Tag: Bible

CSB Pastor’s Bible Review

CSB Pastor’s Bible Review


The most important tool any pastor carries is his Bible and a number of publishers have released special Bibles for pastors, all of which are worth consideration.  Previously, we have reviewed the EVS Pastor’s Bible from Crossway and today we are reviewing the CSB Pastor’s Bible in brown genuine leather. (Note: This Bible was acquired at my own expense; no review has been solicited by Holman Bible Publishers.)


Before we begin, some information from Holman…

Product Description

Available in two editions, Genuine Leather or Deluxe Leather-Touch-the CSB Pastor’s Bible is ideal for pastoral use during preaching, officiating services, or personal study. Helpful features include a single-column setting, large type, wide margins, a special insert section in the middle of the Bible. Also contains outlines for officiating weddings and funerals, and extensive tools and articles from some of today’s respected pastors and church leaders. The CSB Pastor’s Bible is a valuable life-long resource for Pastors.


Features include:

  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Single-column text
  • Footnotes
  • Black-letter text
  • 10-point type
  • Concordance
  • Presentation page
  • Two-piece gift box
  • Over 17 articles on leadership and ministry by experienced pastors and leaders disbursed throughout the Bible’s pages
  • Outlines for officiating weddings and funerals

The CSB Pastor’s Bible features the highly reliable, highly readable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity. The CSB’s optimal blend of accuracy and readability makes Scripture more moving, more memorable, and more motivating to read and share with others.

A Few Remarks About CSB

The choice to preach and teach from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is one that more and more pastors are making and I can see why. On a number of occasions, I have described the CSB as the perfect blend of NASB (the most literal) and the NIV (the most popular). CSB is fastidiously literal yet very easy to read. I would estimate at an approximately 8th grade level, which is excellent because it will afford the teacher of God’s word the broadest audience spectrum possible. I have mentioned, in previous articles, that CSB is one of the 3 main translations that I use for regular reading. I am happy to commend the CSB to you; you will find it to be very accurate, readable, and most importantly, faithful to the original text.

Cover and Binding

I selected the brown genuine leather version, for myself, and I want to tell you two things about it. 1. Brown genuine leather is a total understatement. This is actually goatskin leather, as you will see stamped on the back of the Bible. 2. This goatskin cover is absolutely exquisite and I cannot believe that you can find a goatskin Bible at this price ($99.99)

The liner is a paste down, which I think contributes to the pricing. Here, in Phoenix, the heat can make a paste down liner a little problematic because if you leave it in your car, you can melt the paste (This has actually happened to me in the past.).

The block, itself, is sewn. If you know anything about bindings, you know that a sewn binding is the only type that will stand up to the near constant punishment a pastor will subject his Bible to and I can confidently state that the cover will wear out before the sewn binding will.

Layout, Font, and Margins

This Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format. The margins are approximately 1-inch. A wide margin is essential for a pastor so that you can mark out your notes and references.

2k/Denmark designed the font and, even though it is officially a 10-point font, it reads more like an 11-point to my eyes. The text is black letter and I have found this to be much more useful in the pulpit than a red letter.

The single column paragraph format works out well for large scale consumption of the Biblical text and, since consuming the Biblical text is a pastor’s most important undertaking, this format is highly desirable.


At the end of the Bible are the various pastoral helps.  These include a “where to turn” section with Scripture references to help (pictured below), “A Brief Biblical Theology of Leadership,” “Eight Traits of Effective Church Leaders,” “Pastor, Find Your Identity in Christ,” “Glorifying God in Your Ministry,” “What is Biblical Preaching?,” “Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures,” “What is Doctrinal Preaching?,” “Four Keys for Giving an Effective Invitation,” “Five Ways to Improve Congregational Singing,” “Soul Care: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love,” “Letter to the Church,” “Five Steps to Start and Keep an Evangelistic Culture,” “How Do You Disciple Others?,” “The One Thing You Must Do as a Student Pastor,” and “Sharing the Gospel with Children.”

In between Psalms and Proverbs is where you will find the “Life Events” helps. These are for weddings, funerals and so on.  Noticeably absent are helps for communion and baptism as well as cross-references, which can all be found in the rival ESV Pastor’s Bible. Whether or not missing these helps is problematic will depend entirely upon who you are as a pastor. The helps that are “missing” I have in other books that are in my library.

There are 3 ribbons provided so you can mark your spot in each of the 3 major sections of the Bible: Old Testament, Worship and Wisdom, and New Testament.

As A Carry Bible

The Pastor’s Bible is not small but it is not overly large, either. I would list it as just right. It fits in my bag easily, I can hold it one handed without my hand/arm getting tired, and it pairs well with my iPad when placed on my pulpit.

Final Thoughts

Would I recommend the CSB Pastor’s Bible? Yes. As the pastor at Abounding Grace Baptist Church, I use different translations (NLT, CSB, & NASB) for different purposes and I definitely plan on moving the pastor’s Bible into rotation as my pastoral care and discipleship Bible. I will also be using it alongside my Tyndale Select NLT Reference Bible for large scale consumption of the Biblical text.


Beatitudes: A Life Hidden in Christ

Beatitudes: A Life Hidden in Christ

Background and Introductory Remarks

The Sermon on the Mount is most likely a collection of Jesus’ sermons and not a single sermon. (Word Biblical Commentary). I want to say that I disagree with the commentator; I think the Sermon on the Mount is more of a Matthean example of the most common sermon/type of sermon that Jesus preached. 

The righteousness of the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) expounded in the sermon is presented as being in continuity with the righteousness of the ot law (5:17–19), yet also as surpassing it. In the Beatitudes, we see Jesus lead off with what a life that pleases God looks like; I call it a life hidden in Christ.

