Archive for the ‘Arminian Resources’ Category
Dr. Vic Reasoner is one of my favorite Arminian theologians today. His writings are biblical and yet he has in his mind the average preacher of God’s Word as he writes. Dr. Reasoner writes with a conviction that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and that all doctrine must flow from the Word of God (Titus 2:1).
In this work, Dr. Reasoner goes verse by verse through the epistles of John and Jude. Dr. Reasoner leaves no stone uncovered as he writes. He deals with his text while also including sound Arminian theology in there as well. I appreciate how Dr. Reasoner is willing to deal with tough texts and along the way includes everything from doctrines of salvation, sin, holiness, sanctification, and even end times.
In regard to debated texts such as 1 John 2:1-2 within the Arminian/Calvinist debate, Dr. Reasoner does two things. First he deals with the text in regard to propitiation and then he looks at how Calvinists have understood John’s words in 1 John 2:2 in regard to an unlimited atonement. To the average reader 1 John 2:2 seems to teach that Jesus died for the entire world. John Wesley, for example, taught that Christ’s atonement was as extensive as the curse of sin. In other words, sin has extended to the entire world and likewise the work of Christ is powerful enough for the sins of the entire world. Sinners who go to hell go to hell because of their own sins and the fact that they have not repented and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus who alone can appease the wrath of a holy God by His graceful work of the cross.
The good thing about Dr. Reasoner’s commentaries are that while it is clear that Dr. Reasoner is a sound theologian and knows his content, he writes with the average preacher in mind. As a man who loves expository preaching and practices this art himself, Dr. Reasoner is offering his commentaries to help the preacher preach the text. He wants preachers to work through the text. Therefore his commentaries, as any good commentary will do, works through the letters. I read this work as a devotion. It is that easy to read and follow. So while Dr. Reasoner does dive into the Greek text or the history behind a debate over a text, he writes with the average preacher in mind.
Overall I once again am impressed by this commentary. I pray that Dr. Reasoner will write more biblical commentaries. While I praise God that we have so many good commentaries out there, we need more solid Arminian commentaries and this one fits the bill.
You can find more information about obtaining a copy of this commentary here.
The Fire Bible was the first study Bible I ever owned. It was called the Full Life Study Bible in those days (early 1990’s). It changed its name to the Life in the Spirit Study Bible and now is the Fire Bible.
The Fire Bible was originally published by Zondervan and was found in the NIV and KJV. I had the NIV. However, over the years my theology changed as well as my Bible translation. I now use the ESV for most of my Bible reading and study. I was thrilled then to see the Fire Bible come out in the ESV.
The Fire Bible is a classical Pentecostal study Bible. The notes are focused on four cardinal doctrines of the Pentecostal movement:
- Jesus Saves (Salvation)
- Jesus Baptizes in the Spirit (Subsequent to Salvation)
- Jesus Heals (Divine Healing)
- Jesus is Coming Again (Jesus’ Second Coming)
These four doctrines are emphasized in the Fire Bible. The notes reflect these doctrines.
The layout of the ESV Fire Bible is impressive. The biblical text is double columned with cross references on the side. This Bible is easy to read without ghosting (where you can see the writing on the other page coming through to the page you are reading). The leather is well done (mine is black genuine leather and is very nice). The paper is not as quality as a Cambridge Bible but is good. I don’t write in my Bibles but this Bible does not have much space for notes.
The commentary is classical Pentecostal as I mentioned above. The view of salvation is Arminian. The view of end times is premillennial with a pre tribulation rapture. While this Bible emphasizes divine healing, the article on healing is clear that doctors are good and needed. Of course, the view of the Holy Spirit is a Pentecostal view with all spiritual gifts available today.
While I am not 100% on board with every note (for example I am post millennial), the notes are solid. What I appreciate is that the notes have a Pentecostal feel to them. Having grown up in the Pentecostal movement and was saved in a Pentecostal church, I know that doctrine does matter but experience flows from the biblical text. This study Bible emphasizes that aspect with a focus on sound doctrine but also upon living the biblical life. Christianity is not merely doctrine but is a life.
I recommend this study Bible. Even if you are not a Pentecostal (say a Wesleyan), this study Bible is useful. The commentary is soundly conservative (for example this study Bible has only one writer of Isaiah). As an Arminian, this is the only Arminian study Bible I am aware of on the market at this time (December 2015). I appreciated the articles on salvation that are clearly Arminian.
You can find my earlier reviews of this book beginning here.
Chapter 4 of the book Grace for All is a wonderful chapter. I appreciated it because Dr. Robert Picirilli dives right into the Scriptures to prove his point, that Christ died for all. Picirilli is clear that Christ shed His blood for all but this salvation is only applied to those who repent and believe the gospel. Calvinists (at least in part) acknowledge this to be true despite claiming that Christ’s work on the cross actually saves. Arminians would agree. The work of Christ was not a failure in that it pleased the Father and brought glory to Him (Philippians 2:5-11). Yet none are saved simply because Christ died on the cross. The resurrection after the cross completes the work of redemption for if Jesus is not raised, we are still dead in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). Jesus shed His blood for our sins (John 19:30) and was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25). One must place their faith in the risen Savior who did shed His blood for our sins.
