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Beginning
with God

 

5. This Wonderful Book:

 

You and Your Bible

2 Timothy 3:16-17 'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.'

Open BibleThe 'God-breathed' book

The Bible is the most amazing volume. Its 66 books were written by some 40 authors over a period of about 1600 years. It covers events from creation to the late 1st century AD.

The authors include kings, prophets, priests, fishermen, a tax-collector, a tent-maker and a doctor. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek.

Yet it all hangs together in such striking unity that only God himself could be its ultimate author. God inspired the human writers. This is what the verse above means when it says that 'all Scripture is God-breathed.' It comes from his mouth, so to speak. It's his Word.

Knowing the Author

It was the message of the Bible that introduced you to God himself. Indeed, this was his purpose in causing it to be written. And now that you know him and belong to him, you can continue to find help and direction through reading it.

Not all of it is easy to understand, but you can count on the Holy Spirit's help as you read. He'll enable you to meet God again and again through its pages, so that you continue to grow strong as a Christian.

A two-part book

Reading the Bible in bedThe Bible is really a library of 66 books: Genesis to Revelation. But these fall into two main groups: the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books).

To help us find our way around them, each book is divided into big sections called chapters and smaller sections called verses.

1. The Old Testament

Starting with creation, the Old Testament tells how God introduced himself to great individuals like Enoch, Noah and Abraham. Then he showed more of himself to Abraham's growing family.

Finally, he took their descendants, the nation of Israel, and made them his special people. To them he gave the Ten Commandments and other laws, and to them he promised the Messiah. This was God's 'foot in the door', by which he would eventually reach all humanity.

2. The New Testament

The promised Messiah, of course, was Jesus. The New Testament records his life, death, resurrection and ascension, and the start of the church as the people of God.

The book of Acts and the Letters (or Epistles) show how the church grew rapidly and how it coped with some of its early problems. The last book—Revelation—gives a glimpse into the future: the return of Jesus to earth and his final great victory over sin and Satan, in which you will share.

Getting the most from the Bible

The apostle Peter has some good advice for you as you prepare to read the Bible:

1 Peter 1:23 - 2:3 'You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, Reading the Bible at a tablebut the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.

  Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.'

Baby being breast-fedPart of your hunger will be an expectant attitude. Expect to hear the Lord speak to you through his Word. And come to it with a willingness to be obedient to whatever he might say to you:

Psalm 119:34-35 'Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.'

Regular meals

Just as we need regular meals to remain physically healthy, we need to feed regularly on God's Word, the Bible, to remain spiritually healthy.

Bible and notebookSo set aside regular times when you can read and meditate on Scripture. This is something you could schedule alongside the prayer-times that we considered in the last lesson. If you work, maybe you can find a quiet spot in your lunch break and read your Bible for twenty minutes or so. Some people prefer early morning for their devotions (Mark 1:35). Others feel more alert in the evening (Matthew 14:23).

Parents often tell their hungry children to chew their food properly before swallowing it. It's the same with God's Word. Take time to chew over a sentence or a verse rather than rushing on to finish the section or chapter. Aim to get all the goodness out of every bite.Bible-reading and prayer: they belong together

A balanced diet

In your reading, sample different kinds of Scripture. You could start, for example, with one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), the books that record the life of Jesus. Then you could try a few Psalms, which are poems addressed to God. One of the New Testament letters would give you a different flavour, after which you could try some of the tasty morsels of wisdom from the book of Proverbs.

On the whole, aim to spend more time in the New Testament than the Old because, as a Christian, you are a New Testament person—a friend of Jesus, whom the New Testament introduces. But feel free to jump around. Certainly there's no obligation to read consecutively from Genesis to Revelation, just as you don't have to read the books in your local library in a fixed order.

If you want to be more systematic you can get a One-Year Bible, which has the text of Scripture ready divided into 365 daily sections, so that you read through the whole Bible in a year.

Whatever method you adopt, have a notebook handy so that you can jot down the thoughts that the Holy Spirit gives you as you read.

Let the Word of God become your delight!

 

Learn
by heart

Joshua 1:8  'Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.'

Heart

BwG5: You And Your Bible
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Reading the Bible

If you would like some materials to help you study the Bible along with a group of friends, have a go at some of the Diggers materials.

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