Many Christians make New Year's resolutions to read the Bible more, and theologian John Piper is encouraging believers to read it daily, in four places, and study it from cover-to-cover within a year.
But the method of reading God's Word isn't nearly as important as the reason why Christians read the Bible, Piper says.
In a New Year's Day "Ask Pastor John" post on Desiring God, the former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, explained why he used the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan — a free resource available online — in 2017 and will be using it again this year.
"The way it works is — this is why I use it and why I recommend it — there are four different places in the Bible where you read every day," Piper explained.
"By reading these four different places, you complete the entire Bible in one year. Two of those places are in the New Testament, two of them are in the Old Testament."
Because the New Testament is much shorter than the Old Testament, the two daily readings from the New Testament are much shorter, which "has the great advantage of combining both a broad scope of reading and a narrow-intensified reading," the theologian went on to say.
The Discipleship Reading Plan schedules reading assignments for 25 days out of the month, leaving some days for catch up.
Yet the larger issue is not so much the specific method or daily Bible reading plan, but why and what happens when one engages God's Word, Piper said.
"I think the ultimate goal of every Christian should be to glorify God in your life every day — or, to use the words of Philippians 1:20, to magnify Christ in your body, whether you live or whether you die," he continued.
"We exist ultimately on this planet to make God in Christ look magnificent — to make Him look precious and valuable, to look like the supreme treasure that He is. That's the goal of life: make God look like a treasure."
And Christians cannot make Christ look like a treasure to the world without regularly meditating on Scripture, Piper stressed, because in order to magnify God, seeking Him daily is essential.
"Christ is most magnified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, and we cannot be daily satisfied in the depths of our soul in Christ if we don't see Him and savor Him."
"My point is that that can only happen by a steady meditation on the Word of God in the Bible."
He concluded: "I know that, left to myself, I am an absolute dud. I am blank, nothing deep, nothing moving, nothing intense, nothing beautiful, nothing precious, nothing sweet or wonderful — just empty, blank, unmoved, coasting along from one worldly preoccupation to another. There is one hope for John Piper in 2018: that I would have eyes to see the God-entranced magnificence of everything — namely that God would be pleased in my Bible reading to cause me to see the glory that is really there."