By MARY THORPE
Recently a question was posed on a ministry’s discussion group to which I belong asking for recommendations for a Bible reading plan. The questioner had followed one but felt frustrated that the pace was too quick and hurried and in-depth understanding eluded her.
My simple advice to the questioner was this: “Just read the Scriptures. Just start reading.”
For years, I read my daily devotionals with a line of Scripture; I read my Sunday School lessons with their accompanying stories; and I bought stacks of the latest study books written by the most popular writers of the time. I also started read-through-the-Bible plans. That felt good because I could check the box when I had completed an assignment… but I did not really learn and there were few “wow” moments. The reading plan would inevitably fall to the wayside.
Then one morning I stepped out of bed and looked at my bedside table. There was my Bible, surrounded by all these books about the Bible. It hit me: “Mary, you read all these books about the Bible but you do not read—really read—the Bible. Not as a book!”
Indeed, I had never read the Bible from beginning to end. Could I truly understand its thread of continuity?
I realized I could not and I did not.
Remorse swept over me. I had not given the Bible the same consideration that I would give even a secular novel. For example, would I ever expect to understand Gone with the Wind if I read one line from chapter 4, then a paragraph from chapter 16, then back to the first line in chapter 1? No! I would not even consider reading a book that way. So why did I not give the Bible the same consideration?
I started reading with Genesis 1:1. My plan became to consecutively read two or three chapters at a time from a book of the Old Testament until I finished the book, then to read a book from the New Testament—then back to the next book in the Old Testament, then on to the next book of the New Testament, and so on.
In other words, I read Genesis, then Matthew, back to Exodus, then Mark, Leviticus, Luke, etc.
I also refused to skip any chapters. If God wrote it for us, it is important. A new understanding opened to me! It was Divine! I was seeing a magnificent scarlet thread of continuity running throughout the Bible. I saw God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in action from beginning to end. I got a grasp I never had before.
So I plead with you: Spend personal time with God and His Word. Read it. Do not wait.
We have been given the ultimate guide—a Divine guide—the Holy Spirit. Pray before each reading that the Holy Spirit will guide you in learning. God wants you to know Him.
He will not hide understanding from you. It will take dedication but the reward is beyond what we can describe.
Consider these Scripture verses:
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:12-13).
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
Please note that I am not saying that you should not read other books or use guides. I still do and gain much from them. Being able to discuss your study with fellow believers is also very valuable. He has given us each other! I think of the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip in Acts 8. The eunuch needed and wanted to understand God’s Word. Philip found this man sitting in his chariot reading the Bible and he asked him, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” (v. 30) and they studied together.
Just know that nothing will replace reading the Bible from beginning to end with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:17-18).
Mary Thorpe is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ who is persevering to finish the good race. She is blessed with a good husband of 46 years, two beautiful daughters, three perfect grandchildren and a godly heritage. Mary claims a graduate degree but declares her knowledge was nothing until she became a student of the Word of God. We are glad to welcome her as a guest contributor to Dispensational Publishing House.
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Copyright © 2015 by Mary Thorpe. Used by permission of the author.
Scripture taken from the King James Version.