What kind of procedure do we follow in reading the bible? Perhaps the answer is different for different people. Some will be called to give the Scriptures more intense study than others. But all of us need to be people of the Scriptures in one way or another.
Although Paul was only thinking of the Old Testament when he wrote 2 Timothy 3:16 (perhaps with some sayings of Jesus, and a few New Testament documents added), yet what he says applies to the whole bible. One way that I like to follow is to read the bible daily in a mixed up order. My order is: Genesis, Matthew, Joshua, Romans, Isaiah, Proverbs, Hebrews, Psalms 1-18, Hosea, Psalms 19-25, Joel, Psalms 26-33, 1 Corinthians, Jeremiah, James, Psalms 34-39, Exodus, John, Judges, Song of Songs, Psalms 40-47, Ruth, 1 Peter, Lamentations, Psalms 48-55, Ecclesiastes, 2 Peter, Psalms 56-64, 2 Corinthians, Esther, Daniel, Psalms 65-70, 1 John, Psalms 71-77, Mark, Ezra, 2 John, Psalms 78-81, Leviticus, 3 John, Jude, Psalms 82-89, 1 Samuel, Galatians, Nehemiah, Psalms 90-104, Ephesians, Psalms 105-108, Luke, Philippians, Ezekiel, 1 Chronicles, Colossians, Psalms 109-118, Numbers, 2 Samuel, 1 Thessalonians, Job, Amos, Psalm 119, 2 Thessalonians, Obadiah, 1 Kings, Jonah, Psalms 120-132, 1 Timothy, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Psalms 133-141, Deuteronomy, Acts, 2 Kings, 2 Timothy, Zephaniah, Haggai, Titus, Zechariah, Malachi, Philemon, 2 Chronicles, Psalms 142-150, Revelation.
ThenI start again! The mixed-up order gives you variety, but eventually you cover the whole bible. You go at your own pace.
We need methods of study.
Although not everyone is called to be as 'academic' as some are, yet all of us need to use some diligence in becoming equipped with the Scriptures.
(i) We need to trace out the themes of the bible.
(ii) We need to grasp hold of entire books of the bible, seeing its sections and divisions. The various books of the bible each have structure. They are not just as mass of unrelated verses. They have order and framework within them.
(iii) We need to ponder in details whole paragraphs of the bible.
(iv) We need to consider the characters of the bible, the good men and the bad men, the good women, and the bad women.
(v) We need to study the words used in the bible, especially key terms like 'forgiveness', 'blood', 'righteousness', 'spirit', and so on. There are dangers in this (since a single word is never a total guide to a certain idea; words have varied meanings).
(vi) Then we need to meditate upon the application of what we have learned.
More than anything else we need to know what it means to be taught by the Holy Spirit as we minutely ponder the words of God. In such a way we get to be 'competent, thoroughly equipped for every good work' in the kingdom of God. No Christian worker is equipped if he is not a man or woman of the bible. A counsellor is not simply an encourager or an amateur psychologist. He is a man or woman of the bible who knows when and how to counsel others into what he or she knows from the Scriptures. The preacher has to have a lot to say. The fire of the Holy Spirit comes down upon true preaching, but there has to be something to come down upon! The preacher must have a message. There must be a fullness of material in what he is saying to the people. The Word and the Spirit always point in the same direction. God deliver us from barren orthodoxy or dead textualism. But may God deliver us also from empty-headed-ness where we think the Spirit leads us in directions where the Scriptures do not lead us. Our message comes not in Word only but also by the Spirit. Our message comes not in Spiritonly but also by the Scriptures.
One good method is to read the bible daily in a mixed up order, as above. You read it at your own pace. Slowly when you want to spend time in a small portion, speedily when you perhaps have already recently been reading (or preaching!) this book or you want an overview rather than a detailed study. It is designed for maximal flexibility.