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How to Choose the Best Bible For You
by Tonja Taylor
12/27/2019 / Self Help
When I heard Dr. Brian Simmons, the translator of The Passion Translation Bible speak in Texas in the summer of 2019, he shared how he answered a question about to know which is the best Bible. Quoting himself, he said he answered, “The best Bible is the Bible you live!”
I agree, and I speak from experience when I say the LORD can use any version of His Word to help you know Him and His will for your life! When I was 7, I received a Bible from the church I was going to, because I had participated in the class Scripture memorization lessons and earned the right amount of stars.
Of course, the point of awarding the stars was to encourage us to learn the Scriptures, to hide them in our hearts to help us know how to live the victorious Christian life! But I was awarded a King James Bible. That had some big hard words and expressions in it, especially for a 7-year-old.
However, I was eager to get to know God, and I started reading! I certainly did not understand all I read, but the Spirit of God was working to help me understand what I needed. I took my Bible to church with me, and the summer when I was 9, listening to the worship music during Vacation Bible School, the light shined in my heart and I knew I needed Jesus to be my Savior.
So I went down and told the preacher that I had believed in my heart that I needed Him and wanted Him to help me be born again, to live with Him in Heaven after my body died, and to get to know Him down here.
So I believed in my heart and spoke it with my mouth, and I was born again (Romans 10:8-10). That proved that, even though I had only been 7 when I truly started reading the Bible, and even thought it was hard for a 7-year-old to understand such big words, the Word of God is spiritually understood, because a spirit (God) wrote it, and it is our spirit (the real us, the inner core of us; the part that will live forever after our body dies) that understands the Bible.
(That is another reason that any person who is not truly born again can read the Bible a hundred times or more, and never truly understand it. We must have God, the Spirit of Truth, to correctly interpret it for us.)
I used that Bible for years, and would especially cling to it when I was afraid. I still have it in my keepsakes--worn and yellowed white cover and all. I read the KJV exclusively for the next 15 years or so, taking comfort and understanding from it many times.
Then I was told by a pastor of the church I attended to buy a Thompson Chain Reference study Bible. It was also a KJV. The study references and notes helped my understanding go deeper.
A few years later, a friend gave me a New International Version, and it opened up a whole new world of understanding, because it was written in "plain English." So I that strengthened my spiritual walk with deeper understanding.
The last several years, I have very much enjoyed reading my parallel KJV/Amplified Bible. I like the way the Amplified Bible (also a very close translation from the Hebrew and Greek texts) puts additional definitions in parenthesis to complete the thoughts, thus "amplifying" our understanding.
My husband reads often from the New American Standard Bible, and from the ESV (English Standard Version), which is even a closer translation from the original Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) than the KJV. He also has a really cool Greek-Hebrew Keyword Bible, which has the keywords in the NIV text marked to correspond to the concordances in the back. It's like having a mini Strong's concordance and NIV Bible rolled into one. Very convenient.
I have also recently bought a copy of the New Testament Message Bible (translated by Pastor Eugene Peterson). It is extremely easy to read and understand, and very contemporary. Reads almost like a novel. And, as I tell my daughter, almost 12, the Bible has "everything in it you can find on TV," both virtue and vice, but portrayed in the way it should be: against the absolute of the Word of God!
There are many other versions available, of course. Www.BibleGateway.com or your local Christian bookstore are excellent places to research the differences.
Until I worked in a Christian bookstore, I had no idea of all the versions of the Word that are available. Many customers were somewhat confused when trying to choose a Bible, so here are tips we want to help you decide which Bible is right for you. Maybe you've never bought a Bible before, or maybe this is your 20th and you just want to enhance your study with a different version.
My husband and I have several versions of the Word in our house, you can easily explore multiple versions (including in many other languages!) of the Bible free, online at www.BibleGateway.com, and other sites. That way, you could see which version ministers the most to you before you purchased a hard copy.
We truly live in such a blessed age, to have free 24/7 access to the richness of God’s unchanging, infallible, all-powerful Word that is relevant to every age and century!
If you are still not sure, after doing these options, which is right for you, ask your pastor or another true Believer to recommend one that has worked for them.
But the very best advice is to ask Your Father, Who lives inside you from the moment you are born again through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, to lead you to the right one. You may look at several, but He leads us by peace. When you find the right one for you, you’ll know it. You’ll most likely have joy and a settled peace about it. The LORD your Daddy God created you and He knows exactly which version you will like the most!
Tonja K. Taylor is the author of many works, including THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS PEARL, P.O.W.E.R.* Girl! series. She and her husband Clayton minister the Word through teaching, preaching, and the arts, through River Rain (Creative Arts) Ministries (You Tube, God Tube), their church, and beyond.
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