Today is one of our special Dog Days of Podcasting episodes, and good ol’ Chuck Tomasi, he of the recent oral surgery, sent in a question.
Where should a person who has never read the Bible before begin reading?
That’s a really great question. A lot of people do try to tackle the Bible as if it were a regular book. It sort of makes sense, right? Start on page 1 and go all the way through to the end. Genesis, which is the first book you see when you open the Bible does start literally “in the beginning”, after all.
But if you start there, it’s really easy to get bogged down. You’ll soon get into geneologies and lists and other things that really tend to drag. That’s what happened to me the first time I tried to read the Bible through. I gave up on it after a short while.
Another thing about starting with the Old Testament is that much of it is a history of how God dealt with the Jews, His chosen people and His dealing with them in relation to the Law.
But now, since the Messiah has come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, God’s focus is not primarily on the Jew but on all people, and because Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law, God makes grace available to anyone who will believe that Jesus is the Savior. Really, all of history pivots on Him.
So my suggestion is to start with the other book that begins at the beginning. The Gospel of John, from the New Testament. Like the book of Genesis, it begins with the words, “In the beginning…”, but instead of focusing on the creation of the universe, the earth and the first people, the Gospel of John focuses on the actual One who did the creating. Let me read the first few verses for you: 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
And then dropping down a few verses: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'” 16For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
So the Gospel of John tells us about Jesus, and the fact that he was more than just a man, He was also God. He was 100% man and 100% God. Getting a firm grasp on that concept is imperative for a better understanding of every other book in the Bible. Jesus is called the cornerstone, that part of a foundation around which every other part of a building is based, and I look at John as a first time Bible reader’s cornerstone.
And then from there I recommend alternating from Old Testament to New and back again as you read through the Bible. After all, it wasn’t written chronologically from Genesis to Revelation, so there’s no reason to read it that way, either.
There are many Bible reading plans available. For mobile devices, the Bible app has many to choose from, or for a web based solution you could go to the Bible app’s publisher, YouVersion.com. And of course, following along with this podcast will get you through the Bible, as well. You already know the plan I use here.
So there you have it, Chuck. I appreciate your asking.
Guys, I highly recommend you check out ChuckChat.com and all the great stuff Chuck has there on his website. Chuck is a delight to listen to, and one of his shows, Technorama is cohosted by Kreg Stepp, who dreamed up this crazy Dog Days of Podcasting concept.