Read Through the Entire Bible in 2016
One of the habits I have maintained in my life is reading through the entire Bible every year. I started this even before I had any idea I would be a pastor when I was 16 years old. In the New Year I will begin my 39th trip through the Bible cover to cover. Here are some of the benefits and blessings of reading through the Scriptures on an annual basis.
1. You experience the transforming power of God’s word on a daily basis.
In Hebrews 4:12 we read, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” There is something about the Bible that is true of no other book, it is alive, meaning that every time you read it there is something that speaks to your heart. The most I have every read any other book is twice (a Tom Clancy novel). The second time through it just didn’t have the same impact. But every time I read the word intentionally it convicts, inspires, and encourages me.
2. You get to read parts of the Bible that are more difficult, less traveled, unpopular, or just hard to understand.
Let’s face it, reading books like Leviticus, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Revelation are not the easiest to get through or understand, but even in these books are found wonderful gems of God’s truth that can encourage, inspire, and convict you. In Lamentations, one of the most depressing books of the Bible, we find in chapter 3:22-23, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.”
3. You develop a filter for discerning what ideas are biblical and what are not.
There is a lot of heresy out there, even from people who occupy a pulpit. How do you know what is sound doctrine and what is not? Even if you don’t have a seminary degree, reading through the Bible cover to cover helps you to think more biblically, and this in turn gives you an ability to sort out sound teaching from wrong teaching. For example, people often say, “God helps those who help themselves.” No where does the Bible teach this.
4. You gain an understanding of the entire story of the Bible, and how the various parts fit together.
The Bible is the story of God’s plan of redemption, how God chose to save us and the universe He created from sin. Knowing the entire story helps you to better understand the different books as well as specific passages. For example, the more you know the Old Testament, the better you understand and appreciate the New Testament. Let’s take the Book of Hebrews. The theme of this book is how much greater is Jesus as prophet, priest, and king compared to any prophet, priest, or king of the Old Testament. After slugging through Leviticus, Numbers, and reading Judges and the Prophets, you really get what Hebrews is saying on such a deeper level. The Book of Revelation is a challenge for any Bible scholar, and yet when you have read through the Bible, you see how John weaves together every part of the Bible in looking forward to the return of Christ and the consummation of God’s plan.
So how do I read through the Bible in a year? My basic plan is to read three chapters a day, and five chapters on Sunday. I also read a chapter of Proverbs a day as the book has 31 chapters. You may want to start at Genesis 1 and work through the books in order, or you may want to read two chapters from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament. There are also some published plans to guide you through the Bible such as Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s at http://www.edginet.org/mcheyne/printables.html, or the ESV Study Bible plan at http://static.esvmedia.org/assets/pdfs/rp.esv.study.bible.pdf or this one http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.pdf.
The Bible itself declares, “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).” Since God inspired all of it, doesn’t it make sense to read all of it?