A Beginner’s Guide to Reading the Bible with Adrian Goh Guan Kiong
Adrian Goh Guan Kiong is a family man and a Christian who volunteers overseas (Indonesia, Myanmar and other countries) He enjoys writing (written articles on Fire Safety, Building Management, Mental Wellness, Mental Resilience during COVID19, Work from home, Personal Finances, Can your boss be your friend). He also loves to read and is a 80s and 90s music buff.
If you are overwhelmed by the idea of reading the Bible, know this, you are not alone. Even those you consider to be mature in the faith may sometimes find it difficult to read the Bible regularly. Maybe you are new to reading the Bible and do not know exactly where to start. Or perhaps, you stopped reading the Bible some years back, and want to pick up where you left off. It doesn’t matter where you are on your spiritual journey, we all have to start somewhere. I, as a Christian also struggles in this. Let me share how I overcome this slowly and grow stronger spiritually.
1. CHOOSE A VERSION OF THE BIBLE THAT IS UNDERSTANDABLE AND EASY TO READ.
Here is the absolute truth: if you don’t understand it, you won’t read it.
Originally, the bible was written in Hebrew and Greek. Although one of the first English translations was the King James (KJV) version of the Bible, today there is an avalanche of options of simpler versions you can choose from. While some of these translations aim to be more precise and are best suited for Bible study, others aim at readability and are ideal for devotion.
If you are a beginner who is interested in understanding the bible, then the New Living Translation (NLT) or the study bible in the English Standard Version (ESV) or the New International Version (NIV) would do.
While the NLT version of the Bible is more readable and more literal in translation, the Study Bible version is rich with footnotes that explain difficult-to-understand scriptures.
2. ASK GOD TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND
If you are interested in reading the bible, then you believe in God. Before you start reading, you can ask the Lord to help you understand. That is one of the (numerous) reasons God sent the Holy Spirit to direct and show us the truth.
In John 16:13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.“
After you have read your Bible, ask that the Lord show you how to live what you have just read.
3. READ FOR ABOUT FIVE MINUTES A DAY
Reading through the Bible in a year no doubt intimidates many of us. So, if you are not currently reading your Bible, you may start by reading it for only five minutes a day. Of course, you may miss a day, don’t worry! Pick right up, where you left off.
Do not read your Bible like it is something you just have to mark out of your to-do list. Instead, read it to learn more about the Lord.
4. YOU DON’T HAVE TO START FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BIBLE.
The Bible as you may have known contains 66 separate books that are combined into one book. The first 39 books (which are of the Old Testament) are the stories of God and His people. This includes all that happened before the Messiah, Jesus came. And then, the next 27 books (of the New Testament) begin with the story of the birth of Jesus.
For someone new to the Bible, the Gospel of John is the best place to start. This book (which is, by the way, the fourth book of the New Testament) is John’s account of the life of Jesus. This is an eye witness account. And as one of the closest disciples to Jesus, John’s account isn’t only compelling but, also informative.
The purpose of John’s writing is to help us believe and this makes it an ideal place to start.
These are my suggested ways over the past few years on how you can begin. You may choose your own on how to start but don’t stop!