Read the Bible in 2014

Visualizing the Bible® Chris Harrison
Click the image to enlarge

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Psalm 119:105

This beautiful image gives you a visual overview of the Bible: the number of books in the Bible, the length of each book and the thousands of cross reference connections between the books. I want to encourage you to read through the Bible this coming year.

In 1981 Geoffrey Thomas wrote a pamphlet, Reading the Bible. It’s small is size, but great in help and wisdom.

Life is exceedingly complex: the prevailing climate in present-day Society is hostile to the Christian faith. Marx, Darwin and Freud have all contributed to the dominant philosophy of unbelief that prevails in the Western World. The mass media repeatedly attack the faith of the Bible. The breakdown of the family, promiscuity, divorce, abortion— . . . Answers to our complex contem- porary questions are found in the Bible and our task is to equip ourselves with the knowledge of the Word so that all needed insight and strength will be ours. Laziness is our great temptation. Reliance on knowledge gained in the past is a great danger. We must be growing Christians. Our convictions, our conduct and our devotion must be rooted in the Word of God. ‘For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.’ [Romans 15.4].

Thomas explains the benefit of reading the entire Bible:

The chief aim of studying the Scriptures is not the amount read or even the reading itself. The aim is to know God….

In whatever ways we adapt the suggested plan to our own particular needs we must aim at reading two or three chapters at a sitting, or a whole book or epistle. There are many precious things we shall never see unless we read the Word of God in large chunks. We would never read fifteen lines of any other piece of literature and then set it aside, believing that we had thus satisfied the author’s original intentions. To see the whole massive movement of biblical thought, the Scriptures need to be read frequently and from Genesis to Revelation. The Christian must be content with nothing less. He will not understand the individual verses unless he has the framework of knowledge which a larger acquaintance with Scripture provides. The more he reads the more comprehensible the Bible becomes.

There are numerous plans online for reading the Bible through in a year. Some begin in Genesis and go straight through, others arrange the Bible in chronological order of events, and there are those that mix readings from different sections of the Bible.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a Scottish minister of the early 1800s, organized what is today considered a classic reading plan: you read through the New Testament and Psalms twice in a year and through the other books of the Old Testament once. Ben Edgington has numerous helpful links. Here is M’Cheyne’s calendar plan for reading through the Bible in a year and includes part of his original explanation. It’s divided into family and secret readings for personal devotions, but use them as is best for you.

Each day Grace to You posts the Bible readings from The MacArthur Daily Bible. Passages are given to read from the Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and New Testament along with some brief comments by John MacArthur.

Michael Coley has developed a plan that divides Bible readings into Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels—one for each day of the week. He has listed the chapters on a one-page pdf document you can print and carry in your Bible, and he also offers various formats for reading online and by email. In 2011 I posted my own thoughts and reflections on what I read using Michael Coley’s plan. Links to those posts can be found in the heading as pages under the main Bible page.

The Blue Letter Bible site offers several different plans from which to choose. Professor Grant Horner has designed a unique plan in which he has divided the books of the Bible into ten lists and one chapter from each list is read every day.

If you’re not familiar with the Bible, then you might want to use the MacArthur or M’Cheyne reading plan. Both plans have daily RSS feeds available. They are in the sidebar and will change automatically each day. I have set the M’Cheyne plan to change at midnight, US Eastern time zone (UTC-5), but Grace to You is in the US Pacific time zone (UTC-8). Click on the M’Cheyne listings to go to the reading at Bible Gateway. Click on The MacArthur Daily Bible for the readings at Grace to You. You can still use Bible Gateway, but you’ll have to pull up the readings for yourself.

Choose your translation with care—there are some politically correct translations out today that change the words in the original languages, while some paraphrases obliterate the text and meaning. The New American Standard Bible is a translation I have used for years.

Whichever plan you use, I recommend reading Geoffrey Thomas’ Reading the Bible is online here at Tony Capoccia’s Bible Bulletin Board. I think the complete text is there except for a quote from J. C. Ryle, and Thomas’ table outlining a plan for reading through the Bible in a year. Don Carson’s Preface and Introduction (19 page PDF) to For the Love of God is also very helpful. Keep them both close at hand to encourage you.

After M’Cheyne designed his reading plan, he wrote:

MY DEAR FLOCK,—The approach of another year stirs up with me new desires for your salvation, and for the growth of you who are saved….What the coming year is to bring forth, who can tell? There is plainly a weight lying on the spirits of all good men, and a looking for some strange work of judgment coming upon this land. There is need now to ask that solemn question: “If in the land of peace, where thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

Those believers will stand firmest who have no dependence on self or upon creatures, but upon Jehovah our Righteousness. We must be driven more to our Bibles, and to the mercy-seat, if we are to stand in the evil day. Then we shall be able to say, like David, “The proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have I not declined from Thy law.” “Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart standeth in awe of Thy word.”

May the Lord be with you and bless you in 2013, granting you greater love and knowledge of Him through the reading of His Word, for “the people who know their God will display strength and take action.

Visualizing the Bible® Chris Harrison. Used by permission. Click the image to enlarge it to 900 x 540 pixels. This image was named one of the best science images of 2008 in National Geographic News. A poster of the image can be bought at HistoryShots.
“The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc – the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.”
If you’d like to see the image in an even more stunning view at 2000 x 1200 pixels go to the Bible page in the heading and click on the second image at the bottom of that page. For an even larger image go to History Shots. It is truly incredible.
The quote from M’Cheyne is via and can be read in its context beginning on p. 618 of Andrew Bonar’s Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Edinburgh/London : Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1892) available on

Original content: Copyright ©2012–2014 Iwana Carpenter

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