The greatest gift of life is to receive the gift of salvation. When a person puts their trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit regenerates him for salvation. That gift of salvation opens up a tremendously new horizon for learning that was never available before. The person prior to salvation does not, and cannot, understand the Bible. Paul wrote, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”(1 Cor. 2:14 NKJ) Hence, until a person becomes a Christian, he will not understand, because He needs the Holy Spirit to guide him into truth. John wrote, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13 NKJ).
So where and how do you begin the new adventure as a Christian? The adventure begins in the place where you learned about salvation – the Word of God. God provided and preserved the Bible for your spiritual food, growth and understanding. To the unbeliever, the Bible is just a book with words printed on the pages. However, for the Christian, he sees the Bible as something far greater. He sees it as the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”(Heb. 4:12 NKJ) So where do you start?
There are many places you can begin reading, however, first, I’d encourage you to begin reading the gospel accounts of Mark or John. The word “gospel” means “good news.” The accounts of Jesus are good news, because He brings the gift of salvation by dying on the cross for our sins. Read Mark then John, or John and then Mark. Both are all about Jesus. Mark was written to the church of Rome and is an active, fast moving description of the life of Jesus. Mark reveals Jesus as the Servant of God sent to purchase man from the slave market of sin. It is short, yet contains many of the parables and practical teachings of Jesus. John was written to all mankind and reveals the Light and Love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. It reveals Jesus as the Son of God and contains many descriptions of Jesus as a Man and Savior of the world. Once you read one, read through the other gospel account.
Secondly, read Acts to understand the beginnings of the Church at Pentecost. Jesus revealed that the disciples would be His witnesses and they would be empowered to witness to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world. Acts recorded the spread of the gospel through those regions, first focusing on the part Peter played in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Then it shifts to Paul who was converted on the Road to Damascus. Acts is a docudrama of epic proportions as the church spread all the way to Rome.
Thirdly, read Ephesians to understand the Doctrine of warfare and Christian walk in warfare. Paul described in Ephesians that God set blessings aside for you even before you were chosen to be a part of God’s family (Eph. 1:3-4). Paul revealed the divine power available to you (Eph. 1:19) and Christ ascended above all spiritual forces in the cosmic battle (Eph. 1:20-22). Paul continued describing truths about your position in Christ and God’s calling for your life (Eph. 2-3). In the last half of Ephesians, Paul explained how those truths practically work in spiritual warfare (Eph. 4-6). This is a book, you may want to read through at least twice.
Fourthly, read Genesis, which is the first book of the Bible. Genesis describes how God created the world and provided for man in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 1-2). Yet, man chose from the beginning to sin against God (Gen. 3) and that pattern continued in every generation (Gen. 4). You’ll see the beginning of the human race (Gen. 2), the beginning of families with children (Gen. 4), the beginning of nations (Gen. 11) and the beginning of the nation of Israel (Gen. 12). Genesis is also an epic story of the sovereign, majestic power of God working through individuals and nations.
Fifthly, read Proverbs to gain practical knowledge. Proverbs has 31 chapters, so it is actually a great book to read through in a month. You can read through the chapter of the day and because of the pithy, full and rich passages, there is always incredible wisdom that you will gain from Proverbs. One of the more important passages is Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”(Pro. 1:7 NKJ) Proverbs contains practical life lessons on every important issue of life. It is a book that I continue to read 43 years after becoming a Christian.
Sixthly, read Philippians to gain the joy of serving Christ alone. There is no greater blessing in life than to serve Jesus Christ. He is worthy of all glory and honor. He is worthy of my time, talents and treasures. There is nothing more important than growing in my relationship with Him. Paul wrote Philippians to help them understand, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”(Phil. 1:21 NKJ)
And seventhly, read 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy. These two books are focused on how Paul trained his replacement in the context of a local church. That is the mission every Christian grows into – training or discipling your replacement. It also established everything needed to organize church leadership, structure and practice. Paul does not give details, but provides sufficient guidelines for a church to function, to see character for leadership and to seize principles of always training your replacement.
I trust that by the time you read through these books, you will be long on your way to helping a couple or three other people learn what you have learned. Christianity is not meant for rocket scientists. It is designed for average people humble and available to the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to reach and disciple others (Matt. 28:19-20). May the Lord richly bless you in all your reading and growth!