The Bible is called the Word of God because it is God’s way of explaining who he is, who we are, where we came from, and why we exist. It is complex. If we open our Bibles to a random spot and start reading, we will probably be confused. This is because the Bible is actually 66 separate books written by different authors over a period of about 2,000 years.
The books of the Bible were inspired by God. Beyond that, God confirmed that the contents of the books are true, and they are from him. Many of the books were intended for very specific people groups. The early church collected and arranged these books into a single volume that we now call the Bible. Together, they show how God interacted with man throughout history.
The books of the Bible are written in different genres. The book of Psalms, for example, is a book of songs and prayers. It is filled with metaphors that are not always meant to be taken literally. The Gospel of John, however, is a historical work based on the life of Jesus.
The Epistles, like Galatians and Ephesians, were letters written by early church leaders to specific people groups.
There are books of prophecy, like Isaiah and the book of Revelation—a long, complex prophecy that was originally written for the early Christian church.
There’s more, but you get the point.
The Bible is also split up into two testaments. The Old Testament is made up of books written before the birth of Jesus and the New Testament contains books written after the birth of Jesus.
The first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) were written by and for the Israelites to explain the beginning of the world, God’s promises to them, and how he formed them as a nation.
There are different agreements between God and people throughout the Bible. These are called covenants. Today we live under the covenant of Jesus. That means that we are not required to follow the ceremonial laws detailed in books like Leviticus or Deuteronomy, which were under one of God’s old covenants with the Jewish people. The ceremonial laws worked as symbols pointing to Jesus, so the ceremonial laws were completed by his life and death.
If your head is spinning, take a moment and breathe. Then be encouraged because you don’t need to understand it all right now!
The Bible is not something you have to read, like a duty. It’s something you get to read. It is intended to be a joy—read, studied, and lived out over a lifetime. It is a treasure that will transform your mind and heart.
Some sections of the Bible are easier to understand than others. We suggest you begin by reading the book of Genesis (the first book in the Bible), and at least one of the four Gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke, or John).
From there, it might make sense to move on to Exodus, along with the Book of Acts, and the Epistles in the New Testament.
Romans and Hebrews are two books that are difficult to read, yet they help make sense of the difference between the new covenant of Jesus and the old covenants in the Old Testament.
There are many fascinating stories in the Bible. There are also sections of detailed lineages and complicated laws for Jewish people. You can be certain, however, that every bit of the Bible has a good purpose and is worthwhile to study because the Bible helps us understand who we are, who he is, and how to live. It keeps us from evil. So, that’s why you should be wary of anything that consistently keeps you from reading your Bible. Your phone, video games, etc.
If you don’t have a Bible, you should purchase one. Some good translations that are fairly easy to read are the ESV, the NIV, and the NLT. If you have a smartphone, you can download several different Bible apps, and read the Bible for free. Or read the Bible on BibleGateway.com.
The best Bible app for a smartphone is the YouVersion Bible app. It offers the largest array of translations, audio Bibles, yearly reading plans, and devotionals to help you get started. If you start out trying to read the entire Bible without a plan, you may get overwhelmed.
There are plans for reading the whole Bible in a year, and these are helpful because they get you to read little parts every day. If you want to read a lot, go ahead. But it is better to focus on learning to savor God’s Word. It’s a constant source of encouragement and wisdom, and your ability to live out the Christian life is directly tied to how consistently you engage the Bible with your heart and mind.
Ask God to help you understand the Bible. Ask him to help you apply his commands to your daily life. Don’t neglect reading and listening to it. Don’t let yourself forget it. You may not think you are a reader, but the Bible will quickly become your most treasured possession because it is the words of God to you.
Get a Bible, find a “read the Bible in one year” plan, and start following that reading plan.