Dr. Bruce Ware, former Chairman of the Department of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary shares five guidelines that have helped him read the Bible, encouraging his readers to make the best use of their time and gain the most from their reading of God’s word in the New Year.
1. Commit yourself to consistent Bible reading
Dr. Bruce stresses on the need to have a regular time in God’s word for it to have an impact.
Consistency is needed because the Bible “is the main instrument God has provided his people to know his character, to know his plans and purposes, to know his work in creation and redemption, to know ourselves, and to know how we are to live before him and others,” he writes in a post on the desiringGod website.
It’s okay to have a few pauses in an otherwise consistent Bible reading plan due to some emergencies, but what should be avoided is reading of the Bible only when convenient, Ware says.
2. We need to engage in both fast-paced and slow-paced reading.
We should commit to reading every single book and chapter of the Bible at least every two or three years, he suggests. “Slow-paced reading, on the other hand, is necessary if we are to soak in and glory in the beauty and texture of so many passages of Scripture,” he adds.
The riches in verses and passages “can only be seen and felt and marveled at when we read it slowly, prayerfully, meditatively, over and over and over,” he explains.
3. We need to notice the “who” as much, or more than, the “what” as you read the Bible, Ware goes on to say.
“Never forget that there is one Author of Scripture who stands over and above all of the human authors of all of the various books,” he writes, quoting 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21.
“Since the Scriptures are the self-revelation of God himself, our main focus when reading them should be to encounter the Author laboring to express something of his character and work through every page,” the author explains.
We need to grow in knowing not just more about God, but grow in knowing God Himself as we read our Bibles, he adds. “Focus on his attributes, his actions, his stated plans and purposes, his commandments and warnings, his promises and his assurances.”
4. “Seek informed minds and stirred affections.”
“We must grow, through our reading of Scripture, in knowing (mind) and loving (heart) the glorious truths we encounter along the way,” he explains, and adds: “It’s a dangerous pattern for a Christians to read God’s word consistently without having their hearts stirred by what they have read. As much as it is in your power, strive not to walk away from God’s word without having at least one truth move your affections.”
5. Readers must commit themselves to hear and heed, understand and obey, what they encounter in the Bible, Ware said.
“To read the word of God is to submit ourselves to that which declares how we are to live day by day,” he explains. “Let’s resist the temptation to have minds growing in the knowledge of God’s word that nonetheless fail to live out the truth of what we have come to know.”