As the new year edges nearer, many believers begin to toy with the thought of trying to read through the Bible during the course of the upcoming year. For some, this is an annual pilgrimage from which they’ve derived much blessing. For others, they’re determined to get serious and actually make it past Leviticus this year.
I’ll just share a few of my thoughts on reading through the Bible in a year.
1. You don’t have to do it. Some people feel like they’re somehow less spiritual if they’ve never made it through. Conversely, some of those who have, feel like they’ve attained some level of a kind of Christian Nirvana. Both perspectives are wrong. God doesn’t say that you have to do it. Don’t put unnecessary bondage on yourself.
2. Come up with some system of regular scripture reading and stick to it. Not having a plan is a plan but it’s not a good plan. If you get off track from your plan then get back on. It could be reading a synopsis of the Gospels as many times as possible or reading through Proverbs every month for a year. Maybe your favorite devotional has a daily scripture reading to go with it. Study a book of the Bible while reading a commentary along with it (Dale Ralph Davies’ commentaries are great for this). The point is: read God’s Word and read it consistently. (Then don’t forget to apply it).
I know, to some a plan sounds like legalism and legalism is bad. But it’s not legalism. It’s discipline and discipline is good. If you find yourself becoming legalistic about your Bible reading plan then repent and move forward.
That said, I have personally found reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation beneficial and here are a few of the reasons why:
1. It helps me see the flow and unity of the whole Bible. Rather than biting off disjointed stories from here and there, I can more clearly see the big story of scripture and it’s main character: Jesus Christ. It’s the same reason I believe preaching expositionally through books of the Bible is so important.
2. It keeps me from gravitating to my “favorite” texts and from avoiding those that might make me a bit uncomfortable or (dare I say it) convicted.
3. It helps keep the Bible at the center of my reading world. I love books and I love to read them. Reading through the Bible helps me remember to keep the most important Book my number one priority.
Ok, so if you decide to take the plunge but don’t think you can wait until the fall before you get to the New Testament, know that there are a lot of options available to you. Tim Challies just posted a helpful summary of what’s out there. There’s more than you think:
Here is a round-up of some of the ways you can read the Bible in 2015.
Ligonier Reading Plans. Ligonier offers what is probably the best and most thorough round-up of reading plans. They have plans that will take you through the Bible in a year, plans that will take you through the Bible in a few years, and plans that you can do at your own pace. Some of the plans involve only reading the Bible while others offer daily devotionals. There is something for everyone here.
ESV Bible Plans – The ESV site offers 12 different plans that are available in a variety of formats. You can also subscribe to their podcast which will allow you to listen to the Bible; if you do that you will go once through the Old Testament each year, and twice through the New Testament and Psalms.
Logos. The Logos software has Bible-reading plans built right into it, but you will need to use the Logos software to access them.
Bible.com – Bible.com, which offers the amazing Bible app, has a long list of plans to choose from. You will need to use the site or app to access them.
Here are a few plans that look particularly interesting or different.
Professor Horner’s System – Professor Horner’s System is intense—10 chapters per day. You’ll read 10 chapters from 10 different books each day, which means you’ll always be reading different combinations. It’s a great system but takes a lot of commitment.
A Bible Plan for Readers – Peter Krol’s plan begins with reading through the entire Bible as quickly as you can, then slowing the pace a little bit.
The Change Your Mind Plan – This plan is very simple: “1. Choose a book of the Bible. 2. Read it in its entirety. 3. Repeat step #2 twenty times. 4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.”
God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment. This plan structures Scripture readings around Jim Hamilton’s book God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment. Through the year you will read both the Book and the book about the Book.
Denny Burk’s Plan. Denny Burk’s plan goes through the Bible in a year in canonical order, one book at a time. There are a handfull of “catchup” days thrown in in case you get behind. (Denny also offers a Greek New Testament plan.)
May God bless your study of his word in 2015!