A Review of Logos Now (Logos 6.6)

Logos Now  Logos Bible Software is always expanding, updating, and improving their product(s).  As with all technology, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the changes and improvements!  I’ve been using Logos since June 2014 and I’m still learning how to utilize its many benefits; I still often find things in Logos 6 that I didn’t know before (for example, it has very detailed and precise text highlighting/marking options).  Recently, the Faithlife company released Logos Now, a yearly or monthly subscription based upgrade to Logos Bible software.

What is Logos Now?  It might sound confusing at first, but it is basically a subscription that gives you Logos updates before they are released at a later date.  If you subscribe to Logos Now, you don’t have to wait six months (or however long) for new/improved Logos products.  For example, in my Logos Now subscription, I received the new concordance feature, the systematic theologies guide (links Bible texts to where they are found in STs), and corresponding words visual filter (which instantly highlights the same word on the screen/text).  The list of Logos Now updates can be found HERE (scroll down) and HERE (scroll down).  In case you’re interested, there’s also a beta version of a Logos web app – which means you’ll be able to do some Logos work on a web browser (but it’s still a work in progress).

What do I like about it?  Well, I have used the concordance feature when studying Galatians.  With the concordance, I can look for the most common words in Galatians (or whatever Bible range you set) and whittle down the list to only include verbs, or nouns, or senses (e.g. above, alone, etc), or biblical entity (place, person, etc).  It can also search with some more detail.  It makes word studies (Greek, Hebrew, and English) very slick.

I also appreciate the multiple resources option.  This option (which you can turn on or off) means you can put (for instance) an English Bible translation (like the NASB) along side the Greek or Hebrew.  So if I bring up Galatians 1:1-3, for example, on the left I see the NASB and on the right I see the NA Greek NT.  When you click on the English, the Greek also highlights so you can easily see the two together.  I use this feature every day in  my studies.

It did take me a week or two to figure these updates out – and that I even had them.  Since Logos has so many parts/pieces to it, sometimes it’s easy to miss a feature or features.  I have to admit I was a bit frustrated at first because I didn’t know what I got, but after some digging I understand now.  Logos can be overwhelming and frustrating because of its size and product releases – how do we keep up?!  As with other loaded software, you do have to be patient and realize it will take some time and effort to really get going in/with it.  Thankfully Logos has good instructions and nice videos online to help learn the nuances. This subtracts from the frustration for sure.

So who should get Logos Now?  Well, it does cost $89 for the year (with two free months included; or pay month by month at $8.99).  The customer service is free (and helpful in my experience!) and in October there are some books included in the package (though none that caught my eye) and a free training webinar.  If the price is too steep or you’re not interested in the updates, you’ll be fine with waiting until they’re officially released.  If you can afford it and want these and other updates sooner rather than later, you may want to think about this subscription.  Again, you can read more about it online.  (FYI: if you don’t have Logos and are interested, here’s a 15% discount code: READERS6.)

Feel free to let me know if you have questions or comments!

NOTE: I received a subscription to Logos Now in exchange for an honest review of the product.

shane lems
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)
hammond, wi

TheMessage100 – A Review

NavPress/Tyndale House recently sent me a review copy of The Message 100: The Story of God in Sequence (2015)It’s Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase The Message put in chronological order and separated into 100 chapters to make it read like a book.  To be sure, there are chronological Bibles out there, but this is the first one on my shelves.  I was happy to get it and read through big parts of it.

First, I do have to note that The Message is not my “go-to” Bible.  I view it as a modern-day paraphrase or sort of a commentary on the Bible.  If you’ve never read parts of it before, you’ll soon find out that it isn’t meant to be a translation.  For example, here’s Psalm 41:4: “You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil, You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair.”  Sometimes Peterson’s paraphrase is quite profound and well-stated; other times it isn’t so helpful.  Using this paraphrase in my studies does help me look at the text closer, so I’m glad to own it (even if I don’t agree with all the paraphrases!).

Second, I do wish this Bible would have an index.  I do roughly know the chronology of the Bible books, so I can usually find the book I’m looking for.  However, if someone who wasn’t familiar with the chronology was looking for Psalms (for example), it may take awhile to find it without an index.  I also wish there were words that separated one book from another.  For example, James transitions to Galatians and there’s only some smallish grey print to note the change (the actual chronology of the books is also debatable, but that’s a different topic for now).  Basically, these are two formatting issues that makes this Bible a little less user-friendly than it could be.

