The first time I read through the entire Bible, I was about 15 years old. I had heard several competing spiritual points of view, and I was confused. Which was right?

That’s when I decided the only way to know for sure was to read the Bible myself. I couldn’t take my beliefs from my church, parents, or anyone else. My faith had to be my own, and that’s also when it was turned upside down.

Through the exciting stories of scripture, I saw the wrath of a God whose standard was perfection, and the mercy of that same God who cared enough to endure all the world’s pain and sorrow in order to have fellowship with His people.

The Old and New Testaments fit so clearly together. For the first time I understood the declaration of Christ that He “did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it” (Matthew 5:17).

Uncommon Knowledge

Through the years, I’ve been surprised by how many strong Christians I know who haven’t read all of the Bible. They’ve read bits and pieces, of course. They may even have large passages memorized. But the whole thing … not so much.

Like a puzzle, you can’t see the whole picture with a few pieces at a time. God hasn’t provided a box top, so the only way to see the big picture is to read the whole Bible.

A couple of close friends confessed to me not long ago that they had never read the Bible. Both of these women are God-fearing, ministry outreach kind of girls! I thought both of them were biblical scholars.

One said, “I’m a New Testament girl. In the house where I grew up, my dad didn’t want us to read the Old Testament and get caught up in keeping the old law.”

After reading through the Old Testament, however, she was delighted to see how knowledge of the old law gave her a brand-new appreciation for the new.

What’s in it for Me?

I think most believers understand the importance of the use and meditation of scripture. In this battleground of life, the Word of God is a sword (Ephesians 6:17) which helps us fight spiritual battles—tests of faith, like miscarriage, divorce, or an unexpected death. God’s word is the weapon, and we must learn to wield it.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The knowledge of scripture is our greatest defense against the lies of the devil, so the more we know of God’s word, the more skilled we will be at discernment.

Once I was involved in a debate with a Muslim-born man who become a deist after moving to the United States. He was familiar with the Bible but deceived by false beliefs about Christianity. But I was familiar with the entirety of scripture, both the New and Old Testaments and their relationship, and so I was able to present the truth to this person.

What’s worse, without a proper view and voice of scripture to oppose his views, this man’s arguments might have made sense enough to deceive others who were listening. In our culture of truth seekers, the only ways to answer the tough questions is to be familiar with the Bible.

Breaking it Down

The New Year is a great time to start reading the Bible. If you’ve read it before, then read it again. It’s the greatest piece of literature ever given to mankind.

The Bible is an action story, a historic biography, a love letter. It’s a light in the darkness to direct our paths; it’s a map to keep us on the straight and narrow road; it’s an encyclopedia to tell us the who, what, why, and hows of life. And best of all, it’s living—it doesn’t matter how many times you explore its pages, you will always read something new.

Perhaps you’ve never read the whole Bible because you don’t know how to begin. One method is to start with the book of John and read the rest of the New Testament. After that, read Psalms and Proverbs. And then read the Old Testament, beginning with Genesis.

Other methods have been developed, including a daily reading schedule that will guide you through the Bible in a year. Check out the YouVersion Bible app on your smart phone. All it really takes is determination.

But be prepared for change. You won’t be the same person when you finish. It fills your heart with peace, love, and compassion, wisdom and discernment. And you’ll feel satisfied, having drank living water and eaten the bread of life.

Reading the whole Bible will change your life, maybe even burn it to the ground. But it will also give you power and intimacy with God that makes your heart so full it can’t help but spill over to the whole world.

Read the whole Bible and embark on the greatest journey of your life.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Sabrina McDonald