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Short Thoughts on “Rhema” Words From God

Recently I visited a Pentecostal church and once again I heard the old teaching that “logos” is the written Word of God but “rhema” is the “revelation to the heart from God.” In other words, “logos” is the Bible and “rhema” is a personal revelation from God the Holy Spirit.

A few thoughts are in order.  First, the Greek usage of “logos” and “rhema” here is horrible.  Not one Greek scholar (barring perhaps someone from the Word-Faith camp) would try to build this case.  Every Greek lexicon and Greek word study book I own doesn’t offer this distinguish between the Greek words “logos” and “rhema.”

Secondly, while this Pentecostal teacher would not admit to this, the teaching undermines the authority of the Bible.  When “logos” is reduced to “the written Word” but “rhema” is a fresh revelation from God, how does this not undermine the authority of the Bible?  Instead of opening up the Bible and hearing directly from God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the believer instead believes they have to pray and wait on the Spirit to give them a fresh, divine revelation from heaven.  So what happens is simple: people want to hear from God so they don’t open the Bible to hear from God since they are taught that while the “logos” is good, “rhema” is better.  This undermines the authority of the Bible and makes the revelation from God via direct communication through so-called “rhema” words more important.  I know that most Pentecostals would reject such a view but they don’t see that their teaching is not helping people hear from God (which they can by simply reading the Bible) but is undermining the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17).

In reality, a good Greek study tool will easily clarify the issues related to “logos” and “rhema” and one need only go to a study site online.  It would only take a few minutes to see the error of trying to make “logos” as the “written Word” and “rhema” as “a personal word from God.”  This is misleading and false.

Finally, I repeat here again that if you want to hear from God you need only to read your Bible.  That is it.  I don’t need a personal vision, revelation from God.  I have His Word and His Word is inerrant and infallible and true.  I point again to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that the Word of God is breathed out by God (ESV) and makes us “competent, equipped for every good work” (v.17 ESV).  Peter the Apostle pointed not to his personal experience but the Word of God in 2 Peter 1:16-21.  The Word of God is our sure foundation.

To hear from God is easy and only takes seconds.  Take your Bible.  Open it.  Read it.  You’ve now heard from God.  Congratulations.

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ESV Thompson Chain Reference Bible

I have pre-ordered my copy of the ESV Thompson Chain Reference Bible from CBD.  I am excited about this Bible.  The Thompson Chain Reference Bible has been a favorite of mine for many years.  I currently own two NIV copies, an NASB, and a KJV.  I have longed for the Thompson Chain Reference Bible to come out in the ESV but always feared they would not but thank God they have and it comes out September 19, 2016 according to CBD.

You can see the page here but no information has been given yet on the CBD site.  I will publish a review of the Bible when I receive mine.

Glory to the King!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/03/2016 at 8:56 PM

Insights from the KJV Translators Themselves

Most KJV Bibles sold today no longer have the longer introduction to the translation originally penned by the KJV translators.  Most English Bibles today have an introduction to the translation that comes from the KJV itself.  The KJV translators penned their introduction to explain and defend their translation.

One must bear in mind the time period of the 1611 translation.  Imagine if President Obama told the church here in the United States that he wanted one Bible “to rule them all” (to quote from Lord of the Rings)?  How would Christians react to Obama?  Even if Obama had the top scholars appointed to translate the Bible, most would view the translation with intrepidation.  I would.  I would figure that Obama would want the translate to be one sided, to avoid truth, to delete core doctrines and to make it as far from teaching the truth as possible while still sounding like the Bible.  What is true today was true of the Christians living under King James.  They viewed the “Authorized Version” with much fear.  In fact, the KJV would not become the preferred English Bible for about 50 years after its publication.  The Geneva Bible and not the King James Bible was brought over to the new world by the first English settlers to America.

The KJV scholars added the long introduction then to both promote their translation and defend it against those who questioned it.  After all, when the KJV was published in 1611 there were already good English Bibles on the market.  The KJV was not the first nor the last (and the KJV translators recognized that fact).  Though the KJV Bible would become the greatest of the English translations for many years to come, in 1611 it was just another Bible translation being offered now by the King himself of the British Empire.

