Explore the Bible.
When picking up the Bible for the first time, it can be tricky knowing where to start. Here are a few pointers just to help you get started.
First things first!
Firstly, although the Bible was written in 3 languages (Aramaic, Hebrew & Greek) by more than forty writers from all walks of life, living on three continents separated by over 1500 years, it’s message is a coherent one. In 2 Timothy 3:16, God tells us that all Scripture is God breathed, and through the person of the Holy Spirit, the writers were inspired. The Bible is one unfolding story.
Therefore, if the Holy Spirit gave understanding to the writers, then He must also give understanding to the readers too. It is possible to sit and read the Bible like a piece of literature, but not see the truth revealed. So then, before reading the Bible, always pray and ask God to reveal His word through the Holy Spirit. It makes an amazing difference.
Get the Big Picture!
Secondly, the Bible does have a thread that runs through it and it’s important to try and see the big picture or meta-narrative. Simply outlined, the Bible looks like this:
1. Creation – God made everything good.
2. Rebellion – Man wilfully rebelled against God and caused separation between us and God.
3. Redemption Pursued – God promised one who would come and redeem (pay the price) us from our sin. The Old Testament pursues this promise looking for the fulfilment.
4. Redemption Accomplished – Jesus is revealed in the New Testament as the one God promised and He accomplished the redemption.
5. Re-Creation – Jesus will return to restore all things to that which God intended.
The rest of the Bible fits into this ‘Big Picture’ and it’s good to have that in mind when reading the Bible.
So then, where to start?
Well there are some useful online resources and one we want to recommend to begin with is a 40 session reading plan on the English Standard Version (ESV) web site.
This plan moves around key areas of the Bible to try and give a sense of the ‘Big Picture’ mentioned above. It’s probably best to create an account and then you can go through it at your own pace. After that, you may want to look at one of the other Bible reading plans.
Fourth, when you read the Bible, expect God to speak to you through His Word. In John’s Gospel, Jesus told this to one woman:
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23 & 24
The reality is, if you are seeking to find God, then He was already seeking you first and is longing to speak to you through His Word.
Finally, we can recommend a couple of really good books to help you understand the Bible.