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There is a great and constantly growing interest in the study of the English Bible in these days. But very much of the so-called study of the English Bible is unintelligent and not fitted to produce the most satisfactory results. The author of this book already has a book entitled “How to Study the Bible for Greatest Profit,” but that book is intended for those who have much time to put into thorough Bible study. The present book is intended, first of all, to impress men with the Importance and Value of Bible Study; secondly, to show busy men and women how to get the most out of their Bible Study; thirdly, to set forth the fundamental principles of correct Biblical Interpretation. The book really consists of four sermons delivered to the members of my own church and congregation in Los Angeles. There were not a few children in the congregation, but they were all interested, long as the sermons were, and seemed to grasp the main points of the sermons. So I am confident the book will be helpful even to those who have but little education. Some in the congregation who are themselves in educational work, both secular and religious, have expressed their appreciation of the help received from the sermons. If one desires to go into the subject more thoroughly it is suggested that he secure the author’s book already mentioned, “How to Study the Bible for Greatest Profit.” This book will probably be followed soon by one upon the most fruitful methods of thorough Bible Study.

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The Importance and Value of Proper Bible Study

HOW PROPERLY TO STUDY AND INTERPRET THE BIBLE

By

R. A. TORREY

Fleming H. Revell Company

Copyright, 1921 by

FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY

Hope. Inspiration. Trust.

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Contents

Introduction

The Importance and Value of Bible Study

I. Because of What the Bible is

II. Because of What the Bible Does

How Properly to Study the Bible

I. Study the Bible, the Bible Itself

II. Study the Bible, Really Study It

III. Study the Bible Daily

IV. Study the Bible to Find Out What It Actually Teaches

V. Meditate Long and Profoundly on What You Find Taught in the Bible

VI. Store the Bible Up in Your Memory

VII. Study the Whole Bible

VIII. Study the Bible as the Word of God

IX. Study the Bible with a Will Wholly Surrendered to God

X. Study the Bible to Learn How to Live Your Daily Life, and Live Your Daily Life that Way

XI. Study the Bible Under the Holy Spirit’s Personal Direction

XII. Study the Bible with a Child-Like Mind

XIII. Study the Bible Systematically

How to Interpret the Bible so as to Find Its True Meaning

I. Get Absolutely Right with God Yourself by the Absolute Surrender of Your Will to God

II. Be Determined to Find Out Just What God Intended to Teach and Not What You Wish Him to Teach

III. Get the Most Accurate Text

IV. Find Out the Most Exact and Literal Meaning of the Text

V. Note the Exact Force of Each Word Used

VI. Interpret the Words Used in Any Verse According to Bible Usage

VII. Interpret the Words of Each Author in the Bible with a Regard to the Particular Usage of that Author

VIII. Interpret Individual Verses with a Regard to the Context

IX. Interpret Individual Passage in the Light of Parallel or Related Passages

X. Interpret Obscure Passages in the Light of Passages that are Perfectly Plain

XI. Interpret Any Passage in the Bible as Those Who Were Addressed Would Have Understood It

XII. Interpret What Belongs to the Christian, as Belonging to the Christian; What Belongs to the Jew, as Belonging to the Jew, and What Belongs to the Gentiles, as Belonging to the Gentiles

XIII. Interpret Each Writer with a View to the Opinions the Writer Opposed

XIV. Interpret Poetry as Poetry and Interpret Prose as Prose

XV. The Holy Spirit is the Best Interpreter of the Bible

The Seven Great Promises of God for the Bible Student and Soul-Winner

I. The First Great Promise

II. The Second Great Promise

III. The Third Great Promise

IV. The Fourth Great Promise

V. The Fifth Great Promise

VI. The Sixth Great Promise

VII. The Seventh Great Promise

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Introduction

There is a great and constantly growing interest in the study of the English Bible in these days. But very much of the so-called study of the English Bible is unintelligent and not fitted to produce the most satisfactory results. The author of this book already has a book entitled “How to Study the Bible for Greatest Profit,” but that book is intended for those who have much time to put into thorough Bible study.

The present book is intended, first of all, to impress men with the Importance and Value of Bible Study; secondly, to show busy men and women how to get the most out of their Bible Study; thirdly, to set forth the fundamental principles of correct Biblical Interpretation.

The book really consists of four sermons delivered to the members of my own church and congregation in Los Angeles. There were not a few children in the congregation, but they were all interested, long as the sermons were, and seemed to grasp the main points of the sermons. So I am confident the book will be helpful even to those who have but little education. Some in the congregation who are themselves in educational work, both secular and religious, have expressed their appreciation of the help received from the sermons.

