In 1 Peter 2:2, the apostle Peter gives his audience, and all believers to whom it comes, this command:
” . . . as NEWBORN babes, LONG for the spiritual MILK [of the Word] which is without guile [or pure], THAT ye may GROW thereby UNTO SALVATION . . .”
We believers are to long for God’s Word as if we are newborn babies longing for our mother’s milk. Why? So that we will grow in our salvation, or become more like the Lord. Notice that this longing is required in order to grow in our Christlikeness.
Thus, it is imperative that we have a longing for God’s Word, and view it as our essential spiritual food. This requires us to daily long for God’s Word, and to satisfy that longing by listening to, reading, studying, and/or meditating upon God’s Word daily.
One of the best ways to do this is to follow a Bible reading plan, and I want to share one with you in this article.
I have followed a couple of Bible reading plans, such as the 1-year Old and New Testaments reading plan, and Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System (which has you reading a passage from every major genre in the Bible). However, I ended up abandoning them both in relatively short periods of time.
I recently started a Bible reading plan that I have devised, and have found it to be the best for me. So, here’s what I do, and maybe it will appeal to you:
Element 1: Read short passages that are naturally segmented parts of the book.
The common element with all of the passages I read is that they are sections of Scripture that are separate thoughts, concepts, arguments, ideas, narratives, discourses, or topics that are naturally transitioned into and transitioned out of. The way I do this is by looking at the first sentence of every paragraph (the day before I read the section) to see if it’s the beginning of a new topic, event, action, or whatever. In other words, I try to see if it’s a different section of the book. If it is, then the paragraph(s) preceding it are the ones I’m going to read. If not, then I go on looking at the first sentences of each paragraph until I find one that begins a new section.
Why do I do this? First, because it’s easier to retain what I read, the smaller the section of Scripture is. Second, it’s easier to understand a little bit of Scripture at a time. Third, it’s easier to meditate upon, or think deeply about, a smaller passage of Scripture, than a larger passage of Scripture. Fourth, it’s not as overwhelming to apply the passage to your life, the less there is to apply to your life (because we need to put the Word into practice, not just read it). Finally, this practice makes it more likely that I’m going to be reading about just 1 main idea or theme in that particular passage of Scripture, rather than a bunch of big ideas or themes. This allows me to focus on thinking about that particular topic, and understand it more than I would if it wasn’t the only topic that I was reading about.
Element 2: Read a short passage in the Old Testament daily, beginning with the Psalms, and then starting from Genesis.
The second thing that I did with this reading plan was determined to read a passage from the Old Testament every day. The apostle Paul gives the reason why in Romans 15:4:
“. . . whatsoever things were written aforetime [in earlier times] were written for our LEARNING, THAT through patience and through COMFORT [encouragement] OF THE SCRIPTURES we might have HOPE.”
The Scriptures Paul is referring to here are the Old Testament Scriptures, and he says that they were written for believers’ instruction, so that through patience and through their encouragement, we believers would have hope. Clearly, we need the Old Testament.
But why start with the Psalms? Again, the apostle Paul explains why in Colossians 3:16:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom TEACHING and ADMONISHING one another WITH PSALMS and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.”
How are we to obey this command if we don’t know the Psalms? Thus, it is important that we learn the Psalms, and use them to teach and admonish our brothers and sisters in Christ.
After going through the Psalms, I went to Genesis, and plan on going through the Old Testament in sequential order, then starting the process again with Psalms.
So, the question remains, why read the Old Testament sequentially? Well, the answer is simple: it’s generally, not exactly, laid out in a way that tells a story from beginning to end, and draws applications from that story in a generally logical manner. As Romans 15:4 implies, it is basically laid out in a manner that is conducive to our instruction and encouragement. To put it another way, each book builds upon the previous book in its instruction for us.
However, I would still maintain that the Book of Psalms is the most important Old Testament book for believers, since it is the only book that is explicitly alluded to in a New Testament command for the church, and, according to church tradition, the early church sung the Psalms as their praise songs.
Element 3: Next, read a short passage from one of the epistolary books, or books containing letters, including Revelation.
The reason I would urge believers to do this is partly because of what Paul’s friend and physician, Luke, records in Acts 2:37-47:
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him. And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation. They then that received his word were baptized: and there were ADDED unto them in that day about three thousand SOULS. And they CONTINUED STEADFASTLY IN THE APOSTLES’ TEACHING and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.
And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. AND THE LORD ADDED TO THEM DAY BY DAY THOSE THAT WERE SAVED.”
Notice that Luke says that the new Christians were added to the Lord’s disciples, that they continued with perseverance in the apostles’ teaching, and, partly through this, the Lord added to them day by day people who were being saved.
Clearly, those who are truly the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and those to whom He adds newly saved people, are those who continue with perseverance in the teaching of the 12 apostles. And what is the teaching of the apostles? The New Testament, and most literally, the New Testament letters.
