The Christian faith is founded upon unchanging, timeless truth. In the interview below, hear from Matt Capps, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, as he shares about his work on the newly-released "Timeless Truths Bible."
The Christian faith is founded upon unchanging, timeless truth. A new Bible edited by an N.C. Baptist pastor seeks to encapsulate the distinguishing confession of Christianity that “Jesus is Lord” throughout all of Scripture.
The recently released “Timeless Truths Bible” includes devotional notes and commentary from trusted theologians and pastors from centuries past, along with ancient creeds and confessions of the faith which are all intended to help readers grow in their understanding of what Christians believe and have always believed as they read God’s Word.
With artwork depicting famous biblical scenes from Christian history included throughout the Bible’s pages, the beautifully bound volume is sure to deepen one’s worship of the Lord.
Matt Capps, senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, served as general editor of the “Timeless Truths Bible,” which was released this past October. A student of church history, Capps holds degrees in the arts, biblical languages and pastoral theology, and he is also a frequent contributor to Bible studies and other published works.
The Biblical Recorder caught up with Capps – a North Carolina native and influential leader in North Carolina and broader Baptist life – shortly after the Bible’s release to talk about the project, what makes the “Timeless Truths Bible” unique and the impact he hopes it will have on readers.
Following is a transcript of that conversation, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
There are a number of Bibles on the market. What makes the “Timeless Truths Bible” unique?
The “Timeless Truths Bible” is more of a devotional Bible than a true study Bible. The Bible includes reproductions of famous artwork and includes insights and perspectives from key figures throughout church history.
Instead of having a full text of notes at the bottom of a page, the notes and quotes are in the margins, which is similar to how ancient scribes would make annotations and notes on biblical texts. There are not so many notes that you feel overwhelmed, but every now and then as you’re reading, a voice from church history will speak to you along the way.
The layout gives the text room to breathe as you read and reflect on God’s Word.
What are some of the key features of the Bible?
In addition to the notes, quotes and commentary, there’s full-color artwork spaced throughout the Bible depicting famous scenes from Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. We tried to capture pieces of art that show how famous artists throughout history have envisioned and rendered these accounts throughout redemptive history.
There are short biographies of notable figures throughout Christian history over the centuries. There’s also a quote from a notable church father, theologian or pastor like Augustine or Jonathan Edwards on every single chapter of the Bible. We’ve also included introductions and texts from ancient creeds and confessions that have sought to articulate the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints in a particular context.
Also, the aesthetics, craftsmanship, layout, design and arrangement have all been done with quality and intentionality. Even the gilding of the pages includes the Bible’s infinity logo, which is used to represent the timeless truths. Every detail of this Bible has been well thought out, resulting in a great product and a great experience for the reader all the way around.
How did this project come about, and what did your role involve?
Philip Nation, vice president and publisher for Thomas Nelson Bibles, reached out to me to initially discuss the project. Philip and I are friends, and he felt that I had the right theological disposition, understanding of church history and knowledge of theological voices to be able to undertake this project.
As general editor, my role involved reading, collecting and gathering the notes and quotes that are in the Bible. I also selected the artwork that was included and wrote a brief synopsis of each piece of art to explain why it was chosen and why it’s significant. I also selected various creeds, confessions and catechisms that were included and wrote a brief introduction to each one to explain why they are important for church history and what they were trying to accomplish in their context.
Finally, I wrote an introduction to the Bible that explains why church history is important and how we can learn from it.
So, following up on that, why is it important to understand church history?
On the one hand, it shows the consistency of Christian thought throughout church history, which gives us credibility and knowledge that we’re reading and understanding the Bible correctly. Also, we have a tendency to overestimate our wisdom in our current context and can be tempted to discount or disregard the voices of history.
However, we have always stood on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, so when it comes to Christian tradition, it’s important to look at these church fathers, theologians and pastors who have contributed to our understanding of what Scripture is saying.
A project like this is a significant undertaking. What were some of the most challenging aspects of the project?
I certainly felt the weightiness and sacredness of the task they were asking me to do. There’s a sense of enormity of going through all of church history to select really good quotes for every chapter of the Bible that best capture the essence of every text that are also enlightening and encouraging to the reader.
I’m assuming some people will pick this Bible up and be well informed of church history, but there are others who may be unfamiliar with any of the church fathers, so I wanted to be sure that I was introducing people to really solid quotes that would be understandable.
Also, my timeline for the project was a little over a year. As a pastor, one of my convictions is not to work on projects like this during the day, on church hours. So this entire project was done on evenings and weekends. So it was a heavy undertaking, but it was also beneficial for me spiritually.
How was your own faith encouraged and strengthened by working on this project?
It was a devotional exercise for me. I was spending additional time in God’s Word, reading through the entire Bible and trying to prayerfully choose commentators or theologians that I thought would be helpful to enlighten the reader on what Scripture is saying.
I learned a lot by reading more of the church fathers and different theologians than I have before. I had to do a lot of research for material, and in doing so, I was exposed to some church leaders that I wasn’t as familiar with or had never read before. Reading those works was really beneficial.
Who would benefit from the “Timeless Truths Bible”?
The Bible is designed to benefit both the seasoned saint who may already be familiar with some of the theologians, creeds and confessions, as well as the younger Christian who wants to step into the stream of church history to better understand where we’ve been and how our faith has been shaped through the ages.
From the outset of the project, our desire was for this to be a Bible that was theologically rich and devotional at the same time, so anybody could read it and benefit from it. So I think it’s really beneficial for a broad group of believers.
What general advice would you have for consistent Bible reading or intake of Scripture?
As with any discipline, being consistent and intentional is key. Just opening the Bible every morning, reading systematically and praying would be my best advice. There may be some mornings when you may not feel like it or when the cares and worries of the day come rushing at you like wild animals as C.S. Lewis once said, but you have to quiet those down and be attentive to what God has revealed in His Word. The discipline of prayerfully reading Scripture every day is essential.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’d just like to say ‘Thank you’ to the publisher, Thomas Nelson. Not only were they a joy to work with, but they developed a beautiful Bible that I think readers will enjoy. Also, during the Pastors’ Network lunch at the N.C. Baptist annual meeting that I was part of this past November, they sent copies of the Bible to give to over 350 pastors who were at the lunch. That was very generous of them, and I’m very thankful for that because it represents a significant investment in the pastors here in North Carolina.
EDITOR’S NOTE – This article appears in the January/February 2024 issue of the Biblical Recorder magazine. For more information on the “Timeless Truths Bible,” visit timelesstruthsbible.com.