Sequential reading of the Bible is one of the most important habits for a Christian to develop.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.
As Christians living in a country that grants freedom of religion, we often take our Bible for granted. Yet it has not always been that way. During the dark ages when the Bible was locked away in largely unknown languages, the people of that day sorely lacked the enlightening within it. Today the opportunity we have to freely read the Bible came at the cost of many lives and much anguish.
It’s not hard to see why the Bible is so important – it is unique in its content and standard. We see God in it, we know ourselves in it, and we find salvation in its pages. It gives us nourishment, enlightenment, and guides our steps in the direction of God’s great economy. It follows that since God’s word is available and profitable, it behooves us to read every word.
If you are going to play the game properly, you’d better know every rule.
My interest in the Word of God has lately been focused on gathering a few points on the benefits of sequential reading of the Bible, which I’ll list below. Note that I put them here not as an exhaustive list but as a few starter points to bring our attention to this subject.
As Christians we hold that all Scripture is inerrant and divinely inspired. “All Scripture” means every book from Genesis to Revelation. By reading from cover to cover we receive the Bible in its entirety. In this way our governing vision is all-inclusive and doesn’t lack anything. The Bible progressively reveals God in his purpose. Sequential reading is the simplest way to read the entire Bible. As a side note, there are many resources available to help you read through the Bible. I recommend this blog post on Bible Reading by Tom Smith for practical points on reading the Bible.
Sequential reading sidesteps “picky eating”, i.e. selectively reading only those passages that we prefer, or are easy to take. Paul calls some words milk and other words solid food (Heb 5:13-14). Only by taking all the words of the Scripture can we grow unto maturity.
Sequential reading encourages regular, habitual reading. Bible reading is often likened to eating, and eating is something we do every day. It’s the same with the Bible. We get spiritually hungry if we don’t read every day. Sequential reading should foster a desire to return to the Bible to pick up where you left off, and in so doing form a habit of daily reading. This will gradually nourish you with the words of the faith (2 Tim 4:6). Also, if you somehow miss a day or two of your reading, having a bookmark to come back to will make restarting easier.
Sequential reading lends itself to total comprehension. Reading a book of the Bible in full will lend you a general sketch of the book itself (rather than merely a knowledge of individual verses) which translates into a greater comprehension of the author’s burden in writing that book and an accordingly greater comprehension of the Bible. An example of this I’m currently loving is on our Christian Students’ On Campus website: a student recently blogged a summary of the entire book of Philippians which we covered sequentially last semester in our campus Bible Study. I’m willing to bet he grasps that book much more than if he had merely read scattered passages.
What other benefits are there to sequentially reading through God’s word?