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ESV Gospel Transformation Bible (White) Hardcover – September 30, 2013
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"The ESV Gospel Transformation Bible is a unique resource blending biblical, systematic, and practical theological insights to help us understand what the Bible teaches about grace and personal change."
—Timothy J. Keller, Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City; best-selling author, The Reason for God
"I spent years blind that the gospel story was threading through all of Scripture and the Bible came to life when I got that truth. The ESV Gospel Transformation Bible shows Jesus and the gospel everywhere, and will empower your heart for Jesus, your love for the gospel, and your ability to share it with others."
—Charlie Hall, Worship and arts director, Frontline Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
"The ESV Gospel Transformation Bible is a wonderful tool that can help you read the Bible the way it should be read: as a unified whole, and with a thirst for life transformation. I can’t wait to use it in our family devotions and to give a copy to my pastor."
—Andreas J. Köstenberger, Senior Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
"The ESV Gospel Transformation Bible contains invaluable resources for helping us understand how God’s power in the gospel shapes every moment of our lives."
—Gloria Furman, pastor’s wife, Redeemer Church of Dubai; author, The Pastor's Wife and Missional Motherhood
"This is a seminary education packed into one book."
—Justin Buzzard, Lead Pastor, Garden City Church, Silicon Valley; author, Date Your Wife and The Big Story
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But this Study Bible is different from the others. First, it boasts of a strong team of over 50 pastors and scholars who contributed to the Gospel Transformation Bible notes and book introductions. The list of contributors definitely got my attention. They include Dr. VanGemeren, a wonderful scholar who attends the same church I do, and wrote the notes for Genesis. There are also five contributors who I have had the pleasure to take classes with at Covenant Seminary – Scotty Smith (twice), Dan Doriani (twice), Robert Peterson (twice), Mary Beth McGreevy and Robert Yarbrough. Other Covenant Seminary contributors are Hans Bayer, C.D. (Jimmy) Agan III, Jay Sklar, and W. Brian Aucker. Other contributors include current Grace Presbyterian Church (Peoria, Illinois) pastor and longtime president of Covenant Seminary, Bryan Chapell, Kevin DeYoung, Burk Parsons, Michael Horton, J.D. Greear and Kent Hughes are others of note.
In the introduction, Chapell tells the reader that a major goal of the Gospel Transformation Bible is to help readers apply gospel truths to their everyday lives. Other points from his introduction include:
• Faithful application typically answers four questions: 1) What to do? 2) Where to do it? 3) Why to do it? and 4) How to do it? Previous application-focused Study Bibles have emphasized the first two of these questions. The Gospel Transformation Bible, while not ignoring the first two questions, seeks to be a primary resource for the latter two.
• Contributors’ notes indicate how the unfolding gospel truths in any given passage of Scripture motivate and enable believers to honor their Savior from the heart—in short, how grace transforms them.
• The goal is to make plain the imperatives of God’s Word, while undermining the human reflex to base God’s affection on human performance. Contributors have therefore indicated how the indicatives of the gospel (i.e., the status and privileges believers have by virtue of God’s grace alone) provide motivation and power for God’s people to honor him from the heart.
• By showing how grace motivates and empowers the Christian life, the heart-application that the Gospel Transformation Bible commentators provide is not a legalistic add-on to Bible exposition. These reflections on how we can apply the Bible to our lives in a grace-centered way are rather the spiritual unfolding of the implications of the gospel in the life of the believer.
• This edition of the ESV Bible features study notes for the entire Bible that show readers, passage by passage, how each particular book carries forward God’s redemptive purposes in history, culminating in Christ. These notes enable readers to see how the gospel of grace is the overarching message of the Bible, and how it transforms the human heart.
• Introductions to each book of the Bible are also provided, which include a section called “The Gospel in [Book].” This section orients readers to the big picture of how that book develops the story line of God’s redemptive plan.
The Gospel Transformation Bible is the Bible I use for my devotional reading, and I commend it to you.
Like most Kindle books all the study notes, footnotes, and cross references are represented as links in blue highlights. Therefore, it's not like a paperback Bible or Hardback Bible where the notes are included at the bottom of each page. The beginning of each book of the Bible has each new section highlighted in blue. For example, Genesis has all 50 chapters highlighted in blue and by clicking on the chapter it will take you immediately to that chapter. Also, highlighted in blue at the beginning of each book are 6 sections: (1) An Introduction to each book of the Bible; (2) Author and Date; (3) The Audience the Book is addressed to; (4) The Gospel in "Genesis" or whatever book you are studying; (5) An outline of the book; and (6) Study notes for that book. If you are reading Genesis 30 and want to see the notes for that chapter the easiest way is to simply click on the blue notes in the text and that will take you to each note for the passage of study. There are "back" buttons to take you back to the passage you were reading in Genesis 30. It's a little cumbersome - it would have been better to have the notes on the same page, but if you are used to clicking the numbers for footnotes when you read on Kindle - you will be used to this process. The rest of my review will focus on the uniqueness of this outstanding gospel saturated resource.
What's Unique About the Gospel Transformation Bible's Notes?
(1) It's unique in how it handles applying the Scriptures. There are many good application study Bibles on the market today. Most of these Bibles focus on two aspects of application: (a) What should we do according to what this passage is teaching? and (b) Where should we be applying these truths? The Gospel Transformation Bible is unique in that it helps you focus on two other important elements of application: (c) Why we should apply the gospel daily; and (d) How we can apply the gospel daily. It guides us in having a proper motivation for obeying God - out of gratitude for His amazing grace. It also demonstrates how we are enabled by the power of the gospel to do what God calls us to do.
(2) It's unique in the fact that it shows how all the major themes of the Scriptures are integrated and how all these themes ultimately point to or find their fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.
(3) It's unique in that it shows how each passage is a part of the flow of the gospel in the immediate context, but also in the over all thrust of redemptive history in the rest of the Bible.
(4) It's unique in that it demonstrates how the good news of the gospel is just as evident in the Old Testament as in the New Testament.
(5) It's unique in demonstrating how the message of the Bible about God's love promises, points to, and culminates in Jesus.
(6) It's unique in showing how the finished work of Christ matters not only in relationship to our past and our future, but especially in the present. We need the power of the gospel to help us in all the difficult realities of life - suffering, pain, decision making, identity issues, and so forth.
(7) It's unique in that it demonstrate how the grace God pervades all of Scripture and empowers us to stand firm in the gospel over the attacks we face daily with the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
(8) It's unique in that it gives us pointers to Christ and to the gospel in places that we wouldn't be naturally inclined to see them (Much like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 who didn't understand how Isaiah was talking about Jesus).
(9) It's unique in that it helps you focus on the big idea that the comprehensive theme that ties the 66 books of the Bible all together is the unfolding narrative of God's commitment to redeem a family from every language, tribe, and people group and make all things new through Jesus. The notes show how every passage in every chapter of every book in the Bible unfolds the plan of redemption through the gospel.
(10) It's unique in that it helps you delight in finding Christ for yourself in the text, and seek to be transformed into his likeness out of gratitude for His amazing grace displayed time and again in the gospel. In other words the notes focus on information (knowledge) that transforms the heart (emotions and the will). It isn't about duty, so much as delight over who God is and what He has provided for us in the gospel of Christ.
(11) It's unique in that the scholar's who write the introductions and notes to each book of the Bible articulate how each author focuses on how the particulars of each book reveals and unfolds the grace of God and how their message transforms the heart.
(12) It's unique in that the notes are targeted at the heart so that your heart is transformed by the Knowldge of the greatness of the gospel. It's about our identity in Christ and that we serve Him out of our renewed affections for Who God is and what He has done for us through Christ's Person and work. It is not so much about what you do, or what you know, but about who you "are" in Christ.
The Book of Daniel As An Example
Our temptation or inclination is to typically focus on the prophetic aspects (controversies) of the book of Daniel, or the heroism of Daniel and his friends as exiles in Babylon. The Bible in other words is about information or about us. However, Daniel is really about the people of God who are in exile in a pagan environment. However, in the midst of that exile Daniel and his friends remember that God has given them His Word and that He will be faithful to His promises. Daniel and his friends trust God even when they can't take care of themselves. The message of Daniel is a message of grace. It is the message that God provides for Daniel and his friends what they can't provide for themselves. Daniel's trust and hope lie not in his own wisdom and strength, but in the wisdom, promises, and character of his God. It is in believing in God's promises and grace that Daniel gets his strength.
What we learn from Daniel is that as the grace of God was revealed to him in the past, present, and future, so can we hope in the promises of God which are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. God demonstrates his faithfulness to Daniel and to us through His revealed prophecies and promises which are found in the coming of Christ. Daniel isn't primarily about heroism or prophecy, but about the grace of God that culminates in the gospel of Christ. Our hope as exiles in this world is the same. Our hope is in the gospel which frees us from our past, empowers us for today, and gives us hope for the future.
10 Reasons I Recommend The Gospel Transformation Bible
(1) It will help you see the types, promises, and promises of God in the Old Testament that are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
(2) It will give you guiding principles for studying how each passage, book, and period of the Bible unfolds the theme of redemption from Genesis to Revelation.
(3) It will impact your affections for Christ and the gospel. You will be touched by the majestic and intimate grace of God for you.
(4) It will motivate you to share the gospel with others. It will re-ignite an excitement in you for the gospel that will overflow out of your heart to your mouth with those who don't know about Jesus.
(5) It will help you to see that all of the Scriptures are about Jesus. You will learn how to see Jesus through the "Jesus lens" as you read the Old and New Testament's.
(7) It will help you become less legalistic or irreligious. It will help you to understand God's grace in such a way that you become a more gracious and balanced individual.
(8) It will help you see the big picture of the Bible. It's kind of like putting a bunch of pieces together of a large puzzle without the picture. When you read through all the notes in this Bible you will see a beautiful tapestry of Christ - and that He was there all along. He longs for you to discover and bask in His grace.
(9) It will renew and excitement in you for Bible study - and not just to know more doctrine, but because you will find yourself becoming more like Jesus. It will help to transform your character as you are conforming to the image of Christ.
(10) It will help you to personally know God more intimately. You may fall in love with God for the first time, or may rekindle your love for Him. Because you will find in the notes how the message of the Bible and all of history, and meaning itself finds its culmination in a love relationship with God through Christ Jesus.
Now, to be fair, the study notes were written by over 40 different people, so quality control I am sure was very difficult for Chappel and Ortlund.
I gave it 4 stars simply because there is nothing else like this out there on the market right now, and I think it is certainly helpful to your walk, but I do believe this Bible leaves much to be desired and also opens the door to a new, different Bible in the future.
What would be cool is if someone would go through the entire sermon archives of people like: Keller, Chappel, Clowney, Fitzpatrick, (the truly Gospel-Centered folks who always leave you with Jesus in their message) and extract the Gospel-Nuggets from their sermons, Scripture-by-Scripture, and annotate them into a study note. That would be something, wouldn't it?