New Technology, Wandering Minds And Bible Reading Plans

Pastor John Samson

I can well remember hearing a preacher in the course of his sermon asking a series of questions. His first question was “how many of you believe the Bible is the word of God?”

It was a Christian audience and so all raised their hands. Then he asked, “how many of you have read it?”

Many raised their hands until he quickly added, “all of it?”

I could hear audible grumblings around me as many of those with raised hands now slowly lowered them. Some mumbled, “I’ve read most of it”, or “I’ve read all of the New Testament.” One thing became clear, only about 5% of the audience had actually read the Bible through.

He then asked, “how many of you have read any other book?”

All raised their hands once again.

Then the preacher said, “do you see how inconsistent this is? Here you are, having read other books, but the book you claim to believe is inspired by God Himself, is not something you have read. What does this say about your belief in the Bible?”

The silence that ensued was more than a little uncomfortable.

He went on, “If you sincerely believe the Bible is the word of God, should you not have read it?”

Once again, he paused, allowing for the question to make its intended impact.

Finally, he then said, “Here’s my challenge – start today and read three chapters a day and four on Sundays and by this time next year you will have read the Bible through.”

I am sure there are better methods for reading through the Bible but the preacher’s point is a good one. We as Christians need to be “people of the book.” If there is one book we should read or should have read, it is the Bible. All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16) and it is unlike any other book out there. Job wrote that he loved God’s law more than his necessary food (23:12). He would rather go without food than miss time with the word of God. Can the same be said about us?

Justin Taylor wrote the following: “I really believe in the value of not just reading, but hearing, God’s Word… In listening to an old lecture recently by J. I. Packer, he made the comment that it was not until after the 17th century (as far as he could tell) that people started doing silent prayers and reading as opposed to praying and reading out loud. For most evangelicals, silence represents the vast majority of our reading and praying. But I wonder if that’s to our detriment. One of the great enemies to Bible reading and praying is a wandering mind—and one of the great ways to make your mind wander is to do everything in your mind without involving your voice and ears! . . . Here’s something else to consider: the entire Bible on audio is usually about 75 hours (or 4500 minutes). If you commute to work 5 days a week, that’s about 260 days a year. And if it takes you, say, 17 minutes to commute each way to work—and if you listen to the Bible on audio during your drive each way—you’ll get through the entire Bible twice in a year.”

There are many good daily Bible reading plans. For those who would like the convenience of an online source there are now many options. New technology allows not only the reading of the Bible, but hearing it too. If you enjoy the ESV here are six different plans to choose from – each of which allow for each daily segment to be sent to your e-mail address or as a podcast here.

Some might like to add to their Bible reading by going through reformed confessions each day. You can do so here.

Why Do We Primarily Use The English Standard Version At Kings Church?

Pastor John Samson

Here at King’s Church we recommend the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible and it is the one most frequently used in our services. I say this for two main reasons; the first being that it can be very confusing if we have the different words in front of us in our Bibles as the sermon is being preached. This can be very alarming for new Christians who are not aware of the issues and see a text in front of them that is sometimes quite different from what the preacher is using.

Decades ago, there was only one real Bible version of choice, the King James Version. History tells us that it was actually the Geneva Bible, with its Reformation based explanatory study notes, that was the very first Bible to come over to the shores of America on the Mayflower. However, the growing popularity of the KJV eventually made seeing the Geneva Bible a rare event in church services and homes.

The King James Version is certainly an excellent translation which has served the church for many generations. However, the meaning of words have changed a great deal in the centuries since the first printing of the KJV in 1611. Many preachers (me included) found that when using it, much time was required in a sermon to update and explain the archaic language used. A newer translation removes the need for this.

In addition to the archaic language of the KJV, what we know of the original text and languages has improved significantly in the last 400 years or so. The Church in our day has needed a Bible translation which reflects this great advancement in scholarship.

In some church services, there can be as many as 10 to 15 different versions in use. Of course, people can use any translation they like. They are definitely free to do so! Yet I think it is very helpful for pastors and elders to recommend one main translation to eliminate any potential confusion for a congregation.

With this as a foundation, the next question we need to ask is “which is the best Bible to use?”

This leads me to talk about the second reason for choosing the ESV. It stems from the desire to have an essentially literal translation (a “word for word” translation) in use rather than a dynamic equivalent, or “thought for thought” one. The primary advantage in choosing a “word for word” translation is that it gives us confidence that what we read in our Bibles are the equivalent English words for what the authors actually wrote. There is no need to wonder at every point where translation ends and subjective, personal commentary begins or if important material might have been been omitted from the original.

Certainly, there are other excellent translations out there. For years I have used the New American Standard Bible (NASB) which is a tremendously accurate translation. However, a choice needed to be made. The ESV is known for both its very accurate translation and for its language flow. It is very easy to read and to memorize. It is great for both adults and children. Because of this, it is the ESV that has become our Bible of choice here at King’s Church.

While we are still on the subject of Bibles, I am often asked to recommend a good Study Bible. The one I most recommend is the Reformation Study Bible in the English Standard Version (ESV) text. I am confident that in directing people to these notes, they will not be led too far astray. I certainly cannot say that about all Study Bibles out there. Always keep in mind though that the study notes in a Bible, while they can be very helpful and informative, are never inspired. Only Scripture is. The Bible alone is the word of God.

SOME QUOTES ON THE ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION:

“With the myriad of new Bible translations on the market today, few stand out. The ESV is one of the few, and surpasses the others in its simple yet elegant style. In many respects the ESV has accomplished in the 21st century what the KJV accomplished in the 17th: a trustworthy, literary Bible that is suitable for daily reading, memorizing, and preaching.” — Daniel B. Wallace

“We are building all our future ministry around the ESV….The ESV satisfies the preaching, memorizing, studying, and reading needs of our church, from children to adults.” — John Piper, Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary; Founder and Teacher, desiringGod.org

“The ESV represents a new level of excellence in Bible translations—combining unquestionable accuracy in translation with a beautiful style of expression. It is faithful to the text, easy to understand, and a pleasure to read. This is a translation you can trust.” — R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“I’m so grateful for a translation that I can trust for its accuracy and enjoy for its clarity. This is the Bible for our entire family.” — Carolyn Mahaney

“I’ve been using the ESV for my personal study since it was released. Then I began to preach from it. Then our congregation switched over to it. I hope others will do the same. The ESV is the simply the best translation for combining accuracy, readability, and fidelity to the rich history of English Bible translation. I thank God for the ESV and pray that it will be the new standard in English Bibles for years to come.” — Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, MI

“I appreciate deeply the evident commitment to the absolute truth of Scripture, and the willingness of these scholars to yield to the Spirit rather than bend to the wind of cultural trends.” — Bryan Chapell, President Emeritus, Covenant Theological Seminary; Senior Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, IL

“The ESV embodies both word–for–word exactness and easy readability. It has quickly become my primary Bible for both personal use and public teaching.” — Jerry Bridges, Former Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Navigators

“We use the English Standard Version as our church Bible because we are passionate about God’s Word—every last word of it—and because we want our children to have the best available translation for reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing, and serious Bible study.” — Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College

“The great strength of the ESV is first and foremost that it allows readers to trust the words to be the Word of God. I delight to find a clear, beautiful translation that allows me to get as close as possible to the actual words God inspired.” — Kathleen B. Nielson, Director of Women’s Initiatives, The Gospel Coalition; author, Living Word Bible Studies

“I recommend the ESV as the best literal translation for Bible study in my hermeneutics class and in Bible study seminars. Congratulations on a job well done.” — Grant R. Osborne

“The ESV shows exactly what the original says—and with elegance of style! I welcome its publication with enthusiasm.” — Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, TN

“Retaining the majesty of language with the clarity of thought, the English Standard Version is a grand accomplishment.” — Ravi Zacharias

“I highly recommend the English Standard Version to you.” — Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder, Joni and Friends International Disability Center

“The translation is outstanding. The ESV achieves a new standard in accurate Bible translations for our day.” — R. C. Sproul, Jr.

“I believe the ESV is the Bible of the future. It is readable, accurate, and reverent.” — Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Elegant in every way, the ESV is certain to take its place as one of the finest translations in the grand tradition of the English Bible. Scholars will appreciate the care and nuance of the translation, pastors will appreciate the cadence and rhythm of the text, and all who read it will appreciate the craftsmanship of this richly textured version. It has become my version of choice.” — Stephen J. Nichols, President, Reformation Bible College; Chief Academic Officer, Ligonier Ministries

“After twenty years of teaching God’s Word and changing translations I have found at last, by God’s grace, a translation that is easy to read and immensely accurate. The ESV is the new first choice for serious students and careful communicators of God’s unchanging Word.” — James MacDonald, Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois

“The ESV beautifully blends good, contemporary English with reverence and accuracy.” — Erwin W. Lutzer

“Meticulous care and passionate research make the ESV a crisp, accurate, and valuable translation.” — Max Lucado

“Having now read through the ESV several times in my personal devotional life, I have adopted it as the primary text for my teaching and writing ministry. I appreciate…the ESV [because it] retains theological terminology that is at the heart of the Christian faith and exercises care and precision in the translation of nuances and gender language, so as to preserve a text that is as faithful as possible to the original. By the same token, the translators have maintained clarity and literary excellence, making this an accessible translation for modern readers. My hope is that the ESV will draw millions of people into the reading and study of God’s Word and into a more intimate relationship with the God of the Word.” — Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Radio Host, Revive our Hearts and Seeking Him

“I am so impressed with the clarity, beauty, and power of the ESV that I feel that I am reading the Bible again for the first time. From now on the ESV will be my Bible of choice. I simply don’t have the words to say how thankful I am for the ESV, its faithfulness to the original, and its beauty.” — Stephen W. Brown, Professor Emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando; radio broadcaster, Key Life

“The ESV promises to be true to its name: the English Standard Version for the coming generation. It is a careful rendering that captures and communicates the sense of the original biblical text and does so in flowing modern English….Well done!” — S. M. Baugh

“I thank God for the ESV. It combines up–to–date accuracy in the text and absolute faithfulness to the words of Scripture with a literary skill and beauty in the translation which, in my judgment, is unsurpassed.” — Eric Alexander, Retired Senior Minister, St. George’s-Tron Parish Church, Glasgow, Scotland

Honoring the Men of God who have influenced me

Pastor John Samson

Romans 13:7 tells us to give “honor to whom honor is due” (spelt “honour” – if you are from England). There are special people that God has used to greatly impact my life and to shape my thinking – some of them being preachers. This is not an exhaustive list of such men by any means, but its a start. I would like to honor:


Rev. Redvers J. Samson – Man of God, a very powerful Evangelist, convinced Calvinist, street preacher and open air preacher, a proud Welshman and my Dad. I cannot remember a week going by without my father leading someone to Christ in our living room. I remember a friend of mine visiting the house, and when I took a quick shower, came down from my room to find my Dad sharing the Gospel and answering the questions of my friend, who had recently lost his mother to cancer. Afterwards my friend just said to me, “John, you are so lucky to have a Dad who can answer questions like that.” He was right. My Dad passed on to his heavenly reward in 2005, but I am so thankful for all God taught me through him. There’s a whole lot more that could be said about him, but I will leave that for another place and time to allow room to talk of others on this page.

Harry Greenwood (above) was my friend and father in the Lord and remains a huge influence in my life and ministry today. As a new Christian, I was given a cassette tape of Harry’s teaching ministry and I heard about a walk with Jesus that was so deep and intimate, it totally consumed me. Even then, as a teenager, I spent all my allowance money on purchasing more of his tapes. This was years before I ever met him. Later, I had the amazing privilege of becoming his friend, and after Bible College, served as his Associate Minister for the nine months prior to his death, traveling with him to the United States, India, Australia and New Zealand. He taught me more than I could ever express in words. I will always remember him for his terrific sense of humor, his powerful faith building preaching ministry, and the close friendship we shared. His life and ministry can be summed up in the words on his tombstone, “Have faith in God.” His greatest legacy are the thousands of lives he has impacted around the world (he has almost legendary status in places like India), and his precious family of Pam, Gill, Ruth and David.

On Sunday, May 10, 1980, God used this man, Rev. Clifford Beasley (above) to lead me to Christ. I still remember the sermon he preached on the Second Coming of Christ, and how he brought me face to face with my dire need for the Savior. That night, God opened up my eyes to the beauty and treasure of Jesus and my early months as a Christian were spent under his pastoral ministry. Though a teenager at the time, I still remember the way Pastor Beasley weaved the Gospel into every sermon. Its been marvellous to catch up with him recently through the internet after around 30 years of losing contact with him. We have even swapped sermon notes together. Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.” The name of Cliff Beasley will always be regarded with great honor in the Samson home.

God has used Dr. R. C. Sproul (above) greatly in my life to shape and clarify my thinking about many things, especially the holiness of God, the Sovereignty of God, and the biblical Gospel of justification by faith alone. In the year 2000 in Scottsdale, Arizona, I attended a two day seminar of Dr. Sproul which ended up being a pivotal point in my life and ministry, opening up to me a whole new wonderful vista in terms of understanding the Scriptures. His ministry of preaching, teaching and writing continues to have a huge impact in my life.

James-White23

Dr. James White is a first class biblical scholar and elder at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. His dedication and precision in handling the biblical text has impacted me enormously and shaped my thinking on a whole host of issues. I love his evangelistic zeal as well as his courage in taking on opponents of the Christian faith in publicly moderated and video taped debates. In recent years, he has expanded his already vast knowledge of Church history, Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament (koine) Greek to include learning Arabic, so that he might make proclamation of the Gospel to the Muslim world. I am very thankful to God for this man of God and am proud to call James my friend.

Dr. John Piper is the former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org. His sermons and writing ministry have influenced me greatly. I love his tremendous insights into the Bible and his obvious heart and passion for the Savior. I have only met him once personally but there is no doubting Dr. Piper’s influence on my life.

Pastor John Giarrizzo (pictured here with his lovely wife Roberta) has been a wonderful blessing to me in recent days. He is an amazing man of God – the founder and pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Gilbert, Arizona. Though I have only known him a short time, already he is a trusted friend and brother in the Lord. I love how he handles the Scripture with such great precision and care. I am learning a great deal just by observing his powerful God saturated and honoring ministry.

Joe Godal is an elder (at Grace Covenant Church, Gilbert), a Biblical counsellor, preacher and a friend I can call anytime. He is a genuine people-person believing that when you make a fool of yourself, he does not think you’ve done a permanent job! Like Pastor John (above), I have not known him a long time, and yet I am so grateful to God for him. He and his wife Elena are people of great wisdom and the Lord has used him more than he realizes in my own personal life and ministry. He truly is a fun guy to be around and if I ever get even a small mansion in heaven, I hope it is close to Joe’s.