I have been working on making a few adjustments to Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s original Bible reading plan. His longer explanations for why he wanted his church to read the bible is among the best reasons I’ve ever read. Not that his explanations are better than anyone could say, it’s that he articulated them with reason for serious consideration. I’ve adapted and reworded M’Cheyne’s cautions and advantages here.
First: Here are some cautions and pitfalls that may accompany anyone attempting to read the Bible with such strategic plan.
- Stagnant – Because we are typically weak we will quickly turn rich benefit to stagnant duty that becomes lifeless and meaningless within a short amount of time. This is likely similar to what the apostle Paul meant when he told Timothy to caution the church of those who have a “form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.” Set a guard up against this. If you notice the reading schedule is nothing more than checking off a list – then set the reading schedule down and read with joy.
- Self-righteousness – You will notice when the reading schedule has become a means of self-righteousness if you are tempted to justify your ignoring spiritual things while performing mechanical tasks. As M’Cheyne put it, “Many are living without any Divine work on their soul – unpardoned and unsanctified, and ready to perish – who spend their appointed times in secret and family devotion. This is going to hell with a lie in their right hand.”
- Mindless Reading – Few in our day tremble at the Word of God. When the reader reads mindlessly he is at risk of not hearing the voice of Jehovah. Push yourself to read while refusing to read to check off a list.
- Bearing False Witness – Notice this quickly about yourself. If you find you are tempted to lie about reading, when you have not, that the completion of reading the Bible is a means to brag of your piety. (see warning of Self-righteousness.)
- Becoming too Busy – Life is busy. Know that up front. Plan for it before it overtakes you. Guard against letting the reading of the Bible to become a burden. Parents, use caution in how you talk about reading the day’s assignment.
Next: With so many warnings, why would anyone attempt to take on such a daunting task as reading the entire Bible with a systematic schedule? We know this is true about things that are of great value; All things of value have potential thieves and imitations. When we better understand the advantages of reading the Bible we will be better prepared stay the course. Here are some of the many advantages…
- The Word of God – The apostle Paul informed Timothy that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect.” It is likely many never read the entire Bible and miss this truth all together. In the reading plan I’m suggesting we will read the Old Testament once, the New Testament and psalms twice.
- Value – When we understand the value of the Bible we will be better able to not see the reading as a waste of time.
- Common Conversation – Parents, with a reading schedule you will now have a common ground and communicated place in which to instruct and examine your children. You will discover soon that even the smallest section of Scripture will generate a life of conversation. You will find quickly, if you treat the reading of Scripture as a sacred family event that it will be like opening a package with Styrofoam peanuts. You’ll soon discover it’s difficult to contain where the conversation goes next or how long it stays on the subject.
- Feeding Together – The entire church will be reading from the same pasture and will be able to encourage each other in the light of Scripture and give comfort and counsel from the same nourishment. We will soon be praying over the same promises in our homes. We will mourn over the same confessions. We will praise God as if in the same location as we are on the Lord’s Day.
After weighing the cautions and advantages, I’m convinced, like I’m sure you are, that the attempt to do so is worth the effort. I’ll have the reading plan ready within a day or two.