What’s the best way to read the Bible?
By Dr. Gregory B. Boyd
Pastor First Baptist Church
In my previous articles, I explained how Jesus became real to me and then the arduous process for an unchurched person to connect with a local church. When you do join a good church, you will hear wonderful messages from the Scriptures or the Holy Bible. This article will provide one of four critical habits or disciplines that will make your journey with Christ personal and powerful. Like most people — churched and unchurched — I realized one day that I needed to read the Bible. And, like most people, I started on page one as with any other book. And, like just about everybody who started this way, I didn’t get very far! We open the Bible looking for nuggets of wisdom, great insights about the Lord, and profound advice on how to live the life we’ve always wanted. Then we fizzle out in the “begats” or “father of … ” If you grew up in a good Sunday school, CCD class, or other form of children’s religious education in church, I’m sure you heard many great Bible stories. As you matured, were you ever challenged to read the whole context of the story, to actually read the Bible and not just the stories? If not, you are not alone. Many church members grow old and have never read the whole Bible, which is understandable because the Bible doesn’t read like any other book. The Lord inspired 40 different authors to relay His thoughts over a span of 1,400 years, on three different continents, and in three different languages. While the Scriptures cover history, science and other genres, it is not a textbook for those categories as we think of textbooks. The entire Bible centers around one core them: reconnecting sinful people to a Holy God. The Bible consists of the Old Testament, a collection of 39 scrolls or “books,” that cover a span from Creation to 400 years before Jesus. It neatly divides into 17 historical books, five poetical books (like Proverbs and Psalms), and then 17 prophetical books. “Testament” is another word for covenant. The Lord made covenants, which are binding agreements much stronger than contracts or promises, with Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses and David. The New Testament or New Covenant (through Jesus) came 400 years later. These 27 books talk about Jesus Christ, the start of the church in Jerusalem and around the Roman empire, letters to churches and people on how to live a Christ-like life, and one prophetical book about the end times. What’s the best way to read the Bible? Good question. Probably not from page one. Try reading one chapter a day from a short book, like Ephesians (find it in the Table of Contents). The large numbers in each book tell you the chapter, and the small, superscript numbers are the verses. Here is the best way to get the most out of reading a chapter — SOAP: S: Scripture. Ask the Lord to show you one verse from the chapter you are about to read. O: Observations. Write down any questions and insights you have about that one verse. A: Application. Write down two or three ideas on how you can apply the verse today. P: Pray. Pray the verse back to God. This simple method has made reading the Bible meaningful and relevant to everyone, whether they are new to the faith or have been strong church members for decades. Try it and let me know how it works for you.