I’m in the third week considering the importance of reading the Bible through in a year. For the past two weeks, I’ve shared some of the general benefits and specific benefits. Today, I’m going to spend some time considering possible objections. I know you have them. I have them too. Every time I begin a Bible reading plan, I find myself apprehensive. Honestly, it’s a bit like committing to train for a marathon. I just don’t want to do it.
So, let’s take some of the objections that might be spinning around in your head (and mine) and go through them.
Objection 1: I don’t have time
I know. I know. It’s so difficult to think about adding anything into your already crammed full, struggling to survive kind of days. I feel it too. Life takes a lot of time: there’s work to be done, friends to see, books to read, and pleasures to be enjoyed. We have to be brave enough to speak this truth to ourselves:
I do not have a busyness problem. I have a belief problem.
We spend our lives on what we really believe will bring satisfaction. If it is our families, then we will make our homes the center of our world. If it is our work, we will scramble and work until all hours of the night to get it done. If it is our comforts, we will seek food, vacations, entertainment, and pleasures to try and fill ourselves. We are thirsty creatures seeking satisfaction. We take a drink from whatever fount we most believe will give us relief.
You need Jesus. Fight for time with Him. Believe that He is the One thing needed and trust Him for everything else. And know this…He will not make you lack in the other areas in which you long. He will fill them in such a beautiful way that you will be more joyful in your relationships, work, and comforts because you have first found your satisfaction in Him.
Objection 2: I always end up quitting and I feel like a failure
That’s OK. Perfection is not the goal. Maybe this year you’ll make it a little further than last year. And maybe next year you’ll finish. Don’t quit before you’ve already begun because you’re concerned about failure. You can do this and it’s worth every attempt.
If you’ve struggled with Bible reading plans in the past, I encourage you to grab a few friends and try to read it through together. Our assistant pastor did this with about twenty of us a few years ago. Once every few months he would check in and see how it was going and we would share with one another what we were learning and how we were doing. Just like exercise is easier when you do it with a friend, committing to a Bible reading plan is better within community. Perhaps this will be the year you’ll enjoy Bible reading more than any other. Don’t let fear of failure keep you from enjoying God in new ways.
Objection 3: Isn’t it somewhat legalistic?
Just in case you’re wondering, there is no angel in heaven with a star chart keeping record of who read his or her Bible today. God accepts you fully on the merits of Christ’s perfect obedience. If you are in Christ, you are clothed in His righteousness. You are made perfect by His blood, not by your Bible reading.
But, how am I assured of this truth? I read it in the Bible.
We don’t spend time with God so that He will love us more. We spend time in the word because we need daily reminders of His love. We don’t spend time with God so that He will show us favor. We spend time in the word because we need reminders of His favor freely given. We are forgetful creatures, trying to survive on the crumbs of the world, when He’s offered us a feast. I don’t want you to read the Bible in a year so that you will believe you’ve lived up to some sort of righteous standard. I hope you’ll read the Bible so you feast on the joy of knowing God.
However, like all relationships it takes effort. It’s normal that some days you won’t feel like reading your Bible. However, it’s no more legalistic to plan to meet with God each day than it is to plan a regular lunch date with a friend. Choosing to meet with Him daily is a faithful act of belief. We cease from our own efforts and say to ourselves: What I need more than anything else is time listening to God speak to me through His word.
Objection 4: I get bored and confused
Yes, most likely you will find yourself bored or confused somewhere along the way. I always do. Keep reading. Sometimes the slowness of the narrative suddenly awakens you to the Gospel in a new way. Or you may spend days in confusion and then a small connection with another part brings clarity. Let the confusion awaken your curiosity. True learning takes place when all seems dark. That’s why teachers always talk about seeing “the light go on” in someone’s eyes. Being in the dark is just the moment before understanding happens. Keep reading. The Spirit is your tutor and the Word is alive. God will meet you.
Objection 5: I’d rather just study one book in-depth
It’s definitely beneficial to spend some years just reading a few books of the Bible in an in-depth manner. I find it helpful to switch it up every other year. A few years ago after reading the Bible in a year, I spent six months in the book of Isaiah. After a broad bird’s eye view, it felt refreshing to delve deeply into one book. I’m not saying that we necessarily need to read the Bible in a year every year, but it is beneficial on a regular, rotating basis.
Objection 6: I already know a lot about God and the Bible
This objection is probably not one that most of us would speak out loud. However, somewhere within our hearts we hear the false whisper, You already know God, why do you need to know more about him? Our feelings of adequacy in our understanding are probably the most convincing evidence of how little we know about God. Paul (who clearly knew God) told the Philippians, “I want to know Christ” (Phil. 3:10, NIV). The most mature saints are often the ones who realize how little they know of God. They more they read, the more they exclaim, “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33).
God is the subject of all eternity and we can spend a lifetime seeking to know Him more. As John Flavel explained,
It is profound; all other sciences are but shadows; this is a boundless, bottomless ocean; no creature has a line long enough to fathom its depths; there is height, length, depth, and breadth ascribed to it, yea it passes knowledge. Eternity itself cannot fully unfold him. It is like exploring a newly discovered land; by degrees you search further and further into the heart of the country. Ah, the best of us are yet on the borders of this vast continent! The study of Jesus Christ is the noblest subject that ever a soul spent itself upon.
There is no better pursuit than knowing God. Don’t stop before you even start. Plan to make this year a year of knowing Him in new ways through His word. Next week I’ll share the system I used this past year and explain what I’ve enjoyed about it in particular. By far, it has been my favorite reading plan that I’ve followed.