lord God Almighty (Amos 4:13)
  • Plumb line (Amos 7:7-9)


  • Destroyer of the proud (Obadiah 1:8, 15)


  • Risen prophet (Jonah 2:10)
  • God of the second chance (Jonah 3:1-2)
  • Long-suffering one (Jonah 4:9-11)


  • God of Israel (Micah 4:1-5)
  • Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
  • God who pardons (Micah 7:18-20)


  • Avenging God (Nahum 1:2)
  • Bringer of good tidings (Nahum 1:15)


  • Eternal (Habakkuk 1:12)
  • Pure (Habakkuk 1:13)
  • Glorious (Habakkuk 2:14)


  • King of Israel (Zephaniah 3:15)


  • Desire of all nations (Haggai 2:7)


  • My Servant (Zechariah 3:8)
  • The Branch (Zechariah 3:8)
  • Builder of the Temple (Zechariah 6:12-13)
  • King of triumphal entry (Zechariah 9:9)
  • Pierced one (Zechariah 12:10)
  • King of the earth (Zechariah 14:9)


  • Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2)

New Testament


  • King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2; Matthew 27:37)


  • Servant (Mark 9:35; Mark 10:43-44)


  • Perfect man, Son of Man (Luke 2:40, 52; Luke 9:22, 58; Luke 22:48)


  • Ever Living God (John 1:1-5; John 20:28, 31)


  • Ascended Lord (Acts 1:9)


  • The Lord, our righteousness (Romans 10:4)

1 Corinthians

  • Our resurrection (1 Cor. 15)

2 Corinthians

  • God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3)


  • Redeemer of those under the law (Galatians 4:4-5)


  • Head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 2:19-20)
  • Giver of gifts (Ephesians 4:7-16)


  • Supplier of every need (Philippians 1:19; Philippians 4:19)
  • Obedient servant (Philippians 2:5-8)


  • Fullness of the Godhead (Colossians 1:9; Colossians. 2:9-10)

1 Thessalonians

  • The coming Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11)

2 Thessalonians

  • The all-consuming Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:8)

1 Timothy

  • Savior of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:16)

2 Timothy

  • Author of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • Righteous and rewarding judge (2 Timothy 4:8)


  • Our great God and Savior (Titus 1:3; Titus 2:10, 13; Titus 3:4)


  • Payer of our debt


  • Appointed heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2, 4)
  • Greater than prophets or angels (Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 3:3)


  • Ever-present God (James 4:8)
  • Coming One (James 5:7-8)
  • Great Physician (James 5:15)

1 Peter

  • Spotless Lamb (1 Peter 1:19)
  • Great example (1 Peter 2:21-24)
  • Lord of glory (1 Peter 3:22)
  • Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4)

2 Peter

  • Beloved Son (2 Peter 1:17)

1 John

  • Word of life (1 John 1:1)
  • Advocate (1 John 2:1-2)
  • Sacrifice (1 John 4:10)
  • Son of God (1 John 3:8; 1 John 4:15; 1 John 5:5)

2 John

  • Son of the Father (2 John 1:3)

3 John

  • The truth (3 John 1:4, 8)


  • Preserver and only wise God (Jude 1:1, 25)


  • Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8)
  • Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5)
  • Root of David (Rev. 5:5)
  • King of Kings (Rev. 19:16)
  • Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16)
Preparing Our Hearts To Worship, Psalm 119:130

Preparing Our Hearts To Worship, Psalm 119:130

Guest post by  Elder Luis Hernandez

Psalm 119:130 NASB

“The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”

As we prepare our hearts to worship on the next Lord’s Day (January 22, 2017) let us meditate on the Word of the Lord and let Holy Scripture shape, mold and guide us.

We will consider some scripture related to our verse for this week:

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. 

Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 119:97

O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light;

Why do we delight in the words of the Lord? The words of the Lord bring us to knowledge of the person of Christ and they teach us how to have relationship with YHWH, which is what we were created for; to glorify the Lord and to enjoy a relationship with Him forever. Moreover the Bible teaches us all that is needed for life and godliness.

Let us pray:

Father, Your words are life and truth. Grant us the desire for more of Your word. Please teach us to desire more of your word and to meditate on it day and night. May we say with the Psalmist, “Oh how I love your Torah! It is my meditation all the day. We ask these things for the sake of Christ and His glory. Amen

An Unexpected Conversion: How I came to Calvinism

An Unexpected Conversion: How I came to Calvinism

This post is a little different than what is usually offered, here. It is neither a lesson (per se) nor is it a review. Instead this is an answer to a question or perhaps a short word of testimony. Many is the time, in the past few  years, since I have come to embrace a Reformed Soteriology when I was raised a Pentecostal and in the Wesleyan (Ariminian) Holiness tradition. Tonight I am endeavoring to answer exactly that…

Most often, when I hear someone tell the tale of coming to Reformed Theology, I will hear tales of how in Romans 9 they found some amazing truth that “opened their eyes” and I wish I could put forward some recitation that would move one to tears at the awesome truths of Scripture, but I cannot. In my case, I became Reformed as a result of a death and a search through both the Bible and the hymnody that I was familiar with in hopes of making it make sense. I knew all the right answers and especially that it has been appointed unto all that once he should die and then face the judgment. I can say, candidly, that there is no truth of Scripture so cold and uncomfortable when one stares into that casket; or is there?

In dealing with the passing of my mother, one verse of Scripture came to mind over and over again, Isaiah 40:13 “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being His counselor hath taught Him?” As Paul put it in Romans, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor?” Time and again, multiplied times per day, this thought ran through my mind. Clearly the Holy Spirit was bringing this to my mind for a reason and so I went in search of why.

LORD is the way the KJV renders YHWH into English. This is God’s covenant Name. What did that name have to do with my search? How much time I spent meditating on the verse above and the Name, I could not say but the next passage of Scripture that I came to was in Exodus 34

“5 And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”

Merciful. Gracious. Abounding in goodness and truth. These are not just adjectives; they define the very Person of YHWY. The LORD draws near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and sometimes in that brokenness, He need do no other than to declare who He is. I decided to look up YHWH in my lexicon and it took me to Exodus 3:14 where God answered Moses in the most powerful way possible. He tells Moses, Ehyeh aser ehyeh. In English, “I am because I am.” I cannot explain what happened but I can tell you this, when the God of heaven and earth declares His Name, everything changes. 

What does any of that have to do with Calvinism? Everything. It was necessary for God to remind me of Who He is before my errant theology could be corrected. I am a nerd and so I love to think; when I began to think I could logically connect the dots…

Hebrews 9:27 says that it is appointed once to die. That means this event must be predetermined. If death is predetermined, what else is? Ephesians 1: just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

This portends to election. That being the case, I looked throughout the Bible to find a condition for this election. Was that which I had always been taught to believe correct? It was not. Independently seeking in the Scriptures, I could find no condition to being elected to salvation. Of necessity that meant that if Unconditional Election were true, the Perseverance of the Saints had to be true as well.

The Southern Baptist Convention, it turned out, articulated this better than any other I had found. (emphasis mine) Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44-48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28-39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39–12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:19; 3:2.

Total Depravity needed no convincing. All I have to do is pick up a newspaper and the truth of that doctrine is laid bare. As it happens, I approach Definite Atonement and Irresistible Grace with the presumption that if the other three are true, these two must be as well.

This, then, is the short version of how I came to Reformed Soteriology. It was not at all the way that I expected. Then again, as I say quite often, The Lord does not make a habit of consulting me on how He does things.

New Content Coming

New Content Coming

Grace to you. On Jan 25 we are launching a Q&A section to go a little deeper into questions that we, as a family, have about the Bible and our faith. Please submit your questions via the contact form. 

This Saturday, January 14, we will bring a Lord’s Day Preparation category. This will feature a weekly selection from the Psalms to help you to prepare your heart for worship each Lord’s Day. 

Through the Bible in 90 Days

Through the Bible in 90 Days


There is nothing more important to the Christian than time in the word. Below you will find a plan to read the Bible in 90 days (around 30-45 minutes per day). You can either click the words Bible 90 Days for a downloadable PDF or you can click the Scripture references below to read right on your device.

