I have read through many different study bibles over the decades, but none has been more inspirational to me than The Spurgeon Study Bible. Other study Bibles have all been educational and extremely worthwhile to read. They remain within arm’s reach of my desk for continuing Bible study and lesson planning when teaching. They all provide great context, historical facts, doctrinal truth, archaeological findings, language studies, and insights that help me better understand God’s Word.

Reading through The Spurgeon Study Bible, however, was a truly inspirational experience at a personal devotional level rather than the intellectual/educational experience that other study Bible readings have been for me.

Alistair Begg was the Editor for the The Spurgeon Study Bible. The best price for purchasing a quality leather copy ($30) is from Begg’s Truth for Life website (when available, which is not always) rather than from Amazon or elsewhere. Below is a partial list of the Bible’s features from Begg’s site.

  • Introductory Biography of Charles Spurgeon
  • Study notes crafted from Spurgeon sermons
  • Extracted sermon illustrations
  • Sermon notes and outlines in Spurgeon’s own handwriting, “Spurgeon Quotables”
  • Book introductions with book overviews in Spurgeon’s own words
  • Topical subheadings
  • Two-column text
  • Concordance
  • Presentation Section
  • Full-color maps

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a 19th century English Baptist preacher who came to be known as the Prince of Preachers. He was a powerful speaker and prolific author who God still uses through his writings about 130 years after his death to teach others the timeless truths of God’s Word. I encourage interested readers to follow up by reading more about Spurgeon and more of his works. You will be blessed.

What was fascinating about my six-month journey reading every word of The Spurgeon Study Bible is that it exposed me to the richness and modern relevance of Spurgeon’s writings and his God-given understanding of Scripture far more so than I had previously understood. The study notes are all taken from Spurgeon’s sermons related to the passages. Each day’s reading was, therefore, a double illumination of truth – first from the Word of God which is always powerful by itself as it is illuminated by the Holy Spirit, but then there followed in the notes very practical explanations and applications from Spurgeon’s sermons that both strongly challenged and encouraged me. Occasional copies of Spurgeon’s own handwriting for sermon outlines and comments seem to connect the reader in a more personal way with Spurgeon that only makes the reader appreciate this edition more.

I read the edition that uses the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) as the biblical text (the only one available at the time I purchased it). This study Bible is now also available in a King James Version (KJV). I wish it was available in the English Standard Version (ESV), but to date that is not the case.

As someone who spent years in seminary and decades afterward continuing to learn more about the Bible through a host of authors and sources, I personally needed a walk through the entire Bible that wasn’t mostly about learning more head knowledge, but was far more about experiencing God and his truth through his Word. This walk through The Spurgeon Study Bible provided that much needed fresh personal encounter with the eternal Author of God’s Word. The readability of the Christian Standard Bible as the version used contributed to the simplicity and clarity of the experience.

I still have other study Bibles that will be my go-to editions for various purposes:

  • The Reformation Study Bible remains my overall favorite for the quantity and quality of doctrinal study notes.
  • The ESV Study Bible is a solid source of contextual educational content.
  • The MacArthur Study Bible provides unique and valuable insights from John MacArthur.
  • The Apologetics Study Bible instructs Christians eager to speak God’s truth to an unbelieving world.
  • The Gospel Transformation Bible can quickly provide practical application of biblical truth.
  • The Archaeology Study Bible gives a wealth of archaeological information not found in any other Bible.
  • The Evidence Bible is filled with notes and articles that help prepare the reader for evangelistic conversations.

Each of the above Bibles have blessed and benefitted me in multiple ways. I eagerly recommend all of them. However, if you need a reading through God’s Word where the notes are most likely to first grab your heart rather than your head, then I suggest you get a copy of The Spurgeon Study Bible (from TruthForLife.com if available, or Amazon) and see what wondrous things God has yet to teach you through his Word and through its timeless truth as written by C. H. Spurgeon.