5:1–7:28 (NISB) These chapters comprise the Sermon on the Mount, the first of five collections (chaps. 10; 13; 18; 24–25) of Jesus’ teaching or revelation of God’s will. These thematic discourses instruct disciples, shaping their identity and lifestyle. The Sermon begins with blessings and sayings (5:3-16). Its middle section comprises six interpretations of scripture (5:17-48), instruction on three distinctive discipleship practices (6:1-18), and teaching on social and economic practices (6:19–7:12). The sermon closes with scenes of eschatological destiny (7:13-27). More than providing information about God’s will and motivating disciples to do it, the sermon offers visions of God’s empire. It sketches life in an alternative community marked by justice, transformed social relationships, practices of piety, and shared and accessible resources.

Main Sermon:

Word Wealth: makarios (Matt. 5:3; Luke 10:23; Acts 26:2; 1 Tim. 1:11) G3107. Strong tells us that it means to be blessed/happy/large/filled-up and/or content. Thayer points out that makarios is frequently paired with God’s name. Makarios, then, is most commonly used for blessedness or the enjoyment of favor from God.

I want you to understand that makarios can mean happy, and that is often the case, but it does not always guarantee your happiness. You may be in the midst of persecution but God is shepherding you through it, in which case, you are still blessed even if you are not, in the moment, happy.

Here, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus both reinterprets the old law and offers a new law, recalling the revelation of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai (see Ex 19–24).

Since Matthew introduces the Sermon on the Mount by highlighting the connection between Jesus and Moses, the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12) should probably be read against the backdrop of Moses’ teachings. The only time the adjective “Blessed” was used by Moses was in his blessing on Israel (Deuteronomy 33:29): “How happy you are, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is the shield that protects you, the sword you boast in. Your enemies will cringe before you, and you will tread on their backs.” Israel’s blessing had both a historical and future focus. “Saved by the Lord” referred to Israel’s exodus from Egypt. The remainder of the blessing assured the Israelites of success in their conquest of the promised land. Against this backdrop, the blessings of the new Moses (Jesus, the one Moses prophesied as being greater than him {see Deuteronomy 18:15}) identify Jesus’ disciples as the new Israel who will enjoy a new exodus and conquest. The new Moses is a spiritual deliverer rather than a political one, and His promises must be understood in that light. In the Beatitudes, the new Moses pronounces spiritual salvation (exodus from slavery to sin) and promises spiritual victory (conquest and inheritance of a new promised land) to the new Israel. This background is confirmed by the allusion to Israel’s exodus and conquest in the promise that the meek will “inherit the earth” (5:5).

In the OT, the poor were those who cried out for God’s help, depended entirely on Him for their needs, had a humble and contrite spirit, experienced His deliverance, and enjoyed His undeserved favor (Psalm 86:1-5). In light of this background, Jesus was describing His disciples as unworthy sinners who depend on God’s grace for salvation. Although the promises in Matthew 5:4-9 are expressed in the future tense, the affirmation the kingdom of heaven is theirs is in the present tense (5:3,10). This suggests that the kingdom had already arrived through the coming of Jesus but that the fulfillment of many kingdom promises will occur only in the future. This future fulfillment awaits Christ’s second coming. The statement “the kingdom of heaven is theirs” appears at the beginning and end of the main body of the Beatitudes (5:3,10). This bracketing device suggests that the Beatitudes constitute promises only to those who belong to the kingdom. Isaiah 61:1 promised that Messiah would bring good news to the poor. This beatitude serves as a fulfillment of that prophecy (Luke 4:16-21).

In the case of the Beatitudes, blessed (Psalm 1:1) are…

  • poor in spirit
  • those who mourn
  • those who are humble (meek/gentle)
  • those who hunger and thirst for justice/righteousness
  • those who are merciful
  • those whose hearts are pure
  • those who work for peace
  • those who are persecuted
  • when people mock, persecute and lie about you because of Jesus


If you look, closely, you will see that they build upon one another. We will circle back in a minute to look at each one after we talk a little about their progression…The poor in spirit recognize their total dependence upon God for any hope of Heaven and because of that, they mourn over sin, not just their own but the fact that all sin separates from the goodness of God and richness of fellowship with him. They are not consumed with pride because they have recognized their dependence upon God. In longing for more fellowship with Him, they hunger and thirst (a picture of total desire) for God’s justice and righteousness to fill the earth. A life hidden in Christ leads to mercy, we do not give others what they deserve just as we are not given our just desserts. We become pure of heart in not having any guile but a sincere desire for more of God and in that desire we work toward peace with God. As a consequence, the unsaved world will persecute us; such persecution will result, among other things, in being mocked and lied about because of Christ.

So why bother? At the risk of sounding cliché, we bother because we will spend eternity in Heaven with the One in whom our souls delight. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Shall we circle back and look at those beatitudes?

poor in spirit This first beatitude recalls Isaiah 66:2, “For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word. (NKJV)”

The poor in spirit recognize that they have no spiritual “assets.” They know they are spiritually bankrupt. We might say that the ancient Greek had a word for the “working poor” and a word for the “truly poor.” Jesus used the word for the truly poor here. It indicates someone who must beg for whatever they have or get. (Guzik)

We learn from Calvin: “Many are pressed down by distresses, and yet continue to swell inwardly with pride and cruelty. But Christ pronounces those to be happy who, chastened and subdued by afflictions, submit themselves wholly to God, and, with inward humility, betake themselves to him for protection. Others explain the poor in spirit to be those who claim nothing for themselves, and are even so completely emptied of confidence in the flesh, that they acknowledge their poverty. But as the words of Luke and those of Matthew must have the same meaning, there can be no doubt that the appellation poor is here given to those who are pressed and afflicted by adversity. The only difference is, that Matthew, by adding an epithet, confines the happiness to those only who, under the discipline of the cross, have learned to be humble.”

We further learn, from Chuck Smith: “First of all, he’s not talking about physical poverty, poor in spirit. This is in opposition to being proud, and this is always the inevitable consequence of a man coming into a personal, real confrontation with God. If you have come into a true confirmation of God in your own life, the result immediately always is that of poverty of spirit. You see a person who is proud and haughty, he is a man who has not had a true encounter with God.

In Isaiah chapter six, upon the death of the popular king Uzziah, when the throne of Israel has been emptied of this great popular monarch, Isaiah writes, “And in the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on the throne, high and lifted up, and his train did fill the temple…Then said I, woe is me! For I am undone; and I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips:” (Isaiah 6:1, Isaiah 6:5). That’s always the result of a man seeing God in truth. “Woe is me! I am undone”.

Daniel, when he saw the Lord said, “My beauty was turned into corruption” (Daniel 10:8). When Peter had his confrontation he said, “Depart from me; for Lo, I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). The man who truly sees God sees himself in truth.”

Of all the traits a Christian should have, it is poverty of spirit that is the most difficult for us. Why? Because we wish to aggrandize self, to be more than what we are, and to think that we bring something to the table for our salvation. Friend, Jonathan Edwards said it best, you contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary. All the self esteem and self worth you could ever need is found at the cross where God, Himself, took away your filthiness and gave you Christ’s righteousness so you can have a relationship with Him

Exactly what is being poor in spirit? I heard an excellent sermon from John Piper on this concept and in my notes I have:

  • It is a sense of powerlessness in ourselves.
  • It is a sense of spiritual bankruptcy and helplessness before God.
  • It is a sense of moral uncleanness before God.
  • It is a sense of personal unworthiness before God.
  • It is a sense that if there is to be any life or joy or usefulness, it will have to be all of God and all of grace.

In short, poverty of spirit says, “God I know I do not deserve anything from your hand but I come to you ready to accept anything you choose to give and I come ready to do anything I can to please you.”

In the hymn Rock of Ages, we find the perfect embodiment of being poor in spirit. The hymn says, “In my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” That, beloved, is what it means to be poor in spirit; it is not simply humility but it is the acknowledgement that everything we have, every single good thing that we possess, is a generous gift from the hand of God the Father, who delights in giving good gifts to His children.

those who mourn This is not a simple weeping or a general sadness.  “The Greek word for to mourn, used here, is the strongest word for mourning in the Greek language. It is the word which is used for mourning for the dead, for the passionate lament for one who was loved.” (Barclay). The connotation is a deep guttural wail. The poor in spirit have realized what sin does to our relationship with God and so there is weeping, not just over our own sin but a wailing over the fact that the wicked, who, will not turn, must in the end be consumed buy their wickedness and given over to judgment.

those who are humble (meek/gentle) Before we consider this trait we need to realize that blessed are the meek is the best translation. “Blessed are the meek: It is impossible to translate this ancient Greek word praus (meek) with just one English word. It has the idea of the proper balance between anger and indifference, of a powerful personality properly controlled, and of humility. In the vocabulary of the ancient Greek language, the meek person was not passive or easily pushed around. The main idea behind the word “meek” was strength under control, like a strong stallion that was trained to do the job instead of running wild.” (Guzik)

F.F Bruce points out that the meek are the men who suffer wrong without bitterness or desire for revenge. This is also a very hard personality trait to have since to be meek means to show willingness to submit and work under proper authority. Meekness means I give up my rights and privileges.

Let’s consider this thought from the great commentator, Adam Clarke “Our word meek comes from the old Anglo-Saxon meca, or meccea, a companion or equal, because he who is of a meek or gentle spirit, is ever ready to associate with the meanest of those who fear God, feeling himself superior to none; and well knowing that he has nothing of spiritual or temporal good but what he has received from the mere bounty of God, having never deserved any favour from his hand.”

those who hunger and thirst for justice/righteousness As we hide our lives in Christ, we become consumed by a hunger for His justice and righteousness to work through us. Do not kid yourself into thinking that this is a simple hungering. No this is a hunger that cannot be satisfied until Christ comes.

  • This passion isreal, just like hunger and thirst are real.
  • This passion isnatural, just like hunger and thirst are natural in a healthy person.
  • This passion isintense, just like hunger and thirst can be.
  • This passion can bepainful, just like real hunger and thirst can cause pain.
  • This passion is adriving force, just like hunger and thirst can drive a man.
  • This passion is asign of health, just like hunger and thirst show health.

How does this hunger and thirst for righteousness express itself?

  • A longing to have a righteous nature.
  • A craving to be sanctified, to be made more holy.
  • A fervent desire to continue in God’s righteousness.
  • An insatiable desire to see righteousness promoted in the world.


those who are merciful Here we are talking about someone who has already received mercy. The merciful one will show it to those who are weaker and poorer.

  • The merciful one will always look for those who weep and mourn.
  • The merciful one will be forgiving to others, and always looking to restore broken relationships.
  • The merciful one will be merciful to the character of other people, and choose to think the best of them whenever possible.
  • The merciful one will not expect too much from others.
  • The merciful one will be compassionate to those who are outwardly sinful.
  • The merciful one will have a care for the souls of all men.


Having been shown mercy, a heart filled with the Holy Spirit will desire to give mercy to others. This is the outworking of the Spirit in our lives both to will and to do (Philippians 2:13)

Next we have the final two characteristics of a life hidden in Christ and the world’s reception of us.

those whose hearts are pure Church Father Origen understood this to be a reference to having a pure mind, as this fits best with the Greek understanding of the intellect. (Origen, De Principiis, 1:1:9, in Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, 4:245.)

This concept of a pure heart denotes one who loves God with all his heart (Deut. 6:5), with an undivided loyalty, and whose inward nature corresponds with his outward profession (cf. Isa. 29:13). ‘Such is the generation of those who seek him’ (Ps. 24:6), and they receive the promise that they shall see God. This can only fully be realized in heaven, when ‘we shall see him as he is’ (1 John 3:2); then ‘we shall be like him’, and the longings of v. 6 will be finally satisfied. But in a lesser sense the vision of God is already the experience of his true lovers on earth, who persevere in his service ‘as seeing him who is invisible’ (Heb. 11:27).
–Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – Matthew.


those who work for peace (blessed are the peacemakers) In his exquisite commentary on Matthew, David Guzik tells us “This does not describe those who live in peace, but those who actually bring about peace, overcoming evil with good. One way we accomplish this is through spreading the gospel, because God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). In evangelism we make peace between man and the God whom they have rejected and offended.”

Truly, then, a peacemaker is one who works toward making peace not just between two rivals but ultimately, the true peacemaker seeks to make peace between God and the sinner. This is accomplished through helping the sinner to understand his sin and to understand what an offense sin is when considered by the Holy God. From there we take the sinner, now aware of his wickedness and what is due him, to the cross; it is from the cross that the sinner approaches God’s Throne of Grace and receives reconciliation between himself and his God. Once reconciled and no longer God’s enemies, the repentant now is adopted as a son since he is no more an outsider.

Now, having laid out what life in the Kingdom of Heaven looks like, Jesus takes us to the reception that we can expect from the world and those who are outside the Kingdom…


Blessed are those who are persecuted when people mock, persecute and lie about you because of Jesus The world hates Christ and you can be sure that they will hate us too. If you watch any television, these days, you will see that we are portrayed as aberrant, sometimes as simple minded fools, sometimes outright lies are made up about us and our values.


Early Christians heard many enemies say all kinds of evil against them falsely for Jesus’ sake. The 1st generations of Christians were accused of:

  • Cannibalism, because of gross and deliberate misrepresentation of the practice of the Lord’s Supper.
  • Immorality, because of gross deliberate misrepresentation of weekly “Love Feast” and their private meetings.
  • Revolutionary fanaticism, because they believed that Jesus would return and bring an apocalyptic end to history.
  • Splitting families, because when one marriage partner or parent became a Christian there was often change and division in the family.
  • Treason, because they would not honor the Roman gods and participate in emperor worship.

Even today, there are those who believe they are doing a righteous work by killing Christians. For example, ISIS believed in beheading Christians, they were earning a place in Heaven and rewards from God. How many Christians have we seen dragged into court because they refused to engage in business practices that violated their conscience but the world demanded thes practices any way.

I could go on about persecution ad nauseum but I would leave you with this thought on the matter: John 16:33b, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So what do I do about this? Beloved, having now understood what life in the Kingdom of Heaven looks like, it should be our sincere desire to see the traits laid out in the beatitudes cultivated in our lives. These character traits are a gift from God and also an answer to prayer. As we earnestly desire to be more like Christ, we will see these traits manifest more and more in our lives.

Do not be discouraged when trials come. Instead, have the mindset that James, the Lord’s brother encouraged– Count it as a blessing when trials and persecutions come because it means that our faith is being perfected. We will not always get to know what God is doing but when we look back over the most challenging times in our lives, we can see that God is working everything together to conform us to the image of His Son. The ultimate result of such confirmation will be the day when we are resurrected and glorified with bodies suitable for Heaven and prepared to enjoy the majesty of our Savior into the ages of ages.


A New Beginning: Family Worship Readings 12/31-1/6

A New Beginning: Family Worship Readings 12/31-1/6

We begin our guided tour a day early so that we can have the Bible completed by 12/31/18. Below, you will find 7 days’ worth of readings along with discussion questions and a sample prayer. There is no set formula to use the materials so utilize them in whatever way fits your needs.


  • Sunday: Genesis 1:1-2:25
  • Monday: Genesis 3:1-24
  • Tuesday: Genesis 4:1-26
  • Wednesday: Genesis 6:1-22
  • Thursday: Genesis 7:1-8:22
  • Friday: Genesis 9:1-29
  • Saturday: Genesis 11:1-9


Discussion Questions:

  1. What do we learn about God when we read about Him as the Creator?
  2. The sin of Adam and Eve was that they did not trust the revealed truth of God and disobeyed His commands. In what way’s do you find yourself tempted by the serpent’s whisper, “Did God really say…?”
  3. When God destroyed the world, in the flood, He spared Noah and His family. What does this teach us about the character of God, and especially about how He deals with sin?
  4. When the Tower of Babel was built, what were the men trying to accomplish and why did God stop them.


Sample prayer:

Father, please help us to see your truth in Scripture. Help us to know you better and to see the many ways that you deserve glory. In Christ’s Name and for His sake, Amen.

NLT Christian Basics Bible Review

NLT Christian Basics Bible Review



NLT Christian Basics Bible Review

As I am preparing to step into a Senior Pastor role, I find myself looking at resources for the disciples who come to church and today I would like to introduce you to one of the two Bibles newly saved disciples will be offered, the NLT Christian Basics Bible. (Disclaimer: unlike other review Bibles, this was not sent by Tyndale nor was a review solicited; this is completely on my own.)

First, some information from the publisher:

New to the Bible? The Christian Basics Bible is for you! It can be difficult for readers who are new to Scripture to explore the Bible’s teachings and to understand how Christian beliefs are established in its pages. The Christian Basics Bible is filled with features designed to help readers-especially those new to the Bible-connect biblical teachings to Christian beliefs and to see how those beliefs apply to their lives. By delivering the right amount of both information and application, the Christian Basics Bible can become the catalyst that helps you to live a vibrant Christian life guided by God’s Word.

Product Information

Format: Imitation Leather
Number of Pages: 1700
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 1496413571
ISBN-13: 9781496413574
References: Cross References

Initial Thoughts:

I was rather surprised with the Christian Basics Bible; my original expectation was something geared more toward teens or perhaps children and I was not expecting much theology. I half expected the Christian Basics Bible would just call out the major stories that most people would already be familiar with. Instead, you actually get Theology, and good Theology at that.

Translation Choice:

The editors chose the NLT and they could not have made a better choice. The NLT is translated using English at an early middle school level, approximately 6th-7th grades. The “Meaning Based” or “Thought-for-Thought” approach is what gives NLT its broad appeal; if you did not know it, outside the United States, NLT is in a statistical tie with the NIV for the dominant English Translation and I find that it is perfect for someone who has English as a second language.

Front Matter:

First up, we are given a Read This First Article. This article is a brief overview of the Christian Basics Bible and a guide to using it.

Becoming a Christian

This article provides a guide to how to become a Christian and begin a life of discipleship. The article discusses the need for a savior, the need to repent, and how to do so. There is a sample prayer provided to help the new disciple in confessing sin and yielding to the Lordship of Christ.

Now That You Are a Christian

Following on the Becoming a Christian article, this article guides new disciples through the beginning stages of the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus. The article references several topical articles located throughout the Bible that will provide guidance in starting that relationship.

What is the Bible

This is the longest of the three articles. It covers Bible history, the major sections of the Bible, and the languages of the Bible. The article also covers the overall message of the Bible as well as its priority in the life of a believer.

A Timeline of the Bible

This is an estimated chronology of when the events in the Bible happened. It is fairly self explanatory.

Main Study Helps

Book Introductions

Like any good study Bible, each book comes with its own introduction. Each introduction has a 1-paragraph summary of the book. The What’s It All About section provides an overview of the book and where it fits in the overarching story of redemption. The What Does It Mean for Us section gives us a glimpse of how the truths of each book applies to our lives today. Lastly, the Overview Section provides a brief outline of the book.

Topical Articles

Interspersed throughout the Bible are topical articles related to what it means to be a Christian. Each article concludes with a reference to another article that is related to the topic being studied. Topical exegesis isn’t my favorite way to study the Bible but when you are trying to learn theology for the first time it is a very helpful way to begin.

Back Matter:

Reading Plans

Plan 1 takes 28 days and gives an introduction to the Bible. Plan 2 will take approximately 180 days and provides a panoramic picture of the Bible. There is not a Plan 3 but that isn’t a drawback. By the time a new disciple completes plans 1&2, there should be enough familiarity with the truth of Scripture to be able to decide what is desired to be studied next and select an appropriate study plan.

Basic Truths of the Christian Faith

At first glance, you would think this is a concordance, but you would be mistaken. This is a topical guide to the major subjects a Christian would be expected to deal with in their life. There is an introduction to the topic followed by an expository outline to the reader through the topic.


There is a brief glossary which helps readers to understand the terms that Christians commonly use.

Visual Overview of the Bible

Lastly, there is a visual overview of the Bible. These are 14 full color maps and charts to help you visualize what you are reading about and make the Bible come alive.

Final Thoughts

This is not what I had expected and I am delighted by that fact. I have spent almost a month on reviewing the materials offered and I am well pleased. The theology is basic enough that a reader would have a solid foundation after following the 200 days of readings recommended in the reading plans but it will also provide a jumping in point for deeper discussion of theology.

This is one of two Bibles that we will be providing at Abounding Grace Baptist Church for those who are new disciples, the other being the Swindoll Study Bible and we will choose which one to give based on how much, if any, the new disciple already knows about the Bible. I highly recommend the NLT Christian Basics Bible.



NLT Reflections Journaling Bible Review

NLT Reflections Journaling Bible Review



Initial Thoughts on the NLT Reflections Bible

It’s no secret that I love a wide margin Bible and in the case of the NLT Reflections Bible, these are the widest margins I have, personally, seen in a Bible, 2.25 inches. Tyndale made the margins ruled which eliminates a huge problem for me; for some reason I cannot write in a straight line on un-ruled paper, so giving me ruled margins made me exceedingly happy.


There are 3 covers available, all with sewn bindings so they will lay flat. Tyndale sent me all three (free of charge in exchange for an honest review; my opinions are my own): Ocean Blue (actually more of a teal) cloth over board, Sketchbook (The cover feels very similar to a Moleskine notebook and is the same shade of black), and Mahogany Bonded Leather over board. Of the 3, the mahogany will be the one I carry most. I cannot explain why, but it seems to be the most “pastoral” and since it will be used in a church plant, it seems the natural choice.


From the publisher

Product Description

NLT Reflections is a handsome single-column, wide-margin New Living Translation Bible. Extra-wide 2.25″ lightly ruled margins make this Bible great for note-taking, journaling, recording prayers, doodling, drawing, and other forms of creative expression.

Special features include

  • A line-matching setting that’s designed to prevent text show-through
  • A durable sewn lay-flat binding
  • Matching ribbon marker
  • Elegant spine hubs
  • Presentation page
  • One-year Bible reading plan
  • 8-point text size
  • 75″ X 6.75″ x 1.50″

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 1704
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 8.50 X 6.38 X 1.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1496418042
ISBN-13: 9781496418043
Text Layout: Single Column|Wide Margin


Text Color: Black Letter
Text Size: 8 Point
Thumb Index: No
Ribbon Marker: Yes
Spine: Sewn
Page Gilding: None
Page Edges: White

The Paper & Font

The paper is a crisp white, not quite so bright that it would be difficult to read in the sunlight but not an off-white either; I guess that eggshell would be the best descriptor. Tyndale lists an 8-point font which I would have to say is the most readable 8-point font I have seen in a while. It is not the same font family as my KJV Concord Reference Bible but it is just as readable. Since I am planning to preach from the Reflections Bible, the font is the biggest factor for me; I am pleased to say that I have experienced no eyestrain when reading from this Bible.

Margins and their use

The margins, as I said earlier, are 2.25 inches and they are ruled for easy writing. I think there is one Bible with larger margins but it is only in KJV, if memory serves. In my case, the margins will be used for main points of sermons and word studies.

For writing your annotations, I recommend Papermate’s Better Retractable (shown in photo below) and I recommend Accu-gel Hi Glider for color coded marking. I have the six color pack and I am using the following color coding:

  • Green: Fruit of the Spirit/Christian Life/Discipleship
  • Purple: Kingdom of God/Eschatological Kingdom
  • Blue: the Godhead
  • Yellow: Prophecies of Christ, His Advents, & Ministry
  • Pink: Salvation
  • Orange: Ecclesiology


Naturally, your color coding may vary. There are many important topics that are worth color coding; in my case I chose the topics I believe are most important to a brand new church. How you color code is not as important as actually doing the color code. Color coding is one of several memory triggers that you can use to recall information quickly.

