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Tag: Bible Teacher

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

The Gospel

 

God created the world and made us to be in loving relationship with him. Though created good, human nature became fatally flawed, and we are now all out of step with God. In Bible language, we are sinners, guilty before God and separated from him.

The good news of the Gospel is that God took loving action in Jesus Christ to save us from this dire situation. The key facts of this divine remedy are these: God the Father sent his eternal Son into this world to reconcile us to himself, to free us to love and serve him, and to prepare us to share his glory in the life to come. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and rose bodily from the dead to restore us to God. Given authority by his Father, Jesus now rules in heaven as King over all things, advancing God’s kingdom throughout the world. In the fullness of time, Jesus will return to establish his kingdom in its glory on earth, and all things will be renewed.

Reigning in heaven over all things, Jesus Christ continues to draw sinners to himself. He enables us by his Holy Spirit to turn wholeheartedly from our sinful and self-centered ways (repentance), and to entrust ourselves to him to live in union and communion with him (faith). In spiritual terms, sin is the way of death, and fellowship with Christ is the way of life.

Turning to Christ

Turning to Christ brings us into fellowship with God. Baptism, which is the rite of entry into the Church’s fellowship, marks the beginning of this new life in Christ. The apostle Peter, proclaiming the Gospel, said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Through faith, repentance, and Baptism we are spiritually united to Jesus and become children of God the Father. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” ( John 14:6). As we come to the Father through Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and hearts to know him, and we are born again spiritu- ally to new life. To continue to live faithfully as Christians, we must rely upon the power and gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to God’s people.

When the disciple Thomas encountered the risen Jesus, he acknowledged him by saying, “My Lord and my God!” ( John 20:28). To be a Christian you must, like Thomas, wholeheartedly submit to the living Christ as your Lord and God. Knowing the Lord Jesus means personally believing in him, surrendering your life to him through repentance and Baptism, and living as one of his joyful followers.

A clear way to make this commitment of faith and repentance is to offer to God a prayer in which you

  • confess your sins to God, being as specific as possible, and repent by turning from them;
  • thank God for his mercy and forgiveness given to you in Jesus Christ;
  • promise to follow and obey Jesus as your Lord;
  • ask the Holy Spirit to help you be faithful to Jesus as yo grow into spiritual maturity.
    One example of such a prayer is the following:Almighty Father, I confess that I have sinned against you in my thoughts, words, and actions (especially __________). I am truly sorry and humbly repent. Thank you for forgiving my sins through the death of your Son, Jesus. I turn to you and give you my life. Fill and strengthen me with your Holy Spirit to love you, to follow Jesus as my Lord in the fellowship of his Church, and to become more like him each day. Amen. 
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Excerpted from “To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism”
Copyright © 2020 by The Anglican Church in North America
Published by Crossway
Is Arminianism Heretical? (An analysis and guest post from James Quiggle)

Is Arminianism Heretical? (An analysis and guest post from James Quiggle)

Many Calvinsts are quick to damn those who hold to Arminianism as heretics, but are they really? In this fascinating essay, Visiting Professor James Quiggle, a frequent and beloved guest, here, endevors to answer this question with technical precision and Christian charity.

Is Arminianism Heretical?

I understand Calvinism and Arminian soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). I am qualified to render an opinion on Arminianism as to heretical or not. If the details of theology are not your thing, keep reading anyway. We also need to look at some history.

Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609) developed his soteriological views in opposition to the supralapsarianism order of God’s decrees (respecting salvation) which were developed by John Calvin (1509–1564) and others, of what today is known as high Calvinism.

In the supralapsarian order of God’s decrees (respecting salvation) an election to both salvation and to reprobation is the first decree. The supra- order is: decree to elect to salvation and reprobation (damnation); decree to create; decree to permit the fall; decree to send Christ to redeem those elected to salvation; decree to send the Holy Spirit to effect salvation.

Here is the significance: in the supralapsarian order no human being was seen by God as a sinner when God elected some to be saved and some to be damned. The supralapsarian order is based solely on God’s sovereignty, at a time in the order of God’s decrees when no human being was seen by God as a sinner. The Arminian view of soteriology was developed to oppose the supralapsarian view that non-sinners were elected to reprobation (eternal damnation).

The “Five points of Arminianism” were developed a few years after Arminius’ death by his followers, as a means to systematically express their disagreement with the, at that time, prevailing supralapsarian view. The Synod of Dort and its Canons (doctrines) were a direct response to the Arminian five points. Is it important? The Synod thought so, they took seven months (Nov 1618 – May 1619), and 154 open-to-the-public sessions (and many side conferences), to discuss the issues.

The “Five Points of Calvinism” were developed *after* the Synod, based on their Canons. The ideas were in the Canons, but not stated in five points. Those five points *do not* express supralapsarianism, but express an order of God’s decrees that came to be known as infralapsarianism. (Both the Arminian five points and the Canons of the Synod of Dort are available online.) (BTW, the earliest known, documented use of the acronym TULIP was 1905.)

The word “lapsarian” means “after the lapse.” The “lapse” is the fall of humankind into sin. The word “supra” means “above, before.” “Supralapsarian” means “before the lapse, i.e., God elected some to salvation and others to damnation before the fall into sin. The word “infra” means “below, after.” Infralapsarian means “after the lapse,” i.e., God elected some to salvation after the fall into sin. There is no election to reprobation in infralapsarianism.

