When Hendrickson Bibles kindly sent me a review copy of the Fire Bible, my first impression was, “Huge!”
At 9” wide, over 11” long, and over 2” deep, this large print hardback study edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) should work exceptionally well on a pulpit or a study desk. Despite the unlikelihood of our carrying it to our Bible study groups or sit around reading it on our laps, it’s what I’ve been looking for – a large print Bible with large print footnotes, which require ample space.
Originally known as the Full Life Study Bible, this expanded edition includes study notes from the late Donald C. Stamps, a pastor and prolific writer who had a vision of a study Bible that would especially appeal to Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians. Although he did not live to see his work in print, the Fire Bible accomplishes his goal with study notes and articles of interest to most students of the Bible.
Those study helps include “Contents: Articles,” “God’s Plan of Salvation,” a cross-reference system, book introductions, theme finders, subject index, concordance, and more.
To give you an example of the articles, the one on “The Fear of the Lord” says, “By fearing God, we can avoid being trapped by the natural pull toward going our own way, defying God and giving in to the inviting ways of immoral behavior.”
But what does that fear mean? The article goes on to explain that the fear of the Lord “involves understanding several things about a believer’s relationship with God.” For instance, “we must recognize that God is loving, merciful and forgiving; but he also is holy, just and righteous.” Therefore, we’re “to be in awe of his holiness, to give him complete reverence and to honor him as the God of great glory, majesty, purity and power.”
Such high regard shows we can trust God to be wholly free of pettiness, mean-spiritedness, or any kind of evil. Nevertheless, “It is a sobering and absolute truth that God is constantly aware of our actions and motives, both good and bad, and that we will be held accountable for those actions….”
Thankfully, the Bible gives us the guidance needed to keep our actions in line with God’s will. Consider, for instance, Psalm 1:2, which tells us the “blessed” person meditates on God’s law days and night. As the footnote for that verse explains, “Those who desire to live with God’s blessing and favor meditate on God’s law (i.e., his Word) in order to shape their thinking, attitudes and actions in a positive way.” Yes!
As we read the Bible, again and again, God’s Word corrects and perfects our way of looking at things, freeing us from misconceptions and the darkened thoughts most of us receive from bad experiences. Although we can do nothing to change the past, we can ask for God’s healing over our memories and hurts, and we can re-form our skewed thinking by meditating on God’s Word.
How? The footnote on Psalm 1:2 goes on to suggest we consider the following questions:
“How might God’s Spirit be applying this verse to my present situation?
What is this passage teaching me about God’s character?
Is there a promise here for me to recognize and claim?
Is this passage revealing a particular sin I must try to avoid?
Is God giving a command I must obey?
How should this truth affect my relationship with other people?
Is my spirit in hamony with what the Holy Spirit is saying?
Is the passage expressing a truth about God, salvation, sin, the word or my personal behavior that I need to understand better with the Holy Spirit’s help?
Is there something in this passage I can thank or praise God for?
How can I grow closer to God in light of what he is showing me through his Word?”
In the New Testament, the first words in the Gospel of John let us know that God’s Word comes to us, fully embodied in Christ Jesus. “Also, the Word describes Jesus as the perfect revelation and representation of the Father’s nature and character…. That is to say, he is God in human form.”
By living among us and being part of our everyday lives, Jesus showed us The Way to the Father and The Way to live on earth. And, amazingly, Jesus showed His trust – God’s trust in us! In Matthew 5:13, for example, we are called “the salt of the earth.” Those words aren’t calling us to become the salt of the earth, but to accept the fact as Jesus sees it: “You are the salt of the earth.”
As we meditate on that verse and what it means in our lives, the footnotes provide these insights:
“Salt seasons and flavors food, just as Christians should enhance and favorably influence the people and society around them. Salt is a preservative, just as Christians and the church should resist moral corruption and decay, preserving a godly influence on the culture. In addition, salt has healing properties, just as Christ’s followers must help bring healing to people who are hurting physically, emotionally and spiritually. Salt also creates thirst, just as Christians – through their good example – should create spiritual thirst or desire in others to know more about God.”
