I have always suggested the FIRE Bible from Life Publishers as the best bible to have for a young believer but never used it because I have everything memorized in NIV and they can’t seem to get a FIRE Bible translated with the New International Version.
However, I was recently given a new ESV (English Standard Version) bible to preach from and I decided that I would get the FIRE Bible in it as well. The copy I have is from Mardel’s. It was almost $90 when everything was done so getting a nice one is pricy. Part of that was getting the “Flexsoft” finish. However, the paperback version is $35.
What I do like about it is some of the theology guys that help put it together. J. Wesley Adams, Ph.D was the associate editor and we prayed together for years. My mentor, Stanley Horton, Th.D was also on the editing committee. One other name that some might know is French Arrington, Ph.D.
Donald Stamps, a missionary with the Assemblies of God started the vision for the Fire Bible and the first version, Full Life Study Bible was published in 1992 just a few months after his death. By 2003, they had expanded it into Life in the Spirit Study Bible and in 2012, it became the Fire Bible.
What I like about it
The articles are great, especially for a new Christian. It is also one of the few study bibles that are written from by Pentecostals for Pentecostals. One of the handy charts in my view is about the gifts of the Spirit. People have a lot of misunderstanding about them and this helps them find what the Bible actually says about them. Beyond the charts is great articles too. Some of them written by Stanley Horton, the theologian of theologians.
One of the articles that I thought was very valuable was about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is a critical doctrine to the faith and almost every bible just blow right past. The Fire Bible takes four pages to cover the subject in depth. It is followed by two pages of teaching on praying in tongues. To consider a study bible to take six pages to explain the Baptism of the Spirit with the biblical evidence of praying in tongues is very impressive.
When looking at the footnotes, I found them to very clear yet detailed. I believe these are probably Stanley Horton’s personal notes on the scriptures. This has the best coverage of the Book of Acts that I have seen in any study bible. This would even include the Cultural Background Study Bible by Craig Kenner. This coverage is just that good.
If you are a young believer, there is guides through the Bible to follow the subject. (Look in the back!) For example, there is a system to follow if you want to study everything the Bible says about divine healing. This would be valuable for the new Christian.
What could FIRE Bible work on?
For the price, I would think they could do full color. My NIV Study Bible has full color maps, charts and pictures. I do not believe this is too much to ask. Having the pages with maps would be much better with color. I really do not think it is too much to ask. (To be fair, there is a few maps in the back in color.)
With that, I also am surprised how thin and cheap the paper used for the bible is. In comparison to my NIV Study Bible, there is a clear different in quality of the actual product. I am not sure what weight the paper is, but it is nowhere close to high quality. This is a semi-premium bible and the paper weight should reflect that. It simply does not.
I would like if they would have put the author’s name at the end of the articles. While some of them are clearly Horton or Arrington; many are not. This would help someone to find more information (such as a book) to learn more about what the subject in question was. Not a huge deal for someone with a seminary education but for a hungry believer, it is something I wish was present. There is not even a list of the authors anywhere in the Bible!
While these are not major issues, they are a little concerning for the premium study bible and helping people get a bible that will last. We may say that a person’s bible falling apart means their life is not but this does not mean the production quality should be this!
Is the Fire Bible worth the price?
As stated, I am surprised at the price of these study bibles. In truth, this should closer be in the $50 range than its’ $80 tag. However, the truth of the gospel and growing in the things of the Holy Spirit makes it a more important question.
In short, I tend to think there is a way to get the prices down in some way, especially considering the physical quality. This is one of the most expensive non-premium study bibles I have. If I wanted to give someone a good bible that is affordable and high quality; I am not sure I could give them the Fire Bible at this point.
On the spiritual side of things, the cost of understanding the faith and especially pneumatology does not have a price tag. People have been martyred, church burnt to the ground and pastors beaten to almost death because they believed in the Pentecostal experience. When considering what our fathers went through, praying extra for a study bible is not a big deal.
I guess, I had mixed thoughts on the FIRE Bible. I wish the concerns that I have wasn’t there so I could suggest getting it without reservations. I still think it is the best bible for a young believer to have. That has not changed. I just have to tell people it is best one on the market with a question mark now.