Calvinists often assert that the Arminian view of the atonement is that Christ died to make men savable but He didn’t save anyone on the cross. The Calvinist view is that God placed the sins of the elect upon Christ so that when Jesus shed His blood, He shed His blood for the sins of the elect. Yet carried out to its extreme, this would imply that Calvinists hold to eternal justification (as many hyper-Calvinists do). I ask the question: when is a person justified before God? Is it when Christ died on the cross? Is it before time began? Is it when a person places their saving faith in Christ? The obvious answer is the that a sinner is only justified before a holy God when the sinner places their faith in Christ alone to save them from the wrath of God to come (Romans 5:1). We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not by works which we do (Titus 3:5-7). Yet none are saved until they repent and believe the gospel. The Calvinist can argue all day that their sins were placed on Christ when He died but the reality of their salvation only comes when they repent and believe the gospel. This would mean that the Calvinist is not born innocent of sin (this is the hyper-Calvinist view) because they actually sinned in time (Romans 3:23) but their salvation only comes when they (the sinner) repent and believe the gospel. While the Calvinist can argue their monergistic view of regeneration, they cannot argue that the atonement saved them 2000 years ago but rather it saves them when they actually believe in the gospel (Romans 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 15:1-4; Galatians 3:1-5).
Picirilli examines the Arminian position by looking at key words of salvation. He looks at the words redemption, propitiation, and reconciliation. By looking at the words used in their biblical context, it is easy to see that Christ died for all people. Along the way Picirilli points out how Calvinists have interpreted the texts. For example, Picirilli shows how Calvinists have handled 1 Timothy 2:1-6 where Paul uses “all” three times. Calvinists take the word “all” here not to mean all in all people but only all types of people (though the Bible doesn’t use the term here that way). Calvinists go out of their way to build a case against all because the use of the word all would imply that Christ died for all and Calvinism says He died only for the elect.
Picirilli also looks at other key “universal” texts such as 1 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:11. I appreciated Picirilli also looking at the book of 1 John and how John uses the word “world” (kosmos in the Greek). By looking at how John uses the Greek, we see that the word “world” is not merely “a group out of the world” as Calvinists often insist but rather the entire world. Jesus shed His blood for the entire world but only those who appropriate their faith in Christ will be saved.
One interesting point is that Picirilli quotes from John Calvin on John 3:16:
Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish….And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.
In the conclusion, Picirilli dives into the strongest Calvinist argument for limited atonement and that is that the Bible uses word that suggest that the atonement accomplished what God meant for it to accomplish: salvation. 1 John 4:10 says that Christ’s death was for the propitiation of our sins. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says that God has reconciled the world unto Himself through Christ. Are these meant to suggest universal salvation? Calvinists point out that Arminians deny universalism but how can they if these Scriptures are true? The Calvinist answers that Christ shed His blood only for the elect and He has accomplished their redemption by His own blood to the glory of God. Universalism can be easily rejected, the Calvinist answers, because the Bible is not teaching universalism but instead that Christ died for His elect only that God chose out of the sinful world (Romans 9:22-23).
Picirilli answers this claim by first pointing out that when a doctor makes a diagnosis of a person, that diagnosis does not save the person’s life but we often use language to say that it did. No one would say that the doctor finding a cancer in a person saved them at that moment. It takes the work of the doctor to save the person who humbly submits to the doctor’s diagnosis and allows the doctor to cut out the cancer from their body. At that point, the person is now saved.
Likewise, even Calvinists such as Shedd point out that only those who place their faith in the atonement are saved. The atonement, by itself, saves no one. Consider Romans 3:21-26:
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Notice that the atonement is not said to save but only those who appropriate the work of Christ are said to be saved. Salvation is received by grace through faith. Even Calvinists preach this. We must humble ourselves before the diagnosis of our sinfulness (Romans 3:19-20) and confess that Jesus alone is able to save us from our sins (John 8:24; 14:6; Romans 10:9-13). We must not only preach the universal call to salvation (which I rejoice that Calvinists do) but we must preach that all who place their saving faith in Jesus can be saved. The call is to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).
These gives the Arminian three key points we should ponder. First, we must pray for all to hear the gospel by praying for God to send out laborers to work His harvest (Matthew 9:37-38). Secondly, we should pray for all to hear the gospel and be saved by grace through faith (1 Timothy 2:1-6). Thirdly, we should pray for God to use us in evangelism of the lost (Acts 1:8). The will of God is not for sinners to perish (Ezekiel 18:32; 2 Peter 3:9) but for sinners to repent (Acts 17:30-31).