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Posts Tagged ‘Study Bibles

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.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/06/2015 at 12:34 PM

A Couple of ESV Bibles To Consider

Two ESV study Bibles are coming out that you might want to consider.  The first one is the ESV Key Word Study Bible.  This Bible is very helpful with the original languages of Hebrew and Greek.  The notes focus on the original languages and you’ll find thousands of the original language words defined for you (like a Strong’s Concordance) in the back along with many word studies.  I have an NIV and NASB edition now but will look forward to getting my hands on an ESV edition.

The second ESV study Bible set to come out in June of 2014 is the Fire Bible.  Currently the Fire Bible is out in the NIV (1984) and the KJV.  The ESV Fire Bible will be the first Arminian study Bible found in the ESV.  The Fire Bible has notes that are Arminian in its soteriology but Pentecostal in its pneumatology.  While not all Arminians would agree with the notes in the Fire Bible, an Arminian would gladly accept the study Bible’s notes on salvation and perseverance.

Overall it looks like some good ESV study Bibles are heading our way should the Lord tarry.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/27/2013 at 11:56 AM

Posted in Bible Reading, Books

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The NIV MacArthur Study Bible

I first heard of this project over a year ago as Dr. John MacArthur was preparing to take his study Bible and add the NIV to its growing list of translations.  I knew that this would not be a welcomed edition since the NIV falls in line with dynamic equivalent translations and not with essentially literal texts such as the NKJV, NASB, and the ESV.  I could already hear the grumbling from scholars about Dr. MacArthur giving his approval to such a Bible translation as the NIV.

The KJV only supporters no doubt will make this a headline for attacking Dr. MacArthur.

In reality, I am interested to see this study Bible.  The reason Dr. MacArthur is to be commended for doing this is that many readers of the popular NIV will now be able to have study notes that will often correct the translation.  As I heard one brother say to me, “Why not take a decent translation and add good notes to correct the not so good of the translation.”  Excellent point.  In essence, Dr. MacArthur is taking his study notes and adding them to this NIV edition but it will correct the NIV where needed.  Dr. MacArthur has not shied away before from correcting the translation as see in passages such as 1 John 5:7-8 or the controversial ending of Mark 16:9-20.

The NIV is the world’s most popular Bible.  I have to admit that.  In terms of dollar amounts, the NIV ranks first.  In terms of unit sales (actual number of Bibles sold), the NLT ranks first.  My favorite translation, the ESV, ranks fifth in both categories.  It would then be appropriate for Dr. MacArthur to seek to add sound theology (though I do differ with him here and there with his Calvinism) to the NIV.

I would also commend the NIV Fire Study Bible as well along with the NIV Key Word Study Bible.  Both of these study Bibles are based on the NIV 1984 whereas the NIV MacArthur Study Bible will be from the 2011 edition of the NIV.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/30/2013 at 2:10 PM

Why Are There No Arminians on the Gospel Transformation Bible Committee?

If you click this link, you’ll find a list of contributors to Crossway’s new ESV study Bible, The Gospel Transformation Bible.  I was excited when I first saw this Bible coming out as I love the gospel and love the emphasis that this study Bible was to place on all 66 books of the Bible upon the gospel itself.  So many fail to see the beauty of the gospel in the Old Testament especially.

But I was sad to see not one Arminian (that I am aware of) in the list of the contributors.  Instead the contributors are all Calvinists.  I know that Crossway is largely a Calvinistic publishing group, but I was sad to see that Crossway did not look to Arminians to help with this study Bible.  Why only Calvinists?  I know that some Calvinists will insist that Calvinism is the pure gospel and that Calvinists, above all others, love the gospel.  But is this honest and true?  I don’t think so.  I have read many works by both Arminius and by Arminians and I see nothing but a love for the gospel, a hunger to see people saved, and a zeal for the truth of God’s Word about this great salvation.

Oddly a few Calvinists even claim that they are in the minority when it comes to the Church.  In fact, they actually believe that Arminianism is the dominant theology in the evangelical church.  This study Bible would speak otherwise.

In fairness, Crossway should have involved non-Calvinists in this study Bible.  Do only Calvinists represent the gospel?  Do Lutherans?  Do Arminians?  Do other non-Calvinists?  Again, I know that some Calvinists will say that they alone represent the truth of the gospel and love the work of Christ.  But I assert that this is both blind and wrong.

I again call for Crossway to balance this and start an Arminian study Bible that reflects the teachings of Arminius and turn the tide in the amount of study Bibles and books that bolster Calvinism.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/19/2013 at 5:59 PM

Posted in Books

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Short Thoughts on the Dakes Annotated Reference Bible

When I first was saved back in 1992, I was told by a brother to get a copy of the Dakes Annotated Reference Bible.  The two reasons that I didn’t was 1) I didn’t have the money to get one and 2) I didn’t really want a Bible that was KJV.  I had grown up trying to read the KJV (as I seemed to get a KJV award Bible every year from my Sunday School teachers growing up) and simply struggled to understand much of the KJV.  My parents had purchased an NIV One Year Bible for missions support once and I was using this Bible when I was first saved before they purchased me an NIV of my own.  I read from my NIV and enjoyed it tremendously.  To this day, I still get a smile thinking back to using my old NIV when the Bible was so fresh to me and my zeal so young.

Needless to say, I never got a Dakes Bible.  Until a friend just gave me one out of the blue about two years ago.  Now before I jump into my edition, let me state that while in college I heard a brother give a lecture against the Dakes Bible so I knew some things about it.  For instance, the brother showed some strange concepts Dake had in his notes such as the pre-Adamite world supposedly in Genesis 1:2, the “little gods” theory where Dake said that man was a little god (much like Word-Faith teachers such as Kenneth Copeland have espoused), and his racial theories (segregation).

From the outset, I must admit that it is easy to just want to read all the notes in this Bible.  I would venture to say that  this Bible has the most notes I have ever seen.  Some are very good.  Some are not so good.  Some are sometimes just short topical studies on a subject.  The notes are not in expository form per se but they do relate to the book that Dake is covering at the time.  Dake, at least from the notes, was a thinker and his ability to topically put passages together is amazing.

The negative aspects of this Bible are the problems stated above.  There is no doubt that Dakes included these theories in his notes.  Further, while I appreciate some of the aspects of the Dakes Bible emphasis on the power of God (such as in Acts 10:38), overall I didn’t learn too much from this Bible.  It seems this Bible is made for Bible studies and outlines.  Not specifically to deal with answering the texts.  Further, the problems above such as “little gods” or his racial theories is enough to keep me away from recommending this Bible.  With the likes of the ESV Study Bible or the Fire Bible out there, I would rather recommend those.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/17/2013 at 11:01 AM

Posted in Book Reviews

Tagged with ,

Are Some Scriptures More Important Than Others?

As a New Testament disciple I believe that all of Scripture is true.  I believe that the Bible is without error in its original texts and I believe that since God Himself wrote the Bible (and He cannot lie; Hebrews 6:18; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) then I believe that all that He said is found in the Scriptures and is faithful unto Him who gave us His Word.  Jesus Himself said that the Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35) so if they cannot be broken then the logical conclusion is that Jesus viewed them as perfect.  Jesus even prayed and said that the Word of God was the truth (John 17:17).

Yet are some Scriptures more important than others?  By this statement I mean are we to take some passages of Scripture and opposing them to other passages of Scripture or even reinterpret some passages in light of a few passages.  For instance, we recently purchased a Bible for my oldest son.  It was a New Living Translation Kids Bible.  Overall I think this Bible is very good.  It is easier to read and he is just learning to read and it has helpful notes along the way while he is reading.  However, oddly I came across an article in this study Bible that spoke about eternal security.  The wording was not “eternal security” but “I get to be with Jesus when I die” which, of course, is true for disciples (John 5:24-25).  The problem I had with this study Bible was two things: first it failed to talk about the Law of God and show children their guilt before God based on the Law.  Nothing is said about repentance though that was the first message Jesus preached (Matthew 4:17) and the Apostles as well (Acts 2:38; 3:19).  Secondly, it fails to deal with the need to persevere in the faith.  Yes the Bible does speak about security and yes we have the promises from God that He will keep us (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39) but what about the many passages that call us to persevere in faith (2 Corinthians 1:24; 12:21-13:5; Galatians 5:1-4; 6:7-9; Ephesians 3:17; Philippians 2:12-15; Colossians 1:21-23; 3:1-3; etc.)?  What about Hebrews 10:19-39 which is nearly an entire chapter on perseverance?  What about the balance of perseverance and the power of God to keep us in Jude 20-25?

Frankly, I like this study Bible because much of it is Arminian in doctrine.  For example, this study Bible promotes an unlimited atonement with the wording, “Jesus died for all people and not just for some.”  That is clearly Arminian!  It promotes justification by faith and is against works-righteousness.  That is Arminianism!  It teaches the sinfulness of all people.  That is Arminian!  It teaches the holiness of God.  That is Arminian!  It teaches the sovereignty of God.  That is Arminian as well!  So overall this is a good study Bible for children but I do take exception with that one teaching above.

But back to my point.  Since the Bible does teach security, many want to take passages such as John 10:27-29 or Romans 8:38-39 or Jude 24-25 and than force an interpretation of “once saved, always saved” upon passages such as John 15:1-8 or Romans 6:1-23 or 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 or Hebrews 2:1-4; 3:6-19; 4:1-19; 5:8-9; 6:4-20; 10:19-39 and so many others.  The wording is usually, “Since the Bible clearly teaches the security of the believer then it’s not possible that these verses teach that a believer can either commit apostasy or cease believing.”  This logic then leads advocates of the above position to either twist passages that teach conditional security to teach the opposite or they ignore them altogether.  I have often wondered how many advocates of “once saved, always saved” never read Hebrews or at least skip over Hebrews 6 or Hebrews 10?

Acts 14:22 is clear that the Apostles encouraged the disciples to remain faithful to the faith.  It even records that they warned them that we must enter the kingdom through much tribulation.  Rather than telling them, “Hey you guys are eternally secure” they instead taught that we must continue in the faith.  If we do, Jesus gave us the promise of eternal life (John 8:51).

I believe that we should let Scripture interpret Scripture and not try to pit Scripture against Scripture.  We should use proper interpretation skills when reading and studying the Bible and we must not allow our pet doctrines to rob us of the fullness of the Scriptures.  There is enough room in the Bible for both security and necessary perseverance.  We should preach both!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/22/2011 at 11:28 AM

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