I think every Christian should make an effort to read through the entire Bible – frequently. Whether that means reading it through in a year (or more or less frequently), it’s important to familiarize our hearts with the whole counsel of God’s Word.
I’ve read it a few times before and I’m truly excited to be doing it again this year. To change things up a bit, I’ll be reading chronologically for the first time.
Through this practice, I’ve learned a lot. There are several things I wish I knew the first time around and I’ve gathered them for you here:
1. God is not pleased with me because I read His Word.
His delight in me rests in Christ’s righteousness alone – not my daily performance. I wrestled with this for YEARS. I can’t gain His favor by reading. I can’t lose His favor by not reading. When I rightly understand that my obedience overflows not from a place of bondage but freedom, I delight in it all the more. The purpose of knowing His Word is to know Him better, for He is my joy.
2. Listening is valid.
If sitting down with a physical bible is your preference, as it is mine, it can be easy to feel guilty for not doing that every day. Give yourself grace to listen to the audio Bible as needed. Our brains can effectively absorb information from actively listening just like they can from actively reading. Reading is better, yes, but listening is better than not reading at all. More than that, literacy is an academic privilege, not a spiritual rite of passage. We must be careful not to place legalistic weight onto the good discipline of daily Bible reading. This is not the end of our pursuit, either. We want to study, meditate, delight in, and obey it.
3. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
I committed this passage to memory years ago, but I subconsciously didn’t believe it applied to passages that seemed irrelevant to my sanctification. Genealogies, instructions for the construction of the temple, individual laws about purification – it’s all good for our sanctification. My sinful unbelief showed up in my apathy and disinterest. I wish I had known – and believed – there’s something spiritually equipping from every bit of Scripture.
4. The Bible Project videos are a great resource for understanding the literary and historical context.
I must recommend caution with this since Tim Mackie, its creator, holds some progressive views, but their videos that give an overview of each book of the Bible are very helpful. I recommend watching the corresponding video as you begin a new book. We should exercise caution with every extra biblical (meaning beyond the Bible) resource, but this one calls for high alert.
5. It may be common for Christians to neglect time spent in the Word, but it is not healthy.
It’s detrimental to their faith. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2 ESV To hear John Piper’s helpful exposition of this passage, watch just a couple minutes of this video starting at 5:25:
On that note, nothing can replace Scripture. No devotional or book should substitute the pure Word of God. Make every effort to develop and implement a strategy for daily drinking Scripture.