Bible 90 Days


KJV Is NOT the Only Bible: A Defense of Meaning Based Bible Translations

KJV Is NOT the Only Bible: A Defense of Meaning Based Bible Translations

Recently, I have encountered a number of pastors and other Christians who propound a most insidious position on the Bible, the idea that the King James Version (KJV) and only the KJV is the inerrant and inspired word of the Living God. Such a position is beyond absurd and totally foreign to most of the English speaking world. These Christians may mean well but they are damaging the cause of Christ and potentially harming other believers in Christ. They claim that NIV, NASB, NLT, and basically anything not the KJV is a corrupted text straight from the pit of hell designed by Satan to deceive people.  The absurdity of that idea is so far beyond ridiculous that it would make me laugh if it didn’t make me so angry. The favorite translation for them to attack is the NIV…

Does anyone who reads the NIV actually care what it means? If not for the source of the question I would dismiss it off hand as the most absurd thing I had heard today. Yet the question comes from more than one pastor that I hold in highest regard and so, I will give answer…

Yes. I read the NIV and I care about what the text actually means.

It seems that, among those of us who call ourselves theologically conservative, the New International Version of the English Translation of the Bible is a favorite whipping boy and right behind that, as far as whipping boys go is the New Living Translation. Many of my brethren seem to despise not only these two translations but also every other translation in their category, Dynamic Equivalence. Dynamic Equivalence is also called, by some, Functional Equivalence, because it is designed to be of more practical use to the reader. (I recently learned that the United Bible Societies frequently refers to these by the more colloquial term, meaning-based translation and, for the remainder of our time together, I will refer to them using the same terminology as I feel that it is, perhaps, the most accurate descriptor.)

In truth, I am surprised that this response is even necessary, considering that the two best selling English translations of the Bible are meaning based, but it is. For reasons that I do not process well, we seem to reject translation methodologies that are used in academics, diplomacy, and business on a daily basis; this is fine for the “real world” but don’t you dare bring it to the Bible. That being said, I felt, as someone who is very theologically conservative, that a defense of using theses translations was necessary, primarily because I find that a number of things that are said about them are flatly untrue and secondarily because a careful reading of the text shows that they are worthy of daily use.

Before we continue to the meat of my answer, let us lay out some important points.

1. I am not a textual critic neither am I a translator. My conclusions here are based in a pastoral approach; my primary concern is the ability of others to read and understand the Bible.

2. Dynamic Equivalence as a translation methodology seeks to render the same thoughts and ideas into the receptor language as they occur in the original language. This is the same principle as when travelling internationally, the words used in your language may not have a counterpart in the tongue of the country you visit but the thoughts, ideas, concepts, etc. most likely will. As a consequence, you will have to utilize Dynamic Equivalence either via an interpreter or, if you speak the language of your host country, when you translate yourself.

There seems to be two major questions surrounding meaning-based translations of the Bible, at least so far as I can tell:

1. Should you use a meaning based translation?

2. Under what circumstances is a meaning-based translation the right choice to use?

My answer to the first is an emphatic yes. My answer to the second question will be the crux of my message today.

The Bible, as originally written, was intended to be read and understood by normal everyday people.

The TaNaKH, which we Gentile Christians call the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the language of the people of Israel. By the time of the Apostles, the Old Testament had been translated into Koine (common) Greek, the language spoken by most of the world, at that time. We call this translation the Septuagint and nearly every serious scholar considers it to be valid, authoritative, and real Scripture. What if I were to say, though, that the Septuagint was almost guaranteed to be a Dynamic Equivalence Translation? Would I be run out of town on a rail?

Hebrew is a Near East, Semitic Language; Greek is decidedly Western. While they bear some similarities as ancient languages, they are quite different. Hebrew language, thought, and culture is very colloquial, relying on the oral traditions, wisdom of sages/rabbis etc. (it can be an abstract language at times) while Greek is much more reason oriented, so much so, that Greeks often referred to outsiders as barbarians because of the way that foreign tongues sounded to them.