2020 Goal Results & 2021 Plans

Posted: January 4, 2021 in Goals
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In spite of the weirdness and loss which was a significant part of 2020, I’m glad to say that I did fairly well on meeting the goals I published here a year ago. Of course, 2020 will mostly be remembered for the havoc that the COVID-19 pandemic wrought on the entire world population. I will remember it, in addition, for the sad loss of my dear 94-year-old mother-in-law and for being laid off from work after 17+ years with the company that I hoped to retire from in 2027. I’ll remember it for being the year we decided to sell our home in Louisville and return to my small hometown of Winchester, Kentucky to be near my parents (although the house hasn’t sold yet, so we’re still in Louisville for now). I’ll remember it for being the year we couldn’t hug our grandkids for over nine months and for being the year I worked from home for over nine months.

Some things you can control; some things you can’t. Either way, you move on.

I set three personal goals in January 2020. Here is how they turned out and what I plan to do related to them in 2021:

  1. I wanted to average at least 10,000 steps per day with an ideal of having no day with less than 10,000. I’m glad to say that I never went to bed without hitting 10,000 steps any of the 366 days of the year, although it took me until a few minutes past midnight 4-5 nights along the way to hit the mark. On those few days I’d be working at my desk and glance at my watch only to realize that I was a couple thousand steps shy with only a few minutes before midnight. So I’d jump up, jog in place like an idiot until I hit the goal, then get back to work. My final total according to Garmin was 4,060,482 steps for the year, an average of 338,373 per month or 11,094 per day. That’s about 2032 miles for the year and 169 per month if I assume 2,000 steps per mile. I plan to back off that just a tad for 2021 with a goal of 9000 per day average.
  2. I wanted to spend a minimum of one hour per day in personal devotional Bible study and prayer. I hit that average, but I missed too many days to suit me here and there that I had to make up. This isn’t a goal you want to make up. It’s a discipline you want to ingrain into your life without exception. That amount of time allowed me to finish reading the Reformation Study Bible and to read about 90% of the Spurgeon Study Bible as well, plus to be far more regular in prayer than I had been in some years. I’m also using part of that time to jot down devotional thoughts along the way for the book I’ll start writing this week. If I could devote an hour a day to the practice while working 40-50 hours per week, there’s no excuse for not giving at least that much time now that I’m laid off from work, so I’ll continue this goal in 2021.
  3. The goal I didn’t achieve was writing two blog posts per month – a personal article on this blog and a professional one on LinkedIn. I wrote eight personal and five professional articles, but I’ll admit that the news in May 2020 that I’d be losing my job in a matter of months took the wind out of my sails for writing, especially on professional topics. I’ll write a few blog posts in 2021, but my major focus will be writing at least one devotional book.

All in all, I count 2020 as a good year in terms of personal discipline and goals I had control over such as the ones above. There is much more that could be said regarding the life changes wrought by the pandemic and the domino effect of decisions made by others, but that is probably best left to a different post or private conversations.

I hope that in spite of the disruption 2020 brought that you also can find several bright successes to celebrate as you look back. I bet there were some silver linings there if you look.

It’s time to take on 2021.

On July 15, 2020 my dear 94-year-old mother-in-law, Jean Kiger, passed from this life to the next. A tiny, tough, wonderful woman, Jean had recently survived harsh falls, COVID-19, pneumonia and blood clots. Eventually, though, her body finally gave out, and following a long goodbye of two weeks with her unresponsive and unable to communicate, eat or drink, she breathed her last breath this side of heaven while my wife, Linda, held her hand.

For years Jean had most details of her funeral planned. She wanted by oldest son, Brian, to sing Because He Lives and It Is Well With My Soul. She wanted my youngest son, Jason, to read an adaptation of Psalm 23 Jean selected and typed up for us. She wanted me to do the eulogy, leading the funeral and graveside service. Linda volunteered to welcome everyone to the funeral and share some initial personal reflections about her mom. It was a family affair on August 3, 2020 from beginning to end in conducting the funeral in St. Louis, Missouri. My sister-in-law, Jill, helped with several details in preparing for the day, and far more friends came out to celebrate her life with us than we expected in the middle of a pandemic. Jean would have enjoyed it.

I thought it would be nice to share in a blog post the eulogy and the graveside service I led for her. You can find the full funeral program here.

Until we meet again, Jean. We love you. We miss you. We will see you soon on that glorious day when all of God’s children are gathered around our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Eulogy

I hit the mother-in-law jackpot when I married Linda over 41 years ago and got Jean in the deal for free. I have to admit that I was at first a little intimidated by Jean. Linda and I had gotten engaged during my junior and her senior year at William Jewell College and we went to St. Louis for a “meet the in-laws-to-be” weekend and to inform them of our engagement.

Jean and Chuck

They were, of course, very gracious and welcoming, but I was still intimidated by them both. Chuck could have beaten skinny little me to a pulp with his wooden leg if he wanted, and Jean seemed so strait-laced, so prim and proper. I figured I could outrun Chuck, but I wasn’t at all sure I could outsmart Jean if push came to shove. 42 years later I now know beyond all doubt I could never outsmart Jean. The lady was sharp!

As the years passed and we had so many wonderful times together, my original intimidation gave way long ago to admiration, appreciation, gratitude and thanksgiving for who she was as a person, as Mom, Grandma, Mawmaw, friend, and as a fellow believer in Christ. There are so many positive things I could say about Jean, but I’m going to focus on 3 that jump foremost to mind as the qualities I will always remember with a smile.

One is that Jean had a wonderful sense of humor. She was just flat-out funny! She enjoyed laughing and I cherish the memories of her burying her head in her hand, closing her eyes and bouncing a little as she silently laughed at whatever struck her funny. She would tell us stories of things happening at her retirement home, Treyton Oak Towers. Some of the things she’d share would just be the fun times and goofiness of fellow retirees enjoying one another. Some of what she laughed at was driven by the realities of growing old. And if someone was beginning to act and talk more than a little crazy as they got up there in years, she would just say, “She’s as looney as she can be.” She didn’t mince words.

For years, Jean would regularly send us humorous emails. I kept them all and went back a few years in preparation for this eulogy and laughed at several things she sent, like the photos of signs on restaurants and funny memes that said things like:

  • No senior citizen discounts: You’ve had twice as long to get the money.
  • Push. If that doesn’t work, pull. If that doesn’t work, we must be closed.
  • This business guarded by shotgun 3 days a week. You guess which 3.
  • Teach your kids about taxes. Eat 30% of their ice cream.
  • My daughter wanted a Cinderella-themed party, so I invited all her friends over and made them clean my house.
  • I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may update your Facebook status.

Jean’s humor came through cards she would send on birthdays and other occasions. She sometimes used her creativity to write a short poem to include with the card. Many times the card itself was funny. Linda found one she sent to her friend Norma in 2000 that has a caricature of an old lady on the front and it says, “Once a sex symbol, always a sex symbol.” On the inside, it says, “What a relief it is to know we have nothing to worry about! Happy birthday.” It was signed, “Jean 2000.” Then her friend Norma sent it back to her in 2001 on Jean’s birthday, crossing out Jean’s name and signing her own and adding “2001.” And so the tradition began and every year the card went through the mail twice as they added their name and the year until its final trip from Norma to Jean in 2014. They would occasionally add a post-it note on the inside. The top one says, “Aren’t you glad wrinkles don’t hurt!”

So I appreciate Jean’s humor that she carried with her throughout all of her days.

Jean with her mom, Lucille, and daughters, Linda and Jill

In addition to her humor, I am thankful for Jean’s extreme love and devotion to her family. She loved her daughters, Linda and Jill, and really would do anything that she thought was needed and good for them. When her grandsons, Brian and Jason, came along, she cherished the role of Grandma. Linda and I perhaps faded a little in importance after that because, after all, grandchildren are far more fun than children. The things she made for Brian and Jason, the time she spent with them, the photos of them she cherished the rest of her life – all these point to her love of family that never wavered.

Then if we fast forward to another generation, the addition of having Abby and Jackson as great-grandchildren was a joy beyond description to Jean. She marveled at both the beauty and behaviors and fun times she enjoyed with Abby and Jack. She took great pleasure in seeing things she made for Brian and Jason like a card table tent and the blue alphabet book we have with us today enjoyed by Abby and Jackson a generation later.

It was always a pleasure to have Jean with us at my family’s gatherings at my parents’ farm in Winchester, KY or at my daughter-in-law, Lauren’s, family gatherings in Louisville whether for a random dinner together or one of our annual traditions like Polar Express Night where we all wore pajamas and drank hot chocolate and watched the movie.

I don’t think there is anything Jean would have said “no” to if asked for the good of her family. She loved us. She was extremely generous toward us. We are indebted forever to her and eternally thankful to God for that example of what it means to be a wonderful Mom, Grandma, Mawmaw and mother-in-law.

The third and final quality I want to call out and praise Jean for is the most significant because it is eternal in nature, and that is Jean’s faith in Jesus Christ. Jean knew the Lord and lived her life in faithful service to him. She was not a Christian in name only, but as a deep matter of the heart.

Jean sitting in the church nursery at age 90 with great-grandchildren Abby and Jackson

Jean joined Third Baptist Church in St. Louis in 1952 at the age of 26. She was a faithful member until moving to Louisville in 2007 where she joined Walnut Street Baptist Church. In both churches, she loved serving in the children’s ministry, continuing to sit in the nursery to care for her great-grandchildren until she was 90.

The photo inside your program today is of her with Abby and Jackson in the nursery at Walnut Street. Anyone who works with children in church for over 60 years is surely a saint of the highest order.

What really impresses me about Jean’s faith is that she was so incredibly consistent in all the 42 years I knew her. She didn’t waffle and have good days and bad days as a follower of Christ. She knew what she believed and why she believed it. She loved the Lord. She loved his Word. She loved his church. She lived in accordance with what the Word of God teaches day in and day out with a consistency that I can only envy but never duplicate.

Jean loved reading inspirational and educational Christian books. She loved great preaching and couldn’t tolerate mediocre Bible study or worship. She faithfully tithed to the church through her final Social Security check and would not remotely consider failing to give less than that 10% tithe back to the Lord from whom all blessings flow.

Jean’s first great-grandchild, Abby, wearing a cap Jean crocheted.

Her faith and love compelled her to serve others through the church and elsewhere. She made over 1,750 crocheted baby hats that were distributed through Missouri Baptist Hospital. She made quilts for the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of friends and family. She served for 8 years volunteering at St. Alexius Hospital in the chaplain’s office. At Treyton Oak she loved volunteering in the general store. She assisted with the Infant Resource Project at Walnut Street helping to supply baby clothes, diapers, and needed items to new moms. All of these were in addition to her 60+ years of children’s ministry in her two beloved churches. Jean was a giver, especially to children.

Jean’s faith was incorporated into her love of travel, including the Holy Land among her many journeys with church family and friends. The olive wood nativity set that graces our mantel each Christmas was a gift that Jean brought back to us from that trip. The photos of her riding the camel in the slide show was one of her great memories from the trip.

Jean was an excellent student of the Bible. To her, the Bible wasn’t just something to sit on a shelf at home. It was to be read and understood and cherished and hidden in one’s heart that we might not sin against God. In fact, she passed along to us a few months ago this set of Bible study notes she made while she was still Jean Hoffman. She hadn’t yet married Chuck when she wrote this. I don’t know who graded it, but she got an A+ on it. It’s on “Bible Numerics” and looks at numeric structures in the Bible – things like uses of various numbers throughout the Bible and what they mean.

