Tag: Bible

Five Point Calvinism?? An Answer and an Apologetic (Guest Post)

Five Point Calvinism?? An Answer and an Apologetic (Guest Post)

That which is referred to as Calvinism, generally, and “5-point Calvinism,” specifically, is much misunderstood and maligned even moreso by those who mean well but lack a proper understanding of what we believe. To help us with that we are, once again, blessed to have received instruction from that dear friend and eminent theologian, James Quiggle. What folllows is his instrucion…

Every now and then I am asked if I am a “5-point Calvinist,” or a “4-point Calvinist,” or “Just what kind of Calvinist are you?!?”

Those questions reflect a misapprehension about Calvinism, even among Calvinists. The misapprehension is that Calvinism is a neither more nor less than a system of soteriology (doctrine of salvation). That, of course, is not true.

Calvinism was a revival of Augustinianism (Augustine of Hippo, d. AD 430). You are affirming the Calvinistic system of doctrine if you believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures, saved by grace through faith, the sovereignty of God, the three offices of the Christ (prophet, priest, king), the deity of Jesus Christ, and the deity, personality, and ministries of the Holy Spirit (conviction, salvation, teacher, administrator of the NT church, etc.). Calvin is, in fact, the person who defined for the NT church the person and work of the Holy Spirit as we understand that doctrine today.

But I digress.

Unfortunately, the entire Calvinistic system of theology has become defined by an acronym, the TULIP (explained below), developed from the Cannons of the Synod of Dort to express a Calvinistic view of soteriology. The Synod of Dort was a year-long examination of the soteriology of Jacobus Arminius. Both Arminius (1560–1609) and Calvin (1509–1564) were dead by the time of the Synod (1618–1619), so the theological conflict was debated by the followers of both systems of theology using the Bible and their respective writings. The decision of the Synod was published in a document known as the Canons of the Synod of Dort (available at many web sites). The Arminian view of soteriology was declared false, the biblical arguments of Calvinism were declared the true understanding of biblical soteriology.

But the TULIP does not accurately reflect Calvinistic soteriology as defined by the Canons of the Synod of Dort. Let us first examine the TULIP, albeit briefly. These may not be the definitions you have heard or read.

T — Total Depravity. This means every aspect of human nature—physical, moral, spiritual—is negatively affected by the sin attribute in human nature, with the result an unsaved human being is always in rebellion against God. The effect of the sin attribute on the spiritual aspect of human nature is to make the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception grossly dulled, to the extent the sinner is unable to comprehend spiritual matters, but instead rejects them, and as a result is unable to initiate saving faith.

U — Unconditional Election. This means God chose (election, Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2), for reasons not stated and therefore unknown, to give some human beings his gift of grace-faith-salvation (Ephesians 2:8), in order to redeem them from their sinful state of existence. And it means God chose to take no action, positive or negative, toward human beings he had not elected. God’s choices were not based on any intrinsic or foreseen merit in those whom he chose to elect to salvation, for when the decree of election was given, God saw all human beings as sinners, all completely undeserving of redemption.

L — I will explain this below.

I — Irresistible Grace. This means the grace God gives to an individual sinner through his gift of grace-faith-salvation (Ephesians 2:8) will enliven the sinner’s faculty of spiritual perception, so that the sinner who has received God’s gift will comprehend the spiritual issues of sin, the Savior, and salvation, with the result the sinner willingly chooses to exercise saving faith in God’s testimony as to the way/means of salvation. God’s gift of grace and faith always results in salvation.

P — Perseverance of the Saved. This means the saved person will continue in the faith by faith all the way through life and death, when (after death) he/she will receive the grace of indefectibility. Perseverance is often mischaracterized by another acronym, OSAS, Once Saved Always Saved, resulting in silly hypothetical questions from skeptics. Perseverance is not OSAS. Perseverance is both the continuance of faith and the continued practice of the faith. God gives the grace of perseverance to the believer, and the believer uses the grace of perseverance to mold his/her life of faith to continue in the faith by means of faith all the way through life and death.

Looking now to the 5-point/4-point issue. The “L” in the TULIP represents “Limited Atonement.” This is where the TULIP strays from the Canons of Dort. Limited atonement refers to Christ’s act of propitiation on the cross and his subsequent resurrection. It will be helpful to define Christ’s atonement-propitiation.

Propitiation. The satisfaction Christ made to God for sin by dying on the cross as the sin-bearer, 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10, for the crime of sin committed by human beings, suffering in their place and on their behalf. Christ’s propitiation fully satisfied God’s holiness and justice for the crime of sin. Christ’s propitiation was of infinite merit, because his Person is of infinite worth. Christ accomplished the propitiation of God for sin by enduring spiritual and physical death on the cross. Christ endured spiritual death when he was separated from fellowship with God (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”), and physical death when he separated his soul from his body (“[B]owing his head, he gave up his spirit.”)

But in the TULIP acronym, Christ’s propitiation, the “L,” has different meaning: Christ’s death on the cross to redeem the elect. This is often stated in the question, “For whom, did Christ die?” The TULIP answer is, only for the elect. But that is a significant departure from the Canons of Dort on which the TULIP is based.

The divines of the Synod of Dort were of two camps on the issue of Christ’s propitiation. Some believed in limited efficacy (only the elect are redeemed) and some believed in unlimited sufficiency (all the sins of the whole word are paid for). The Synod resolved this issue, as they did with all the issues, biblically. Both sides recognized the Scripture teaches both views. The Synod therefore taught both the universal sufficiency of the propitiation (atonement) and the limited effectiveness of the propitiation to save only the elect.

The Synod stated, Second Head of Doctrine, Article III, “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.” Thus, the gospel is offered “to all persons promiscuously [indiscriminately] and without distinction” (Article V). That many die unsaved is not due to “any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.” Thus, an Unlimited Atonement/Propitiation.

The Synod then stated, Second Head of Doctrine, Article VIII, “For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever.” Thus, a Limited Redemption, sometimes known as Particular Redemption.

The “L” in the TULIP should have been “Limited Redemption,” not “Limited Atonement. Why did those who created the TULIP (not the divines of Dort) distort the teachings of the Synod? Because of a peculiar habit of the Puritans, perpetuated by Reformed Theology.

The Puritans had a bad habit of replacing the cause with the effect. The difference between election and predestination gives an example. The Puritans, and Reformed theology, always name election as predestination. But these are different decrees of God with different effects. Definitions.

Election. The choice of a sovereign God (Ephesians 1:4), 1) to give the gift of grace-faith-salvation to effect the salvation of some sinners (Ephesians 2:8), and 2) to take no action, positive or negative, to either effect or deny salvation to other sinners (Romans 10:13; Revelation 22:17). The decree of election includes all means necessary to effectuate salvation in those elected.

Predestination. God’s decree to conform the believer to be like Christ according to certain aspects of Christ’s spiritual character and physical form (Romans 8:29–30; 1 John 3:2), and to place the believer in the legal position of God’s son and heir (Ephesians 1:5, 11), so that the believer has an inheritance from God and is God’s heritage.

More simply, election is a decree concerning sinners, predestination is a decree concerning the saved. Election is the cause, predestination the effect. Election-salvation is the cause of the effect predestination: to be like Christ. But the Reformed theology goes straight to the effect and names election as predestination.

So too Christ’s propitiation and the sinner’s redemption. Christ’s propitiation completely satisfied God’s justice for the crime of human sin. Then, God’s justice having been satisfied, the infinite merit of the propitiation is applied by God according to his decree of election via his gift of grace-faith-salvation. Propitiation is the cause, redemption the effect. But the Reformed theology goes straight to the effect and names Christ’s propitiation/atonement as redemption. Thus the confusion caused by the TULIP, and Reformed soteriology.

When the Canons of Dort are faithfully expressed, then one’s soteriology must acknowledge unlimited atonement/propitiation and limited redemption. But because Reformed theology distorts the atonement/propitiation to be redemption, they reject unlimited atonement, calling it universal salvation.

Unlimited Atonement (propitiation), is not universal salvation, because the direct purpose of the atonement was not redemption but judicial satisfaction toward God for the crime of sin.

For an atonement (propitiation) to be redemptive it must be applied by faith to the sinner’s demerit (his or her sin). That is clear from every Old Testament sacrifice for sin. On the first Passover in Egypt, the merit of the lamb’s blood was sufficient for every household, but must be applied to each household to be effective for that particular household, Exodus 12:13. The blood of the sin offering, collected at the moment the animal was killed, was sufficient to atone for sin, but must be applied, Leviticus 5:5–7, to be efficient for forgiveness. The blood on the day of atonement was sufficient for all, but must be applied to the Ark of the Covenant to be efficient to forgive sins.

The direct purpose of Christ’s atonement-propitiation was toward God. The merit of Christ’s propitiation of God for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2, is sufficient for all, so that the call of the gospel and the duty to believe may be legitimately offered to all and required of all.

The effect or result of the propitiation is the application of its merit toward sinners. That merit is specifically applied via God’s gift of grace-faith-salvation (the salvation principle, “saved by grace through faith”) as determined by God’s decree of election, in order to effect the redemption (salvation) of those whom God has chosen to salvation. Without application there is no redemption.

The unlimited merit of Christ’s propitiation could be applied save any non-elect person: “whoever believes,” as the Scripture states. God takes no action, pro or con, toward the non-elect, but leaves them in their sinful state. The non-elect are unable to initiate saving faith because unable without God’s gift to overcome the rebellion and disobedience engendered by the sin attribute in human nature. If they could believe, God would act savingly toward them, but they always choose to disbelieve, because that is the nature of the sinner.

Unlimited Atonement (Propitiation), Synod of Dort, Canon 2, Article 3, does not teach universal salvation: the merit of the propitiation must be individually applied through faith. Canon 2, Article 8, Limited Redemption, does not teach Christ died only for a particular group, but that the merit of his propitiation is applied only to the elect.

Thus: Unlimited Atonement/Propitiation, Limited (Particular) Redemption.

Returning now to the original question, “What is a 5-point Calvinist?” To be a five point Calvinist one must affirm all five points of the T, U, L, I, P. A four point Calvinist is someone who does not agree with Limited Atonement/Propitiation. A 4-pointer affirms T, U, I, P.

But, and it is a BIG objection, the 5-pointer, as discussed above, rejects the statement of the Canons of Dort concerning the unlimited sufficiency of the atonement, focusing only on the redemptive effect of the propitiation, not the limitless merit of the propitiation. This is, in part, due to Reformed theology’s definition of the purpose of God in the world: to redeem sinners. If God’s purpose in the world is redemption, then one must devise a theology that accounts for so many sinners not being redeemed. The Reformed theology solution is to limit the sufficiency of Christ’s propitiation to the redemption of the elect alone.

The 5-point Calvinist is a distortion of Scripture, and the 4-point Calvinist is a straw-man designed to support the untenable 5-point position. The dual perspective of Christ’s propitiation as “sufficient for all, efficient for the elect” is the true Calvinist soteriology. This is the perspective of the Scripture. The dual perspective accounts for the universal call to believe, Romans 10:13, “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved,” and “Revelation 22:17, “Whoever desires let him take of the water of life freely.” The dual perspective accounts for the limited redemption effected by God’s choice. Ephesians 1:4, “God chose us in Christ before the creation of the universe,” and 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God from the beginning chose you for salvation,” and 1 Peter 1:2, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”

The “L” in the TULIP is too entrenched by centuries of false teaching to be changed. But if I could change it, that “L” would represent “Limited Redemption,” in agreement with the Canons of the Synod of Dort.

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.

 

 

ESV with Creeds and Confessions Review

ESV with Creeds and Confessions Review

 

 

Additional Photos

 

The Crossway ESV with Creeds and Confessions is everything I have come to expect from Crossway, who, incidentally, sent me a copy in black trutone free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, just an honest one.

 

Initially, I was actually surprised to find that this particular Bible did not blow me away. It is not a Bible that I dislike. It’s everything I have come to expect, sewn binding, good paper, etc. I like it and I enjoy using it but I don’t feel the same excitement that I get when I reach for other Crossway products such as my Literary Study Bible, Systematic Theology Bible, or the ESV Preaching Bible. HOWEVER, with more and more use the ESV with Creeds and Confessions has grown on me, so much so that I have recommended it several times to Christians who are new to what is commonly called Calvinism and are looking for a new Bible.

 

This Bible is very reserved, muted even. This does not surprise me as the most conservative Calvinists lean puritan and do not want a “flashy” Bible to take into the pulpit.

 

General Format

Essentially, the ESV with Creeds and Confessions is a large print ESV Bible, the back of which has the Reformed/Evangelical Confessions of Faith coupled with the Ancient Ecumenical Creeds. The font and layout are incredibly well done although it was not the layout I expected. (See next section)

 

What I Would Change

The original ESV with Creeds and Confessions was done by Schuyler Bibles a few years ago-it was an enlarged version of the New Classic Reference Edition with the Creeds and Confessions added in. I actually would have returned to that format. I would also move the Creeds and Confessions to locate them either in the front matter or between the testaments.  I would also add some lined notes pages. One could argue that this Bible is geared toward pastors and seminary professors so the lack of notes pages puzzles me. I would also remove the concordance, it seems a trifle unnecessary here-most of the people who would be picking up this particular Bible will most assuredly have plenty of other resources for in-depth topical study of the Bible.

 

Cover and Binding

The cover and binding are not unusual for Crossway. (I have the black trutone, which is Crossway’s polymer based imitation leather and includes a sewn binding. ) The TruTone Imitation Leather continues to get more and more convincing as Crossway continues to hone their craft.

 

It may surprise you to learn that, in many cases, I recommend Crossway’s TruTone before I recommend a genuine leather. I know a number of pastors who are on the go rather frequently and you don’t always want a more premium leather in your every -day carry Bible.

 

Paper, Layout, Font

Again there is nothing unusual here. The paper is bright white which works well with the black letter text. The text is laid out in double column paragraph format, approximately 12-point font. Crossway uses the Lexicon font family and continues to do so.

 

I think the Lexicon Font Family is more readable than most other Bible fonts on the market. I wear bifocals and frequently find ESV Bibles easier to read than other Bibles of similar size and font types.

 

The Creeds and Confessions

13 historic creeds and confessions are placed in the back, including the Apostles Creed (ca. 200–400), the Nicene Creed (325), the Athanasian Creed (381), the Chalcedonian Definition (451), the Augsburg Confession (1530), the Belgic Confession (1561), the Articles of Religion (1563), the Canons of Dort (1618–19), the Westminster Confession (1646), the London Baptist Confession (1689), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Westminster Larger Catechism (1647), and the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) Introductions to each of the 13 creeds and confessions written by historian Chad Van Dixhoorn were included.

 

First and foremost, I am a Baptist so seeing the London Baptist Confession is major for me. There is a bias (No way around it) in the Reformed Community which suggests that Baptists are not really reformed. This is grossly inaccurate and pejorative so seeing the LBC included was a major win for us.

 

You will also note that the 3 Forms of Unity are included. The Three Forms of Unity is a collective name for the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, and the Heidelberg Catechism, which reflect the doctrinal concerns of continental Calvinism and are accepted as official statements of doctrine by many of the Reformed churches. In short, these are foundational documents to Reformed Theology.

 

Our Anglican Brethren will also be glad to see that the 39 Articles of Religion are included as well. Many do not often think of the Anglicans as being reformed but they were an integral part of the Reformation in the United Kingdom.

 

Final Thoughts

The ESV with Creeds and Confessions is perfect for the modern day puritan. You will find it to be a very well made Bible but that is what defines Crossway- incredibly well made Bibles at very affordable price points.