The New Testament, as we know was written in Greek as the primary language of politics and commerce of the day, the lingua franca so to speak. Some years later, Latin became the word’s language as Rome exerted her influence over the world. St. Jerome, at the behest of the pope, brought that influence to bear in what we know, today, as the Vulgate. Let’s look at Vulgate for a few moments. Side note: I understand Latin and frequently read from the Vulgate on my iPad.

Biblia Sacra Vulgata

Biblia Sacra Vulgata. In formal equivalence that, literally says Books Sacred Common. The problem could not be more obvious; Books Sacred Common does not really tell you what it is. However, when, loosely and/or dynamically translated, we get Bible Sacred Common; better but does it really do it justice? Not really. So we go with the functional side of translation to come up with Bible Sacred Common Language or, rendered in the way that makes the most sense to our minds, Hoy Bible in Common Language.

That last point, really, is the key; anything taken from one language to another must be rendered in such a way that makes sense. To illustrate, let’s look at a passage in Amos.

Amos 4:6

New International Version (Meaning Based)

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the LORD.

New Living Translation (Meaning Based)

“I brought hunger to every city and famine to every town. But still you would not return to me,” says the LORD.

English Standard Version (Form based/word for word)

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,” declares the LORD.

New American Standard Bible (Form based/word for word)

“But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities And lack of bread in all your places, Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

King James Bible (Form based/word for word)

And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (Mediating)

I gave you absolutely nothing to eat in all your cities, a shortage of food in all your communities, yet you did not return to Me. This is the LORD’s declaration.

NET Bible (Meaning Based)

“But surely I gave you no food to eat in any of your cities; you lacked food everywhere you live. Still you did not come back to me.” The LORD is speaking!

GOD’S WORD® Translation (Meaning Based)

I left you with nothing to eat in any of your cities. I left you with no food in your entire land. And you still didn’t return to me, declares the LORD.

JPS Tanakh 1917 (Form based/word for word)

And I also have given you Cleanness of teeth in all your cities, And want of bread in all your places; Yet have ye not returned unto Me, Saith the LORD.

Young’s Literal Translation (Form Based)

And I also — I have given to you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, And lack of bread in all your places, And ye have not turned back unto Me, an affirmation of Jehovah.

We can let that point stand on its own…

Most of the world English speakers have it as a second language. Therefore, a Meaning Based translation is a valid, if not preferred choice.

According to SIL International, English is the 2nd most spoken language in the world. Approximately 850,000,000 people speak English and over 500,000,000 of those people speak it as a 2nd or 3rd language. The journal English Today, from Cambridge University, puts the number as high as 2 billion depending on the criteria chosen. Suffice it to say, English is one of the two dominant languages, Mandarin being the other. It should be easily discernible, from those statistics, alone, that a meaning based translation is preferable.

I was in Asia, in October of 2015, and at first, had difficulty locating Bibles, but when I did, nearly all of them were NIV or NLT. 3rd on the list was the English Standard Version (ESV). I was actually able to speak with two native pastors about their use of the English Bible and their answer was not really a surprise. (One used ESV for study and preached from NIV and the other used NASB and preached from NLT.) Both said that they use ESV or NASB for study because, as the pastor, they absolutely have to know exactly what the Bible says. They use NIV or NLT because it helps their flock to understand what the Bible means; in both cases, the congregation had English as a second language. Sometimes, I think that we miss that key point; our duty, as someone in a teaching role, is to help others understand the Bible so that they can grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. (emphasis added)

An important point to remember:

Gay Satanists Have Not Corrupted Your Bible

I have seen so much on the internet that very little shocks me anymore. There was a post on Facebook back in July that seemed to indicate that gay Satanists were corrupting the Bible. The good folks at Laridian (publishers of the excellent PocketBible Software suite) posted a phenomenal answer to this which can be found at this link.

My own answer to the charge that Dynamic Equivalence Translations have been corrupted by satan is this: What would be the point of that? Seriously, what would be the point of creating a translation of the Bible that gets people to read it? There is only one English version of the Bible that I would actually suggest does anything to advance Satan’s agenda and I detest it so much I will not even speak its name.