For example, in the section of her notes about the number one in the Bible, she writes that it is a symbol of divine unity and then she wrote: “one God, one Bible, one way to be saved, one human race, one church, one Spirit, one hope, one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one chosen nation, one Satan, one mediator.” She notes the oneness of God’s promises from Joshua 23 and the one thing most needful – knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ – from Luke 10.

Jean enjoying her camel ride in Israel

Jean’s faith was real. It is eternal. And because of that, her faith has now become sight. What she saw through a glass dimly this side of heaven has become crystal clear and she now sees perfectly. What was until July 15 a confident assurance of one day seeing her Lord face to face is now a precious reality.

In one of Jean’s notebooks, she wrote out Psalm 73:26 – “My health may fail and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart. He is mine forever.”

Jean was ready to be with her Lord. She was ready to put behind her the days of failing health, COPD, poor hearing and eyesight. She was ready to say goodbye to occasional falls and painful woes that come with old age.

I love the description that Randy Alcorn uses in his book The Treasure Principle where he tells people this: Imagine that your time on this earth in all its entirety is one tiny little dot up on a wall. All of your years fit within that dot. Even Jean’s 94.5 years fit within that dot. Then stretching out from that dot and going all the way around the room and then looping over and over again and never ending – that is eternity. Our time on this earth is but a tiny dot at the start of a never-ending line. Alcorn tells us to live for the line, not the dot. Jean lived for the line of eternity and not just for the dot of the present. All who turn from their sin and place their trust in Jesus Christ will live with him in joy throughout that never-ending line.

When Jean retired after 25 years of work at Brown Shoe Company, she wrote a poem. Most of the verses would only be meaningful to those at Brown Shoe because they dealt with daily work specifics and inside jokes that only her work colleagues would understand. But the first and last verses of that poem apply to our time here today, so I close with Jean’s own words from 1992:

I’ll miss you all more than you’ll know
But I feel that it is time to go.
I’ll miss the parties and the fun
And celebrating birthdays with everyone.

“Must have tomorrow sure”
Will be a thing of the past.
The rat race for me
Is over at last!

Indeed, the trials of this life have passed for Jean. Those of us left behind for now mourn because we’d rather have her with us than to be separated. But if our focus is on that long line of eternity and not just the tiny dot of time we now experience, we realize that it won’t be long at all before all of God’s children are gathered to him in a new heaven and a new earth and there we shall be forever and ever, time without end, amen.

The Graveside Service

Jean planned many details of her funeral years ago. She typed up some of it on this sheet I’m holding – scripture verses, vocal and instrumental music. She knew she wanted Brian to sing. She wanted Jason to read scripture. She asked me to do the eulogy. Earlier this year when she reminded me again that I was to do the eulogy, I said to her, “Are you sure you want your son-in-law to have the last word because that could be risky?” But she said she did, so here we are.

Fortunately, no human really has the last word upon someone’s death. God does.

Jean and Chuck with their Bibles outside Third Baptist Church, St. Louis

One of the scriptures Jean wrote on this sheet was Romans 14:7-9. Here Paul says, “For none of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and returned to life for this: that he might be Lord over both the dead and the living.”

And then the true last word of what happens to this world is found in Revelation 21 where we learn about what is to come with God’s new creation:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. Then the one seated on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new.’ He also said, ‘Write, because these words are faithful and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life. The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son.’” (Rev. 21:7-9)

Later in the chapter we read about “the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory.” (Rev. 21:10-11)

We’re told that John in this revelation “did not see a temple in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the lamb…Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:22-23, 27)

We gather at this place to commit Jean’s ashes to the grave. One day, when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again, her earthly body will be resurrected to a perfect, glorified body where she will live with all of God’s people in this new Jerusalem. We can rejoice today in the certainty of that promise and in the reality that God always, always keeps his promises.

Jean’s hand resting in Linda’s as Jean took her final breaths in this life

I admit to being a bit surprised when I first saw a post about John Piper’s recent, small book Coronavirus and Christ. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Since the book was being offered as a free PDF to anyone wanting it, I downloaded it and read it over the past weekend. A slight majority of the book (Part 2) is given to answering the question, “What is God doing through the Coronavirus?” Piper gives six possible answers to that question, but he first deals in Part 1 of the book with the foundational concepts one needs to understand before addressing the question at hand.

