I’m a new Christian... where do I start with the Bible?
Should we work straight through from Genesis to Revelation or is there a better way to read the Bible?
First of all, congratulations! It’s great that you’ve become part of God’s family. You’re about to embark on the most incredible journey of your life! However, many new Christians want to read the Bible but simply don’t know where to start. If that’s you, here are a few tips to get you off to a good start.
- Buy a Bible! If you don’t already have one, order yourself a Bible. It can be a bit confusing because there are lots of different versions, so ask a Christian for help if you’re unsure. There are Bibles designed specifically for new believers out there, or ones with handy reading plans so you have a sort of guided tour. If you’re more of a techy whizz than a bookworm, there are various online versions as well.
- Approach it prayerfully. Before you delve in, ask God to speak to you through his word. The Holy Spirit can show you things you might not have seen with your natural eyes, bringing the words to life in a way that changes your heart.
- Choose a starting point. Unlike most books, the Bible isn’t a linear narrative; it isn’t even completely chronological. This means you don’t necessarily have to start at the beginning with the book of Genesis. Often new Christians are encouraged to read the Gospels, which detail Jesus’s life, ministry, death and resurrection, to begin with. Turn to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John if you want to find out more.
- Stick at it. Some parts of the Bible are easier to read than others, but each book has something valuable to teach us. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle with lots of pieces that fit together to give us a beautiful picture of God’s relationship with humankind. If you’re finding your readings a bit dry, It may help to use a commentary to unpick some of the more difficult passages. If you get completely stuck and are on the verge of giving up, move on to a different section and return to your current reading at a later date. You may see it with fresh eyes after reading other books in the Bible.
- Put yourself in the story. Try to imagine yourself as one of the characters in the story, or as the author of a particular book. What would it have felt like to be living in that sort of cultural environment at that particular point in history? What would it have been like as a woman, orphan, ruler, religious leader, foreigner, warrior or leper? Would you have done what the people around you were doing? Would you have trusted God in that situation? Make a note of anything that jumps out at you from the text.
- Enjoy the different literary forms. The Bible includes similes, metaphors, parables, poetry, epistles, historical accounts and plenty of drama. Soak up the richness of the language and the diversity of the content. It really is a unique collection of literary delights.
- Don’t go it alone. Get in touch with other Bible-believing people who will encourage you as you read the word, helping you understand what you’re reading. If you’re not part of a church, try a few out and see where you fit in. Find out if they have a Bible study group you could join. If not, perhaps someone who has been a Christian for a long time could mentor you for a while to give you some helpful context. You may find it more enjoyable to read the Bible aloud with someone or to have them read it to you.
Reading your Bible will bring light and clarity to your life in a way that nothing else can. As Psalm 119:105 says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Keep reading it and doing what it says!