"I want to read the Bible more, but I don't know how to start." Reading the Bible begins with understanding that the goal of reading is to know God better. This author gives some helpful suggestions as to how to read your Bible.

Source: Faith in Focus, 2013. 2 pages.

Know Your Bible

The Bible is the Word of God! We do not doubt that. But what impact does that make on our daily lives? If you have read the Bible for many years, has it become increasingly precious to you? Or has it become less so? When you are full, you have less appetite. Your mind can be so full of other interesting things that you lose your appetite for the truth of God. We can take the Bible for granted. Of course, you still read it, you still worship, you still believe, but some­where something has “frozen up”. It has become a routine exercise.

Perhaps you should try a different approach.

What is your goal in knowing the Bible? Is it not ultimately a matter of knowing God? And knowing Him in a very real sense makes you want to know Him more and more. That means wanting to spend more time in His company ... listening, speaking, mar­velling, wondering...

A good friend of mine grew up to be a “nominal Christian”. After his conversion he took a greater interest in the Bible. Then he came across a book by the Puritan writer John Owen, and began to discover Reformed insights. He contacted a Reformed Church, and wondered if there was a Bible study conducted in his part of the city. When I asked him what made him so interested in Reformed teaching, he said, “It helps me to know God better, to love Him more and to live a more godly life”.

Is that also how you value a Reformed understanding of Scripture?

It is a good thing to ask yourself whether the Bible’s message has “rubbed off” on you, or to put it dif­ferently, “Has it transformed your character?” (Romans 12:1, 2). Let’s go a step further and ask, “Is that wonderful fruit of the Spirit observable in my life?” Is there that love, joy, peace, patience, etc.? (Gal 5:22, 23). Is my heart quietly singing,

Oh! How I fear Thee, Living God,
With deepest, tenderest fears;
And worship Thee with trembling hope
And penitential tears.

Is it indeed?

Well then, now is the time to take stock, and move into action.

How to start?🔗

Pray that the Lord may renew your desire to come to know the Word more deeply.

Whenever you open your Bible, it is good to pray, “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). In fact, the whole of Psalm 119 speaks of the blessings of the Word of God. Actually, any section (group of eight verses) of this psalm can be an excellent “prayer and praise” introduction to your daily bible reading. The theme of this psalm is simply “walking the way of the Word” (www). Each section touches on the reality of life’s various situations.

The next thing to remember is that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus is the Living Word. He is God’s message to us! The study of the Word of God, is actually a study of the living Christ, in all the con­texts of His coming and His presence in the world.

Where to start?🔗

Remember that in reading the Word we desire to meet God, and we meet Him in the Person of His Son! It is quite appro­priate to start reading one of the gospels again. And from there to go on reading the book of Acts, which is actually the continuing story of Jesus as directed through the Holy Spirit. Read as much as you can manage, one chapter or half a chapter at a time. Ponder, walk along with the disciples, the crowd, listening intently. Picture, as it were, Zacchaeus climbing into a tree to get a better view of Jesus! (Luke 19).

Now, let’s say you start with the gospel of John. Read the first two chap­ters thoughtfully, then stop to ponder 2:23-25. What does it tell you about Jesus? ... He knew all people, and he knew what made them tick. Now go back and apply that to the call of Simon Peter (John 1:42), also to Nathanael (John 1:45-51), and to the predicament at the wedding of Cana (John 2), etc. Then note the first verse after John 2:25. “...Now there was a man ... named Nicodemus... verse 1, and then John 4 ... “there came a woman of Samaria...” (vs 7). Then John 5 ... “One man was there...” (vs 5). Then John 6 ... “there was a crowd...” vs 22. Jesus knew what kind of hunger they had, but were they hungry for the Living Bread?

I could go through the whole of John’s gospel like that, but I shall leave that up to you. However, let me draw your attention to two more things: chapters 13-17 give you an insight into the re­lationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (our three-personed God)! And chapters 18-21 present “the Lamb that was slain”, and “the Lord who was victorious”.

An unfolding plan🔗

The Old Testament is the build-up to the coming of Jesus. Although more difficult to understand in some parts, it is amazing how God is weaving the pattern of the promised Christ through the developing history of the world, and in particular, Israel.

The first time we read of a sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament is in Genesis 22:7, Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And the first time we read of a sacrificial lamb in the New Testament is in John 1:29 (the ultimate answer to Isaac’s question): There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. We see the significance of that Lamb in the Old Covenant sacrifices spelled out in the book of Leviticus, a book of blood and fire, but also of rec­onciliation and celebration!

Then, when we follow the prophets, we get an increasingly clearer picture of the Messiah emerging through all the ups and downs of God’s people. Listen to Isaiah 53 ... A man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief ... and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all ... a lamb led to the slaughter...

You see, even though people do “their own thing”, God is quietly working out His own thing! What a lesson that is for our own day!

And in the middle of your Bible you are driven to your knees, in humble prayer, only to rise to your feet in exuberant praise. That’s what the book of psalms is like: worship in the midst of all your ups and downs! Read a psalm each Lord’s day!

And so, is it any wonder that a man like old Simeon, full of expectation, must shout with shouts of joy, when he has seen God’s promise come true in Christ: “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation!” (Luke 2:29, 30)

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