The following are some discussion questions I wrote for David Mathis’ Habits of Grace. These were done for a book study at CrossWay Community Church beginning June 2019.
The New Year approaches. And with it, a slew of recommended reading plans to the read the Bible in a year.
Now… There’s certainly no mandate from scripture, “THOU SHALT READ THE BIBLE IN ITS ENTIRETY EVERY CONSECUTIVE YEAR.” In fact, no where in scripture will you even get the command, “You must read the Bible daily.” However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.
As followers of Christ, we are to be “a people of the book.” Scripture, the preserved record of God’s self-revelation, is our access to understanding God’s will and his gracious self-disclosure. If we are to follow Christ, to know and love God, we must be students of his Word.
Some of us, due to past experiences with legalistic approaches to Bible reading (e.g., daily Bible reading = spirituality and putting yourself in God’s good graces) may balk against anything that resembles such approaches. But abuse of a good discipline doesn’t invalidate the goodness of the discipline itself.
And as those who live after the invention of the printing press, with easy access to printed Bibles that we can own for ourselves, that we can afford, that are in languages we understand — we’d be amiss to neglect such regular, habitual reading of God’s Word. It’s passing up, not just a Christian duty, but a Christian privilege.
Again, certainly nothing in scripture requires it. However, over the centuries, many Christians have found value in reading the Bible for both “breadth” and “depth” — that is, reading the Bible in large chunks to get the “big picture,” the main idea, the “forest”; and digging into smaller sections of scripture to digest the details, the “trees,” the nuance, the particulars, and allow more time for concentrated meditation. It’s good to have a regular habit of doing both, since both provide their own value.
Reading the Bible in a year can be a good way to read the Bible “for breadth.” It’s not the only way; but it’s a good option. Just imagine… If you read the Bible every year for 50 years, that means that by that time you will have read every portion of the Bible at least 50 times! That alone is reason to consider this method. That is time well spent, time you certainly won’t regret.
This 6-day (Monday-Saturday) plan follows a semi-chronological order of the Bible, and has the following benefits and rationale.
There are plenty of other Bible reading plans out there. See Ligonier’s list of Bible reading plans for 2019. In 2014, Justin Taylor put together this post with a lot of helpful information and links to Bible reading plans. Or you can search The Gospel Coalition for more up to date plans.
The following is an abridged Bible reading plan I developed in ministry at South City Church.
This plan is not intended to replace reading through the entire Bible; but, rather, is to serve as a more accessible starting point for those who are unacquainted with scripture. The hope is that those who use this plan would gain a basic understanding of scripture’s central message along with its key themes, structure, and movements, and, after having done so, would be better equipped to read through the scriptures in their entirety.
I just read/listened to this article by Scott Newling, “Devoted to the public reading of Scripture,” advocating a recovery of the actual practice of devoting ourselves to the public reading of scripture in our churches.
As 1 Timothy 4:13 says,
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture….
Scott Newling says,
Let me be blunt: when we reduce the Bible reading in order to privilege something else in our meetings we are shifting the congregation’s understanding of what church is. When we choose not to read some bits because we deem them inappropriate, we forget that God wrote them—and that in his wisdom he knew what he was doing when he did. When we choose not to read parts because they seem irrelevant or unclear, we teach our congregations and ourselves that God’s word isn’t eternal or understandable. When we choose to not read the Old Testament because it is ‘unfamiliar’—how else are we going to get familiar with it? The non-Christian world certainly isn’t going to help us. If we find Scripture to be boring, it’s not God’s fault, and the solution isn’t to silence God! If we find a part boring, we must ask God to give us interest in it, because we love him and want to know what he has to say. The Bible is well aware that some bits are harder to understand than others (2 Pet 3:16-17). But where did we get the idea that the solution to this is to stop reading?
When we choose to reduce Bible readings for something else, do we then in effect say that our means, our words, are better than God’s to grow people?
I loved this article. It reflects a lot of my own convictions on the matter and thoughts I’ve been having for a little over a year now.
The following is a fantastic excerpt from Daniel Doriani’s Putting the Truth to Work: The Theory and Practice of Biblical Application.
The submissive interpreter bows to the God who reveals himself in Scripture and accepts, in principle, whatever it says. If the Bible upsets a cherished conviction, we say, “I stand corrected,” not “I wonder.” Facing a difficult teaching, we may suspect that it has been misconstrued or otherwise hesitate. But if we confirm that it means what it seems to mean, then we bow–not to the text, but to the God who gave it. So conservatives claim the highest willingness to submit to Scripture.
The difficulty with this view [as presented above] is that confessing, “I submit to Scripture,” is one thing, while actually submitting is another. Further, this . . . view can be perverted by illogical thinking: