Contending For The Faith

September 17, 2009

Horner Bible Reading Plan: Six Months Later

I’ve now been following the Horner Bible Reading Plan for six months, sticking to it on a daily basis with few exceptions.  Now at day 183, I’m nearing the end of Deuteronomy (List 2), the last list to complete.  When I restart with Genesis in a few days, I plan to try reading two chapters a day, at least in the easier narrative chapters.

Retention of all this reading comes gradually, yet after several reads through shorter lists such as Proverbs and the New Testament Acts and Epistles, I note and recall many more details (that went unnoticed with once-a-year readings), such as the following:

  • Colossians (chapter 2) makes reference to a church in Laodicea; this reminds me of Revelation 3, the church in Laodicea a generation later.
  • Proverbs has many statements echoed in the New Testament.  Proverbs 25:6-7 speaks to a matter Jesus mentioned, to not seek the highest place of honor at the table.  Proverbs 25:14 is a clear mention of something later said in Jude 12.

Proverbs 25:14 (NIV) — Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.

Jude 12 — speaking of the false teachers, says “They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind”

  • Similarities and contrasts in Paul’s letters to, in list 3, the Corinthians, versus the Philippians and Thessalonians of list 4.  One really gets a feel for Paul’s heart, his affection for the Phillipians, and his care for (and frustration with) the immature Corinthians.  Paul writes similar things to the Thessalonians and Corinthians; compare 1 Thessalonians 2:5-9, and 1 Corinthians 9 (including verses 12 and 15).

One Old Testament “connection” that could only come from a combination of different readings:  on the same day I read Judges 20 (list 8), the destruction of most of the tribe of Benjamin, I also read 2 Chronicles 14 (list 9), which details a military event that includes many Benjamites.  A good combination of readings to show that indeed the tribe of Benjamin recovered from its near-destruction several centuries earlier.

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September 4, 2009

S. Lewis Johnson Teaching From Genesis 19

Filed under: Bible Study,S. Lewis Johnson — Lynda O @ 10:09 am
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I’ve been listening to S. Lewis Johnson’s “Genesis” series, which he preached in 1979. I’ve now completed the study for Genesis 19, and here are a few important points.

This chapter deals with a “carnal Christian,” Lot, and the consequences of his worldliness, including in his own family. It’s a familiar narrative passage, but here are a few things of special note.

SLJ notes that the angels seem much more reluctant to go home with Lot than they had with Abraham. They readily came to Abraham’s tent in Genesis 18; but it seems that they would prefer to stay in the town square than with Lot.

Lot does show great hospitality, one evidence of the fact that he was a righteous man (2 Peter 2), but his worldly life compromises his witness to the world. He had evidently selected unbelieving men to marry his daughters. When Lot later tried to warn them of the coming destruction, their disbelief again reflects Lot’s worldly character, he was the type of person not to be taken seriously.

The words from the men of Sodom to Lot, in verse 9 (“This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.”), show that the believer trying to get ahead in the world never really does fit in as well as he would like to think. S. Lewis Johnson says it well:

It is obvious that while he been there and evidently he had a place and position, deep down within they did not really like Lot. There was something about Lot that made him different, and even in his worldliness, there was that basic commitment to the promises given to Abraham and they figured that out.

That is why, incidentally, a worldly believer never is able to accomplish what he thinks he will accomplish. He thinks that by mingling with the world, he will be an influence upon them. But he is not an influence upon them and the one who is hurt is he himself.

Lot is the object of great mercy, and his life is spared on account of his relation to Abraham, as mentioned in verse 29 (So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.) Yet throughout the account Lot clearly does not appreciate the great mercy, as he is continually reluctant, to the point that the angels have to take charge. After that, Lot is still trying to wheedle out any more concessions, such as the part about fleeing to the small town of Zoar rather than to the mountains.

