I received a most interesting question about Bible study tools that I thought should be brought to the attention of everyone.
Here is the question:
Hello, Jerry. The main question I have had on the NET Bible is, does it work well with the crgb (Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible)? I think I am making a wise investment in it, don’t you? thank you
The simple answer would be “Yes.” And “Yes.”
But I went into far more detail. I trust in this instance at least, it is not true that “The Devil is in the details”!
Before I share my answer (a bit expanded here), I must say that the NET Bible is allowed on Robinson Crusoe’s Desert Island since it is an unbiased Bible study resource, not intentionally slanted to favor any particular denomination.
For new readers, let me explain that I use the metaphor of Robinson Crusoe’s Island to reflect the important truth that to learn what the Bible teaches, you must read the Bible for yourself apart from denominational influences. Or cult literature influences. Or Calvinistic influences. On Robinson Crusoe’s Desert Island one can read in isolation at length from a plain text Bible to learn what the Bible really has to say.
I also speak of the “Robinson Crusoe Desert Island Test,” and by this test I mean could a reader of a plain text Bible arrive at the system of doctrine someone else is advocating? If not, the doctrine is suspect, and may not actually be the teaching of the Bible (though upon deeper Bible study it might be found to be true).
As an aside, I find it strikingly interesting that Google searches for a test on the novel by Daniel Defoe, The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe are reflected in many visits to this site. Now if someone really needs an actual comprehension test on that novel, as a retired English teacher I may just have such a test in my files. If not, I surely know how to produce one, though just now my time is occupied in expanding the cross references available for Real Bible Study, and as of today, I am only as far as Ezekiel chapter 36.
Now to what I wrote to answer the writer’s question:
In my limited experience using the CRGB [Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible] with the NET Bible, I have found the Cross Reference Guide works even better with the NET Bible than it does with the KJV [King James Version, to which the Cross Reference Guide is actually keyed]. If you can afford the investment, get both editions of the NET Bible, the one with 60,000+ notes and the larger print “reader’s edition” with far fewer notes. I bought both and am glad I did. I would not want to be without the edition with the full notes, for they are very helpful. They do not contain any devotional fluff, far as I’ve noticed.
Dr. Malcolm Lavender’s forthcoming (2012) translation of the New Testament will be of great help for more accurate Bible study and understanding for it more accurately represents distinctions in Greek grammar and syntax not conveyed in our present English translations, and is not hampered by prior commitment to the false system of doctrine called “Calvinism.” The translators of the NET Bible, especially the leading Greek scholar [Dr. Daniel Wallace, if I recall correctly] who headed the project, appear totally committed to the Calvinist position.
Remember that I have told you I was raised in a semi-Calvinist background at Highland Park Baptist Church in Detroit. I once might have thought myself to be a four-point Calvinist (having never accepted the doctrine of limited atonement), though when I was a new Christian I did not dwell on such things at all. The Sunday School superintendent of the Junior Department where I first taught Sunday School there once asked me what I believed about such matters, and I innocently told him I had never come across such things in my reading of the Bible so I did not know anything about them.
Now I know better. ALL five points of Calvinism are utter and full-blown HERESY, and are NOT the teaching of the Bible at all.
Because the doctrines of Calvinism are heresy, I have called them “doctrines of demons.” Paul warned Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1 that in later times men would depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. Is there anything in the immediate context which justifies applying this stricture to Calvinism? I believe there is. Paul states in 1 Timothy 4:10 that “we trust in the living God, who is the savior of all men, especially of those that believe.” Such a statement is incompatible with the doctrine of limited atonement, and conflicts with other aspects of Calvinism. Calvinism is a heresy. We in the Christian faith do not hesitate to condemn Arians and their modern counterparts as teaching heresy when they deny the full deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such false doctrine is the mark of a false cult. Until now most of us have hesitated to declare Calvinism to be what it is: a system of mistaken doctrines that are contrary to Scripture rightly interpreted and understood. I furnish the Biblical evidence for this charge of heresy in my exposition below. All false doctrines can ultimately be traced, when systematically spread by man-made religious systems, to Satan, and are called by Paul “doctrines of demons.”
(1) Total Depravity, more honestly called Total Inability, is a very mistaken false doctrine. The middle voice and the imperative mood of Greek grammar will not allow for such nonsense. God holds each of us accountable to obey his commands. By using the imperative mode God addresses our intellect and our will. God is not commanding something that it is impossible for us to do, neither is His command something to which we cannot respond. God’s command to us today is to repent and believe the Gospel. God’s command to us is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23). It is up to us to do the believing; God does not do that for us. That is something we must do in order to be saved, and it involves an act of our free will. There is no such thing in the Bible as total bondage of the will. We have a choice to make, and if we don’t make a choice, we have chosen not to believe (John 3:18).
