Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Bible Study

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.

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).

The Type of Preaching/Teaching I Enjoy

I enjoy hearing good solid Bible preaching and teaching.  On my iPhone are several podcasts of all different types of preachers.  Some are better speakers than others but the type of preaching/teaching that I am attracted to is one that is full of the Word of God.  I enjoy hearing Bible teachers who fill their teachings with the Word of God.  I prefer expository preaching/teaching mixed with allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture and pointing to other passages of Scripture that are relevant to the text.

Most preaching/teaching today is full of stories.  Lots of illustrations.  While there is certainly nothing wrong with an illustration, too often in modern Bible teaching, the illustration becomes what is remembered or focused on.  This happens when video illustrations are used or drama skits.  The focus is not then on the Word of God (no matter what the Bible teacher may say).  The focus is on the skit or the vivid illustration.  The Word of God becomes just part of the show.  The Bible is certainly quoted and referred to but the illustration is the focus.  This should not be.

The focus of the true Bible preacher/teacher is the Word of God for the Word of God is what God uses to lift up His name and to save sinners (1 Peter 1:23).  The Word of God cuts deep into our hearts and exposes our true selves (Hebrews 4:12-13).  The Word of God sanctifies the people of God (John 17:17).  The Word of God is the agency by which God draws the lost unto Himself (Romans 10:17).  The Word of God alone is the inerrant and infallible truth of God (Psalm 119:89; 2 Peter 1:16-21) and the Word of God makes the servant of God “competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).  The Bible alone is the breathed out Book of God (2 Timothy 3:16).  Jesus said the Word of God cannot be broken (John 10:35).

The focus then must be on the Word of God.  When illustrations or skits or movie scenes are the focus, the Word of God is lost.  There is no denying that even still the Word is powerful (Isaiah 55:11) but the heart of the Bible preacher/teacher is on explaining Scripture.  This is our heart and passion.

I urge you, if you teach the Bible, to do just that: preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).  The Bible gives us our authority to speak for God (Titus 2:14).  This authority is lost when you make your illustrations, your funny stories, your personal experiences, or skits the focus.  Fill your teaching with the Word.  Let Scripture dominate.  When people walk away from hearing you teach the Word, let them remember the Word and may you fill their minds with the Word.  Let them accuse you, if they must, of being too biblical, of spending too much time in the Word.  When people hear you speak, let them learn how to study the Bible.  Teach them how to interpret Scripture, how to exegete the passages, how to apply the texts, and fill them with the Word of God (Matthew 4:4).  May they remember the Word above all else and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through faithfulness to His Word (John 14:23-24).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/03/2014 at 3:08 PM

Reading Much Slower These Days

When I was saved, my parents purchased an NIV One Year Bible.  That was all I had for a bit that I could understand (as I had several KJV award Bibles but found them hard to comprehend).  I began my Christian life by reading from the NIV One Year Bible and that habit would continue for about 7 years.  That NIV One Year Bible remains with me though I don’t read from it now and it lies on my bookshelf, worn out, underlined, and notes all over the place.  While I was a youth pastor, I used the NIV One Year Bible to disciple teenagers by us all reading from the same Bible and then I developed Bible studies based off our week’s reading.  It was joyful to read through the Bible and teach from it while doing so.

Over the past few years, I have found my Bible reading has slowed down.  I don’t mean that I don’t read from the Bible.  I do.  I do often.  I do everyday.  The Bible is my food (Matthew 4:4) and its words feed my soul (1 Peter 2:1-3).  As the psalmist wrote, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  (Psalm 119:103).  The testimonies of God are wonderful, therefore, my soul keeps them (Psalm 119:129).  Jesus taught us in John 8:31-32:

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I want to be a disciple who daily abides in the Word of God (Proverbs 8:34).

So I don’t mean by “slowing down on my Bible reading” that I am neglecting God’s Word.  I need His Word.  I can’t spiritual survive without His Word.  His Word gives me hope (Romans 15:4) and gives me life (John 15:1-11).

But what I do mean is that I am slow in reading in that I take my time and spend weeks in one passage.  My habit use to be to read through the Bible (and I suggest that all disciples should read through the entire Bible) but now I am slowing down and smelling the roses.  I am taking my time.  Like the cow, I am chewing and chewing and chewing on the Word of God to take it in.  I want to know Christ and to love Him more than anything and I want to know His Word.  Bible reading helps me grow as a disciple by showing me what I should be doing for the glory of God and it reveals what areas of sin are in my life so that I can become more like Jesus (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Now again, I suggest that you read through the Bible.  No disciple of Jesus should neglect reading the entire Bible.  However, once you read through the Bible (perhaps even several times through), slow down and sit in a text for a while.  For example, if you are reading through the gospel of Matthew, slow down in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) and allow the words of Jesus to convict, challenge, and change you.  I am currently studying Matthew 6:5-15.  I have been reading and re-reading Matthew 6:5-15 from various translations, reading commentaries, listening to several sermons on the text, and simply hungering for the Holy Spirit to teach me from this vital text on prayer.

My prayer is that 2014 will be a year of the Word in your life.  May the Lord be glorified through our Bible reading and studying and may we live for His glory alone!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/02/2014 at 12:46 PM

Read Bible Commentaries

I use to believe that reading a Bible commentary was something you only did for reference work only.  If you were studying a passage for teaching, it was vital to do sound exegesis but using a good Bible commentary was necessary as well.  These commentaries could vary from book to book in the Bible.

Now, however, I enjoy reading from a Bible commentary just for enjoyment in reading.  There is much to learn from them.  Granted, some of them can be more technical than others but a good commentary will use both sound doctrine, exegesis, and will offer encouragement and exhortation from the text.  For instance, I have been reading Dr. John MacArthur’s commentary on the book of Galatians.  It has been good reading.  His commentary is a strong presentation of the gospel of Christ and he works through the text word for word.  It is very good reading.

I also enjoy Dr. Vic Reasoner’s commentaries on Romans and Revelation.  I hear that he is also working on a commentary on Ephesians.  Dr. Reasoner writes from an Arminian perspective but what I appreciate is that Dr. Reasoner is not focused on proving Arminianism nor attacking Calvinism.  His focus is the gospel of Christ much like Dr. MacArthur.  Certainly his Arminianism does come out in texts where it is needful such as in debated texts in Romans.  His commentary on Revelation is one of the first I have ever read from that comes from a partial preterist viewpoint.

My point is that commentaries can be valuable tools for Bible study.  A good study Bible such as the ESV Study Bible or the Fire Bible can offer helpful study notes and commentary but they are no where as in-depth as a good Bible commentary.  We need to study the Word of God as deep as we can (2 Timothy 2:15).  The Word is our sword (Ephesians 6:17) and it is able to defeat the lies of the enemy and this sinful world.  How important it is then to study and mediate upon God’s Word (John 17:17).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/28/2013 at 10:00 AM

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