This idea is not original - I've seen it presented at least twice, by two different people. However, I couldn't (easily) find it on Google, so I wanted to put it here anyway. I wrote last week that I'd finished the Bible and that I was thinking that maybe reading the Bible straight through more than once would be less than productive. So here's the method I intend to use.
Ephesians 2:19-20 says,
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone….
At first glance that doesn't seem to mean much as far as reading our Bibles, but it gives us a method of looking at our lives - for building ourselves up, as we in turn are built up in the temple (Ephesians 2:21-22). It boils down to three things.
- Jesus - He is to be the center of our lives, and our foundation (Luke 6:47-48). He is the Word of God, living and in the flesh (John 1:14). If we're going to worship Him, serve Him, and be like Him, we need to study him to know how. So it's probably a good idea to devote time to reading the Gospels, since they're the part of the Bible that deals directly with Jesus.
- Prophets - The Old Testament: it can be boring and difficult, but I Corinthians 10:1-4 makes it pretty clear that the people of the Old Testament “drank from the same spiritual drink,” from the rock that “was Christ,” that we do. They followed the same God, who never changes (James 1:17). Crazily enough, a lot of the Old Testament is about Christ (Luke 24:27).
- Apostles - Acts 4:33 tells us that the apostles were “giving testimony,” and doing it “with great power.” The testimony that they were telling is told in the New Testament. We need to remember the words of the prophets and the apostles (II Peter 3:2), reading the Old Testament and the New.
So what does that look like when applied to Bible reading? Here are two ideas.
- First, focus your reading on the Gospels, while also putting time into the Old and New Testaments (when I say New Testament, I mean mostly Acts and the epistles, as the Gospels are treated as separate for the purpose of this idea). Acts 17:11 gives us an example that we should be “examining the Scriptures daily.” So maybe read one chapter from a Gospel, one from the Old Testament, and one from the New, every day. Or if that's too much, then read a chapter from the Gospel on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, read one from the Old Testament Sunday and Thursday, and read one from the New Testament Tuesday and Saturday. I'm going to try and do one chapter of each, at a minimum, every day during 2010, but the idea is that we focus on Christ, through the Gospels, and not neglect Him in our study of the rest of the Bible.
- Which brings me to my second point of application: the verses I listed above are about Christ in the Old Testament (gasp!) and in Acts and the epistles. And He's supposed to be our focus. So when you read dry old Numbers, or Psalm 119, or …some particularly dry portion of the New Testament (nothing comes readily to mind), focus on Christ and try to learn about Him. Not necessarily about the Israelite way of life, or about David and Bathsheba, or which particular believers Paul was working with when he wrote whatever. Take the passage you read and find Christ in it. I'm sure He's there.
And now, a nifty picture that will explain everything you just read, but with twice the clarity and half the time.