On January 2 of this year, I wrote my second blog post (Reading God’s Story) in which I committed to a new daily Bible reading plan—a chronological one arranged by George Guthrie, professor of Bible at Union University in Jackson, TN. I’m pleased to report I finished it last week. Whew, cover to cover!
Now you may ask, “Why the entire Bible? Isn’t it enough to be just be somewhere in His Word daily?” Yes, of course. What matters is that you are reading the Bible on a daily basis. Not necessarily which plan. But I do believe there is a greater benefit to be had for those who are willing to go the distance. Let me explain.
I was first convicted of this practice after reading D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching & Preachers. In it he writes:1
[E]ssential in the preacher’s life is the reading of the Bible. This is obviously something that he does every day regularly. My main advice here is: Read your Bible systematically. The danger is to read at random, and that means that one tends to be reading only one’s favourite passages. In other words one fails to read the whole Bible. I cannot emphasise too strongly the vital importance of reading the whole Bible. I would say that all preachers should read through the whole Bible in its entirety at least once every year. You can devise your own method for doing this, or you can use one of the methods devised by others.
Whoa! MLJ’s words had hit me like a caffeine crash. How can I encourage others to integrate this spiritual discipline into their daily walk with Christ if I’m unwilling to do the same? Am I committed to regularly renew my mind? Or am I content with a dull heart for the things of God?
In this digital age, many are finding it hard to simply read. No, I didn’t say skim. Read. (In fact, many will likely have skimmed this article, looking over the first few sentences and then the bold print before moving on. It’s a bad habit we’ve learned from our internet usage.)
We need to re-acquire the habit of reading. Reading systematically. Reading slowly. Reading with the intent of absorbing and applying. It is not something easy to come by, and has become lost by many in our time. Yet, this is how we grow.
I believe a case can be made that Paul modeled this for us when he asked Timothy for the parchments and books (see 2 Tim 4:13). Even at an older stage of his life, the apostle was determined to grow through his disciplined reading of the Scriptures. That’s because there are some very real advantages to be gained by reading through your entire Bible in a year. Below are just five that I experienced in 2016.
FIVE BENEFITS FROM READING THROUGH THE ENTIRE BIBLE
1. Affection for God.
The greatest goal is also the greatest benefit. It is not to read through the Bible, but to be reading the Bible to know God. I found myself growing closer to God. This kind of feeding will cause a tenfold growth. Reading through the entire Bible chipped away at my misconceptions about God and His will for me. After all, the only way to learn what God is really like is to read what He has revealed about Himself in His Word.
2. Biblical literacy.
We often neglect the front eighty percent of the Bible known as the Old Testament, but the redemptive-historical plan of God is a fascinating read from cover to cover. It’s His-story. History with a divine purpose. Every book of the Bible is going to point to the Savior Who is to come, came and is coming again.
3. Constant conviction.
The Good Book exposes the ugly desires of my flesh. My flesh doesn’t want to invest in this examination. ESPN.com is vying for my attention—did the Yankees win? American Angler looks like a good read—how can I inch even closer to those trout hiding in the stream? No. I need to be confronted, yet again, with the naked and terrible truth about the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I. A constant conviction will lead to an utter dependence upon the grace and mercy of God. There is no better way to begin one’s day.
4. Daily discipline.
Truthfully, the commitment of reading through a daily Bible reordered my private world. It forced me to stay in God’s Word especially when I didn’t feel like it. You see, I had to be up early to get that reading in. I had to get to bed early to begin my new day in His Word. I had to let go of social media scrolling in the early and late hours to get the deed done.
5. Energized faith.
Here’s another confession: I have a weak faith battery. I just do. It embarrassing how often it needs recharging. I mean, like every single day; and that is where my daily Bible reading came in. It provided the necessary energy to take on the day. Moses said much the same in one of his sermons, “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life,” (Deut 32:47, NIV).
WHY WAIT FOR 2017?
My daily Bible reading journey had previously taken me through the MacArthur Daily Bible (in the New King James Version) and now Reading God’s Story (chronological in the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation). Both with similar results: affection for God, biblical literacy, constant conviction, daily discipline, and energized faith.
The accountability with others has been helpful; and soon I’ll begin to consider what I’ll use for the next round. It will be a different translation with a new plan, for certain.
Give yourself a head start by beginning a daily Bible discipline this fall. Aim at nothing and you are bound to hit. If you are in need of a big push to get going—check this out (Have You Not Read?) and please do not hesitate to get in touch.