The infralapsarian order of God’s decrees is this: decree to create; decree to permit the fall; decree to elect some to salvation (no election to reprobation); decree to provide a redeemer for the elect; decree to send the Holy Spirit to effect salvation.

There is third order in Calvinistic soteriology, the sublapsarian order: decree to create; decree to permit the fall; decree to provide a redeemer; decree to elect some to salvation; decree to send the Holy Spirit to effect salvation.

Supra- sees no person as a sinner when God decreed his election. The significance of infra- and sub- is God saw all persons as sinners before he elected some to salvation, and left others are they were, as non-elect sinners. The difference between infra- and sub-, is when God decreed to provide a redeemer in relation to the decree of election. In infra- the redeemer is provided after election. In sub- the redeemer is provided before election.

Many Calvinists’ opposed the supra- election to reprobation, is why the infra- and sublapsarian views were developed. Is the difference between sub- and infra- important? Yes, in infra- the benefits of Christ’s propitiation of God for sin are directed only toward the elect. In sub- the benefits extend to all humankind: mercy and common grace to all human beings; salvation to the elect. As the Synod of Dort stated: Christ’s propitiation was sufficient for all, efficient to salvation for the elect.

Calvinistic ”Unconditional Election” is sometimes described as “God elected on the basis of his free grace.” No, “free grace,” aka, sovereign grace, is the consequence of election, not the basis of election. Here is genuinely biblical Unconditional Election: God chose some to salvation for no reason explained in the Scripture—we don’t know why.

The unconditional election of some to salvation but not others was not based on any merit or lack of merit in the person, thus not based on foresight of who would or who would not believe. God chose for reasons known only to God that suited his purpose in creating. The choice was neither arbitrary nor unjust: God viewed all persons as sinners before electing some to salvation, choosing to leave others as they were. Election does not prejudice God against the non-elect; they could be saved if they would come to God with faith in God and his testimony as to the way of salvation. They are not saved because they desire their sin more than a relationship with God.

The Arminian “Conditional Election” was not specifically written to oppose sovereign grace, but to oppose the supralapsarian election to reprobation. The Arminian view of election is known as “foresight election”: God foreknew who would believe and then elected those people to salvation. The Arminianism “Conditional Election,” naturally opposes supralapsarian election to salvation and election to reprobation. But Arminian “Conditional Election” also opposes the infralapsarian, sublapsarian, and biblical views of unconditional election.

Arminian soteriology does believe salvation is by God’s grace, but they differ from Calvinism in how that grace is applied. In Calvinistic salvation God’s prevenient grace (Ephesians 2:8) is applied to specific individuals whom God elected to receive that grace. That prevenient grace is efficacious to save: every sinner receiving God’s efficacious grace will infallibly believe.

In Arminian salvation, God’s prevenient grace (Ephesians 2:8) is applied indiscriminately to everyone. That prevenient grace makes it possible for anyone to choose to believe. In Calvinistic soteriology, prevenient grace is necessary because sin makes the sinner unable to believe to salvation. In Arminian soteriology, prevenient grace makes salvation possible for all, sin does not make the sinner unable to believe, so anyone can believe, or not believe, as he or she chooses.

With that historical and theological background, I can now accurately state the thing in common between any system of Calvinistic soteriology (supra-, infra-, sub-) and Arminian soteriology. In both Calvinism and Arminian views of salvation, Christ propitiated God for sin, God elected, and God must give prevenient grace (Ephesians 2:8) for a sinner to be saved. Thus both soteriologies agree sinners are able to be saved. But both differ significantly in the details of how a person is saved.

If, **which it is not**, the differences between Calvinism and Arminian soteriology were the only defining quality between heretical and not heretical, then the Arminian soteriology is not the biblical soteriology. But, and this is important, neither is the high Calvinism supralapsarianism. Both are wrong for different reasons. In Calvinistic supralapsarianism God is a monster who arbitrarily elects to damnation people who have not sinned. In Arminian soteriology God is not the sovereign God who initiates salvation but the helpless God who responds to the choices of his creature.

What is biblical soteriology?

Unsaved sinners have Total Inability to initiate their salvation, because the sin attribute dominates every aspect of human nature;

God, for reasons not stated in the Scripture, chose to give some sinners his gift of Prevenient Grace, Ephesians 2:8, thereby effecting the means to their salvation; there is no corresponding election to reprobation;

God’s gift of prevenient grace is Efficacious Grace: it infallibly accomplishes the end for which it was given, which is the salvation of the chosen sinner;

Christ’s all-sufficient Propitiation of God (aka: atonement) for all human sin has benefits to all humankind (mercy, common grace), but is efficient to salvation only toward those whom God chose to receive its merit by his Efficacious Grace, through the person’s faith in God and God’s testimony; this is known as Limited Redemption;

All those whom God has saved will Persevere in the faith by faith to the end of life and beyond, because each is and will be endlessly maintained by the merit of Christ’s propitiation through God’s Efficacious Grace.

Or: Free Will Dominated by Sin; Christ’s All-sufficient Propitiation; Limited Redemption by Election; Enlivened by Efficacious Grace; Faith that Receives Salvation; Perseverance in the Faith by the Faith to the End.

Is the Arminian view of salvation heretical? No, but just barely. Arminian soteriology teaches God elected some to salvation, that salvation occurs because Christ propitiated God for sin, and God gives prevenient grace to salvation. The Scripture opposes other aspects of Arminian soteriology. But any soteriology that teaches salvation of the sinner through the forgiveness of sins based on the propitiation of Christ, which Arminianism does, cannot be judged wholly heretical.

Why is Election Unconditional (Guest Post by the Rev. Lasaro Flores)

Why is Election Unconditional (Guest Post by the Rev. Lasaro Flores)

We welcome a new visiting professor in this article. The Reverend Lasaro Flores, a dear friend of Pastor Matt presents us with a biblical look at why God’s Election of Sinners to Salvation is and MUST be unconditional…

 

Of course, in this article I’m dealing with God’s Election of sinners for Salvation. Both doctrines are involved, and include, God’s Grace. In Romans 11:5 it is called “the election of grace.” It goes without saying that Salvation is “by grace” (Ephesians 2:5,8). As most Christians accept that “grace” has the meaning of ‘unmerited and undeserved favor;’ therefore, on connecting “grace” with Election and Salvation, it simply means that God “elects” and “saves” us FREELY by His Grace! Therefore, BOTH are UNCONDITIONAL!!! If this is not true, then, it would mean that our Election and Salvation would depend on us sinners doing something “conditionally” in order for God to Elect and to Save us! In that case, we would have to throw out God’s Grace (and I say this reverently), out the window!

FIRST, here I would like to deal with Why Is Salvation Unconditional? Well, simply because we sinners are saved by God’s Grace; and NOT by anything that we do as a “condition” by which God has to save us. Ephesians 2:5,8 makes it very clear that we are “saved by grace.” Therefore, we can say without any doubt whatsoever that “we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved” (Acts 15:11); “for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11); and here “has appeared to all men” simply means God’s “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3) has ‘shine upon, that is, become (literally) visible or (figuratively) known’ to all human beings wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, and is heard by anyone. But we have to say that absolutely NOT every sinner in the world “hears” the Gospel; and therefore, they die “having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12); and without the Grace of God they remain in the same state into eternity. Furthermore, it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Note that our salvation is ALL of God’s doing, that is, God saving us because it pleases Him! HALLELUJAH!

Therefore, since God’s Grace means that He ‘freely saves us by doing us the favor of saving us even though we don’t deserve to be saved,’ it is UNCONDITIONAL from FIRST to LAST, in that God “who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). How much more does this proves that our Salvation is UNCONDITIONAL in that we didn’t even exist when it was “given”to us; but it was “reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4) for that particular moment in which He would save us UNCONDITIONALLY “by His Grace!!!” Therefore,to deny that our Salvation IS NOT by God’s Grace ALONE through Faith ALONE in the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE, and His Redemption provided by Him, is to say that God CANNOT, or is UNABLE save the “first” of sinners; but has to depend on the sinner for God to save him!

SECONDLY, let us consider with Why Is Election Unconditional? Note that it is stated God “has chosen us in Him (i.e. in Christ) BEFORE the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, in love having predestinated us into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He has made us accepted in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:4-5). Here we see Election and Salvation connected together in Christ Jesus to ALL that are Unconditionally Chosen in Christ in that God does it ALL Unconditionally; in other words, there are no “conditions” for us to fulfill and accomplish, in that it is ALL done by “the God of ALL grace” (1 Peter 5:10) as He pleases!!! Amen.

THIRDLY, it folows then, that, we are to be grateful that God has chosen us to be saved. The apostle Paul reminds the believers of the church of Thessalonica that “we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning CHOSEN YOU TO SALVATION through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: into which He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). The word here “chosen” is different than the one on Ephesians 1:4, which means ‘to select.’ Here it is ‘to take one for oneself, that is, prefer.’ Oh, how that should humble us to know that God chose us to be saved because He DETERMINED to take us for Himself, that is, preferred to choose us for salvation simply because it pleased Him to do so UNCONDITIONALLY!

FOURTHLY, our Election to Salvation was NOT dependent on anything of ourselves, or from ourselves: IT WAS ALL IN CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF IN WHOM WE ARE CHOSEN TO BE SAVED!!! What does this mean? God didn’t look to us, or “depend” on us, in order to be Elected or Saved! In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ IS the Elect of God (Isaiah 42:1): “Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles” (cp. 1 Peter 2:4,6). As the Lord Jesus Christ IS the Elect of God from Eternity, and so in Him God chose ALL of His Elect (Ephesians 1:4) to “be holy and without blame before Him” in that God has made ALL the Elect “in Christ Jesus,” to be “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). Amen.

FIFTHLY, in closing let me say this: Election and Salvation IS NOT APART from “testifying the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24); and so the ALL of the Elect will be saved by the means of hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have to hear that Christ Jesus died for sinners on the Cross and resurrected bodily from the Grave. They have to hear that is demanded “Repentance toward God, and Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21); as He Himself declares: “Repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). So, in asking: “What must I do be saved?” (Acts 16:30); the Scriptural response will be: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and YOU shall be saved…” (v.31); and ALL by Grace ALONE through Faith ALONE in the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE: ALL to the Glory of God ALONE!!! HALLELUJAH!!! Amen.

NRSV Personal Size Large Print Premier Collection

NRSV Personal Size Large Print Premier Collection

Click me for photos

 

In their quest to create some of America’s most spectacular Bibles, Zondervan has released that which is presently the most spectacular edition of the New Revised Standard Bible that is currently on the market, the Personal Size Large Print Bible in the Premier Collection. This edition, which was sent by Zondervan free of charge in exchange for an honest review, takes everything I love about the Premier Collection and takes it to a whole different level.

Translation

First up, the translation… This particular edition offers the entire Ecumenical Edition of the NRSV This is the edition accepted by the Protestants, Roman Catholics, and the Orthodox Communions.

NRSV is an essentially literal translation much like its fraternal twin, the English Standard Version. If the NRSV had one advantage over other translations, it would be that NRSV is more widely accepted amongst scholars. The NRSV’s other major advantage is that it is the only translation, to my knowledge, which includes Jewish Rabbis on the translation committee thus giving it what is, perhaps, the most accurate Old Testament rendering you can currently find in a Bible.

Cover and Binding

Before I had even seen this Bible, in person, the cover took my breath away. It happens that purple is my favorite color. This is not just any purple. Though. It is purple goatskin. I have a similar purple in the ink in one of my fountain pens, Diamine, the maker of that ink calls it Imperial Purple and I think that would actually be a fitting name for the color of this Bible, to call it Imperial Purple.

The grain on the Bible cover is the most pronounced on any of the Premier Collection. It is quite delightful to the touch.

Paper, Layout, and Font

We will begin with the font. This is a black letter text which is incredibly well done. Zondervan’s Comfort Print Text really shines here. In fact, it is so superb that it actually tricked me. I had originally thought that it was a 12-point font but it is actually a 10.5-point.

Zondervan presents NRSV in a double column paragraph format. Normally my preference is a verse by verse format due to certain visual acuity issues. However, in this case, Zondervan has added a little nugget to not only make the text easier to handle but also to delight the eyes as well, the Scripture Headings and the verse numbers are in a very rich cranberry. You will find text navigation to be far more use friendly than in most other Bibles with this layout.

My best guess on the paper would be around 32 grams per square inch. The opacity is wonderful; the show, ghosting if you like the technical term, is very minimal and only noticeable in very specific lighting situations

General Format and Helps

This is, for the most part, a text only Bible. You will not find center-column references or end of verse references. Zondervan did include the Translator’s Footnotes. You will find them at the bottom of the pages on the right hand side.

I was surprised to find that there is no concordance. I am not, personally, bothered by the lack of a concordance but I confess a slight twinge of disappointment for some of my pastoral brethren who might need the concordance to help guide their growth as pastors.

There are lined notes pages following the text of Revelation. I am glad of their inclusion, but I cannot figure out why each book of the Bible does not have pages for making notes.

In Practical Usage

This is very much an Every Day Carry Bible; it will fit quite nicely in most laptop bags or briefcases. The over all format lends itself very well to everyday use. In fact, if the NRSV were a main teaching translation for me, which it may yet become, this would be my primary NRSV despite my affinity for its single column cousin.

Is This Bible Right for You?

That is both a yes and a no. The Old Testament in NRSV is outstanding yet some of the NT rendering irritate me so before considering if this edition is right for you, you will need to consider whether or not NRSV is right for you. IF you make NRSV a main translation, you will find this edition to be far superior to virtually every other NRSV out there, except perhaps Cambridge’s editions.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I very much enjoy this edition. I. presently, have it paired the 1662 Book of Common Prayer from Cambridge University Press and, if you can believe it, the Valley of Vision. My ministerial background is not altogether liturgical (I was Pentecostal from the beginning and became a Baptist about 10 years ago). However, through the influence of some Anglican friends, I find myself appreciating more and more of the liturgical formats.

As it happens 2022 will be the first time I follow the readings  in the Revised Common Lectionary and I will be following them in this edition of the New Revised Standard Version. I made that choice partially due to its familiarity with most forms of liturgy but also because I want to live out my faith in a way which I have not done before- I have never used NRSV in a devotional setting, only academic. Since Zondervan made such a delightful NRSV that is also a touch whimsical and out of the box, it seemed only natural to select it for a new experience in the Christian walk.

Lastly, I realize that for most of my audience budget is a major concern when selecting a new Bible, a dilemma which may only be faced once or twice in a lifetime. When it comes to choosing an NRSV from the Premiere Collection, I do not envy you having to choose between this the Single Column Reference Edition. If you can only choose one, my best advice would be to decide which is more important, overall portability (Choose this one) or total helps offered (Choose Single Column Reference Bible). In either case, you cannot really lose. You are getting a copy of God’s word that will still be around long after you have gone home to Jesus, and He will keep using it to His glory.

NASB Classic Reference Bible-Buffalo Hide

NASB Classic Reference Bible-Buffalo Hide

Photos of the Cassie Reference Bible

Zondervan has taken one of my favorite NASB editions and kicked it up a notch. The NASB Ckassic Reference Bible, now in brown Buffalo Hide.

Note: Zondervan provided a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one and my opinions are my own. 

The most important feature of this edition is its portability: It clearly falls into the hand size/compact category, actual measurements are 8.5 x 5.5 inches. This is quite useful when dealing with limited space in a brief case.  To the best of my knowledge. This is the most popular of the Zondervan editions.

There are a number of features offered for such a portable Bible:

Buffalo HIde

This is the stand out feature of this Bible.  Unlike most genuine leathers, which are a stiff pigskin, this is very soft and supple. Buffalo Hide, it seems, is about as supple as a regular cowhide though not quite as delightful as a calfskin.

Center Column References

This is laid out in what I think of as a traditional reference format with the references in between the two text columns. All 95,000 of the available NASB cross-references are provided including the alternate translations offered by the Lockman Foundation.  This is a very important feature, perhaps the most important other than the text. NASB, as one of the top two academic texts, is very heavily cross referenced and annotated. I would venture to say that any person who mastered the references would be well equipped to teach the Bible to others no matter the level of formal education that they possess. 

Introductions and Brief Outlines

Zondervan obviously intends for this Bible to be used as a study aid when including this feature and I am so glad that they did. I frequently encounter believers who are not going through any discipleship process or systematic study of the Bible and this is where I start. The Introductions offered, here, are in depth enough to get you started on your study but still brief enough to be read in a short time. The outlines are no where near as detailed as the NASB Study Bible and that is ok; you don’t always want a theology library in your pocket but you do want to have sufficient resources to guide a younger believer through their study.

I would rank the introductions and outlines at the middle school level. They are easy enough to master for just about any Christian. 

In Text Maps and Charts

There really is not a lot that needs said about the maps and charts other than to say that they are a very useful tool for visualizing the lands you are reading about or important concepts that need a second look.

Font, Layout, and Paper

We are presented with a very readable 8-point font size for the main text and it looks as though the references are 6-6.5-point font. The font works really well in this particular Bible. It is a red-letter edition and the red is done well enough that I did not have much trouble with it when out in the sun or in low light settings.  With this smaller font size, Zondervan’s Comfort Print Font really shines. It is far easier to read than the previous edition. 

As I mentioned before, this is a double column format, which I prefer primarily because that is what I am most familiar with. It is one of the few Bibles that you can get from Zondervan that are still sewn; it does have a paste down liner as opposed to being leather/edge lined but that isn’t really anything to complain about.

As A Carry Bible

The NASB Classic Reference from Zondervan is, easily, the most portable NASB that I have. It is quite lightweight and fits easily into most of my briefcases. I have even, on one or two occasions, forgot that I had it with me and then put my Scofield KJV in the bag.

Final Thoughts

This is a great choice in a “bring it with me Bible.” Since it is so easy to carry while not straining the eyes when reading you should be quite pleased with it.

In the interest of full disclosure, now that I have bifocals, I endeavor to use a font size no smaller than 10-point. That is not to imply that this Bible is in any way inadequate for most readers; it just happens that is poses a challenge for me.

Expositor’s Bible Commentary 2-volume Set

Expositor’s Bible Commentary 2-volume Set

In this review, we are looking at a very helpful tool for both teachers and students of the Holy Scripture, the 2-Volume Expositor’s Bible Commentary Abridged Set from Zondervan Academic. Zondervan provided a copy of this set free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback, just honest feedback; my opinions are my own.

 

 

additional photos

From the publisher:

Based on the critically acclaimed, Gold Medallion-winning Expositor’s Bible Commentary used by pastors, students, and scholars across the world, this two-volume abridged edition offers you the full, penetrating, verse-by-verse commentary of the 12-volume series while leaving out needless technical details. Marshalling the knowledge of fifty-two top biblical scholars, it brings tremendous insight to your Bible studies.

Covering the Old and New Testaments in separate volumes, this commentary features:

  • Verse-by-verse exposition of the entire Bible
  • 250 in-text charts, maps, tables, and pictures
  • Goodrick/Kohlenberger numbers for cross-referencing the Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordanceand other G/K-numbered resources

 

Translation Used

Naturally, this commentary set is based on the New International Version. Zondervan is the primary publisher of the NIV in the United States so it is a logical choice for Zondervan Academic to base its resources on the NIV.

Goodrick & Kohlenberger’s Numbers

If you are familiar with Strong’s Numbers, which are most often paired with the KJV, you will immediately be familiar with these numbers. These serve as a gateway to study of the NIV text for expository purposes.

You will find these numbers in the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, NIV Concise Concordance and, my personal favorite tool, the NIV Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible, along wth many other study resources. I would rate this as my favorite feature of this commentary set primarly because they link excellent commentary with a broad spectrum of tools to give a very well rounded understanding of the text of Holy Scripture.

Book Introductions

The Introductions are fairly similar to those in the NIV Study Bible. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you had this set along with the NIV Study Bible, you might well be able to forego the full 12-volume set. While there is no outline provided, the introductions are not lacking in any way because of that fact.When perusing the Book Introductions, you will find both historical and theological background information. Rather than approaching the Theological Background information from a Systematic Theology Standpoint, we actually look at theology from a Biblical Theology (more of a global theology) perspective.

There is also a treatment of author, intended audience, date/place/time of the book’s composition including, as I mentioned earlier, historical background information.

Though not in the introduction proper, there is also a section called the Old Testament in the New which displays the NT use of OT Passages. It is available for each book of the Bible and I would rate it as the second most important feature of the commentary set. Why? We can sometimes see Scripture in a disjointed manner and this section helps to bring the Bible into view as a unified cohesive unit.

The Commentary Itself

As I was working with this set, I noticed a very interesting feature: Though there is no outline provided, the commentary is laid out in the format of a detailed expository outline. This layout is very similar to what Dr. Wiersbe did with his Expository Outlines of the Old and New Testaments but in more detail.

It is a hybrid of a verse by verse and paragraph exposition. Following section headings found in the NIV, the commentary takes a section at a time and provides exposition on the text.

This is, absolutely, a seminary grade commentary but at the same time it is very approachable. It is conservative without being afraid to treat alternative viewpoints. It is geared primarily toward the pastor-teacher but will serve any student of the Bible very well.

Ancillary Tools

Maps, charts, tables, and photos all add to the explanation of the text. It is clear that, with these tools, Zondervan Academic has considered that a huge portion of our learning occurs with visual aids.

The Physical Book

Both volumes are hard cover with what is commonly called book paper. It is not overly thick but it is sufficiently opaque for marking in the text.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with NIV Tools

This commentary pairs very well with several NIV tools but I want to call out a few, here:

NIV Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible

I touched on this earlier, but the inclusion of the Goodrick/Kohlenberger Numbers, the HGK study Bible lends itself perfectly to exposition of the text

NIV Study Bible

Zondervan’s premier exegetical resource, the NIV Study Bible offers a gateway to expository commentaries. The materials in the two tools complement each other very well. There is information in the NIVSB that is not in the commentary and the commentary takes the expositional notes in the study Bible to a much deeper and, I think, more helpful level.

NIV Text or Reference Bible

This commentary set is sufficiently detailed that it can stand alone with a Bible that does not include exegetical study aids.

Final Thoghts

I am impressed with the amount of help that Zondervan included in this “abridged” commentary set. It does not feel abridged at all. In fact, had I never seen its 12 volume big sister, I would not find anything lacking in this set. Truth be told, I do not find anything lacking now. I would like a bit larger font and, perhaps, some lined notes pages with each book but those are matters of personal preference.

I would recommend this, first and foremost, for a Sunday School Teacher. Many churches do not realize the vital role that Sunday School plays in developing the members of the church and so Sunday School Teachers are, often, not very well equipped. In fact, this particular commentary is so helpful for teaching the Bible that I would recommend that each church have a copy in their library so that teachers with limited financial means are able to access the resources provided.

TBS Large Print Windsor/Family Bible Review

TBS Large Print Windsor/Family Bible Review

Bible Photos click me

 

Known for bringing very high quality KJV Bibles to market at incredible prices, Trinitarian Bible Society has done it again. The have refreshed their Large Print Family Presentation Bible with an upgrage to one of their most popular Bibles, now bringing  the  Windsor text into a large print edition.

(TBS provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review only an honest one and my opinions are my own.)

 Cover & Binding

My review copy has the black ironed calfskin cover, a change from the very textured cover on the Large Print Family Presentation Bible. It is Meriva Calfskin. To the best of my knowledge, this is the same ironed calfskin that can be found on the unrivalled perfection that is the Westminster Reference Bible. The paste down liner was rather a surprise. I had expected it to make the cover a little more stiff such as with the Large Print Family Presentation Bible. While it does make the cover more sturdy, it is still more limp and supple than other Bibles I own with a paste down liner.

The text block is smythe sewn as is the case will all TBS Bibles. As I have said in almost every review I have ever written, a sewn text block is an essential feature in a quality Bible; it is this feature that helps the Bible to last across generations.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper is crisp white but rather thin allowing modest show through (also called ghosting). The paper does have a minor issue, there is some page curl. The page curl is not severe enough to be challenging but I do find it mildly irritating.

We are given a plain text Bible, laid out in a double column verse by verse format. The 11-point font is crisp and very deep ebony. I do not know of TBS making a red-letter edition of the  Bible and this is no exception, a black letter text all the way through. The font is more of a semi-bold as opposed to the blackface/bold font style of the former Family Bible.

For Preaching/Teaching

This is an excellent Bible for preaching and teaching. The verse by verse format makes it very easy to locate the passage of Scripture you wish to use. Truth be told, I prefer the previous version of the Large Print Family Bible series. Please do not take that to mean that I have any dislike for the Large Print Windsor.

I very much enjoy the Windsor for daily reading but I find the older edition easier on the eyes with its very bold black format.

The Large Print Windsor will lay open on a pulpit or other type of lectern quite easily. It is also light enough to be used with one hand, which is especially handy if one is peripatetic.

For daily use

At less than an inch thick and weighing in at a little over a pound, the Large Print Windsor  is very practical for daily carry.

I am not sure that I would recommend writing in this Bible, unless it was done in pencil.

Should you buy

As I said  earlier this is an excellent Bible. You cannot go wrong  owning it.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this Bible is representative of everything I have come to expect from Trinitarian Bible Society. If TBS ever makes a wide margin Bible this would be the perfect choice. If they don’t, this is still a solid choice of KJV to own.

NASB Large Print Bible in Blue Buffalo Hide

NASB Large Print Bible in Blue Buffalo Hide

Fans of the NASB, myself included, there is new reason to celebrate, an additional high-quality leather binding option-buffalo hide. In this review, we are considering the blue buffalo leather option, which Zondervan sent to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

 

Click here for photos of this Bible

 

To begin, the edition I am reviewing is the Large Print Thin-line. It is, to the best of my knowledge, a new style for the NASB and one I rather enjoy, to be quite honest.

