I was speaking with a co-worker the other day and invited them to our church’s Easter service. She has been in Christianity since she was a child but recently started reading the bible. We have been talking, off and on, for years concerning Christianity, the bible, Jesus, God, etc. So I thought this might be a good addition to the Prodigal’s Sons Ministry posts for those new to the reading of the bible. I found this article which describes quite a bit of what I desired to say. [ORIGINAL ARTICLE]
A lot of people would like to become more familiar with the Bible’s characters, stories and message. That’s a worthy ambition, but where do you begin? Many would-be readers are paralyzed by the sheer size of the Bible and by not knowing where to start.
Here’s a Good Question from a reader: I’d like to start reading the Bible, but it feels like a massive undertaking. I’m not even sure what the Bible is or how it’s laid out. Is there a good way to start?
First, it’s important realize that the Bible is not an ordinary book that reads smoothly from cover to cover. It’s actually a library, or collection, of books written by different authors in several languages over several thousand years. But it’s a readable library, and you can get through it. Its books are “shelved” by type and topic, just as in a public library: history, the Law, the Prophets, poems and wisdom literature, eyewitness accounts of Jesus (the Gospels), collections of letters, and mind-blowing apocalyptic descriptions of the past, present and future. What a treasure trove to explore!
We talked to Bob Grahmann, Ph.D., InterVarsity’s Link Director. For years, he has taught students in the U.S. and Eastern Europe how to get into the Bible and mine the truths it contains. “If you’re digging in for the first time,” he says, “start with the Gospel of Mark, and then go on to John.”
Why start in the New Testament? Bob replies, “Martin Luther said that the Bible is the ‘cradle of Christ.’ All biblical history and prophecy ultimately point to Jesus. The book of Mark is quick and fast-paced, while John focuses on the things Jesus claimed about himself. Mark tells about what Jesus did, while John tells about what Jesus said. In John are some of the simplest and clearest passages, such as John 3:16, but also some of the deepest and most profound passages. It appeals to students and is worthy of study.”
When you’ve read through John, simply go on to the next book, Acts. This is Luke’s sequel to his account of Jesus, picking up the story at the point of Christ’s ascension. In this action-packed book we learn how the early church got started and how the gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire. “Students are into community,” says Bob, “and Acts is about community—with all of its ups and downs.” Understanding the letters of Paul, Peter and others that follow in the Bible will be much easier once you’ve read Acts. You’ll have a better feel for who the recipients of those letters were.
Next move on to Romans. “This is completely different—a letter that introduces us to the Apostle Paul and the Christian faith. Paul describes the basic teachings of the Christian faith in one book, and it’s all about God’s grace.