The chapters of Part 1 – “The God Who Reigns Over the Coronavirus” – include:

  • Come to the Rock
  • A Solid Foundation
  • The Rock is Righteous
  • Sovereign over All
  • The Sweetness of His Reign

In Part 1, Piper seeks to draw people to the solid Rock, Jesus Christ, as the only sound place to stand in this world of uncertainty. This pandemic has rocked our world in many ways unimaginable just a few months ago. All of us have been impacted in some way, and most of us in significant ways. Piper shares from his personal experience of a cancer diagnosis about how he had to come to grips with the ground on which he stood during that time of physical uncertainty. Now in this pandemic, he writes that his aim is to “show why God in Christ is the Rock at this moment in history—in this pandemic of the coronavirus—and what it is like to stand on his mighty love.”

Reiterated through the book is the truth that “the same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it.” Piper devotes nearly half the book leading up to answering the specific question of Part 2 because he wants the reader to be very clear on the holiness and righteousness and goodness and wisdom of God. In speaking about the sovereignty of God, he explains that God doesn’t just take seemingly bad things that happen (like a pandemic) and then turn them into good somewhere along the line. Rather, he shows how God has a purpose and meaning in them from the beginning. That’s important! This pandemic didn’t sneak up on God and surprise him.

After laying the foundation about God, Piper then offers in Part 2 six reasoned biblical answers to the question, “What is God doing through the Coronavirus?” He admits that God is always doing a billion things we do not know, but at least from the Scriptures we can be sure that God is up to a few specific things during this pandemic. The chapter titles and summary answers below give you the big picture of his answers about this “bitter providence,” but you need to read the entire text to fully understand them:

  • Picturing Moral Horror
    • “God is giving the world in the coronavirus outbreak, as in all other calamities, a physical picture of the moral horror and spiritual ugliness of God-belittling sin.”
  • Sending Specific Divine Judgments
    • “Some people will be infected with the coronavirus as a specific judgment from God because of their sinful attitudes and actions.”
  • Awakening Us for the Second Coming
    • “The coronavirus is a God-given wake-up call to be ready for the second coming of Christ.”
  • Realigning Us with the Infinite Worth of Christ
    • “The coronavirus is God’s thunderclap call for all of us to repent and realign our lives with the infinite worth of Christ.”
  • Creating Good Works in Danger
    • “The coronavirus is God’s call to his people to overcome self-pity and fear, and with courageous joy, to do the good works of love that glorify God.”
  • Loosening Roots to Reach the Nations
    • “In the coronavirus, God is loosening the roots of settled Christians all over the world to make them free for something new and radical and to send them with the gospel of Christ to the unreached peoples of the world.”

Piper closes the small (5″ x 7″ with 112 pages), quick read with a prayer. The back of the book also includes footnotes and a Scripture index which, being a John Piper book, is filled with many, many Scripture references used in the book.

Some people may see just the title of this book and assume his message is no more than the second answer above, “sending specific divine judgments” since that tends to be a common refrain heard from some pulpits when bad things happen in our world. That would be a wrong assumption. There is far more thought and biblical teaching put into this text than that simple, single, partially true answer.

The closing chapter’s prayer will bring home Piper’s passion on this subject. The final paragraph of that 2-page prayer says: “Stretch forth your hand in great awakening for the sake of this perishing world. Let the terrible words of Revelation not be spoken over this generation: ‘Yet still they did not repent.’ As you have stricken bodies, strike now the slumbering souls. Forbid that they would remain asleep in the darkness of pride and unbelief. In your great mercy, say to these bones, ‘Live!’ And bring the hearts and lives of millions into alignment with the infinite worth of Jesus.” Amen.