 

Cover and Binding

As I mentioned with regard to a similar option in the NIV, this is a very supple and flexible leather offering. This buffalo leather is on the same quality level as an ironed calfskin. Ironically enough, this Bible comes in at a lower price point than a traditional calfskin.

 

The leather lined cover is buttery soft and a delight to the touch. It is not as thick as the buffalo hide on other Bibles that I own but still feels every bit as sturdy.

 

Naturally we get a sewn binding. Zondervan left the binding a touch loose. This is to ensure ease of use one handed.

 

Paper, Layout, Font

As has been the case with its cousins in the Premier Collection, the NASB Large Print Thin-line Bible uses a crisp white paper. There is minor show through but nothing that will interfere with its use. If you are like me and enjoy marking in your Bible, I recommend colored pencil for marking in this Bible.

 

The Comfort Print Font Family really shines in this Bible. The verse by verse layout works out extremely well when paired with the 11-point font that Zondervan is offering. The red lettering is a little lighter than I had expected but it is still very well done and very easy to read.

 

In addition to being in a verse by verse format, we also have a double column setting. The double column setting makes it about 50-60% thinner than the most recognizable NASB Bible on the market, the Side Column Reference Bible.

 

The limited Translator’s Footnotes can be found at the bottom of the page.

 

For Everyday Carry

At around 1 inch thick, this is a great format for a daily use Bible. It should fit in most briefcases, backpacks, and purses without issue. I would say this Bible weighs in at 2 pounds or less so you should not experience any carry fatigue. The small, versatile format lends to a wide range of uses including personal study, one to one discipleship, or preaching.

 

As A Preaching Bible

An 11-point font is the smallest size that I would recommend for preaching and this particular Bible will do very well in the pulpit. As a text only Bible, there is nothing to distract from the text when preaching or if you are leading a responsive reading with your congregation.

 

Final Thoughts

NASB is one of the most important English Versions available and this is an excellent offering from Zondervan. Zondervan is the largest publishing partner that the NASB has and I have long wanted Zondervan to give us a broader selection of Bibles from which to choose; it is nice to see them finally doing so.

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

 

 

NIV Study Bible Photos (Click Me)

 

 

 

For nearly 40 years, the NIV Study Bible has been Zondervan’s flagship study resource for those using the New International Version of the Bible. In 2020, it has been revised and updated with 100 new articles and over 1,000 new study notes. Zondervan sent me a copy, in black bonded leather, free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

 

Translation:

New International Version, NIV for short, is the dominant English translation of the Bible for Anglophone Christians. The NIV is available in two types, Anglicised (published by Hodder and Stouhgton) and American Standard English edition published by Zondervan. These two families cover both sides of the English speaking world.

 

NIV is one of the two most recognizable mediating translations available. A mediating translation strives to strike a balance between Formal Equivalence (literal) and Dynamic Equivalence (thought for thought). NIV’s most similar competitor, Christian Standard Bible, leans more toward the literal side of the spectrum while NIV leans more toward the easy to read thought for thought end of the spectrum.

 

NIV as A Preaching Bible

NIV is an excellent choice for preaching. The translation rates around 6th-7th grade on the Flesch-Kincaide scale. The language is sufficiently technical and sophisticated so as to appeal to the more academically inclined disciple but it is also sufficiently easy to read so as to appeal to those disciples who have English as a second or third language. When bringing an expository sermon, NIV requires fewer restatements and definitions than other English texts.

 

NIV for Study

Some of my colleagues do not consider NIV to be good for study but I cannot agree with them. I find that NIV eliminates some steps when approaching study. Just as in preach ing, when studying a text, the NIV requires less restatement and fewer definitions. Additionally there are a host of commentaries, hand-books, study Bibles, and dictionaries based on the NIV including the powerhouse NIV Application Commentary, the New American Commentary, Holman’s Old Testament and New Testament Commentary and the premier single volume resource on understanding the Bible, Halley’s Bible Handbook.

 

Why choose a study Bible?

The choice to use a study Bible is one of practicality. Most Bible teachers are limited in the number of resources that are available for use, often having only one Bible and few, if any, study aids, which makes the acquisition of a study Bible a very helpful choice.

 

Why the NIV Study Bible?

The NIV Study Bible feature set makes it an excellent choice for a study Bible

 

Cross-References

The most important feature for Bible Study is a good cross referencing system, since the fundamental rule of hermeneutics is that the Scripture interprets the Scripture. In the NIV Study Bible, Zondervan provides around 68,000 references.

 

Translator’s Footnotes

       NIV Study Bible includes the full complement of Translator’s Notes. These include textual variants,  alternate translations, etc. I would say that the footnotes are a large portion of what makes the NIV so Easy to use.

 

Exegetical Study Notes

       Where many study Bibles contain what amounts to commentary, the NIV Study Bible has somewhere in the neughborhood of 25,000 exegetical study notes. The notes include explanations of the text, some cultural and historical background, alternate interpretations of the text , all of which is geared toward drawing out the meaning of the Scripture.

