How to Get
Started with the Bible
The Need to Read
The Bible is God’s word, the complete revelation of His truth. We should live by its words as our spiritual food (Matt. 4:4; John 6:48,63), and we are blessed if we read, hear, and keep the things written in it (Rev. 1:3). But, to know the word of God, we must first know the words of God; that is, to understand the Scripture, we must first read the Scripture (Eph. 3:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:7; Psalm 119:130).
The Apostle Paul tells us that, as a prisoner of Christ, God had given him a “stewardship” of the mystery, and that this mystery had been made known to him “by revelation” (Eph. 3:2-3, ESV). But then in the next verse he goes on to explain how we in turn can come to understand this mystery ourselves:
When you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.
— Ephesians 3:4
How crucial is our reading of the Bible! What Paul received by a special revelation, we may receive by our daily reading.
Thus, while it is good at times to read the Bible very slowly, even praying over the verses, at other times we should read through it more quickly to gain an overall familiarity with it.
Get a Bible!
To be very practical, when it comes to reading the Bible, the first step is to get a Bible! I’m afraid many young people today feel that what their have on their phone or their tablet is their Bible. Certainly, such tools can be very useful, but they must never be a substitute for having an actual Bible.
First, there is far too much to distract us from our reading while we are on such a device. Also, you need to have a Bible that is your own, something permanent, which even becomes a memorial between you and God, so that just by seeing it you’ll be inspired to come to the word and contact God again.
As for the kind of Bible you use for your daily reading, it is important to get a text-only Bible, that is, one with as little extra commentary as possible, even without cross-references if you can find one. The point is, you want a Bible that enables God to speak to you directly, without man getting in the way to distract you with his ideas.
The massive study Bibles so many Christians now use as their main Bible are to Bible reading what processed foods are to natural foods; they contain so many added things that may make it easier to eat, but which provide very little spiritual nutrition. Personally, I feel that the prevalence of such Bibles among Christians today is a great factor of our general weakness, for they keep us from truly coming to God’s word and its spiritual nourishment.
Regarding this, many Christians may not be aware that both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, two of the biggest Bible publishers, are now owned by HarperCollins, a secular publishing house. So, they are now yoked together with unbelievers (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14). Thus, you have to consider, when you see them marketing their Bible materials or other publications—including many of these very study Bibles—that their ultimate goal is to make a profit, not to edify God’s children.
Some may find “Reader’s Bibles” to be helpful, and these can be useful. However, since they don’t have verse numbers or, sometimes, even chapter numbers, I would personally not use one as my main Bible. One real benefit of reading through the Bible is learning where to find a specific verse or chapter is in the Bible, and you can’t do that with a Reader’s Bible.
Consistent and Consecutive
To be fruitful, our reading of the Bible should generally be consistent and consecutive. “Consistent” means to be in the Bible every day, or almost every day; that’s pretty clear. “Consecutive” means that we read through the Bible from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation.
Some like to read the Bible in an inspirational way, simply opening it up at random. This is fine at times, but if that is all we do, then we will never really know the Bible. Rather, we will have nothing more than a collection of our favorite verses.
To gain a genuine knowledge of the Bible we must be diligent and disciplined to read through it just as it is presented, page by page. However, if you are just starting out in your Bible reading, it may be best to read through the New Testament a few times. Once you’ve done that, you can go on to start reading through the entire Bible.
Don’t feel you need to understand what you are reading right away. That will come in time, but for now you are reading primarily for familiarity, not for understanding. So, just keep reading.
Getting Past the Hard Parts
I have heard more than one person say that they started to read the Bible, and got through Genesis, but stopped about half-way through Exodus.
The reason is, Genesis is contains many very interesting stories, and so is the first half of Exodus. However, you then come to the giving of the Law, and the description of the Tabernacle, which, for those who are new to the Bible, can make for some difficult reading.
So, here is a secret for getting past these parts: just skip them!—mostly. Instead of reading them the first time through, skim over them, quickly flipping through the pages until you come to a part you are better able to read. Don’t feel that you just have to read every word or else read nothing at all.
For example, you might skim the last half of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and the first part of Numbers. Then when you come to the stories in Numbers, you can start reading again. Don’t worry! Eventually, as your understanding of the Bible increases, you’ll be able to read the harder passages as well. In fact, as you begin to see what they show us of Christ and of the Christian life, they will become very rich to you.
Reading Through in One Year
As for your Bible reading schedule, it is very good to have a goal of getting through it once a year, or at least every other year. In fact, those who are serious about following the Lord should be ambitious to do more than that.
Most audio Bibles are about 70 hours long, so if you can read at a slightly faster pace than that, it will take you about 50 or 60 hours to get through the Bible. So, it takes time, but it’s not too much to do in a year.
Some Different Methods
A common practice for reading through the Bible in a year is the “Three and One” method, i.e., to read three chapters in the Old Testament and one in the New each day. For example, you could read three Old Testament chapters in the morning and one New Testament chapter in the evening. Some people like to read from Psalms and Proverbs at mid-day as well.
There are 929 chapters in the Old Testament and 260 chapters in the New, for a total of 1,189 chapters. So, if you follow this method, it will take you about 300 days to get through the whole Bible, well less than a year.
We have also developed our own guide to help you read through the Bible. If you would like to try that, it’s shown on the opposite page, and you can download a printable copy at 90Readings.org. It breaks down the Bible into 90 cohesive readings, so you can go through the Bible at your own pace. If you do one reading a day, you will go through the entire Bible in three months. If you do one a week, it will take you about two years.
Finally, if the Lord touches you as you read, or if you notice something that impresses you or that you feel important, make a note of it! It doesn’t have to be too in-depth, just enough so you can come back to it later and consider it again; otherwise, you may forget and lose much of the light you receive in your reading.
May the Lord bless your reading of His Word!