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Mastery of the Bible

Joe Carter posted today on an intriguing method for gaining a better understanding of the Bible. He lays out four steps:

1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all 66 books of the Bible.

His reasoning:

 

Christians often talk about having a Biblical worldview yet most have only a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible. They attempt to build a framework without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. The benefits of following this process should therefore be obvious. By fully immersing yourself into the text you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your knowledge of the Bible as a whole and be able to put each book into context.

He suggests starting with shorter books and working your way up. Other tips include reading at a normal pace, ignoring verse and chapter divisions, skipping the commentaries and thinking about your own outline. He says around the eighth or ninth reading, you’ll hit a wall, but if you persevere, you’ll gain insights you’ve never noticed before. The idea is adapted from a book by James M. Gray called “How to Master the English Bible.”

Seems like the idea has merit. We tend to read small chunks at a time, so reading with a broad overview in mind should give us a better overall sense of what God is saying in each book and how the author goes about accomplishing his purpose. And saturating our minds with the word of God can only have good consequences.

Here’s how James Gray first learned of this method. It’s an encouraging example:

The first practical help I ever received in the mastery of the English Bible was from a layman. I saw something in his Christian life to which I was a comparative stranger –a peace, a rest, a joy, a kind of spiritual poise I knew little about.

One day I ventured to ask him how he had become possessed of the experience, when he replied, “By reading the epistle to the Ephesians.” I was surprised, for I had read it without such results, and therefore asked him to explain the manner of his reading, when he related the following:

He had gone into the country to spend the Sabbath with his family on one occasion, taking with him a pocket copy of Ephesians, and in the afternoon, going out into the woods and lying down under a tree, he began to read it; he read it through at a single reading, and finding his interest aroused, read it through again in the same way, and, his interest increasing, again and again.

I think he added that he read it some twelve or fifteen times, “and when I arose to go into the house,” said he, “I was in possession of Ephesians, or better yet, it was in possession of me, and I had been ‘lifted up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ in an experimental sense in which that had not been true in me before, and will never cease to be true in me again.”

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