Once you’ve been introduced to God and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your next step in serving God is to spend quality time with Him – in the pages of the Bible. If you’ve never read the Bible from cover-to-cover, now is a good time to start. A detailed study of the Bible will reveal a more complete understanding of your own journey through life.
I’m certain you’ve read passages from the Bible that spoke to you in a profound way. You may have also noticed that a passage that had deep meaning for you the first time you read it has a deeper and even more profound impact in subsequent readings. If we accept the idea that all the authors of the Bible were inspired by God we have to conclude that the words found therein are not merely sentences and paragraphs – they are the thoughts of God – they are the Words that God wants us to hear. If God personally handed you a Bible and told you, “I want you to read this,” what would your reaction be? I’ve got news for you – this is exactly the case. God has made the Bible available to you and He is waiting to see what your reaction to that gift will be.
Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
While I believe there is value in simply opening the Bible at page one and reading straight through to the end on your own, the truth is you will gain far more insight if you take the journey with a respected teacher. You should start with a good study Bible that includes introductions, footnotes, cross references, maps, and other tools that will help you paint a clearer picture of what you are reading. I’m not going to go into a long discussion about the various translations; I know there are some who are devoted to the King James Version, and that’s fine; however, it will be much easier for most to read a version written in modern English. My preferred translation is the New American Standard Bible, which is what you will see used here. The NIV version is the most popular modern English translation and if that is what you’re familiar with, I’d recommend staying with that translation.
Another resource you can use to help you understand what you are reading is The Bible Project video introductions. These well-crafted videos offer a brief synopsis of every book in the Bible and are a great tool to get you pointed in the right direction. In my view, the best teaching of the Bible verse-by-verse is the Thru the Bible commentary by Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Unfortunately, Dr. McGee’s commentary only comes in the King James Version of the Bible, but along with his detailed teaching, that translation becomes easily understandable.
Finally, another option you might want to consider is an audio version of the Bible. There are two wonderful audio Bibles I can recommend. The first is the “The Bible Experience” which features the voices of Angela Bassett, Cuba Gooding Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Blair Underwood, Denzel Washington, and many others. The second is “The Word of Promise” which features the voices of Jim Caviezel, Richard Dreyfuss, Gary Sinise, Marisa Tomei, Stacy Keach, Louis Gossett, Jr., Jon Voight, and others. Both of these audio Bibles have beautiful musical scores, and well-crafted Hollywood style sound design that brings the text to life. You can find samples of both versions online. Listen to each and then select the one that works best for you. You can’t go wrong with either production. The Word of Promise features the New King James Version of the Bible and The Bible Experience uses the TNIV (Today’s New International Version).
The truth is, some parts of the Bible are extraordinary and other parts are tedious and boring – such is life – but it all fits together for a reason. Read the Bible. Discover the reason you are on the journey that is your life.
2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”