The Theological Foundation for Bible Reading:
The basic reason why Christians should be continually reading the Scriptures can be found within the verse below:“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)
You may not think of yourself as being in need of spiritual food, but you are. Just as your body eats bread and drinks water, so too you need to hear from God. God does not ordinarily speak to us like we speak to each other. Though we may wish He did do it in that way, He does not. However, He has written His word down and given it to His Church for their faithful use.
In addition to exhorting you to read the Scriptures as you eat food and drink water, I also encourage you to read the Scriptures in faith. The Scriptures say much about uniting the word of God with faith (Hebrews 4:2) and the apostle James warns Christians to not just be “hearers” or the word but “doers” of the Word (James 1:22). You can do all the Bible reading in the world, but if you do not believe what it says, it profits you nothing. But if you seek God and believe what He has said, then it will profit you.
Bible Reading Plans:
Have you been thinking about your new year resolutions? Have you ever wanted to read the bible in a year? Do you wish you could be more consistent in your Bible Reading? Below are several options that you could take for the coming year. I personally commend these options below as beneficial plans for spiritual feeding. (The difficulty of each plan goes in descending order)
- Read the New Testament in a Year:
- 1 chapter a day
- Starts with the Gospel of Mark and ends with Revelation but mixes the order up in between. For variety sakes.
- Good plan for a Christian who is just now beginning the bible reading discipline.
- Read the Old/New Testament in a Year:
- Approx 3 chapters a day.
- The plan breaks Scripture into 4 main categories:
- “Psalms & Wisdom Literature”
- “The Law and History of Israel”
- “Prophets and Chronicles”
- “Gospels and Epistles”
- Offers variety from both New and Old Testament. I enjoyed this plan most recently the most. The plan comes from the ESV study bible.
- The book of Psalms is read twice.
- Read the Old Testament x 1 and the New Testament x 2 (M’Cheyne)
- Approx 4 chapters a day.
- Starts with the four “beginnings” in Scripture:
- Genesis 1 – Creation
- Ezra 1 – Israel’s return from exile
- Matthew 1 – Birth of Christ
- Acts 1 – Birth of the Church
- This is a very old plan started in Scotland in 1842 by Robert Murray M’Cheyne. Intent was for 2 chapters to be read for personal devotions and 2 chapters to be read during family devotions.
- A more extensive plan for someone who already has been reading the bible consistently and perhaps also consistent in leading family worship. A great challenge for us Christian husbands/fathers!
- The link above also comes with M’Cheyne’s advice on how to best go about doing this reading plan.
- Read the bible in a year: If you click the link and look at the spreadsheet you will notice that the plan is ordered into 4 columns. If you only read the first three columns (from left to right) then you will read through the bible once in a year. (The fourth column is only the NT and Psalms) This may be another way to go about reading through the bible all at once.
Bible Versions and Translation Philosophy:
When it comes to translations of the Bible, you must understand that the Scriptures were written in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). And since God has inspired the very words of God, and not just the meaning of a passage, it is paramount that you find a translation as literal as possible. If you struggle with literal translations, and like the paraphrased versions, I want to encourage you by pointing out that the Bible is not always easy to understand and it takes patience and time. Understanding the harder aspects of Scripture is the job of preachers and teachers and that is why God has given them to His Church. Do not be frustrated with passages of Scripture that are hard to understand – stick with the reading and in time you will gain understanding. The basic message of the bible is clear to the normal reader.
The Better Versions: The versions below are all “formal equivalence” or “literal” word for word translations (as far as possible) and should be regarded as the Word of God in the English Language. There may be a few others, but these are the best.
- King James (You may find this version too archaic, in which case, read the New)
- New King James (I recommend this version)
- New American Standard
- English Standard
The Versions to Avoid: The below versions are popular but are not “formal equivalence” or “literal” translations. Instead, they take a different approach to translation. They translate “thought” for “though” and often times mis-interpret. Interpretation is the job of the preacher and teacher and not the job of the translater. I, again, encourage you NOT to read these versions.
- The Message
- New Living Translation
- Amplified Bible
- Good News Translation
- New International Version (this is technically a “literal” translation but misses the boat enough times to be grouped in this category)