During my seminary days, I concentrated on the New Testament. If you were to look at my transcript, you would find both my master and doctoral studies focused on New Testament and Greek. I loved the Greek language, and every time I opened the Greek New Testament, my studies were rewarded with new insights into the truth of God’s Word. In essence, the Scriptures came alive to me.
But the more I studied the New Testament, the more I realized that it was not birthed in a vacuum. Indeed, to understand the New, one needed a solid understanding of the Old. The flow of God’s Word and the movement of His revelation of Himself and His Word to man is like the continuous flow of a mighty river. The revelation of the New Testament is built on the revelation of the Old. They cannot be divorced.
It was during those seminary days that I came to understand how important a thorough grasp of the whole Bible is to comprehending the truth of Scripture and in particular the Gospel. I started a practice that is greatly rewarding, which I have followed many times since—reading the Bible through during a given year.
Many Christians never take the time or pay the price to get the panoramic view of God’s Word. They read only small portions of Scripture that naturally appeal to them, such as the Sermon on the Mount or I Corinthians 13 in the New Testament. If they venture into the Old Testament at all, they read only from the Psalms or Proverbs. The richness and progressive movement of God’s dealing with man is missed altogether.
I challenge you to spend 2011 reading the whole counsel of God. Plans for reading through the Bible in one year can easily be found on the Internet. Some also include a section of the Psalms. I prefer to use a One Year Bible designed with daily readings from the Old and New Testaments.
I encourage you to read a translation that is new to you. I admit that I am not a fan of paraphrased versions for this type of reading. While The Message or Living Bible make the Scripture read like a novel, I want a translation that is basically a word-for-word translation. Two newer versions worthy of consideration are the Holman Christian Standard Bible and the English Standard Version. I often preach from the Holman, which is a translation by Southern Baptist scholars. A couple of years ago, I used the ESV to read through the Bible and became an advocate. It is has the eloquence of the King James without the old English wording, and it can be counted on for accuracy.
Every Christian will benefit from a trip through the whole of Scripture. I am convinced your biblical knowledge will increase, your faith will grow and your spiritual walk will elevate. You will encounter your God afresh each day. You will find, day after day, that the Holy Spirit will apply the truth of Scripture in your everyday life.
If you have never read the Bible through in a year, take the plunge in 2011. If you have already had this experience, find a different translation and begin it again. I guarantee that your spiritual life will be greatly enhanced.
Happy New Year!