I recently read the longer introduction that you can find in modern English on Amazon.  I learned much from it.  I only want to highlight a few of the KJV translators words.  Their words are good to read in our day of KJV onlyism.  After reading the KJV introduction, I have no doubt in my mind that these Anglican men would not be KJV only if they were alive today.  In fact, they would laugh at the arguments used by KJV only “scholars” who claim that the KJV is the final Word of God, that (as some radical KJV only men teach) the KJV was inspired just as the Apostle’s were inspired, that the KJV is a perfect Bible translation without any errors, that the Anglicans involved were fundamentalist in secret who believed in the Received Text (the Greek text of the KJV) as the perfect Word of God, etc.

First, the KJV translators believed the originals were inspired but recognized variants in the copies.  They stated:

because the original thereof is from heaven, not from earth, the author is God, not man; the composer is the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the Apostles or Prophets; the penmen were such as were sanctified from the womb, and endued with a principle portion of God’s Spirit; the content is truth, piety, purity, and uprightness; the form is God’s word, God’s testimony, God’s oracles, the word of truth, the word of salvation, and so forth.

The translators did not teach anywhere in their writings that the Received Text is the “inerrant and infallible Word of God” (inerrant would not have been used for people simply said the Bible was true in those days and people understood what they meant without qualification).  In fact, they believed the originals alone to be the ones inspired by God Himself.  The copies are copies of the originals but we no longer have the originals (praise be to God lest someone would have worshiped them as the children of Israel worshiped the golden calf in Exodus 32).  The KJV translators could not have visioned that someday their own translation would become a golden calf to many.

They went on to write:

For nothing perfect has proceeded from the hands of men except what came from the hands of the Apostles or Apostolic men, that is, from men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility.

So what about the errors in the copies?  KJV onlyism teaches that no errors exist but what did the KJV translators write about this:

The Septuagint dissents from the Original in many places, and does not come near it in terms of clarity, gravity, and majesty.  Yet did any of the Apostles condemn it?  Condemn it?  Nay, they used it.

Notice that the KJV translators approved of the Septuagint as a translation while understanding that it was not the original.  The Apostles quoted extensively from the Septuagint in the Greek New Testament despite the fact that the Septuagint is just a translation from the Hebrew text.

Secondly, the KJV translators saw the value of having Bibles in our tongues.  They wrote:

Truly, without translation into the common language, the unlearned are like children at Jacob’s well, which was deep, without a bucket.  Or they are like the person mentioned by Isaiah who, when a sealed book was presented to him with the command, “Read this, I ask you,” he had to reply, “I cannot, for it is sealed.”

And yet the KJV translators acknowledged that even the lowest English translations were still good!  Modern KJV onlyism tells us that only the KJV is the truth of God and hates all other English Bibles but they would not be joined by the KJV translators.  They wrote:

Now we answer our adversaries.  We do not deny – nay, we affirm and avow – that the very lowest translation of the Bible into English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have not yet seen any of their translations of the entire Bible) contains the word of God, nay, is the word of God.  The King’s speech, which he utters in Parliament, when translated into French, German, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with identical grace, nor altogether so appropriately phrased, nor so exactly expressing  the sense at every point.

And what of their own translation work?  They wrote yet again:

For nothing perfect has proceeded from the hands of men except what came from the hands of the Apostles or Apostolic men.

The intent of the KJV translator was such:

Our intent was to make a better translation out of a good one, or to make , from many good ones, one especially good one, not to be justly objected against.

And yes the KJV translators did do biblical criticism (lower criticism) contrary to the KJV onlyism view that textual criticism is evil altogether.  They wrote:

These languages therefore – that is, the Scriptures in those languages – we set before us to translate, being the languages in which God was pleased to speak to his Church by the Prophets and Apostles.

Without a second thought, we consulted the translators or commentators in Chaldean, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek and Latin, and the Spanish, French, Italian, and German.  We revised what we had done, and brought back to the anvil that which we had hammered.

Lastly, the KJV translators spoke about the variants in the biblical texts.  In fact, the first published 1611 Authorized Bible had marginal notes to show differences in the text as well as alternate translations of the text.  How can this be if the KJV is the inspired Word of God as KJV onlyism teaches?  Nearly all KJV Bibles today exclude the marginal notes so KJV only “scholars” often will attack modern Bibles such as the NKJV or the ESV for either including marginal notes, “deleting” verses such as Acts 8:37 or 1 John 5:7-8, or adding textual notes about the translation or variant readings.

The KJV translators wrote:

Some individuals, perhaps, would prefer to have no margin notes about alternative meanings, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding controversies might be somewhat shaken by that show of uncertainty.  But we consider their judgment unsound in this point.

