Well-meaning Christians have this tendency to give new believers and seekers those darling little copies of the New Testament (usually with Psalms and Proverbs attached), with the common instruction to start with the gospel of John (for theology’s sake) or Mark’s gospel (for brevity’s sake). This well-meaning custom is something of a relic from an era when America was a Christian nation, where the average person knew what we meant we we spoke of sin and salvation, because we had a basic foundation of Biblical knowledge. As the years have passed, America has increasingly become a secular nation and ignorance of the Bible and basic Christian doctrine is the norm rather than the exception – even in the pew!
To remedy this situation, Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge set out to create a “simple road map to follow that sets the stage, creates the context, and helps you effectively navigate the scope and relevance of God’s Word.” Or to put it more simply, Begin wants to give you the Big Picture of what the Bible’s about, from beginning to end. Since they’ve tailored this work for new believers and seekers who often have a hard time with the Middle English wording of the beloved King James, they chose the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Scriptures for readability’s sake.
Their road map consists of five sections of the Bible:
- Genesis 1-11 (The Foundation)
- Exodus 20:1-17 (The Ten Commandments)
- John (The Gospel)
- Romans (An Epistle or Letter from Paul to Christians)
- Revelation 21-22 (The Fulfillment in Heaven)
Begin isn’t just a Bible; it’s also filled with commentary that fills the reader in on the relevant history that occured between each section, short articles on basics every Christian needs to know, what it means to be saved, why we can trust our Bible, and more. Within the Scripture sections themselves are questions for the reader to ponder, Biblical cross-references and quick facts to give the reader perspective.
Better still, the seeker or new believer can use Begin as a Bible study. You see, in addition to lined space in the margins of each page for personal thoughts and notes, there are reflective questions and ample note space at the end of passages of Scripture. For example, after reading John 1-3, the reader is given the following challenge:
“Notice the big picture. God made a perfect world and we messed it up. In the same way the Lord sought after Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, so the Lord sought after us. God is indeed a loving, merciful, and gracious God. How much more should we love God?”
I would definitely recommend this resource to seekers and new believers. I might even suggest that Christians who’ve been in the church a bit longer also go through as a Bible study. It makes an excellent refresher course on the big picture of the Bible.
From the Bookwyrm’s Lair,
Rev Tony Breeden
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the New Leaf Publishing Group Book review program on CreationConversations.com <http://www.creationconversations.com/group/bookreviewersfornewleafpublishinggroup>. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”