Ways to Approach the Bible, Part 1: Read the Entire Bible From Cover to Cover

Since you know that the Bible is God’s Word, it is understandable that you would want to read every word of it. Lots of people read the Bible straight through from cover to cover. It has its advantages. First of all, you really get to know the whole story of the Bible. Second, you know that at least once you will have seen every passage. Also, after reading the entire Bible, other sections of the Bible will make better sense. Many of the biblical narratives refer to previous events, and it helps to have already read those stories. The New Testament quotes from and alludes to many Old Testament passages. If you have read the Old Testament already, you will see how deeply rooted the New Testament is in the Old.

But there are also some disadvantages to reading the Bible straight through from cover to cover. First of all, you will hit sections that become tedious reading. As soon as Genesis chapter 5, you will encounter a genealogy. Genealogies can be boring to read. They serve a very important purpose, but holding your attention is not that purpose. If you are reading the Bible straight through, give yourself permission to skim the genealogical sections.

Another disadvantage is that you will spend time in large sections that are difficult to apply to our lives. Some of the ceremonial laws pointed ahead to Jesus Christ and his saving work, but this is not clearly stated when you read them. If you get bogged down in Leviticus, give yourself permission to skim it until you get back to the historical narratives. Then go back and work on mining the treasures that can be found in these sections of Scripture also.

The poetic and prophetic books of the Old Testament can also be like quicksand if you read straight through them. The more you wiggle around in them, the deeper you sink into their repetitive thoughts. So when you read the prophets, make sure to have outlines to get a handle on their structures. Don’t give up on them by any means. Those books contain some of the most beautiful gospel promises anywhere in Scripture.

Another disadvantage of reading straight through the Bible is that you neglect other very important passages for long periods of time. If you would read only one chapter of the Old Testament a day, it would be months before you got to the New Testament where you learn about Jesus Christ. Because it is challenging to keep your interest in reading through large sections of ceremonial laws, poetry, or prophecy, and because we don’t want to neglect the New Testament, editors have put together some special Bible reading plans that schedule daily readings in both Testaments. Ask your pastor if he can help you locate one of these.

There are also a host of places to find Bible reading plans that will get you through the Bible in one, two, three, four, or five years. You just need to look for them. In Northwestern Publishing House’s devotional booklet called Meditations, you will find a Bible reading plan that displays a new reading at the bottom of each daily meditation page. The Wisconsin Synod periodical Forward in Christ also has a Bible reading plan. There are other such plans available. If you do an Internet search on Bible reading plans, you will find a number of them.

Another way to work through the entire Bible while living a fastpaced life is to buy the Bible on CD and play it in your car during your daily commute. I have known several people who have done this, and I noticed that they grew in their faith dramatically as a result. You can find a host of Bibles on CD by surfing the Internet. Just type “audio Bible” into any Internet search engine. In my opinion, the best audio Bibles are those that dramatize the readings. In a dramatized Bible there are different voices for the different people in each story.

From Bible Basics, by Donald W. Patterson © 2010 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.