S. Lewis Johnson’s remarks about homosexuality in America are interesting, coming from the viewpoint of 1979. The situation is far worse now than 30 years ago, yet even then homosexuality was being championed as a great alternative lifestyle. He quotes from a cover story in Time magazine, “How Gay is Gay,” in which was told the line that 10 percent of the population is homosexual, and that many popular cultural items in our lives (disco and disco lights, long hair, even Adidas running shoes) came from homosexuals and then to the broader society. SLJ makes the important observation, from Romans 1, that increasing homosexuality in a nation is itself a judgement from God–not a sign of future possible judgement, but the actual judgment itself:

So when we look at increasing homosexuality in our society, we do not say, “Well if this continues, we are liable to experience the judgment of God.” According to Paul, the increase in homosexual practices is the judgment of God. It is upon us because of our apostasy from divine truth and so when we see this pervading our society, we are not a society that is moving toward judgment, but we are a society that is already under judgment and moving toward the final cataclysmic destruction of the society as we know it when the Lord Jesus Christ comes at his second advent to the earth.

August 21, 2009

Bible Details Matter

Filed under: Bible Study,John MacArthur,S. Lewis Johnson — Lynda O @ 6:20 am
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Regular Bible Study and repeated readings of the Bible really help with understanding scripture and its meaning and context, and increase our ability to discern truth and error in the teachings of our pastors/teachers.  Consider the following example from my recent readings.

2 Thessalonians 3:17-18 (ESV):  ” I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

The previous day I had read chapter 2, which begins thus:
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (ESV):   Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

It is clear from these verses, and the rest of 2 Thessalonians 2, that someone had sent a forged letter claiming to be from Paul, in which they claimed a false doctrine:  that the day of the Lord has come.  The reason for Paul’s closing comment in 2 Thess. 3:17 is also clear:  his original handwritten letter had some distinguishing feature by which the Thessalonians could recognize his writing as compared to a forgery.  As John MacArthur remarked, Paul must have had a unique signature that was not easy to duplicate.

All of this is so straightforward, so why do I even bring it up?  Something as simple as this can be twisted to teach something completely unrelated, as I have seen from a not-so-solid pastor.  Twice in the last fifteen years he has preached through the book of Hebrews, and both times he began his series with an “introduction” message that included many great “proofs” for authorship by the apostle Paul.  One of the “proofs” he cited is that Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18, said “this is the sign …. it is the way I write.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all,” and in the book of Hebrews the author closes the letter with the same phrase “Grace be with you all.”  This pastor then proceeded to show many examples (even having the congregation actually turn their Bibles to each of these passages) where Paul closed his letters with that same phrase “Grace be with you all,” and also showed how the non-Pauline epistles did not end with that same phrase.  In the pastor’s thinking, Paul’s comment to the Thessalonians that “this is the way I write” is directly connected with the next sentence “Grace be with you all.”  Therefore, any epistle that ends with that same phrase, including the book of Hebrews, must be showing Paul’s special mark of authenticity.

Obviously this pastor completely missed the seemingly obvious point of 2 Thessalonians chapters 2 and 3.  Paul’s concern was to show the Thessalonians some physical way to distinguish his letters from that of a forgery.  The closing phrase “Grace be with you all” could just as easily be put into a forged note as into a real note, and the words themselves say nothing as to the genuineness of Paul’s authorship.  After all, I know many people who sign their letters with “In Christ,” or “Regards,” but does that mean that all such letters were written by the same person?  As to the authorship of the book of Hebrews, I’ll go with John MacArthur’s and S. Lewis Johnson’s teaching on this: we don’t know who wrote Hebrews, but it was not Paul.  S. Lewis Johnson made an interesting point here, in a brief reference to the topic:  the style of writing of Hebrews is very different from Paul’s letters, and this is much more clear in the original Greek texts.  (From which it is also safe to infer that the above pastor doesn’t know Greek, at least not that well; and considering that he is self-taught, never went to seminary, that too makes sense.)

