Life is all about choices… or is it? Is free will just an illusion or is there an immaterial, moral dimension to our experience, to reality? Are we really free? And if so, how should we make the most of that freedom and make the best choices? Is there a shortcut to optimising our decisions by consulting some fortune-telling God? Watch this video to find out.
Where should someone who has never looked at the Bible start?
First, a copy of the Bible is needed! English Bible translations I would suggest include: New King James Version (NKJV), New International Version (NIV) and the Good News Bible. The NKJV and NIV stick more closely to a literal translation in today’s English, while the Good News Bible takes some more interpretive liberty to put things into modern concepts and examples – a “paraphrase”. The 400 year old King James Version (KJV) is considered “classic” but is not so easy to understand.
When someone reads the Bible for the first time, I suggest starting with some highlights rather then reading straight through the whole thing. There’s typically over 1,000 pages in a Bible. It took me a few years before I read it right through for the first time. It is dense conceptually, too. There’s always something new that I pick up going back over some part of it (which I do every day).
There are 66 books of the Bible, each divided into chapters and verses. Some highlight books and chapters that I think are worth prioritising:
The four gospels that tell the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and teachings: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, my favourite being John. Mark is the most concise.
Genesis – tells the story of Creation, origin of evil, and some ‘classic’ Bible stories (Noah, Abraham, birth of Israelite nation, Joseph in Egypt, etc)
Acts – tells the story of the early Christian church (fast-paced, lots of interesting stories with some principles of Christianity)
Proverbs – lots of short & sharp pieces of ‘wisdom’ (or advice)
Romans – explains the Christian gospel with a lot of key principles of Christianity
Daniel and Revelation – these are quite a bit more advanced (needing understanding of whole Bible context & themes, as well as history) but they are the key prophetic books of the Bible that describe current world events
Matthew 5-7: Jesus’ sermon on the mount with key teachings such as the Golden Rule and applications, the Beatitudes, the Lord’s prayer, etc
Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 2 Timothy 3 (first half): describe the condition of the world before the prophesied second coming of Jesus
John 3: the gospel in a nutshell (John 3:16)
Exodus 20: The Ten Commandments
Psalm 23: The Shepherd’s Psalm
Luke 15: Three famous parables including the Prodigal Son
1 Corinthians 13: Description of love
Portions of Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, Revelation 12: the origin of evil and the Great Controversy between good and evil