Friday, November 28, 2014

Revelation 3.5 and "Eternal Security" (Perseverance of the Saints)

“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3.5 ESV)
I was once asked how to justify my belief that I could not lose my salvation in light of Revelation 3.5.  I admit, I was not prepared for the question and looked at the verse trying to figure it out myself.  I knew it was not being applied correctly in my friend's question, but I did not know why.  The full context of Biblical teaching supports the security of a Christian's salvation.  However, this verse was troublesome for me.  I decided to research it and the result is my post. 

Taken alone, this verse does seem to imply that one can lose salvation. First I wish to deal with this verse and then to fit the security of salvation into Biblical context.

Revelation 3.5 discusses the one who conquers and says of him, “I will never blot his name out of the book of life.”  Some have said there are two different books mentioned in the Bible that are similar: the book of life and the LAMB’s book of life.   I do not find this to be a strong argument and will not pursue it.  Another view in keeping with the impossibility of losing salvation once received by grace through faith (Ephesians 2.8-10) is that this verse alludes to something that is a possibility, namely that a Christian's name can be blotted out if Jesus here says He will not blot a name out.

I believe there is clarity to be found when looking at this verse with cultural context mixed in.  The meaning becomes much clearer.

In verses four and five Jesus is talking about those in Sardis who are faithful to Him.  He is not talking about those who are unfaithful.  This is for a good reason.

According to Utley,
“I will not erase his name from the book of life” This is a strong DOUBLE NEGATIVE. When citizens died, their names would be erased from the rolls of their city but God will never erase believers from His rolls. 
This metaphorical phrase “the book of life” is also found in Rev. 20:12–15, where two books are mentioned: (1) the book of life which is made up of the names of God’s people (cf. Exod. 32:32; Ps. 69:28; Isa. 4:3; Dan. 12:1; Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Heb. 12:23; Rev 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27); and (2) the book of deeds or remembrances which records the deeds of both wicked and righteous (cf. Ps. 56:8, 139:16; Isa. 65:6; Mal. 3:16).(1)

Further, according to Wiersbe,
The promise in Revelation 3:5 (“clothed in white raiment”) would have been especially meaningful to people who lived in a city where woolen garments were manufactured. And the statement about the names being blotted out would also be significant to people in the Roman Empire, where citizenship was vitally important (see Acts 22:24–30). 
Is there a warning here that a true believer might lose his salvation? I don’t think so. It would appear that God’s “Book of Life” contains the names of all the living, the wicked as well as the righteous (Ps. 69:28). Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 suggest that the names of the saved are written in the book from the foundation of the world—that is, before they had done anything good or bad. By God’s grace, they have been chosen in Christ before the beginning of time (Eph. 1:4; see also Matt. 25:34). 
Jesus told His disciples to rejoice because their names were “written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). The Greek verb is in the perfect tense, which means it can be translated (as Kenneth Wuest does in his Expanded Translation), “your names have been written in heaven and are on permanent record up there.” It is not likely that Jesus would contradict Himself in this important matter! 
If the names of believers (the elect) are written from the foundation of the world, and if God knows all things, why would He enter the name of somebody who would one day fall and have to be removed from the book? We are enrolled in heaven because we have been born again (Heb. 12:23), and no matter how disobedient a child may be, he or she cannot be “unborn.” 
As unbelievers die, their names are removed from the book; thus, at the final judgment, the book contains only the names of believers (Rev. 20:12–15). It then becomes “the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Rev. 21:27), because only those saved by the Lord Jesus Christ have their names in it. All the others have been blotted out, something God would never do for any true child of God (see Ex. 32:32; Rom. 9:3). It is a book of life, and lost sinners are dead (Eph. 2:1).(2)

The book of life brought out in Revelation is found at the Judgment in chapter 20: And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20.12-15 ESV) (3)

The Lamb's Book of life is referred to in Revelation 21.27: "But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life."

Here the book is solely called the “book of life” and only the names of those who are alive in Christ are found in that book.  It was clear in the context of the day since the names of people who died in a city were blotted out of the rolls for their cities.  A Christian’s name cannot be blotted out because he has eternal, forever-lasting, life.  Since a Christian cannot die, his name remains in the book God put together beforehand.

Reading this in a modern culture loses some of the point being made.  This promises believers that they will not die, so their names will not be blotted out.  When the book of life is read their names will be found because they are spiritually alive. Only those found to be spiritually dead will be as those with their names blotted out of the rolls.

