Have you ever read the Bible all the way through? Have you done that more than once in your life? Do you make a habit of reading scripture every day? Or perhaps some days? Or maybe once in a while? Maybe you have a Bible that’s good at collecting dust on the shelf at home. Or maybe you don’t even have a Bible at home at all.
I don’t offer any of those possibilities as an attempt to make you feel guilty or unrighteous – or holy or super-righteous, either. It’s simply true that everyone has a different level of engagement with God’s written word. Some people are more inclined to make it part of their everyday reading experience. Others really have no desire to do anything with the Bible at all. And there are many options in between.
So why read the Bible in the first place? We believe that this book is God’s complete, inspired revelation of himself in written form: everything we need to know about the Lord is included in its pages. The full plan of salvation in Jesus Christ is there; a complete set of expectations for how we live, behave, and make choices is there. Answers to life’s deepest questions are there; even those questions which have no answers are there. The history of God’s relationship with his people is there. It is trustworthy, reliable, verifiable, meaningful, hopeful, encouraging, challenging, comforting, disturbing, intriguing, revealing, and enlightening. For anyone in a relationship with God, or for anyone wondering who God is, the Bible is indispensable reading material.
So why read the whole Bible, then? Surely there are parts of it that are less interesting or useful than others. (All those genealogies in the Old Testament, come on!) I agree, some parts of the Bible are more appealing than others. That’s because the Bible is comprised of many different genres of literature: history, songs, philosophy, poetry, gospel stories, letters, prophecies, and so forth. And each book of the Bible was written by a unique author (or authors) from a unique perspectives. There’s a wealth of material to learn simply by reading and studying this book.
Jesus is the most important character in the Bible, of course, but his story becomes richer, fuller, more powerful, more complete when we read all of scripture with him in mind. The entirety of the Bible – from Genesis through Revelation – is necessary reading material for the disciple of Jesus.
So have you read the Bible all the way through before? If not, why not begin now? But I’ll caution you: if you haven’t read the Bible from start to finish before, don’t read it like a regular novel, starting on page 1 and going to the end. I guarantee it, by the time you get to Leviticus or Numbers, you’ll run out of steam. If you want to read the Bible all the way through, there are a bunch of plans and translations available to help keep it interesting. Come talk with me any time – we’ll work on it together!