Perhaps nothing is more vital to your Christian walk than reading the Bible. The entire book is about Jesus, so if you want to know more about Him, read His Word! I do not discount the importance of prayer, sacrifice, and obedience, but we learn about all these by reading the Bible. Many Christians never read their Bibles. I have to wonder why they came to Christ in the first place.
When you fall in love with someone, you want to know everything about them. It’s no different with Christ. If you love Him, you will want to consume your life with His. Don’t let the size of the book intimidate you. I promise the more you read it, the more you will fall in love with Christ.
There are scores of books to teach you different methods of reading the Bible. There is no one size fits all. Different methods will be useful for you in different seasons of life. For example, I used to read the Bible cover to cover in a year. Then I read it through in chronological order. After doing that for a couple of years, I began reading it chronologically twice each year but using a different translation each time. There is definitely value to reading the Bible through a few times, as it gives you a broad familiarity with God’s Word. You’ll soon recall passages of Scripture when talking to people or reading the news, and you’ll rarely feel lost during a worship service.
These days I read the Bible much more slowly. For example, I’ve been reading through the book of Philippians for several weeks now, and I’m still only in chapter two. There is great depth to God’s Word if we will take the time to study each verse and pray through it. As you mature in your faith, your interaction with the Bible will mature as well. No longer will you read to gain information, but to come into God’s presence and bask in His glory.
As you embark on reading the Bible, let me encourage you to never read a Bible verse. I learned this from Greg Koukl years ago. Always read the passage surrounding the verse until you understand the context of what’s going on. There is no shortage of people who love to pluck a verse out of context to make their case, claim a promise, or declare a new revelation. Little of what they say holds up when you consider the verse in the context of those surrounding it.
I also encourage you to remember the Bible is all about Jesus. Don’t read it trying to find direction for your life. There are principles you can and should apply to the way you live. Consider that bonus content. Always keep in mind the Word of God is about Jesus. It’s not about you. Read the Bible to learn about Christ, not as some sort of magic eight ball. As I heard someone once say, “Don’t fit your circumstances to the Word, bring the Word to your circumstances.” Your life isn’t in the Bible, but Jesus’s is. Learn from Him and you will learn how to live.
The last thing I’ll say about reading the Bible is to choose a good translation that you will actually read. There are many excellent translations available. Aim for the more literal translations rather than those that try to just convey the more general thoughts. My favorite for the last couple of decades has been the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB–not to be confused with the similar but newer CSB), but I also enjoy the English Standard Version (ESV), New International Version (NIV), and the New Living Translation (NLT). The Message (MSG) provides some enjoyable casual reading, but I would not use it as my primary version or for serious study. The forthcoming Legacy Standard Bible (LSB) also looks promising.
Reading the Bible is necessary for growth, maturity, and strength in your faith. Please don’t neglect the reading of God’s Word. If you want to obey His commands, you must know what He instructed. If you want to know Him more, you must commit to learning more. Why not begin today?