Total Depravity seems on the surface to be a Biblical doctrine, for surely “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But Calvinists go further than this: they claim man is so fallen that he cannot respond to the Gospel and choose to believe on our Lord Jesus Christ when presented with or upon reading the truth in the New Testament.
1Jn 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
(2) Unconditional Election. No such thing is taught in the Bible. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). This doctrine of Calvinism is one of the doctrines of demons Paul writes about (1 Timothy 4:1). There is no such thing as a general call and an effectual call of the Holy Spirit. Such a distinction is an invention of theologians, necessitated by their mistaken theology. Such a belief comes close to or actually is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit of God, for it makes Him deceitful, because it teaches the Holy Spirit calls everyone generally, but that no one can respond to this call. The effectual call of the Holy Spirit is made only to the Elect, and only they can and unfailingly will respond to that call. The general call cannot be responded to (which makes the Holy Spirit a liar for issuing a call He must know cannot be responded to), even if an individual wants to respond to it, because they are not among the select few who are the preordained elect. They are destined to hell forever and can do nothing to change that destiny. Such is not the teaching of the Bible, which declares that “whosoever will may come” (Revelation 22:17), and that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) which includes everyone. No Calvinist can honestly accept the teaching of John 3:16, for they must go elsewhere in Scripture outside that text and its immediate context to re-interpret “world” to mean “the world of the elect.” No Calvinist has ever exegeted John 3:16 according to all the grammatical features present in the Greek text of that verse! No Calvinist has ever produced a verse or verses from Scripture to prove the Holy Spirit issues a general call to which no one can actually respond: this is an invention of Calvinism, not the teaching of the Bible.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
“Doctrines of devils” is better translated “doctrines of demons,” as in the ASV (American Standard Version), for there is actually only one Devil, but he has many demons.
Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Under this head (unconditional election) Calvinists include their false doctrine of Predestination. They teach that there are an elect few who are predestined to be saved, chosen by God before the foundation of the world on the basis of absolutely nothing that they may or may not do, while all others are predestined to eternity in hell, regardless of what they may or may not do to secure a better destiny by believing the message of the Bible.
But in Scripture predestination is never used with reference to our eternal destiny of heaven or hell, but is used to declare that God has predestined us who believe on Christ to become like Christ in our character (Romans 8:29), to whose character the Holy Spirit works in our lives to conform us to (Galatians 5:16, 18, 22, 23): we are predestined to become like Christ, to be made in his image, to be transformed by regenerative change to his likeness (Titus 3:5. 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Rom_8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Note most carefully that the fruit of the Spirit is not said to be the result of keeping the Law of God, or keeping the Ten Commandments or even the Seventh-day Sabbath (the only Sabbath known to Scripture), but it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit producing these qualities of Christian character as the Holy Spirit directs and leads our lives as we trust in Christ and feed ourselves spiritually from the written Word of God by means engaging in the Real Bible Study emphasized here (Romans 8:9-16. 2 Peter 3:18).
Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Rom 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Rom 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Rom 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Again the doctrine of Calvinism is NOT the doctrine of Scripture, but the doctrine of demons. Calvinistic doctrine denies the very purpose of the death of Christ and the power of the blood of Christ to remove sin in this life. Consequently, Calvinists deny the doctrine of holiness, and teach Christians will not be made holy until after they die and get to heaven. But in the Greek text of the New Testament, although there is a form of the Greek verb “to make holy” available which conveys or marks the future tense, the verb “to make holy” or “to be holy” NEVER appears in the future tense in the New Testament. That means if we are ever to be holy, we must be and become holy in this life. That this is a most important salvation issue is directly stated in the New Testament at Hebrews 12:14,
Heb 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
(3) Limited Atonement is contrary to the repeated and explicit statements in the Bible, “and that He died for all….” (2 Corinthians 5:15). One familiar with the Bible would hardly need to be given an argument that goes any further than that to demonstrate the Satanic error and inspiration of this false doctrine of demons.
2Co 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Calvinists not only limit the extent of the Atonement of Christ in their claim it is only for the Elect, but they also limit the effect of the Atonement by declaring it accomplishes no more than the blood of the Levitical sacrifices of the Old Testament, since just like the Levitical sacrifices, the Atonement of Christ does no more for us to remove sin from the believer in this life than did the blood of the Levitical animals shed in the Old Testament.
This is the result of their false doctrine of the Atonement, the Penal Satisfaction Theory, which teaches what the Bible never asserts, that Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin, that Christ was punished on the Cross for our sins. That may well be what Augustine and Anselm taught about the Atonement of Christ, that may well be what some of my favorite hymns declare, but it is not what the Bible teaches. The Calvinists teach the blood of Christ does not now remove our sins in this life; rather, they teach the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, a legal fiction not taught in Scripture (Hebrews 10:4, 11).
