In about a week, Crossway releases the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.
Created and edited by Bryan Chapell and Dane Ortlund, the new study Bible is filled with valuable notes from fifty contributors with the overall aim of helping students of Scripture read the Bible under the glorious light of Christ’s death and resurrection.
As the title indicates, the aim is personal transformation through gospel-centered motivation. And to give you a taste of what to expect, I read the notes and pulled my twenty favorite excerpts.
From the introduction —
Since God’s love for us is the soil in which love for God grows, identifying his grace in all the Scriptures is not simply an interpretive scheme. It is supremely practical. For regular exaltation of the gospel is what ignites love for God in the hearts of believers. We identify the grace pervading Scripture in order to fan into flame our zeal for the Savior. Our goal is not merely good interpretation but stimulation of a profound love for God that bears holy fruit, as pleasing the One we love above all brings our most profound and compelling joy.
From the note on Genesis 17:15–18:15 —
Nothing is too hard for God. Indeed, he has already done the hardest thing, in becoming one of us and dying for us (Rom. 5:9–10; 8:32); shall he fail to care for us in a thousand lesser ways?
From the note on Exodus 6:1–9 —
It is God’s covenant that sustains us when our sin and our circumstances threaten to overwhelm us. Have we taken our hearts to God’s covenant promises in the midst of our struggle with sin? If we have been united to Christ, his work of grace in our life is assured (redemption). Christ has secured the eternal love of the heavenly Father for us (relationship). We will be brought to heaven, in spite of all our sin and failure (rest).
From the note on Numbers 35:25 —
The high priest’s last act of atonement was his own death, bearing the bloodguilt of accidental manslaughter away so that the one who killed without intent was finally freed to leave the city of refuge and return home. This law is significant inasmuch as Moses’ death appears to reflect something of this pattern in Deuteronomy: God’s people cannot enter the Promised Land until after he dies (Deut. 3:25–28; 34:1–5). Even more meaningful for us, Jesus Christ the Mediator and High Priest of the new covenant ushers us into the heavenly presence of God, ultimately in the new creation, through his atoning death on the cross (Heb. 10:19–22). Every moment of our lives in the land of glory will be but the fruit of the shed blood of Christ’s death on our behalf, and so will be lived in praise of him (Rev. 5:11–14; 21:27).
From the note on Ecclesiastes 1:14 —
Ecclesiastes was written to depress us into dependence on our joyous God and his blessed will for our lives.
From the note on Ecclesiastes 2:24–26a —
If we neglect God in our pursuit of joy, everything good in life — e.g., health, possessions, sensual pleasures — slips through our grasp or fails to satisfy. But if we see that what we have is God’s provision and give “thanks to God the Father” — ultimately through Christ (Col. 3:17) — for all his gifts, then whatever we receive from him is seen as a gift that brings true joy — joy in God.
From the note on Proverbs 15:15 —
Cheerfulness is wise — and surprising. This proverb does not contrast the afflicted with the cheerful of heart. Rather, this cheerful person is an afflicted believer, going through evil days, who nevertheless enjoys a spiritual feast within (cf. Acts 5:40–41; 16:25; 2 Cor. 4:8; 6:10; Heb. 10:34). Joy comes naturally to the wise (Prov. 8:30–31), and joyous vitality grows within us through the fear of the Lord (3:7–8), humble contentment (15:16–17), and frequent exposure to the good news of the gospel (v. 30). The joy of believers’ fellowship is also contagious: “The light of the eyes [of a radiant, glowing believer] rejoices the heart [of someone else]” (v. 30). Ultimately, “Blessed are the people who . . . walk, O Lord, in the light of your face” (Ps. 89:15; cf. John 15:11). With so much pain in this world, we need to know that misery is not ultimate, but that the joy of Christ is ultimate and final and victorious. We can look at the saddest thing that has ever happened — the cross — and see the greater joy beyond it: “[Christ] for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
From the note on Psalm 16:11 —
The God who came to David’s side is the God who came to be “with us” through Christ and who will exalt the Christian to his right hand (v. 11). Here is the doctrine of the two ways. The way of self-trust results in sorrows, blood, abandonment, and corruption. But the way of the gospel provides refuge, good, excellence, delight, pleasantness, beauty, counsel, instruction, stability, gladness, security, fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore. Peter revealed that in Psalm 16 David was speaking ultimately about Jesus Christ (Acts 2:25–33). The believer’s union with Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God is the ultimate source of our infallible protection.
From the note on Song of Solomon 5:2–6:3 —
Jesus will ultimately epitomize the self-denial that results in a more perfect union. In humility he “emptied himself” and “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death . . . on a cross” (see Phil. 2:3–8). Your marriage is designed to look like Christ’s crucifixion, where selfless love and selfless submission collide for the sake of another (see Eph. 5:22–33). The result is that both husband and wife can say, “God has given me a lover whose care sings to me the story of our salvation — of God having reconciled selfish sinners through his selfless Son.”
