10 Books Every Christian Needs to Read Series
by Larry Stout
#1 - THE BIBLE
Yes, this seems extremely obvious, but the truth of the matter that the vast majority of Christians have never actually read the Bible cover to cover. Yes, on New Year’s Day, many of us pick up one of those “Read thru the Bible in a Year” outlines and start pecking away at it. We are rolling for maybe a week or so, but then we get behind, tell ourselves we will “catch up on the weekend,” but then, sooner or later, we just give up.
The truth of matter is the reason why we have difficulty reading the Bible is because, for the vast majority of us, it is difficult to read! We get frustrated that we don’t know what we are reading. But take heart, there is help.
For those who just cannot seem to even get started, then resort to reading a paraphrased edition of the Bible. Since the original Scriptures were written in Hebrew and Greek, everything we read is a translation. However, a paraphrase is more of a retelling, in a sense, a thought-for-thought rather than a word-for-word. Two popular paraphrases are The Living Bible and The Message. They are useful for getting the general idea, but a true disciple of Christ should seek to get closer to the true Word itself by using a good translation such as the ESV (English Standard Version), the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible), or the NASB (New American Standard Bible).
Even better, try reading from a good study Bible. There are a vast number that have come out in recent years, but the overall best from my standpoint is the ESV Study Bible. It has good book introductions and explanations for each section of Scripture passages. Best of all, it is very evangelically sound in its exposition.
A good study guide to go along with a good reading Bible is also a good idea! Many years ago, when I first set down to study the Bible, the book that made it all come together for me was Henrietta Mears’ What the Bible is All About. This book has been around since forever (no really, it just seems that way), and the reason why it has not gone out of print for over half a century is because Mears is so clear and the book so easy to understand. Each book of the Bible is outlined carefully and Mears is especially excellent in pointing the entire Bible toward Jesus. It also includes maps and other guides that make it one of the best all-time Bible handbooks every written.
For those who might want something more deeper and richer, How to Read the Bible Book by Book by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart is an excellent resource. It is meant to be a companion piece to their book How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth. Not necessarily an easy read as it discusses the study of hermeneutics and exegesis (the study of how to interpret Scripture by viewing the narrative through the proper lens), it is a good introduction to this important subject of knowing how to properly understand Scripture. This is critical in this day and age as too many simply grab a verse and build a doctrine around it. Reading Fee and Stuart provide a great tool for knowing the proper way to interpret the Bible.
In conclusion, read the Bible! There is no substitute. God chose to reveal Himself in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, but the reason we know this to be true is because of the written record that is left for us. Be like those who heard Paul in Berea, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)