Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Most Important Book for Any Bibliophile (Reprise)

This is a post I first wrote in November, 2012. Today I just finished reading through the entire Bible for the fourteenth or fifteenth time (I lose count)--so I'd like to celebrate by posting it again! :) 




It really all started with positive peer pressure.

My brother took up reading the Bible, and very soon I joined him. Had he asked me, I really wouldn't have approved; it seriously cut into his time to give attention to me. But as he went through with it, I decided to make the best of it and tag along. I've been tagging along ever since. And as I now look back on over a decade of doing it, I am amazed at all the Scripture I know, simply from reading it every day. Reading it year after year every day builds layers of knowledge that I never knew I had.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. ~Psalm 119:11

We talk a lot on this blog about Scriptural and practical principles: what makes a book good, how to put a book down, what to do about love and romance. All these things are good, but if they don't come from Scripture, then we're never going to remember them, and the rules will be quite burdensome. Plus, in this culture we have a desperate need for practical knowledge of the Bible. Read it, and you will know instinctively whether the books you pick up are good or not. It will sharpen your conscience, give foundation to your faith, and equip you with a defense for your worldview. What are you going to say when someone asks you how God could exist before time? Or how will you respond when people encourage you to do something evil, because there's no other option? Such questions will come, along with many others, and God's Word contains the answers to all of them. 

Common Questions and Comments about Bible Reading

1. It's Too Hard.
Trust me, the Bible is much easier to read then Robinson Crusoe, even though it's about three times as long. Hard, yes, because it convicts sin, but no matter which version you read you won't find the syntax difficult, especially people who read classics. The Count of Monte Cristo is harder than the Bible. And with all the poetry, history, parables, and exposition, God always teaches the same truths through many different formats. It is important to read the whole Bible, but if you don't understand one portion right away, you're sure to grasp another. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew; the New Testament was written in common Greek; God wrote it for the common man to understand. More than how easy or hard it is, it's a command. We are commanded to know our Lord, and to do that, we must know His Word, hard or not.  But be assured, even if it's tough at first, it gets much easier with time. 

2. Do I have to Read the Whole Bible in a Year?
No, certainly not. It's more important that you're in God's Word every day than that you finish it in a certain amount of time. God doesn't set rules in His Word for how fast it should take us to read it. Some people in our family read it once a year, others are moving on to 90 day reading plans. It's like a muscle that takes exercise to build up strength. 

3. How Do I Read the Bible?
Some people are unsure of reading the Bible in a whole year because they think it would take too long. But often this is because of the difference between Bible reading and Bible study. The purpose of reading the Bible in a year is actually different then studying portions of the Bible every day. When you have four chapters to do, it's probably best not to stop every couple of verses. That would only lead to frustration because it's taking so long. So assess your style--would you prefer to study a little every day, or just read and have the knowledge accumulate over time? Either way is perfectly right and acceptable, so pick which you're most comfortable with.
 
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. ~Psalm 119:105

Tips

1. Change it up
I used the same Bible chart for ten years. Psalms on Sunday, OT history on Monday, Law on Tuesday, etc. While I enjoyed this, I was ready for something new at the end of that time. I chose a chart that went straight through from Genesis to Revelation, and tried it out several years ago, and I was very pleased with it. For the next couple of years I went through the same chart again, because I wanted to familiarize myself with it a little more. But if you're starting to stagnate in a groove, then try shaking it up a little; sometimes reading the Bible in a different order than you have been helps you to approach it with fresh perspective. Otherwise the verses begin to go in one ear and out the other. 

2. Make Your Reading Consistent
I get up at 6:45 every morning, and every day I start reading my Bible somewhere between 7:00 and 7:15. While this may not work for everyone, the point is to be consistent. Train yourself so that you don't even debate "Should I read my Bible today?" but rather it's an automatic routine like brushing your teeth or getting dressed. This will eliminate a lot of guilt both for missed days and for a lack of enthusiasm. And don't beat yourself up if you're honestly trying to be consistent and miss a day. Recite a passage of Scripture if you're on the go; that's a great way to still be in God's Word. Also, don't quit because you're having a tough day. That's like saying "I'll become a Christian when my heart's right". God's Word is the safest place to be in the rough times, and it's very dangerous to walk away until "things are better". That's trying to right yourself in your own power, not in God's.

3. Pick a Translation That Works for You
There are several excellent translations of Scripture: KJV, NKJV, ESV, and the 1984 NIV, as well as others. Do check to make sure it's a solid translation, but then look at one that works well for you. And remember that all the labels, though valuable, are man-made. Sometimes I use more than one translation for different passages, to get the best meaning from both. 

The Ultimate Point

Why do we read the Bible? 

To know our God. 

Jesus Christ is the Word become flesh. We know him by knowing his Word. No one can take it away from us, and it shall endure forevermore. That's the ultimate reason, but there's another one more related for books.

Some of you probably think that I have an elaborate evaluation system that I labor through for each book, painstakingly checking against Scripture as to whether or not it is good and worth reading. Actually, I don't. All the points in these blog articles are instinctively ingrained when one reads Scripture every day. You'll carry principles of evaluation with you even if you can't put words to them, because the Word of God is a guard and a guide. 

Our goal is to be soldiers of Christ taking captive every book, with our tactics so ingrained that we know them in our sleep. That only comes from reading God's Word every day--the most important book for any bibliophile.

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations on finishing another year. I am so pleased that God's word is important to you. You not only read and evaluate books from a biblical worldview but you live it out in your daily walk. Thank you for your faithfulness. May God richly bless you as you begin another year.

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    1. Thank-you. <3 I've seen it be important to my parents, and that has made it possible for me to find it so as well. Thank-you for walking that out on a daily basis to be an example to your children. :)

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  2. Well done. I really enjoyed reading this post again, and the beginning paragraph always makes me laugh. :wasntme: <3

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    1. Thank-you! Glad to make the Scripture mod laugh. :wasntme:

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  3. This is such an encouraging post!

    I ordered a One Year Bible (NLT) through Tyndale's reward program, and was really excited to begin my journey reading through the entire Bible (though I've done it once or twice before). But I've fallen months behind, because I haven't kept up a very good routine -- making it a habit is so important! I also have a copy of The Books of the Bible: New Testament (NIV), which my church read through this fall (again, I'm behind on the readings...), but I really like the format -- they took out all of the chapter and verse numbers and the section headings, leaving only the text, so it's much easier to read and understand in large chunks.

    You've inspired me to pick up my Bible-reading habit again. Maybe I'll get up at 6:30 tomorrow and read a few chapters before work. Thank you!

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    1. Serena, your comment was so inspiring, it gives me a happy glow every time I think about it! I hope you were able to pick up your Bible that morning before work, and maybe more since, too! Those Bibles sound really neat. I love experimenting with different types to find which one works best. Blessings to you!

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