Why you probably need a new Bible

This post will sound a little like a license to be extravagant or possibly even irresponsible. That isn’t my intention. But I want to challenge the thinking that if you have a Bible, you don’t need another one. This is the sort of thinking that classifies the Bible as a book. If you have one copy, why would you need another? There are a number of reasons I think you probably need a new Bible.

Two obvious reasons

There are some obvious reasons for why you probably need a new Bible. Is your Bible a paperback? Paperback books are made to be read once and put on a shelf. They aren’t built for repetitive reading. As you read a paperback book repeatedly, it will quickly become worn out, and begin to fall apart. Since the spine is glued, it will harden and crack with use, and eventually, the pages will start to fall out. Further, the paper in a paperback is generally of a low quality and doesn’t hold highlighting well. Paperback Bibles are great to give away, but not a great Bible for sustained use. If you regularly use a paperback Bible, you probably need a new Bible. Similarly, if your Bible is falling apart, it’s probably time to get another one. A Bible that is falling apart indicates it’s owner probably isn’t, but it makes simple things like traveling with it, reading your Bible standing up (e.g. in a church service), or reading your Bible outside quite difficult. It’s probably time for a new one.

A Bible that is falling apart indicates it’s owner probably isn’t.

A reason for your affections

If you’ve never held or seen a beautiful Bible, then you’re missing out on a simple, but powerful pleasure. We all struggle with the desires of the flesh, but why should sensory pleasure only serve the flesh? God made the senses, and He intends us to enjoy His creation. This is why sensory pleasure can be a powerful motivator. If you don’t like leather, you might want to skip the next paragraph. If you know someone who has a beautiful Bible, take a look at it. I don’t mean someone with a bonded leather Bible. Bonded leather is just ground leather mixed with a bonding agent or resin and pressed onto paper or cloth to look like leather. No, by a beautiful Bible, I mean a Bible in goat, calf or lamb skin. Smell the leather (OK, I know not everybody likes the smell of leather), feel its suppleness and the way the pages fall. Enjoy its visual appeal, and texture. Examine the texture of the pages and any stamping on the cover. Would having a Bible like this make you want to pick it up and read it? Having a beautiful Bible, one that you enjoy has the effect of drawing on you, beckoning you to pick it up and open it. This is what a Bible is for. The more reasons you can find to want to pick up and read your Bible, the more you will pick it up and read it. If sensory pleasure helps, use it to the advantage of your soul.
The more reasons you can find to want to pick up and read your Bible, the more you will pick it up and read it.

That sounds indulgent!

Yes, it does sound indulgent. However, if we spend a lot of money on “stuff” (cars, hobbies, houses, clothes, furniture, etc.), but we won’t spend money on a good Bible, what does that say about our priorities? Or, more to the point, what does it say about how you think of the word of God? The real reason buying an expensive Bible sounds indulgent is because if the Bible is a book, then it is only marginally more valuable than any other book, which is to say, it isn’t very valuable. But if the Bible is a tool for your soul, spending money on it so that that it will last a lifetime and even outlast you is money well spent. If you’re going to be indulgent in spending, your Bible is a better area to spend it on than TV’s, entertainment or even coffee (yes, really). It is worth pointing out that beautiful modern Bibles are something that we can only have as a result of material prosperity. There may be other places more worthwhile than this on which you should spend money. Unfortunately, most of us (including myself) are not as diligent to spend money in the right places as we could be. The point here is that our Bibles are a better place to spend money than most of the other material things we tend to spend money on.
Our Bibles are a better place to spend money than most of the other material things we tend to spend money on
If you’ve never owned a beautiful Bible, and you can responsibly afford to (or can save up), I encourage you to give yourself permission to spend money on a new Bible. Budget on US$200-300. Yes it sounds like a lot of money, but it will last a lifetime, you’ll enjoy it, and you’ll use it.

The Purpose Driven Bible

If you have just one Bible, you probably need a new Bible. Let me suggest that you probably need something small to carry around for quick reference, particularly if you travel a lot. You can highlight key passages in a Bible like this so that you can quickly find them when you are talking with someone. I encourage you to write in your Bible. To do this well, you probably want to invest in a wide-margin Bible, so that you have space to write alongside the text. This is especially important for your quiet time when you’re more likely to write notes related to your reading and learning. If you do preaching and teaching a Bible that has lesson outlines in it might be beneficial. You could use your quiet time Bible, but then you might want something with a slightly larger font, so you don’t have to be as close when you’re reading it. Also, having teaching outlines in your quiet time Bible might undermine the way you read your Bible in your quiet time, switching your focus from learning and examining your heart to what you’d say to others. In your quiet time, what you are challenged by is more important than how you want to see others challenged. If you read the Bible to your family, you probably want something different to what you read for yourself. Small children won’t benefit from an ESV like they might from something else. If you have an older family and they all read from one translation, reading another translation might keep family devotions fresh.
If we spend a lot of money on “stuff,” but we won’t spend money on a good Bible, what does that say about our priorities?

Do you have different translations?

You probably need several translations for yourself too. Maybe, like me you’ve engaged in the Bible translation wars that go on in churches all the time. The reality is that there is no perfect translation, which is one reason I’m a fan of learning to read in the original language. However, the fact of translation differences also necessitates that you know some of these differences. You need at least one literal translation (more technically known as a formal equivalence translation) such as the NASB, KJV, HCSB or ESV. Of course, there is no such thing as a truly literal translation, but the benefit of these translations is that they try to be faithful to the words of the divine author. You probably also want at least one dynamic equivalent translation such as the NIV or the New Living Translation. It is surprising how many people use these, and the wording is often very different. The different text can be refreshing and enlightening or even confusing or plain wrong. Having some idea of the differences can be helpful. My Old Testament professor and friend, Dr. Barrick, reads through the Bible each year (sometimes twice), but changes translation each year, at times reading a regular Bible, other times reading a study Bible and perusing its notes.

A Bible always at hand

If the Bible is instructive and relevant, then you should probably have one nearby. It is handy to have one in the dining room for when you eat dinner (particularly for a family). It is also helpful to have one by the bed and in the living areas. In fact, I once heard John MacArthur explain that wherever he sat in his home, he had a Bible within arm’s length. While this might sound excessive, these Bibles have accumulated over a multi-decade ministry, and it testifies to how much time he spends in them and how important the Bible is to him. More importantly, it tells you that it is a ready resource that he often goes to. As I reflect on that, I’m fairly sure that my soul and those of the people around me would be better off if a Bible were always at hand and I picked it up and referred to it.

Thinking about a new Bible?

I hope you’re convinced that you need more than one Bible. If not, I’m not the first person to say it, nor do I say it alone. If you’re considering buying a beautiful Bible, and you just want a quick place to find one, you could purchase an Allan’s from bible-direct.co.uk. They ship free around the world, and Allan’s Bibles are well made and have that amazing sensory impact. There is also the Bible Buying Guide which reviews Bibles in every price category. If you have just one Bible, or your Bible is falling apart, or all your bibles are the same translation, or if you don’t love your Bible, you probably need a new Bible.

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