Why Read Through the Bible in a Year or More?

I say a year or more because I don’t want you to get overwhelmed by the size of the challenge. A number of people have told me that they prefer to shoot for reading through the Bible in two years, or more. While I want to encourage you to stretch to accomplish the task in a year, far better that you do it in a longer period of time than not at all.

It has been my practice to read according to a plan for covering Genesis to Revelation in a year for the last ten years. Few disciplines have more thoroughly shaped my spiritual life. I plead with you – pick up a copy of the plan at church this Sunday or access one of the several alternate approaches you can download on line or get a subscription to Tabletalk Magazine which includes a plan in its daily devotional or purchase a Bible organized for daily readings that take you through it in a year. Just do something in this regard. It will change your life!

In case you need convincing about this, I submit to you sixteen biblical reasons for giving yourself to reading through the Bible in a year.

  1. All Scripture is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16). Inspired means breathed out. It comes from God Himself to us as a gift. We dare not neglect any portion of the sacred text.
  2. That same Scripture in entirety equips us for a life of good works (2 Tim. 3:17).
  3. That same Scripture in entirety leads us to a proper knowledge and experience of the gift of salvation and the eternal life it bestows (Phil. 2:16; 2 Tim. 3:15; Jas. 1:21; 1 Pet. 1:23).
  4. The Word of God is His appointed means for fighting sin, Satan, and temptation in the spiritual warfare that constantly assaults us (Matt. 4:1-1; Eph. 6:17).
  5. Scripture pierces the heart with Holy Spirit conviction to purify thoughts, intentions, and motives of the heart (Heb. 4:12).
  6. Scripture conveys to us the grace of God and helps to build us up in our most holy faith (Acts 20:32; Jude 21).
  7. The Word of God is the means whereby God sanctifies us – sets us apart for His use and purposes (John 17:17; Eph. 5:26). It provides the spiritual nourishment whereby we may grow with respect to our glorious salvation (1 Pet. 2:2).
  8. Scripture keeps us from the peril of spiritual error (Matt. 22:29).
  9. The Bible charts out for us the path to true blessing and happiness (Luke 11:28).
  10. Scripture fosters faith and counters unbelief (John 20:31; Rom. 10:17).
  11. The Word clothes us with a nobility similar to the Bereans who searched the Scriptures DAILY (Acts 17:11).
  12. God’s Word transforms the mind in such a way to make a powerful antidote for being squeezed into the world’s mold (Rom. 12:2).
  13. Scripture increases patience, comfort, and perseverance in the testing that comes with trials (Rom. 15:4).
  14. The Bible sets apart the everyday gifts of God like food and sex by informing our understanding of the proper use of such things (1 Tim. 4:5).
  15. The Scriptures act as a preserving agent keeping us from the disaster of apostasy and spiritual shipwreck (Heb. 2:1-3).
  16. The Bible yields to us the exceedingly precious promises of God whereby we may become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).

There are probably more. But you get the point. Oh how many benefits come to us by the discipline of daily reading the Scriptures! If you make any resolution for 2011 I pray it would be this one. Take up and read through the entire Bible this year.

A Reflection on Rainbows

Driving out of Hell’s Canyon (of all places) the other day our fishing party came upon this stunning scene in the foothills above.

The digital photo hardly does justice to the impact upon the eyewitness.

Immediately I remembered the account in Genesis 9 of God’s covenant promise to Noah, following the great flood, never again to destroy the world by water.

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

I thanked the Lord quietly for that most certain promise.

Upon returning to Central Florida I got to thinking about that picture I took and this text of Scripture and did a little more digging. Turns out the rainbow image, a thing of stunning beauty to be sure, shows up again on the other end of the Bible in Rev. 4:1-3.

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.

Spurgeon made the connection for me by raising a question:

Is it straining the allegory, is it carrying it too far, if I close this spiritualizing by observing that the very same security which God then gave to Noah and his descendants is that security under which we stand? He gave them a Covenant—a Covenant embellished with a Divine symbol and ratified with His own signature written out in all the colors of beauty. We, too, stand under a Covenant which has its own faithful witness in Heaven, more transcendently illustrious and beautiful than the rainbow—the Person of Christ Jesus our Lord.

So the one covenant of unsurpassed beauty points to another of even greater significance, the New Covenant of Christ and His shed blood which seals the promise that we shall never perish but live forever.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.

Battle for the Bible (CRI National Conference)

The Christian Research Institute will hold its 2010 national conference, Battle for the Bible, from May 6-8 in Tampa, Florida.

Here is a brief description of the event’s components from the conference director:

Our event starts on Thursday evening May 6th for a special National Day of Prayer service with Dr. James White, Hank Hanegraaff, Lee Strobel, Steve Camp, Joe Hancock and Steve Kreloff.  It will be an evening blessed with incredible worship and corporate prayer. Friday May 7th begins with James White, Hank Hanegraaff, Lee Strobel, and Steve Kreloff and ends with the “Is the Bible True” debate.  Saturday May 8th is a strong day of conference and worship with Joe Hancock, James White, Lee Strobel, Hank Hanegraff, and Dr. Tom Ascol.  The program will conclude at 8PM.
Our congregation has been granted 100 free tickets, first-come-first-served, to the conference. Click on the website here and when you register use the code GEN300 and you will get in for free. Pretty sweet.

He Gives Snow Like Wool

Images like this make me deliriously glad I live in the tropics. At least in February.

Still we have endured our share of cold this winter in Florida. Several times lately I’ve asked various people with tongue in cheek, “When will the Lord turn the heater back on around here?”

The statement belies correct theology as evidenced by a passage like Psalm 147:12-20.

12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules. 
Praise the Lord!

Among the things the psalmist cites for reasons to give praise to God he includes the commands of His word in swift providence that send snow like wool and cold before which no one can stand. Those same snows melt when and only when He sends out His word for that purpose.

Praise God for the cold, the snow, the frost, the wind, the rains. None of them comes apart from the issuance of His word.

As wondrous as that truth is, it’s not all the truth nor the only reason to praise. God sends out His word not just as creator and sustainer of the earth but as redeemer and revealer to His people. Verse 19 says He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. No other people enjoy such a privilege according to v. 20. This is indeed reason to praise the Lord. He has given His people His word. He has revealed His truth — truth that sets us free, free indeed (John 8:32).

Charles Spurgeon wrote in his masterpiece, The Treasury of David:

He who is the Creator is also the Revealer. We are to praise the Lord above all things for his manifesting himself to us as he does not unto the world. Whatever part of his mind he discloses to us, whether it be a word of instruction, a statute of direction, or a judgment of government, we are bound to bless the Lord for it. He who causes summer to come in the place of winter has also removed the coldness and death from our hearts by the power of his word, and this is abundant cause for singing unto his name. As Jacob’s seed of old were made to know the Lord, even so are we ill these latter days; wherefore, let his name be magnified among us. By that knowledge Jacob is ennobled into Israel, and therefore let him who is made a prevailing prince in prayer be also a chief musician in praise. The elect people were bound to sing hallelujahs to their own God. Why were they so specially favoured if they did not, above all others, tell forth the glory of their God?

So as we gather together tomorrow on the Lord’s Day, let us give thanks to the Lord and praise Him for His word that gives snow like wool and truth like keys that open sin’s prison doors and sets the captives free.

The Vain Bright Lamps of Creation


Were he to have had access to modern technology and therefore able to view the likes of Saturn in this photo would John Calvin have referred to it, though stunningly bright and glorious, still vain in some respect?

Absolutely. Creation, though brilliantly putting the glory of God on display, especially in the far reaches of the universe, serves only to leave man without excuse as to God’s existence. It cannot, in and of itself, lead man to a personal knowledge of God and rescue him from his condition of fallen sinner (Rom. 1:20).

This is why Calvin, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, speaks of the vanity, of even so many bright lamps.

In vain for us, therefore, does Creation exhibit so many bright lamps lighted up to show forth the glory of its Author. Though they beam upon us from every quarter, they are altogether insufficient of themselves to lead us into the right path. Some sparks, undoubtedly, they do throw out; but these are quenched before they can give forth a brighter effulgence. Wherefore, the apostle, in the very place where he says that the worlds are images of invisible things, adds that it is by faith we understand that they were framed by the word of God (Heb. 11:3); thereby intimating that the invisible Godhead is indeed represented by such displays, but that we have no eyes to perceive it until they are enlightened through faith by internal revelation from God (Book First, Chapter 5, No. 14).

At this Christmas Eve of 2009 are we not indeed grateful for not just the general revelation of creation, but even more so the special revelation of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ (John 1:14), and the sacred writings that are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15)?

A million Saturns on display in the universe cannot bring forth that necessary internal revelation from God which only His Son and the holy Scriptures can. The people who walked in darkness have indeed seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2)!