Last week we began our four part series on how to study the Bible by RA Torrey. This week we want to dive into a couple other methods that Torrey gives for studying the Word. In it he gives ten steps and an exhortation on how you can gain much benefit and profit from your own personal study.
Another and more thorough method of Bible study will yield excellent results when applied to some of the more important chapters of the Bible. It is as follows:
1. Read the chapter for today’s study five times, reading it aloud at least once. Each new reading will bring out a new point.
2. Divide the chapter into its natural divisions, and find headings that describe the contents of each division.
3. Write down the most important facts of the chapter in their proper order.
4. Make a note of the people mentioned in the chapter and any light thrown on their character.
5. Note the principal lessons of the chapter. It is helpful to classify these. For instance, lessons about God, lessons about Christ, lessons about the Holy Spirit, etc.
6. Find the central truth of the chapter.
7. Find the key verse of the chapter if there is one. Mark it and memorize it.
8. Write down any new truth you have learned from the chapter.
9. Write down any truth you already know that has come to you with new power.
10. Write down what definite thing you have resolved to do as a result of studying this chapter.
A beneficial order of study for you might be all of the chapters in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts; the first eight chapters of Romans; 1 Corinthians 13; the first six chapters of 2 Corinthians; then all the chapters in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and 1 John. Sometimes you can refresh your study by alternating methods.
Another profitable method of Bible study is the topical method. This was D. L. Moody’s favorite method. Take such topics as: the Holy Spirit, prayer, the blood of Christ, sin, judgment, grace, justification, the new birth, sanctification, faith, repentance, the character of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the ascension of Christ, the second coming of Christ, assurance, love of God, love (to God, to Christ, to Christians, to all men), heaven, hell. Get a Bible concordance and study each of these topics.
We should study the Bible comprehensively—the whole Bible. Many Bible readers make the mistake of confining all their reading to certain portions of the Bible that they enjoy. This way they get no knowledge of the Bible as a whole. They miss altogether many of the most important phases of Bible truth. Go through the Bible again and again–a certain portion each day from the Old Testament and a portion from the New Testament.
It is also beneficial to read a whole book of the Bible through at a single sitting. This lets you see the whole picture. Of course, a few books of the Bible would take one or two hours. But most books can be read in a few minutes. The shorter books of the Bible should be read through again and again at a single sitting.
Study the Bible attentively. Do not hurry. One of the worst faults in Bible study is haste. We only benefit from Bible study by learning its truth. It has no magic power. It is better to read one verse attentively than to read a dozen chapters thoughtlessly. Sometimes you will read a verse that grabs you. Don’t hurry on. Stop and think about that verse.
As you read, mark in your Bible what impresses you most. One does not need an elaborate marking system, simply highlight what impresses you. Think about what you mark. God affirms that the man who meditates on God’s law day and night is blessed (Psalm 1).
Memorize the passages that impress you most. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11). When you memorize a passage of Scripture, memorize its location as well as the words. Study your Bible comparatively. In other words, compare Scripture with Scripture. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. Wherever you find a difficult passage in the Bible, there is always another passage that explains its meaning. The best book to use in this comparison is The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. This book gives a large number of references on every verse in the Bible. You may want to take a particular book of the Bible and go through that book verse by verse. Look up and study every reference given in The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge dealing with that book. This is a very fruitful method of Bible study.
Study your Bible and believe it. The apostle Paul, in writing to the Christians in Thessalonica, said, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). Happy is the one who receives the Word of God as these believers in Thessalonica received it, as the Word of God. In such a person it is especially effective. The Bible is the Word of God, and we get the most out of any book by acknowledging it for what it really is.
It requires a prompt and unquestioning acceptance of, and submission to, its teachings. These teachings may appear unreasonable or impossible. Nevertheless, we should accept them. If this book is the Word of God, it is foolish to submit its teachings to the criticism of our finite reasoning.
Correct Bible study includes absolute reliance on all its promises in all their length, breadth, depth, and height. The one who studies the Bible as the Word of God will say of any promise, no matter how vast and beyond belief it appears, “God who cannot lie has promised this, so I will claim it for myself.” Mark the promise you claim. Each day look for some new promise from your infinite Father.
You must also study God’s Word in obedience. Nothing goes further to help one understand the Bible than resolving to obey it. Jesus said, “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17). Many passages that look obscure to you now would become as clear as day if you were willing to obey everything the Bible teaches.
It is remarkable how soon one loses his thirst for the Bible and how soon the mind becomes obscured to its teachings when we disobey the Bible at any point. Nothing clears the mind like obedience; nothing darkens the mind like disobedience. To obey a truth you see prepares you to see other truths. To disobey a truth you see darkens your mind to all truths.
Cultivate prompt, exact, unquestioning, joyous obedience to every command that clearly applies to you. Be on the lookout for new orders from your King. Blessing lies in the direction of obedience to them.
Read the other parts to this series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4