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Andy and Melissa Beshore
Andy and Melissa Beshore
Friday, July 18, 2008
How do I find a Bible I can trust?
The first Bible I had was an NIV. I was coming to Christianity with the typical modern American Arminian viewpoint. At the time, I thought that was good because the language was easy to understand. It had study notes that I assumed were reliable. If memory serves me I read both Testaments in their entirety in the NIV. I had no way of knowing what stances they took were reliable and which were not.
After we got married, our views changed. We realized that the modern approach that catered to the NIV had little reference to our sinful nature that the Reformed faith, which is more based on many, many years of Christian history stresses. As we put ourselves in front of more resources that we agreed with, we noticed that the modern approach was more off base.
We have the NKJV but, it comes in the NASB as well.
Although I do not entirely remember how we first heard about the MacArthur Study Bible, we went to a local Christian bookstore and thumbed through it. It seemed good to us, so we each ordered one online. John MacArthur comes from the same Reformed viewpoint as countless champions of the faith. If you wonder, "Why Reformed?", I could not adequately explain it clearly enough. I would recommend "Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism" to adequately explain why this faith is the lone true faith. Am I saying, that unless you are "Reformed" you are not truly Christian? Isn't that narrow minded? Matthew 7:13-14 explains why it is good to be "narrow minded" when it comes to the faith that is valid. I am sure at this point there are some objectors. We have watched the first two hours of the aforementioned DVD, which could far better explain why we think this way than I could do at this point.
MacArthur has almost a verse by verse commentary throughout. He has a thorough set of notes for the entire New Testament. He bears full responsibility for the accuracy of the notes even though He did have help compiling them. He has expositionally preached through nearly the entire New Testament, so he has personal notes that he had prepared for those sermons that he included in this study Bible. He had help from Master's Seminary and people at Grace To You. He had numerous people scower all the notes for accuracy and Scriptural references. He had several others proofread for him. MacArthur had handwritten notes that his team deciphered. So, you can see that all these notes were in front of numerous people other than MacArthur himself, so nobody can say that we are taking only one fallible man's opinion on this.
This masterpiece took about two years to put together. MacArthur devoted himself fully during those two years. He says he never had learned so much as he had during the time this Bible was being put together. He says for many months he spent eight or more hours a day studying not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He says its riches held him captive.
Following how it was put together, MacArthur explains how the Bible came about. I will leave that out, as when you obtain your own copy, you can read this for yourself.
Next, MacArthur outlines a good way to study the Bible. We must realize that the Bible contains God's mind and will for our lives (2 Tim 3:16-17). It is infallibly complete (Psalm 19:7; Revelation 22:18-19). It is without error (Proverbs 30:5-6). It is authoritative and final (Psalm 119:89). It is sufficient in and of itself (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What it says will happen (Isaiah 55:11). It will give us Biblical assurance of our salvation - if it is genuine, of course (John 8:47, John 20:31).
We must realize that God's word is our source of truth (John 17:17). This is why we should go to it for everything in this life. We will be blessed, not by the world's definition, but God's definition , when we obey it (Luke 11:28).
The Bible provides the way to give us victory in times of temptation and sin (Ephesians 6:17). It contains power for Christians(Romans 1:16). It guides us throughout our daily lives (Psalm 119:105).
How should we respond to the Bible? We should believe it (John 6:68-69), honor it (Job 23:12), love it (Psalm 119:97), and obey it (1 John 2:5), guard it (1 Timothy 6:20), fight for it (Jude 3), preach it (2 Timothy 4:2), and study it (Ezra 7:10).
We have to be qualified to study it. How are we qualified? First, we have to be saved (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). If we are not saved, Satan has blinded us to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). Next we have to be hungry for the Word (1 Peter 2:2), dilligent (Acts 17:11), seeking a holy lifestyle (1 Peter 1:14-16), and Spirit-filled (Ephesians 5:18).
MacArthur gives a really good reading plan. The Old Testament has a different plan. We should read through the entire New Testament annually. We should take note of anything we do not immediately grasp. We might find answers to issues like these as we continue to read. Other commentaries and resources might be helpful.
MacArthur's New Testament reading plan is time consuming. Following this plan, the New Testament would take almost three years to get through. However, is your goal speed, or proper understanding? Divide long NT books, like the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation into chunks. I did Matthew in four seven chapter chunks. I know it better now than at any point before. Read each chunk daily for thirty days. Read short books, like 1 John, in one setting.
We can use cross references to assist us in proper interpretation as well as indexes and study guides. We can use other Godly men we trust to assist us.
We should not make the Bible say what we want it to. We should rely on history and people we trust. Ask yourself, "What did God originally intend in light of it's context?" Interpret Scripture in light of it's intended normal, literal, historical, and grammatical sense. We should take into account the original language. We should realize that the Old Testament was translated in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek, so having a resource that translates these languages is helpful, such as the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. MacArthur frequently cites Greek in the New Testament. We should be aware of grammatical structure of sentences so we know to whom or what passages refer. Scriptures compliment each other. It does not contradict. We should bear this in mind as well.
If the great men of the faith from throughout history support the view that you hold on something, chances are your view is accurate. If historical interpretation differs greatly than yours, chances are, you should abandon your unique interpretation. What we learn from Scripture should penetrate our souls and change the way we live, otherwise the Bible serves no benefit to us.
He goes on, but I would recommend you get the Bible for yourself and check it out. You probably can find this online at his organization's website, gty.org or get a cheaper version if you shop around on the internet. I hope this has been helpful. The MacArthur Bible has been tremendously helpful to us in the year or less that we have had it.