I’m looking for a little guidance in getting closer to God with respect to reading the Bible.
What was your approach as a “new Christian?”
I feel it’s time to really jump into the Word and am just kind of unsure of where to start. I am confused as to what verses or sections to start first.
If you are a new Christian or have come to the point where you realize how critical it is to immerse yourself in the Word of God, these are some great questions.
It’s been almost 8 years since I first started to read my Bible. In that time, I’ve done a lot of experimenting and wrestling with what is sustainable, effective and worthwhile. With the next two posts, I hope to share some things that have maximized what I get out of my daily Bible readings.
In this first post, I want to share two different approaches Bible reading that I feel should be blended together to form a well-rounded Bible reading strategy or plan.
I’m going to use a visual from Genesis to help illustrate the two approaches. Keep in mind this is just a visual, so please don’t make a doctrine out of it. ;)
The next post will be more practical and talk about some ways to implement that strategy.
So without further ado, the visual …
Tree of Life
Genesis 3:22 (NIV)
22 […] He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
Living forever. The tree of life are the things that will make an eternal difference. Namely, a transformation of your insides. Replacing your old self with the new self. One that loves, lives and serves like Jesus.
When you read the Bible not just for reading sake, God is able to make it come alive in your current life and situation.
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Reading the Bible as if it were the tree of life is what allows God to bring hope, encouragement and strength into our lives. If we’re struggling, it penetrates deep within our hearts to offer comfort. It reflects who we are and who God wants us to be. It changes us from our old, carnal selves to new, eternally-minded and outward focused servants of Jesus Christ.
It is the kind of reading that will produce changes in our action, behavior and attitudes fitting of being called a disciple of Christ.
Tree of Knowledge
Genesis 3:6 (NIV)
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree [of the knowledge of good and evil] was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom […]
Knowledge is good. It feeds into wisdom. The Bible talks a lot about seeking wisdom and knowledge (check out Proverbs) and meditating on the Word of God and its commands (read Psalms).
But you can’t gain wisdom/knowledge or meditate on the Word if you’re not reading it. Reading the Bible for the tree of knowledge is simply gaining exposure (reading just to read). To familiarize yourself with the main characters, stories and teachings of the Bible.
With each read through of the Bible, you lay a stronger foundation. You become more familiar with the main principles of the Bible and eventually God is able to use those commands, stories and parables you’ve planted to bear fruit.
You will begin to live your life unconsciously by the Word of God.
Here’s a different way to look at the two trees.
Tree of Life: Reading for the here and now. Is God speaking anything to your current situation in life? In how you’re living your life?
Tree of Knowledge: Reading for the future. Planting seeds so that God has stuff he can remind you of later when you (or someone else) need it.
For example, you might remember the story of how God wanted Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. So you go back and read it again. But this time, instead of just being a story … it comes alive and speaks to what you’re going through right now.
Anyway, in my next post I’ll share my current Bible reading strategy which incorporates elements of both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge.