“‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4
For some reason, many new believers fret needlessly and endlessly over finding just the right Bible “reading plan”. In fact, entire books are written on it. Apps are created to help with this, and indeed even whole Bibles are cut up and reprinted in some special order that they want you to take.
But most books, including the Bible, tend to have a built-in “reading plan” and it’s not very hard to find or remember.
So, to cut to the chase: this step is very easy! For a new believer, there is only one “right” reading plan:
- Start in Genesis 1:1
- Continue reading until Revelation 22:21
- Repeat from step 1 again
There, I’ve just saved you countless hours and days of frustration, searching through a lot of nonsense trying to find the “perfect” Bible reading plan!
You could also add in reading one Psalm every day if you want. That doesn’t hurt, and I’ve found it helpful to my soul.
To emphasize this point: Would you buy a new and exciting romance novel or thriller and then pick it up and start reading it randomly in the middle? I didn’t think so.
And yet many think that it’s ok to do that with the Bible for some unknown reason. I confess, I was also in that camp when I was first saved. I thought that God through the Holy Spirit would magically open the Bible to just the right page I needed. That’s nonsense. While the Spirit certainly guides you in all things, it’s not how you should regularly approach Bible study.
Others believe that they can ignore the Old Testament (OT) because it is “obsolete.” I originally did that also, and now realize how wrong I was. Without reading the OT, you won’t understand why we are where we are today, or the need for Jesus, or the nature of God Himself, etc. The OT gives context and understanding to the NT. You cannot ignore either one (some churches teach that you should only read the NT – that is another false teaching!).
The reason you don’t just start reading in the middle (or randomly wherever you happen to open it) is because the beginning of the book introduces the main character (God in our case) and the main plot line for the book’s story (humanity and sin in our case). And you won’t understand the New Testament (NT) and Jesus Christ very well if you don’t first understand the Old Testament (God)…for they are one and the same! For God “is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” He never changes.
As mentioned, without you having a solid foundation in the OT, the NT and indeed Christ cannot be properly and fully understood and appreciated. The nature, holiness and majesty of GOD Himself cannot be understood without the OT.
It is should also be noted that the NT quotes from the OT nearly 900 times, further enhancing the need for modern day gospel saints to read and understand what is in the OT. However, today many push this OT emphasis way too far and resurrect legalism – teaching that we are still (back) under the OT Mosaic Law, and specifically the Ten Commandments, which were given to the ancient Jews. The Mosaic Law (all of it) was done away with, nailed to the cross with (and by) Christ. In fact, the entire book of Galatians addresses this very issue. So, the modern practice of honoring the Jewish Sabbath is not supported by Scripture – and in fact, if you put yourself back under the bondage/yoke of the Mosaic Law, you must keep all of it, perfectly. No man even has done that, except Jesus! So please don’t succumb to the false teachings of those who try to place you back under the Mosaic law of Moses from the OT. We are under the law of grace as defined by the NT. (See the Wolves Chapter in this book for more information on this false teaching).
So, do yourself a big favor: follow the very simple plan I have set forth above. It takes no special effort to memorize either. And whatever you do, keep going. If you come to some verses or chapters which are hard and tedious, do the best you can, read through them, but DO NOT STOP. Keep going! The most important part is to read it daily. Your spiritual being actually needs God’s Holy Word to survive and feed itself now; it literally starves a bit each day you skip. It is the Word of God that actually feeds your new born-again spirit! Amazing!
Also, do not worry that you are not getting enough exposure to the NT right away because you are starting “way back” in the OT in Genesis. If you follow my other advice of finding and attending church regularly, and finding a Christian 101 starter class, and joining one bible study group, you will find that you will be reading the NT sections also (probably every day), and that they will be adequately covered at the same time you’re reading through the Bible yourself. But don’t confuse those activities with your own foundational reading plan.
Also, as you start reading and studying the Word diligently, you may start to find that occasionally a verse literally “jumps off the page” at you! The first time this happened to me I just about fell out of my chair. It is amazing when it happens, and you can’t help but notice it. I encourage you to pay particular attention when that happens to some verses, as it may be the Holy Spirit prompting you pay attention to it, perhaps also to memorize it asap, or otherwise learn from it fairly urgently. Pay special attention to these moments. They really are amazing! And yes, if you are reading a printed Bible, the verse does seem to actually jump up off the page at you, as if the word was “alive” (which it is). At least it does for me.
And finally, it is often heard said that “the Bible is just too hard to understand!” Friend, yes, the Bible isn’t always easy to understand; it’s meant to be that way in many places. You will find that it in fact does take diligent reading and study to understand it in many areas, as it progressively reveals itself to you.
In this book I’ve tried to give as many relevant verses in each chapter as possible, not just to multiply verses, but because correct doctrine can only be attained by considering in aggregate ALL of what Scripture has to say on a particular subject. You build Biblical truth by having interpretations that are in agreement with ALL scripture, not just some specific verses you’ve chosen.
As you saw in the “Wolves” section of the book, false teachings abound today in epidemic proportions. Nearly all false teachings by well-meaning but misguided Christian Pastors and teachers arise when some verses are picked, and interpretations made of those specific verses in isolation, while others are conveniently ignored which don’t fit with one’s interpretation.
One of the most basic principles of Bible study is that if your interpretation and understanding of a verse causes either: 1) a conflict/disagreement with other verses, or 2) gives God the slightest appearance of being unloving, unmerciful, hateful, mean or having any moral flaw whatsoever, then it’s your understanding and interpretation that is wrong.
As you unlock (correctly understand) some truth in one area, that gives you the ability and understanding to unlock the next truth in another area. You must really work at it and truly want to seek out and search for its truth. You must desire it, for it is written: “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
Also, I want to add that it wasn’t until I stopped trying to seek out and find errors and places it contradicted itself in everything I read in the Bible that I really started to grow in understanding it.
So, in closing, remember that it is the daily reading of the Word, which feeds your born-again Spirit in Christ! Just as your body will die without eating food, your spirit will die without eating spiritual food (the Word of God).
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4
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. – Hebrews 4:12
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night. – Psalm 1:2
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. – Joshua 1:8