The translators go on to speak of how difficult the work of translating is.  They speak of how there are often many words that can be used in English for one Hebrew or Greek word or the opposite where a Hebrew or Greek word only appears once in the text and is how to translate into English.  A case in point would be the KJV use of “Godhead” in Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9.  This is a poor translation here.  Another place would in the KJV where they erred would be Acts 19:2 or Titus 2:13 or 2 Peter 1:1.  The inclusion of 1 John 5:7-8 in the KJV is also a variant reading that should not be there.  Modern English Bibles (excluding the NKJV for tradition only) have changed 1 John 5:7-8 back to its original.

Conclusion

My point here is to show that the KJV translators were not infallible men.  They were godly Anglican men who loved the Word of God.  I am blessed by that fact.  I pray the Lord would move again on the Anglican Church to produce such godly men.  That said, the KJV translators recognized their work as the work of men.  A very good work but a translation nonetheless.  The KJV ranks as a work of art.  It truly is the Word of God.  But it is not perfect.  No Bible translation is.  The KJV served the Church in the English speaking world for many years.  It was published in 1611 and revised just two years later in 1613.  The final revision of the KJV was in 1769.  This is the KJV used today and not the 1611.  Of course, the men who did the work in 1604-11 were now dead.  Their work though stands as a testimony to their faithfulness to God.

Today we have probably too many English translations and they exist sadly for one reason: money.  Crossway doesn’t want to pay Zondervan for usage of the NIV so they translate the ESV.  All English translations today but the KJV are owned by a publishing house.  For example, Crossway owns the ESV.  Lockman owns the NASB.  Zondervan owns the NIV.  Thomas Nelson owns the NKJV.  Tyndale House owns the NLT.  Holman owns the HCSB.  This doesn’t prove that these English Bibles are corrupt but only that they are produced by publishers for avoiding royalties to other publishers.

I prefer the ESV but I am not ESV only by any means.  I recognize that no English Bible is perfect.  I also am grateful that God is sovereign in salvation and He often uses even the worst translations to draw sinners to salvation.  I read of a Jehovah’s Witness coming to faith in Christ through reading Philippians 3:9 in the New World Translation which is not good at all.  I was saved reading from the NIV and it was the first Bible I owned and read after coming to faith in Christ at age 17.  I honestly thought, when I came to faith in Christ, that there were two English Bibles in the world: the KJV and the NIV and I understood the NIV so I went with it.

God is able to save sinners through the gospel (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:21).  People hear the gospel in many ways (Romans 10:17) but the gospel must flow from Scripture.  Some preachers use the KJV and others use the NLT but the Lord is the one who saves sinners (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).  Our job is to plant the seed of the gospel (Mark 4:14).  The Spirit of God brings the fruit.  The Spirit draws sinners to salvation by the grace of God (John 6:44; Acts 16:14-15).

So my advice is to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).  Perhaps this comes through a KJV or an NIV or a ESV but preach the Word of God!  Be faithful to study the Word and to live the Word (James 2:14-26).  The Word is able to save our souls (James 1:21).

May God be glorified through His holy Word.  Amen.

 

How To Hear God

We want to hear from God.  We want to hear God speak and know it is His voice.  Can we hear God speak?  The answer is yes!  Here are simple steps to hearing God:

1.  Get a Bible.


2.  Read the Bible.


3.  If you did that, you heard from God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Congratulations!

Needed: Biblical Discernment

Proverbs 2:3-5 (NKJV) reads:

3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.

I am convinced that we need a revival of biblical discernment.  How often do I hear sermons, songs, books, movies, etc. that claim to be Christian but lack any sound doctrine?  Sound doctrine is neglected as pragmatism now reigns over the churches.  We truly need a revival of discernment.

We need to question everything and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  How do we learn to discern?  Discernment comes by heeding the Word of God.  We must learn to hide the Word in our hearts so that we have the sword of the spirit to cut through false teachings (Hebrews 4:12).  This comes by faithful reading and studying of the Word of God (Hebrews 5:11-14).  As we hide the Word in our hearts, the Lord gives us the ability to discern based on His truth (John 17:17).

Proverbs 2:3 above states that we are to cry out for discernment and lift our voice for understanding.  John MacArthur writes:

This shows the passionate pleading of one who is desperate to know and apply the truth of God.  The least bit of indifference will leave one bereft of the fullness of wisdom.

