I will never forget what Ken Boa said to me years ago about reading and studying the Bible. Immediately after he came to Christ and realized that the Bible was true – pure truth, ultimate truth, he changed his career plans and enrolled at Dallas Seminary NOT to pursue a vocation of ministry BUT to study and thoroughly know the Bible because it is TRUTH! Otherwise, as verse 9 says, we will be "carried away by all kinds of strange teachings." ["The exact number of religions in the world is unknown. Best estimates place the number around 4200. Of this number, a dozen have been classified as "major world religions." Classical World Religions List – Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D.] If there are 4200 different religions (thousands of strange teachings) can you even imagine how many different "opinions" there are on the Bible (much less on how to live life)? Unfortunately even some "Christian" scholars can be the very ones who may lead us into strange teachings so we must be like the Bereans who "received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)
Add to this the influence of TV and internet with its plethora of information (mainly man's opinions) and the danger of being carried away with lies greatly increases. ["Suppose someone invented an instrument, a convenient little talking tube which, say, could be heard over the whole land…I wonder if the police would not forbid it, fearing that the whole country would become mentally deranged if it were used." Soren Kierkegaard – 1813-1855]
"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home (versus hours of watching TV) and when you walk (and drive) along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deut. 6:6-7) God will hold us accountable for knowing, obeying and sharing His Word. (Heb. 4:12-13) Trying to convince Him that we are not accountable because we didn't know His truth (especially here in America) would be like trying to convince a policeman that we are not guilty because "I didn't know this was a 40mph zone." The point is that if we believe that the Bible is ultimate truth and still do not read, study, and obey it we are only fooling ourselves, "deceived" – as James says in his epistle. (James 1:22)
It is also important to read through the entire Bible and it can be done in a year by reading 3.25 chapters a day. There are 1189 chapters in the Bible so if you read only one chapter each day you would read through the Bible in approximately 3 years. Here is a suggestion for a plan to read through the Bible by sections. Place a sticky note at Genesis 1, Job 1, Matthew 1 and Romans 1 and try to read all four sections regularly rather than straight through from Genesis to Revelation. After your read Genesis 1, you move your sticky note to Genesis 2 and so on for the other four sections as seen below:
- Genesis – Malachi – OT History (excluding Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs)
- Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs – the Poetical books- ["The Poetical books do not advance the story of the nation of Israel but delve deeply into crucial questions about life and God, wisdom and love and all in the present tense hearing from people just like us." Ken Boa]
- Matthew – Acts – The Gospels and first church
- Romans – Revelation – The Epistles
I also suggest using commentaries, and some that are helpful to me are: Warren Wiersbe – With the Word; Talk thru the Bible – Bruce Wilkinson and Ken Boa; Merrill Unger – Unger's Bible Handbook. These are all brief and concise yet can help us grasp key points in each book. (Also many Bibles have study notes and they can be helpful too.) I also journal the points that particularly speak to me and write some of these key points in my Bible beside the verse. I find this to be very helpful to recall how God spoke to me through the various Scriptures when I come to these passages again and again. Lastly, before I begin reading I pray "Holy Spirit please open my eyes so that I may see wonderful things in Your Word." (Psalm 119:18)
So, as Paul said, we must be men of the Word: "He (we) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he (we) can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." (See Titus 1:6-9; also see 1 Tim. 3:1-13) And we must be men who share the Word and teach others to do the same so God's Word will reach our children, family, friends and communities. "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others." (2 Tim. 2:2)
So the challenge for the New Year is to begin your plan to read through the Bible in one to three years being faithful to your daily reading, thus discovering your unique purpose and gifts so as to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself bringing Him all the glory He so deserves which gives us our greatest joy.
Daily do lists
1 Corinthians 10:31
E.g., Read 1 to 3 chapters each day
E.g., Read 7 to 21 chapters each week
E.g., Read Bible in 1 to 3 years
Discover your unique purpose
Ephesians 2:10; 1 Peter 4:10
God's universal purposes
Matthew 22:37-39; 28:18-20; I Timothy 2:4-6
God's ultimate/eternal purposes
Romans 11:36; Isaiah 43:21
If we disconnect any of our purposes from God's glory we lose the supernatural power of God. Isaiah 48:11
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
- What is your main take away from the message and table discussion and how can you apply it to your life?
- What does Ken Boa's example and Kierkegaard's statement above say to you? Share about some men you know now or in the past that are real students of God's Word and discuss some practices and habits they developed over the years to consistently study and read the Bible?
- "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home (versus hours of watching TV) and when you walk (and drive) along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deut. 6:6-7) What are some ways to encourage each other and ourselves to speak God's words to others, our children, our spouses, our co-workers, etc?
- How does the challenge of reading the entire Bible (in one to three years) strike you and why? What could you lose if you choose not to?
- Do you want to create an accountability system to help you read through the Bible? If so, send me an e-mail.