I was preaching at a church in Bogotá, Colombia, in 2007. The church met in an old warehouse, and although the congregation was rather large, it was quite poor. After my sermon, I met with several pastors from around Bogotá who gathered to discuss gospel ministry in Colombia. The pastors were interested in knowing more about Reformed theology and how they could begin to teach it in their churches.
At one point in our discussion, one of the pastors took his Bible and placed it on the table in front of me. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a copy of The MacArthur Study Bible in Spanish. I told this pastor how delighted I was to see that he was using Dr. John MacArthur’s study Bible. He told me that it was through Dr. MacArthur’s ministry that he came to learn about Dr. R.C. Sproul’s ministry and Reformed theology. I will never forget what he told me next. He said the study Bible was the only good resource he had to help him prepare his sermons. He went on to explain how he shared that one copy of the study Bible with three other pastors in Bogotá. Each pastor would use it for three months at a time as he prepared his sermons for the upcoming year. They could not afford commentaries, and the study Bible was the best thing they could find for study notes and cross-references.
My heart sunk upon hearing that each pastor did not have his own study Bible. I left our discussion that day burdened for my fellow pastors and more committed than ever to get good study Bibles into the hands of pastors around the world. I also left our discussion giving thanks to God for the usefulness, affordability, and accessibility of study Bibles.
Upon my return to the States, Dr. Sproul, Chris Larson (president of Ligonier Ministries), and I discussed our need to get the Reformation Study Bible translated into Spanish and other major world languages as soon as we could afford to do so. From that discussion, we began to set in motion the plans for a thoroughly revised edition of the Reformation Study Bible so that we might, in turn, begin to translate the study Bible into other languages as we strive to help fulfill the Great Commission in making disciples of all nations. And I am grateful to God that some of the ministries represented in this issue of Tabletalk have been helping to lead the way in translating their study Bibles and getting them into the hands of people around the world to the end that God would be glorified as His people dig deep into His Word and thereby come to love and glorify Him more and more. That is our ultimate aim—to get God’s people not only to read God’s Word but to study God’s Word, love God’s Word, obey God’s Word, apply God’s Word, hide God’s Word in their hearts, and teach God’s Word to their families, their neighbors, and the nations. That is why we publish study Bibles—to help fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, for His glory, not our own.
Dr. Burk Parsons is editor of Tabletalk magazine and serves as senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla. He is editor of Assured by God: Living in the Fullness of God’s Grace. He is on Twitter at @BurkParsons.