The Gospel First

Introduction: The following are suggestions I have given when asked how to read the Scriptures by people who have never read the Bible. I have made similar suggestions to those who have never intentionally read the Scripture to know and then to do the will of God 24/7 nor have ever searched the Scriptures to know what having the mind of Christ looks like.   I have also suggest this to those who have read the Scriptures but have not found themselves living the promised new creation.  


  1. *Start with the Gospels to hear from Jesus directly  and get to know him more personally.

  1. *Next, slowly read the Psalms to learn how to converse  personally and directly with God.

  1. * Then, hear the Holy Spirit speak to in the Epistles to you.  Listen for the universal truths revealed therein.

  1. *Finally, enter by faith, into the Old Testament.

* Read  below to go deeper into the overview.

Step One

The first thing I suggest is Getting to Know God. Getting to Know God is the quickest way  (1) to get to know God’s character as God has revealed it in the Scriptures, (2) to know better the love of God for you as revealed in the Scriptures and (3) to know what God, according to the Scriptures, requires of you regarding your thinking, doing and speaking.

Simultaneously, read the Scriptures, beginning with the gospels.  

Why begin with the gospels?

Why would anyone direct you in any other way? For a true Christian believer, Christ Jesus is the central figure of human/divine history.  He is therefore the  ultimate TEACHER of what it actually means to be fully and truly human. Christ Jesus is the Teacher of teachers about temporal and eternal life.  He is the Life Coach of life coaches.   He is the Source of our salvation and the Author of our Sanctification and the Giver of the Holy Spirit, who indwells us and is the Perfecter of our Sanctification.

Listen to Jesus’ teachings, first hand in the gospels.  Listen humbly. As you read the gospels, listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit who inspired the gospel authors to write down Jesus’ teaching that are necessary for our salvation and sanctification.   Of course, the core teachings are to love God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength and the love of neighbor.  But,Jesus also fleshes that out, especially in the sermon on the mount and in his Passion and death on the cross.

Set it as your goal—with the help of the Holy Spirit—to make the gospels a basic portion of your daily bread of God’s word.

Step Two

Begin to pray the Psalms and to make them their own.

Go slowly, go deep. Do it daily whether you feel like it or not until it becomes the habit of who you are.

Do not begin from Genesis, as much as I love that book.   After integrating the gospel messages of Jesus and the Psalms into your life,  read the Epistles.

Summary to This Point

Do not be in a hurry to get to the Epistles or the Old Testament.  However, be in a meek and humble hurry to read the gospels with the hope and confidence that the Holy Spirit will reveal and implant in you  Jesus’ teaching and his way of how you should live toward God, self and others.

Also allow the psalms to guide you on how to have honest, deep and heart-felt conversations with God. 

Simultaneously, get to know God for who God truly is in the Scripture based, Getting to Know God. 

Step Three

Once you believe that you have begun to assimilate most of Jesus’ teachings regarding how you are to think, speak and act, listen for the convergent and refining instructions of the Holy Spirit in the Epistles.   Be humble—yet confident—in reading the Epistles that the Holy Spirit will help you.  The same Holy Spirit who inspired the gospel writers inspired the writers of the Epistles to present what the Father knows we need to know for our salvation and sanctification.

Step Four

When you have begun to assimilate the Epistles into your way of thinking, begin to integrate the Old Testament’s witness to God’s love and faithfulness. Because you began with--or re-centered yourself in--the gospels, the Holy Spirit can more easily guide you in understanding the inner accord of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Moreover,  as it was by the Holy Spirit that  Jesus knew the Old Testament--the fathers of the faith, the covenant people, the prophets and the Psalms--so by the same  will you be helped.  The Old Testament will truly enrich your knowledge of God, who you are in Christ and what having the mind of Christ 24/7 means.  It will also confirm God’s ongoing partnership in your personal history as well as that of all God’s people and the whole of creation.


As you grow in awareness of God and God’s ways, make to know and to do the will of God 24/7 with the mind of Christ your one and only core objective each day.

Remember: Getting to Know God will help you quickly get to know the love of God for you and God’s character of love as revealed in the Scriptures.  It will also help you get to understand what God requires of your thinking, speaking and doing.

Make your quest to truly please God as Moses did and God will surely reveal God’s self to you:  “Lord, teach me your ways that I may be pleasing to you and find favor in your sight.”  [Ex 33-34]    

Note: If you have a way to read the Scriptures that has proven helpful for you to grow in Christ-likeness, please share. Send a descriptive email to We will review it for publication on our website,  See Eugene Peterson’s Daily Spiritual Disciplines and that of other Christians on the site.  


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