I don’t know the Greek language, but as a layperson who studies God’s word (in my own language, English) I can study it for its context and meaning, and along the way discern whether what a pastor-teacher says agrees with what the Bible says in its context, its meaning.  Some examples of such discernment are of course easier than others, and the pastors that demonstrate many obvious errors (as with the pastor cited above) easily prove themselves to be poor teachers and even false teachers.  Of course we can all find something we don’t agree with, or some factual error.  I’ve even found a few factual errors, in the use of certain sermon examples / illustrations, from John MacArthur and S. Lewis Johnson; though in these the error was with the illustration itself and not related to any actual biblical teaching.  After all, all teachers are only human and without perfect knowledge; but some are much closer to the truth than others.

August 5, 2009

“Whenever You’re Speaking To Me”

The title here is from a Don Francisco song, with the following joyous lyrics:

There’s nothing I’ve heard that compares with your word,
the strength in it can set me so free.
There’s joy deep inside, that can’t be denied,
Whenever you’re speakin’ to me.

Every day as I spend time in God’s word (which nowadays means reading a set of 12 different chapters, about 40 minutes each day) I continue to find great encouragement to keep pressing on in the Christian walk. When so often I feel discouraged, and long for the rapture to be away from this wicked world, I find the strength to carry on. When on Sunday afternoon I was especially bothered about the local pastor’s disparaging remarks regarding premillennial eschatology (such as a passing comment that, oh, the book of Revelation contains a lot of symbols, it can’t be taken too seriously), the reading time again refreshed my spirit, to continue on with hope in God’s final deliverance.

The following are specific examples from recent readings (day 142). I read, as in today’s reading from Luke 8, of the Gadarene demoniac freed from demons, longing to go with Jesus; Jesus did not let him, but instead told him to go and tell others what God had done for him. In the same chapter I read of the fearful disciples on the boat, while Jesus slept in the storm, and then Jesus calmed the storm. I read in Hebrews 11 and 12 of the great saints of old, and the example they give to us, for holy living. The holy living theme continues in Titus 1, a place of wickedness much like today’s world, and yet Titus had to remain in that situation to put it in order, to do the work of God in a dark world. I read in the historical books (Joshua 8, 2 Kings 3) of mighty ways in which God delivered His people and brought victory against Israel’s enemies. Isaiah 6 shows the full awesomeness and glory of God, a scene similar to that of many others in the Bible who reacted with great fear at seeing a glimpse of the holy God. Amos 9 tells of judgement to come, as well as great deliverance for God’s people Israel in the final days after the great tribulation. Then (list 12) Revelation 7 tells of the vast number of peoples who will be saved in that last day, the 144,000 Israelites and the uncounted multitude from every nation, who come out of the great tribulation.

Spurgeon spoke of the great blessings that come from knowing God and how through that we grow in our faith:

“Every believer understands that to know God is the highest and best form of knowledge; and this spiritual knowledge is a source of strength to the Christian. It strengthens his faith. Believers are constantly referred to in the Bible as people who are enlightened and taught by the Lord; they are said to “have been anointed by the Holy One,”1 and it is the Spirit’s peculiar office to lead them into all truth, so that they might grow in their faith. Knowledge strengthens love as well as faith. … Knowledge also strengthens hope. … Knowledge supplies us with reason for patience.

Like Don Francisco, I can sing:

‘Cause like the rain from the sky on a thirsty land,
Your word brought life to a dying man.
From desert to garden,
condemnation to pardon,
and all of the praise goes to You!

and

With Your spirit inside and Your Word as my guide,
I’ve got a sense of direction so strong.

August 4, 2009

A Look at Some Free Bible Software

Filed under: Bible Software,Bible Study — Lynda O @ 11:37 am
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I recently discovered two great, free bible programs: e-Sword and TheWord. These programs have actually been around for awhile; I started hearing about e-Sword on some Christian message boards, and since have downloaded and tried them out.

Both programs have a basic program which includes KJV and basic functionality, and many optional modules to add additional Bible versions, commentaries, dictionaries and more. E-Sword appears to have more overall modules, including several available for a small fee in addition to the many free modules. TheWord does not have any maps yet, though I noticed it has a category for that in the download section; no doubt they will add map modules in the future. In both cases, the free modules are often public domain material, such as Spurgeon devotionals, Matthew Henry commentary and Scofield reference notes.

TheWord has an importer utility that can import and convert e-Sword modules. However, it only works with earlier versions of e-Sword. The current version of e-Sword, version 9 (just released this May), has its databases completely redone in new formats. Also, earlier versions of e-Sword apparently had the ability to show Bible text in paragraph format, in addition to the verse-line format. That feature was accidentally omitted from the current version, and when I inquired about it, they acknowledged this mistake and said it would be added back to the next version.

Paragraph format text, along with footnotes and the “headers” included in a translation, are important features to me, and for this TheWord is the winner. TheWord allows you to display the text in either verse-line or paragraph format. You can also adjust the settings to show the footnotes at the bottom of the chapter, or in-stream at the verse, or as numbers that show the footnote when you move your mouse over the number. TheWord also displays the text with many small blue-colored links throughout — cross-references based on similar words and/or ideas in some other part of the Bible. These also display in pop-up windows when I move my mouse over the link.

E-Sword has one great feature, but the lack of paragraph formatted text makes it of limited value. The “bible reading plan” option allows you to create one or more “reading plans.” You can define each reading plan to all of the Bible, or any specific books. The default option is one chapter a day, though you can change it to other time periods. Using this feature, I was able to set up 12 reading plans, one for each list I read in my modified Horner Bible Reading plan. When you select each list from the drop-down, it shows the full text for the first day’s chapter. A check-box at the top of the screen allows you to mark a reading as completed, so the next day when you access the list, it shows the correct chapter. (Obviously it helps to set up the reading plan when you actually start reading the chapters. In my case, I was in the middle of several of the lists, and it takes quite a bit of time to go through each day’s reading and “check it off” to get to where I’m actually reading.)

Given the format limitations of E-Sword, however, I found an even better way to quickly access my 12 daily readings in TheWord. I already have an Excel file “calendar” that lists all the chapter readings. A one-time save to CSV format, then loading the CSV file into Wordpad and removing the commas, gives a basic text file with each day’s readings, line by line. With TheWord running in another window, I just go into the wordpad file, and highlight and copy each scripture reference on the schedule — for instance, highlight “Isaiah 1” and copy to clipboard. TheWord displays a pop-up window in Wordpad (or whatever program you’re using to copy to the clipboard), with the full text displayed, and a link to “go” to the full view in TheWord. It only takes a few seconds to highlight, copy, then click “go” and I’m reading the full chapter, with my paragraph formatting, in TheWord. I also maximize the text window for easier reading.

TheWord also has a way to import text files (stored in rtf format), and create book entries from these. I tested it out with the transcripts from some S. Lewis Johnson messages, one message per file. Each file (transcript) is considered a chapter in the “book” and you can easily link to any of the chapters, or search for text anywhere in the book. Once the first few chapters of the book are setup, you can easily modify the chapter names, and add new chapters anywhere in the sequence. So if one had the time and desire, with TheWord you could add all of SLJ’s transcripts (or any other pastor or book series transcripts available online) as various books (each book having all the transcripts in a sermon series), to have all of the material easily accessible and searchable.

TheWord is available for free download at: http://www.theword.gr

July 16, 2009

Why Satan Must Be Released (Rev. 20:3)

I’ve just completed S. Lewis Johnson’s 37-part eschatology series, which cleared up and explained more questions I had concerning the tribulation and the Millennial kingdom.

One interesting item is the purpose of the Millennial Kingdom age (in SLJ’s message 35). Revelation 20:3 states that, after having been bound, Satan must be released for a short time. The Greek term for must indicates logical necessity; it is not that Satan will or shall be loosed, but that he must. In considering this text, S. Lewis Johnson points out that in each successive “age” or dispensation, God gives man some additional “help” to answer the human objection of what was lacking in the previous dispensation. Each successive age removes another human excuse, as again and again man still fails miserably even with extra assistance, showing his true wickedness and depravity.

In the “age of conscience” (from Adam to the flood), man lacked human government and its restraints: basic capital punishment. So the “age of human government” (Noahic era) answered that objection with new directives (Genesis 9). Then came the era of divine principles — the Abrahamic covenant, and the Mosaic covenant (the law) — and again man failed. Our present Church Age answers the previous system’s objection: our inability to keep the law. Now we have divine enablement with the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer. Yet even this is not appropriated by all (only by believers), and is not perfectly appropriated even by believers. Thus, as the scriptures tell us, this age will end in general apostasy.  As S. Lewis Johnson explains it:

Well, someone might say after this age is over, the reason that this age ended in general apostasy is that we had satanic opposition. Surely, we had divine enablement, but we had satanic opposition and Satan’s opposition is too much for us.

The next age, the Millennial kingdom, addresses the current-day objection of “the devil made me do it,” by the binding of Satan. So the Millennial kingdom gives man every possibility to succeed. Man has more than the divine enablement of the Church Age, he actually has Christ reigning on the throne in Jerusalem, with only resurrected saints and living believers entering the kingdom. It is a time of true peace, Israel in the land, worshipping, with Jesus reigning there; the Gentiles come to Jerusalem for the feasts (Zechariah 14, Isaiah 66), and the people have long life spans in the manner of the pre-flood age. Man also is free from demonic influence during this time. Yet the end of it proves even further that, left to himself, without Satan’s influence, man still rises up in rebellion against God. Every inducement to do good, and every human excuse for man’s failure, has been tried by the end of that age.

Thus we see the logical reason why Satan must be released. There is sin and death in the Millennial kingdom; it is not the final consummation of God’s plans. Satan’s “second coming” accomplishes two purposes: it demonstrates Satan’s utter incorrigibility, and it demonstrates human depravity.

Now, what then is God demonstrating through all of these ages? Well, he is demonstrating the sinfulness of the human heart. He is demonstrating original sin. He is demonstrating condemnation. He is demonstrating the fact that it is impossible for a man in the flesh to please God. So I think that probably is the explanation of that statement, And after that, he must be loosed for a little season. There is a logical necessity for God to demonstrate that even though Satan is not here, still man is sinful and rebels against the revelation of God.

 

July 15, 2009

Some insights from S. Lewis Johnson

Filed under: Bible Study,eschatology,S. Lewis Johnson — Lynda O @ 6:36 am
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I’ve really been enjoying listening to S. Lewis Johnson, to his messages from Genesis, as well as his 37-part eschatology series. Here are a few good thoughts to remember:

From the end of Genesis 3: Adam and Eve were naked and ashamed. The Lord clothed them with the animal skins. Then the Lord Jesus took that shame of nakedness on the cross — He was naked on the cross, taking on Himself that shame that Adam and Eve originally experienced.

From Genesis 4: Cain was the first seed of the serpent, and Abel the first righteous one to die. S. Lewis Johnson considers the issue of what Eve said when she gave birth to Cain, pointing out that some have constructed the Hebrew to say that she thought Cain was the promised seed. SLJ does not hold to that view (a view I first learned from John MacArthur), but does agree that Eve clearly expresses her understanding as a believer, that God was the one that gave her the child.

From both the Genesis and Eschatology series, I’ve learned about the significance of the creation and its curse — and the necessary reversal of the curse on the creation. In Genesis 3 the curse is pronounced on mankind, and in Christ that curse is reversed. So too the creation was cursed, and that curse will be reversed, at the renewal and restoration, when our Lord returns everything to the ideal condition of Genesis and the Garden of Eden, as described in Revelation 21 and 22. Paul in Romans 8 speaks of the creation itself groaning and in travail, waiting for the renewal.  As S. Lewis Johnson says:

the whole of this creation will be refashioned, and we shall have a glorious refashioned earth upon which the Lord Jesus will rule and reign in righteousness and in justice.

Jesus also speaks of this in Matthew 19:28 — that at the renewal of all things, the disciples will also sit on twelve thrones;  here again is a reference to the renewal of the creation as well. It is indeed very reasonable to see that, just as He redeemed our souls and will resurrect and give us physical bodies, so He will also redeem and restore creation to that “utopian” condition.

Amillennialists are so plagued by the Greek notion that anything physical cannot also be spiritual, that physical means sinful and carnal and material. Yet in this life we see it all the time, that the physical and spiritual co-exist. SLJ tells a great “parable” (from a true event) about a gathering of preachers at a banquet, enjoying fried chicken while discussing their views of the future kingdom.

If the kingdom of God can exist now on the earth in a 200-pound preacher full of fried chicken without any reprehensible materialistic connotation, perhaps it also can exist in eating and drinking under more perfect conditions in a future millennial kingdom.

To the amillennialist charge of “how ridiculous” a millennial kingdom would be, with resurrected saints walking around and interacting with non-glorified saints (those still living in their natural bodies), the most obvious answer is: well, Jesus Himself in His resurrected body interacted with non-glorified bodies, coming and going for 40 days.

I encourage everyone interested in good Bible exposition to read and/or listen to S. Lewis Johnson, a great resource for Bible teaching. Some of the audio files are of poor quality, from original tape recordings in the 1970s, but for the most part the audio is good. The SLJ Institute also has transcripts of all his messages.

June 30, 2009

Various Items of Interest

Filed under: Bible Study,doctrine,eschatology,J. C. Ryle — Lynda O @ 11:49 am

I recently learned of J.C. Ryle at this blog, another 19th century British preacher, contemporary with Spurgeon. His name and writings are less well-known today than Spurgeon, but many of his sermons are available online. My local church library also has several of his books, including his expositions of the gospels.

Here are links to some of his writings online:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs blog has a good post on “What Prayer Is and Isn’t”  (link:  ). See also his recent interview and great statements, including his explanation of “why I am a Christian, a Calvinist, and a Dispensationalist.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In my Bible reading plan, I’ve been reading through much of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Revelation. Today’s readings included Ezekiel 38 and Revelation 21. My overall understanding of these passages is so much clearer now as a premillennialist, but so many people fail to just read the Bible and what it actually says. Ezekiel 38 is so parallel to the descriptions in Revelation chapters 19 and 20. Consider the parallel between Ezekiel 38:19 and Revelation 18:18-19; or the references to “Gog and Magog” at the beginning of Ezekiel 38, also referenced in Revelation 20 — at the end of the millennial kingdom 1000 years. I’m still not sure which period Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to, and I’ve read commentators who relate it to the later period, but most relate it also to the events just prior to Christ’s return at the end of the tribulation.

In the spirit of Elijah (mocking the Baal worshippers on Mt. Carmel), I want to laugh (if it were not also sad, that such is preached and misleads people) again at the humanist, non-Biblical eschatological ideas from the local pastor. He declared his belief that the end of the world will probably come in about 50 years. But did he base this idea on any scripture, of seeing how what is foretold in the Bible relates to our world today? No. He cited, as proof, agreement with “the secular scientists” who are convinced that mankind cannot continue much longer, that man has so much power to destroy, especially with the atomic bomb which anyone can make. He predicts that humans will divide more and more apart from each other and destroy civilization, with terrible warfare that will destroy 100 million or more people.

Of course he said nothing about Israel, the fact of that nation’s existence; nor the current “Mediterranean Union” as a real possibility, or the indicators of one world government unification, or that the technology and political factors are coming together to set the stage for the Great Tribulation.  Based on human scientific ideas, he comes up with human ideas contrary to Biblical teaching — people dividing against each other, whereas the Bible says the opposite, unification. Most significantly, he dares to suggest that men are the ones to bring about a massive holocaust, where again the Bible makes it clear that God is the one who’s going to destroy this planet. He further fails to see that the U.S. will not be a major world power at that time — though perhaps this could happen within 50 years. But as Fred Zaspel notes in his article “The Nations of Ezekiel 38-39”  though we today cannot imagine any Middle-East conflict that does not involve the U.S., the text gives no indication of such involvement and thus we cannot impose other meanings (such as Russia for “Rosh”) on Ezekiel 38-39 in order to date it to our time. Nor does the local pastor recognize the biblical doctrine of rapture (at any time), much less the likely pre-trib rapture, which means that the next event for Christians to look for is not signs of the tribulation; the rapture is a sign-less event such that every generation of believers has lived in imminency, that Christ could return at any time.

My, how confused people get, even professing Christians and pastors, when they reject any part of the counsel of God, when they trade in God’s word for modern-day secular scientists. Again, at least he is consistent in where he places his real trust regarding both the beginning and the ending of our world.

But on the subject of world news and end times indicators (for the Great Tribulation), I am now considering that one important piece has not yet happened: a rebuilt Babylon which must then be destroyed again to completely fulfill the Old Testament prophecies (and agree with Revelation 17). It indeed looked like a near possibility some years back, while Saddam Hussein lived, but as Jim McClarty said in his series (2006) for the end times events to happen anytime soon, the “leading contender” would be a non-literal Babylon in the form of Roman Catholicism. Certainly Rome and the Roman church may very well have a part to play in that end times scenario, but many others make a strong case (including John MacArthur in his Revelation series) that Babylon must be rebuilt, to fulfill those OT prophecies.

Finally, I’ll close with this thought, from Fred Zaspel’s article (from 1985) mentioned above:

if the Lord were to return today it is difficult to imagine how Russia (or the U.S.A.!) could not be somehow involved in the end-time battles. But this does not mean that Christ’s return is very near, and it does not require that Russia be a part of the prophecy. That a nation is likely to be involved if events were to occur soon is not proof that the nation is specified in the original prophecy. Seventy years ago the possibility of Russia’s being an end-time power was almost unthinkable. Should the Lord tarry another seventy years the same may be true of Russia then; no one can say.

June 2, 2009

Bible Reading, Day 77

Filed under: Bible Study,Horner Bible Reading Plan — Lynda O @ 9:16 am
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I’ve now been doing a modified Horner Bible Reading Plan for over two months — Day 77 now. A few times I’ve done two readings per day, though mostly once a day. I’ve now completed four of the lists at least once, and about to complete a fifth list (List 3, finishing up Hebrews tomorrow). The actual day number becomes less important now, so long as I follow the bookmarks and sticky-notes to indicate which chapters are next. But except for the Psalm number I would long since have forgotten the day number; after 150 days of Psalms, I probably will forget the number, though my Excel calendar should help with that information–as to what I’m supposed to be reading each day.

Reading Exodus and Hebrews together (lists 2 and 3) has been a great blessing. One recent day, for example, after reading Exodus 24 (where Moses confirmed the covenant) in list 2, the very next chapter reading (Hebrews 9, list 3) contains a direct reference to that very event — Hebrews 9:19-21. Hebrews has so many references to the Mosaic system, and I can appreciate it more when I’ve been reading in Exodus at the same time.

Creation is a frequent theme in the various Bible readings, such as the day I read Exodus 20 (discussion of the 6 days of creation as a model for the Sabbath), Proverbs 8:23-29, and Acts 14:15. Or consider God’s Sovereignty in the readings of 1 Samuel 23:14 (“God did not give David into his [Saul’s] hands”) and 2 Chronicles 25:20 (“Amaziah, however, would not listen, for God so worked that he might hand them over to [Jehoash], because they sought the gods of Edom”) on day 72. Since I’m never far away (in terms of days) from reading of so many passages, I remember more references from recent readings. Acts 20:34-35 (day 76) reminded me of Paul’s similar thought in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 (day 73). From day 60, Proverbs 29:3 (“A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth”) brings to mind the reading of Luke 15 (the Parable of the Prodigal Son) from the previous day.

My ongoing study of Revelation (listening to a John MacArthur sermon series, currently in Revelation 14) complements my frequent readings of the Old Testament prophetic books. Yesterday I read Ezekiel 9 (on my second list of prophets — Ezekiel plus minor prophets), and Ezekiel 9:4 sticks out in reference to a similar passage in Revelation 7:3. In both cases, angels put a mark on the foreheads of God’s servants, to seal and protect them from disaster coming on the ungodly.

These are just a sampling from my daily Bible readings. As the apostle John said, the whole world could not contain the books that could be written (about Jesus Christ)– so I’ll end here. The Horner Bible Reading plan is a great way to read and familiarize yourself with the Bible.

May 13, 2009

More Bible Reading Observations

I’ve completed day 55 in the Horner Bible Reading plan, and continue to be amazed at all the cross-references and overall view of God’s word discovered through this reading plan. The cross-reference texts sometimes come a few days apart, but close enough together to remember. For instance, just five days after reading Luke 2 – a passage that ends by describing how Jesus grew in stature and favor with God and men — I read 1 Samuel 2 and an interesting, similar verse (1 Samuel 2:26) about young Samuel. Recently I read Zechariah 4, about the lampstand and two olive trees; the next day I read Revelation 11, which describes the two witnesses as being the two lampstands and two olive trees. I had learned about this parallel a few weeks ago, from a John MacArthur MP3, Revelation 11 sermon, but here I actually read the two passages, and only a day apart. This also goes to show that we need not hold rigidly to Horner’s actual ten list plan; I would not have even been reading Zechariah 4, but only the one prophecy passage of Isaiah, in the 10 list plan. Yet the overall concept still holds, of multiple genre readings that highlight the overall themes in God’s word.

A few more “gems” from recent reading:

  • 1 Samuel 5 shows some of the darker history concerning God’s covenant with Israel, when the ark is captured. The same day reading of 2 Chronicles 7 showcases the high point, the dedication of Solomon’s temple, in which was placed that same ark.
  • Review of Israel’s history is common: Judges 11 includes a reference to Moses’ time and the battles for land, and later conflict with the Ammonites. Acts 7 is Stephen’s speech to the Jews, a summary overview of a lot of their history. Now I’m reading Exodus, the beginning of the conflict with Pharoah; 1 Samuel 6 includes the Philistines talking about that past event, Pharoah hardened his heart, and then when God “treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?”
  • Frequent references to the surrounding nations and their gods: Judges 9:6 mentions the “gods of Aram” (Arameans); in 2 Kings 12, they’re still dealing with the Arameans and the king of Aram

I continue to make slight changes to my actual reading. After reading through just the minor prophets this time, for next time I’ll add Ezekiel to that list — to even out the lengths of the two lists. Soon I’ll implement a switch in List 12 (Acts) to alternate between Acts and Revelation. To even out the two epistle lists without Revelation, I will move Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians from list 3 to the beginning of list 4.

Like others who’ve come to enjoy this reading plan, I cannot go back to only reading three chapters a day — the typical required reading of the typical “Bible in a year” plans. I’ve recently heard about the “Bible in 90 Days” plan, from people who prefer reading the Bible sequentially for context, and found the reading schedule online. That schedule shows even more why I prefer my multi-list reading: the 90-day plan involves reading up to 16 chapters a day, all in the same place in the Bible. Often the reading starts and ends in the middle of a chapter, and just remembering where to start and stop would be difficult to remember — print-out list definitely required. The multi-list plan is easy enough to remember, with small post-it notes at the starting point for each reading. I just move the sticky note to the end of the chapter to mark the next day’s starting point. Whereas even on the 90 day plan you don’t read any of the New Testament for the first 60 days, here I’m always reading four selections out of the New Testament. Even better, this plan has no ending point; you start each list over individually, but the overall reading continues its flow.

I do my daily readings with my “smallest” Bible, an NIV hard-back Topical Study Bible. Soon — well, in the next two months — I plan to buy a basic ESV Bible (courtesy of E-Rewards “dollars” redeemable for $15 of Borders Rewards), and that should work even better, a smaller Bible to carry around. Plus it would be nice to have an ESV version, as I’ve heard good things about the ESV translation and have read a little of it online.

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