This is my way overdue review of the NLT Discover God Study Bible graciously sent to me by Laura Bartlett over at Tyndale Publishers.
The purpose and intent of the Discover God Study Bible is to help those who use it to learn more about God (who he is and how he works in our lives) and to glean from the biblical text what it means to know God as well as the different ways we come to know him.
In many ways I would say it is a devotional Bible in its focus more so than a study Bible such as in the NLT Study Bible sense – and I think this is perfectly okay. Christians need devotional resources to help in their own personal spiritual formation and knowing God, or discovering God is a very important aspect of that process. In fact, do we really ever stop “discovering” who God is and how he works in our lives? Not a chance. I personally think our discovering God will keep on even well into eternity.
The lay out of the Bible is pretty much in line with most typical study Bibles. The main difference is the single column layout of the text with notes at the bottom. References are center column. There are paragraph headings with maps variously interspersed throughout with brief descriptions, also it is a red letter edition. Each book has introductory notes with sections such as “Discover God in Levitucus” (covering the main theme of holiness) “Growing through Leviticus” (addressing issues of personal holiness and worship) “Levitucus Facts” (that covers authorship, provenance, etc) followed by a brief outline. Replace Leviticus with any other book title and that’s the general format. There’s no stance on who wrote Hebrews, though not Paul.
So what makes it different? It’s emphasis on knowing God or as it is titled, ‘Discover God.” Really, it’s a focus on the attributes of God. It is based off the late Bill Bright’s teachings. This alone can let you know the nature of many of the notes. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing but it may help make sense of some of the notes. For example at 1 Timothy 2:11-15 the note reads:
2:11-15 In the assembly, women are to submit to the leadership of the men by listening and learning “quietly and submissively” (compare 1 Corinthians 14:34-35). Verse 12 refers to the distinctive, suthoratative activity by which the teacher presents the God’s Word and applies it. Thus, Paul forbids women to teach men and to hold positions of “authority over them.” However, they are commanded to teach other women (compare Titus 2:4-5). The word “saved” in verse 15 makes sense if it refers to sanctification (compare 1 Timothy 4:16; Philippians 2:12), not justification. Christian women should recognize that childbearing can be a unique and important means of sanctification in their lives.
Other key features of the Bible include what is billed at the Topic Guide System. The first 60 pages or so of this study edition has a guide for major teachings of the Bible in a topical format. Such topis include Discover the Bible, Discover Worship, Discover God, Discover Holiness, Discover Salvation, Discover Purpose, Discover Ministry and so on. Under each category then is a list of topics related to the theme. For example, for the category of Discover Holiness there are a few statements set a maxim such as:
“Because God has set me apart as His special possession, I can live a life of transformed service“
“Because God has commanded me to grow in grace and obedience, I will look to Christ’s perfect example as my standard for holiness.”
Each thematic category has statements similar to these and they are spread throughout the Bible where the related themes occur. I did find it interesting there wasn’t a statement that started out “Because God is Holy…” So moving on, there is a topical listing based off key questions related to the thematic topic. For holiness questions are asked: “What does it mean to be holy?” “What are the standards of personal holiness?” or “What is our role in holiness?”
With this last question, one then learns about delighting in God rather than sin, identifying ourselves with Christ’s life and work, educating ourselves and our family with Christ life and work, trusting God while facing temptation, and yielding to the Spirit. The part about delighting in God is then broken down to rejoicing in repentance, Gladness in God, and joy in discovering God and so on. Of course verses are given to help support and explore these themes and ideas.
So this is the basic approach to how the Bible works – there are lots of different ways people and use this Bible for their own benefit and perhaps also in a small group format. It covers quite a few essential teachings of the Bible and the Christian faith: God, Faith, Salvation, Adoption, Church, Worship and the like. Overall I think this is a great Bible most Christians would like to have and use mainly for devotional purposes to help them learn more about God and the Christian life.