The MacArthur Study Bible was one of the many books given out to pastors at the Together for the Gospel conference. Being the servant I am, I was able to relieve the workers of one of the damaged copies. After all, it wouldn't be seemly to give away a damaged copy, right?! But we "bottom feeders" at any event are always happy to live at the lowest rung of the food chain and catch whatever crumbs we can. And this was a mighty big crumb! Thank you, Grace Books International!
This is the newly released second edition, a New American Standard Bible translation packed full of study notes and comments from Dr. MacArthur. This week, I've been reading through the book of Acts. I have gleaned so much from the study notes, even though we would have some differences in doctrine. I respect how Dr. MacArthur has studied to arrive at his cessationist position, while my pastors and I are continuationists with respect to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, that pops up only occasionally in the comments and it is useful for me to read them to better understand his position. (However, as I understand it, we all agree on the doctrines of grace.) With that said, I heartily recommend supplementing your personal study with a Bible such as this one. A great example of the value of his commentary would be the note on Acts 13:29-30. Dr. MacArthur writes, "The OT predicted the crucifixion of Christ on a cross (Ps 22; Dt 21) at a time when this particular form of execution was not used. His burial in a 'tomb' was also prophesied (Is 53:9), yet victims of crucifixions were commonly tossed into mass graves." What a priceless nugget!
This Bible starts with a number of supplements, including an apologetic for the authenticity of the Bible and its preservation over time. If you are not familiar with the science of textual criticism, you may find this article on "How We Got the Bible" to be quite illuminating. There is also an article on "How to Study the Bible." I'd like to share with you one segment about reading the Bible. Dr. MacArthur writes:
Develop a plan on how you will approach reading through the Bible. Unlike most books, you will probably not read it straight through from cover to cover. There are many good Bible reading plans available, but here is one that I have found helpful.
Read through the Old Testament at least once a year. As you read, note in the margins any truths you particularly want to remember, and write down separately anything you do not immediately understand. Often as you read you will find that many questions are answered by the text itself. The questions to which you cannot find answers become the starting points for more in-depth study using commentaries or other reference tools.
Follow a different plan for reading the New Testament. Read one book at a time repetitiously for a month or more. This will help you to retain what is in the New Testament and not always have to depend on a concordance to find things.
If you want to try this, begin with a short book, such as 1 John, and read it through in one sitting every day for 30 days. At the end of that time, you will know what is in the book. Write on index cards the major theme of each chapter. By referring to the cards as you do your daily reading, you will begin to remember the content of each chapter. In fact, you will develop a visual perception of the book in your mind.
I trust even this bit of information will serve you as you study God's Word! You can check out the Bible, linked at right.
(Photo of John MacArthur at the Together for the Gospel conference courtesy of Sola Lumina Captura.)