*Notice that Jesus already addressed the unfaithful preceding these verses.  He is now directing His statement toward those who are faithful.  This verse (Revelation 3.5) is an encouragement, not a warning.

For Biblical context to support the understanding that salvation is not so fragile that it can be lost, I will look to grace, the blood and promises of the guarantee of an inheritance.


I have heard it said that if grace seems fair it is not grace.  This is true.  In our minds if someone acts badly enough they do not deserve grace.  The genocidal mass-murdering rapist who repents does not deserve it and should not be given the opportunity to gain God’s forgiveness.  Hitler should not have been given the opportunity to be forgiven if he repented (there is no evidence that he ever repented and is surely currently paying the penalty for his horrific sin). 

Likewise, the pastor who was saved, served God, fell from the ministry in disgrace and now wallows in self-criticism, a broken family, a destroyed marriage and deep guilt does not deserve God’s grace.  However, this man is covered by grace if he was saved to begin with.  That is so unfair.  However, before you become smug in your Christianity, your salvation is unfair.  You caused a man to die.  It was your fault that Jesus was tortured, mocked, cursed and crucified.  You were guilty, not Him.  That was unfair.

Think of Tom Sawyer.  When Tom took a whipping from his teacher to protect Becky Thatcher, he was an illustration of what Christ did for us.  Though we were guilty, He took the punishment.  However, the punishment was far worse than what Tom Sawyer took for Becky.(4)  Jesus died in brutality because of the wrong we did.  He was not just punished or mocked; He was brutally murdered on the cross in the bloodthirsty fashion the Romans are known for.  When Jehovah’s Witnesses say He was nailed to a stake or a pole they are demonstrating their ignorance of history.

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5.20-21 ESV) (5)

Grace is made up of such a special and unfathomable quality that where sin becomes more prevalent, grace becomes more powerful.  Paul puts it into a negative statement in Romans 6.1-2: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (ESV)(6)  It is not that grace cannot abound, it is that grace should not be made to abound. In fact, Paul repeats this sentiment a few verses later: “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!(Romans 6.15 ESV)(7)  He asks and answers to make sure we get it.  Grace is powerful because it was purchased with the blood of Christ.  Grace is not a license to sin; it is the inoculation from the price of sin before God.  We may still sin and feel the consequences of that sin (like the hypothetical pastor I mentioned earlier), but the eternal cost has been paid.  We are saved and still sin, but it is already forgiven and paid for by the blood of Christ.  It is totally unfair.  It is grace.


“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2.13 ESV)(8)  The blood of Christ is what has reconciled the Christian with God.  We, who have chosen to be enemies of God by our own will are brought into a relationship with the God we have offended.  It cost Him His life- His blood- on the cross.  Hebrews 9.22 says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (ESV) (9)

To bring about forgiveness once and for all, animal sacrifices (which were practiced under the Law) were not sufficient.  It took the sacrifice of a perfect and spotless lamb to cover someone under the Law, but Jesus came as the perfect and spotless Lamb of God to be the final sacrifice God would ever recognize.  His sacrifice was far superior to any other sacrifice ever offered because He was God in the flesh.  It was more than His royal blood that paid the price; it was His Godhood that made this sacrifice all-sufficient. 

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12.10-11 ESV)(10)

The blood of the Lamb that gives Christians their testimonies and their ability to sacrifice their lives for the Gospel defeats Satan and his evil horde.  The key here is it is the blood of Christ that defeats Satan.  It is that powerful.

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1.19-20 ESV)(11)


In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1.11-14 ESV)(12)

In this verse we see we have a guarantee of an inheritance.  It is not something fleeting; the guarantee is the sealing with the Holy Spirit.  Having been saved, we were also sealed.  Being sealed we are given a guarantee.  What does a guarantee mean?  It means what was promised will happen.  It has been said that a guarantee is only as good as the one standing behind it.  I would submit that if God makes the guarantee (in writing no less!), it is a guarantee you can count on.

“As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” (2 Corinthians 1.18-20 ESV)(13)

His promises are always met with a yes and a fulfillment in Christ Jesus.  He does not fail to deliver. Never.

Again Paul writes, “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 5.5 ESV)(14)  “This very thing” that Paul mentions is the promise of God that we will pass from our current faulty bodies and into a “heavenly dwelling”, a new, uncorrupted body.  That is part of our inheritance through salvation.

“…but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:
       ‘The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
       “You are a priest forever.”’
22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.” (Hebrews 7.21-22 ESV)(15)
Again, Scripture shows that the Triune God has guaranteed our inheritance as part of the better covenant of God’s grace through the blood of Christ.  The maintenance of our salvation is in the hands of God, not in our feeble hands.

In closing, Jude shows that Jesus is our strength in our salvation in the first and last verses of his letter:
“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ…” (Jude 1 ESV)(16)

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24 ESV)(17)

When we see that it is all about Jesus and not about us we can begin to understand and appreciate how God’s grace is poured out upon us.  We can be secure in our salvation as we are secure in our God.

Pete Garbacki is a minister with Time for Truth Ministries and Mission.Brasil. Follow him on Twitter @pregador27 or FaceBook at



[1] Utley, R. J. (2001). Hope in Hard Times - The Final Curtain: Revelation (Vol. Volume 12, p. 43). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.
[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 577–578). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 20:12–15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[4] (see bottom half of the page)
[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 5:20–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 6:1–2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 6:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Eph 2:13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Heb 9:22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 12:10–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Col 1:19–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[12] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Eph 1:11–14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[13] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Co 1:18–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[14] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Co 5:5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[15] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Heb 7:21–22). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[16] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Jud 1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[17] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Jud 24–25). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Bible Tells Me So

There has to be a reason for the things we believe. We don't just pluck an idea out of the air and then proclaim it -- but if we do this, if we err thus, then we only have force of personality to spread the idea because we are obliged to do so without a sure foundation. The most persuasive among us may succeed. Some may gather a following. And some of the followers may repeat the findings of their progenitor, even though unbeknownst to them, they are standing in the swamp.

The remedy given to us by the Father is clear. A sure foundation is only to be found in the Word of God, the Bible. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" is an airtight absolute dogmatic for the Christian. There are no variations, or shades of meaning, no subtle nuances or culturally defined adjustments that may be permitted to disturb the rock solid nature of the foundation of Scripture.

It seems that reverence for the Word of God -- the Word He has delivered to the Church -- the Word Who was made flesh and dwelt among us -- has diminished because of the weight of antagonistic opinion. The Christian has been accused of obscurantism and as a result, instead of standing his ground and holding fast to the truth as he knows it, he has begun to look for ways in which his beliefs may be compromised, or at least ameliorated. Then he does not appear quite so old-fashioned and he may convince the atheist that he has a brain!

How sad this is. When the Christian community eagerly looks to its gifted teachers to faithfully break the bread of life to us, and feed us with the resources we need for spiritual strength and growth, and when we seek the enrichment of the Word of God to direct us into the world to be light and salt in our communities, as we have been commanded, we find those very teachers embroiled in speculative postulation regarding the Word of God they have been charged to proclaim.

It appears that some of our brothers, called to the ministry of the Word and Sacraments, would rather spend their time playing theological ping-pong with one another than addressing the flock of God committed to their charge. It's a hair-splitting game!  And yes, some of them will teach in seminary, inviting their students to question their foundations as they are doing. So we now face the prospect of a generation of new teacher-preachers being launched upon the Church who do not hold fast to the clear teaching of Scripture, and pepper their "ministry" with doubt and speculation as to what is true.

So, a question. Is it better to ride the uncertain bandwagon of speculation, debating the foundations on which the historic Church has been built, or to hold fast to those foundations which are rooted in the Word of God, trusting that therein lies the truth of God Himself, Who has never spoken in doubt or uncertainty and Whose Word is His bond?

And then I hear the children in the room next to mine: "... this I know, for the Bible tells me so"
and I take heart. For they hold the key to faith and trust, they have discovered the foundation on which to stand. We pray that they will continue to do so without distraction.

-Wilfred A. Bellamy, Ph.D.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Ten Best Books on Jonathan Edwards' Theology of Joy: Recommendations for Beginners and Scholars

I am now just about at the halfway point in my doctoral studies from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, and just a few days away from submitting my proposal to the faculty for my dissertation.

So far, my topic is narrowly focused on Jonathan Edwards' theology of joy. For anyone who has ever attempted to read Edwards, they find his writings just dripping with joy-related language: happiness, rejoicing in Christ, the joys of heaven, the mutual love within the persons of the Trinity.

Joy is everywhere! Rich language of light, the sun, fountains, rivers, and streams all emit Edwards' theology of Christian joy.

I've read deeply and broadly: books by Edwards and books about Edwards. I've read his treatises, sermons, and personal correspondences. I've read biographies about him and at least one biography from his own pen (David Brainerd).

Everything is so good, it's hard to pick. Nevertheless, I am going to attempt to recommend just one shelf full of JE books. Here then, are my top ten recommended works from or about the Northampton Revivalist (in no particular order).


1. Sermons of Jonathan Edwards. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson. 2005). If you are looking to find some of Edward's best sermons like "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," "A Divine and Supernatural Light," or "God Glorified in Man's Dependence" this is the place to begin.

2. Sermons by Jonathan Edwards on the Matthean Parables: True and False Christians (On the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins). (Kenneth P. Minkema, Adriaan C. Neele, and Bryan K. Kimnach, eds. Vol. I. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. 2012). What's neat about this volume, is that unlike the above, this one is filled with previously unpublished sermons that just came into the public eye in 2012.

3. Charity and Its Fruits. (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth. 2005. Orig. pub. 1852.) Another of his major sermon series, converted into a treatise, this one focuses on the "love chapter" of 1 Corinthians 13 and features the glorious sermon "Heaven is a World of Love."


4. The Religious Affections. (Mineola, NY: Dover. 2013. Orig. pub. 1746.). Likely Edwards' most well-known treatise, this book looks at the powerful inclinations of the heart (love, joy, fear etc.) and uses them to help determine which religious experiences are true and which are false. A major work tied to the Great Awakening revivals of the 1740's.

5. God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards. With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World. (Jonathan Edwards and John Piper. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998. Orig. pub. 1765.). In this book, beloved pastor John Piper walks readers through JE's easier-than-you-might-think treatise on God's motivation for creating the universe. Hint: joy!


6. Jonathan Edwards: A Life. (George Marsden. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2003). Here is a 500 plus page work that masterfully takes readers through JE's life and times. I cannot imagine doing serious study on Edwards without this volume. Another honorable mention in this category is Iain Murray's work of a similar structure.

Popular Introductions

7. A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards. (John Piper and Justin Taylor, eds. Wheaton: Crossway. 2004). Many crisply written essays on Edwards and his theology from men like Piper, Sam Storms, Mark Dever, and more.

8. Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians. (James P. Byrd. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. 2008). A great little introduction to Jonathan Edwards with cartoons sprinkled throughout to help readers "get it." Really! There are cartoons!

9. God’s Grand Design: The Theological Vision of Jonathan Edwards. (Sean Michael Lucas. Wheaton: Crossway. 2011). An excellent little introduction of about 200 pages to Edwards' life and major thought categories.

10. Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God. (Dane Orlund. Stephen J. Nichols and Justin Taylor, eds. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. 2014). A very helpful book that focuses primarily on Edwards' view of beauty but also considers: prayer, temptation, Scripture, gentleness and more.

-Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Problems with Full Preterism (or Hyper Preterism): Is the Bible a Book without a Final Chapter or Even a Back Cover?

Definition: Full preterism (or hyper-preterism) views the eschatological teaching of the NT to be completely fulfilled in the events of AD 70, at the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, even including the resurrection of the dead, and the return (Second Coming) of Christ. Full preterism is not to be confused with “partial preterism” which views some prophecies as already fulfilled in AD 70, while still nevertheless expecting a literal, personal return of Jesus Christ.

A. Theological Arguments against Full Preterism. 

1. It is neither historically orthodox, creedal, nor confessional. It is not expressed formally in any catholic creed or Reformed confession. In fact, it directly opposes them at many points (WCF 32, 33; Heid. 52, 57; Belg. 37). Thus, it is outside the pale of the vast unity and harmony of the Apostolic Christian Church (see the Apostles' Creed and Nicene Creed). It stands in contradistinction to the united and unanimous voice of all major Christian traditions and denominations which assert boldly that “He will come again to judge the quick and the dead.”

