We had a guest speaker in Sunday School last Sunday who talked about how he worked through the Bible. It made me look back over my history with God’s Word.
The first time that I willingly read the Bible was when I was in “Introduction to Old Testament Literature” at Three Rivers Community College. I was twenty. Taught by the incredibly entertaining Carol Lewis, it was intended to be a literature course. Fortunately, the professor was a conservative Christian, so I wasn’t poisoned by a professor who wanted to use her position to warp our view of the Holy Scriptures.
The next semester, I took “Introduction to New Testament Literature.” Also intended as a literature course, it was taught by the amazing Judy Scott, also a Christian. She even had the pastor of her church come in and give a lecture about Paul the Apostle.
For these classes, I was told that we had to use a version of the Bible that was written in more modern English. I chose the New International Version and the copy that I bought at Hastings, in Poplar Bluff, MO, stayed with me throughout my time at SMSU in Springfield, MO.
I started willingly going to church when I was twenty-one, during my time in the New Testament class. I was converted to Christ during my time at the First Assembly of God in Ellsinore, MO. I can remember our pastor, Phil Tanner, challenging us to read one chapter of the Bible every day, along with praying every day. I took this to heart and really started reading it for more than classroom study.
And the Word changed me.
I had spent most of my life as a liberal. I believed in abortion on demand, homosexuality. Prayer didn’t belong in schools.
But the Holy Spirit changed that, using the Word of God. I realized that a woman’s “right to choose” shouldn’t trump the life of the precious being that was growing inside of her. I realized that God set up the definition of love and marriage and that He, in His infinite wisdom, had created Man and Woman for each other.
I finished my first read-through of the Bible when I was twenty-three. I just started over immediately after that. I didn’t read it straight through, however. The first time I read it, I started with Revelation. I’ve heard it said that you should start with the Gospel of John. I’d agree.
With the release of the new version of the NIV to include gender-inclusive pronouns (when the original manuscripts were NOT gender-inclusive), I switched to the New King James Version. I still have my copy of that version, the MacArthur Study Bible. I find the commentary helpful, but I discovered that two very important verses contradict each other. Without going into detail, compare Galatians 3:16 with Genesis 12:7. These two should both refer to the promise of Abraham’s offspring in the singular, as it refers to Christ. If they do not agree with one another, I won’t use that version of the Bible for study.
My Minister’s Bible is a Holman Christian Standard. As of now, my preferred version for study is the English Standard Version. I love the beautiful language. My ESV Study Bible, which weighs about forty pounds (I’m exaggerating, though not much), looks worn. I have so many bibles on my Kindle, but I always go back to my Study Bible.