Help for New Christians: Bible Reading – Part 3

Hello again

Hello friend. I appreciate you for staying with us, and most importantly for reading your Bible daily. I have a few more thoughts and encouragements which I hope will help you stay the course.

A unifying idea

It might seem like the Bible is a disjointed, disconnected collection of writings with no unity across the books. However, as we look longer at the Bible and understand it more fully, a familiar figure emerges from the mist.

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Luke 24:27

You will find, as you spend more time in the Bible, that there is much more unity across the books than you previously understood. Jesus, after his death and resurrection, appears to two disciples but remains unrecognized. As he walks with them, he reaches into the Old Testament and shows them how all these different books pointed forward to him. As you walk through the books of the Bible, and become more familiar with the different sections, and various types of writings, you will start to see connections that point towards Jesus Christ.  While it can take awhile to pick up on these details, they are worth the effort.

Here are a couple more helps which can build your grasp of the unity of the Scriptures, and they are readily at hand.

  1. Listen closely to your pastor as he preaches. He will draw connections between the passage being preached, and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  2. If you have a study Bible, take the time to read the notes on that passages you are reading. Often they will indicate connections between the text you are reading and other portions of the Bible.

A simple way of saying this is, “Look for Jesus.” He is in the text. In fact, once you get more familiar with the overall message of the Bible, you may come to the conclusion that it is either looking forward to his arrival, documenting his life among us, or explaining what his life meant. Regardless of where you stand right now in your Bible knowledge, whether total beginner or seasoned student, take up and read the Word of God. God will be glorified and you will be helped as the Holy Spirit teaches you by the text.

Why is it written that way?

As I was learning to read in school, and more specifically learning to read longer works in higher grades, one of my teachers offered what has proven to be a lifelong help. As you read, ask yourself, “Why is it written that way?”  No one can say everything about everything. Every author has to make choices.  They must choose what to include and what to leave out. Every word chosen bears a certain weight, and there are no throwaway words in the Bible text. Look for what is there. As you read and re-read the text, you will find that it becomes more animated, more lively. If you don’t have a clue why a passage is written as it is, don’t give up. Continue reading. More times than not, the text itself will give you the needed cues to understand what is being said.  Sometimes the choices made have an impact due to cultural norms or conflicts, or are connected with local geography or history. Maybe there are relationships that color the text. One clarification. I am not calling for some kind of mystical revelation disconnected from the text, or a grand exercise in “what this means to me”. I am encouraging you to be a careful student of the text, of geography, history, language, archeology, and all the other disciplines which contribute to a robust understanding of the Bible.

In for the long haul

Stick with it. Even if you are an adult convert and feel like you don’t know much at all about the Bible, stick with it.  Pray and ask God for help. Use everyday means at your disposal for growth in the Christian life: prayer, Bible reading and study, and fellowship in a church.  Stick with reading your Bible regularly. Don’t let it go. Jesus is displayed in his glory in the text. Savor what it tells you, what it teaches you. You have been called into the faith, into learning Christ as a lifelong endeavor. Seek him in the pages, and you will find he is most glorious indeed.