There are several Bible reading calendars which will take us through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in one or two or three years. Choose a plan that suits you and be regular to read the daily portion. Early hours of the day are the best because your mind will be fresh enough to absorb a lot. This is just reading. Close meditation can be on a few verses from the daily portion or from elsewhere. When you read through the Bible again and again, comparing Scripture with Scripture becomes easy. Thomas Watson has interestingly said, “Nothing can cut the diamond but the diamond; nothing can interpret Scripture but Scripture!” There are two outstanding benefits of this method of studying the Bible. One, very difficult passages suddenly become clear when other passages throw light on them. Second, we can be saved from wrong interpretation leading to false doctrines. False doctrines, like false witnesses, agree not among themselves!
The unnamed Ethiopian government official had the habit of reading through the Scripture even if he didn’t understand it. He had picked up the Book of Isaiah for his recent trip to Jerusalem. See how a brief exposition by Evangelist Philip could bring him to a consummate understanding of Gospel truth! (Acts 8:26-40). Keep a fine ballpen or pencil, whenever you open the Bible, to underline words, phrases and sentences which have a special appeal to you. Because the Bible paper is thin, don’t use poor quality ballpens which bleed and smudge. Leave a question mark on the margin against a verse or passage you don’t understand. You will have the joy of striking out some of them in your next reading! Questions will disappear one by one in subsequent readings. God reveals His truths to us in stages according to our level of understanding and maturity. Once Jesus told His disciples, “Oh, there is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now!” (Jn 16:12). Growth in Biblical understanding will be in proportion to our response to the illumination of the Holy Spirit (v 13). On another occasion Jesus said, “You don’t understand now why I am doing it; someday you will” (Jn 13:7). Keep a notebook exclusively for jotting down points which make your heart glow. Laziness will prevent you to do this, and the loss will be heavy.
(99% of people won’t even read this far into the post! Yet they say their serious about Christ!)
For starters, it is important to realize that the Bible is not an ordinary book that reads smoothly from cover to cover. It is actually a library, or collection, of books written by different authors in several languages over 1500 years. Martin Luther said that the Bible is the “cradle of Christ” because all biblical history and prophecy ultimately point to Jesus. Therefore, any first reading of the Bible should begin with the Gospels. The gospel of Mark is quick and fast-paced and is a good place to start. Then you might want to go on to the gospel of John, which focuses on the things Jesus claimed about Himself. Mark tells about what Jesus did, while John tells about what Jesus said and who Jesus was. In John are some of the simplest and clearest passages, but also some of the deepest and most profound passages. Reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) will familiarize you with Christ’s life and ministry.
After that, read through some of the Epistles (Romans, Ephesians, Philippians). They teach us how to live our lives in a way that is honoring to God. When you start reading the Old Testament, read the book of Genesis. It tells us how God created the world and how mankind fell into sin, as well as the impact that fall had on the world. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy can be hard to read because they get into all the laws God required the Jews to live by. While you should not avoid these books, they are perhaps better left for later study. In any case, try not to get bogged down in them. Read Joshua through Chronicles to get a good history of Israel. Reading Psalms through Song of Solomon will give you a good feel for Hebrew poetry and wisdom. The prophetic books, Isaiah through Malachi, can be hard to understand as well. Remember, the key to understanding the Bible is asking God for wisdom (James 1:5). God is the author of the Bible, and He wants you to understand His Word.
It is important to know that not everyone can be a successful Bible student. Only those with the necessary “qualifications” for studying the Word can do so with God’s blessings:
Are you saved by faith in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)?
Are you hungering for God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2)?
Are you diligently searching God’s Word (Acts 17:11)?
If you answered “yes” to these three questions, you can be sure that God will bless your efforts to know Him and His Word, no matter where you start and no matter what your method of study. If you are not sure that you are a Christian’that you have been saved by faith in Christ and have the Holy Spirit within you”you will find it impossible to understand the meaning of the words of Scripture. The truths of the Bible are hidden from those who have not come to faith in Christ, but they are life itself to those who believe (1 Corinthians 2:13-14; John 6:63).
Now those that have read this entire article are serious Bible students! those who haven’t probably only read the first two sentences and moved on to the next great pictured post, wondering why their lives are falling apart not knowing what to pray and who God is.
Holy Bible, Book divine, Precious treasure, thou art mine; Mine to tell me whence I came, Mine to teach me what I am! (John Burton, Sr., 1773-1822)