Please take the few hours it will require and read the free book Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper. If I haven’t convinced you, perhaps the brief intro from John Piper in the video below will.

Since becoming a Christian in high school nearly 50 years ago, reading my Bible has been among the most important things I do daily. I wish I could say that I’ve never missed a day, but that but be woefully untrue. Still, by God’s grace I’ve been able to read the Bible cover to cover over 30 times in the past 40+ years. Each time I finish a reading, I choose a different translation or study Bible or edition I’ve never read before and then embark on the next trek through that new-to-me translation or edition. It is not at all surprising that each time I read it, the Lord teaches me things and reveals Himself to me in ways unique to where I am and what He knows I need at that point in my life.

Yesterday I completed reading through the massive, 2534-page Reformation Study Bible. Of all the study Bibles or other Bibles I have read through the decades, this is by far my favorite. I have loved and benefited from many others that I continue to use when prepping a Bible study class such as the ESV Study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible, The Apologetics Study Bible, the Archaeology Study Bible, the Gospel Transformation Bible, The Spurgeon Study Bible and more, but for reasons I’ll share below, the Reformation Study Bible is the one I’d choose to have with me if I was stranded on that proverbial desert island if I could only choose one.

The late, great Dr. R. C. Sproul was the general editor of this Bible which was last released in 2015 with an update to its previous, somewhat smaller edition. With Sproul as the editor, you can be assured that the commentary reflected by the contributions of 75 theologians is soundly Reformed in its understanding of the Scriptures and of our faith. As one aligned with that tradition, it was a pleasure devoting about two years to praying my way through the ESV biblical text and studying my way through all the related commentary, theological articles, study aids, notes, confessions of faith, etc. Admittedly, as a Southern Baptist I have to disagree with the editors’ stand on infant baptism, but that one issue aside, I can honestly say I never encountered another topic in its pages with which I disagreed with the explanation. The notes are thoughtful, thorough, and defended from the whole of Scripture.

Each Bible book begins with ample introductory material about such matters as the book’s title, author, date, occasion, genre, literary features, characteristics and primary themes, theology, where that book fits in the larger story of the Bible, how Christ is reflected in that book, its history of interpretation, and any special issues noted. A generous quantity of commentary notes are provided at the bottom of each page with some pages having more commentary than biblical text, although that is not the norm. Major Bible sections such as the Pentateuch, historical books, poetry, wisdom literature, prophets, the Gospels and Acts, and the epistles have additional introductions. I loved reading through the 100+ pages of several creeds, confessions and catechisms. Sprinkled throughout the book are 70 helpful theological notes or articles and the detail notes on particular verses point you to those theological notes as appropriate. I have found many of those notes useful when preparing to speak or teach others on a host of subjects. As you would expect from most Bibles, you’ll also find plenty of cross references inside verses to related passages elsewhere and brief textual footnotes along with helpful maps, tables, a concordance, and other resources.

I have to say that the only real issue I had was with some of the print itself. The cross references in the margins and in the brief footnotes in between the biblical text at the top of the pages and the commentary at the bottom are of such a tiny size that it was difficult for my aging eyes to read them if I had my contact lens in which I need for distance due to being nearsighted. I never had an issue reading the biblical text, commentary, theological notes, etc. with or without my contacts, but when I was settling in for my hour a day of personal study I had to remove my contacts for the smallest print to be readable. Also, be prepared to carry some weight around with you if you intend to make this the Bible you take to church or elsewhere. My copy weighed in at a hefty four pounds and five ounces. It may result in a few strange looks from others on occasion.

There are many excellent study Bibles on the market. I hope you use a number of them regularly in your study of the Word as I do. I especially hope and recommend that you own the Reformation Study Bible for the excellent, thorough, biblically sound study notes in addition to the wonderful English Standard Version (ESV) translation it uses. It will be a source of help and insight worth using the rest of your life.

Check out the brief promotional video below by Dr. Sproul. Several options are available in terms of binding to fit a variety of budgets – all worth the cost many times over.