By God’s grace, I just finished reading the Bible for the fifth time. When I was in my twenties, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I could actually read the whole Bible. It wasn’t until I was thirty-three and in a discipleship group at church that my friend Jani Ortlund challenged me to do it.
Reading the Bible all the way through changed my life forever. Before then, my understanding of Scripture was like a collage of little pictures glued together on a poster board. I knew bits and pieces of the Bible and a lot of Bible stories, but I didn’t understand how everything fit together. I didn’t have context for the things I knew, and I kind of thought the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament were at odds with each other.
Every time you open your Bible and read its words, you are close enough to God to feel His very breath.
That January with my discipleship group’s encouragement and accountability, I opened my Bible to the book of Genesis and began to work my way through its pages. Averaging three chapters a day, I walked with Abraham in the deserts of ancient Mesopotamia and wrestled along with Sarah as she waited for her promised son. I observed the brutality of mankind and how it infuriated God. The stories of God’s wrath actually began making sense to me. Who would want a God who didn’t get angry at oppression and injustice and rape and infanticide and the idolatry which led to it all?
Page after page, I saw the suffering sin always brings and God’s continual, tender call to His people, “Come to me. Make me your refuge. Give your hearts to me and no other. Turn from your sin and suffering and come to me.” The Bible wasn’t a rule book; it was a love story.
Even now, the very same God who called Abraham is calling us to Himself through the Scriptures. His love for us pulses through every point of time and pursues us right now—even through the modern day technology of this blog! Every time you open your Bible and read its words, you are close enough to God to feel His very breath. It’s in this sacred book that He tells us about Himself, about us, and about how very much He loves us.
I learned four life-changing things the first time I read through the Bible:
- God is in Control.
No one in all of history has ever thwarted God’s plan. (Not that they haven’t tried!) Think of Jonah. Balaam. Pharoah. Even Judas Iscariot. Do you know what this means for you? You can trust God to fulfill His plan for you. If you are in Christ, even your sin can’t derail His purpose for you. And nothing can get to you unless it first passes through His hand. Now, that’s some life-changing thinking right there.
- God keeps His promises.
God has never broken a promise. He keeps His promises because He is faithful!
“[I]f we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).
That means you can trust God to keep His promises to you. As you read the Bible, you can see His faithfulness for yourself. Make note of those promises and hold tightly to them.
- God really loves us.
The first time I read through the Bible, the two words “steadfast love” kept showing up over and over in one book after another. I realized it was more than a phrase; it was a theme. God is absolutely undeterred in His love for His children; even His anger comes from a place of deep grief and love.
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chron. 16:34).
His love for you means you can trust that His heart toward you is good. With God, you don’t have to live in fear of the hammer falling. He is a kind and wise father. He’s never “out to get you.” When all of life seems to tell you otherwise, you can look to the Bible to see the truth of God’s love for you.
- Jesus is the real hero of this world’s story.
From the beginning of time, God has been in control of history and has had a plan to bring us back to Himself. He made a promise to show His love to you and me, and because He is faithful, He kept that promise. His love for us is so steadfast that nothing—not all the wickedness in the world—could keep Him from sending us a Savior. What a hero that Savior is! And He’s ours!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23 emphasis mine).
The Bible corrects our thinking about God. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can actually know God through His Word. Sign me up for that! I desperately need what the Bible gives.
What has been your experience with reading the Bible? Have you ever read it all the way through? Do you want to? What has God shown you through those sacred pages? Let’s discuss.