OF BIBLE STUDY*
First of all make up your mind that you will put some time every day
into the study of the Word of God.
That is an easy resolution to make, and not a very difficult one to
keep; if the one who makes it is in earnest. It is one of the most
fruitful resolutions that any Christian ever made. The forming of that
resolution and the holding faithfully to it, has been the turning point
in many a life. Many a life that has been barren and unsatisfactory has
become rich and useful through the introduction into it of regular,
persevering, daily study of the Bible. This study may not be very
interesting at first, the results may not be very encouraging; but, if
one will keep pegging away, it will soon begin to count as nothing else
has ever counted in the development of character, and in the enrichment
of the whole life. Nothing short of absolute physical inability should
be allowed to interfere with this daily study.
It is impossible to make a rule that
will apply to everyone as to the amount of time that shall be given
each day to the study of the Word. I know many busy people, including
not a few laboring men and women, who give an hour a day to Bible
study, but if one cannot give more than fifteen minutes a great deal
can be accomplished. Wherever it is possible the time set apart for the
work should be in the daylight hours. The very best time is in the
early morning hours. If possible lock yourself in with God alone.
Make up your mind to study the Bible.
It is astounding how much heedless reading of the Bible is done. Men
seem to think that there is some magic power in the book, and that, if
they will but open its pages and skim over its words, they will get
good out of it. The Bible is good only because of the truth that is in
it, and to see this truth demands close attention. A verse must
oftentimes be read and re-read and read again before the wondrous
message of love and power that God has put into it begins to appear.
Words must be turned over and over in the mind before their full force
and beauty takes possession of us. One must look a long time at the
great masterpieces of art to appreciate their beauty and understand
their meaning, and so one must look a long time at the great verses of
the Bible to appreciate their beauty and understand their meaning. When
you read a verse in the Bible ask yourself What does this verse mean?
Then ask: What does it mean for me? When that is answered ask yourself
again: Is that all it means? and don't leave it until you are quite
sure that is all it means for the present. You may come back at some
future time and find it means yet a great deal more. If there are any
important words in the verse weigh them, look up other passages where
they are used, and try to get their full significance. God pronounces
that man blessed who "meditates" on the Word of God "day and night."
Ps. 1:2, 3. An indolent skimming over a few verses or many chapters in
the Bible is not meditation, and there is not much blessing in it.
Jeremiah said: "Thy words were found and I did eat them." (Jer. 15:16.)
Nothing is more important in eating than chewing. If one doesn't
properly chew his food, he is quite as likely to get dyspepsia as
nourishment. Don't let anyone chew your spiritual food for you. Insist
on doing it for yourself. Any one can be a student who makes up his
mind to. It is hard at first but it soon becomes easy. I have seen very
dull minds become keen by holding them right down to the grindstone.
Study the Bible topically.
Take up the various subjects treated in the Bible, one by one, and go
through the Bible and find what it has to say on these subjects. It may
be important to know what the great men have to say on important
subjects; it is far more important to know what God has to say on these
subjects. It is important also to know all that God has to say. A great
many people know a part of what God has to say--and usually a very
small part--and so their ideas are very imperfect and one-sided. If
they only knew all God had to say on the subject, it would be far
better for them and for their friends. The only way to know all God has
to say on any subject is to go through the Bible on that subject. To do
this it is not necessary to read every verse in the Bible from Genesis
to Revelation. It would be slow work, if we had to do that on every
subject we took up. This would be necessary were it not for Text Books
and Concordances. But in these we have the results of the hard work of
many minds. Here we have the various passages that bear on any subject
brought together and classified for use, so that now we can do in a few
hours what would otherwise take months or years. The topical method of
Bible study is simplest, most fascinating and yields the largest
immediate results. It is not the only method of Bible study, and the
one who pursues it exclusively will miss much of the blessing God has
for him in Bible study.* But it is a very interesting and fruitful
method of study. It is Mr. Moody's favorite method. It fills one's mind
very full on any subject studied. Mr. Moody once gave several days to
the study of "Grace." When he had finished he was so full of the
subject that he rushed out on the street and going up to the first man
he met he said: "Do you know anything about Grace?" "Grace who," the
man asked. "The Grace of God that bringeth salvation." And then Mr.
Moody poured out upon that man the rich treasures he had dug out of the
Word of God. That is the way to master any subject and to get full of
it. Go through the Bible and see what it has to say on this subject.
This is easily done. Take your Text Book and turn to the subject.
Suppose the subject you desire to study is "Prayer." On pages 198-200
will be found a long list of the various passages of Scripture that
bear on this subject. Look them up one after another and study them
carefully and see just what their teaching is. When you have gone
through them you will know far more about prayer than you ever knew
before, and far more than you could learn by reading any books that men
have written about prayer, profitable as many of these books are.
Sometimes it will be necessary to look up other subjects that are
closely related to the one in hand. For example, you wish to study what
the teaching of God's Word is regarding the atonement. In this case you
will not only look under the head "Atonement" on page 23, but also
under the head "Blood" on page 30, and under the head "Death of
Christ," on page 60. To do this work a concordance is not necessary but
it is often very helpful. For example, if you are studying the subject
"Prayer" you can look up from the concordance the passages that contain
the words "pray," "prayer," "cry," "ask," "call," "supplication,"
"intercession," etc. But the Text Book will give most of the passages
on any subject regardless of what the words used in the passage may be.
Other passages will be found in the section on Bible Doctrines under
their proper headings.
are four important suggestions to make regarding Topical Study of the
Do not take up subjects for study at random. Have a carefully prepared
list of the subjects you wish to know about, and need to know about,
and take them up one by one, in order. If you do not do this, the
probability is that you will have a few pet topics and will be studying
these over and over until you get to be a crank about them, and
possibly a nuisance. You will know much about these subjects, but about
many other subjects equally important you will know nothing. You will
be a one-sided Christian.
When you take up a subject do not be content to study a few passages on
this subject, but find just as far as possible every passage in the
Bible on this subject. If you find the Text Book incomplete make
additions of your own to it.
Find the exact meaning of every passage given in the Text Book on any
subject. The way to do this is simple. In the first place note the
exact words used. In the next place get the exact meaning of the words
used. This is done by finding how the word is used in the Bible. The
Bible usage of the word is not always the common use of to-day. For
example, the Bible use of the words "sanctification" and
"justification" is not the same as the common use. Then notice what
goes before and what comes after the verse. This will oftentimes settle
the meaning of a verse when it appears doubtful. Finally see if there
are any parallel passages. The meaning of many of the most difficult
passages in the Bible is made perfectly plain by some other passages
that throws light upon them. Then parallel passages are given in the
margin of a good reference Bible and still more fully in "The Treasury
of Scripture Knowledge,"** a volume worthy of a place in the library of
every Bible student.
Arrange the results of your topical study in an orderly way and write
One should constantly use pen and paper in Bible study. When one has
gone through the Text Book on any subject, he will have a large amount
of material, but he will want to get it into usable shape. The various
passages given on any topic in the Text Book are classified, but the
classification is not always just the one best adapted to our
individual use. Take for example the subject "Prayer." The
classification of texts in the topic is very suggestive, but a better
one for some purposes would be: 1st. Who Can Pray so that God Will
Hear? 2nd. To Whom to Pray. 3d. For Whom to Pray. 4th. When to Pray.
5th. Where to Pray. 6th. For What to pray. 7th. How to Pray. 8th.
Hindrances to Prayer. 9th. The results of Prayer. The passages given in
the Text Book would come under these heads. It is well to make a trial
division of the subject before taking up the individual passages given
and to arrange each passage as we take it up under the appropriate
head. We may have to add to the divisions with which we began as we
find new passages. The best classification of passages for any
individual is the one he makes for himself, although he will get
helpful suggestions from others.
There are some subjects that every
Christian should study and study as soon as possible. We give a list of
The Atonement (of the Blood of Christ).
The New Birth.
Love: To God, to Jesus Christ, to
Christians, to all men.
The Future Destiny of Believers.
The Future Destiny of the Wicked.
The Character of Christ.
The Resurrection of Christ.
The Ascension of Christ.
The Second Coming of Christ: The fact,
the manner, the purpose, the results, the time.
The Reign of Christ.
The Holy Spirit. Who and What He is; His
God. His Attributes and Work.
Messianic Prophecies (under head,
"Prophecies Respecting Christ," page 207).
Study the Bible by chapters.
This method of Bible study is not beyond any person of average
intelligence who has fifteen minutes or more a day to put into Bible
Study. It will take, however, more than one day to the study a chapter
if only fifteen minutes a day are set apart for the work.
Select the chapters you wish to study.
It is well to take a whole book and study the chapters in their order.
The Acts of the Apostles (or the Gospel of John) is a good book to
begin with. In time one may take up every chapter in the Bible, but it
would not be wise to begin with Genesis.
Read the chapter for to-day's study five times.
It is well to read it aloud at least once. The writer sees many things
when he reads the Bible aloud that he does not see when he reads
silently. Each new reading will bring out some new point.
Divide the chapters into their natural divisions and find headings for
them that describe in the most striking way their contents.
For example, suppose the chapter
studied is 1 Jno. 5. You might divide in this way:
1st Division, verses 1-3. The
Believer's Noble Parentage.
2nd Division, verses 4, 5. The Believer's Glorious Victory.
3rd Division, verses 6-10. The Believer's Sure Ground of Faith.
4th Div., verses 11, 12. The Believer's Priceless Possession.
5th Div., verse 13. The Believer's Blessed Assurance.
6th Div., verses 14, 15. The Believer's Unquestioning Confidence.
7th Div., verses 16, 17. The Believer's Great Power and Responsibility.
8th Div., verses 18, 19. The Believer's Perfect Security.
9th Div., verse 20. The Believer's Precious Knowledge.
10th Div., verse 21. The Believer's Constant Duty.
In many cases the natural divisions
will be longer than in this chapter.
Note the important differences between the Authorized Version and the
Revised and write them in the margin of your Bible.
Write down the leading facts of the chapter in their proper
order.Third: Divide the chapters into their natural divisions and find
headings for them that describe in the most striking way their contents.
Make a note of the persons mentioned in the chapter and of any light
thrown upon their character.
For example, your chapter is Acts 16. The persons mentioned are:
Timothy, Timothy's mother, Timothy's father, the brethren at Lystra and
Iconium, Paul, the Jews of Lystra and Iconium, the apostles and elders
at Jerusalem, a man of Macedonia, Luke, some women of Philippi, Lydia,
the household of Lydia, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of
divination, the masters of this damsel, Silas, the praetors of
Philippi, the Philippian mob, the jailor of Philippi, the prisoners in
the Philippian jail, the household of the jailor, the lictors of
Philippi, the brethren in Philippi. What light does the chapter throw
upon the character of each?
Note the principal lessons of the chapter.
It would be well to classify these: e. g., lessons about God, Christ,
the Holy Spirit, etc., etc.
The Central Truth of the chapter.
The key verse of the chapter if there is one.
The best verse in the chapter.
Opinions will differ widely here. But the question is, which is the
best verse to you at this present reading? Mark it and memorize it.
Eleventh: Note the verses that are usable as texts for sermons or talks
or Bible readings.
If you have time make an analysis of the thought of these verses and
write it in the margin, or on the opposite leaf if you have an
Twelfth: Name the chapter.
For example, Acts 1 might be called The Ascension Chapter; Acts 2, The
Day of Pentecost Chapter; Acts 3, The Lame Man's Chapter; etc. Give
your own names to the chapters. Give the name that sets forth the most
important and characteristic feature of the chapter.
Thirteenth: Note subjects for further study.
For example, you are studying Acts 1. Subjects suggested for further
study are, The Baptism with the Holy Ghost (see Topical Text Book, page
26); The Ascension (page 20); The Second Coming of Christ (page 240).
Fourteenth: Words and phrases for further study.
For example you are studying Jno. 3. You should look up words and
expressions such as, "Eternal life," "Born again," "Water," "Believer,"
"The Kingdom of God."
Write down what new truth you have learned from the chapter.
If you have learned none, you had better go over it again.
What truth already known has come to you with new power?
Seventeenth: What definite thing have you resolved to do as a result of
studying this chapter?
A permanent record should be kept of the results of the study of each
chapter. It is well to have an interleaved Bible and keep the most
important results in this.
The Bible is the Word of God, and we get the most good out of any book
by studying it as what it really is. It is often said that we should
study the Bible just as we study any other book. That principle
contains a truth, but it also contains a great error. The Bible, it is
true, is a book as other books are books, the same laws of grammatical
and literary construction and interpretation hold here as hold in other
books. But the Bible is an entirely unique book. It is what no other
book is--The Word of God. This can be easily proven to any candid man.
The Bible ought then to be studied as no other book is. It should be
studied as the Word of God. (1 Thes. 2:13.) This involves five things.
First: A greater eagerness and more
careful and candid study to find out just what it teaches than is
bestowed upon any other book or upon all other books. We must know the
mind of God; here it is revealed.
Second: A prompt and unquestioning
acceptance of and submission to its teachings when definitely
ascertained, even when these teachings appear to us unreasonable or
impossible. If this book is the Word of God how foolish to submit its
teachings to the criticism of our finite reason. The little boy who
discredits his wise father's statements because to his infant mind they
appear unreasonable, is not a philosopher but a fool. When we are once
satisfied that the Bible is the Word of God, its clear teachings must
be the end of all controversy and discussion.
Third: Absolute reliance upon all its
promises in all their length and breadth and depth and height. The one
who studies the Bible as the Word of God will say of every promise no
matter how vast and beyond belief it appears, "God who cannot lie has
promised this, so I claim it for myself." Mark the promises you thus
claim. Look each day for some new promise from your infinite Father. He
has put "His riches in glory" at your disposal. (Phil. 4:19.)
Fourth: Obedience--prompt, exact,
unquestioning, joyous obedience--to every command that is evident from
the context applies to you. Be on the lookout for new orders from the
King. Blessing lies in the direction of obedience to them. God's
commands are but signboards that mark the road to present success and
blessedness and to eternal glory.
Fifth: Studying the Bible as the Word of
God, involves studying it as His own voice speaking directly to you.
When you open the Bible to study it realize that you have come into the
very presence of God and that now He is going to speak to you. Every
hour thus spent in Bible study will be an hour's walk and talk with God.
6. Study the Bible prayerfully. The
author of the book is willing to act as interpreter of it. He does so
when we ask Him to. The one who prays with earnestness and faith, the
Psalmist's prayer, "Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous
things out of Thy law," will get his eyes opened to see beauties and
wonders in the Word that he never dreamed of before. Be very definite
about this. Each time you open the Bible to study it for a few minutes
or many, ask God to give you the open and discerning eye, and expect
Him to do it. Every time you come to a difficulty lay it before God and
ask an explanation and expect it. How often we think as we puzzle over
hard passages, "Oh if I only had so and so here to explain this." God
is always present. Take it to Him.
7. Look for "the things concerning
Christ" "in all the Scriptures." Christ is everywhere in the Bible
(Luke 24:27) be on the lookout for Him and mark His presence when you
8. Improve spare moments in Bible study.
In almost every man's life many minutes each day are lost; while
waiting for meals or trains, while riding in the car, etc. Carry a
pocket Bible or Testament with you and save these golden minutes by
putting them to the very best use listening to the voice of God. The
Topical Text Book can be easily carried in the pocket as a help in the
9. Store away the Scripture in your mind
and heart. It will keep you from sin (Ps. 119:11. R. V.), from false
doctrine (Acts 20:29, 30, 32. 2 Tim. 3:13-15), it will fill your heart
with joy (Jer. 15:16), and peace (Ps. 85:8), it will give you the
victory over the Evil One (1 Jno. 2:14), it will give you power in
prayer (Jno. 15:7), it will make you wiser than the aged and your
enemies (Ps. 119:100, 98, 130.) it will make you "complete, furnished
completely unto every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16, 17, R. V.) Try it. Do
not memorize at random but memorize Scripture in a connected way.
Memorize texts bearing on various subjects in proper order. Memorize by
chapter and verse that you may know where to put your finger upon the
text if anyone disputes it.
* From: R. A. Torrey's "The New Topical Text Book"