2.    It is not an historic belief system. Full preterism attempts to cover gaping holes in its suspect lineage by selectively quoting from such men as Jonathan Edwards and John Calvin, or patristic fathers, often in broken strains, in order to appear to have any semblance of historic lineage. Full preterist websites use these quotations liberally and profusely as though readers were not aware that these men’s eschatology is fully known and more clearly attested in many sources. See for example here. It does, however, share the inglorious distinction with the German Liberalism of the 1800's of denying any literal, personal return of Jesus. On the other hand,

3.    It is novel. Like its “cousin,” and theological opposite, dispensationalism, it is a curious novelty, untested by the ancient, historic, and orthodox generations spanning over 2,000 years. Theological novelties should be regarded as bearing an enormous burden of proof, as ancient boundary stones ought not be easily moved (cf. Prov. 22:28).

4.   Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an heretical cult, full preterism interprets the NT’s clear testimony that the Lord will return in an undeniable and visible way (cf. 1 Thess 4:15-16) instead as a mysterious event entirely unknown by the majority of the inhabitants of planet Earth at the time it was supposed to have happened. In this way, full preterists (along with the Jehovah's Witnesses) are the modern day alarmists of 2 Thessalonians 2:2, "saying that the day of the Lord has already come" (NIV). 

5.    Its strongest proponents and supporters are largely unknown men – obscurantists and fringe advocates – generally unfamiliar to most and lightly regarded in the circles of serious Reformed and evangelical theologians, pastors, and thinkers. By and large, full preterists are more closely associated with theonomy and other controversial teachings. 

6.    Full preterism is suburban, and therefore pastorally lame. Full preterism is mostly scholastic in its scope and approach; a position that could be more easily held by men resting comfortably in soft chairs in air-conditioned settings than the suffering. It would likely be viewed as absurd, untenable, opaque, and even shockingly bizarre by the millions of suffering and persecuted Christians throughout history, patiently waiting in hope of the Lord’s return to judge their persecutors and vindicate their suffering.

7.    It does not solve any problems associated with dispensationalism's hermeneutical system that amillennialism doesn’t adequately solve with equal – or even stronger – force.  

8.    It is not an eschatology of humility, in that it claims dogmatically to have the correct interpretation of all relevant prophecies.

B. Biblical Arguments against Full Preterism

1.    It dulls the force of the moral and ethical teaching of the NT associated with the parousia, since such ethical exhortations depend on the expectation of the Lord’s Return (1 Tim 6:13-16; Titus 2:12-13; Heb 10:25; James 5:7-9; 2 Peter 3:17).

2.    It must assume Revelation was written prior to 70 AD since the book ends with a plea for Christ’s return (22:20), a dating position held by few scholars. Most hold to a date in the 90's during the reign of Domitian. 

3.    In attempt to read just a few words and phrases literally (i.e. “soon,” “this generation”) full preterism must necessarily spiritualize, read figuratively - or even completely secularize - dozens and dozens of phrases and terms such as epiphania (“appearing,” Titus 2:12-13; 2 Thess 2:8; 1 Tim 6:14; Titus 2:13), “will appear” (Heb. 9:28; 1 John 3:2) “every eye” (Rev. 1:7), “in the same way” (Acts 1:11); parousia (a great arrival with much pomp, i.e. of a king; Matt 24:3, 37, 39; 1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thess 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:1-9; 2 Peter 3:4); and apocalypsis (unveiling; 1 Cor 1:7; 2 Thess 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7, 13, 4:13). In doing so, full preterism does great damage to the majority of eschatological texts.

4.    It reduces the force of texts that exhort us to wait patiently, long for the Lord's coming, and desire His return etc. (1 Cor 16:22; 1 Thess 4:18; Phil 3:20) making these texts irrelevant to nearly 2000 years of Bible readers.  

5.    It makes all language of “the resurrection of the dead” either spiritualized – or ironically – entirely secularized.

6.    It must necessarily assume the Great Commission has been fulfilled (Mark 13:10; Matt. 24:14) reducing our passion for missions and evangelism. (Note: It is not surprising, then, that full-preterism has NOT been held by many [if any] notable missionaries or evangelists throughout Church history).

7.    If true, the Bible offers no balm to relieve the suffering of those who look to the Return of Christ as their hope in a world of persecution and danger (2 Thess 1:6-7). The entire book of Revelation is rendered absurd.

8.    It provides no Biblical answer to the question “What is next?” or “How does history wrap up?” (See Gary Demar, End Times Madness, in which the author says nothing to explain what happens "next," but merely spends chapter after chapter refuting dispensationalism). Thus, the entirety of Scripture reads to full preterists as a book without a final chapter or even a back cover for that matter. 

-Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: Cambridge NASB and NKJV Hardcover Wide Margin Editions

Anytime a package marked "Cambridge" with a Bible in it shows up at your door, it's a good day.

When a package that contains two Cambridge Bibles shows up, it must be your birthday. Or Christmas. Or your birthday is Christmas.
Cambridge Wide Margin Hardcover Editions

Such was my fortune when two new Bibles arrived ready for review, namely the Cambridge NASB and Cambridge NKJV Wide Margin Editions in Hardcover (forest green and navy blue respectively).

Since I have written on the historical value of owning a Cambridge Bible over at my part-time blogging home - the trustworthy and helpful Bible Buying Guide page - I am going to jump right into the reviews of these two gorgeous wide margin editions after stating just one humble opinion: you really need to get a wide margin especially if you are a ministry leader, regular Bible teacher, pastor or elder. 

Even if you aren't in active ministry, but you just enjoy interacting on a deeply personal level with Scripture, these editions are a must. (My friend Randy Brown has an e-book on this topic that might be worth the mere six-pence he charges for it as an introduction to the study value of such editions).

Let's get straight to the facts:
NASB in Forest Green & NKJV in Navy Blue

  • Publisher: Cambridge
  • Printing: Netherlands
  • Translation: NASB and NKJV
  • Binding: Sewn
  • Cover: Green Hardcover (NASB) Blue Hardcover (NKJV)
  • Columns: Double
  • Text: Red Letter
  • Font: 7.9
  • References: Center Column
  • Study Notes: None
  • Size: 9.4 X 7.5 X 1.5
  • Yapp: N/A
  • Ribbons: One red (NASB); one blue (NKJV)
  • Gilt edges: N/A
  • Liner: card stock/paper
  • Head and tail bands: red and greed (NASB); blue and yellow (NKJV)
  • Features: Presentation page, wide margins on all four sides, concordance, index to personal notes (A-Z), 34 blank lined paper for personal notes and outlines, index to maps, color maps. 
  • Cost: $50 to $60 depending on retailer
These two Bibles come bound in some very handsome hardcover editions. Actually, some of the best hardcovers I have ever seen. They are classy and refined in appearance, like something that Professor Kirke would have pulled off his shelf in Lewis' Narnia classics. With their white page edges (no gilt on these editions) they have a very refined "educational" feel to them.
Cambridge Wide Margin Hardcover Editions

You may feel that you are actually studying at Cambridge while carrying one of these around town!

I was actually expecting their covers to be gray. I must have read that online somewhere and assumed they came in gray only. How delighted I was when I saw that they came in the colors they did! The NASB comes in a dark, rich forest green and the NKJV in a stately navy blue. In appearance and looks, these editions exceeded my expectations. One minor quibble: I would have left the translation trademark/graphic off the cover. The spine is good enough for those labels. The goatskin editions have Holy Bible only. I prefer that.

By all appearances, these gems look like they are built tough, for the long haul. These editions are built strong like tanks: beautiful, peaceful, erudite tanks. Of course, that's why Cambridge made them. Wide margin editions are designed for a lifetime of close interaction. Underlining. Jotting. Sketching. Outlining. If you buy a wide margin edition, you should prepare to use them consistently and for many years to come. Their value will increase the more you interact and engage with them. 

In sum: a hardback is the perfect edition for desk top reference and durable tote-bag mobility. Their sewn bindings mean they are gentle and compliant when open. No bear traps here.
Cambridge Wide Margins: The 38 GSM Paper is Luxurious

Let's pull back the covers on these treasures-of-the-shelf and snoop around inside. First, the paper is the best I've ever seen. Really. I love it. 

An opinion poll on a closed group Facebook "super-nerd Bible collector" page I belong to recently ranked Wide Margin editions by Cambridge as securely in the top tier of Bible papers currently in publication. So I'm not the only aficionado that thinks the paper here is top drawer. 

Honestly, I used to think that the undisputed title went to the Crossway ESV Legacy. But now these Cambridge Bibles have the championship belt on their waist instead. First, the Legacy has moved from it's 36 GSM paper down to a mere 27 GSM for it's new heirloom edition. A mistake in my opinion. So technically, the Legacy vacated its title. But secondly and more importantly for our purposes in this article, these wide margins from Cambridge have an incredibly rich and luxurious 38 GSM paper, the smoothest and thickest I have enjoyed in a Bible in recent months.