After all, this is what Paul says in Ephesians 4:7-15:
“But unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men. (Now this, He ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And HE GAVE some to be APOSTLES; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for THE PERFECTING of the saints, UNTO THE WORK OF MINISTERING, unto the BUILDING UP of the body of Christ: TILL we all attain unto THE UNITY OF THE FAITH, and OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON OF GOD, unto a FULLGROWN man, unto the measure of the stature of THE FULNESS of Christ: that we may be NO LONGER children, TOSSED to and fro and CARRIED ABOUT with every wind of DOCTRINE, by the SLEIGHT of men, in CRAFTINESS, after the WILES of ERROR; but speaking TRUTH in love, may GROW UP in all things into HIM, who is the head, even Christ . . .”
There is a reason that Paul says that the Lord gave the church apostles first. It’s because, without the apostles, we wouldn’t be able to be perfected, minister, be built up, attain to the unity of the faith or the knowledge of the Lord, to a fully grown man, the fullness of Christ. We would be tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, or teaching, and wouldn’t be able to speak the truth in love. We need the apostles’ teaching to become more like Christ, and we need to devote ourselves to it.
Element 4: Read a short passage from one of the New Testament historical books (the gospels and Acts) in this order: John, Mark, Luke, Matthew, Acts.
So, why read a passage from the gospels or Acts every day? Because they are most directly about the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are some passages that give us reasons to read about Him every single day:
“But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror THE GLORY OF THE LORD, are TRANSFORMED into the SAME IMAGE from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18
“For I would have you know how greatly I STRIVE for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, THAT THEY MAY KNOW the mystery of God, EVEN CHRIST, IN whom are ALL the TREASURES of WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE hidden.” – Colossians 2:1-3
“And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, PROCLAIMING to you the testimony of God. For I determined NOT to know ANYTHING among you, SAVE JESUS CHRIST, and him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:1-2
“Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, LOOKING UNTO JESUS the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
Why the order? I’ve written articles on the reasons:
Element 5: Finally, read the passages in one sitting, in the order I’ve given, and before you go out in public.
- This allows you to get your Old Testament instruction, encouragement, and hope, your New Testament apostolic teaching, and your story about the Lord Jesus Christ more quickly. It also makes it less likely that you’ll skip a passage that day.
- The order is important. The Old Testament gives us theological instruction that is built upon by the apostolic teaching in the New Testament epistolary books, and the apostolic teaching helps us to understand what we read in the New Testament historical books.
- If we are longing for God’s Word, then we are going to want to satisfy that longing before we begin our public ministry for the day (that’s right; if you’re a believer, and you go out in public, you have a public ministry to perform). If man doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, then don’t we need to fill up on that bread before we exercise our spiritual muscles in spiritual work? Plus, reading the Word before we go out into public instructs us on how to minister, encourages us to minister, reminds us of the hope we are looking forward to, teaches us about the Lord Jesus Christ, and reminds us of the message that we are to preach to our neighbors: the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. With those things fresh in our minds, we are more prepared to engage in the work of ministry for the rest of the day.
There is one requirement for you to get the most benefit out of this Bible reading plan: you need to be believing in the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you absolutely certain, without any doubt whatsoever, that you know what that good news is? Please make sure:
Your Creator, God the Father, sent God the Son, His Son, to the earth, to become a man, without ceasing to be God. This man was Jesus of Nazareth, who lived the perfect life, perfectly pleasing the Father. Then, He was arrested by men, who were appointed by the Father to do so, and was nailed and hung on a cross. Although Jesus was perfectly pleasing to the Father, the Father ordained this event to happen to punish Jesus by making Him slowly die on the cross, and by treating Him as if He had committed our sins against His Father, all because of our sins against Him, which make us deserve physical, eternal, and spiritual death from God. For three hours, the Father crushed and forsook Jesus, putting Him to grief, because of our sins against Him. In so doing, Jesus satisfied the Father’s wrath and justice against sins. Then, He died, and was buried shortly after. His body lay in a grave for about 2 days, and then, He physically rose from the dead, and appeared to the apostle Peter, to the 11 apostles, to about 500 people at one time, to James, to all the apostles, and to the apostle Paul, during a period of 40 days, after which He ascended into heaven. The apostles then turned the Mediterranean world upside down with their new lives and preaching, revolutionizing the Mediterranean world, and undergoing incredible persecutions, while at the same time winning more and more converts, who gladly went to their deaths because of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s command to all people everywhere is to change the way they think about God, about the Lord Jesus Christ, about His death, about His resurrection, about themselves, and about their sins, and to depend only upon the Lord Jesus Christ, His death because of their sins, and His resurrection as the only grounds for His forgiveness of their sins and His gift of eternal life. If you have changed the way you think, and depend only upon the Lord Jesus Christ, His death for your sins, and His resurrection for God’s forgiveness of your sins, and your peace with God, then you will be saved from His wrath. If not, God has fixed a day on which He will judge you in righteousness through the Man He has appointed, having provided proof for all people by raising Him from the dead. If you fail to obey God’s command to repent and depend on the Lord Jesus Christ, then He will eventually cast you into eternal hell, and punish you for the sins you’ve committed against Him. Right now is the time to make sure that you have changed the way you think about the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you are only depending upon Him, His death for your sins, and His resurrection from the dead for His forgiveness of your sins. Depend upon Him, and you will be saved from His wrath.
For help on reading God’s Word, please read this article: