The beginning of a New Year is an excellent time to try something new. As you make your list of resolutions and goals I want to recommend adding a simple four step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind.
- After reading the entire post the vast majority of readers will snicker at such a hyperbolic claim and never implement the method I outline. (They better should continue reading HERE!)
- A smaller number will consider the advice intriguing, my assertion only a slight exaggeration, but will also never implement the method.
- A tiny minority, however, will recognize the genius behind the process and apply it to their own life. This group will later say that my claim was an understatement. — This post is written for those people.
My hope is that at least one other person will follow this advice and experience the same transformative effect of this plan.
Before I reveal the four steps I want to reiterate that while the advice could transform your life, it likely will not. As with most life-altering advice, it is simple, easy to implement, and even easier to ignore. Statistically speaking, the odds are great that you’ll ignore this advice. But a handful of you will try it so for the one or two people who will find this useful, the four steps that will transform your worldview are:
- Choose a book of the Bible.
- Read it in its entirety.
- Repeat step #2 twenty times.
- Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.
Christians often talk about having a Biblical worldview yet most have only a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible. They attempt to build a framework without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. The benefits of following this process should therefore be obvious. By fully immersing yourself into the text you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your understanding of each book and knowledge of the Bible as a whole.
This method is adapted from a book by James M. Gray (1851-1935), How to Master the English Bible. Rather than wasting time attempting to defend the wisdom of applying this method, I’ll close with a few helpful suggestions for putting it into practice:
1. Choose shorter books and work up to longer ones. Since you’ll be reading an entire book of the Bible and not just a chapter or two, you’ll want to work your way up to more extensive readings. When beginning this program you may want to start with a short book that has only a few chapters that can be read several times in one sitting. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help develop the reading habit. For example, a short book like John or Jude can be read four or five times in one sitting allowing you to finish the entire twenty readings in less than a week. [NT books, shortest to longest: 3 John, 2 John, Phlm, Jude, Titus, 2Thess, Rev, 2 Peter, 2 Tim, 1Thess, Col, 1 Tim, Phil, 1 Peter, James, 1 John, Gal, Eph, 2 Cor, Heb, 1 Cor, Rom, Mark, John, Matt, Acts, Luke; OT books, shortest to longest: See this chart.]
2. Read at your normal pace. Treating the material reverently does not require reading at a slower than normal speed. Read for comprehension, ignoring the division of chapters and verses and treating each book as one coherent unit.
3. Skip the commentaries (for now). Don’t get bogged down by referring to commentaries or other outside sources. Commentaries are for your Bible study, rather than for this synthetic reading. Read each book in its entirety and then attempt to summarize in your own words its theme and major points.
4. Stick with the process. After the eighth or ninth reading you’ll hit a wall that is similar to what runners face in marathons. The text will become dry and lose its flavor. You’ll want to move on to the next book or abandon the program altogether. Stick with it. Persevere and you’ll discover the treasures that repeated readings can provide. Keep in mind that not every book will be equally rewarding. It doesn’t mean that you’re a heretic if during one of your readings you find 2 John a bit redundant or Jude just plain boring. Keep in mind the words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17: „All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.“ Stick with it and you’ll fully understand the truth of that verse.
5. Choose an appropriate version. A modern language paraphrase is not an appropriate version for synthetic reading. I recommend the NKJV or the ESV as a suitable alternative.
6. Pray. Ask God to open your heart to his Word. Trust the Holy Spirit to illuminate the text and provide guidance and understanding.
7. Begin today. Don’t put it off another day. Don’t say you’ll start tomorrow, or next week, or next New Year’s. You won’t. Start with the only time that you are guaranteed — today. Use some of the time you’d normally spend reading blogs to begin this program. Start now and then tomorrow, next week, or next New Year’s Day — after your mind has become saturated with God’s Holy Word — you can tell me my claim was an understatement
(according to: Joe Carter, How to change your mind)
Which one will you use?
- The Bible: The Only Infallible Rule of Faith — J.C. Ryle
- The Christian’s Only Offensive Weapon — Charles Hodge
- Studying Scripture with Reverence
- How to Study the Bible (Parts 1 and 2) — John MacArthur
- The Word of God and Sanctification — Charles Spurgeon
- How to Study the Bible — J.C. Ryle
- God’s Word and Spiritual Growth — A.W. Pink
- Perspicuity of the Scriptures: The Right of Private Judgment — Charles Hodge
- Follow God’s Word, Not Your Impressions and Intuitions — Charles Spurgeon
- A Passion for the Truth of God’s Word — John MacArthur
- The Importance of Doctrine for Christian Living — Sinclair Ferguson
- Rules of Bible Interpretation — Charles Hodge
- The Decline in Spiritual Maturity and How to Recover Discernment — John MacArthur
- Profiting From The Word by A.W. Pink
- Christian: Be Much Alone with God — Horatius Bonar
- The Bible and Sanctification — Charles Spurgeon
- Christians: Let Us Meditate On, Talk About, And Live By The Bible — J.C. Ryle
- The Relevance of Theology — John MacArthur
- The Importance of Reading Commentaries — Charles Spurgeon
- “Weak Doctrine Produces Weak Lives” — Iain Murray
- The 10 Best Online Study Resources — Nathan Busenitz