As you might have remembered last week I posted a Bible reading plan to get myself through the rest of 2013 and read the New Testament in its entirety. I also encouraged and recommended picking up something like the Gospel Transformation Bible (GTB) as a resource to read through the New Testament and also to get some helpful notes on the text that will enable some better understanding of the text as well as its particular application to daily life.
As I've spent a week with Matthew and the GTB's notes this week I wanted to give a brief review of the notes and highlight a few of them that have stood out to me.
Gospel Motivated Notes
First, I've really appreciated the way the notes in Matthew have emphasized gospel-centered motivations and not legalistic "how-to" points of application. Matthew's emphasis on the universal Lordship of Jesus is staggering and his commitment to portray Jesus as King over all things is seen throughout the entire Gospel. With that there is a sober-reality check that Jesus has a rightful claim over all things, including my life. Furthermore, that claim determines that I live in such a way as a follower of his. Yet Matthew makes it clear that Jesus is the one who makes that "kingdom way" clear for us in himself. It is in Christ and him alone that I am transformed to live out the kingdom way of Christ. In step with that Frank Thielman's notes in Matthew reflects that emphasis.
God continues to help his people at their points of need, not because of anything within themselves that makes them worthy of his help but because he is a gracious and merciful God who delights in helping the needy (Notes at Matthew 14:1-36 - page 1292).
Christian discipleship is genuine when it arises from a heart and mind transformed by God's grace, and this inner transformation, which Matthew calls repentance, will inevitably bear good fruit (Notes at Matthew 7:15-23 - page 1279).
Raising The Affections of My Soul
Secondly, this "study Bible" isn't so much of a study Bible as it is a devotional Bible. Now that can be a disastrous label to serious-minded students of the Scripture. Most things that are labeled "devotional" are fluffy, doctrinally weak "Chicken Soup for the Angst-Ridden Middle-Aged Man's Soul" kind of books. The Gospel Transformation Bible isn't that. It's a Bible with notes that have helped me engage the Scripture more closely and more than anything love Christ more fully. These Bible notes have helped raise my affections for Christ.
Many study Bibles have more notes that the Scripture has text. I don't get that with the GTB (and at points I was wanting for notes that were not there). However the notes that were present were helpful. They made me think about the gospel. They made me reflect more on Christ. Every day my heart has been challenged to live in light of the gospel and to know and enjoy Christ more. I've really benefited from this sort of format.
I am honestly excited to keep reading through the Scriptures and the notes found in this edition. Matthew alone has been a needed challenge to the way I live my life under the Kingship of Christ and the notes have been a helpful supplement in enabling me to think through those areas of application well.
Who Is The GTB For?
I have to recommend this resource to pretty much everybody. We gave a copy of this to every Gospel Community leader at Journey the Way to resource and help them as they prepare each week to lead their groups. I think it will encourage and benefit just about anyone who will pick it up and engage it.
Westminster Books has some great deals on different covered editions of the GTB and I would encourage you to pick one up. You can click the links below to find one that fits your personality!