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Book Review: John and Jude by Vic Reasoner

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.

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

The Key Difference Between Wesley and the Puritans Over Postmillennialism

I know that was a long title.  I tried to think of ways to make it shorter.  I could not.

I rarely dive into eschatological views.  I try to limit my blog to mainly defining and defending Arminianism as well as just writing about general Christian subjects.  The purpose of this post is not to give a scholarly understanding of the postmillennial views of John Wesley versus the Puritans.  I will leave that to others and frankly I am not that good of a writer to jump into such an issue.

Let me begin by stating that it may come as a shock to some that John Wesley was a postmillennialist.  When I was first saved, I instantly was taught a premillennial view of eschatology.  I was taught the rapture of the Church before the seven year tribulation followed by the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.  I remember I use to pray (as my father had prayed) that I would be worthy to be raptured by the Lord Jesus.  I would have dreams of Jesus coming back to rapture His Church and I would start to rise only to be dropped back on earth after flying a few feet off the ground (probably because of some sin I had committed).

My eschatology views have changed since those days.  I bounced from a pre tribulation view of the rapture to a mid tribulation view before I ended up embracing the postmillennial views of John Wesley.  I was shocked when I first learned that John Wesley was a postmillennialist.  I honestly thought only liberals were postmillennial (a view still held by some in the premillennial camp I might add).  I was unaware that most of the Reformers were either amillennial or postmillennial (Arminius was likely amillennial though not proven).  As I studied Church History, I begin to see that eschatology has long been a hotly debated subject.  Thus, I have often avoided the issue.  It seems to me that Jesus will come back and this should be our starting point.  From there we can debate the future but so long as we stay faithful to the fact that Jesus will come again (though I was told once by a lady that I would surely miss the rapture since I didn’t believe in it anymore).

The key difference between the postmillennial views of John Wesley versus the Puritans lies in their salvation doctrines.  Wesley, being a faithful Arminian, believed that Jesus died for all men and thus he believe that the doctrine of unlimited atonement was the passion for world evangelism.  Further, he believed that the kingdom of God would spread all over the world because of the doctrine of unlimited atonement.  The victory of Jesus would go forth in the power the gospel until the end would come and the Lord’s enemies would be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26).

The Puritans passion for postmillennialism was based their view of God’s sovereignty from their Calvinist perspective.  Further, the Puritans were divided over how the world would be won to Christ with some saying that it would begin with the top (leaders, authorities and nations coming to faith in Christ) while others held from the bottom (churches preaching in small towns that would spread to the nations with the gospel bringing a mighty revival).  Both the Puritans and Mr. Wesley held that God would ultimately be glorified through the preaching of the gospel to all people though the disagreed over the doctrine of unconditional election.

A great book to read on this issue is Dr. Vic Reasoner’s book The Hope of the Gospel.  In the book, Dr. Reasoner lays out a biblical and faithful Arminian eschatology based on the doctrines of biblical Arminianism.  He shows how the early Methodists were driven by a passion for the gospel for world missions based on their view of the atonement and their view of eschatology.  Our eschatological views do matter and they do effect how we live our lives.

A final note on this.  It is easy to look around at our sin-filled world and become discouraged.  Some premillennialists (and myself at one time would be included here) often do their eschatology based on what they see in the news and not in the Bible.  We can look around and see our sinful world and start to believe that surely it will get worst  before it gets better.  I am the opposite.  In fact postmillennialism is the only truly optimistic view of end times.  I hold that Jesus will win (as do the others to be fair) and in the end, the gospel will transform our world (Mark 4:30-32).  It might not happen in my lifetime but the Lord is faithful to His promises and I believe a great harvest is coming.  I long to see sinners saved by the grace of God just as He saved me by His grace.

I close by pointing back to the truth that all true Christians share and that is that Jesus is coming again.  Many are passionate for their end times views but I believe that we should have grace toward one another over these issues.  I would gladly fellowship with those who do not agree with my eschatological views.  One truth that unites us is that Jesus died for us on the cross.  This we know (1 John 5:13).  We know He will come again (Acts 1:11) though we not know the day nor the hour (Mark 13:32).  The hope for the disciple of Jesus is the resurrection from the dead that He secured for us by dying for our sins and through Him we will live (John 5:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  My hope is in the gospel (Hebrews 9:27-28) and not my end times views.  I pray that for you as well.

