Everybody studies the Bible a little differently. Personally, I take it one book at a time. I stay in that book until I’ve read and annotated (that’s a fancy word for “add notes to”) the whole thing. Then I move on to a different book.
Several years ago I noticed that some of the books of my Bible had lots of notes in them and some had none, evidence that I’d spent time in some books while ignoring others.
I made a headline in my Bible that said “The Forgotten Books” (because I’m a writer and a bit on the dramatic side). Then I flipped my Bible open to the table of contents. If your Bible is handy, why don’t you grab it and look at the table of contents with me now? With my Bible and journal open, I prayed and asked the Lord to show me which books of my Bible I had never studied. My list shaped up to look like this:
It turns out there were plenty of books I’d “forgotten” or avoided in my study of God’s Word. I spent the next several years reading the “forgotten books.” As I mined these previously unearthed books, I always found treasure. God used this exercise to develop my commitment to know all of the Bible and to stop skipping and jumping around to the parts I like and understand easily. It is a commitment that has revolutionized both my personal study of God’s Word and my understanding of who God is (more on that in a sec).
It All Matters
Since you have your Bibles handy, let’s check out 2 Timothy 3:16–17 together:
All Scripture is breathed out by God . . .
Hold up! Let me stop us right there.
Let’s put a magnifying glass over that first word, all.
What part of Scripture is God-breathed? All of it! From the first word in Genesis to the last word in Revelation, all Scripture is inspired by God.
Okay. Let’s keep reading.
. . . and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Not only is all Scripture inspired by God, all Scripture is profitable. That means it’s all useful, important, and worth paying attention to. That means we don’t skip the begets or the parts that scare us (I’m looking at you, Revelation). We don’t bypass the sections of God’s Word we don’t understand or the ones that aren’t socially acceptable. We seek to see and understand it all.
Remembering Our Why
As we expand our horizons and go beyond the familiar in God’s Word, it’s helpful to remember our motivation. We don’t study God’s Word to pass some test. There are no points awarded for reading more books than someone else. We don’t read the Bible to know ourselves better. The reason we run to God’s Word is to see who God is. The goal of Scripture is to reveal the plans and character of God.
Think of it like a puzzle. The sixty-six books of the Bible each represent one of sixty-six puzzle pieces. There are likely some pieces you already know well. Maybe you love the book of Psalms or Ruth or 1 Corinthians. (Me too!) These are the books you read most often because they are the places where you get the clearest picture of who God is.
But if the books you’ve read represent pieces of the puzzle, if we could lay them out on a table, how complete would your picture of God be? If there are even five books of the Bible you’ve never read, then you’re missing a significant piece of the picture of who God is. If you don’t know the whole Bible, you may not have a wrong picture of God, but you will certainly have an incomplete picture. It all matters to help us see who God is so that we know how we can become more like Him.
As you mine God’s Word for truth in 2018, let me encourage you to dig deeper. Sure, revisit some favorite books and stories, but don’t stop there. Go off-road! Dig where you’ve never dug before. As someone whose “forgotten books” are now found, I promise there’s gold in them thar hills!
Your Own Forgotten Books
When it comes to God’s Word, which books have you forgotten? Make a list of the books you’ve never studied in a comment below. Then let’s start digging! I can’t wait to see the picture of God we will reveal together.