If one does careful research, you will find that the verses that have been “removed” are:

1. In a footnote on the text itself.

2. Usually commentary on an earlier verse and not really essential to the text at hand.

We need to consider the following when discussing alleged missing verses:

Does the verse impact any point of doctrine?

Does moving the verse to the footnote impact the meaning of the text at hand?

What about Westcott and Hort?

What about them? I, personally, think that any claims to salvation made by either would be very suspect, but the veracity of such claims is up to the Lord of the Church to judge but I am not, in the least, convinced that they have somehow corrupted the New Testament. The alleged changes made to the Greek New Testament by Westcott and Hort are, to the best of my knowledge, niggling little details that probably do not matter to the text on the whole. I have studied the Bible in English and Latin while currently teaching myself Greek and I have compared the Douay translation from the Latin to the NASB, KJV, ESV, and NIV. The Latin text is somewhat different but I would point out that the verses that have been moved to the footnotes in the NIV have also been moved in the NASB and ESV. The 3 “Westcott-Hort” based texts have approximately 1-3% variance from the KJV and as I have said repeatedly, do not impact any major point of doctrine. My Greek skills are still at the Beginner Level but what I have been able to study thus far, bares out what I have already found in Latin.

Mounce and White

Two of the foremost names in Biblical scholarship today are Drs. Bill Mounce and James White. A quick youtube search for Dr. James White reveals a number of very well put together rebuttals to the KJV only crowd. A similar search for Dr. Mounce will bring a couple videos explaining the challenges of translation methodology and while they are not directly a defense of meaning based translation, they do help us to understand why they are necessary.

His Sheep Know His Voice

John 10:27. Jesus’ sheep know His voice and they will follow Him. I watched a debate where someone tried to convince Dr. White that it was not possible to hear the Lord’s voice in an NIV. That is utter foolishness but it can be true. If a person really does not want to hear the Holy Spirit, you will not. The translation matters little.

There are a number of Christians, actual Christians whose life produces the fruit of repentance that use NLT or NIV; using those translations cannot be allowed to be a basis to challenge their salvation.

The Truth and the Choice

The truth of the matter is that is really comes down to preference. Neither NLT nor NIV are my personal preference but that is changing in response to the fact that most of my readers and most of the people I encounter on a regular basis do not have English as their native language. As one of my fellow bloggers pointed out to me, we have a tendency to get used to things being a certain way and elevate that tradition to the level of doctrine. This is a mistake and it is one that causes unnecessary division in the church.

When stepping into the role of a pastor or teacher, you really want to consider the choice of translation you teach from. It should be simple enough for a small child to understand but it should not be a paraphrase an actual translation is a must. The counsel I would give to another pastor is as follows: Do not feel pressured. Use a meaning based translation but do your homework before you teach. Carefully study the text in several translations, prepare your sermon, and then preach from the translation you are most comfortable with. (Don’t be surprised if you see the NIV and NLT more often on this website.

A parting thought that echoes the words of Paul: Regardless which translation you use, Preach the Word.

Cardinal Doctrines: the Non-negotiables of Our Faith

Cardinal Doctrines: the Non-negotiables of Our Faith

Our Foundations of Doctrine series laid out foundational doctrines for the Christian faith. We find it needful to expand upon that and to lay out 9 Cardinal Doctrines of True Churches: the Deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, Original Sin, Salvation by Grace, Salvation by Christ Alone, The Resurrection, Monotheism, the Holy Trinity, and the Gospel. 

These are not only foundational teachings but they are doctrines that cannot be negotiated upon as being requisite for the Christian Faith. These particular doctrines, in fact, are so important that they transcend denominations. A repudiation of any of these doctrines is considered anathema to Biblical Christianity. That may sound harsh but, given the widespread nature of false teaching, we must encourage Christians to take a firm stand.

We hope the coming series will be helpful to you. To begin, here is a summary

The Deity of Christ

John 8:24, “I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”

This is where Jesus clearly taught what you cannot deny and you must affirm.