I often pray for God to give me discernment according to His Word.  I want to judge all things by the truthfulness of the Word of God (1 John 4:1-2).  God’s Word is perfectly sufficient to provide all we need in hearing from God and learning discernment.  We don’t need the Bible plus an inner voice or plus hearing “the voice of God” by subjective means.  We need to open the Bible, learn the Bible, and through the Bible we get discernment to judge all things.

If this were to take place in the Church of Jesus Christ at large can you imagine what would take place?  “Christian music” would turn from shallow, narcissistic lyrics to sound doctrine.  Sermons also would turn from shallow stories, poor eisgesis, toward sound doctrine with unction.  Evangelism would be focused on the gospel and preaching the truth of the gospel instead of trying to make friends with the world.  The church would turn from its entertainment drive toward truth proclaiming.  Pragmatism would be replaced with sound doctrine and biblical discernment of Bible teachers.  False teachers would be turned away as the Church embraced the sufficient of the Word of God and learned how to rightfully divide the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).

All the things the church is now known for from the love of money to the willingness to accept false teachers who fleece the saints to using worldly entertainment to feed the goats, this would all clear up if biblical discernment were sought after diligently.

Where do we begin?  First, we must pray for discernment (Proverbs 2:3).

Secondly, we must seek discernment from the hidden treasures of God’s Word.  This will in turn lead to a holy fear of the Lord and we will find the knowledge of God.

I want both the fear of the Lord in my life as well as the knowledge of the Lord.  I want to know Him more and more (Philippians 3:7-10).  I know that only in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).  I want to know the Word of God not just to point out false teachings but for the good.  I want to hear from God (John 8:47) and I know that I hear from God when I read and study His Word.  His Word is the voice of God (Hebrews 1:1-3; cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).  I need no other voice.

Lord give me discernment.

Bible Reading 2016

It is that time again to start thinking about reading the Bible in 2016.  This year was a struggle for me in my Bible reading.  I confess that to you and to the Lord (1 John 1:9).  I did read my Bible but not as faithful as I did in 2014.  Part of that reason was that in 2014 I used the One Year NIV Chronological Bible to read from.  That helped me stay focused on my Bible reading.  I thought that this year (2015), I would read my Bible on my own and slowly.  It didn’t go so well.  I did read my Bible but my Bible reading was way down compared to last year.

So next year (2016), I am going to use the One Year NKJV Chronological Bible for my Bible reading.  I already have mine on my Kindle ready to go.  I would recommend this title or the NIV.

Bible reading is a must for a child of God.  The Bible feeds our souls (1 Peter 2:1-3).  The Bible protects us from error (Hebrews 5:11-14) and the Bible keeps us persevering in the faith (James 1:21).  Jesus taught that His disciples abide in His teachings (John 8:31-32) but how can we do this if we don’t know His teachings by reading His Word?  The Bible keeps us from sin (Psalm 119:9, 11).  The Bible is our sword and the only weapon that God has given the disciple of Christ (Ephesians 6:17).  The Bible cuts us open to reveal who we truly are before a holy God (Hebrews 4:12-13).  There is such joy in reading the Word of God.

So my encouragement to you (and to my soul as well) is to focus on Bible reading in 2016.  God has given us such wonderful tools to use to read and study His Word.  I pray that 2016 will be a year of reading, studying, and memorizing the Word of God.  How precious are His truths!

Below are listed various Bible reading tools for you to consider.

  1.  NIV One Year Bible
  2. NIV One Year Chronological Bible
  3. NKJV One Year Bible
  4. NKJV One Year Chronological Bible
  5. KJV One Year Bible
  6. KJV One Year Chronological Bible
  7. ESV Daily Reading Bible
  8. MacArthur Daily Bible (NKJV)

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/25/2015 at 12:58 PM

Regarding Our Presuppositions in Bible Reading

There is no doubt that we all bring our culture, our experiences, our presuppositions to the biblical text.  The goal of our Bible study should be to examine the text allowing for proper biblical hermeneutics to guide us but I confess that we all have our presuppositions when it comes to Bible reading and study.

This is why you can find an Arminian reading Romans 9 and he sees something there that a Calvinist does not see and vise versa.  The Calvinist takes Romans 9 and interprets it based on their presupposition which is Calvinism.  The Arminian reads Romans 9 with his Arminian presupposition and thus you have two people disagreeing over Romans 9 while both reading it and interpreting it.

