Read the
Book!
 
To get the most out of your new life as a follower of Jesus Christ, get to know Him well. What's the best way to do that? Pray, and read the book that is God's written revelation to this world.

While with most books you should always start at page one, we recommend that those new to the Bible start first with the New Testament. There are sixty-six books in the Bible, thirty-nine in the Old Testament, and twenty-seven in the New Testament. The first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are referred to as the Gospels. They each tell the story of Christ's appearance here on Earth from the perspectives of four different authors. They are followed by the book of Acts, which relates events following Christ's Resurrection. Next you will find the various epistles, which contain practical advice on Christian living, followed by the prophetic book, Revelation.

As you read the Word of God, you will soon discover that this book is unlike any other. It is a living book. Whereas there is a limit to how many times you can enjoy and benefit from rereading other books, this singular volume can be read literally hundreds of times and yet still remain fresh and vibrantly alive. You will find passages that seem to almost glow as the Spirit drives home precious truths, encourages you, or gives you direction through the Scriptures.

Read it with an open heart. Mix your reading with prayer, asking the Spirit to reveal the truths that are hidden to most. In time you will realize that this book is your spiritual bread, vital to the sustaining of your spiritual life. So treasure the Word. Don't let a day pass without taking time to read its life-giving words.

Once you have read through the New Testament, you may wish to go back over some portions while at the same time starting to read the Old Testament from the beginning. Genesis is a foundational book that not only tells of the creation of all things, but also lays the groundwork for God's plan of redemption. As you continue through the books containing the history of the Jewish people, you will begin to see more and more how God intends for you to benefit from their example. In their failures and in their successes you can learn many valuable lessons. The Psalms will be a constant source of comfort and encouragement for you in the days ahead. And you'll be awed by the revelation of God the Father found in the major and minor prophets.

You may be wondering which Bible to read, as there are numerous versions available. This can be very confusing to a new believer. Some safe choices are the New American Standard Bible (NASB; considered by many scholars to be the most technically accurate), the King James Version (KJV; the perennial lyrical favorite written in the occasionally obscure, and for some, difficult to read, eighteenth-century English), and the New King James Version (NKJV; very similar to the preceding, but presented in current English). Look for one of these versions that also has helpful in-line references (the Thompson Chain Reference Bible is one good choice) to aid you in your Bible study.

If someone tells you that a certain version is the only one you should read because it alone is the true Word of God, disregard their advice. While they may mean well, listening to some of these individuals could lead one to wonder what God's plan was for those who don't speak the language of their esteemed translation. And however stridently they may argue to the contrary, no Bible version is absolutely perfect with respect to felicity to the original God-inspired words. Even if we had those original documents, which we don't, the moment you begin translating from one language to another, slight changes of meaning will be unavoidable.

At the same time, don't listen to those who tell you that the Bible has been through so many revisions that it now bears little resemblance to the original. Those who wish to discredit the Bible will often make this baseless claim, which only reveals that they have not researched the issue themselves. Had they done so, they would be utterly amazed at the accuracy of the best current translations when compared to the oldest extant manuscripts. Obviously God has made sure His Word has remained pure enough to where the message of the ages is still available to us today as our guide from here to Heaven.

It is helpful to also have a topical reference (such as Nave's Topical Bible) and a concordance (such as Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible) as aids in studying the Word. The former allows you to find verses arranged under various topics, and the latter allows you to locate every verse containing a given word. Commentaries are also valuable tools, but caution is needed here as they can be doctrinally off base. A good, conservative choice, which is also fascinating reading, is Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible.

Bible software is another useful tool which allows for extremely efficient access to various Bible versions, all the references listed above, and much more.

So... get into your Bible daily and allow it to be a constant source of inspiration, encouragement, and guidance in your life. Then pray that God will use you to share its wonderful news with as many people as you can!