A few years ago a Jewish man called me on the phone. He reported that he had become a follower of Jesus Christ and told me about his conversion. It was quite a tale. After we visited a while, I encouraged him and told him to call again as questions came to his mind.
A couple of weeks later our receptionist patched him through to the phone on my desk. We caught up on things, and then I asked, “So how is your relationship with Jesus going?”
“Overall, it’s okay,” he said. “But I do have a question.”
“Alright. How can I help?”
“My pastor told me I needed to get a Bible. So I went to the bookstore to get a Bible, and there’s a whole wall full of Bibles. What the hell? When I needed a Torah, I just went and bought a Torah. What’s with all these Bibles?”
We had a great conversation, and he asked a great question. “What’s with all these Bibles?”
Not too long ago the Bible entered the marketplace as a salable commodity with substantial profit margins. As this occurred, more and more publishers marketed their version of the Bible, typically with someone’s famous name on the cover. And, the shelf space devoted to the Bible lengthened considerably.
Lots of folks have Bibles. I don’t know if there is a copy on every coffee table, per se. But I mean, it is a perennial best seller. Wildly so!
Like my Jewish friend did, I’m asked with some frequency, “What’s with all these Bibles? Which one am I supposed to read?” Let’s see if I can’t flatten the learning curve for us.
The beauty of living in a free country is that you have access to anything and everything in the biblical world. In fact, you can go to biblegateway.com or youversion.com and find multiple versions of the Bible in multiple languages—all for free. But, it can be a bit like my Jewish buddy going to the bookstore.
We’re still left with the question: What do I do with my Bible?
First, read the thing. Do not start at the beginning. It’s not a book even though it looks like one. It’s a collection of books. Start with John, then go to Acts, and then maybe Ephesians. You can locate them in the Table of Contents. If you feel like you are digesting this fairly well, try Romans. Of course, at the same websites above are numbers of Bible reading plans. Pick one and go for it.
Second, read a readable version. King James (KJV) is fine, but wow. The “King” can be hard to comprehend in the same way Shakespeare can be hard to comprehend. What to do? Try the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. It is readable. It is an accurate translation. And, it is available online. More about that in a second.
Third, I would guide you away from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. While it is immensely popular and very readable, it is a sorry translation of the Bible. Bluntly, it is not accurate to the original language of the Bible in critically important places. Again, I suggest the ESV.
Fourth, when you get ready to dig deep into a passage of the Bible, you can count on the accuracy of a version like the English Standard Version or the New American Standard Bible (NASB) version. In fact, if you purchase an English Standard Version (ESV) study Bible, it will come with a login code that will grant you access to all the study resources online. (Make certain this is still the case before you put your card on the counter.) This online—in the cloud—concept the ESV people make available is totally cool. I use it all the time. They even keep track of your marks and notes.
Now, back to reading your Bible. I could tell you how to read, describe how to study, and list principles for you to follow to collect wisdom from the Scriptures. But it would be so much more effective if you would let someone show you how to do this instead of tell you how to do this.
“So do you have someone in mind?” you ask.
“As a matter of fact, I do. Hank Henderson is a friend of mine. He asked a lot of the same questions we have been considering, and in time, formed his own habits for considering Scripture. Not only this, Hank is the main character in a new book, Battle for the Round Tower.”
I’m being a bit clever, but I’m dead serious. Let Hank show you. Why reinvent the wheel?
As the pages of this tome featuring Hank unfold, Hank reads and considers the message of Scripture. It’s called “Vassar’s Letter” in the book, but Vassar is a character who portrays Jesus, so you wind up in the same place whether in the book or in your Bible.
As the reader of the book, you get to observe how Hank reads, when He does this, and why. It is simple, straightforward, and powerful. So much so, that you can follow Hank’s lead and do as he does. Not only this, you get to see how Hank does this while in the midst of his life’s adventure.
Then, you can follow Hank’s example in your life’s adventure.
You can get a copy of Battle for the Round Tower here.