I do say with John, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

Review of the ESV Fire Bible

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.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/06/2015 at 12:34 PM

Series of Posts on Two Arminian Books

I know other Arminians have been blogging recently on the new book from John Wagner entitled Grace For All but I want to throw my own review in as well.  I am working on a review of this for The Arminian magazine.

I also want to blog on J. Matthew Pinson’s latest book Arminian and Baptist.  This will be a challenge to blog on both but I pray that the Lord will give me grace.

I know the blog has slowed down some but this was on purpose.  I have been consumed with work and with family.  Both are good things.  The Lord knows that I love to write but I needed the break.  However, look for the new posts on the books to be coming soon.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/24/2015 at 7:20 PM

Book Review: ESV Readers Edition

The ESV Reader’s Edition is a nice addition to the ESV line of Bibles.  I purchased mine from Lifeway Christian Bookstore.  Mine was about $26.

The layout of the ESV Readers Bible is that it comes with only the text of Scripture.  For example, I have the Bible before me and I have it opened to Psalm 41.  This edition has Psalm 41 over the words but no verses.  It is like reading a novel.

Now does this help?  I am use to reading the Bible with verses that I find myself trying to figure out what verse I am in.  Sometimes I have been reading from this ESV and have had to pick up my ESV pitt minion to see where I am reading.  I know that I am reading from Leviticus but what verse?  Yet on the other hand I enjoy reading a Bible that just flows.  I don’t get sidetracked by cross references or by even the verses themselves.  I just read.  The other advantage would be that you don’t find yourself counting verses.  I just read chapters and not verses.  This allows for longer Bible reading.  My plan is to read the Bible through in this edition.

Overall this is a unique Bible and one that I do recommend.  It has semi-large print (about 8.5) which makes it easy to read.  This, of course, would not be a preaching or even study Bible.  It is made simply to read from.  I do encourage all disciples to read this edition of the ESV and enjoy!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/19/2015 at 10:52 AM

Book Review: Authority in Prayer by Dutch Sheets

Dutch Sheets is known for his teaching on prayer.  I hope he is also a man of prayer though I don’t know much about him other than from his books.  Sheets is a charismatic teacher and travels the world teaching on prayer.  He has written other books on prayer besides the one that I am going to review.

The Positives 

1.  The Short Chapters.

The book has only 14 chapters.  This is a relatively short book for me.  It is only 197 pages.  The chapters are short and mostly to the point.

2.  No Guilt Trips on Prayer.

Some books on prayer simply seem to make you feel guilty.  “You are not praying enough.”  “You must spend 2 hours with the Lord or you are not even saved!”  “You will never see revival with your pathetic prayer life.”  This is what I mean by guilt prayer books.  They beat you up with no mercy or grace.  This book doesn’t do that.  While prayer is the focus, the author does not spend a lot of time focusing on making you feel guilty.  He just wants you to pray.

3.  Some Biblical Focus.

What I will have more to say about this later, there was some emphasis placed on what the Bible says about prayer and the promises of God.  Nearly every chapter had passages of Scripture in them.  The Bible wasn’t ignored in this book.  While I have some troubling aspects of the author’s usage of some passages, I appreciated that the author seems to believe the Bible is the Word of God.

4.  Victory in Christ.

Daniel 7:13-14 has been in my heart now for days and the author focuses on how Christ has won the victory.  Christ will reign forever over His enemies and His disciples will rejoice!  In the meantime, we have been given biblical authority to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20) and to pray (John 14:12-14).  Because Jesus sits at the right hand of God (Hebrews 7:25), He is able to help us (Hebrews 4:14-16) and this is true in prayer.  We pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The author does a good job of teaching that Christ has won the victory, that Satan is defeated, and that we can seek God through Christ.

5.  Prayer is Powerful!

Prayer is powerful only because God is all-powerful!  The author shows that God answers prayer (Mark 11:22-24).  He tells many stories to teach the reader that God does hear our prayers and He does answer our prayers.  In the author’s case, the Lord answers prayer in many astonishing ways.  I too have seen the Lord answer prayer.  God has been faithful to hear my cries and to answer my prayers.  While I have never seen miracles (though I have seen His hand of providence), I don’t doubt that God can and does miracles from time to time but always for His glory and honor and not for ours (Acts 14:3).  We should pray big prayers and seek God for big things.  I have no trouble with this and in fact I was convicted that I pray too often for “easy” things instead of praying for amazing things like the saving of souls by the thousands.

The Negatives

Let me point out a few negatives I took away from the book.

1.  Too Experiential For My Taste.

I prefer books that focus on the biblical text.  There are books that are more devotional in nature such as the prayer books of Andrew Murray and there are books on prayer from a more theological point and those are my favorites.  Sound doctrine goes hand in hand with sound living (1 Timothy 4:16).  This book has many experiences from the author.  The author writes much about his experiences with hearing God speak.  I have never heard the voice of God and I am convinced that we hear God speak in the Bible.  The Bible is His final, inerrant, and infallible revelation given to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and this is why we should teach prayer from the Bible and not from personal experiences.

2.  Lack of Biblical Content.

I mentioned above that the author does use Scripture.  Sheets used a Bible verse in every chapter.  Yet Sheets never really teaches the text.  In fact, his chapters used Bible verses but much like a topical preacher.  He sort of used Bible verses only to back up his points.  Sheets didn’t deal with the text nor exegete them at all.  I would rather read a book say on the disciple’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 which deals with each verse slowly and deeply than to hear personal stories over and over again.

3.  Lack of the Gospel.

A book on prayer should be gospel-centered and Christ-exalting.  Sheets did not tear down the Lord Jesus in any way so I want to make that clear.  Sheets, in my estimation from this book, is not seeking to turn people away from Christ as a false teacher would.  Christ is spoken of all over this book.  Yet what was missing was the gospel.  The gospel is the very reason that I get to pray!  The gospel is what opens the doors of heaven so that I can pray to my Father.  The work of Christ is vital and our understanding of the gospel is necessary to help us to pray.  When we understand the death of Christ for our sins (Galatians 1:4) and His resurrection for our justification before God (Romans 4:24-25), this opens our prayer lives because we see that we are not praying out of religious duty to earn God’s perfection (Isaiah 64:6) nor His blessing for what have all that in Christ Jesus (Romans 4:5).  Christ is the reason that I get to pray (John 15:16).  While Sheets does mention the Lord Jesus often, he doesn’t spend any time speaking of the glory of the cross nor of Christ sitting at the right hand of God making intercession for the saints.  This point is vital to prayer.

4.  Territory Spirits.

One final point.  Sheets talks often about God placing him in places to pray.  He tells a story in the book about the Lord placing him in Washington DC to pray for the United States.  He believes his prayers have shaped many political situations and has kept the hand of God back from judging the nation.  Sheets seems to have a view that spirits control areas such as DC or other cities.  This comes from some who teach this based on Daniel 10:13.  I appreciate those who would pray for cities and nations.  Paul prayed for people groups in Romans 10:1.  The Messiah prays to the Father in Psalm 2:8 for the nations.  Did He fail to get those?  No!  Jesus reigns over the nations and that is why He could tell His disciples to go and get them (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8).  We are Christ’s ambassadors telling the world to repent and submit to the Lordship of Jesus in all things (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  So I disagree with Sheets over this issue.  Satan is defeated and Christ is victorious.  Our job is to proclaim Christ and His victory over the enemy (1 John 3:8).

Conclusion

Overall this book was not a bad read.  I don’t want you to think from my negative points that the book was all bad.  It wasn’t.  There was some good that I took from this book.  While I have read better books on prayer, this was not the worst.  I would recommend it for someone wanting to devour books on prayer.

This review was based on a free copy of the book provided by Bethany House Publishers.  I was free to give my review in whatever way I saw best.  Thank you to Bethany House for the book.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/28/2015 at 6:48 PM

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