The argument then often goes that they both can’t be right.  Some say they might both be wrong.  Before we label them, let me state that they both are right on many issues.  For example, an Arminian would agree with a Calvinist over the gospel, over the person and work of the Lord Jesus,  over the doctrine of the Trinity, over justification by faith.  Both clearly would agree (or should) that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  Both agree in the existence and nature of God, that He is sovereign (though disagreeing over exactly what that means in terms of His sovereignty versus divine determinism).  Yet both acknowledge that they disagree over the issue of Calvinism.  Therefore, while both could be wrong on Romans 9, both are not wrong on many issues.  This is why this debate among Arminians and Calvinists is an “in-house” debate.  I know some Calvinists (and perhaps Arminians though I know of none) believe that Arminians are lost, most regard us as brothers and sisters.  We are united in Christ (Galatians 3:27-28).  We are both baptized into His Body (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

So then back to our issue.  How can a person read John 6, Romans 9, Ephesians 1, etc. and not be a Calvinist?  Surely the Calvinist strength is that they deal with the text (this is the argument of some)?  In some cases, non-Calvinists point out the context is unique.  For instance, John 6 is Jesus speaking to the Jews.  A partial hardening was taking place within Israel (Romans 11:7-10).  Jesus was intentionally provoking the Jews to bring about this hardening for the purpose of redemption (John 1:11-13).  Some others point out in Ephesians 1 that Paul often changes from we (Jews) to them (Gentiles) and thus Ephesians 1 is focused on God’s first choosing of the Jews and then the Gentiles were included when they believed the gospel (Ephesians 1:13).

Is the Arminian then right and the Calvinist wrong?  Depends on your point of view.  The Calvinist reads John 6, Romans 9, and the entire Bible with TULIP in mind.  I have often heard Calvinists say that they see Calvinism all through the Bible.  Books have even been written supporting this view.  Others say that before they became a Calvinist, they struggled with Romans 9 but once they became a Calvinist, Romans 9 became precious to them.

On the other side, I have read former Calvinists say they once they rejected Calvinism, they begin to see the goodness of God and His love for the world all through the Bible.  They also begin to see free will despite rejecting it beforehand.

The point here is that we all read the Bible with our “keys” in our minds.  We have a key by which we judge Scripture.  I confess that we should read the Bible and seek to exegete it based on sound principles of biblical interpretation but we often read the Bible with our presuppositions in mind.  Is it possible to lay aside those presuppositions to truly read the Bible?  I think it is and I think we often do it but we fail to apply it to our lives nor to our theology.

What we need in this case is grace.  God does not save us because of our perfect theological construct.  God saves us by His grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Salvation is not a debatable doctrine.  To reject Jesus is to reject God’s salvation (John 14:6).  Others want to argue how we get into Christ.  They argue that we have to be baptized in their church or in their mode to be saved.  I believe the Bible is clear on this point:  salvation is in Christ Jesus and in Him alone (Titus 3:5-7).  Our works cannot save us (John 6:29) because our works are often tainted by our sins (Isaiah 64:6).  Our moral goodness cannot save us.  Our church membership cannot save us.  Keeping the Law of Moses cannot save us (1 Timothy 1:8-11).  Being a Jew cannot save us (Romans 2:1-7).  Being a kind person cannot save us.  Jesus alone saves us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  We have no mediator before a holy God besides Christ Jesus our Lord (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Jesus unites His people (John 13:34-35) under the banner of His love.  I confess our presuppositions but I confess that Jesus alone is Lord (Romans 10:9-10).  When we stand before Him when we die (Hebrews 9:27-28), we will be judged through Jesus.  Our salvation, if we truly repented of our sins, will be done but the Lord will judge us based on our works done in Christ (Ephesians 2:10; Revelation 2:19).  The Lord does know our works yet we are not saved by our works but will be judged for our works (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10).  The Lord remembers our deeds (Hebrews 6:10).  What I don’t believe He will judge us for will be whether we had perfect understanding of theology.  While sound doctrine is vital (Titus 2:1) and sound doctrine can save us (1 Timothy 4:16), none of us have perfect theological understanding.

In conclusion, let me state that this is not an excuse for bad theology.  The goal of the faithful Bible student and teacher is the same: to be made in the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).  Titus 1:15-16 is a good start for those who love Jesus:

15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

I also read Titus 2:11-14 and I think of what I am writing here:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

My exhortation is simple: Christ alone saves, Christ alone is the One that we adorn and love, and He works in His people for good works which He alone will judge when we stand before Him.  Let us then have grace and mercy toward those whom we disagree recognizing that we read the Bible with our presuppositions in mind but also confessing that Jesus Christ alone saves and not another person, movement, or thing.

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