“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” ~2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NRSV).
The Holy Bible can be a daunting prospect just to flick through with an intention of reading it cover to cover later. Some chapters are long, others are heavy, and some might be downright boring. But every verse of the Bible is relevant in God revealing himself to us.
So, where do we start?
What Bible to Use?
Not presuming that we’ve picked out a Bible version to begin with, there is a discussion of the right one. I commented on this in an earlier article. For new believers it may or may not be better to begin with a plain English version, but it may be easier.
It’s not the most important issue, which Bible to use.
It is far more important to read it, explore the questions that come up in our hearts and minds and resolve to learn more about God, enjoying the journey.
Where To Actually Start
New believers are always encouraged to begin with one of the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.
Typically it’s Mark that we might start with, because Mark is an eventful story with a smattering of teaching and miracles, and it plays out more like an action movie than the other three. A thorough reading of Mark, with time for questioning certain text, may take a couple of enjoyable and reflective hours. Do it when you’re relaxed.
A Time For Everything Under The Sun
With a bit of a play on ancient Ecclesiastes, we need to identify that different parts of the Bible are relevant for different times in our lives—to cater for different moods, varying situations, unique problems, and cherished opportunities.
This is not to say that reading the Bible through the year, or following a purposeful Bible Reading Plan is the wrong thing to do; far from it. A Bible Reading Plan is suitable, and commendable, for every Christian.
If we want to grow in wisdom we can follow Proverbs’ 31 chapters, one chapter each day of the month, for several months. Likewise, we could read New Testament James. Ecclesiastes and Job are also good wisdom books, but nonetheless challenging.
Knowing Jesus, biblically, is not better done than by a study of the gospels, the letters of the Apostles, even a reading of the Major and Minor Prophets. Truly, the entire Bible speaks relevantly regarding Jesus and God’s plan for redemption.
If we want to learn about early Church history, Acts is the book we go to. Yet, we can learn a lot about the sense of community in church from reading the Old Testament, as well as from reading the letters of Peter and Paul.
If we want to feel God’s Presence, and we have a yearning to connect with God emotionally, even in praise and thanksgiving, the Psalms are a logical place to go.
If the heritage of our faith is important to us we won’t disregard the first five books: Genesis through Deuteronomy. The settings of our theology exist there.
The history books of the Old Testament, also, play a massive role in our understanding of the pre-Christian period. We learn a lot about God, Judges, monarchy, and the prophets, when we read Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.
Where to start is not so much the question. Journeying through the Bible, in our quest to know God, is simply committing to reading, exploring, and searching the Scriptures. It’s about learning to hear God’s voice through the words as we read, letting them speak into our lives.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.