My wife Uni became a believer at an early age, and at the age of 11 she began reading through her Bible once a year and has ever since. When I came to faith in Christ at 18, she purchased me a Bible. It was a King James Version with all the “thees” and “thous.” I began reading it immediately and finished in about 3 months. I’ve been at it ever since and wore out that first Bible and a few more since.
Now I have many Bibles (in Greek, Hebrew and English) which I read and study. My favorite is my Greek New Testament. It’s a large print Nestle-Aland critical text. The margins are marked with cross references and notes. The words have been colored by pencils according to a code known only to me. The edges are dirty. Some pages are torn and taped. The original cover is gone and replaced with a simple glued on piece of leather. It has tire tracks on a few pages. (I had left it on top of my car one morning after having coffee with a friend. I had just pulled on to the highway and got up to speed when I heard a thump, looked in the mirror and saw my New Testament being run over by a car following. I retrieved it still in one piece.)
I love this book, as well as my other Bibles. They are my friends. Through the years I believe the Bible has been the major factor in my growth as a Christian. (I’m not there yet!) Though I have read many books that have added to my knowledge and growth, this is the one by which all others are judged (see BOOKS).
Just about every year, people make resolutions to read through the Bible and like most resolutions they don’t carry through. Some have probably already gotten bogged down this year in the “begats” in Genesis. And of those who make it through them, some will get bogged down in the “abominations” in Leviticus. Some will make it through all those and beyond, only to discover even more “begats” in Chronicles. And so, people who have been believers for years never get to know firsthand what’s in the Book.
And I’ve heard many excuses besides “I got bogged down.”
• “I don’t understand the Bible.” Of course! One can’t understand the Bible without reading it!
• “I don’t have a seminary education.” One doesn’t need a seminary education to read the Book! In fact, years of reading the Bible made my seminary education a lot easier.
• “Living out the Christian life is more important than just reading the Bible.” I believe it is impossible to “live the Christian life” without some knowledge of and familiarity with the instruction manual!
• “Isn’t regular reading some sort of legalism?” Yes, I suppose one could get legalistic about reading the Bible. If we read the Book just to say we did, we can become satisfied with the reading as an end in itself. But we mustn’t confuse developing good habits with legalism. Most of us eat, sleep, brush our teeth and do all sorts of things as part of a regular routine.
And yet Bible reading should be much more than a regular routine if it’s going to affect our lives. Get to know the Bible. It’s a love letter from your dearest Friend. You can’t really know Him well without finding out what He has to say.
“ … be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you …” (Philippians 3:16).
“All Scripture is … profitable … that the man of God may be complete, furnished for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
If you’ve never done it, please start reading now. One can read through the whole Bible in a year at 3 or 4 chapters a day. Start with the New Testament. Don’t get bogged down with the notes. Don’t worry too much about the parts you don’t understand. Many of them will be answered as you continue reading.
Have a great new year!