CHAPTER 5-HOW TO MASTER THE BIBLE

THERE are certain maxims which are applicable not only to the subject of Bible Study but also to every other form of human endeavour. The secret of success in every department of life is hard work. The man who wants to have a competent knowledge of his Bible must be prepared to work hard at it. Lightly come, lightly go ; but for real value and permanent worth there must be steady and sustained effort, and the results accruing will always be in proportion to the sacrifices made, the pains taken, and the industry displayed.

Nothing can come out of nothing. A man does not learn a language, or gain the power to play the violin, or to command a ship, without a considerable amount of steady, honest, faithful, plodding work. It is the same with Bible Study. It begins with drudgery, but by and by drudgery leads to mastery, and with the sense of mastery comes a consciousness of power which turns the drudgery into a delight.

The point at which a piece of hard work ceases to be irksome, and becomes a source of pleasure, is the point of mastery. The thing that creates interest and brings satisfaction to the worker in every department of toil and study is efficiency, and for the attainment of efficiency there must be some knowledge and some application of the methods that lead to mastery.

We are not all gifted in the same way, but everybody can do something well, and the mastery of the content of the English Bible is one of those things that lies within the compass of all. We need not envy the gifts of others. We are not all D. L. Moodys, or Campbell Morgans, or F. B. Meyers, but even " unlearned and ignorant men " have the capacity to make themselves masters here. Everybody can read the Bible. Everybody can understand it; Everybody can attain to some measure of usefulness, if not of distinction, in imparting the truths it contains to others. This is the justification of the calling of the lay-preacher and the Sunday School teacher who have been denied the inestimable advantage of a university education or a complete course of college training.

The subject lies within the reach of the ordinary wage-earning working man, and there is no occupation which yields a bigger return, in the way of intellectual interest and spiritual enjoyment, than that of Bible Study.

Everything counts and counts for ever. The mind is interested, enriched, and ennobled by a course of consecutive Bible Study, and the benefits, which such a course of study confers are not merely permanent, they are eternal.

For the mastery of the English Bible the foregoing methods of Bible Study are strongly recommended, but especially, the synthetic method of Bible Study by books. The Bible is well worthy of systematic, comprehensive, consecutive study, and any pains taken in attempting to master its content will be amply rewarded. The main thing is to read the Bible itself, not merely books on the Bible ; to read it copiously, continuously, consecutively, repeatedly, independently, and prayerfully, getting our own interpretation of its meaning and purport direct from the Holy Spirit, the Author, the inspirer, and the only true Interpreter of the written Word of God. The Bible is a supernatural Book, and it can only be mastered by supernatural aid.

Therefore let the reading of the Bible be punctuated with prayer.

The complete mastery of the content of the whole Bible, and of every book in it, is a matter that takes time ; but no better investment of time can be made, for what we sow in time we shall reap in eternity. But even apart from the harvest of eternity, there is no occupation which yields so rich a return of real enjoyment and pure pleasure as the study of the Word of God, provided that this study is undertaken in order to satisfy the soul's desire for God. We must not study the Book of Books merely as a means of gratifying our scientific and literary tastes and ambitions, or for the sake of satisfying our own intellectual curiosity. The Book was written for the purpose of introducing us to a Person, to One Who is alive, and Who is, if we only knew it, the very heart of our heart, the very life of our life. If we read it in order to find our way to Him, the result will be a renewal of the soul's interest in the life of fellowship with God, the life of personal holiness, of believing prayer, of active Christian service, and abundant missionary endeavour.

" Break Thou the Bread of Life, Dear Lord, to me,

As Thou didst break the loaves Beside the sea.

Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;

My spirit pants for Thee,

O Living Word."

Make the best of your second best. If your time is limited and your obligations and claims in other directions are heavy, do not fail to give to Bible Study the limited amount of time and strength that you can spare for this purpose.

Go on bettering your very best. The riches of Bible truth are inexhaustible. The more we read and study the Book the more convinced we are that " the Lord hath yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word."

Chapter 4G Table of Contents Chapter 6