We have reached the final part of our series on the Bible. After providing the Bible’s background and storyline in part 1 and reliability and importance in part 2, the series might have clarified some misconceptions for you.
The Bible’s trustworthiness is a foundation for its importance. The Bible cannot be both trustworthy — with the truths it declares — and unimportant. So, how can we read the Bible?
1. Find a plan that works for you.
Bible reading plans are more readily accessible than ever. With the YouVersion Bible app, you can choose from hundreds of plans, from devotionals and specific topics to whole or partial Bible plans.
I am currently doing a whole-Bible chronological reading plan to gain more historical context. Depending on your preferences, there are endless routes to finding or developing a plan that connects you to the Word. The important part is that you know the when, how, and why for your time in the Word.
2. Identify your preferred translation.
There is no “best translation” of the Bible, but one translation might fit your needs and desires more than others. The manager of Bible Gateway content, Andy Rou, explains the importance of asking yourself, “Which Bible versions can you most easily read and understand? Which are translated by people and organizations that you trust the most?”
For example, some translations (like The Message) are considered more of a paraphrase rather than a word-for-word translation. The Message would not be the best version if you are desiring to understand the significance of a certain word or phrase an author uses. However, if you are having trouble understanding a passage, it might be helpful. You must decide how literal of a translation will best convey to you both the original meaning and the modern day implications.
My preferred translation is the English Standard Version (ESV). The ESV is considered “an ‘essentially literal’ translation… to capture the precise wording of the original text… letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.” For me, the ESV offers a perfect combination of readability and reliability.
3. Pick a specific time you can read your Bible.
I have found that setting aside a specific time to read my Bible keeps me consistent in my reading. When Bible reading becomes something you do when you have time, it tends to get put low on the to-do list. Don’t let the distractions of the day tear you away from what will fuel your heart and mind going out into our mission field–the world.
Bible reading should take a first priority. So, my favorite time to read my Bible is in the mornings. Waking up early is a small task compared to the glories and joys found in the Word of God.
1. Find the author’s purpose.
When reading, it is important to discover the author’s purpose for everything from a certain word to the book or letter as a whole. John Piper, the founder of Desiring God, explains how “we are not reading simply for subjective experiences. We are reading to discover more about objective reality.” Instead of looking directly at the application or our desired meaning, the first step should be determining the author’s purpose.
2. Apply the author’s purpose.
After determining the author’s purpose, the particular passage can be looked at for the modern day significance. Are we living in this way? Am I walking in the way of the Lord? How can I further my joy in Him with this knowledge of Him?
Piper goes on to describe our job as not knowing “every application, but to grow in applying the meaning of Scripture to our lives.” Through reading, understanding and applying what we read, the Bible will become a transformative aspect of your daily routine.
When I go through the struggle of living out what I am reading, the most freeing feeling is realizing my limitations were made to exemplify my fallen nature and God’s power. This is why He sent a savior. Prayer is a way of saying, “I can’t, but you can. Help me understand and walk in step with what is presented in your Word.”
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17