 

My niggling little gripes aside, the ESV with Creeds and Confessions is a prime example of what makes Crossway the first choice in Bible for a host of people, especially the “Reformed Pastor.

ptōcheia (word wealth)

ptōcheia (word wealth)

Revelation 2:9  brings us to consider poverty in the New Testament Context

ptōcheia (poverty); Strong’s #4432: From a root meaning “to cower.” The word indicates a state of abject poverty, destitution, indigence, and affliction, and is used three times. In the NT it describes the voluntary poverty that Christ experienced on our behalf (2 Cor. 8:9); the condition of saints in Macedonia (2 Cor. 8:2); and the extreme want of the church of Smyrna (Rev. 2:9). The root word means “to cower,” describing the posture of a beggar.

Martus (Word Wealth)

Martus (Word Wealth)

Revelation 1:5  brings us our first Word Wealth for the Boook of Revelation…

Martus (witness); Strong’s #3144: Compare “martyr” and “martyrdom.” One who testifies to the truth he has experienced, a witness, one who has knowledge of a fact and can give information concerning it. The word in itself does not imply death, but many of the first-century witnesses did give their lives, with the result that the word came to denote a martyr, one who witnesses for Christ by his death (Acts 22:20; Rev. 2:13; 17:6).

Introducing the Bible

Introducing the Bible

The Bible is not one book, but a collection of writings by people from many and varied backgrounds: king, priest, shepherd, tent maker, farmer, doctor, tax collector, wine taster, fisherman, prophet, prince, and more. Each writer was guided by the Holy Spirit of God, yet the individuality and character of each one is still evident. All in all, more than 40 authors were commissioned by the Holy Spirit to pen the words of Holy Scripture.

 

It is all one story however, a perfectly unified telling of the story of the Scarlet Thread of Redemption, the story about God, who loves his creation so much that he himself paid the price that would restore humanity to fellowship with God. The Old Testament looks forward to, and the New Testament centers on, the life, death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. In part, it is our story- we are the Redeemed, the object of God’s love and mercy, so the Bible is our story- the story of our reconciliation to God.

 

The purpose of the Bible is to show us who God is, what God is like and what He has done. As we read its words, we understand more of what God, in His love, requires from us. Paul said, in his Epistle to the Romans, that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16) and that is both experientially and factually borne out. As we read the very words of Scripture, we find them transforming our thoughts which, in turn, transforms our behavior. We begin to think the way Christ thinks and act the way He acts

 

The Bible was written centuries ago over a long period of time by many different people from all walks of life, in a setting different from our own. It can seem difficult to understand and, admittedly, it will require work-disciplined work- to understand the message of the Scripture. When we study a portion of Scripture, we should consider the following questions”

 

  • What is the type of writing/literary genre?
  • What was the context of the writing?
  • What was the Authorial Intent?/Why was the passage written
  • What does the passage say to me? What does God expect me to do after reading the passage?

 

We will discover the joy of reading the Bible

if we read while dependent on the Holy Spirit to help us understand it if we sincerely want to know more about God and his ways if we prayerfully read it to discover its message, rather than primarily as literature or for information if we allow our reading to lead us to worship God through prayer and praise and apply what we have learnt, with God’s help, to our daily life

 

When reading a portion of Scripture, there are some “Do nots” we must not ever

 

  • take a verse or one part of Scripture out of its context
  • create an opinion based only on one verse or portion – this is the error of cults and those who want to twist the meaning for their own ends
  • Spiritualize/allegorize the meaning of the text. It means what it says
  • think of it as anything other than the word of God.

 

The Scriptures were written by real people in many real situations, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. It is alive, powerful, and able to impact our thoughts and lives for years to come (Hebrews 4:12)

 

A final thought: when you are new to the Bible, the translation you choose should be very easy to read and understand but still communicate the message of Scripture to you. There are three translations I recommend for new disciples:

 

  • Christian Standard Bible (Holman Bibles)
  • New Living Translation (Tyndale House Publishers)
  • New International Version (Biblica, Zondervan Publishers)

 

Which one to choose is entirely up to you- the best translation of the Bible is the one you can read and understand.

