Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Bible Reading

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

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.

Being Careful With Our Words

People often use the phrase, “God spoke to me and said.”  Sometimes (and few times) people actually mean that they believe God did speak to them.  Yet most of the time people simply mean that they got an impression.  I heard one guy call it a “holy hunch.”  Yet this would not be the same as direct revelation from God.  Most people, I think, are well-meaning when they say that God spoke to them yet their use of God speaking to them makes it seem like they actually heard from God and not from themselves.

In reality, the Bible is where we hear from God.  Certainly God speaks to us through life, through pain, through joy, through circumstances, through creation, etc. but this flows from the biblical data and not outside of the Bible.  The Bible is where God speaks!  Scripture is clear that God speaks to us in His Word.  The Word claims to be speaking for God so that when Scripture speaks, God speaks.  Jesus Himself held that the Bible (the Old Testament at His time) was in fact the Word of God (Matthew 4:4).  Jesus upheld the absolute authority of the Bible (Matthew 5:17-20).  Jesus even said that the Bible cannot be broken (John 10:35).  When Jesus was asked theological questions, He appealed to Scripture (see Matthew 19:1-9; 22:23-33).  Even as Jesus died on the cross, He was aware of the fulfillment of Scripture (see John 19:28-30).  After His resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples about Himself and His suffering and resurrection from the Scriptures (Luke 24:26-27, 44-47).

So if we claim to follow Christ, we should have the same view of the Bible as Jesus held.  Jesus believed in the authority of the Bible, the sufficiency of the Bible, the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible, and He quoted the Bible when combating theological errors and even Satan himself.

Hebrews 1:1-3 is clear:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Notice that the writer of Hebrews points to Jesus as God’s final word.  The last days are not now.  They have been since Jesus began to reign from heaven until the end (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).  Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14, 18).  Jesus fully reveled God because He is God (John 1:1; Colossians 1:15-20).  When Jesus spoke, He was God speaking to humans as a human.  Jesus was both fully God and fully man.

Jesus promised His Apostles in John 16:12-15 that the Holy Spirit would help them to record all that He said.  Notice what Jesus says:

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Some take verse 13 and try to apply this to modern disciples but the context is clear that Jesus was speaking to His Apostles.  It would be the Apostles (or their close associates) who would write the Scriptures under the inspiration of the Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16).  Peter would later write in 2 Peter 1:20-21 this:

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter the Apostle placed the authority of the Scriptures over even his own experiences (2 Peter 1:16-19).

This is powerful for us in our day when people use the phrase, “God spoke to me and said…”  I don’t doubt that God speaks to us and I hear Him speak always and faithfully in His Word.  2 Timothy 3:17 even says:

That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible makes us complete!  The Bible make us equipped for every good work!  This is why I stress that we should build into our lives and in the lives of our children the authority of the Bible (Matthew 7:24-27).  I want my boys to look at everything through the lenses of the Word of God.  When my boys are faced with naturalistic evolution (or other issues), I want them to look at it through the lenses of the Word of God.  When it comes to evangelism, I want to evangelize based on the authority of the Word of God.  When it comes to money or my marriage or my job, I want to honor God by studying and applying the Word of God.  The Word of God is my foundation so that when I am reading and studying my Bible, I am hearing from God!  I don’t need an impression to know that God is speaking to me.  I don’t need a vision.  I don’t need a dream.  I don’t need a prophet.  The Bible is sufficient, faithful, inerrant, infallible, and makes me complete, equipped for every good work.

So a better way would be not to say that God spoke to us but to quote the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  “The Bible says” is God speaking.  If you want to hear from God, read the Bible.  If you want to hear God speak out loud, read the Bible out loud.  God’s Word is final. God’s Word is faithful because it comes from Him who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; 2 Timothy 2:13; Titus 1:2).

In conclusion, I hold that our wording is the problem.  Most people I know who say, “God spoke to me and said” would say that it was an impression, a hunch.  They would not place their “hearing God” with the authority of the Bible nor on the same level as the Apostles hearing from the Spirit.  Yet this subtle “hearing from God” can undermine the authority of the Bible if we are not careful.  I recommend we modify our language.  I no longer say at all, “God spoke to me” apart from quoting the Bible.  When I want to express hearing from the Lord, I use the Bible.  The Bible is faithful to speak for God.  I hold firmly the principle of sola scriptura or “Scripture alone.”  Dr. Jack Cottrell writes about sola scriptura:

Sola Scriptura means that Scripture alone is an adequate source of truth and moral knowledge, but it means more.  It means that Scripture alone is the authoritative source of such truth and knowledge.  Because of its unique nature as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, Scripture is the sole norm, the ultimate and final authority for faith and life. (Solid: The Authority of God’s Word, pp. 82-83).

May we go now and read our Bible and hear from God simply as we read.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/20/2015 at 10:30 AM

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

Critical Thinking Out Loud

Let me do some critical thinking out loud for a moment.  I am pondering two questions.  First, if God is speaking to us through visions, dreams, personal prophecies, etc., why is it that so often those who receive these visions, dreams, personal prophecies are some of the weakest people I know?  I am not going to lump all charismatics together here as I don’t know all of them of course and that would be unfair but those that I do know who claim God is speaking to them in a dream or a “word” in their spirit are typically not committed to studying the Bible, are often ignorant of basic doctrines, don’t pray too much, are not serious in evangelism, and for the most part are weak spiritually.

Secondly, how can we claim that we believe in the sufficiency of the Bible if in fact we are not making a commitment to study it or apply it to our lives?  This is true for both evangelicals and charismatics.  We have all been guilty in knowing too much and not obeying what we know (James 4;17).  The truth is that we all need to take serious our study of the Bible.  The Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and is true in all that it says (John 17:17).  David said in Psalm 119:142 that he would not forget God’s precepts but have we?  Do we know God’s precepts?  I believe the answer is that we know much but obey little and in reality, we don’t know as much as we think we know.  Remember Jesus’ disciples are those who hear His Word and put it into practice (Luke 11:28).  James the Apostle says that is true faith, to put into practice the truth of God (James 2:14-26).

So the bottom line for me is this: people are running around seeking a “word from the Lord” when in fact He has spoken faithfully and truthfully in the Bible.  The Bible is sufficient to teach us the ways of the Lord and we must be faithful to heed His voice in the Bible.  In reality, we don’t need any other voices.  We have a prophet in the Lord Jesus.  We have a king in the Lord Jesus.  We have a rabbi in the Lord Jesus.  We have a faithful high priest in the Lord Jesus.  We have an advocate with the Father in the Lord Jesus.  We have One who died in our place for our sins as our Passover lamb in the Lord Jesus. We have a sabbath rest in the Lord Jesus.  All of this is revealed not by some revelation apart from Scripture but in the Word of God.  We would do well to go to the Bible and hear it (Psalm 119:151).

Read the Bible Through Chronologically

Having completed the NIV One Year Chronological Bible, I now turn to another translation and another chronological Bible.  While I prefer the ESV, I will be using the NKJV this year in my Bible reading.

The advantage of using a chronological Bible is that you get to read the Bible as it unfolds.  You get to read the Old Testament prophets in their time setting with what was happening in Israel.  You get to read the life of Jesus unfold as it happened from His birth to His death to His resurrection.  You get to read the book of Acts and see the Holy Spirit empowering the early disciples to take the gospel into all nations just as Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20).  You also get to read the letters of the New Testament as they were written based on the book of Acts (while some where of course written after Luke closed the book of Acts).

I greatly appreciated reading from the NIV since it is a translation I don’t normally use.  I have listed the following chronological Bibles below.  Get one and get into the Word of God.

1.  NKJV One Year Chronological Bible

2.  NIV One Year Chronological Bible

3.  NLT One Year Chronological Bible

4.  Reading God’s Story (HCSB)

5.  NKJV Chronological Study Bible

6.  The Daily Bible (NIV)

7.  KJV One Year Chronological Bible

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/01/2015 at 10:00 AM

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