What’s wrong with this ad?
For one, there is not such thing as your Bible. And I’m sure you know what I mean. Of course, I have my own Bible when speaking of having a bound copy, but there isn’t my version of the Bible.
The Bible is the infallible Word of God, but when we say this what do we really mean? Is the KJV, NIV, ESV, etc. the infallible Word of God. Well, not entirely. They are copies of the infallible Word of God which is found in the original languages of Hebrew and Greek. As the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 1.8 says: The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal unto them.
This is not to say translations can’t be trusted. But the farther you get away from the original languages the more they get away from the infallible Word of God. I have done some textual criticism when studying Greek and found translations such as the NASB and the ESV to be very trustworthy translations. The NASB can be a wooden but the ESV smooths out the translation without moving too far away from the Greek. I find it wise to compare translations and see what they have in common and if they differ do some research to see why they have been translated differently. Of course, for devotional reasons I don’t think you have to take time out from your devotions to do this practice, and that’s why I would suggest using a translation like the ESV for devotions because it’s one of the closest to the original Greek and yet is very readable and not wooden like the NASB.
I would steer clear of The Message as it should not be seen as a translation but only Eugene Peterson’s take on the Bible. I mean, if you have a copy I don’t think you need to burn it or anything but keep in mind it is not a translation but one man’s interpretation of Scripture and it should be used with caution.
Also, there’s the question of the study Bible. Now, I have no problem with study Bibles. I use them as handy commentaries if I just need a quick note on a puzzling verse. But even these must be used with caution because the notes aren’t infallible and are still opinions. There are better study Bibles than others. I suggest R.C. Sproul’s The Reformation Study Bible which can be found in the ESV and NKJV. I also like Richard Pratt’s Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible which comes in the NIV, but I’m not as big of a fan of the NIV translation, but you can do much worse. I suggest not bringing your study Bible to church. It can be really distracting and your pastor’s teaching may not agree with the notes which could become a distraction, and just because your pastor’s teaching doesn’t agree doesn’t mean he’s wrong; it could be that the author of that note is wrong. Be careful with study Bibles that have a very narrow focus such as The American Patriot Study Bible or the Green Bible. You want something that’s focus is to teach the whole of Scripture without some narrow agenda.
Personal devotion is great. And yes, there are a few translations that I feel are good translations. So, in a limited way there can be a personal preference whether you will go with the ESV or the NKJV. It might be good to have both and compare. Here’s a good endorsement for the ESV: http://opc.org/review.html?review_id=99
The Bible is not your book, but the Church’s book. It has been written to a people and though it has a universal message it was still written at a particular time in two particular languages. Let’s start moving toward a our Bible mentality.