12 Mistakes Made in Recovery (an excerpt)

12 Mistakes Made in Recovery (an excerpt)

The 12 mistakes listed below are common among people in recovery. This lesson is excerpted from the KJV Life Recovery Bible

 

THE TWELVE LAWS OF LIFE RECOVERY

These laws highlight irrefutable truths that you will discover in yourself as you experience recovery while following the Twelve Steps. They provide evidence of the progress you have made and highlight places where growth is still needed. As you experience these laws, you will find—perhaps to your surprise—that the laws of life recovery often give back what they initially seemed to take away.

  1. Powerlessness will result in STRENGTH.

We struggle with the feeling of powerlessness because it feels so much like we are helpless. But God often works healing in our lives through what to us is weakness. It is paradoxical that as we experience recovery in our lives, we will find there is great strength in recognizing our powerlessness.

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)

  1. Humility will result in HONOR.

In our journey of life recovery, it is easy to take pride in the positive changes we are making in our lives. But in God’s plan, honor is not something we should seek. It is something we receive as we learn to live in humility. Humility is the path to being honored by God and by others.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10)

  1. Connection will result in LOVE.”

We all long to be loved, but we overlook the fact that being loved always takes place in an emotionally connected relationship. Prior to our recovery, we lived in emotional isolation from others. But God designed us for connection—for relationship. That’s the only context in which we can experience true love.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. . . . Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7-8, 11-12)

  1. Willingness will result in GROWTH.

There is the childlike part within all of us that wants to say, “I can do it on my own,” and “I can do it my way.” But true recovery in our  lives begins when we are willing to do it God’s way. That’s not easy, but without a willingness to be open to God’s plan, we will limit our growth. It all begins with a willing and open heart.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23)

  1. Sacrifice will result in FULFILLMENT.

Before we started on our recovery journey, it was easy to think and act as if fulfillment came from getting, or from what we owned. But again, God’s ways are mysterious and not our ways. We learn in our recovery that sacrifice—doing good and sharing with others, not getting—is the true path to fulfillment.

“But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)”

  1. Faith will result in HOPE.

In God’s plan for our recovery, problems and trials are a part of the path that leads to a hope that will not disappoint us. It is all in how we handle our problems and trials. When we endure the hard stuff, we build strength of character, which then builds our faith. It is that faith which leads to a hope built on knowing we are loved by God.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

  1. Surrender will result in VICTORY.

James describes surrendering as being “easy to be intreated.” Here willingness is coupled with surrendering. When we truly surrender ourselves, we are saying to God,  “Your will, not mine.” And a truly surrendered life is a life lived out as a celebration of our victory.

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17)

  1. Service will result in REWARD.

Our acts of service are not to be done in order to gain a reward. They are done out of obedience to what we are learning as we are equipped to do the work of ministry. We are God’s hands, feet, and mouth. As we are faithful in our service, the reward is the peace and satisfaction that comes as the result of our obedience.

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12)”

  1. Forgiveness results in FREEDOM.

We are called to be forgiving people. When we hold a grudge, we are in bondage to the person we refuse to forgive. We forget that forgiveness involves only us, and that the person we need to forgive really isn’t part of the process. So there is no real excuse for not being obedient and forgiving others as we have been forgiven by God.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

  1. Confession will result in HEALING.

You may have wondered why it is so important to confess your inventory to another person as part of your recovery. Healing comes  as a result of confessing. We experience something powerful when we confess our shortcomings and failures not only to God but also to another person.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

  1. Restitution will result in CLOSURE.

Not all acts of restitution are financial repayments, although that can be a very effective way in some circumstances to make restitution. But we need also to make restitution for emotional hurts, or for other non-financial issues. Until we explore ways to make all kinds of restitution, we will struggle with moving on and experiencing closure.

“Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.” (Numbers 5:7)

  1. Responsibility will result in SECURITY.

This is one of the most obvious results of our experiencing life recovery. We have not only made restitution; we have also begun to act responsibly in all areas of our lives. Responsibility is living up to our part of life, not blaming or expecting someone else to make up for our lack. We experience a genuine sense of security when we are doing our part—living responsibly in our everyday lives.

“And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised.” (Genesis 17:9-10)”

NASB MacArthur Study Bible 2nd Edition, Premiere Collection

NASB MacArthur Study Bible 2nd Edition, Premiere Collection

 

 

The 2nd Edition the MacArthur Study Bible has finally been released in Dr. MacArthur’s favorite translation, the New American Standard Bible. Like the NKJV, it has been added to the premier collection. (Note: Thomas Nelson provided this Bible to me 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.)

Disclosure: John MacArthur is my favorite Bible teacher and the MacArthur Study Bible is my favorite study Bible.

 

Additional Photos

Translation Choice

This particular edition of the MacArthur Study Bible is offered in the New American Standard Bible (NASB). NASB is considered, by many, to be the gold standard for Bible translation and study and I see no cause to disagree, with the lone exception of the NKJV.

NASB is fastidiously literal in the tradition of its predecessor, the American Standard version. Some say it has a bit of a wooden feel but I don’t really see that. It seems to flow rather well.

Cover and Binding

Like its NKJV cousin, this Bible has a milk chocolate colored cover in the same exquisite goatskin as the remainder of the Premier Collection. It is as silky, smooth, and soft as Ghirardelli Chocolate (my favorite) and, it is even more glorious feel than the NKJV; the NASB edition has a considerably more pronounced grain than the NKJV, the most pronounced grain in the Premier Collection as far as I can tell. The goatskin is easily equal to the famed goatskin covers of RL Allan and Sons and beggars anything that Cambridge produces. To say that this cover drips quality is a perfect exercise in the art of understatement; it would have to be Thomas Nelson’s magnum opus, a work of art worthy of the ultimate book man can get his hands on-flawless goatskin aged to perfection and surrounding the holy words of Scripture. I cannot imagine an edition of Sacred Scripture I could enjoy more.

A leather liner ensures the flexibility of the cover. There is a gold gilt line encasing the perimeter of the Bible and, in tiny, gold all caps, at the bottom of the page, we find the words “goatskin leather cover.”

The front of the Bible is totally blank and the spine has MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible , and Thomas Nelson stamped in soft gold lettering. I did not really comment on this with the NKJV edition but I really like the muted front cover. A blank front cover is less ostentatious than you will find on other Bibles. To be perfectly honest, I do wish it were available in black goatskin but I do enjoy the brown as well.

As with the rest of the Premier Collection, the binding is sewn allowing the Bible to lie flat irrespective of where the text is opened. Both the front and rear of the Bible contain overcast stitching to reinforce the sturdiness of the text Block. Believe it or not, the text block is not as tight as in its NKJV cousin. This actually feels more pleasant in the hand and it is also more pulpit friendly in that it lays flat just a touch easier than the NKJV Edition.

Paper, Typography, Ribbons

There are 3 satin ribbons, 3/8” wide and they are offered in red, baby blue and mahogany. For some, three is the ideal number, but is the minimum that I find acceptable. The general idea behind the three ribbons is that you will have one to mark your OT readings, one for NT, and the last one for Psalms and Proverbs. If this were a preaching Bible, I would insist on two more ribbons. However, what we are offered, here, is quite adequate to the task at hand.

The paper is a 39 gsms European Bible Paper. This Bible actually has thicker paper than its siblings in the Premier Collection and it feels very similar to the paper used in the Cambridge Concord Reference Bible. The edges of the paper have red under gold art gilding. The paper is quite opaque allowing almost no show through.

2k/Denmark has designed all of the fonts in the Comfort Print Family and they ply their trade impeccably in this Bible. The text of Scripture is 9-point and the notes are 8-point. I have to say that this is the easiest 9-point that I have ever tried to read.

Layout

The Scripture text is laid out in double column paragraph format. The notes, which are also in paragraph format, are laid out in a triple column format (extremely helpful given the addition of 5000 more expository notes). In between the text of Scripture and the Notes Section you will find the Complete NASB Reference System, comprised of 95,000 cross references, textual variants, and translator’s notes.

Helps

The shining stars of the MacArthur Study Bible are the helps provided. For 50 years, Dr. MacArthur has made it his mission to “unleash God’s truth, one verse at a time” and in the MacArthur Study Bible every tool a person could need to comprehend God’s Holy Truths is made available to the reader. Let us look at the helps provided…

25,000 Exegetical and Expository Notes on Scripture

While many study Bibles offer commentary on Scripture, the MacArthur Study Bible goes further. By adding 5,000 notes to the previous 20,000, the MacArthur Study Bible now rivals the ESV Study Bible as the most heavily annotated Bible available.

The notes that are provided draw out the meaning of Scripture (exegete) and explain said meaning (exposition). However, they do not stop there; these notes whet the appetite and draw the reader further into the Scripture. Several pastors both well-known (Steve Lawson) and not well known (me) consult the MacArthur Study Bible on a regular basis. I would go so far as to say that if a person desired to understand and teach the Bible to others, the MacArthur Study Bible would sufficiently stand on its own and need no other tools

Book Introductions

The MacArthur Study Bible’s introductions provide a wealth of information for the student. We are treated to the usual information such as author, circumstance of writing, audience, etc. The difference in the MacArthur Study Bible’s introductions is the Interpretive Challenges Section. Several books of the Bible are difficult to interpret (think Revelation if you don’t believe me) and the MacArthur Study Bible deals with those challenges head on by identifying the challenges and then addressing them in John MacArthur’s signature direct approach.

Overview of Theology

This section does not appear in any other Study Bible, including Crossway’s excellent Systematic Theology Study Bible or Ligonier’s Reformation Study Bible. I absolutely love this feature. It is a very succinct Systematic Theology, ideal to educate the new disciple or for a seasoned pastor to teach through. The closest comparison is found in the Ryrie Study Bible’s Survey of Christian Doctrine.

I would advise that any study in the MacArthur Study Bible should begin here. Each subsection is well sourced with Scripture, succinct and logical. I can think of no better foundation for a new disciple than this Overview of Theology.

Maps and Charts

The maps and charts provided give contextual insight into the Scripture and provide aids for those who are visual learners. (It is always hard to comment on maps and charts because they are very plain and straightforward.)

 

Final Thoughts

If you had not guessed by now, I love the MacArthur Study Bible. I have multiple Editions: the NASB, NIV, ESV, 1st and 20th Anniversary Limited editions in NKJV, and digital copies on two different software platforms. By any stretch, the MacArthur Study Bible is my most oft reached for tool and it should be yours as well. If I were to find any negative in the MacArthur Study Bible, it would simply be nitpicking. As I have said, it is the Premier Study Bible and now in the Premier Collection it comes in a format worthy of the ultimate study Bible.

 

 

The Bible on Comfort

The Bible on Comfort

In an effort to minister to troubled hearts, we are bringing you this Quick Scripture Reference Guide on Comfort. We pray that, as you study, the Holy Spirit, who is the God of all comfort, will minister peace to your soul.

Friends should comfort each other (Job 2:12-13)
God comforts us (Isaiah 40:1-11)
God promises to comfort those who mourn (Matthew 5:4)
God’s Holy Spirit is our Comforter (John 14:16)
Jesus has overcome the world’s troubles (John 16:33)
God comforts those who are hurting (2 Corinthians 1:3-11)
Christians should comfort each other (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
All pain will end (Revelation 21:3-4) [(2013). 

The Bible Speaks on Justice

The Bible Speaks on Justice

Does the Bible truly have anything to say about justice? The Bible has plenty to say about justice, especially since God, Himself, is the essence of righteousness and justice. We offer the following Scriptures to help you begin understanding what the Bible teaches us about God’s views on Justice.

Romans 12:19 
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Proverbs 21:15 
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.

Amos 5:24 
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Psalm 58:11
Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Isaiah 30:18 
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

Isaiah 1:17 
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

Proverbs 28:5 
Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Psalm 37:27-29 
Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever. For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.

Isaiah 61:8 
For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

Psalm 106:3
Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

Romans 13:4 
For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Luke 6:37 
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;

Zechariah 7:9 
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another,

Ecclesiastes 3:17 
I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.

Psalm 50:6 
The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah

Jeremiah 9:23-24
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Proverbs 21:3
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Isaiah 56:1-12 
Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. …

Isaiah 42:1-9 
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: …