GROWING ONE’S FAITH APART FROM SCRIPTURE IS NOT POSSIBLE.
The new year is a typical time for resolutions, and new beginnings. One of those that Christians often take up is to read through the entire Bible in a year. I’m struck at times by the number of Christians who have not done this. It is simply impossible to learn more about God, his truth, his plan of redemption, the person of Jesus Christ – any of the fundamental truths of the Christian faith, without a thorough familiarity with the Bible. I’ve posted previously about the biblical illiteracy among those who claim a relationship with Jesus. That this has left the church as a whole more impoverished, and allowed heresy to grow and flourish, is quite evident.
Heresy aside, if you as a Christian are to be equipped to deal with trial, with suffering, with the inevitable challenges that come into every life, and deal with them in the way God has designed, if you don’t know the Bible, you will be unable to do so. If it is your practice to open the Bible to wherever the pages fall, read a bit and seek God’s guidance in this way, you are leaving out a huge portion of God’s revelation, and impoverishing yourself spiritually. This is particularly true of familiarity with the Old Testament. Some Christians seem to assume that because they are under the New Covenant, the Old Covenant and it’s Scriptures are less important and secondary. Because of Jesus, the New Testament is really where we need to read. But this is untrue and short-sighted.
When Jesus met the disciples on the Emmaus road, he instructed them “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27). The Old Testament is therefore “Christian Scripture.” It is not simply a Jewish history book, nor a record of God’s dealings with mankind in prior ages that now has no bearing, as if it is somehow replaced by the New Testament. The Old Testament books were the only Scriptures known to the earliest church, and it was in them that the promises and prophecies of Jesus were found. The Old Testament comprises nearly 80% of our Bibles. Giving that much of God’s word short shrift by assuming it contains little for Christians is contrary not only to God’s design, but to the way the apostles treated the Old Testament. In other words, there is a wealth of guidance in the Old Testament, and about Jesus himself, for us now.
Practically speaking, how to get started? There are a host of reading plans out there – many Bibles come with one in the back. Some take a chapter from the Old Testament historical books, a psalm, and a chapter or two from the New Testament. Those are workable plans. My preference is to stay in one spot, because I think the narrative and sense of the book are better grasped in this fashion. There are 1189 chapters in the entire Bible, and so reading 3.25 chapters a day will get you through in a year. Reading a quarter chapter is rather awkward, so an alternative is to read 4 chapters every 4th day. Reckoning on 92 days in a quarter, you’ll end up with 1196 chapters read, a bit over, but that provides a tiny bit of slack. The plan you choose is less important, than sticking with the plan. Desiring the pure milk of the word means following through and reading it in the year ahead.