In reading only certain parts of the Bible, we limit our view of the big story that God has written. Many feel more comfortable staying within the New Testament because it seems less daunting and easier to understand. But the reality is that we cannot fully grasp the New Testament, in all its gospel-wonder, apart from reading the Old. If we limit ourselves to certain books, we read the Bible with tunnel vision and do not see what we are reading in light of the whole.
As I set aside my Bible reading plan this year in favor of soaking in shorter passages, I realized that I didn’t need to choose between the two—nor did I want to! The benefits and joy of journeying the entire way through God’s salvation story are too good to miss, so I decided to do both.
Last year was the first time I had used a pre-made reading schedule (pdf courtesy of Ligonier Ministries), and it was helpful in numerous ways. I’d encourage you to go through the entire Bible for these 17 reasons:
1. You’ll know God better.
You’ve heard the expression, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Well, none of us can know God sufficiently without traversing the whole of his very Word. A grace-filled means that we can know God, spend time with him, hear from him, pursue his work and ways, and draw near to him is through reading the whole of Scripture. God has breathed out his Word (Hebrews 4:12); he reveals his power through it (Matthew 22:29); and he shows us his Son, to whom all Scripture points (Luke 24:27). You’ll know God better as you enjoy the whole of his perfect Word.
2. You’ll know yourself better.
Pastor Kevin DeYoung clarifies an important point once made by John Calvinwhen he writes, “Know God. Know yourself. Know yourself to know your need of God. Know God to know you are not gods.” How does this knowledge of self happen? By opening our Bibles and by first seeking to know our God through his Holy Spirit-inspired pages. The Bible is not about us, but it does tell us about ourselves. When we seek to know God through his Word, only then do we have an accurate picture of who we are as weak, needy, once-dead sinners who were spared by God’s mercy, rescued by his grace, and raised to new life through his Son’s work and his Spirit’s power.
3. You’ll see how the whole Bible points to Jesus.
The entire Bible is about Jesus Christ, and points to him all the way through. But the only way to see Jesus Christ in all of Scripture is to read all of Scripture! What a benefit and blessing it is to behold Jesus, our Prophet, through the prophetic books of the Old Testament; to worship Jesus, our King, through 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and the Gospels; and to draw near to God through Jesus, our High Priest, as foretold in Leviticus and Numbers and understood in full through Hebrews. Read the entire Bible to love and delight in Christ, your Lord and Savior!
4. You’ll be more in awe of the gospel.
Along with seeing how all of Scripture points to Christ, you will more clearly grasp God’s plan of salvation for sinners through his Son. Not only is Jesus foretold in the Old Testament, his gospel-work is foretold, which God planned in accordance with his pleasure and will before time began (Ephesians 1:3-5). The gospel is not a reactive plan that God thought up to “fix” what had gone sour because of sin; the gospel is God’s sovereign, eternal plan to show forth his glory and create a chosen people for his own possession. God’s will has always been the gospel, and we see this more fully when we read the entire Bible.
5. You’ll build an eternally significant habit.
To read the entire Bible is to exercise intention and use self-discipline. This is no small feat, but it becomes routine once you make the commitment and repeat the habit consistently.