Posted by: gmscan | June 30, 2010

Reading the Bible, Part One

It is presumptuous of me to be writing about this. Just about every person reading these words knows more about the Bible than I do. Not to mention two thousand years worth of theologians, clergy, scholars, and dedicated laypersons who have studied every dot and tiddle, not only in English, but in the original Greek and Hebrew.

I know there are ferocious arguments about which version(s) of the Bible are legitimate and which are poisoned by contemporary wishful thinking. The intensity of these arguments is frightening both for the passion involved and the esoteric language used that has little meaning for me as a layman.

It is all, frankly, enough to scare a fellow off from making the effort.

But I don’t think God wants me to stop. He worked hard to get my attention. I don’t think I have the right to ignore that tapping on my shoulder. I think I am obligated to listen to Him.

I’ve decided to ignore all of the frenzy and ask God for guidance in learning His word. Every evening I pray for His help and ask Him to light the way for me. Then I read until I fall asleep.

My pastor recommended The Reformation Study Bible, and that is what I have been reading. I like it a lot. The editors are humble in their work and they are candid about the difficulty of translating ancient Greek into modern English. They explain when there are differences between scholars on the meaning of a passage or the historical context of a particular Book.

As I say, I don’t know anything. I am like a toddler, wobbly on my feet and afraid of falling. But every day I get stronger and more confident in my faith.

I decided to start with Acts of the Apostles. I had a pretty good handle on the life and sayings of Jesus from scripture readings at church services over the years, but I knew next to nothing about what happened after the resurrection. In a time of poor communication and transportation, how did the word of Christ spread to become the dominant faith in the Western world? I had no idea.

For me this was an excellent place to start. This is a joyous book.  Luke describes it all in pretty matter-of-fact terms. He is specific about who was involved in each event, how many people were there to witness it, and he quotes each participant in detail. If this were a court of law, Luke would be the star witness. You can feel the excitement of the time as the Apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit and minister to many thousands. They encounter much of the same resistance from the authorities that killed Jesus but now the Word of God is spreading so quickly and so far that it is impossible to contain.

Next Time, the conversion of Saul



  1. Acts is a great book. It inspired us to start the Acts 4 Project in central NJ where Christians returned to the early church concept of helping each other in need. Insurance is in such disarray in this country and it seems like only the administrators and politicians are making out well. If we get back to basics and the Church acts like the early Church, we will be so much better off.

  2. So pleased that you are reading the Bible. My husband and I along with our congregation are re-reading the New Testament this summer. Our Bible study group on Tuesday evenings in doing an in depth study of Revelation. Fascinating. I didin’t know if you were aware of a youth program called Missionettes and Royal Rangers. It is a girls and boys program that combines teaching in the Bible to day-to -ay activities. Think Christian scouts program. Youngsters memorize scripture, earn badges for learning basic skills in areas such as cooking, baking, horseback riding, camping, computer, etc. They study the journeys of Paul, memorize the ten commandments and write papers on basic tenants of the Christian faith. By the time that they have completed the program at around age 13, they will have read the entire Bible, giving them a strong Christian foundation. As a certified Missionette coordinator, it was my pleasure to “graduate” young ladies from this program. How different would our society be if more young people were involved in a learning program like this. Always enjoy reading your posts about your journey.

    • Beverly,

      What a wonderful concept and opportunity you have to see these children blossom in their Christian understanding and belief.

      I agree with Aleta and you: all we need is Christ actively in our lives. Could be that our nation could be very different–healthy, happy, satisfied– that would we would not need government intervention except for the initial responsibilities given it by the Constitution via God.

      Greg, I am so pleased you have comitted to this “call”. I continue to learn from each of your posts. Thank you so much, and my God continue to bless you!

  3. Greg,

    I’d definitely recommend at some point looking to the giants of the faith for understanding of church history and concepts such as double predestination, etc, etc, but any of this does not provide the same critical sustenance that regular bible study does. What is remarkable to me is only the scriptures through the Spirit allow us to recognize the extent of our own depravity and God’s mercy. There’s definitely no substitute.

  4. Speaking of “one step” journeys, if you have not read Pilgrim’s Progress, or it has been awhile I highly recommend reading or re-reading the work by Bunyan. What a journey!

    Bob Shupe

  5. So glad to find new friends on this journey. Since God doesn’t seem to talk to me directly or thru burning bushes I have to believe He talks to me through those He puts in my life each day. If I listen without prejudice – as a small child – I may learn something.
    Bible study is most enjoyable for me in a small group setting but learning has to be continuous. Weekly readings for Sunday’s service prepare me to pay attention. I generally start my day by readings out of the Bible. Then I spend some time in quiet reflection after the daily reading out of the daily meditation book “God Calling” by Two Listeners.
    As Paul said, in all things through prayer and thanksgiving make my requests known to God. That tells me worship is a state of mind, not an event to attend.
    I’ve heard people refer to Luke as the most beautiful book ever written. A great place to linger.

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