I grew up reading something from the Bible most days. We would often read a few verses as a family around the dinner table. I would read bits of the Bible as I headed to bed each evening. Sometimes I would find help from reading guides or devotional books that drew application from the Bible passages or gave explanations as to their meaning.
My first Bible was a Revised Standard Version given to me by my grandparents, and I shifted to a Good News Bible in my teens. This gave way to a New International Version when I started university and began exploring the Bible in more detail. These days I have multiple translations available and a Bible App on my phone and computer that allows me to read the Bible in any version.
Reading the Bible is both similar and different to reading other books. Most books are intended to be read from cover to cover. You start at the beginning and follow the plot to its conclusion, usually on the final page. However, when it comes to the Bible very few of us read it this way. The Bible is one book, but it is also a compendium of sixty-six books. There is a coherence to each book in the Bible and an overarching coherence to the Bible as a whole. There’s a kind of dialogue that takes place with each part informing the overall picture and the overall picture informing each part. Some parts only start to make sense after we’ve read other parts and the key to understanding it all is discovering the central place of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament points to Jesus Christ and only makes sense once we recognise that all God’s promises find their fulfilment in him. The New Testament spotlights the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and explains how this good news transforms people’s lives for eternity.
So, let me ask you, have you read the Bible? Not just sampled it—but have you really read it? Have you searched the Scriptures to discover God’s word to you, God’s purpose for life, God’s love for his world, God’s hope for our future? Have you delved deeply into the Word that brings life, and have you done this with regularity, and purpose, and effort, and humility? Have you drank deeply from God’s Spirit-inspired Word?
Why not make 2022 the year you either begin or get back to searching the Scriptures? Some years back I made the decision to do exactly that. I found a plan called Search the Scriptures that would help me read the whole Bible in three years. It took me close to five years as I would keep missing days! It provided a plan that led me through the whole Bible and let me move between Old and New Testaments. It didn’t spoon-feed me answers or give me inspirational stories. It just kept me on track by asking helpful questions of each section of the Bible and I’d write my answers in a notebook.
When I first bought Search the Scriptures it came in three volumes — one for each year. Now you get the whole three years packaged together into one volume. You can even get an English Standard Version of the Bible with the Search the Scriptures questions inserted into the text. This might be helpful if you were travelling and only wanted to carry one book, but I prefer to keep my notes separate to my Bible.
Over the years I have given away dozens of copies of Search the Scriptures. And I’m still getting feedback that it genuinely helps people to read the Bible for themselves. Why not give it a shot?
6 thoughts on “Search the Scriptures”
I was asked a couple of months ago how my Bible reading was going. I appreciated the question. In all honesty, my handling of God’s Word had been spasmodic and without structure for years and we discussed that. A week later that inquiring friend turned up at my home with a copy of Search the Scriptures.
I’m only six weeks in but excitement has returned to Bible reading. I’m loving my mornings with a notepad, pen, Bible and coffee. The added bonus is that I think God’s loving me doing it too.
I find Macarisms to be so encouraging. After reading this post, I fished out a copy (unread and unused) of “Search the Scriptures” purchased a decade ago. I also fished out the two recommended supplementary resources (New Bible Commentary and New Bible Dictionary – both likewise unused). My personal Bible reading of late has been erratic – from successfully committing Ps 139 to memory, to listening to whole Books in one sitting, to occasional morning readings with mates at work, to days of not reading at all. This morning I’ve read the front material to Search the Scriptures and I’m determined to take Dave’s advice and “give it a shot.” Thanks for the encouragement and God bless. (BTW, I loved the quote in the book front material: “We read and study our Bible because this is a means appointed by God by which we can encounter him.” How true is that!)
In September 2005, an elder of our church came back from a weekend in the Blue Mountains, where churches were passing out copies of a plan to read the New Testament in 90 days – aiming to finish by Christmas, or the end of the year. Surprisingly few of us took up his challenge to join in. Reading the New Testament was easy, but I then tried to read through the Old Testament, and although I’d been reading the Bible since I was six, I found it surprisingly difficult to read through from Genesis to Malachi.
Since then, I have read through the Bible about 17 times, and have listened to it twice. An audio Bible from bible.is enabled me to get through the whole of the King James Version.
I have enjoyed reading through many of the popular versions, and a few of the lesser known. I do enjoy reading through “The Books of the Bible,” which is a presentation of the NIV, in Reader’s Bible format, with no chapters or verses, but helpful spacing of paragraphs.
Although I have used other people’s plans, I have settled on my own Excel chart, where I read a psalm or two, a few chapters from the Pentateuch, a few from the Prophets, some of the Wisdom books, a chapter or two of a Gospel or Acts and a couple of chapters from the Letters or Revelation. This works well for me.
It is an interesting exercise to read through the Bible aloud. If you get the chance to do it, you will find it interesting, but you may also get a little hoarse, if you get carried away!
After reading through the whole Bible a few times, I have enjoyed slowing down and reading it using a study Bible. I highly recommend the ESV Study Bible, but if you read the whole shebang, you might need to allow a few years to do it.
David Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible is an interesting and quirky one. He has cast it as if it had been written to a Messianic Jewish congregation. Fine to read, if it is not the only one you will tackle!
At the moment, I’m reading The ESV Archaeology Study Bible. It was worthwhile reading the NIV Archaeological Study Bible ten years ago, and this one is complementary, not a copy of the other one.
May I do a Columbo, please? Just one more thing … I’ve grown up in the church, and we were always encouraged to “have a quiet time,” which meant reading the Bible alone (and praying). It was not until I was in my late 50s that I discovered the wonderful blessing of getting together with others and reading God’s Word together. I do enjoy the private times, but there is something really special about reading the Bible at breakfast with my wife, reading over the phone with Luke in Dubbo, my Greek NT with Geoffrey in Toowoomba and kidding myself I can read Hebrew with Timothy in Muswellbrook. Our weekly Wednesday men’s group is wonderful, too. We do prefer face-to-face, but have even managed it with Zoom.
Thanks for your challenging and encouraging posts. I’ve just read this one and the one on rest.
I really appreciate your down-to-earth practical suggestions, gentle pushing and encouragement to read the Bible and other good books, which I’ve been getting into more. (BTW, I’ve stopped going to the news everyday – it became a small addiction and was far from restuful – and I’m reading, thinking and praying more as a result! I’ve just finished Bullies and Saints by John Dickson and have just moved onto No God but One: Allah or Jesus? by Nabeel Qureshi. Both are excellent reads. My hot tip (not books): I’m lapping up Conversations with John Anderson and loved American Gospel earlier this year.)
I hope you and Fiona have had a good year and blessed Christmas. Were you able to spend it with family?
We are very grateful for God’s many mercies this year, especially for a MBB who became good friends with Jen and committed her life to Jesus! It doesn’t get much better than that but we pray for the privilege of seeing more become followers of Jesus before we go on home assignment in about 11 months.
Looking forward to seeing you and Fiona if possible when we get back.
In December I finished a chronological bible reading schedule. It was designed for one year and it took me two which I expected. I was surprised many times to see the timeline unfold, who knew who and under which circumstance was a particular psalm or whole book written.