Reading the Whole Bible
Reading through the Bible, from cover to cover, on a regular basis is a critically important discipline for a healthy Christian life. With that said, it is important to distinguish this from reading for study (which is also important). When we study a passage of Scripture we go slowly, we read and reread each sentence, we take time to analyze every phrase, we consider each word and ponder the varied implications of every verse. It may take twenty minutes to engage in an introductory study of one verse, which is enough time for most people to thoughtfully read three or four chapters of the Bible.
The advantage of covering large amounts of biblical territory in one sitting can hardly be overstated. When our minds and hearts ingest substantial sections of Scripture at one time we begin to assemble the “big picture” of who God is, how he thinks, what he values and how he acts. And since God does not change (Mal.3:6; Heb.13:8), when we read of his character, his values, his likes and dislikes during the monarchy of Israel, or in the period of the Judges, or when the fledgling Church was just getting off the ground, we can say we accurately understand the God of the twenty-first century. Not that God’s templates, programs and ceremonies haven’t changed – we know that they have – but the character of God is immutable.
When Christians continue to regularly read and reread the Bible from cover to cover they are less apt to be swayed by false teachers who paint portraits of God from a narrow band of proof texts. We can confidently know that the God of John 3:16 is also the God of Nahum 1:2; and the God of Acts 5:9 is also the God of Exodus 22:27. So keep reading (and studying too). We urgently need the broad and all-inclusive intake of God’s written revelation.
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