April 24, 2018
Recently I did an online search for the Contemporary English Version (CEV) of the Bible produced by the American Bible Society and discovered that Bridge-Logos had released The Challenge Study Bible in CEV this very month! I immediately requested a copy, which the publisher kindly sent in a hardback with large print even in the footnotes.
As you’ve most likely noticed, a larger font for footnotes is highly unusual, but then so is this unique edition, supervised by Don Wilkerson, co-founder of the highly successful Teen Challenge program begun over 50 years ago to help people who suffer from various dysfunctions find ways to function well – physically, mentally, and spiritually.
In addition to the accurate, reader-friendly text of CEV, this special edition includes words of guidance, wisdom, inspiration, and encouragement in footnotes gleaned from a variety of current and classical Christian leaders. With rehab a major emphasis, the publishing team has successfully shown Christians of all ages and backgrounds the spiritual tools and social skills needed to get through tough times with God’s help.
For example, the first footnote in Genesis 1:1 says, “Nothing lasts that is not rooted and grounded in the nature and character of God. A God who created mankind and the whole world by the Word of His power certainly can recreate those in the process of needing a life change.” The reader is then encouraged to check out the topic “Conversion” in the Topical Index, page 1912.
Turning to that page, we find:
A man can never change himself; but it is also gloriously true that what he cannot do, Jesus Christ can do for him. (Acts 26:1)
A person can give up drink, drugs, and crime, but what is needed is a complete transformation by the power of God. (1 Thess. 1:9)
God can recreate those in the process of needing a life change. (Gen. 1:1)
Let this be your turning point to seek God and follow in His ways and will. (Isa. 48:18)
Nature forms us, sin deforms us, but Christ transforms us! (1 Cor. 6:9)
The topical index then suggests seeing “New Beginnings, New Birth, New Life” for relevant scriptures. So, turning to “New Life,” for example, the statement “When Jesus came into your life, you were made brand spanking new,” concludes with a reference to 2 Cor. 5:17, which, in the CEV, says:
“Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.”
The 5:17 footnote goes on to say:
“The word new is from the Greek word ‘kairos,’ intended to describe something that is brand-new or recently made. It also carries the idea of something that is superior. When Jesus Christ came into your life, you were made brand spanking new. The new you is superior to the older you. In fact, you are so new that you’re called a new creature. The word ‘creature’ is the same word used to describe the creation of the world. When God created the universe, He used no existing materials or old elements to make anything…. Now the same word is used to describe what happened to you the day you got saved. Everything about you is a ‘new you’.”
That doesn’t mean we won’t slip back into old habits or unworkable ways that take us away from God's Way! Not surprisingly then, this edition includes scriptures on topics such as “Relapse/Backsliding,” “Relapses, Avoiding,” and even “Relapse, Causes of,” all of which intend to provide both warnings and encouragement as we become more adept at living life in the spirit, power, and word of the Lord.
Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer
The Challenge Study Bible, hardcover