Bible Teaching and Study
In childhood, youth, and manhood, Jesus studied the Scriptures. As a
little child He was daily at His mother's knee taught from the scrolls
of the prophets. In His youth the early morning and the evening twilight
often found Him alone on the mountainside or among the trees of the
forest, spending a quiet hour in prayer and the study of God's word.
During His ministry His intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures
testifies to His diligence in their study. And since He gained knowledge
as we may gain it, His wonderful power, both mental and spiritual, is a
testimony to the value of the Bible as a means of education.
Our heavenly Father, in giving His word, did not overlook the
children. In all that men have written, where can be found anything that
has such a hold upon the heart, anything so well adapted to awaken the
interest of the little ones, as the stories of the Bible?
In these simple stories may be made plain the great principles of the
law of God. Thus by illustrations best suited to the child's
comprehension, parents and teachers may begin very early to fulfil the
Lord's injunction concerning His precepts: "Thou shalt teach them
diligently 186 unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou
sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou
liest down, and when thou risest up." Deuteronomy 6:7.
The use of object lessons, blackboards, maps, and pictures, will be
an aid in explaining these lessons, and fixing them in the memory.
Parents and teachers should constantly seek for improved methods. The
teaching of the Bible should have our freshest thought, our best
methods, and our most earnest effort.
In arousing and strengthening a love for Bible study, much depends on
the use of the hour of worship. The hours of morning and evening worship
should be the sweetest and most helpful of the day. Let it be understood
that into these hours no troubled, unkind thoughts are to intrude; that
parents and children assemble to meet with Jesus, and to invite into the
home the presence of holy angels. Let the services be brief and full of
life, adapted to the occasion, and varied from time to time. Let all
join in the Bible reading and learn and often repeat God's law. It will
add to the interest of the children if they are sometimes permitted to
select the reading. Question them upon it, and let them ask questions.
Mention anything that will serve to illustrate its meaning. When the
service is not thus made too lengthy, let the little ones take part in
prayer, and let them join in song, if it be but a single verse.
To make such a service what it should be, thought should be given to
preparation. And parents should take time daily for Bible study with
their children. No doubt it will require effort and planning and some
sacrifice to accomplish this; but the effort will be richly repaid.
As a preparation for teaching His precepts, God commands that they be
hidden in the hearts of the parents. "These words, which I command
thee this day, shall be in thine heart," He says; "and thou
shalt teach them diligently." Deuteronomy 6:6, 7. In order to
interest our children in the Bible, we ourselves must be interested in
it. To awaken in them a love for its study, we must love it. Our
instruction to them will have only the weight of influence given it by
our own example and spirit.
God called Abraham to be a teacher of His word, He chose him to be
the father of a great nation, because He saw that Abraham would instruct
his children and his household in the principles of God's law. And that
which gave power to Abraham's teaching was the influence of his own
life. His great household consisted of more than a thousand souls, many
of them heads of families, and not a few but newly converted from
heathenism. Such a household required a firm hand at the helm. No weak,
vacillating methods would suffice. Of Abraham God said, "I know
him, that he will command his children and his household after
him." Genesis 18:19. Yet his authority was exercised with such
wisdom and tenderness that hearts were won. The testimony of the divine
Watcher is, "They shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and
judgement." Genesis 18:19. And Abraham's influence extended beyond
his own household. Wherever he pitched his tent, he set up beside it the
altar for sacrifice and worship. When the tent was removed, the altar
remained; and many a roving Canaanite, whose knowledge of God had been
gained from the life of Abraham His servant, tarried at that altar to
offer sacrifice to Jehovah.
No less effective today will be the teaching of God's word when it
finds as faithful a reflection in the teacher's life.
It is not enough to know what others have thought or learned about
the Bible. Everyone must in the judgement give account of himself to
God, and each should now learn for himself what is truth. But in order
to do effective study, the interest of the pupil must be enlisted.
Especially by the one who has to deal with children and youth differing
widely in disposition, training, and habits of thought, this is a matter
not to be lost sight of. In teaching children the Bible, we may gain
much by observing the bent of their minds, the things in which they are
interested, and arousing their interest to see what the Bible says about
these things. He who created us, with our various aptitudes, has in His
word given something for everyone. As the pupils see that the lessons of
the Bible apply to their own lives, teach them to look to it as a
Help them also to appreciate its wonderful beauty. Many books of no
real value, books that are exciting and unhealthful are recommended, or
at least permitted to be used, because of their supposed literary value.
Why should we direct our children to drink of these polluted streams
when they may have free access to the pure fountains of the word of God?
The Bible has a fullness,a strength, a depth of meaning, that is
inexhaustible. Encourage the children and youth to seek out its
treasures both of thought and of expression.
As the beauty of these precious things attracts their minds, a
softening, subduing power will touch their hearts. They will be drawn to
Him who has thus revealed Himself to them. And there are few who will
not desire to know more of His works and ways.
The student of the Bible should be taught to approach it in the
spirit of a learner. We are to search its pages, not for proof to
sustain our opinions, but in order to know what God says.
A true knowledge of the Bible can be gained only through the aid of
that Spirit by whom the word was given. And in order to gain this
knowledge we must live by it. All that God's word commands, we are to
obey. All that it promises, we may claim. The life which it enjoins is
the life that, through its power, we are to live. Only as the Bible is
thus held can it be studied effectively.
The study of the Bible demands our most diligent effort and
persevering thought. As the miner digs for the golden treasure in the
earth, so earnestly, persistently, must we seek for the treasure of
In daily study the verse-by-verse method is often most helpful. Let
the student take one verse, and concentrate the mind on ascertaining the
thought that God has put into that verse for him, and then dwell upon
the thought until it becomes his own. One passage thus studied until its
significance is clear is of more value than the perusal of many chapters
with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained.
One of the chief causes of mental inefficiency and moral weakness is
the lack of concentration for worthy ends. We pride ourselves on the
wide distribution of literature; but the multiplication of books, even
books that in themselves are not harmful, may be a positive evil. With
the immense tide of printed matter constantly pouring from the press,
old and young form the habit of reading hastily and superficially, and
the mind loses its power of connected and vigorous thought. Furthermore,
a large share of the periodicals and books that, like the frogs of
Egypt, are overspreading the land, are not merely commonplace, idle, and
enervating, but unclean and degrading. Their effect is not merely to
intoxicate and ruin the mind, but to corrupt and destroy the soul. The
mind, the heart, that is indolent, aimless, falls an easy prey to evil.
It is on diseased, lifeless organisms that fungus roots. It is the idle
mind that is Satan's workshop. Let the mind be directed to high and holy
ideals, let the life have a noble aim, an absorbing purpose, and evil
finds little foothold.
Let the youth, then, be taught to give close study to the word of
God. Received into the soul, it will prove a mighty barricade against
temptation. "Thy word," the psalmist declares, "have I
hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." "By the
word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer."
Psalms 119:11; 17:4.
The Bible is its own expositor. Scripture is to be compared with
scripture. The student should learn to view the word as a whole, and to
see the relation of its parts. He should gain a knowledge of its grand
central theme, of God's original purpose for the world, of the rise of
the great controversy, and of the work of redemption. He should
understand the nature of the two principles that are contending for
supremacy, and should learn to trace their working through the records
of history and prophecy, to the great consummation. He should see how
this controversy enters into every phase of human experience; how in
every act of life he himself reveals the one or the other of the two
antagonistic motives; and how, whether he will or not, he is even now
deciding upon which side of the controversy he will be found.
Every part of the Bible is given by inspiration of God and is
profitable. The Old Testament no less than the New should receive
attention. As we study the Old Testament we shall find living springs
bubbling up where the careless reader discerns only a desert.
The book of Revelation, in connection with the book of Daniel,
especially demands study. Let every God-fearing teacher consider how
most clearly to comprehend and to present the gospel that our Saviour
came in person to make known to His servant John--"The Revelation
of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants
things which must shortly come to pass." Revelation 1:1. None
should become discouraged in the study of the Revelation because of its
apparently mystical symbols. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him
ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not."
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of
this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the
time is at hand." Revelation 1:3.
When a real love for the Bible is awakened, and the student begins to
realise how vast is the field and how precious its treasure, he will
desire to seize upon every opportunity for acquainting himself with
God's word. Its study will be restricted to no special time or place.
And this continuous study is one of the best means of cultivating a love
for the Scriptures. Let the student keep his Bible always with him. As
you have opportunity, read a text and meditate upon it. While walking
the streets, waiting at a railway station, waiting to meet an
engagement, improve the opportunity to gain some precious thought from
the treasure house of truth.
The great motive powers of the soul are faith, hope, and love; and it
is to these that Bible study, rightly pursued, appeals. The outward
beauty of the Bible, the beauty of imagery and expression, is but the
setting, as it were, for its real treasure--the beauty of holiness. In
its record of the men who walked with God, we may catch glimpses of His
glory. In the One "altogether lovely" we behold Him, of whom
all beauty of earth and heaven is but a dim reflection. "I, if I be
lifted up," He said, "will draw all men unto Me." John
12:32. As the student of the Bible beholds the Redeemer, there is
awakened in the soul the mysterious power of faith, adoration, and love.
Upon the vision of Christ the gaze is fixed, and the beholder grows into
the likeness of that which he adores. The words of the apostle Paul
become the language of the soul: "I count all things but loss for
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: . . . that I
may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of
His sufferings." Philippians 3:8-10.
The springs of heavenly peace and joy unsealed in the soul by the
words of Inspiration will become a mighty river of influence to bless
all who come within its reach. Let the youth of today, the youth who are
growing up with the Bible in their hands, become the recipients and the
channels of its life-giving energy, and what streams of blessing would
flow forth to the world!--influences of whose power to heal and comfort
we can scarcely conceive --rivers of living water, fountains
"springing up unto everlasting life."
[ Back ] [ Up ] [ Next ]