Jesus is God in flesh (John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14). See also John 1:1, 14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8

Salvation by Grace

“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Gal. 5:4).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Both these verses show salvation is by grace through faith and not by works, and that to add works is to not be saved.

The Resurrection of Christ

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith,” (1 Cor. 15:14). “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:17).

These verses clearly state that if you say that Jesus did not rise from the dead in the same body He died in as he prophesied in John 2:19-21, then your faith is useless.

The Gospel

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal. 1:8-9, NIV).

1 Cor. 15:1-4 defines what the gospel is: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”


There is only one God (Exodus 20:3; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8)

“You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  (Exodus 20:3-6).

Jesus is the only way to salvation

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'” (John 14:6)

Jesus declared that he was the only access to God the Father.  To deny this is to deny what Jesus said.

Jesus’ virgin birth

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’” (Matt. 1:23).

Without the virgin birth, we cannot substantiate the doctrine of the incarnation of Jesus being God in flesh.  This would put at risk what Jesus said above in John 8:24 where he said, “I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”

Doctrine of the Trinity

Matt. 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,”  (See also, Matt. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6.)

This doctrine is not represented by a single verse per se though it is hinted at.  The doctrine of the Trinity is arrived at systematically by looking at the totality of Scripture.  It is, nevertheless, the proper representation of scriptural revelation concerning the nature of God.

Original Sin

 Sin is not just murder, rape, or robbery. “Sin” is a word that describes any thought, word, deed, or state of being that fails to meet God’s standard of holiness and perfection. The Bible unambiguously proclaims that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). While the notion of generational curses and spirits is foreign to the text of Scripture, there is a sense in which all people are cursed as a result of an ancestor’s sin. Adam’s rebellion brought death to us all and tainted every aspect of our being (Genesis 3; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; cf. Ephesians 2:3). God, however, has provided redemption through the atoning work of the “Second Adam,” Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12–21).

We will go into more detail in coming lessons. Until next time, Grace to you.


Thoughts on the Election

Thoughts on the Election

To my friends who voted for Mrs. Clinton:

First, I still love you and I hope that we will remain friends. I know that there is a lot of uncertainty about a Trump presidency and I write to you to speak to that.

The most important thing to know is that the process worked as designed. Each side put up its candidate and each candidate put forth his and her vision for the future of the United States. For 18 months we watched the process play out and, last night, we saw that process come to fruition. No one needs to be afraid that the democratic process or the American Experiment will end is disaster. The process works, as intended, and it will continue to do so.

Your voices still have value and you are an important part of the American People. Republicans are listening. We may not get it right but we are listening. The “leadership” of both parties may not give you the hearing you desire but normal every day Republicans walking down the street still want you to be part of our lives. You challenge us to think, to reevaluate, to grow. We may vigorously disagree as is common among families, but at the end of the day, we are all members of the American Family.

I do not believe that Donald Trump will destroy or even harm the Republic that we all know and love. I don’t believe Mrs. Clinton could either. However, our Republic, this glorious American Family can be destroyed, but only by us. It can be destroyed if we fail to hold true to that which makes us great: that we are one nation. We are many: we are Black, Asian, Native, Latino, White and any other race I am not remembering; we are Christians, Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and any other religion that I have forgotten to mention but, for all our differences, we are one nation. Our differences make us great; each of us is an ingredient in the full flavored experience that is America.

It is my sincere hope that we will come together in the coming days and that we, the people, will make this American Family better than it has ever been before. To do so, each of us must continue to give our time, talents, and uniqueness to our communities; each of us must give a part of ourselves to make America better. It is true that there will be vigorous debates; there may even be contentions and strife but, in the end, the old cliche will prove true, that which does not kill us will only make us stronger.

A parting thought: we have been given an incredible gift by God, the gift of being American. Along with that gift comes great responsibility. We exercised some of that responsibility last night when we elected a new president. The rest of that responsibility is for us to continue our day to day lives.

Grace to you. Congratulations on a well fought campaign. There is no dishonor in losing so long as you have fought for your beliefs with all you have.