Regarded as one of the great biblical preachers of the twentieth century, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was trained as a physician and throughout his life read widely in theology, Christian biographies, and medicine. According to his daughter Elizabeth, one particular volume stood out as her father’s all-time favorite: the Bible. To Lloyd-Jones, the Bible was bread for his soul. Early in his ministry, Martyn, and his wife Bethan, embraced a Bible reading plan developed a century earlier by the Scottish preacher Robert Murray M’Cheyne.
Though his public ministry was brief, M’Cheyne left a priceless gift both for his parishioners and also for us. Shortly before his untimely death at age 29, M’Cheyne provided a Bible reading plan for his parish.1 Following this plan as a community of faith, M’Cheyne and his parishioners read through the Bible once each year plus a second reading of the New Testament and Psalms. M’Cheyne recommended that some passages be read together as a family while other passages might be read privately.
What are some of the advantages of a systematic reading of the Bible? Many Christians have never read through the entire Bible, though they profess to accept the entire Scriptures as inspired by the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul reminds us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).2
Having a Bible reading plan avoids wasted time wondering what to read and also provides many opportunities for family and church members to share insights from their common reading of the Word of God.
M’Cheyne offered the following cautions for all who would engage in systematic reading of the Bible:
1. Beware of lifeless formalism, where you are reading the Bible just to fulfill a religious obligation. Read with a prayerful and receptive heart.
2. Beware of a self-righteous attitude. Do not consider yourself more virtuous than others simply because you are following a systematic reading of Scripture.
3. Beware of careless reading of the Scriptures. View every reading of Scripture as a personal meeting with the Infinite One, listening attentively to His Word.
I recently learned about the M’Cheyne Bible Plan while listening to a lecture on the life and reading habits of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones and his wife followed the Murray M’Cheyne Bible Plan for more than 50 years. His powerful biblical preaching and writing were visible fruit of a life filled with the Word of God.
The example of these two dedicated Christian pastors, Robert Murray M’Cheyne and Martyn Lloyd- Jones, inspired me to learn more about the M’Cheyne Bible Plan. To my delight, I discovered that some gracious Christians have designed a process to assist all who would fill their hearts with the Word of God. You can sign up at www.BiblePlan.org to participate in the M’Cheyne Bible reading program. Every morning, you will receive an email with the assigned Bible passages for that day. I have found great joy knowing that countless Christians around the world are also seeking to be filled with the Word of God.
The whole Bible testifies of Jesus (cf. John 5:30). Read the Bible to know Him whom to know is life eternal (John 17:3). Beware of cold formalism, self-righteousness, and careless reading, but at the same time be assured that the words of the prophet Jeremiah are true, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16).
I encourage you to visit www.BiblePlan.org, not only for your own blessing, but for the blessing of your family, church, and community. There are 13 options for Bible reading (the M’Cheyne Plan is #10). Perhaps you will be inspired by the instruction of Robert Murray M’Cheyne and the example of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and invite your church family to join you on a journey through the Word of God.
1 http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/bmcheyne5.html provides a copy of “Daily Bread, Being a Calendar
for Reading Through the Word of God in a Year,” the correspondence written by Robert Murray M’Cheyne to his
parishioners at St. Peter’s, Dundee, Scotland, on December 30, 1842.
2 All scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible.