I realized something important while unpacking my books: I have a lot of Bibles. And a lot of different kinds of Bibles, at that. Reference and study Bibles, journalling and note-taking Bibles, transformational and children’s Bibles…
And also The Gospel Project Bible.
Long before I started loving it professionally, I was a big fan of The Gospel Project. At our church in London, I taught our older kids classes using it for three years. It was amazing to see the kids start to understand that, from start to finish, the Bible really is about Jesus. I loved seeing how preparing to teach challenged me to think about how I was living in light of the big story. To my actions in light of the call to make disciples of all nations.
Today, I am not sharing a review of this Bible, per se. Given my professional association, I’m not sure I even could. But what I do want to do is share three things I appreciate about how reading it has helped me—and why it might be worth considering.
1. I like that it helps to better “connect the dots”
I remember scratching my head as a new believer as I read Jesus telling the Pharisees that “…the Scriptures…testify about Me” (John 5:39). And I might have even envied the two disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (a little). The ones to whom “He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). How could I not? I wanted to know what Jesus taught them.
This is something the Holy Spirit helps us all with today. Through his presence in us, he gives us eyes to see and wisdom to understand the story of Scripture. To recognize that everything that happened throughout Israel’s history—and indeed, all of human history—was leading to one key moment. The moment when God the Son would take on human flesh, live among us, die for us, and rise again from the grave.
Where this Bible helps is by pointing you in the direction of some of these key connection points (“Christ Connections”). And there’s the key word: “pointing”. The purpose of these isn’t to remove the need for any serious consideration on your part. Instead, it’s to give you rails to run on as you study for yourself and trust the Holy Spirit to give you understanding.
2. I like that it increases a sense of worship while reading Scripture
There’s something funny that happens (at least for me) when I start better connecting the dots on what’s happening in Scripture: I feel a greater sense of awe. Better understanding, in my experience, leads to greater worship. When I have a better sense of what God has done to save sinners like me, I want to give him praise.
If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate that in both the Christ connections and quotes throughout, but also the devotional articles that appear throughout. These are written as study notes, but as meditations on the story of redemption at key points. For example, in a devotional on 2 Kings 22:11-13, we read:
The tearing of Josiah’s clothes reminds us of the time when Roman soldiers tore up and divided Christ’s clothes (Lk 23:34). Jesus embodied a spirit of humility. We see it not only in His words—”The gentle are blessed, for they will inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5) and “I am gentle and humble in heart” (11:29)—but also in His actions, for “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Php 2:8). Both Josiah’s and Jesus’ clothes were torn on behalf of their people’s sins. However, the tearing of Christ’s clothes was not out of repentance but rather out of forgiveness: “Father, forgive them,” said Jesus, “because they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
The authors of these devotionals want you to worship. To be amazed by God’s grace poured out for you as you understand the glimpses and shadows of Christ’s work in what came before his earthly ministry. When I read them, that’s certainly my experience. I hope it’s one you’ll share.
3. I like that it causes me to think deeply about my role in the mission of God
In the same way that preparing to teach challenged my heart, the reflections on the story of redemption force me to consider my response to God’s grace. God’s given me such a wonderful gift of grace. I can’t keep it to myself. So how will I live differently?
Back home, there were many opportunities that I didn’t take advantage of as well as I would have liked. There were times when I should have spoken up and didn’t. And now that I’m in a different community—and country—it’s tempting to use that as an out.
But that would be wrong. I am new in town, but I am not excused from the call to make disciples.
A devotional Bible isn’t going to provide the answers on what that looks like, of course. That’s certainly beyond the scope. But here’s something to consider: remember how I said I wish I’d better understood what Jesus taught on the road to Emmaus? Well, what about taking a brand-new believer through a book of the Bible with this book as an aid? Or what if this Bible were your go-to gift Bible for someone who is exploring the faith? Someone who wants to know if the claims of Christianity are true—or at least the most important one?
I’m not saying this Bible is your silver bullet for chasing away your wandering heart issues, or your fears about evangelism. But the fact is, people need to know the good news of Jesus. All people need this. And they need to hear it from people who are captivated by it. And whatever other benefits using this Bible might bring, I believe that’s what you’ll most likely experience in the end.