Since becoming a Christian as a teen, I’ve spent a lot of time reading the Bible and talking with others who read (or want to read) it as well, and I have found that, though it is of such great value to mankind and is widely owned and talked about, the Bible is not widely read or understood – not even among Christians. People often tell me how they try to read the Bible, but they don’t understand it, or they loose interest in reading it. It isn’t that they don’t want to read it, but that they feel defeated by their lack of understanding and eventually just quit.
In 1949 Rev Peter Marshall, in a prayer offered at the opening of the Senate session, stated, “Unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” But how will a Christian know what to stand for, if he cannot read and understand God’s Word? I’m certain that the lack of Bible reading is the reason that so many are falling prey to “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
Best Bible Study Tool
I own all sorts of Bible study aids, but the best tool I’ve come across for helping me read and understand God’s Word is a chronological Bible. This type of Bible arranges the verses in historical order so that you are reading the events in the order in which they actually happened. The events can be placed in proper order because much of the Bible is dated. However, some texts are not dated, and in those instances the arrangers use an educated guess in placing them on the time line. Because of this educated guesswork, there will always be some debate over the accuracy of the time lines. I use The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order by F. LaGard Smith, and it has GREATLY increased my understanding of the Bible. It just makes more sense when I read it in order. I’m no historian, and I can’t debate the accuracy of Bro. Smith’s time line, but this I do know – not only do I understand the Bible better after reading it this way, I enjoy reading it more, and I think you will too.
Start With the New Testament
Reading the Old Testament first might not be the best idea. While the Old Testament is a storehouse of wisdom that definitely should not be overlooked, the New Testament is more familiar to us, thus easier to read and understand. I strongly suggest that you read through the New Testament first. It’s smaller, and when you’ve reached that goal, you’ll be much better prepared to tackle the Old Testament. In fact, divide the goal of reading through the whole Bible into several smaller goals. This will give you a continuing sense of accomplishment as you meet each goal. The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order, for example, divides the New Testament into two sections – the life of Christ first, then the church and the apostles. Completing these two sections first will greatly improve your understanding of the Bible and give you the encouragement you need in order to complete the much longer Old Testament readings.
My daughter and I started reading through the Bible together last year. It is our goal to read through the entire Bible together at least once before she graduates. Discussing what we’ve read has been a wonderful learning experience for both of us. She knows much more than I expected, but she has also had several questions that I wouldn’t have thought to discuss with her, if we weren’t reading together like this. A couple of those questions really made me dig for answers. I absolutely LOVE that she and I are growing together like this. I like the fact that this Bible uses the New International Version, because I wanted to get the most out of our time together, and trying to understand the KJV slows us down. I know there is MUCH debate over this topic, so I suggest you talk with the Lord about which translation you should use. But I can say that this translation has accomplished exactly what I had hoped it would for our reading time together.
May God richly bless your Bible reading and give you a greater understanding of who He is and what He desires of you.