May we, too, know more about God as we let God’s Word reshape our thoughts and lives.
Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, poet-writer and lifelong student of God’s Word
Fire Bible, large print, hardcover
December 12, 2017
March 5, 2013
The previous article on the Bible Reviewer discussed “Bible editions for research and accuracy,” ending with my list of personal favorites, but I forgot the study Bible I often borrow from the most scholarly and liturgically-minded person in my home – the Spirit-Filled Life Bible, New King James Version (NKJV) published in 1991 by Thomas Nelson Publishers.
In the “Introduction” of this innovative edition, the General Editor Jack W. Hayford explains: “The Spirit-Filled Life Bible is the first of its kind, in which a broadly representative team from more than twenty denominations and independent fellowships has been banded together to produce a study Bible integrating the Pentecostal-Charismatic viewpoint.”
Since that viewpoint comes from such a wide-ranging group of believers, common beliefs needed to be established first to prepare a work that would be acceptable and helpful. Interestingly, these basic points of agreement included the main convictions of most denominations, who come together as one in the Body of Christ held by these beliefs:
Belief in the virgin birth of Jesus
Belief in the sinless life of Jesus
Belief in the atoning death of Jesus
Belief in the Risen Christ
Belief in Christ’s ascension into Heaven
Belief in the divine inspiration and authority of the Word of God
Belief in the Holy Spirit, at work today, empowering Christians and the Church Body of Christ
With the above beliefs and ongoing prayer to unify the team, this study edition opens with a large section on “Kingdom Dynamics” from Bible teachers and pastors whose names you might recognize from television – men and women, who love God and continually devour Holy Scripture.
Each of these contributors presents a theme topic with a short description and list of “Kingdom Dynamic” principles keyed to relevant scripture. When you turn to those verses, you find a box inset in the text, briefly expounding on that particular passage.
Other textual inserts include “Word Wealth,” which defines words we often hear without always knowing the origin or imagery they’re meant to convey. For further options in word studies, the back of the book includes a concordance followed by pages of very clear and colorful maps.
As typically occurs in the fine quality of Bibles published by Thomas Nelson, the font used throughout this edition is clear and readable in the text but also in the footnotes. Those footnotes, in fact, drew me to investigate the above, so I could tell you about the insights and interesting info I found, but better, the notes can show you.
For example, remember the story where some believers bring a paralytic friend to be healed, but crowds prevent them from getting anywhere near Jesus? So what do they do? They lift the tiles off the flat roof of the house where He’s teaching and lower the paralyzed person down from the ceiling! As the New King James Version (NKJV) goes on to say:
“When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you’,” Mark 2:5.
If you grew up hearing Bible stories, you’ve surely heard that one. I had too, but the footnote in the Spirit-Filled Life Bible came as news to me! To quote that note with my parenthesis and italicized emphasis added:
“The response of Jesus reflects the Jewish view (at that time) that forgiveness of sins must precede physical healing.” (i.e., Since the friends undoubtedly knew that, Jesus addressed the whole situation from their understanding, background, experiences, and perspective as they peered down on their paralyzed friend.) “Whether or not this particular disease was the consequence of sin, Jesus went to the heart of the matter. Sin and disease are effects of evil, and Jesus reveals God’s opposition to evil in any way it may manifest. His goal is to bring complete wholeness to people.”
Amen and amen!
©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler
P.S. Well, once again, I went to Amazon’s website to find the study Bible just described and discovered a newer edition! That would not, of course, change the genuine leather-covered copy I hold in my hand, but it might mean you can find a good price on one like it with a little searching on the Internet. (My search would start with Christianbook.com) If, however, you want the updated version, here’s a place to order a paperback copy of the newest edition: