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Readings for 2020-2021

Readings for 2020-2021

Sunday, 29 November, begins the Advent Season as well as the Lectionary Year for church readings. Our fellowship, Abounding Grace Baptist Church, will be sharing the Sunday Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. For those who desire to follow the readings for the whole year, we have provided a link below.

The text of each Sunday reading will be found on the church Facebook page found, here:  Abounding Grace Baptist Church Phoenix


Click here for Lectionary Readings

Why do we keep returning to NIV

Why do we keep returning to NIV

 It is a very true statement that my two favorite English translations of the Bible are the New King James Version and the New American Standard Bible. Why then do we keep coming back to NIV? Why is it in the pulpit at our sister ministry, Abounding Grace Baptist Church, and why does it keep popping up in our Facebook Page feed?


These are excellent questions and worthy of an answer…

1. To most of the Anglophone World, NIV is the Bible. NIV is currently offered in American Standard English and Commonwealth English (Anglicised). It is truly international in scope.

2. NIV is the translation used by most of our audience members. As a pastor, it is critically important to me that those who are hearing the expostion of the Bible from our pulpit are hearing the Bible in an English format that is easy to understand and follow along. By using the same translation, both pastor and audience are able to grow together in our common faith.

3. NIV is trustworthy and accurate along with being designed for study. The New International Version is what we call a mediating translation. It is in the midde of essentially literal and meaning based. Most of the commentaries in my library are based on the NIV. Beyond that, there is a very broad range of study Bibles, hand-books dictionaries, and other resources to ensure that you have the most comprehensive selection of toold available; only KJV has more tools but to be fair it does have a 350 year head start.

4. The NIV’s history earns it a place in the pulpit. 55 years ago, the New International Verision was created to help people to better understand the Bible by putting it into more accessible English. From its inception to the present day, NIV has had one goal, which happens to be the same goal that I have, to help people understand the Bible and live a life pleasing to God. It is, then, natural for us to be together.

Should I follow verse of the day posts?

Should I follow verse of the day posts?

Many people ask, regularly, if following a Verse of the Day on Facebook is good/helpful. The truth of the matter is this: you have to start somewhere. Most Christians do not experience any more of the Bible than what they get in church on Sunday so, in that case, a Verse of the Day is helpful.

Growing in grace, like building a house, is a process. In both cases, a foundation is easential. In this metaphor, the Verse of the Day is a foundational habit, daily experience of the Bible.

There are a number of solid Bible teaching ministries that offer a Verse of the Day. I encourage you to find one and follow some Verse of the Day posts.

A Summary of the Great Tribulation

A Summary of the Great Tribulation

Although God’s people may expect tribulation throughout the present age (Jn. 16:33; Acts 14:22), the word “tribulation,” as here, is also used specifically of a future time (Mt. 24:21,29; Mk. 13:24). This future time is also referred to as the time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer. 30:6-7)

Since our Lord links the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel with this time of tribulation (Mt. 24:15-21; Mk. 13:14-19), it is evident that the tribulation is to be connected with the seventieth week of Daniel (Dan. 9:27). Furthermore, the Biblical references have in common an allusion to unprecedented trouble (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:27; 12:1; Mt. 24:21-22).

While the seventieth week of Daniel is seven years in length (see Dan. 9:24, note; compare Rev. 11:2, note), and the terms “tribulation” and “great tribulation,” as used in the Scriptures, both have to do with the latter half of the seven years, it is customary to use “tribulation” of the whole period, and “great tribulation” of the second half of the period.

From the Scriptures we may deduce that the tribulation will begin with the signing of the covenant to permit the renewal of Jewish sacrifice (Dan. 9:27); it will be a period of unexampled trouble and judgment (see chain ref., Tribulation, Ps. 2:5 to Rev. 7:14), and is described in Rev. 6-19; and it will involve the whole earth (Rev. 3:10), but it is distinctively “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7).

The elements of the great tribulation (the latter half of the seventieth week) are:

(1) the cruel reign of the “beast . . . out of the sea” (Rev. 13:1) who, at the beginning of the final three and one-half years, will break his covenant with the Jews (by virtue of which they will have re-established the temple worship, Dan. 9:27), and show himself in the temple, demanding that he be worshiped as God (Mt. 24:15; 2 Th. 2:4) {The rise of the Beast, while chronicled in Revelation 13, it is alluded to in the opening of the 1st seal.}

(2) the active interposition of Satan “having great wrath” (Rev. 12:12), who gives his power to the beast (Rev. 13:4-5). It is important to remember that even though Satan has fierce wrath, that wrath is governed by God the Holy One and is used as a minister of Divine Wrath.

(3) the unprecedented activity of demons (Rev. 9:2,11; compare v. 20); and

(4) the terrible bowl judgments of Rev. 16. These bowl judgments are teh final opportunity for the wicked to turn toward God in repentance and faith. Bowls six and seven are devoid of the opportunity to repent and are the most terrible of God’s outpouring of wrath. Following the seventh bowl judgment, Christ returns

The tribulation will, nevertheless, be a period of salvation. An election out of Israel will be redeemed (Rev. 7:1-4) with an innumerable multitude of Gentiles (v. 9). These are said to have come “out of the great tribulation” (v. 14). They are not of the priesthood, the Church, to which they seem to stand somewhat in the relation of the Levites to the priests under the Mosaic Covenant. The great tribulation will be followed immediately by the return of Christ in glory, and the events associated therewith .

There is a difference of opinion about the location in Revelation at which the great tribulation is first alluded to. Some suggest as early as ch. 6; others, as late as ch. 11.  Either way, it is described in chs. 11-18.


**Adapted from the Scofield Study Bible**

A Special Message and Announcement

A Special Message and Announcement

I want to extend thanks to you, our faithful readers. Becayse of you, we have been recognized as one of the Top 50 Christian Book Review Blogs on the web. Click the link below to read the article.

Feedspot article

It is an unbelievable privilege to open God’s Holy Word for you and to lay out its delights for you to feast on. Your faithfulness in studying God’s Word inspires us to continue to bring lessons and reviews to you. Thank you for your faithfulness and your prayers. We cannot wait to see what God has for us next.

Pastor Matt

Free Word???

Free Word???

What is Free Word?

Free Word is the Bible and Resource Distribution Ministry of Abounding Grace Church and Exploring Truth Ministry. Through Free Word, we distribute Bibles and other resources to Christians, primarily to those of limited financial means as well as to those who are new disciples. No one is ever asked to pay for the resources they receive.


Why Free Word?

In Matthew Chapter 10, Jesus sends out His emissaries with the Gospel Message and supernatural power to authenticate it, closing His command with, “Freely ye have received, freely give.” Today we have the same Gospel Message and the Bible is our authentication of the Gospel Message. Therefore the command to us remains the same, “Freely ye have received, freely give.”

The Gospel is free and invites, “Whosoever will, let him come.” We do not want finances, inexperience, or any other barrier to stand in the way of those who will come to the Lord. The Bible is a fount of living waters that will refresh and restore even the driest sin parched soul. Our desire is that you come and drink freely of the water of God’s word. Do not just drink, but carry the refreshment of God’s word to others. So, we can think of no better place to start than the Bible.

What comes with Free Word?

Every Bible that is sent comes with a handwritten note of encouragement from Pastor Matt and a verse finder to help a reader get started with what the Bible teaches about various topics.


How can I help Free Word?

Pray. You may have thought we would ask for money but that will never happen. God is rich beyond our wildest fantasies and He provides the funds, through various means. When you commit to pray for Free Word, you are joining in the most important mission that Christians have, getting the Word of God (both Person and book) into the hands of people. If you would, ask others to pray too. Only God knows all that results from the prayers of His saints but think of the stories we will tell for countless millennia of how God used the Bible in the lives of His people.


Free Word…Because the life of the soul is found in the Book.

Holy Bound Rebinders Review

Holy Bound Rebinders Review


Today, I am reviewing a Bible rebind done by Holy Bound. This Bible was already rebound when I acquired it. The Bible was not provided for a review nor was this review solicited by the binder. I sourced this Bible on my own.

Holy Bound Photos

The Bible

This was a hardcover to leather conversion in black cowhide leather. I chose the MacArthur Study Bible in the NIV because it is my favorite of the MacArthur Study Bibles.


The Leather Cover

This is a black cowhide leather with a paste down lining. The leather is a little thin but it does feel substantial enough that I don’t think there would be any issues using it on a regular basis; it has been my every day carry Bible since its arrival.



Holy Bound offers leathers of varying thickness, as I said this leather is a little on the thinner end of the spectrum. The choice of a thinner leather is the choice to make if you want an inexpensive rebind, especially if you are a tight budget or if you are just getting your feet wet with rebinding.


I do recommend spending the additional money for a bit thicker leather. I have handled many leathers over the years and I can tell you that, while cowhide is a sturdy leather, you do want a measure of thickness for a Bible.


For most of you, a paste down liner will not be a problem. Here in Arizona, though, I will most likely need to replace the lining within a couple years as most book pastes cannot withstand Arizona’s punishing heat.


Believe it or not, a paste down liner does have advantages especially with a thinner leather. The advantage a paste down liner gives you is to offset the limpness of the leather and make the Bible feel sturdier. I actually think this is a good idea, using a paste down liner.


The Conversion

I am not 100% certain that the NIV MacArthur Study Bible has a sewn binding but it does appear that Holy Bound reinforced the  spine and the binding before attaching the leather cover.


Two very long, and I mean almost as long as in an Allan Bible, red satin ribbons were added. Two ribbons is the minimum that I look for in a quality Bible, since most reading plans have a OT and an NT reading for each day and you want to properly mark your place in your plan. I also look for the ribbons to be long enough to lift the corner of the Bible sufficiently to get a finger in and open the Bible. Note: you don’t use only the ribbon to open the Bible as even the most careful person can tear a Bible page by only using the ribbon to open it.



It is hard to go wrong with the classic color combination of black leather and red ribbons.


I do prefer a fully grained Bible cover but in this case the ironed cowhide is fairly well done.


Overall Impression

The rebind is nicely done. I would say that it is more of an entry level rebind. That is not to say that there are any quality issues. As I said,  this is for rebind on a budget; you get quality work at a fairly low price, probably 1/3 to ½ of of the cost of other rebinders.


I do recommend that you spend a little extra money for thicker leather. A thicker leather will withstand more heavy use than a thin leather and, in the event of a drop, it will be more impervious to damage.

Good Friday Prayer and Fasting

Good Friday Prayer and Fasting

This is a guest post from Doug Warwick (Pastor Matt’s Mentor)


In isolation and practicing social distancing during this pestilence, we are in Holy Week, the final week of Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth culminating in His death, burial, and resurrection.

I submit for your consideration a God-fearing way to commemorate Good Friday in your place of isolation:  a day of fasting and prayer.

Fasting to deny the flesh (Rom 7:18), redeeming the time because the days are evil.  Fast to the extent you are medically able from before sunrise to sunset.

  • before sunrise, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tried illegally
  • after sunrise, Jesus was beaten, scourged, had His beard ripped out, spit on, and mocked
  • at 9am,. Jesus was crucified
  • at noon, darkness covered the land
  • at 3pm, “It is finished!” and Jesus gave up the ghost (John 10:17-18)
  • before sunset, Jesus was buried

Prayer to look not at the things seen but at the things not sees (2 Cor 4:18) and to commune with the Living God.

  • confess our sins and the sins of this nation, praying like Jeremiah, Daniel, and Isaiah
  • repent of our sin
  • plead with God to give this nation the gift of repentance (2 Tim 2:25-26)
  • we and this nation would reject Life-less idols worshipped  (Joshua 24:14-15)
  • boldly seek the mercy and grace we need in this time (Heb 4:16)
  • surrender to being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29)
  • pour out our heart to be accounted worthy to escape the things coming upon the world to to stand before Jesus  (Luke 21:36)
  • that our faith be increased  (Mark 9:23-24, Luke 17:5)
  • protection for our families and Church family from this pestilence
  • have understanding of the times (Days of Noah and Days of Lot) that we would know what to do (1 Chron 12:32)

Separated yet one, let us see what the LORD will do!

Behold He Comes in glory (Revelation 1:7)

Behold He Comes in glory (Revelation 1:7)

The 2nd Coming is the climactic event of Redemptive History. Calvary set the events in motion which culminate in the final return of Jesus Christ in absolute power and unassailable majesty.

Bookending Revelation

Our text this morning and chapter 19 bookend Revelation, so to speak. The central event is the Glorious Appearing, at the end of the Tribulation, when Jesus finally returns and is at last coronated as King of All the Earth complete with 1000 year reign in perfect righteousness.


Christ Promises to Return

John 14:1-3


I go to prepare a place…

If I go to prepare a place, I will come again


The Angels, On Behalf of the Father, promise Jesus will return

Acts 1:1


The Davidic Covenant: The Guarantee of Christ’s Return


The Davidic Covenant refers to God’s promises to David through Nathan the prophet and is found in 2 Samuel 7 and later summarized in 1 Chronicles 17:11–14 and 2 Chronicles 6:16. This is an unconditional covenant made between God and David through which God promises David and Israel that the Messiah (Jesus Christ) would come from the lineage of David and the tribe of Judah and would establish a kingdom that would endure forever. The Davidic Covenant is unconditional because God does not place any conditions of obedience upon its fulfillment. The surety of the promises made rests solely on God’s faithfulness and does not depend at all on David or Israel’s obedience.



There are several prophecies of the continuation of the Kingdom of David and of Messiah’s Rule. In this lesson, we will post a prophecy and the associated passage of Scripture, followed by the New Testament Fulfillment Passage.  (This lesson, is the precursor to the lesson The King Who’s Coming.

David’s royal line will be perpetual

  • 2 Samuel 7:16
  • Psalm 78:67-70

New Testament Fulfillment

  • Luke 1:33,2:11   John 7:42  Romans 1:3

The Scepter will not depart from Judah

  • Genesis 49:9-10

New Testament Fulfillment

  • Hebrews 7:14Revelation 5:5

The Branch of Jesse (David’s father) is to rule

  • Isaiah 11:1-5
  • Zechariah 12:8

New Testament fulfillment

  • Luke 3:23,4:18   Romans 11:26 Revelation 22:16

God promises David a kingdom

  • Psalm 89:2-4
  • Psalm 132:11

New Testament Fulfillment

  • Luke 1:32

An assurance of government from David’s Throne

  • Isaiah 9:6-7
  • Jeremiah 23:5

New Testament Fulfillment

  • Luke 1:33

Messiah to be born in Bethlehem

  • Micah 5:2-4

New Testament Fulfillment

  • Matthew 2:1-6


The Rapture and the Glorious Appearing


Differences Between Our Blessed Hope (the Rapture) and the Glorious Appearing (2nd Coming)


Before we look at some differences between the Rapture and the 2ndComing, we need to look at 2 terms that the Bible uses for the event we call the Rapture of the Church.


The first is paralambano: Dr. Mounce provides some excellent information for us



Greek transliteration:


Simplified transliteration:


Principal Parts:

παραλήμψομαι, παρέλαβον, -, -, παρελήμφθην


Strong’s number:


GK Number:



to take with; take charge of; to receive, accept


pr. to take to one’s side; to take, receive to one’s self, Mt. 1:20Jn. 14:3; to take with one’s self, Mt. 2:131420214:58; to receive in charge or possession, Col. 4:17Heb. 12:28; to receive as a matter of instruction, Mk. 7:41 Cor. 11:2315:3; to receive, admit, acknowledge, Jn. 1:111 Cor. 15:1Col. 2:6; pass. to be carried off, Mt. 24:4041Lk. 17:343536


The 2nd is harpazo. Again learning from Dr. Bill Mounce:



Greek transliteration:


Simplified transliteration:


Principal Parts:

ἁρπάσω, ἥρπασα, -, ἤρπακμαι, ἡρπάσθην ορ ἡρπάγην


Strong’s number:


GK Number:



to catch, steal, carry off


to seize, as a wild beast, Jn. 10:12; take away by force, snatch away, Mt. 13:19Jn. 10:2829Acts 23:10Jude 23; met. to seize on with avidity, eagerly, appropriate, Mt. 11:12; to convey away suddenly, transport hastily, Jn. 6:15

I would add 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. We will be harpazo (caught away to meet the Lord in the air.)


Objections to the Rapture:

A very common objection is that the word Rapture is not in the NT. That isn’t accurate. Rapture is the anglicization of the Latin, rapturus which is the translation of harpazo from Greek to Latin. If you look to the notes above, there are at least 7 instances of harpazo in the NT. 

Another objection is that Dispensationalist teach an “escapist rapture.” No kidding. Exactly where is the “blessed hope” for a believer who is going to go through the tribulation. Of course Christians will escape the time of wrath. (1Th. 1:10;  1Th. 5:9). Let us not forget that the tribulation is “even the time of Jacob’s trouble but he shall be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:7)”

Rapture Second Coming
Christ comes for His own (John 14:31Th. 5:282Th. 2:1). Christ comes with His own (1Th. 3:13Jude 1:14; Rev. Rev. 19:14+).1
Christ comes in the air (1Th. 4:17). Christ comes to the earth (Zec. 14:4Acts 1:11).2
Christ claims His bride (1Th. 4:16-17). Christ comes with His bride (Rev. 19:6-14+).3
Removal of believers (1Th. 4:17). Manifestation of Christ (Mal. 4:2).4
Only His own see Him (1Th. 4:13-18). Every eye shall see Him (Rev. 1:7+).5
Tribulation begins (2Th. 1:6-9). Millennial Kingdom begins (Rev. 20:1-7+).6
Saved are delivered from wrath (1Th. 1:10;  1Th. 5:9). Unsaved experience the wrath of God (Rev. 6:12-17+).7
No signs precede rapture (1Th. 5:1-3). Signs precede Second Coming (Luke 21:11Luke 21:15).8
Focus is Lord and Church (1Th. 4:13-18). Focus is Israel and kingdom (Mat. 24:14).9
World is deceived (2Th. 2:3-12). Satan is bound so he cannot deceive (Rev. 20:1-2+).10
Believers depart the earth (1Th. 4:15-17).11 Unbelievers are taken away from the earth (Mat. 24:37-41).12
Unbelievers remain on earth. Believers remain on earth (Mat. 25:34).13
No mention of establishing Christ’s Kingdom on earth. Christ has come to set up His Kingdom on earth (Mat. 25:31Mat. 25:34).14
Christians taken to the Father’s house (John 14:1-3). Resurrected saints do not see the Father’s house (Rev. 20:4+).15
Imminent—could happen at any moment.  Cannot occur for at least 7 years.16
Precedes the career of the man of sin. (2Th. 2:1-3). Terminates the career of the man of sin (Rev. 19:20+).




In Christian eschatology, the post-tribulation rapture doctrine is the belief in a combined resurrection and rapture of all believers coming after the Great Tribulation. This position is fundamentally flawed and, in my estimation, does not fit with the Bible.


  1. The Great Tribulation is a time of judgment and the true Church was judged at Calvary

12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:12-13

One sacrifice for sin for all time…If your sin was paid for at the cross, it in manifestly unjust to pay for it again in the tribulation.

  1. The Tribulation is the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” and Israel (Jacob) is not the Church

‘Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.

Jeremiah 30:7

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “In the previous verses of Jeremiah 30, we find that the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah the prophet about Judah and Israel (30:3-4). In verse 3, the Lord promises that one day in the future, He will bring both Judah and Israel back to the land that He had promised their forefathers. Verse 5 describes a time of great fear and trembling. Verse 6 describes this time in a way that pictures men going through the pains of childbirth, again indicating a time of agony. But there is hope for Judah and Israel, for though this is called “the time of Jacob’s distress” (NASB), the Lord promises He will save Jacob (referring to Judah and Israel) out of this time of great trouble (verse 7).”

The Tribulation is a time of purification for Israel during which the obstinately unbelieving will be destroyed leaving the faithful remnant to enter the Kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:21,22 Zephaniah 3:19,20 Romans 11:26,27

  1. The Church is not mentioned from Revelation 4-19

            There is not really much extrapolation needed here. If the Tribulation were, in fact, something the Church were expected to endure, surely the Holy Spirit would have warned us. I would go so far as to say that it requires a dismissal of logical inference to presume the Church will go through the Tribulation.

  1. Revelation 3:10and tereso oras peirasmou

Tereso oras peirasmou (I will keep you from the hour of testing.) The hour of testing being referred to, here, is the Tribulation and it is Christ Himself who says that He will keep from the hour of testing.

  1. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

Where, exactly, is the comfort in facing the Tribulation?

  1. The Blessed Hope

The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.

1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 Romans 8:23 Titus 2:13 1 Corinthians 15:51,52

  1. There will be a final judgment but the Tribulation is not it

There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works but this is not the tribulation period. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Matthew 25:46 Mark 9:43-48 Revelation 19:20 Revelation 20:11-15  Revelation 21:8

  1. Lastly, the final judgment for believers is the Bema Seat not the Tribulation. 

Quoting Got Questions Ministries, “Romans 14:10–12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. . . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (ESV). Second Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In context, it is clear that both passages refer to Christians, not unbelievers. The judgment seat of Christ, therefore, involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ.

The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2) and our faith in Him (John 3:16). All of our sins are forgiven, and we will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1). We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. Yes, as the Bible says, we will have to give an account of ourselves. Part of this is surely answering for the sins we committed. However, that is not going to be the primary focus of the judgment seat of Christ.

At the judgment seat of Christ, believers are rewarded based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-272 Timothy 2:5). Some of the things we might be judged on are how well we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), how victorious we were over sin (Romans 6:1-4), and how well we controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9). The Bible speaks of believers receiving crowns for different things based on how faithfully they served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-272 Timothy 2:5). The various crowns are described in 2 Timothy 2:52 Timothy 4:8James 1:121 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10James 1:12 is a good summary of how we should think about the judgment seat of Christ: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”


Having a Take This Bible Program

Having a Take This Bible Program

The new NASB offering from Zondervan, the NASB Pew and Worship Bible and the NASB Preacher’s Bible, prompted me to think about churches offering a Take This Bible Program. Since pew Bibles are fairly inexpensive,  I would like to suggest a couple options. (It is essential that churches are doing all they can to get the word of God into the hands of people.)


1. Allow members to sponsor a Bible for a visitor or new believer to take home.

2. Have a stack of Bibles in the welcome center with a box for a contribution. Do not suggest an amount. Instead, leave it open so that those with limited means can have their own Bible without cost concerns.

3. The church can simply offer the Bibles from the pulpit. You could say something like, “If you do not own your own copy of the Bible, please take home the one that you find on your pew. We encourage you to mark in this Bible and make it your own. Remember to bring it with you every week so that we can all learn the Bible together.”

4. Lastly, your chuch can simply sell copies of the Pew Bible. I do not advise any kind of mark up. Be transparent about costs with your membership and sell the Bible at the church’s cost.