Actually Writing in the Bible

Typically, my annotations are word studies although, on occasion, I have been known to add some topical references. In the example shown in the photos, I have provided markings from the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5. Because the Beatitudes fall into the category of Christian Life, I have marked them with the green accu-gel highlighter pen. You will notice that the coloring is noticeable but it is not so bright as to distract from the text. In the margin, there are some brief comments on the word makarios which we translate as blessed. The word to be studied is in red with the definition and references to Strong’s and Thayer’s in blue and my summary remarks in black.

I have also provided a picture of the opposite side of the page from where I made the markings. You can see the slightest hint of a shadow where I wrote but you cannot make out individual letters and the green highlighting barely shows any shadowing.

For Carry/Daily Use

For daily carry and use, this Bible is a great choice. The format lends itself to reading large amounts of text in a single sitting. Of course, the exquisite margins provide the perfect canvas to record your thoughts as you read devotionally or your study notes while you prepare your lessons. In the case of my wife, who has claimed the Ocean Blue, that point you want to remember from the Sunday Sermon fits here nicely as well. The overall size and weight of the Bible lends itself to one handed use without worrying if the Bible will fall out of your hand while reading. I am very peripatetic (walk while talking) and I have not noticed any issues with that habit and this Bible.

Overall Thoughts

I’m really enjoying the NLT Reflections Bible. It works out nicely for my purposes in using it as a pastoral tool. My only suggestion would be to add two more ribbons so that you can study the Old Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, and the New Testament simultaneously. I hope that, after reading this, you will get an NLT Reflections Journaling Bible and that you will customize your own study/devotional Bible.



Spurgeon Study Bible Review

Spurgeon Study Bible Review

Charles Spurgeon…The words are often spoken with reverence as if the words themselves define what it means to be a pastor. Spurgeon is often called the Prince of Preachers and deservedly so. However, there has always been one disadvantage…you cannot have Spurgeon in your living room teaching the Bible. Holman Bible Publishers and Allistair Begg have been able to remedy that with the Spurgeon Study Bible.

I was asked, by a friend, for a one sentence reaction to the Spurgeon Study Bible and here it is, “I liked the Spurgeon Study Bible review copy so much that I procured a goatskin one so that I will be able to use it till Jesus returns.”  (NOTE: The Hardcover in the pictures was sent free of charge in exchange for an honest review; the goatskin was not. My opinions are my own.)

Features include:

  • Introductory Biography of Charles Spurgeon
  • Study notes crafted from Spurgeon sermons
  • Spurgeon’s sermon illustrations placed on the same page as the associated biblical text
  • Sermon notes and outlines in Spurgeon’s own handwriting
  • “Spurgeon Quotables” inserted throughout the Bible
  • Book introductions with book overviews in Spurgeon’s own words
  • Two-column text
  • Concordance
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Presentation Page
  • Full-color maps

About the Translation

The Spurgeon Study Bible is published in Holman’s own translation, the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). CSB is an Optimal Equivalency or Mediating Translation; it does not swing too far on the thought-for-thought end of the translation spectrum nor does it swing too far toward the word-for-word end of the spectrum. I find it to be fairly in the middle.

The CSB is an excellent choice for teaching and study and, in fact, is one of the translations I use daily alongside NASB, NLT, and NIV. Several ministers that I know, personally, have switched to CSB and, frankly, the only reason I have not is because most of my audience was already using NLT before they became my audience and I felt it would be easier to use the Bible they already have rather than have them try to switch to what I’m using. I feel confident in recommending the CSB to you for your daily use.

To be a little more specific on the translation, it is like the perfect combination of the NIV and the NASB. It is very readable though a little more challenging than the NLT but the translation is easily readable enough for students of any age. I always recommend using two translations in a study session and my favorite pairings for CSB are these: CSB/NLT for devotional readings and CSB/NASB for lesson prep and academic study.

The Introductions

The Introductions are 1-page each. They provide an overview of each book in Spurgeon’s own words as well as how the book contributes to the Bible. There is also some information about the structure of the book and the circumstances of writing.

You won’t find any outlines in the Spurgeon Study Bible. Normally this would annoy me, but in the case of this particular Bible, it actually makes sense. Spurgeon focused more on pastoral understanding of the Scripture as opposed to academic theology.

The Notes

The notes provided aren’t commentary in the traditional sense that you find in most study Bibles. These notes come from Spurgeon’s sermons. While they do not cover every single verse of the Bible, and I would not want them to, they provide an excellent understanding of how God spoke through the man who is arguably the greatest preacher since the Apostle Paul.

Translation Notes

The Translation Notes have been reduced in quantity to allow for the other notes on the Bible. They can usually be found in a green box under a column of text.

Spurgeon’s Sermon Outlines, Quotes and Illustrations

There are 20 one page outlines from Spurgeon. They’re from The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854, Volume 1 from B&H Academic.  They take two pages – one page is a facsimile of the hand-written sermon and the opposite page, you will find the sermon outline typed out.

You will also find quotes on particular passages of Scripture and sermon illustrations sprinkled throughout the text.

The Paper and Font

The paper here is fairly opaque. I would put it between 28 and 32 gsms. 2k/Denmark provided the design layout in their Bible Serif font. If you have ever seen a 2k/Denmark layout, they are incredibly easy to read. I did have a couple challenges but those challenges resulted from deficiencies in my own eyes and not anything to do with the font. The fact that this Bible is a black letter text is very useful when it comes to being able to read it.

My goatskin leather edition also includes tabbed indexing. These are small rectangular tabs cut into the text block as opposed to the rounded thumb-index type. Many of my colleagues have mixed feelings about indexing tabs but they can be useful. If you have not memorized the order of the books of the Bible, or if you are like me and sometimes need rapid reference to a particular section of Scripture, they can be most helpful.