If one desires to go into the subject more thoroughly it is suggested that he secure the author’s book already mentioned, “How to Study the Bible for Greatest Profit.” This book will probably be followed soon by one upon the most fruitful methods of thorough Bible Study.

R. A. Torrey.

Chapter 1

The Importance and Value of Bible Study

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”—Psalm 1:1–3.

Our subject this morning is “The Importance and Value of Bible Study.” You will find the text in Psalm 1:1–3—“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

There has, perhaps, never been an age that set such great store by study as that in which we now live. The unfortunate thing about it is that so much of the study in our day, both by children and adults, is devoted to books and subjects in which there is little or no profit. A large portion of every year in our schools and colleges is practically wasted. Time is squandered upon the purely speculative, the uncertain, the unprofitable, the unessential, the unproductive, the irrelevant and the transitory. Many practical business men think that the sooner the boy or girl who is just out of school or college forgets half of what they imagine they have learned, the better. The most profitable of all study is wisely ordered Bible study. Its value is incalculable. It is beyond all comparison more profitable than any other study. It is the one superlatively profitable study.

Possibly some of you may be disposed to question that statement; so I will give you two reasons why Bible study is the one superlatively profitable study, why Bible study towers far above all other studies in importance and value.

I. Because of What the Bible is

First of all, Bible study towers far above all other studies in importance and value because of what the Bible itself is.

1. In the first place, the Bible is the peerless masterpiece of clear, pure, chaste, forceful, beautiful, exalted English. Nothing can match it in purity, smoothness, clearness, force, and sublimity of expression. That admits of no question. All intelligent, well-read and candid infidels acknowledge that. Prof. Phelps, at the head of the English Department at Yale, contended some years ago that candidates for admission to American Universities should have their qualification for admission, as far as their knowledge of English was concerned, tested by one book alone, the Bible. And Harvard University has announced in the past few weeks that hereafter every student before graduation must pass an examination in the English Bible. Because of Harvard’s well-known theological position and also from the fact that they seem to emphasize the Revised Version, it is evident that they have in view principally the fact that the Bible is the great English master-piece. Last Tuesday I received from G. P. Putnam’s Sons of New York and London, a book for examination—a dictionary of 6,000 choice and effective phrases. In this book (just published), time and again, page after page, every phrase was taken from the Bible, without variation or addition. Here and there were scattered phrases taken from Shakespeare, but on subject after subject whole pages of telling phrases were consecutively taken from the Bible. Why? Because this book of phrases was prepared by a master hand at English diction and he knew where to find the most illuminating and most telling phrases. Every man and woman should saturate themselves with the very words of the Bible if for no other reason than to clarify, tone up and invigorate their English diction. When Henry Stanley, the great newspaper writer, made his second tour of exploration into the heart of Africa, he took only one book with him, the Bible. In its study he beguiled and improved many lonely hours, and when he emerged, after having been shut up with one book for so many years, it was noticed that Henry Stanley had acquired by absorption an entirely new English style, a far more forceful style, Bible English. It is said that a newspaper report of a paragraph from one of Mr. Moody’s sermons was handed to Max Müller, the great philologist, and he was asked what he thought of it. He asked, “Who wrote that?” And the reply was made, “D. L. Moody.” “I do not wonder then at his power,” Max Müller exclaimed. “That is one of the finest pieces of clear, strong, pure Anglo-Saxon I have ever read.” But where had Mr. Moody learned this vigorous English? From the only book he thoroughly knew and daily devoured, the Bible.

2. In the second place, the Bible is the book that presents to us the most profound, the most coherent, the most consistent, the most comprehensive, the most complete, the most perfectly balanced, the most certain, the loftiest and the most enduring system of philosophy ever discovered. I say “discovered” instead of “devised” advisedly; for man could never have devised the philosophy found in this book; man simply discovered the philosophy which God had revealed in the Book. Time and again through the centuries men grown wise in their own conceit, and having only a ludicrously fragmentary knowledge of the Book upon which they ventured to sit in judgment, have assayed to ridicule the Bible’s philosophy regarding God and man and redemption and duty and eternity. But always in the ultimate outcome the philosophy of the would-be critics has dissolved and disappeared, but the philosophy of the Bible has withstood unscathed the storms of centuries. Philosophies, empires, schools of thought have passed away, but the words of this Book have not passed away. (Matt. 24:35.) The philosophy of this Book has proven imperishable, and as good for 1921 A. D. as for 95 A. D. In view of this undeniable fact is it not evident that this is the most important and invaluable of all books to study? Do not waste your time studying the soap bubbles of man’s iridescent speculation that may be beautiful but soon burst and leave nothing but a nasty, dank, greasy feeling behind, but study the Eternal Rock of this Book that is rich with real gold.

3. In the third place, the Bible is the book that offers to us the purest, loftiest, most complete and absolutely dependable system of ethics ever known. Systems of moral philosophy have appeared throughout the centuries and chiliads, from Zeno to Herbert Spencer, only to disappear, but all really honest seekers after thorough-going and complete righteousness, bow to the imperishable durability of the ethics of the Bible. And even those who clamor hysterically for us to give up the Virgin Birth of our Lord, the resurrection of His very body from the dead and all the miracles, the Deity of our Lord, His atoning, substitutionary death, and others of the most distinctive of the doctrinal teachings of the Book, nevertheless themselves cry “Let us keep the ethics of the Bible. They are not only unsurpassed but absolutely unequaled.” The most important thing to know is, how to live; not how to live physically, but how to live morally. If that is so then the most important book for all of us to know is the book that tells us that as no other book tells us.

4. In the fourth place, the Bible is the one and only book that has never been outgrown or superseded. I had occasion last summer, in breaking up our home in Montrose, Pa., to go over some of the books I studied, yes, dug into with many hard hours of intellectual toil, at preparatory school and at Yale. There was not one of them of any present value to my children or grandchildren. They had all been outgrown or superseded; other books have taken their place. But this Book has not been superseded. No University professor on earth can suggest some other book to take the place of this Book. Some venture to say “We need a new Bible,” but where is it? Why do not they bring it out? When an especially callow and, therefore daring member of this crew does attempt a new Bible it is only “a shorter Bible”; that is, the old Bible with parts left out that made him uneasy in his sin, or his self-righteousness and self-sufficiency. No! No! no! Any one who has a modicum of real, healthy common sense knows that you cannot outgrow or supersede the Bible. And we can safely leave those who want to get out “a new Bible” to sit and twiddle their thumbs along with the other lunatics who are working on a “perpetual motion” machine. This all being true, and eighteen centuries of unvarying history of human thought demonstrate that it is true, can there possibly be any other study so important and so permanently profitable as the study of this, the one and only Imperishable Book?

5. Once more, the Bible is the Word of God. That needs no demonstration. Some of the things I have already said this morning prove it, if you will only think them through. And I have proven it again and again from this platform. Other books tell us what men suppose; the Bible tells us what God knows. Other books tell us what other men, almost as foolish as ourselves, speculate; this Book tells us what an infinitely wise God, Who made us and all things, and consequently knows all things, has inerrantly revealed. If you had two books on the subject, one by the one master thinker on that subject, the other by a third-rate tutor in a fourth-rate college, which would you study most? And will you study most the Book of God, the Book of the infinitely wise, omniscient God, or the book of some little 6x9 human brain—that is larger than any human brain as compared with the infinite capacity of the mind of the great Jehovah, the Eternal I AM.

II. Because of What the Bible Does

Bible study towers above all other studies in importance and value not only because of what the Bible itself is, but also because of what the Bible does.

On this I cannot dwell as I would like. The full exposition of this line of thought would afford more than enough material for a whole sermon by itself. Let me select a few of the more vital points.

1. First of all, the Bible properly studied makes men wise unto salvation. The great master apostle, Paul, writing to a zealous young bishop, his convert and most trusted coadjutator, says in 2 Tim. 3:13–15: “But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” This is tremendous endorsement of the superlative importance of Bible study, and every word of it is true. This Book does make men wise with the wisdom that is golden, the wisdom that brings eternal salvation. No other book in all literature does it with the certainty and celerity and completeness with which this Book does it. No one can study this Book aright, no matter how ignorant he may otherwise be, without becoming possessed of that priceless wisdom that means eternal life. Eternal life is found in knowing God and His Son, Jesus Christ (John 17:3). And no other book has the power to make us acquainted with God and with His Son, Jesus Christ, that this Book has. I have known great philosophers and great men of science and great literary luminaries, who did not know God, just because they had not studied and, therefore, did not know their Bibles. They knew rocks and flowers and the entrails of frogs, and the planets and the comets and the stars, and men’s books, but they did not know the one Book and, therefore, they did not know the God who made the rocks and the flowers and the stars; and, therefore, they were lost, eternally lost, for all their knowledge of other things. On the other hand, I have known uncultured people, almost illiterate people, washerwomen and such like, for example, who had studied and, therefore, did know the bible, and, therefore, they knew more of the wisdom that really counts, the wisdom that spells salvation, in five minutes, than these learned professors knew in their whole lifetime. Oh, study the Book that brings eternal life, make it in your own experience “the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21 R. V.).

2. In the second place, the Bible so makes known Jesus Christ as to lead any one who studies it as he ought, to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and so to obtain eternal life in His name. That is what John himself says in John 20:31 R. V. His words are: “These are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in His name.” Is there anything else in all the world so valuable as eternal life?