All in all, I like having this paraphrase handy.  It does get me thinking, and drives me back to actual translations of the Bible when questions arise.  And, again, some of Peterson’s paraphrases are actually quite helpful, so that benefits my studies.  So if you want a Bible paraphrase (not translation!), and you want it in readable chronological fashion (albeit with a few formatting issues), here’s one to consider: The Message 100: The Story of God in Sequence.

I received this Bible from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

shane lems

Clouding the Gospel, Confusing God’s People

  There’s a reason why historic Reformed/Presbyterian churches respond so quickly, strongly, and ecclesiastically (i.e. in a churchly manner) to preaching that clouds the gospel by mixing law/works and gospel/grace.  When we hear things like “works are instrumental in justification” or “final justification at the last day” or “the lawful gospel” or “I’m not sure ‘imputation’ is the best way to talk” or “faith alone means being faithful to Christ’s call” and other confusing statements, we investigate because these types of statements bring on a theological fog that so quickly confuses God’s people about the heart of the faith, the gospel.  Concerning this, Martin Luther made the following outstanding observations in his commentary on Galatians 1:6 (I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel… NASB).  By the way, these statements are totally applicable today in light of the Federal Vision and New Perspective(s) on Paul:

Paul complains that it is easy to fall (compare 1 Corinthians 10:12). We, too, find in everyday experience how hard it is for the mind to conceive and retain a sound and steadfast faith. It may take ten years’ labor before a little church is properly ordered; then some lunatic gets in who can do nothing but speak slanderously and spitefully against sincere preachers of the Word, and in one moment he upsets everything. That happened with Paul, the chosen instrument of Christ. He had won the churches of Galatia with great care and labor, and the false apostles, shortly after his departure, overthrew it, as this and other letters prove. So great is the weakness and wretchedness of this present life. We walk among Satan’s snares, and one person with mad ideas may destroy in a short time all that has been built up over many years by many true ministers laboring night and day. We learn this from experience, with great grief; yet we cannot do anything about it.

Since the church is such a soft and tender thing, and so soon overthrown, we must be quick to watch against these people with their mad ideas. When they have given two sermons or have read a few pages of the Holy Scriptures, they reckon they are in control of all learners and teachers and are answerable to no human authority. You can find many such people today, bold and impudent persons who because they have not been tried by temptations have never learned to fear God, nor had any taste or feeling of grace. Because they are empty of the Holy Spirit, they teach what they like best and such things as are plausible and pleasant to the common people. Then the uneducated multitude, longing to hear news, soon joins them. And many others who think themselves well versed in the doctrine of the faith and have been tempted to some extent are seduced by them.

Paul teaches us from his own experience that congregations that are won by great labor are easily and soon upset. We should watch very carefully against the devil’s rangings everywhere, lest he come while we are asleep and sow weeds among the wheat. However watchful and diligent the shepherds may be, the Christian flock is in danger from Satan. Let us therefore watch carefully—first, every one for himself, and second, all teachers, not only for themselves, but also for the whole church, so that we do not enter into temptation.

The above quote is found in Martin Luther,  Galatians, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

shane lems

Jesus, Paul, Redemption, Religion

Around 100 years ago, liberals were driving a big wedge between Paul and Jesus; something similar is still happening today.  For example, some people say that Jesus was a nice teacher of morals (the first Christian and a martyr for the cause), but Paul came in and messed it all up with detailed doctrine. Machen responded to this liberal teaching quite well in The Origin of Paul’s Religion (in 1925). In chapter 4, for example, Machen does a nice job showing how Paul, as an apostle commissioned by Jesus, agreed with Jesus in his teaching and preaching.  Here are two paragraphs I really appreciated:

The details of Jesus’ earthly ministry no doubt had an important place in the thinking of Paul. But they were important, not as an end in themselves, but as a means to an end. They revealed the character of Jesus; they
showed why He was worthy to be trusted. But they did not show what He had done for Paul. The story of Jesus revealed what Jesus had done for others: He had healed the sick; He had given sight to the blind; He had
raised the dead. But for Paul He had done something far greater than all these things—for Paul He had died.

The religion of Paul, in other words, is a religion of redemption. Jesus, according to Paul, came to earth not to say something, but to do something; He was primarily not a teacher, but a Redeemer. He came, not to teach men how to live, but to give them a new life through His atoning death. He was, indeed, also a teacher, and Paul attended to His teaching. But His teaching was all in vain unless it led to the final acceptance of His redemptive work. Not the details of Jesus’ life, therefore, but the redemptive acts of death and resurrection are at the center of the religion of Paul. The teaching and example of Jesus, according to Paul, are valuable only as a means to an end, valuable in order that through a revelation of Jesus’ character saving faith may be induced, and valuable thereafter in order that the saving work may be brought to its fruition in holy living. But all that Jesus said and did was for the purpose of the Cross. “He loved me,” says Paul, “and gave Himself for me.” There is the heart and core of the religion of Paul.

J. G. Machen, The Origin of Paul’s Religion, p.167 (ch. 4)

shane lems

The Great Use of Knowing the Gospel (Perkins)

Early on in Galatians, Paul mentions the gospel: “…Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age… (NIV).  William Perkins has some encouraging words in his commentary on this verse, which I’ll post below.  (Note: my copy of this commentary is in poor condition and written in old English, so the “translation” below isn’t 100% perfect – but close enough to read it well.  If anyone knows of a readable version of this commentary, let me know!)

The knowledge of this point [that Christi is a sacrifice and ransom for sin] is of great use:

First, it works love in us, on this manner [in this way]:  We must in mind and meditation come to the cross of Christ.  Upon the cross we are to behold Christ crucified, and in his death and passion, behold his sacrifice; in his sacrifice for the sins of his enemies, we behold his endless love, and the consideration of his love will move us to love him again, and the Father in [through] him.

Secondly, the consideration of his endless pains for our sins in the sacrifice of himself, must breed in us a godly sorrow for them – for if he sorrow for me (he?) much more we for him.

Thirdly, this knowledge is the true beginning of amendment of life.  For if Christ gave himself to redeem us from iniquity, we must take up a purpose of not sinning, and never wittingly sin more.

Lastly, this knowledge is the foundation of comfort in them that truly turn to Christ.  For the price is paid for their sins, and they which are eased of their sins are blessed (Ps. 32:1).  And in temptation they may boldly oppose the satisfaction of Christ against hell, death, the law, and the judgment of God, and if at any time they sin, they must recover themselves, and remember that they have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).

William Perkins, Commentary on Galatians, 1:4.

shane lems

Abolishing Abortion: A Review

Last week I gave a few quotes from this book by Frank Pavone, Abolishing Abortion (here).  Today I want to give a brief review of the book for those interested in pro-life resources.

First, as I mentioned last week, it is clearly written from a Roman Catholic position.  So from the get-go, I knew I would disagree with the Romish theology in it (including the papacy, doctrine of the church, the nature of sin, etc.).  After reading it, I found out it has big sections of Roman Catholic teaching/emphasis in it; because of that I hesitate to recommend the book (I must note that Pavone wasn’t trying to “covert” anyone to Rome, thankfully).

Second, concerning the main topic of the book – abortion – Pavone does make some excellent points and arguments.  He notes that abortion is like a “bone” stuck in the throat of American people: we can’t swallow it down, nor can we get rid of it.  It has to be dealt with.  He also talks about freedom, human rights, and some aspects of what it means to be truly pro-life.  Pavone knows enough American law and legislation to even discuss non-profit tax exempt laws and how the constitution is pro-life.  Again, you can see some of the quotes I posted here.

Here are the chapters of the book: 1) In the public square, 2) the Roe v. Wade debate, 3) repenting, 4) the spiritual imperative, 5) freedom of speech, 6) freedom of the pulpit, 7) on being [wrongly] passive, 8) being actively pro-life, 9) abortion and pain, 10) mother and child, 11) love.  Though the chapters didn’t seem to have a certain order, there is quite a bit of helpful information in almost every chapter.

In a word, this is a good book on abortion but it’s usefulness is hindered by a strong Roman Catholic bent.  If you want to get it, I’d recommend skipping over the doctrinal parts and reading the other parts.  Abortion is a reality that Christians have to deal with, pray about, and work towards abolishing it.  This book is one that will help take a step in the direction of saving human lives.

Frank Pavone, Abolishing Abortion (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2015).

NOTE: I received this book from BookLook bloggers, and was not compelled to write a positive review.

shane lems
hammond, wi

Calvin on the (Im)Purity of the Church

I appreciate the following comments John Calvin made when discussing Galatians 1:2b.  They go hand in hand with WCF 25.4: “Particular churches… are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.”  Here’s Calvin:

We do not always find in churches such a measure of purity as might be desired. The purest have their blemishes; and some are marked, not by a few spots, but by general deformity. Though the doctrines and practices of any society may not, in all respects, meet our wishes, we must not instantly pronounce its defects to be a sufficient reason for withholding from it the appellation of a Church. Paul manifests here a gentleness of disposition utterly at variance with such a course. Yet our acknowledgment of societies to be churches of Christ must be accompanied by an explicit condemnation of everything in them that is improper or defective; for we must not imagine, that, wherever there is some kind of church, everything in it that ought to be desired in a church is perfect.

John Calvin, Commentary on Galatians – 1:2.

shane lems
hammond, wi