Why I’m Reading the Bible in Ten Different Places

img_1499At the end of 2009  I finished reading through the ESV Study Bible and posted a few thoughts on what I learned. During the first half of 2010, I read through it again (just the Scripture, not the notes), but wanted to try something different for the last half of 2010. I had been looking at Prof. Grant Horner’s Bible reading plan and decided to try it. You can read Grant’s  thoughts on it here.

The plan involves reading one chapter from ten different places in the Bible each time you read. Once you reach the end of a section you start over. I was drawn to the plan because I wanted to gain a better perspective on how the Bible comments on itself. And I just want to know God better.

Four of the sections are 150 chapters or more so I’ve been reading two chapters from those sections. That means 14 chapters a day, which sounds ridiculous, preposterous, unattainable, and wildly optimistic. Something that I’d actually need God’s grace to accomplish.

Surprisingly, I completed all my reading in about five and a half months, ending the day before Christmas. Of course, I didn’t really end because whenever I finish a section I just go back to the beginning.

I don’t know how long I’ll be reading Scripture this way, but I know one thing. It’s been really good for my relationship with God. Here’s a few reasons why:

I’m reminded daily how little I know of God’s word.
I’ve been reading the Bible for over 40 years. The more I read the more I feel like I’m just scratching the surface. I don’t want to master the God’s Word. I want God, through his Word, to master me. And I’ve got a long way to go.

I’m understanding better how Jesus is the story line of the bible.
In one sitting I read about the instructions for the tabernacle in Exodus, Job’s cry for a mediator, the failure of the Israelite kings, a psalm extolling the steadfast love of the Lord, the promise of a righteous branch in the prophets, Jesus being rejected by those he came to save, the testimony of Jesus’ death and resurrection in Acts, instructions for godly living in the Epistles, and the consummation of all things in Revelation. I feel like I’m getting a biblical theology lesson every morning.

I’m more convinced of God’s sovereignty over all things.
I still don’t understand how moral responsibility for our choices and God’s sovereignty over our actions work together. Not sure I ever will. But I’m increasingly certain that Scripture contains both, and that this should produce peace and security in my life, not striving and confusion. The God who knows the end from the beginning, who intends evil for good purposes (Gen. 50:19), who directs the paths of arrows (2 Chron. 18:28-33), who ordained the details of Christ’s death and resurrection (Acts 4:27-28), and who has already assured us of his final triumph over death and Satan – this God – can surely handle whatever difficulties and trials I face.

Familiar verses speak to me in unexpected ways.
The other morning I was reading chapters 7&8 from Isaiah. God told Ahaz that He was going to defeat his enemies, and told Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven” (Is. 7:10). But Ahaz played the false humility card and refused. “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test” (Is. 7:12). God said He Himself would provide a sign of his promise. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call him name Immanuel” (Is. 9:14). While those words had an immediate fulfillment, they were finally fulfilled in the birth of Christ. Tears filled my eyes as I realized that Ahaz never dreamed that God would ultimately prove his faithfulness by giving up his own Son as our substitute. God is always better than we expect.

I’m appreciating God’s holiness more than I used to.
God judges sin in the Bible a lot. Of course, there’s a lot of sin in the Bible to judge. Immersing myself in Scripture each day reminds me that God is not who my culture says he is. He’s not apathetic toward sin. He hates it with an unyielding, consuming, terrifying hatred. Which make giving up his Son to endure his wrath in my place all the more amazing.

I’m encountering God in his Word more often.
You might think that reading so much of the Bible at one time doesn’t allow time for reflection and engaging with God. That hasn’t been my experience. It usually takes me between 30-45 minutes to read 14 chapters. I read at a normal pace, but still have time to meditate on, cross-reference, or memorize a passage. And frequently I’m aware of God’s Spirit speaking to me, working on my heart, molding my will to his own.

Obviously, Prof. Horner’s plan isn’t for everyone. Meditating on smaller portions of Scripture has great value as well. But if you’ve been wanting to experience more of God in his Word and to grow in your knowledge of Scripture as a whole, I’d encourage you to try it for a month.

I guarantee you’ll have a hard time stopping. And wouldn’t that be a good thing?

If you’re thinking of reading the Bible through in a year, Crossway has provided a number of other plans at their site. And regardless of what Bible reading plan you use, I’ve found the ESV Study Bible to be an immensely helpful tool.

Update 12.31.10: Justin Taylor has posted an extremely helpful and comprehensive post on various Bible reading plans over at his blog.


43 Responses to Why I’m Reading the Bible in Ten Different Places

  1. Pam December 29, 2010 at 7:12 PM #

    Thanks for the encouragement! I’ve been reading the Bible using the Discipleship Journal program (we read in 4 different places every day) and started a website with links to various sermons and quotes that help to understand or highlight sections of each day’s readings. Check it out: http://bible-daily.org/

  2. Nathan W. Bingham December 29, 2010 at 7:43 PM #

    Horner’s System is gaining a lot of traction among Christians online. I’m excited to see that. If memory serves me correctly I did Horner’s System for just over a year. It was a great blessing and I agree with your points above.

    For 2010 I slowed the pace down a bit and did M’Cheyne’s reading plan. Even though I posted a list of Bible Reading Plans for 2011 on my blog, I have not yet decided which one I will be doing. I guess we can be spoiled for choice. I know I won’t be returning to Horner’s System just yet and instead may do M’Cheyne’s or similar over two years, while dedicating a Psalm to each month that I’ll daily read, meditation upon, pray, and also spend time studying the background and application of. It will only get me through 24 Psalms, but I look forward to be grounded well in them.

    Thanks for encouraging Christians to dig deep into the Word.

  3. Brett Maragni December 29, 2010 at 8:50 PM #

    This Bible reading plan has helped me immensely. I interviewed Professor Horner earlier this year on this system:
    http://pastorbrett.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/interview-with-prof-grant-horner-pt-1/

  4. Katie December 29, 2010 at 8:56 PM #

    I’ve been doing my own modified version similar to this for about a month now (I read in 5 different spots, with 3-5 chapters each for more depth), and it has been incredibly helpful. I find myself gaining new insight. After I finish reading through Scripture with my modified version (because I’m reading so many chapters, it should be soon!), I plan to switch to this plan for at least a year or two.

  5. Matt Morales December 29, 2010 at 9:34 PM #

    Great Post. I too followed Horner’s plan for about a year. I like it a lot but after the year I started doing what Katie (post 3) did.

    I read 3 chapters in 4 different areas and then add a proverb/acts chapter a day which = 15 total. I prefer reading more in each section simply because in some narratives a story may span a few chapters and it is nice to complete it or come close.

  6. Erik December 29, 2010 at 11:50 PM #

    “I don’t want to master the God’s Word. I want God, through his Word, to master me. And I’ve got a long way to go.”

    Well said Bob. Amen to this.

  7. Kevin Au December 30, 2010 at 3:57 AM #

    Just started this plan not too long ago. It does take some getting used to, but it has been much more doable than I originally thought.

    You’re right, its hard to stop…at least this far into it

  8. Brett Maragni December 30, 2010 at 7:35 AM #

    Several of us are planning on reading through the KJV on the Quadricentennial: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=133564420016325&ref=ts

  9. John December 30, 2010 at 12:10 PM #

    Someone suggested to me once that our tendency is to approach the Bible as a cadaver–something that we study and investigate. We, however, are the cadaver. God’s word searches us and shows us where there is no life.

    Stay blessed…john

  10. Liz December 30, 2010 at 3:34 PM #

    Hi Bob,
    Thanks for your very helpful blog, I have really enjoyed following the year with you. As a result of your post this time last year, I decided to read the bible through in a year, and just finished this morning :) Talking to a bunch of girlfriends last night, they were inspired also, and went home to download a reading plan. So thanks for your inspiration, it has continued to reverberate through different circles!
    Not sure if I can manage 10 chaps a day yet, but thought I might have a go at finding a chronological reading plan for this year.
    Thanks again for your encouragement :)

    • Bob Kauflin December 30, 2010 at 4:46 PM #

      Liz, thanks for your specific encouragement. If what I do here on this blog encourages anyone to spend more time getting to know God through his Word, I consider my time well spent.

  11. Andrew December 31, 2010 at 12:17 AM #

    I did Professor Horner’s system for about 6 months and really gained a lot. I eventually wanted to do something that was more specifically into the New Testament but now I kind of miss reading so much… Maybe I can pick it back up again.

  12. Roy Garringer December 31, 2010 at 5:08 PM #

    I put together a plan adapted from:
    – Dr. Grant’s system
    – ESV Literary Study Bible

    It eschews the chapter breaks where necessary.
    It includes printable bookmarks that stick out the side of a thineline Bible.

    You can access the files here:
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17646567/HornerLiterary.zip

  13. Roy January 1, 2011 at 8:10 PM #

    Bob,

    If that’s a picture of your bookmark system, you might be better served by bookmarks cut to extend from the binding to 1/4 inch past the >>side<< of your Bible.

    I use a modification of Horner’s system (see #17 above) and arrange my bookmarks staggered in two columns of five each.

    Works for me.

  14. Trey January 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM #

    Hey Bob,

    I don’t know any other form of contact to get in touch with you besides blogging. There is a song entitled “Oh the Deep Deep Love” on the Come Weary Saints album. I was searching for a spilt track for the choir ministry. Could you give me some direction in where I might find that to purchase? Thank you and God Bless.

    -trey

  15. Benjer McVeigh January 9, 2011 at 11:22 PM #

    I go back and forth on how I can best benefit from reading the Bible devotionally. I love plans that have me in more than one place in the Bible at once, but I also like just sitting down and reading through chunks of Scripture at a time, especially narratives.

  16. Mikes February 9, 2011 at 10:22 AM #

    Surely as we immerse ourselves in God’s WORD, all the more we know HIM.

  17. cristiano007 October 3, 2011 at 12:31 PM #

    Greetings from Venezuela. I took Prof. Horner’s (and yours) challenge of trying it for a month, before giving an opinion. After that time my opinion about this reading plan is this: WONDERFUL. I have read, understood, enjoyed and been blessed in the Word of God like never before in 20 years following the Lord. Two (repeated) advices: be persistent in following it strictly, but if you fail one day, don’t worry, follow the next day, and if you have ocassion to recover from that failure reading more, even better, do it . Second, resist the temptation of seeing notes, cross references, etc. Let the Spirit guide you to all truth, using only his Word, in your mind and in your heart. A great advantage of this plan is that you can’t get bored, if a part becomes heavy (like, say he land distribution in Joshua), you will be lifted up by another part that day. You’ll be surprised how the Bible is all connected and harmonious through the ages. For a Spanish blog on this system go to: http://las5solas.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/para-el-2010-plan-de-lectura-del-profesor-grant-horner/

  18. Matt Hoppe December 29, 2011 at 2:43 AM #

    Thanks, Bob. I am reminded again and again how important it is for music pastors to be spending time in the Word. We need to “know the Lord, press on to know the Lord” (Hos. 6) if we are going to keep our focus appropriate as we pick, share, and join the congregation in song. How can we effectively lead people into this feast of thirst and satisfaction if we are not first pursuing Him as He meets us? I know that the Spirit still often chooses to use us as we lead even when our pursuit is lacking, but it is so much richer when we are pressing on. Good words, Bob. Thank you.

  19. scott cheatham January 3, 2012 at 2:33 AM #

    I noted the bookmarks in your picture. Are those home made or did you download them somewhere?

  20. Bill Fox April 24, 2013 at 7:18 PM #

    just started this plan. however i switched some things up.
    adding Job to the end of list 8. making a list of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. Added Revelation to End of the other Prophetic books. adding Acts to end of gospels. reading Romans by itself (reading it 2 times a month!) Martin Luther said of Romans “it is well worith a christians while not only to memorize word for word but also to occup himself wth it daily. it is impossibe to read or meditate on this letter too much or too well. the more one deals with it the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.” John Calvin said “if a man understands Romans, he has a sure open road to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture!!” Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria!!

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