Reading the Bible in 2015
As a church this coming year we want to encourage one another to read their Bibles to see Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 3:18, we are told that it is in beholding the glory of Jesus that we are transformed into His likeness.
 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18 ESV)
You can read your Bible wrong – and miss the whole point, which is Jesus and communion and life with and in Him. In Him is life.
 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,  yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40 ESV)
Read your Bible prayerfully. Express your love of Him, along with your thanksgiving and need. Respond as you engage with the very words that have come to us from God Himself
 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV)
READING PLAN FOR 2015
Use one of these methods to join us on our journey through God’s story:
- Life Journal Reading Plan – This reading plan will take you through the Old Testament Scriptures once and the New Testament Scriptures twice in a year. We also encourage you to keep a journal on what God is teaching you as you commune with Him in and through His Word.
- First Steps Reading Plan – This plan takes a only a portion of the reading from the Life Journal Plan and offers a decreased amount of reading without losing the flow.
- If you want an even further reduced plan, ask Murray and he can provide you with a copy of a plan that takes you through all the major portions of the Bible to understand the big story centred on Jesus. (There is no phone app for this, you would just read it through at your own pace).
The Bible comes alive when you read it to commune with the Living Word – Jesus. Through the Scriptures, we get to know the heart and mind of God. The better we know His Word, the more we can discern the voice of God and be able to know His will. We want to read the Bible relationally with a passion to know Him. Respond and commune with God as you read. He speaks to you and you respond in worship to Him.
God speaks universally through creation. God speaks historically through Scripture. God speaks definitively through Jesus. God speaks relationally through the church. God speaks internally through the Holy Spirit.
One of the results of the Gospel is a devotion to the apostle’s doctrine (Acts 2:42). It is our hope that by moving through the Scripture together as a church, it will promote many conversations about the things that God is revealing to us through His Word – thus spurring one another on to love and good works. The Bible is to be learned in community so we can help one another understand the more difficult portions and apply the truths we learn, with all of us “feeding in the same portion of the green pasture at the same time. The Bible is all about Jesus and His amazing Gospel – all the parts rightly understood will lead us to Him.
The Bible is not a compilation of proof texts. It is the unfolding of redemptive history centered in Jesus Christ. It is clear that the Bible tells one main story and the unity of that story is only perceived from the standpoint of the story’s conclusion or goal—Jesus Christ! (John 1:1-5; 14:9; Col. 1:15-20 etc.). Thus all of Scripture finds its focus and true meaning only in the light of Christ (John 1:45; 5:39-40; Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 3:18; 10:43; 2 Cor. 1:20; Heb. 1:1-2). Christ himself is the focus of the Scripture story. This does not mean that every text of Scripture must be made to speak directly of him. Rather, every text is part of the single story which has its focus in him. Thus, we read the Old Testament Scriptures in light of the New Testament and its conclusion in Christ, for he is the fulfillment of it all (Matt. 5:17-18). A veil lies over the eyes if one reads the Old Testament Scriptures apart from Christ (2 Cor. 3:14-18).
The Bible is a message to be proclaimed. It is not an abstract system of doctrine, but a revelation of the redemptive work of God in Christ, in which we are intimately and presently involved. “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). If we comprehended the truth revealed in the Bible, we could not read it with a yawn, but we would read it with a shout! Chip Brogden writes: “I pray these will not be mere verses of Scripture to us, but will be the very means through which the Father gives us greater illumination and revelation into His Son. We ought to meditate on this daily and ask the Lord to open our eyes to see the height, depth, width, length, and breadth of this JESUS Whom we say we serve. May God deliver us from our own idea, concept, perception, and illusion of a small Christ and give us revelation into the preeminence of His Son.” I say, “Amen!”
“Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious” (1 Pet. 2:7a). When Jesus is truly beheld in the Scriptures, we begin to grasp something of the preciousness of the Lord. We begin to grasp his infinite worth. Worship is our response to revelation. Ultimately, as his chosen vessels, the Lord himself manifests his glory through us so that we go forth as living epistles (see 2 Cor. 3: 2-3; 4:1-11; Gal. 2:20).
May Jesus be the object of our desires. As we open the pages of our Bibles, may we see not merely loaves and fishes and signs, but may we see the one who the signs reveal. May our time in the Word not be time reading a book, but a time of communion with the living Lord who is life. One can ever be learning ‘truths’ without learning the truth (John 14:6). May we not be fooled into thinking that our acquisition of facts is equivalent to knowing God. Let us pray for a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of our understanding being enlightened” (Eph. 1:17, 18) knowing that “in [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).
There are both dangers and advantages of working through such a plan as this. The danger is that your Bible reading degenerates into lifeless duty, and quick and careless reading to “get it done” and check off a box. Some of the advantages are reading every part of God’s Scripture in an orderly fashion so that you do not miss or ignore any section of the Bible, as it is all profitable (2 Tim. 3:16), and developing a greater bond of love and unity together. The greatest advantage, it seems to me, is a greater understanding of the heart of the God who has loved us with an everlasting love.
We want to read our Bibles both deep and wide. The reading program will help us read our Bibles “wide” getting the big picture. I would also encourage you to go “deep” by taking one verse or smaller portion to reflect, meditate, pray on, study, and perhaps memorize so you can bring it to mind throughout your day. We need to listen to what God wants to say to us in and through this Word. Finally, we want to respond – as God wants us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.
Are you with me?