Every generation of Christians faces the very same challenge: To learn the Bible for themselves and to teach it to those who follow in their footsteps. This task cannot be willed, it cannot be inherited, it cannot be passed down. Rather, each generation must accept afresh the challenge to honor, to know, and to obey the Word of God.
Gary Millar’s Read This First is, according to the subtitle, “A Simple Guide to Getting the Most from the Bible.” It is, in that way, a wonderful place to begin for those who wish to accept their God-given responsibility (or alternatively, a wonderful resource to distribute to help others with theirs).
Millar says, “This book aims to help people who would like to read the Bible but don’t really know where to start or how to go about it. You may be a Christian who enjoys being part of a church or a Bible-study group, but you end up feeling lost and confused whenever you attempt to read the Bible for yourself. You may have even tried to embark on a Bible-reading regime but … it didn’t take long before you gave up with a sense of defeat: you just don’t get it. That’s why I’ve written this book: to guide you through it. My hope is that you’ll read this first and go back to the Bible with the skills and confidence to truly enjoy it.”
There is a second audience in his mind: “You may be pretty new to Christianity. You have always thought that the Bible seems interesting enough for you to take a look, but you’ve been put off by the small print, strange ‘religious’ language, its distance from your culture, or even just its size. You may have been been encouraged to read the Bible by a friend, or heard a snippet of what it says at a wedding or funeral, or come across a quotation somewhere. It’s often said that the Bible is one of the best-selling books of all time. That alone seems like a good reason to dip into it.”
For either of those audiences, or even more experienced Bible-readers who are just looking for a bit of a refresh, Read This First offers a simple, helpful guide to reading the Bible well. It begins with an explanation of why everyone should consider reading the Bible, then begins to teach how to read it: to pay attention to the “vibe” of any passage, to discern meaning, to account for context, and to read it both as a book that was written in a different time and to a different audience and as a book that was written for we who live here and now.
Though Read This First is short and simple, that is exactly its purpose and its exactly its charm. It is just the kind of book each of us would have benefitted to read at the start of our journey to better understand God’s Word and just the kind of resource each of us loves to distribute to others. It will do exactly what it promises: help those who have a desire to read the Bible to actually read the Bible—and to read it right. I’m very glad to recommend it.
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