For years I had heard about Logos software platform and had watched from the sidelines as they continued to develop their product and improve it. Finally, after years of watching I have now become a Logos customer myself!
The release that compelled me to get off the fence was the recent release of the Reformed Base Packages. Having base packages that are more tailored to my theological needs was the exact change I was looking for. I feel like this was a true win-win for both Logos and the growing reformed community.
My main goal in this review is to consider the software from the perspective of sermon preparation. This past Lord’s Day I continued the journey in preaching through 1 Corinthians 13. I am currently working through the attributes of love and found myself confronted with the phrase in verse 4, “love does not boast”. I will attempt to concisely summarize the benefits I derived from the powerful Logos platform.
Initially, I simply searched for “1 Corinthians 13:4″ in the search box. This immediately opens up a wealth of resources in a very user friendly fashion in the left hand window of the software. Within this view I can quickly and easily get access to all the commentaries I have available to me. I can also view cross references, illustrations, original language helps, and so on.
The standard search was really just the beginning. Logos also has several unique tools, one that I immediately grew to really appreciate was the textual comparison tool. This allowed me within two clicks to see 5 chosen translations of the verse in view. Within this simple tool, you can choose to see just the parallel texts or you can view the differences between them as well. When considering the various translations of words, this proves to be an excellent resource.
Next, I want to mention how easily accessible the commentaries are. With a single click your commentaries will open up in one of the right side panes. I was able to review both Calvin’s and Henry’s comments on this passage (along with others) within minutes. If I had been on the road or doing preparation remotely, this would have been all the more beneficial. The ability to have commentaries at your finger tips without lugging the physical books with you is quite a fantastic tool.
Another great feature that proved to be useful in my sermon preparation (particularly due to the topical nature of a study on envy) was the powerful search feature built into Logos software. Not only can you begin with the text of Scripture as your search query, but you can also search by keyword or phrase (and many other search parameters). Thus, I searched for envy and was once again impressed with the resources that were available to me.
I was able to quickly peruse Bible dictionaries, see related verses (from which I drew excellent Old Testament illustrations), and again have access to topically driven illustrations from Paul Tan’s “Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations”.
Here is a snippet from my sermon notes as I illustrate the Bible’s testimony to the widespread destruction envy has brought throughout human history.
Envy caused Cain to slay his own brother, Abel. Envy led Ishmael to mock his brother, Isaac. Esau envied Jacob’s blessing to the point of murderous intentions. Rachel’s envy of Leah, brought her to despair, “Give me children or I shall die!” Joseph’s brothers envied him, desiring him dead, yet selling him as a slave.
Envy against Moses consumed Korah’s heart and then the earth consumed him. The fire of envy burned hot in the 250 supporters of Korah, and then the fire of judgment burned them. King Saul envied David all of his latter days and died a tormented soul. Ahab, a king, was driven to envy Naboth’s vineyard. The envy of Haman towards Mordecai brought about a most ironic and fateful death. The Babylonian officials’ envy against Daniel devoured their soul, and then the lions devoured their bodies.
It was envy that caused the older brother of the prodigal son to be angered by his once lost brother being found. And maybe the most heinous example of this sin was seen amongst the Chief Priests in Jesus’ day…for even Pilate knew of their burning envy! Mark 15:10 “For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.” Thus, it was ENVY that delivered the Lord Jesus over to be crucified. What a path of destruction. What a trail of tears.
Some of these Old Testament illustrations were drawn directly from another helpful tool called “Sermon Starter Guide”. Within this tab Logos has outlined all the applicable pericopes that pertain to the topic you search for. With the combination of the “key passages” and the “pericopes”, you are well on your way to more of a tota scripture view of the topic as you study.
Overall, the software is proving to be an excellent resource. I wouldn’t want to limit the benefits to increased productivity, though that is surely bound to happen as I get more and more familiar with this software, but I can see this expanding my studies and helping me to get further acquainted with the text in sermon preparation. That is a blessing that will help me as I labor to feed the flock of God. I am grateful for the Logos Reformed Bronze package and look forward to many years of mining the treasure trove of Biblical knowledge it makes even more accessible.