I didn’t become a Christian until I was 29. When I was growing up in a charismatic Christian household and I had a question about religious beliefs and practices I was told simply, “You just have to have faith.” That response wasn’t good enough for me before I was a Christian and I wasn’t satisfied with it after I became a Christian.
When I was just a few months into the faith I began working in Christian talk radio. The first lesson I learned from the radio personalities were the three rules of bible interpretation:
What is the immediate context of your passage? What is the context of your passage within that specific book? What is the context of the passage within the whole of scripture?
Graeme Goldsworthy lists some approaches to bible reading programs that are “less than helpful”,
- Bible-reading programmes consisting of unrelated snippets drawn from all parts of Scripture with no obvious connection other than perhaps some loose thematic relationship.
- Programmes without any perspective on the “big picture” of the history of redemption (salvation history).
- Strategies that aim at extracting a devotional thought for the day rather than allowing the text to dictate the outcome.
- Lack of any real hermeneutical guide for the application of texts, especially Old Testament passages.
- Asking the wrong questions of the text: usually something like, “What does this teach me about myself?’ before asking, ‘How does this passage testify to Christ?’.
[Goldsworthy, Graeme. Gospel-centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. Print. page 309]
Because of principles like these I eventually started reading the The One Year Chronological Bible by Tyndale. Although this is an NIV bible I was later able to get the electronic version for my Laridian Pocket Bible. This enables me to keep the same reading plan while using my preferred bible translation. I’ve been reading through the bible this way for several years.
I want to differentiate between bible reading and bible studying.
I’m not talking about studying the bible, pulling out and comparing commentaries and/or lexicons, or even reading bible study notes. I’m just talking about reading the text. Getting the text into you. Depending on the passage it will take anywhere from five to twenty minutes to finish a day’s readings.
After about my third year of doing this the bible’s big picture began to come into focus. I believe if a person does this it will greatly aide in their discernment and they’ll be able to notice when theologians and commentaries agree or disagree with scripture. Specifically, when a theologian or commentator might concur with one particular scripture passage while possibly contradicting another passage of scripture. Wheat from Chaff, Heat from Light, discernment is important. You can agree with some of what theologians propose in one area while recognizing their inconsistencies in other areas.
Finally, a word about prayer and bible reading. I use the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 51 as a framework for prayer. Also, since I don’t have time to pray for everything I would like to at one time, I’ve split them out through the week. Here’s my daily prayer and bible reading outline (you might use a notebook).
- Prayer: Revelation and Illumination (Always pray for understanding before your read the scriptures)
- Passage: (the text for the day)
- Principle: (what were some principles learned from the day’s text)
- Prayer: Confession
- Restoration and Renewal
- Submission, Obedience, and Preservation
- Deliverance and Protection
- Sunday: Local Church
- Monday: Co-Workers
- Tuesday: Governments
- Wednesday: Family
- Thursday: Persecuted Church
- Friday: Friends
- Saturday: Neighborhood
- Adoration and Worship
- Practice (look for ways to put what you learned today into practice, James 1:22-26)