The Bible rather teaches the Priestly-Sacrificial Atonement, where Jesus is both the priest who bore our sin and the sacrifice for our sin. See 1 John 2:2.
Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Heb 10:11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
Heb 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Heb 10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Heb 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
1Jn 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
The concept of “propitiation” is foreign to the Bible, and is a very bad translation. God does not need to be propitiated; that is a pagan and heathen concept. The NET Bible among other translations more properly reads:
1Jn 2:2 and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.
(4) Irresistible Grace. This teaching asserts that the elect will unfailingly respond to the effectual call of the Holy Spirit. Included in this false doctrine is the fallacy that we are saved before we can believe. This absolutely is the teaching of Calvinism, which shows they have things exactly backwards, as the devil who is a liar from the beginning always does (John 8:44). Steven in his sermon in Acts chapter seven clearly spoke to the Jewish leaders and said of them, “Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51). It is possible to resist the Holy Spirit, and it is our responsibility to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to believe the Gospel. There is no Scripture, properly interpreted according to the 23 Rules of Interpretation I have placed in the October 2010 archives here, that teaches any such thing as the doctrine of Irresistible Grace.
God holds us responsible to respond to the teaching in His Word in the Bible by an act of our will, by our conscious choice (absolutely proven in Greek grammar by the middle voice which shows we have an active part and responsibility to obey, and the use of the subjunctive mood which states a contingency which we must meet to be truly saved, two aspects of Greek grammar that Calvinists tend to suppress, deny, and in this connection seem to have very little to say about).
Joh 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Act 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
(5) Perseverance of the saints. This is the final doctrine of demons marked by the acronym “TULIP,” a set of five doctrines falsely called “The Doctrines of Grace.”
No reader of a plain text Bible on Robinson Crusoe’s Desert Island with all the time alone in the world to fully devote to studying, like the Robinson Crusoe in the literary classic The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe had, even if possessed of the “three good Bibles” Robinson salvaged from the chests of the shipwrecked sailors, could ever come up with these doctrines.
The Calvinist doctrine of the perseverance of the saints asserts that true saints, those who are really included in the number of the elect, will unfailingly persevere in faith and be finally saved. Those who depart from the faith, who fall away, were never included among the elect of God.
Many Calvinists not well taught in their doctrine have misunderstood this teaching of Calvinism themselves. Calvinists of the Reformed Faith properly do not believe or teach eternal security or “Once Saved, Always Saved,” for such teachings are both contrary to Scripture and Calvinism, and cannot properly be equated with the “Perseverance of the Saints.”
Other more watered-down Calvinists have morphed the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints into another false doctrine of unconditional eternal security, commonly referred to as “Once Saved, Always Saved.”
The doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved,” is a false doctrine that is totally contrary to Scripture. It is plainly contrary to Scripture because it denies another doctrine clearly taught in all of Scripture, the doctrine of the possibility and danger of apostasy (2 Peter 3:17). When you must deny one doctrine of the Bible to hold to another doctrine of the Bible, you are contradicting the Bible.
The “Once saved, always saved” doctrine is plainly contrary to Scripture because it conflicts with the facet of the Greek verb called “aspect.” The Greek verb in the present tense includes the idea of continuing action. In John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him…” indicates by “believeth” that continuing faith, not a one time act of faith, is being spoken of in this and in all New Testament promises of eternal life premised upon our believing in Christ.
Many Bible readers who unwittingly have accepted the teachings of Calvinism have fallen into the mistake of supposing that any person who falls away from the faith never had the true faith to begin with. They base that upon a misinterpretation of 1 John 2:19.
The truth of the matter in the Greek New Testament is quite plain. There are separate Greek words for our one English word “know.” One of the words pretty much means what the English word “know” does. Another Greek word is that same word augmented by a prepositional prefix which means to possess full and accurate knowledge. A third and altogether different word in Greek is used to represent intuitive knowledge that cannot be improved upon by learning more, whereas both of the other words allow for more learning.
Jesus told the Jews that they did not know God; he used the ordinary word for “know” (G1097). But in almost the same breath Jesus told them that he did know God, and Jesus used the third word for “know”(G1492) which indicated he had full and intuitive knowledge of God, whereas the Jews did not even know what they could have learned of God as through the study of the Scripture (John 8:55).
The false teachers mentioned in 2 Peter 2:20 had the kind of knowledge the second Greek word I’m referring to specifies, the augmented word (G1922), which plainly indicates they had full and accurate knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is an error to suppose that these teachers were not saved, or to suggest they had a “head knowledge” but not a “heart knowledge.” The use of the Greek words as employed by Peter forbids such interpretations; if that were what Peter meant, he would have used the word for “know” in its plain form rather than augmented form. I have marked these things out in the notes in my book, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. I first learned of these distinctions as a new Christian when I bought and used Darby’s New Translation, for he explains these nicely at several points in the footnotes to his translation (see note “l” at 1 Corinthians 8:1, for example), though he does not use this information to make the points I have made.
2Pe 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
Note that this warning is addressed by Peter to believers, addressed as “beloved.” The warning is to beware, lest believers be led away with the error of the wicked. This means to succumb to the false teachings of the wicked. Note Peter warns that it is possible to “fall from your own stedfastness.” Clearly, stedfastness is not possessed by unbelievers, but by believers!
1Jn 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
Joh 8:55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
The New Testament teaches that it is possible to be guilty of doctrinal apostasy and it is possible to be guilty of moral apostasy. An example of doctrinal apostasy would be those who teach “another Gospel, which is not another” as declared by Paul in Galatians 1:6-9. Anyone who would believe and teach “another gospel” is guilty of apostasy and is not saved, or no longer saved (Galatians 5:4). The parameters of moral apostasy are quite fully stated in 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 and similar passages. Anyone who practices the sins named by Paul in this list “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Gal 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Gal 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
1Co 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals,
1Co 6:10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1Co 6:11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NET Bible)
Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
The chief proof text used to support the false doctrine of Eternal Security or “Once Saved, Always Saved” is John 10:28.
Joh 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
The key question to address when considering John 10:28 is who are the “them” and the “they”?
Careful readers of the Bible know to always consult the context of any supposed proof text for a doctrine. In this case, John 10:27 carefully defines just who benefit from and qualify for the promise given in John 10:28.
Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Only those who continue to hear and continue to follow the voice of Christ as now strictly contained exclusively in the New Testament can be considered to qualify as His sheep. The notion that we must continue is reinforced in the Greek text by the use of the present tense. This condition is directly stated in Colossians 1:23,
Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Notice the “If” that introduces Colossians 1:23. The presence of “if clauses” is another grammatical reason based upon the Greek text of the New Testament which fully proves that the doctrine of eternal security or “once saved, always saved” cannot possibly be the teaching of Scripture.
The proper statement of the assurance and security of the believer is to declare that the Bible teaches the absolute eternal security of the believer, not the unbeliever. That short statement does fully match what the Bible actually teaches.
I have written these comments regarding the fallacies of Calvinism in brief form “off the top of my head.” I do not mean to offend Calvinists, but I do mean as a “watchman on the wall” to shock them into Biblical reality. This information could readily be expanded into a book of several hundred pages if I were to supply all the relevant texts of Scripture, further supporting arguments, and direct reference to the points of grammar and explanations of the grammar so that readers of English Bibles with no knowledge of Greek and Greek grammar could understand. So if you think I’ve left an important point unaddressed or unanswered in this major controversy, don’t kid yourself into thinking I could not address and answer it, or that I have not already considered it in my studies! But feel free to raise any questions about these issues you may have.
I hope you will carefully consider what I have written. These are crucially important issues about which we must be right in our understanding. I have tried to present this information in a form you can easily understand. Let me know if I missed doing that.
I should hardly need to add that I am well aware that there are many who believe in Calvinism who are fine Christians. Thankfully there is no word in the Bible that we all face a Final Test in Systematic Theology in order to be saved! Many unwittingly believe in Calvinism because that is what they have been taught, have heard on Christian radio, have sung in their hymns. This very false doctrine is almost inescapable. But some live and believe above the level of the doctrine they have wrongly been taught by others and no doubt are truly saved. Others, however, may be most guilty of suppressing the truth of God’s Word and of knowingly promoting “another Gospel,” and such individuals may not actually be saved, only God knows. Many Calvinists have contributed valuable commentaries and other works and reference volumes for Bible study. I do not wish to be thought to be attacking any of them personally. Contemporary Bible teachers like Dr. John MacArthur and Dr. R. C. Sproul are fine teachers of the Bible, except when they venture to promote the mistaken agenda of their Calvinistic presuppositions. Some advocates of Calvinism are quick to pin labels on non-Calvinists and anti-Calvinists like “Pelagian” or “Semi-Pelagian” and “Arminian.” At least Arminianism is one of the few “isms” that is largely in line with the teaching of Scripture, more so than Calvinism. But pinning labels does not lead to the proper exposition and understanding of Scripture.
Anyone who has an alternate view is free to post a question or comment here in their own words, and I will be pleased to address and further discuss such comments or questions from the Scripture, properly interpreted.