The only way to learn the story of the Bible is to read through the Bible—that is, to read through the whole Bible, and to read through the whole Bible multiple times. That sounds like a daunting task, but if you think about reading a very small amount of the Bible every day, you can manage to read through the entire Bible in one, two, or three years in very manageable chunks.
The best tool I have found to help me is the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. I have used this plan since 2000 when I first picked up D. A. Carson’s devotional guide For the Love of God, which is based on the M’Cheyne Plan. So, here’s a quick overview about how to read the whole Bible in as little as five minutes of reading a day.
How the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan Works
The full M’Cheyne Plan includes roughly four readings—and each reading is typically one chapter—every day. Each readings is in a different part of the Bible, so you are always reading a wide variety of Scripture in terms of genre, author, New Testament/Old Testament, chronology, etc.
Here are the readings from a few sample days during the year to give you a flavor:
- January 1: Genesis 1, Matthew 1, Ezra 1, Acts 1
- April 7: Leviticus 10, Psalms 11–12, Proverbs 25, 1 Thessalonians 4
- July 25: Judges 8, Acts 12, Jeremiah 21, Mark 7
- September 12: 2 Samuel 7, 2 Corinthians 1, Ezekiel 15, Psalms 56–57
- December 31: 2 Chronicles 36, Revelation 22, Malachi 4, John 21
If you read all four passages every day, you would end up reading through the New Testament and Psalms twice in a year, and the rest of the Old Testament once in a year. BUT, just because you could read all four readings every day doesn’t mean that you have to—and in fact, I’d recommend that in many cases, you shouldn’t read all four passages.
Here are some suggested alternative ways to read through the whole Bible.
How to Read the Whole Bible in Three Years
What I would recommend for the vast majority of people is to read through only the first set of readings for 2015, which will take you from Genesis 1 through 2 Chronicles 36. In fact, all the meditations from Free Daily Bible Study for 2015 will focus only on the first reading every day, so each meditation will help you understand what you have read, how that passage fits in with the larger story of the Bible, and how even some of the most puzzling passages in Leviticus point us forward to the coming of Jesus Christ.
If you then read the second set of readings (New Testament and Psalms) in 2016 and the third set of readings in 2017 (Old Testament from Ezra through Malachi, excluding Psalms), you would read through the entire Bible very manageably in only three years. (The fourth set of readings is another time through the New Testament and Psalms, like the second set of readings.)
This is a reasonable goal, with a reading time of only 5–10 minutes every day. You can spare 5–10 minutes every day, right? Make this a priority for the coming year—there is no other way for you to come to know God except through his word, so take time to read what he has spoken!
How to Read the Whole Bible in Two Years
The other option would be to read two passages at a time. If you take this plan, let me suggest that you read the first and fourth passage in 2015 rather than just the first two passages. Here’s why—in 2016 (Lord willing!) I will be writing meditations to go along with the second set of readings, so by tweaking the schedule just a little, you can have one of your passages correspond with the daily meditation coming out.
Pick a Plan and Stick to It
The main thing, then, is to pick a reading plan and to stick to it. The word of God (that is, the gospel) is the power of God unto salvation, and God actually promises to meet with us by his Spirit when we study his word.
It is my prayer that Free Daily Bible Study will be as much of a help to you as D. A. Carson’s devotionals were to me for getting me into the word of God on a daily basis. So, if you haven’t signed up yet, subscribe below to start receiving the Bible study on January 1st, 2015.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.