Cover Options

There are 4 Cover Options available, Cloth Over Board, Black & Brown LeatherTouch, Burgundy & Marble Leather Touch, Black Genuine Leather (Actually goatskin). The cloth over board is very nice and sturdy and would be well suited for daily carry, especially for students. For taking into the pulpit, the goatskin is phenomenal. It is vinyl lined so it is a little stiffer than a leather lined Bible but this is in no way a negative as it will still lay flat due to its sewn binding.

What Holman is doing with their Bible covers is absolutely amazing. The LeatherTouch (imitation leather) is incredibly realistic and, I think, is even more convincing than what Crossway offers. The true surprise, though, is goatskin with tabbed-indexing for $99.99 which is normally what you would pay for a pigskin genuine leather.

I am not sure who the source of the leather is, or the bindery house, but it is very well done. The skin is very soft and smooth, almost like it was ironed goatskin but there is the tiniest bit of grain that you can feel as you run your fingers, slowly, over the leather.

Is Anything Missing

There are two features that are noticeably absent but their absence does not detract from this Bible: Book Outlines (mentioned earlier) and Center Column Cross References. The CSB Spurgeon Study Bible is not intended as an academic aid like most other study Bibles are; it is much more pastoral in nature. To me, it feels like you really do have Spurgeon in your living room mentoring you.

Final Thoughts

Spurgeon was, perhaps, the greatest pastor since the Apostle Paul and, in the Spurgeon Study Bible, you get to see the heart of the pastor and you get to be mentored by Spurgeon. I would rate the Spurgeon Study Bible a perfect 10.


TBS Reformation Reference Bible Review

TBS Reformation Reference Bible Review


My favorite KJV publisher has done it again; The Trinitarian Bible Society has introduced the Compact Westminster Reference Bible, Reformation Commemorative Edition. Since that happens to be a lot of name, I will refer to it, moving forward, as the Reformation Reference Bible.

The Reformation Reference Bible was design by TBS with active missionaries in mind and, in the process, created one of the best compact Bible that you will be able to acquire. It is ideal for the minister on the go, the missionary, or the Christian in need of a portable Bible. Before we go any further, I need to provide a short disclaimer: (The Reformation Reference Bible, in brown meriva calfskin, free of charge by Trinitarian Bible Society {TBS} in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and TBS had no influence over the review process.)


Translation Choice

TBS only publishes English Bibles in the King James Version. For some, this is not an appealing choice. In that old Baptist tradition, however, I tend to enjoy it. KJV is universally recognizable and after 400 years it remains one of the most dominant forces in the English speaking world. It is majestic, reverent, timeless; KJV represents the pinnacle of the English language.



Westminster Reference Bible, both full size and compact, contain over 200,000 references and it is, truly, without rival. Only two Bibles even come close to the Westminster in terms of references, Thompson Chain Reference (100,000 references in 8,000 topical chains) and New American Standard Bible Side Column Reference Bible (95,000 references). TBS takes its references from what can, easily, be called the best reference Bibles ever produced, the Concord Reference Bible from Cambridge and the Self-Interpreting Bible by Rev. John Brown of Haddington. These references make this a pure study Bible; it lives up to the Reformation Principle that Scripture Interprets Scripture. In point of fact, if the Reformation Reference Bible or the full size Westminster Reference Bible was the only Bible that you owned, you would have a life time of self-interpreting helps to carry you through your study/lesson prep.



Page Size: 6.5″ x 4.6″

Thickness: 1.2″

Print Size: 7.3 point


I have to hand it to TBS here: I normally do not use compact Bibles because of the font size. The Reformation Reference Bible is as close to the perfect compact edition of the Bible that you can get your hands on.


As a carry Bible

The Reformation Reference Bible is one of the most portable KJV Bibles that I have ever carried; It is close in size to the other compact from TBS, the Classic Reference Bible. It fits perfectly into a small pocket into my briefcase. As mentioned earlier, it is designed for the minister or missionary who constantly finds himself on the go.

As a teaching/preaching Bible

I do most of my teaching one on one or in fairly small groups and, to my surprise, I found that I had no issues with the font size in the Reformation Reference Bible. I compared the fonts in the Reformation Reference Bible, the Cambridge Cameo Reference, the Cambridge Pitt Minion Reference Bible, an Oxford Brevier Blackface Reference Bible and the TBS Classic Reference Bible and the Reformation Reference Bible was the most readable of the group, especially with the references. I tried using this in multiple light settings and found that it was up to the challenge; even in direct sunlight I had no issues reading the Bible.

Physical Form

True to form, TBS uses an ironed calfskin on this Bible and it is extremely touchable; this type of leather is called Meriva Calfskin and I admit I am not altogether certain what that means. I am not sure, but I think that Reformation Reference uses the same calfskin as its larger sibling. There is a paste down liner; I am not a fan (this is actually my only complaint) but many of my colleagues appreciate a paste down liner. In my case I prefer a leather lined cover, but its not a deal breaker.

The paper is nearly identical to its big sibling so I will repeat what I said previously… The paper is a major win for this Bible; it’s cream colored with excellent opacity. Unfortunately, TBS does not offer much in the way of technical details on their website and, at the time of my writing, I have not successfully reached them to find out the specifications on the paper, though I am not certain that it matters unless, like me, you are a total nerd and cannot properly geek out without knowing such things.


I have used this Bible in several settings with various lighting conditions: at church with the bright lights in our massive auditorium, the break room at work, the restaurant with breakfast, and in the soft light of my bedside table (40W Bulb); in every instance it was totally successful. Sometimes, I enjoy a Psalm or two before bed and this is where I would usually find ghosting. There are one or two spots but if I were to complain about that, it would be nothing more than ungrateful nitpicking.


The texture and feel is amazing. Some paper feels abrupt, coarse and heavy. This paper, though, is quite soft and (if you will pardon the cliché) smooth like ice cream fresh from the churn. It begs to be touched, to caress the hand, to draw you into an interaction with the Word. I said earlier and I will repeat myself, this Bible, to my hands, feels like someone came and noticed every flaw, every callous, every ridge on my hands and then custom crafted a Bible just for me.