For reference, GSM stands for grams per square meter. It measures the thickness of the paper, but not always in perfect correspondence to its opacity. So it's one factor, but not the exclusive factor in evaluating Bible paper. If you have an ESV Study Bible, a very popular model, it has 30 GSM paper which I personally hold as the threshold of excellence. But 38 in these editions is just plain extravagant! Well done Cambridge. 

Let's get one thing straight: Bibles have Bible paper, it's always thin. Nobody wants to carry around a cinder block. Noobies and Rookie reviewers seem to always complain about thin paper, but I doubt even the neophyte would have much to lament in these editions. The just-off-white paper was designed for writing and note-taking and so ghosting and bleed through are minimal in these editions. The paper feels durable and holds up well to finger and palm sweat (I preach with an ESV Cambridge Wide Margin in black goatskin, so I've gotten hand moisture on it and it is none the worse for wear).

A Digression on Note-Taking
I have to add one qualifier. Bleed through is minimal if you use the right writing instruments. Any paper is going to bleed through if you use the wrong stick or the wrong color. Personally, I like the Pigma Micron pens, which are now pretty much recognized as the creme de la creme of writing instruments on the various Bible review blogs. But let me add one thing more: get the brown instead of the black. Its show-through is even less notable. I recommend a nib (tip width) of 01. I think 005 is too thin and 03 is too fat. 

...Back to the Wide Margin...

The wide margin editions are so called because they have reserve approximately an inch or more around the text in all four directions for writing. Actually the outer edge has even more (1.5"), the inner margin just about an inch. Both top (0.75) and bottom (1.25) also contain room for writing and notes.
34 pages of lined, clean paper are included for outlines etc.

I recommend textual and theological notes in the side margins and using the bottom margin for sermon illustrations which you can index in the back pages provided. As an example of how you may use these margins, I created my own reference system using symbols and numbers next to the text. (For instance, a star or hashtag indicates an illustration note below). Then I write a corresponding sermon illustration or life application in the margin below.

For instance in Romans 3:10-18, I might add a star next to the text, and then write "Golding's book Lord of the Flies" to remind me that this particular book serves as a good illustration for human depravity and sin. In the back of the Bible, I might use the A-Z index Cambridge added as a special feature and write "Sin: Golding's Lord of the Flies" in case I want to remember that illustration for future preaching or teaching.
A Cambridge Wide Margin put to use. This one is goatskin.

Font and Layout
The font on these Cambridge editions is just about 8 point. That is fairly average for Bible text and layout, although on the smaller side of average. I recently did a chart comparing Crossway's ESV editions and found that 8 point is near the bottom middle of their standard formats. Smaller fonts (6-7) are usually used in hand-sized Bibles and should be purchased with caution. Many cannot use them with aging or far-sighted eyes. Larger fonts (10-12) can be considered large print, but often have the drawback of being bigger and bulkier text blocks.

Either 8 or 9 point font is about standard for double column editions. I will admit that the line-spacing is pretty close with these Cambridge editions, so choose wisely. My eyes have no problem with that though. Cambridge's near perfect line-matching on both sides of the paper makes ghosting a non-issue with this thicker paper too. 

Just for the sake of information, the Cambridge Wide Margins are laid out exactly as their corresponding Pitt Minion "little brother" hand-sized series. So Isaiah 53 in the NASB Wide Margin is laid out exactly in the same place and page on both editions, with the difference being font size and margin space. I love this tag-team effect for my Cambridge ESV Pitt Minion and Cambridge ESV Wide Margin duo which are part of my preaching/teaching starting lineup.

Concluding Thoughts on the Hardcover Editions
In summary, these are once again can't-miss editions put forth by Cambridge. The hardcovers are going to last a lifetime and the sewn bindings make them lay flat immediately, so no annoying problem with the Bible trying to snap shut like a Venus flytrap. Although the font is safely on the middle ground of print sizes, it does look slightly smaller with lesser line spacing than other double columns on the market. I personally use one easily enough for preaching and teaching, but my eyes are quite sharp up close and my pulpit is well lit. The center column references are excellent and useful.
Cambridge Hardcovers and Goatskin (top) 

Cambridge has once again outdone themselves with these editions, and they rank as some of the most affordable Cambridge Bibles on the market.

-Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a Bible lover and owner of many versions, editions, and translations, and a doctoral student at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando currently writing his dissertation on Jonathan Edwards' theology of joy.