In my experience with thousands of believers over the years, I have found that this is a necessary instruction.

Many new believers have tried to fulfill the injunction to read their Bible in a year. Most fall short and quit somewhere at the ‘begats’ of Genesis 5. They come to me or their pastor and say, “I can’t understand the Bible.”

Of course not!

Would it not be better to put people on the course Jesus described in John 8:31-32?
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Where do we find the words of Jesus?
They are in the New Testament.
Genesis is not in the New Testament.

The words of Jesus are in the Gospels.

The Apostle Paul did not write any of the Gospels. He wrote epistles (letters) to the various churches with whom he was related. He gave good instruction, but these do not contain the words of Jesus.

If we are to continue in HIS word, then it is necessary that we know the words He spoke. Yes, there is a place for understanding that the entire Bible is His Word; but that is not the beginning place for us.

The first thing one should do is to become intimately familiar with the Gospels.

By “intimately familiar” I mean that you should be able to “think your way through” an entire gospel. You should be able to recall the major events and teachings in any section of the gospel that you are learning.

For instance, if I am learning Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount is in 5-7. The teaching on the Last Days is found in 24. The parable of the sower is found in 13. That is the kind of ‘thinking through’ I am speaking of. I didn’t gain this knowledge by memorizing those concepts.

How do you get to that place of knowledge?

                               And then read some more.

When the Lord was first calling me into the ministry, I was reading the Gospel of Matthew every day all day, sometimes 4 or 5 times a day. I was not doing much study at this time. I was reading and becoming familiar with what Jesus taught.

When I would be called on to teach during this time, I would teach from Matthew.

Yet, our ministry grew. People were being added to the Lord on a regular basis. I did not teach from the whole Bible on a particular theme. The Lord would use what I was learning from my reading of Matthew to minister to the needs of His people.

And the Holy Spirit was ministering to me from Matthew, causing me to grow.

The Lord will do the same for you and anyone who will take the time to completely immerse themselves in the Word.

Think about what I just said.

Immerse yourself in the Word.

Yet, I am not suggesting that you need to read the entire Bible. But, I am suggesting that you read.
A lot.

Then, after you become familiar with at least one of the Gospels, read the remaining three. I would suggest that you read each one at least three times before moving on to the next Gospel.

Next, read Acts to learn how a group of men who followed the Lord’s teachings turned the world upside down.

After this, read the Revelation one time for fun. Everyone wants to know what is going to happen in the end times, and they think this book will give them that insight.

So, read it.
Don’t exercise yourself with trying to understand this profound book.
Then put it aside and read Galatians through Colossians.

Paul’s letters to these churches were written to correct early error that was creeping into the churches and to let believers know who they are in Christ.

These are magnificent writings that any believer would do well to devour much the same as the Gospels.

Become very familiar with these letters.

Now, depending on how much time you spend reading each day, you have probably been reading almost a year; and while you have not read anything from the Old Testament, you are becoming so familiar with the New Testament that your life is changing. And you haven’t even tried to change anything!! It just happened.
This is the power of the Word. (Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 2:2)
You will eventually get to the rest of the Bible, but for now just try to learn what God is saying to you about how you should live. He will use His Word to minister to you if you will “hide it in your heart.” (Psalms 119:11)

Now go back and read the Gospels again.

Then read the General Epistles (James – Jude).
Next, try to make your way through Hebrews just once.
Now, go back and read the Gospel that you are thinking your way through.

You are now ready to tackle Paul’s ‘Summa Theologica’, his great theology contained in the Epistle to the Romans. Read it without judging it or trying to apply any of his thoughts to your life.

What I mean is to read it quickly the first time. This is a book that you need to become familiar with much like your chosen Gospel.

Resist the temptation to get a commentary for this book.
Wait until you are developing a little of your own ‘theology’ before you begin trying to understand another’s.

After you have spent some time with Romans, go back and read your chosen Gospel again.

Now read the remaining epistles, but not Hebrews. Save this book for last as one to read slowly. Hebrews shows how the entire OT speaks to us of Jesus and will prepare you for any perusal of this section of the Bible.

