The Big Question 24: How Do You Start Reading the Bible?
Oct 10, 2018 1668
How do you start reading the Bible?
When I first started reading the Bible, I read it like any other book. Like, you go to the first page and start reading, right?
But every time, I’d give up, because I got stuck in long lists of names and tons of historical details that just didn’t seem relevant to anything at all!
The Bible was never meant to be read like that.
Most people read the Bible to find encouragement for their walk through life, or to learn about what it means to be a Christian. And if you just start right at the beginning, you’re going to give up before you get to the really good bits.
Well, after I did that, I tried another tack. I started reading the Bible by topic. So, I would pick a topic, like say, “life after death” and I would look up all the texts and passages that talked about that topic.
Still, there was a problem. In a sense, that’s not really “reading” the Bible at all. It’s like a bird pecking at crumbs. You get a crumb here and a crumb there but you never get a full meal. And bits of the Bible out of context is never a good thing!
Generally, what I recommend to people now is to start with the Gospels, the four biographies of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You find them at the beginning of the New Testament. In fact, I’d start with Mark, because it’s simple but so powerful.
You see, the whole Bible is actually the story of Jesus and how big his love is for you. Unless you start with Jesus, it can be easy to lose sight of that and you can actually get lost in all the other detail. You can end up not seeing the wood for the trees.
I can’t ignore the fact that there have been plenty of smart Christians who know the Bible back to front and who have actually used it to hurt other people. That’s because they never understood what it’s all about. You can’t understand it just because you have a brain and you can read.
The Bible is a spiritual book so it has to be understood spiritually. That means that you actually need the Author of the book there beside you to help you understand what it means. And the great thing is that Jesus has promised to do just that through his Spirit. It’s like your own personal guided book reading with God.
For me, that’s what makes reading the Bible so exciting.