I’m a firm believer in studying the Bible every day. To be honest, I don’t do it every day but it’s my desire and I attempt to make the effort. The reason we read and study our Bibles every day is that they bring us the very words of God. As Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 32:47 about the Word of God, “These are no idle words for you, but your very life.” I could go on and spend pages writing about the benefits of Bible study. Instead I want to give you 5 books that I believe will enrich and strengthen your personal study of the Scriptures. There are, of course, many other books. These are just my top 5.
I will say up front that these books are not cheap. They are reference books and they tend to get expensive, although the link I have provided should get you to the best prices. Just click on the highlighted text.
There is no substitute for sitting down with just your Bible and a journal. You don’t need any of these books to study the Bible. All you really need is the Holy Spirit to guide you into it’s truths. However, these can enrich and enhance your study, making it even more fruitful. So here goes…
- The ESV Study Bible. The notes in this study Bible are excellent. They provide valuable insight, background and understanding to the Scriptures. From the publisher, “The ESV Study Bible was created to help you encounter the truth of God's Word as a powerful, life-changing reality. To accomplish this, it combines the best evangelical scholarship with the text, which, as an "essentially literal" translation, is especially suited for Bible study.” You can get it in a variety of covers like leather, hardcover, etc.
- The Gospel Transformation Bible. I love this Bible. It helps the reader understand the Christ-centeredness of all of the Scriptures. From the publisher, “The apostle Paul summed up his whole ministry as existing “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). That single-minded goal is the heartbeat of the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. Produced out of the conviction that the Bible is a unified message of God’s grace culminating in Jesus, it is a significant new tool to help readers see Christ in all of Scripture, and grace for all of life.”
- Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Have you ever read the Bible and wondered what certain imagery it was trying to convey? What do the cedars of Lebanon mean? This huge compendium is extremely helpful in understanding the images of the Bible that we may not naturally get due to the fact that it was written in a different culture and times. From the publisher, “The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery is the first contemporary reference work dedicated to exploring the images, symbols, motifs, metaphors and literary patterns found in the Bible. More than that, it examines the Bible's universal archetypes or master images--including the plot motifs and character types that recur throughout life, literature and the Bible.”
- Systematic Theology, by Wayne Grudem. Doctrine is important. Theology can be confusing. This is a solid reformed systematic theology that will help you make sense out of the doctrine of Scriptures. From the publisher, “The Christian church has a long tradition of systematic theology, that is, studying theology and doctrine organized around fairly standard categories such as the Word of God, redemption, and Jesus Christ. This introduction to systematic theology has several distinctive features: - A strong emphasis on the scriptural basis for each doctrine and teaching - Clear writing, with technical terms kept to a minimum - A contemporary approach, treating subjects of special interest to the church today - A friendly tone, appealing to the emotions and the spirit as well as the intellect - Frequent application to life - Resources for worship with each chapter - Bibliographies with each chapter that cross-reference subjects to a wide range of other systematic theologies.
- The Westminster Confession of Faith with Larger and Shorter Catechisms. A concise theology of the reformed faith. This confession guides our understanding of the core doctrines of the Bible. Catechesis is the art of learning through memorizing questions and answers. Many children as well as pastors have used this to grasp the basic doctrines. The particular edition I am recommending references the Scriptures that each doctrine is based on.
I hope this helps!