There you have it. A Bible reading plan that does not get you through the Bible in a year. In fact, depending on the speed with which you read, it may take you two years to do just this much. You haven't even gone into the Old Testament yet.

I promise you, though, that if you will do this, your life will not be the same. You will be much further along in your growth than those who insist on reading the Bible through in a year.

The Lord is after the quality of a changed life, not how many words one can read in a year. Quality—not quantity. That is the Lord’s desire. Make it your desire also.

If you follow this plan, then I do not need to guide you the rest of the way. You will have learned how to listen to the Lord. You will have learned how to discern His will for you. You will know what He wants you to do next.

Maybe now you are ready to begin reading the Old Testament.

Before we get into that, I would like to make an addendum to what has been said about reading the New Testament.

If you have the time each day while you are becoming familiar with the NT in the pattern outlined above, then I would recommend adding only one thing from the OT on a daily basis.

Because you are learning what it means to live as a Christian, it would be a benefit to know some of the practices that God would have you develop in your life. There are aspects of character that also need to be incorporated into our being.

The practical application of Proverbs will help tremendously. There is a simple way to help make this happen.

There are 31 chapters in the Book of Proverbs, one for each day of the month. If you have the time, read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the month. Do this every day, and you will read this practical book through 12 times in one year.

With that kind of exposure you cannot help but become more knowledgeable about what God expects of you.

There is no need to spend time trying to figure out what is meant. The book is highly practical, and very plain. Besides, just reading in the Word will have its effect upon your life.

As stated earlier, that is the power of the Word. (Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 2:2)

Becoming familiar with the OT is much more challenging than gaining familiarity with the New. There is much more in just the sheer volume of words. There is also the aspect of it being originally written for the Hebrews. It is simply more difficult. But, it is not impossible.

The OT can be divided into the Law, the Prophets (Major and Minor), Wisdom (or, Poetry), and History.

When one comes to the Lord from a life of sin, of doing one's own thing, there is no better place to begin in the OT than with the books of wisdom: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Job.

It would not hurt at all to become as familiar with these books as you did with the Gospels. That will be one of the benefits of following a chapter a day in Proverbs.

After you have spent some time with these books, you are ready to begin reading other parts of the Old Testament. Read Genesis and then Isaiah. After this read Exodus followed by Ezekiel or Jeremiah.

Now that you are adding another part of the Bible to your daily Bible reading, you will be reading shorter sections of each selection. Do not neglect reading from the New Testament on a regular basis during this time.

Add the books of Samuel along with Daniel and some of the minor prophets. The Minor Prophets are those which follow after Daniel.

Continue on in this fashion until you have read most of the OT at least once.

Again, we are not trying to complete this in a year or any other specified time-frame. We are simply trying to become familiar with the Word of God.

You are probably wondering when you will get into some actual Bible study.

What you may not realize is that you have been doing that all along.

Without strain, without struggle, without conscious effort, you have been learning what it is that God desires of you. Check it out. See if your life is not being changed for the better.

  • Have you done the one thing that most people recommend? No.
  • Have you been doing what Jesus recommended? Yes.
  • Are you doing what the psalmist recommended? (Psalm 119:11) Yes.
  • Can you do any better than to follow what is recommended in the very book you are trying to learn? No.

I promise you that this will serve you better than any attempt to read the Bible through in a year. That approach usually ends up on a To Do List and is something that easily gets checked off as 'done.' It may give a feeling of accomplishment, but has little lasting value.

Print this list out and put it in your bible for easy reference.
1.) Choose one Gospel as your favorite to become familiar with
2.) Read it over and over until you can “think” your way through it
3.) Then read each remaining Gospel at least three times
4.) Acts—one time
5.) Revelation—one time, quickly
6.) Galatians through Colossians at least three times (become VERY familiar with these epistles)
7.) Read all the Gospels again
8.) General Epistles (James through Jude)
9.) Hebrews, without trying to study it
10.) Favorite Gospel
11.) Romans (quick read; don’t stop to think; try for one sitting)
12.) Romans three times with thought and a notebook
13.) Favorite Gospel
14.) Read the remaining epistles ( 1 & 2 Corinthians; 1 & 2 Thessalonians; 1 & 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon)
15.) Hebrews three times with thought and a notebook

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