 

Introductions and Outlines

       The Introductions and Outlines in the NIV Study Bible are a little more in depth than in other study Bibles. Each introduction contains a detailed outline of the content of the book. Author, date of writing, purposes & emphases, and a timeline are all included. There is a small box containing “A Quick Look” at the book which highlights the theme, original audience, author, and approximate date of writing

 

Full color Maps and Charts

       Recognizing the needs of visual learners, Zondervan has included around 350 maps, charts, and photographs designed to make the world of the Bible come alive to your mind so you can behold the wondrous things in the Word of God.

 

Kholenberger’s Full Concordance

The complete NIV Concordance, created by John R. Kholenberger III is included. This topical study resource includes 4500-5000 entries with explanations and references.

 

       Index to Study Notes

There is a separate index to the study notes. This index is a topical breakdown of concepts addressed in the study notes, essays and articles to aid in understanding what the Bible has to say on a particular topic.

 

Expository Essays

There are over 100 expository essays included with the NIV Study Bible. These essays provide a more in-depth look at certain important concepts in our study of the Scripture.

 

Paper, Layout, Font and Binding

The paper is a crisp white which makes the red lettering very easy to see. Zondervan gives us a 9-point comfort print font. I, personally find the font a touch small BUT given the amount of content, a larger font would make this volume qite unwieldy.

 

Both the text and study notes are laid out in a double column paragraph format. The columns of Scripture Text are separated byt the center column references and the notes are separated from the Scripture by a bold black line.

 

The binding is sewn to ensure that it can stand up to the rigors of daily use.

 

How do I use the NIV Study Bible?

I am often asked if I regularly use the Bibles that I review and the answer to that is yes. I actually have a particular order in which I use resources, for a very specific reason, and the NIV Study Bible is used twice in lesson prep-it is my third and last resource. I start with the Teacher’s Study Bible and Halley’s Bible Handbook because I want to make sure that I have gotten a good handle on the minimum needed to understand the text. I turn to the NIV Study Bible, next, so that I can look for specific concepts that need a deep dive. Following this are commentaries and lexicons. Lastly I turn to my Study Bibles to compare what I have learned from the text to what other scholas have found with regard to the meaning and explanation of the text.

 

Who should buy the NIV Study Bible?

It is true that NIV Study Bible is for everyone but there is a particular group that I feel would benefit from the NIV Study Bible more so than others, Sunday School Teachers/Small Group Leaders. These wonderful saints serve Christ’s church faithfully, often without the benefit of Bible College and/or Seminary training. For them, a feature enriched study Bible is going to be very helpful.

 

Final Thoughts

I got my first NIV Study Bible in 1996 as a gift celebrating my baptism. In 1996, I began teaching Sunday School and  the NIV Study Bible informed my lessons. In 2005, I upgraded to the 10thanniversary edition. Later I upgraded to the full color edition. Currently, I use the digital version on OliveTree Bible Software. NIV Study Bible has proven a faithful and reliable companion.

 

NIV Study Bible gives you a full library of study materials. You can trust that, when you choose NIV Study Bible, you are choosing a resource that will help you to understand the Scriptures. This is a Bible worth your investment.

 

 

Why Standard Lesson?

Why Standard Lesson?

I recommend resources from Standard Lesson on, at the very least, a monthly basis and I am, often asked why. The question goes like this “Matt, I’m seminary trained, why should I use Standard Lesson?” or “Matt, Standard Lesson isn’t from your denomination, why do you recommend something that isn’t Baptist?”

I would like to offer some answers to those questions:

 

  1. The material is very easy to understand and is accessible to most audience members. I am not seminary trained and neither is most of your audience. (I have acquired a seminary grade understanding of Scripture via self-study of a host of resources plus I am mentored by several men, two of whom are seminary professors.) When we amass great learning we can miss the forest because of the trees. Standard Lesson’s resources remind me to keep it simple when I teach.

 

  1. It is very theologically conservative and broadly evangelical. When you read the commentary notes, the study Bible notes or other resources, you can see that the writers take Scripture seriously. Equally important, they take the command to make disciples seriously. Integral to making disciples is teaching and these resources will be most valuable in lesson prep.

 

  1. Resources are available in KJV and NIV. Standard lesson offers resources in KJV for the most staunchly conservative and the NIV for those desiring a more broadly evangelical audience. KJV and NIV are the two most widely read English translations of the Bible and pairing resources with those translations ensure that you are able to reach the most people possible.

 

  1. It takes the fear out of teaching. The Standard Lesson Commentary not only provides expositional commentary on the Scripture, it also provides a complete lesson for those who are new to teaching. The Standard Lesson Study Bible provides expository notes on the Scripture AND it adds discussion questions. The Standard Bible Dictionary provides insight on 2,000 foundational terms your students should be familiar with.

 

  1. There is a Uniform Series. The Standard Lesson Commentary follows the International Sunday School Lesson Uniform Series. This is important because on any given Sunday, churches around the world are teaching the same lesson. You can, literally, walk into any Sunday School that uses Standard Lesson Commentary and pick up right where you left off. Additionally, the Standard Lesson Commentary will take you through every book of the Bible in 6 years, not every single verse but you will get every book.

 

There are more reasons to choose Standard Lesson Resources but these are the reasons I give when I recommend Standard Lesson to pastoral colleagues and Sunday School Teachers