Most Western Christians don’t ever read the Bible outside of church except perhaps in a moment of desperation during a personal crisis.
Not surprisingly, most Western Christians are shamefully ignorant of the contents of Scripture. Their Bible knowledge consists of a few disconnected stories and random verses picked up along the way in Sunday school classes or while listening to sermons. That knowledge is second hand—not personal. It has been widely acknowledged that the Bible is the least read bestseller in American publishing history.
Contrast this sad state of affairs with what is typically the case with Muslim Background Believers (MBBs). MBBs are Christians who grew up Muslims and then converted to Christianity. On average, by the time a Muslim man has made the decision to follow Christ as a baptized believer he has already read the Bible through not once, not twice, but FIVE times.
What about you? Have YOU read the Bible through five times? Are you a regular Bible reader at all? Are you a serious student of Scriptures? Have you ever read your Bible from cover-to-cover? If not, why not?
We are busy, busy people leading busy, busy lives. One of the frequently offered excuses for our failure to read our Bibles is a lack of time. But let’s look at this scientifically. Just how long would it take you to read your Bible through?
We know the answer because somebody took the trouble to time it. There are about 807,361words in the Bible (depending on the translation): 622,771 in the Old Testament and 184,590 in the New Testament. That means about 77% of your Bible—almost 4/5ths—is Old Testament, the part that Christians are most ignorant of. It takes just 70 hours and 40 minutes to read the Bible through—just under three full days. And that’s out loud. 52 hours and 20 minutes to read the Old Testament, 18 hours and 20 minutes to read the New Testament. The longest book, Psalms, will take just 4 hours and 28 minutes. It takes a mere 2 hours and 43 minutes to read the Gospel of Luke.
You can read the Bible through in a year in less than 12 minutes a day.
Can’t you commit to giving 12 minutes a day—30 seconds out of every hour—less than 1% of your day—to reading God’s word? Millions do so every year. My wife has done so every year for nearly 30 years. And it shows. She KNOWS her Bible. On January 1, 1987, when our son, Joshua, was 8 years, 8 months, and 13 days old, with no prompting from Joyce or me he took it upon himself to read the Bible through that year. Each night he set his alarm so that he would be up 15 minutes early so that he could do his Bible reading before school. On December 31, 1987 he closed his Bible after reading Revelation 22:21. Mission accomplished. A few years ago there was a TV game show called, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? My question to you is, are you as committed to discipleship as this fourth grader?
I suppose it is a consequence of our fallen natures that good habits are hard to cultivate while bad ones get started all too easily. At Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church where I serve as senior pastor I want to help my members develop the habit of daily Bible reading. Here’s how:
First, beginning January 1, 2014 I am encouraging all of my RABC family to start a daily Bible reading program. While there are many ways to approach this, I’m suggesting the easiest approach: Reading the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation, about 3 chapters a day.
Second, daily Bible reading guides will be published in the newsletter and on our website at http://www.rivermontavenue.org/.
Third, beginning Wednesday, January 8, I will lead a weekly Bible based on these readings. The Scripture passage for each study will be selected from among the chapters that we read the previous week. For example, since we will have read Genesis 1-24 during the first week of the year, my study on January 8 will be a passage selected from those chapters. Each session will be a stand-alone unit so you are not penalized if you can only attend sporadically. Each class session will be videotaped and posted on our website.
Fourth and finally, daily Bible reading is not intended to be in-depth study. But as you read, questions will naturally arise. If you find yourself puzzling over a question generated by your reading, I invite you to post those questions on this blog and I'll try to help you find the answers.
We are trying to raise our congregation’s biblical literacy in 2014! I encourage you to spread the effort in your own church.
It takes just 12 minutes a day.