From the note on Mark 3:1–17 —
At the exodus from Egypt, the Lord made a way through the Red Sea; he now makes a way through the Jordan River into Canaan. All of this prepares us for the way he has made through his own Son, who himself walked on the sea as if it were dry land (Mark 6:45–52). The way to ultimate rest in God himself is made for us through Christ’s death and resurrection, as he atones for the sins of fallen humans — we who invariably seek to make our way in life through our own means.
From the note on Mark 16:1–8 —
He who was punished and died on our behalf overcame judgment and death by divine vindication and physical resurrection. Discipleship now takes on a new dimension: Christ, as the living Master, will no longer be challenged by any satanic, human, or physical power (Col. 1:15–17). The follower can be assured of what Paul says: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39). For Christ has been raised. In him, the final age, the new creation, has dawned. Joy is invincibly washing over this fallen world, for Jesus has been raised.
From the note on John 19:1–16 —
When Pilate labeled Jesus “King of the Jews,” he was saying more than he knew. Jesus was never more sovereign than when he submitted to death on the cross. This is why the refrain “to fulfill the Scripture” runs through the entire crucifixion story (vv. 24, 28, 36). Nothing was left to chance. No enemies — even as they acted according to their own volition — did anything that was unanticipated or outside the purpose of God’s sovereign providence and redemptive plan (Isa. 53:10; Rev. 13:7–8). This was the climax of all of human history. Jesus is not only the main character in this doxological drama of redemptive history; he is its writer, director, and producer.
From the note on 2 Corinthians 4:7–18 —
The Christian life is paradoxical because it is built upon the ultimate paradox, the death of Christ, where perfect divinity and beauty was horribly killed. Through that tragedy, life for sinners blossomed.
From the note on 1 John 1:1–4 —
Christianity is not a vague, abstract set of ideas or an ethical system. It is, above all, the good news of what God has done in our space-and-time history in the real, tangible experience of sending his Son to rescue us from the destruction that our own sins are bringing upon us, apart from him.
From the note on 1 John 3:20 —
We remember the great consolation of 1 John 3:20: when we feel accused and condemned, we can look to Christ and know that all sin is forgiven. God’s sentence of acquittal overrules our heart’s sentence of condemnation. And that is not because God does not see all the facts or has overlooked some of our failures; quite the contrary, ‘he knows everything’ (v. 20) but forgives us anyway! This is profound liberation to haunted consciences.
From the note on Hebrews 9:11–15 —
Christ’s atonement frees us to serve God by cleansing our consciences. All human beings’ consciences (except those hardened beyond feeling) act as internal sin detectors, sometimes “going off” when we do wrong. Only Christ’s atoning death can wash our consciences and liberate us to serve God with the sincerity and zeal that he deserves. His cross work was “a labor of love” (if there ever was one!) that fuels our Christian lives by cleansing our consciences. He freed us to “love [him who] first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This means that by God’s grace set forth in Jesus’ death and resurrection we can now enjoy God, walk with him, and do his will.
From the note on Jude 3–4 —
Grace liberates us not only by forgiving us but also by freeing us from bondage to sin by instilling loyalty to Christ in our hearts. Because he has given himself for us, we give ourselves to him. The gospel transforms our desires from the inside out. We are led into righteousness by discovering that our life and joy are most full as we serve the One we most love.
From the note on Jude 24–25 —
Jude’s concluding doxology is stirring, connecting God’s infinite worth to our “great joy.” The affirmation of Christ’s ability to “keep [us] from stumbling” is an echo of verse 1, which assures us that we are being “kept for Jesus Christ.” There is an inextricable connection between God’s glory and our salvation. Were it not for God, we would be falling from grace every waking second. It is he who keeps us from stumbling; it is he who qualifies us as blameless. So Jude wants to ascribe to God all that he is due: glory (credit), majesty (beauty), dominion (jurisdiction), and authority (power).
From the note on Revelation 5:9–14 —
At the exodus, Israel was redeemed from physical slavery, but Christ has redeemed and ransomed us from the power of sin and death and the just punishment of hell. At the exodus, Israel was redeemed and made a nation, but Christ has redeemed those “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9) and, as in 1:6, he has made them “a kingdom and priests to our God” (5:10). Jesus is a king and a priest, and he makes his people, those united to him, who will conquer as he has conquered (cf. 12:11), like himself. The book of Revelation consistently portrays those who enjoy the benefits of the gospel praising the one who made those benefits possible (5:9–14). Because of the way that Christ has laid down his life for others, he is worthy to receive everything (v. 12) from everyone (vv. 11, 13–14). We delight to praise him.
From the note on Revelation 22:6–21 —
Jesus was punished so that we could be delivered. He was forsaken so that we could be befriended. He was cast out so that we could be brought in. All for free. All God asks is that we lay down our insistence on contributing to God’s estimation of our merits and embrace Christ’s record as our own. Nothing is to be added or subtracted from this message of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord (vv. 18–19).