- - Thursday, September 1, 2016

The first day of January often brings a resolve to rekindle the daily habit of Bible reading. But like the New Year, the first day of September is also an equally good day to refresh your commitment for Scripture intake too. The summer is over. The kids are heading back to a new academic year.

With four months to go in the calendar year, why not commit yourself to some plan of Bible reading — on your own, or with your family or a friend? You could easily go through the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), or the book of Psalms. Or even the whole New Testament, taking about two chapters per day.

And if you want to pick up a new tool for help in understanding the message of the Bible, let me recommend the volumes pictured above.

Crossway Books recently published these 2-volumes, each about 600 pages in length, as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Reformed Theological Seminary. The authors are all drawn from the pool of Evangelical, Reformed scholarship that teaches (or has taught) at this institution.

If you’ve ever used a good study Bible that contains explanatory material at the front of each book of the Bible, then you’re familiar with the basic contours of what makes up these two volumes. That said, sometimes these introductions can leave something to be desired—too short, too long, too technical, too superficial. So why bother? Why not just skip it and move right into the divine text?

On the other hand, there’s nothing like a good road map to give some guidance on the journey. And that’s the strength of these volumes. They provide a lively and efficient “Biblical-theological introduction” to each book of the Bible. I’ve been using them in my daily Bible reading for a few weeks now, and have truly profited from gems of insight scattered throughout each chapter.

In his foreword, Ligon Duncan, Chancellor of RTS and professor of theology, explains the rationale for the volumes:

There are several unique features and aspirations of these volumes. First, they are aimed at pastors and interested Christian readers, rather than fellow scholars. We at RTS value and produce resources intended for a scholarly audience, but the aim of these volumes is churchly edification, hence they are designed for accessibility. Second, they are written by scholars of biblical studies who are unafraid of and indeed very much appreciative of dogmatics. In many seminaries, even evangelical seminaries, there exists an unhealthy relationship between biblical theology and systematic theology, but at RTS we value both and want our students to understand their necessary and complementary value. To understand the Bible, and the Christian faith, one needs both the insights of a redemptive-historical approach and those of topical-doctrinal study. Third, these volumes unashamedly come from the standpoint of biblical inerrancy and Reformed theology. A high view of Scripture and a warm embrace of confessional Reformed theology are hallmarks Foreword 11 of RTS, and these ideals shine through these books. Fourth, these introductions are designed to be pastoral and helpful. Preachers, ministry leaders, Bible teachers, students, and others engaged in Christian discipleship are in view. We want to edify you and help you edify others.

May these volumes bless the church of Jesus Christ for generations to come as it seeks to know his Word better and to proclaim it to the nations.

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