Actually, to say that it has excellent opacity was an understatement. From a normal distance I could not distinguish any ghosting or see through. I could see a little when I held up a single page, but as I said to go any further on that would be ungrateful nitpicking.


Of the Bibles that I compared this too, I find the Compact Westminster to be most comparanle to the Oxford Blackface.


Overall Impression/Final Thoughts

The Compact Westminster Reference Bible, Reformation Commemorative edition is, without doubt the best compact KJV Bible available. I heartily recommend purchasing one.



Choosing the CSB

Choosing the CSB

Yesterday, we announced, on social media, that Exploring the Truth is transitioning to the Christian Standard Bible as our main text for Scripture. Several people have wondered why that is, and I would like to answer that question for you, dear readers, today.


There are several reasons why we chose to move to the CSB. They are as follows:


As literal as possible, still easy to read

The whole reason we have a Bible is to read it; the English used in the translation should be at a level easily understood by most, if not all, of its audience. Many of our beloved readers are not based in the United States and do not have English as a primary language, so choosing a Bible that is easy to read and understand was a critical factor in this decision. I also wanted to utilize a Bible that was still as literal as possible (as opposed to a more meaning based translation); I do not have a problem with meaning based translations but for study, literalness must be the primary consideration.


I have used the CSB’s predecessor, the HCSB since 2005, as a supplementary text and I can say with absolute confidence that the CSB is well worth making the move. I would like to share some information from Holman Bible Publishers about the translation methodology:


” The CSB was created using Optimal Equivalence, a translation philosophy that balances linguistic precision to the original languages and readability in contemporary English.

In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used. When a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a more dynamic translation is used. This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original text are conveyed as accurately as possible for today’s readers.


On one hand, the CSB provides a highly accurate text for sermon preparation and serious study, translated from the biblical languages by scholars who love God’s Word. On the other hand, it doesn’t compromise readability and clarity for those who may be less familiar with the traditional (and sometimes difficult) vocabulary retained in some translations.”


Translation Footnotes

One of the most distinctive features of the HCSB are the footnotes and those carry forward to the the CSB. These footnotes include variant readings, textual notes, and alternate translations. The footnotes are an excellent help for sermon preparation, writing Sunday School lessons, or just plain personal study.


Availability of the Translation

B&H Publishing makes the CSB available in a variety of formats. You will find it for free, online, at http://csbible.com. It is available, currently, at MyWSB from WORDsearch, as a module for Accordance, and Logos with full availability for all major Bible software by the end of the summer. Naturally, there will also be physical copies in store as of the first week of March.


There are a host of other reasons for choosing the CSB but these three were the major deciding factors for me in choosing the CSB.


I commend the CSB to you for your study. May it help you to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our glorious Lord.

Apostle’s Creed (Our Essential Creed)

Apostle’s Creed (Our Essential Creed)

Below, you will find the foundational statement of faith of all Reformed Christians. Officially codified in AD 390, this is a concise statement on the essentials of Christian Orthodoxy.


I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

The third day he rose again from the dead:

He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

I believe in the Holy Ghost:

I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

The forgiveness of sins:

The resurrection of the body:

And the life everlasting. Amen.

God reveals His Covenant Name: I AM

God reveals His Covenant Name: I AM


Exodus 3:13-15Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

13 Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?”

14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.[a] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.




This is absolutely delicious. When asked for His Personal Name, God answers with a verb phrase. If I could geek out for a minute…

When God reveals His Name, it is in the first person singular imperfect tense, imperfect being not complete rather than deficient.

I have to wonder if Moshe (Moses), upon hearing that Name, scratched his head and something akin to, “you are Who?” I AM WHO I AM is beautifully ironic; it is, at the same time, a totally sufficient answer and an open door to discover the Lord. Later, Iesus (Jesus) would give the final exegesis of the Father in His I am statements but in the meantime, the Lord God, the First Person of the Trinity, made several revelations of Himself via compound Names throughout the TaNaKH (Old Testament). They follow:

  • Yahweh Jireh (Yireh): “The Lord will provide.” Stresses God’s provision for His people ( 22:14).
  • Yahweh Nissi:“The Lord is my Banner.” God is our rallying point and our means of victory; The Lord God, the King of Heaven is the one who fights for His people ( 17:15).
  • Yahweh Shalom:“The Lord is Peace.” The Lord is the source of our peace and rest ( 6:24).
  • Yahweh Sabbaoth:“The Lord of Hosts.” A military term; the Lord is the commander of the armies of heaven (1 Sam. 1:3; 17:45).
  • Yahweh M’Kaddesh/Yahweh Mekoddishkem: “The Lord your Sanctifier.” The Lord as our means of sanctification or as the one who sets believers apart for His purposes ( 31:13).
  • Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd.” The Lord is the Shepherd who cares for His people as a shepherd cares for the sheep of his pasture ( 23:1).
  • Yahweh Tsidkenu: “The Lord our Righteousness.” The Lord is the means of our righteousness. This righteousness is imputed to the justified believer ( 23:6 and Epistle to Romans).
  • Yahweh Shammah: “The Lord is there.” Portrays the Lord’s personal presence in the millennial kingdom ( 48:35).
  • Yahweh Elohim Israel: “The Lord, the God of Israel.” Identifies Yahweh as the God of Israel in contrast to the false gods of the nations ( 5:3; Isa. 17:6).


No matter how you portray it, Beloved, YHWH has always been and always will be. He will be the same eis ton aionos tou aiono (unto the age of the ages/forever and ever/eternity).


Let us pray:


YHWH our God, your Name is beyond splendid. There is nothing to equal it and no superlative adequate to describe the glory of Your Name. Teach us who You are in each Name so that they are written on our hearts then You will be our God and we will be Your people. May Your name be glorified with majesty upon majesty and every homage that can be imagined. Amen.


Until next time, Worship Vigorously, Serve Actively, Teach Faithfully and may mercy, grace, and peace be multiplied unto you


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