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Question: I’ve never read the Bible before, but I want to begin. Can you give me some hints for reading the Bible so that I can understand it?

Pastor Bill responds (pt. 2):

So, by now you have decided on the good Bible translation you want and you’ve
purchased a Bible that has a good font size and page format so that it’s easy to read (and mark
with a pencil and/or marker if you want). What’s next?

1. Set a time and find a place that’s quiet and well lit. If you’ll be reading in the early
morning (always preferable) or the late evening, sit in a place that isn’t so comfortable that you’ll
fall asleep. (And it is perfectly permissible to read your Bible in the morning as you sip a good
strong cup of coffee or tea!) I have a raised desk in my study, so I stand when I’m reading my
Bible and doing my related studying. Standing keeps you awake, and it’s good weight-bearing

2. Always pray for the Holy Spirit to attend your reading of the Word of God. He’s the
Author (and it’s wonderful when you can have the author of a book with you as you read!), and
He knows how to show you Jesus Christ in all of the Scriptures. That’s his work (see John
15:26,27; 16:14,15). You also want his work to transform you more and more into the image of
Jesus Christ (see II Corinthians 3:15-18). A simple prayer to use (which comes right from the
Bible itself) is: “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” and out of the
Gospel, too. (Psalm 119:18) And pray that you will be transformed by these wondrous things.

3. Have a reading plan and stick to it. Don’t open your Bible to any spot and just start
reading. The Bible is not a ouija board! It’s a book composed of 66 books that have purposes,
human authors with a mission, times and places in which and to which they were written, and
particular recipients. Most Bible versions (but not all) include information like that as an
introduction to each Bible book. Take time to learn a little about the book you are reading.
There are many different Bible reading schedules available. I can give you a Through
the Bible in a Year schedule that I have used for years. Even if I want to take two years to read
through both the Old and the New Testaments, I can still check off what I have read so that I
have a record of my progress. (And, be honest, we all like records of our progress in reading
through a book as large and as important as the Bible). Or, you can Google “Bible Reading
Schedule” and you’ll have an array of suggestions. (The ones from Ligonier and The Gospel
Coalition are particularly helpful). Bottom line: Follow your reading schedule….with this caveat:

4. If you’re new to Bible reading, I do NOT suggest that you begin at Genesis and work
through to Revelation. You will get bogged down once you get to the book of Leviticus! And
that will discourage you. Start with the New Testament. Read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’
life and public ministry (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) Then read of how the Church grew
following the day of Pentecost (Acts). Then read of how God the Holy Spirit addresses
particular churches, bodies of believers, and individuals (Romans - Jude). Finally, be in awe as
you read the vivid and richly symbolic book that tells you: “The Lamb, i.e. Jesus, wins!”

Next week we’ll look at how to read the specific genres of the Bible.