III-THE TOPICAL METHOD, OR BIBLE STUDY BY TOPICS

One of the most familiar methods of handling Christian truth is for the preacher or teacher to select a subject or topic, and then find out what the Bible says, or what he himself can say, about it. Some preachers announce the topic or subject on which they propose to speak. Some times they choose topics that are not Scriptural. In all topical preaching there is a tendency to go beyond the limits of the Bible and introduce matter that is not strictly Biblical. It then ceases to be a method of Bible Study or Bible teaching at all.

In pursuing this method, it is a matter of the first importance that the Bible student should be systematic. He should make a comprehensive list of topics or subjects, so large as to include the whole range of Bible teaching. The chief peril of this method of Bible Study is the unequal emphasis which we are liable to place on certain topics which appeal to our interest, and which are too often selected for treatment, to the neglect of other topics equally important and equally prominent in Holy Scripture, which are perhaps never dealt with by us at all.

Bible Study by topics should not be casual, dealing with a single topic, only, nor should it be merely serial, as when a single group of connected topics is dealt with in serial order. It should be comprehensive, systematic, synthetic ; that is to say, an attempt should be made to cover the whole ground occupied by the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

The following classification embraces all the principal kinds of topics by the study of which a knowledge of the main purport and content of the whole Bible may be obtained

1.Biographies,, e.g. the life of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul.

2. Doctrines, e.g. the Atonement; the Second Advent, the work of the Holy Spirit..

3. Duties, e.g. watchfulness, hospitality, industry, forbearance, charity.

4. Places, e.g. Bethlehem, Hebron, Capernaum, Gethsemane, Calvary.

5. Events, e.g. the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, the building of the Temple, the crucifixion of our Lord, the conversion of Saul..

6. Words, e.g. Abba, Amen, everlasting, predestinated, testimony.

7. Dispensations or methods of Divine government initiated at various epochs, and maintained throughout successive ages of the world's history, viz

(1) The dispensation of innocence, ending with the Fall, and represented by the tree of knowledge.

(2) The dispensation of conscience, ending with the Flood, and represented by Noah's Ark.

(3) The dispensation of government, authority or magistracy, ending with Abraham, and represented by the rainbow.

(4) The dispensation of promise, lasting for a period of four hundred and thirty years (Gal.3:17), ending at Sinai, and represented by Isaac.

(5) The dispensation of the Law, ending at Calvary, and represented by the tables of testimony.

(6) The dispensation of " the gospel of the grace of God," in which we are now living, which is to end with the Second Advent, and which is represented by the Cross.

(7) The dispensation of the millennium, beginning with the binding of Satan, lasting a thousand years, ending at the day of judgment, and represented by the Great White Throne.

(8) The dispensation of the Eternal Age, beginning with a new heaven and a new earth, enduring for ever and ever, and represented by the tree of life.

Good work always pays. It brings its own reward. It deepens interest. It develops a consciousness of power. It awakens a feeling of mastery. It is essential that in this method of Bible Study the student should be thorough. He should collect all the passages that bear upon the subject chosen. If the topic is that of a Scripture biography he should analyse the character, noting elements of power and weakness, success and failure, privileges and limitations, advantages. and disadvantages, mistakes made, perils avoided, and help obtained from God.

It is most important that the Bible student should be exact in all his inferences and sure of all his conclusions. He should note carefully the real sense and true meaning of each passage considered, and should neglect all merely verbal and superficial resemblances which have no real bearing on the subject in hand.

That the study should yield a profitable result, it is a prime necessity that the student should be practical. He should examine the bearing of the truths taught upon the conduct of life. He should classify his results and summarise the lessons to be learnt from them. He should ever remember that Holy Scripture was given to us by God, not merely and not chiefly to satisfy the intellect, but first and chiefly to quicken the conscience, to correct the judgment, to reinforce the will, and to direct the way of our feet. Its abiding truths have a perennial message and a present-day application to the circumstances of this, as of every other age, and to study its truths without attempting to translate them into commands bearing upon practical life, is to linger on in a realm through which it may be necessary for us to pass, but in which it is fatal for us to stay.

All Bible Study should have an object as well as a subject, and that object is not attained until the truth is applied in such a way as to awaken a response in the heart and conscience of the Bible reader, which shall bear fruit in practical conduct and daily life.

Three good books may be recommended as affording all the material that will be required for the profitable employment of this method of Bible Study.

1. Inglis's Bible Text Cyclopcedia .

This is a complete classification of Scrip- ture texts in the form of an alphabetical index of subjects. It tabulates every subject, whether doctrinal, devotional, practical, ecclesiastical, historical, biographical, or secular, which has a place in the Sacred Volume. The topics are arranged in alphabetical order, and every text belonging to each topic has been carefully collected and placed under its own appropriate head. The abstract or list of subjects at the end of the book embraces a comprehensive survey of all the essential truths of Holy Scripture. These should be taken one by one, and an attempt should be made to find out all that the Bible has to say about them.

2. Nave's Topical Bible.

This is a digest of the whole of the matter contained in Holy Scripture, classified under as many headings as there are topics or subjects dealt with in the Bible. These are arranged in alphabetical order. Where the number of passages bearing upon any important subject is

very large, these passages are printed in full. In other cases, where only a few passages are to be found, the references only are given.

3. Dr. C. I. Scofield's Reference Bible

This magnificent work has already been referred to in the previous section of this chapter on " Bible Study by Marginal References." It contains an index of all the great topics of Scripture, and a summary of the teaching of the whole Bible upon each topic.

ILLUSTRATIONS OF BIBLE BIOGRAPHIES

Reading. Topic.

I. Adam

Gen. 1. Adam created in the image of God.

Gen. 2 Adam placed in the garden of Eden.

Gen. 3. Adam's temptation and fall. ,

Job 31 Adam covered his transgression and hid his iniquity.

Rom. 5. Adam's sin made all men sinners.

1 Tim.2 Adam sinned not ignorantly but deliberately.

2. Abel

Gen. 4 Abel's birth, life, sacrifice, and death.

i John 3 Abel's works were righteous.

Heb. 11 Abel's sacrifice accepted because offered by faith.

Matt.23 Abel the first martyr.

Heb. 12 Abel's blood calls for vengeance; Christ's for pardon.

3. Abraham

Acts 7 Abraham's two calls-Ur to Haran, and Haran to Canaan.

Gen. 11 Abraham's first call-Ur to Haran.

Gen. 12 Abraham's second call-Haran to Canaan.

Gen. 13 Abraham separates from Lot, and dwells in Hebron.

Gen. 15 Abraham's sacrifice and covenant with God.

Gen. 16 Abraham marries Hagar-birth of Ishmael.

Gen. 17 Abraham's covenant with God confirmed by circumcision.

Gen. 18 Abraham entertains three angels and intercedes for Sodom.

Gen. 20 Abraham dwells at Gerar and deceives Abimelech.

Gen. 21 Abraham's heir ; Isaac born.

Gen. 22 Abraham offers his son Isaac.

Gen. 23 Abraham buries Sarah in the grave of Machpelah.

Gen. 25 Abraham's testament, age, death, and burial.

Neh. 9 Abraham's heart found faithful.

Rom. 4 Abraham's faith imputed to him for righteousness.

Gal. 3 Abraham the father of the faithful.

Heb. 11 Abraham's stupendous faith in God.

James.2 Abraham's faith bears the fruit of good works.

John 8 Abraham's children do the works of Abraham.

BIBLE DOCTRINES The Atonement

Reading. Topic.

2 Cor.5 Jesus died for all men.

Rom. 3 Christ Jesus set forth to be a propitiation.

John 1 Jesus takes away the sin of the world.

Heb. 2 Jesus tastes death for all men.

1 John 2 " He is the propitiation for our sins."

Gal.3 " Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law."

Mark 10 Christ " gave His life a ransom for many."

I Pet. 1 " We are redeemed .. by the precious blood of Christ."

Heb.10 Christ " offered one sacrifice for sins forever."

1 Pet.3 " Christ also hath once suffered for sins."

Is. 53 Christ bore the iniquity of us all.

Matt. 26 Christ's blood was shed for the remission of sins.

Acts 20. Christ purchased the Church with His own blood.

1 Cor.15 " Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures."

Col. 1. In Christ " we have redemption through His blood."

III.-BIBLE DUTIES Watchfulness

Reading. Topic.

Ex. 23 " In all things be circumspect."

Ex. 34 " Take heed to thyself."

Deut. 4 " Keep thy soul diligently lest thou forget."

Deut.11 " Take heed that your heart be not deceived."

Reading. Topic.

Josh. 22 " Take diligent heed to do the commandment."

Josh. 23. "Take good heed that ye love the Lord."

Ps. 4 " Stand in awe and sin not."

Prov 4. " Keep thy heart with all diligence."

Matt. 24 " Therefore be ye also ready. '

Matt.25 " They that were ready went in with him."

Luke 12 " Take heed and beware of covetousness."

Luke 21 " Watch ye therefore and pray always."

1 Cor.3 " Let every man take heed how he buildeth."

Ephes, 5. " See that ye walk circumspectly."

1 Thess. 5. "Let us watch and be sober."

Rev. 16 " Behold, I come as a thief."

IV.-BIBLE PLACES

Bethlehem

Reading. Topic.

Gen. 48 Rachel died at Bethlehem.

Micah 5. Bethlehem the birthplace of the Ruler in Israel.

Ruth 1. Bethlehem the home of Naomi and Ruth.

Ruth 2. Bethlehem the home of Boaz.

1 Sam. 16 Bethlehem the home of David.

2 Sam. 23 The exploit of David's mighty men at Bethlehem.

Matt. 2. Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ.

V.-BIBLE EVENTS

The Conversion of Saul

Reading. Topic.

Acts 7 Saul's part in Stephen's death.

Acts 9. Saul's conversion as told by Luke.

Acts 22. Saul's conversion as told by himself to the Jews.

Acts 26. Saul's conversion as told by himself to Agrippa.

Gal. 1. Saul's conversion as told by himself to the Galatians.

1 Tim.1. Saul's conversion as told by himself to Timothy.

1 Cor. 9 Saul's conversion as referred to by himself in his Epistle to the Corinthians.

VI.-BIBLE WORDS

Amen

Reading. Topic.

Deut. 27. A strong affirmation, equivalent to an oath.

Neh. 5. A strong confirmation of the act of Nehemiah.

2 Cor. 1. A strong expression signifying firm, established, sure.

i Kings 1. A strong confirmation of the words of David.

1 Chron. 16. A strong endorsement of David's psalm by the people.

Neh. 8. A strong endorsement of the words of Ezra.

Luke 23. Our Lord's endorsement of a sinner's prayer (Verily = Amen).

1 Cor. 14. Intelligent confirmation of the words of another.

Rev. 19. A strong affirmation of the just judgment of God.

Rev. 3. One of the names of the unchanging Christ.

VII.-BIBLE DISPENSATIONS

Reading. Topic.

Gen.1 First Dispensation-Innocence, ending with the fall.

Gen. 3. Second Dispensation-Conscience, ending with the flood.

Gen. 8. Third Dispensation-Magistracy, ending with Abraham.

Gen. 12. Fourth Dispensation-Promise, ending at Sinai.

Ex. 19. Fifth Dispensation-Law, ending at Calvary.

John 1. Sixth Dispensation-Grace, ending at the Second Advent.

Rev. 20. Seventh Dispensation-The millennium,ending at the Great White Throne.

Rev. 21. Eighth Dispensation-The eternal age of the New Heaven and the New Earth, which has no end, but endures for ever and ever.

Chapter 4B Table of Contents Chapter 4D