Principles of Bible Study

(Dr. Frank Charles Thompson)

The Spiritual Attitude Indispensable

It is of the utmost importance that readers, or students, should approach the Bible in a reverent attitude of mind, regarding it as the inspired Word of God, and not as an ordinary literary production. It may be read, or studied, in the same spirit as a volume of Milton, Shakespeare, or some historical work and it will be found interesting and profitable; but literary students, or critics, however scholarly and persistent they may be, will never discover its choicest treasures. As Paul said, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Conscious Need Essential

The Bible should be studied as eagerly as a hungry person seeks for bread. The formal reading of a portion of the Word each day may have some value as a religious exercise; but to receive the full benefit from the Word, its truths must be appropriated. The delivery person on a bakery truck may handle a thousand loaves of bread a day, and yet go home hungry at night; so Bible readers may peruse large portions of the Word of God with little profit unless they make it their own and feed on it.

First Hand Knowledge Best

Many Christians are satisfied to receive all their truth filtered through the mind of some teacher, minister, or commentator. They seldom, or never, go to the Book of Books for independent study. They inevitably become mere echoes of the opinions of others; not grounded in the truth for themselves, they are “carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14). It is a great day for children when they learn to feed themselves, even more so for believers who daily find nourishment in the Word of God.

Study the Bible as a Traveler

Go over its vast fields of truth; descend into its valleys; climb its mountains of vision; follows its streams of inspiration; enter its halls of instruction; visit its wondrous portrait galleries. Remember that many doctrinal errors have grown out of a lack of spiritual perspective, or a narrow view of scriptural truth. The Savior said, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God”(Mt 22:29).

Seek to Understand the Deep Things of God

Study the Word as a miner digs for gold or as a diver plunges into the depths of the sea for pearls. Most great truths do not lie on the surface. They must be brought up into the light by patient toil.

Best Methods of Study

Adopt some systematic method. The haphazard reading of a few verses of the Scriptures every day is better than nothing, but it is not real Bible study. It is simply nibbling at the truth; strong Christians build themselves up by diligent study.

Topical Study

Select a subject and trace it through the Scriptures. This is fully illustrated in the Chain-Reference System.

Biographical Study

Study various biblical characters. This can be intensely interesting and profitable.

Book Study

Select a book and endeavor to master it; ascertain its authorship, to whom it was addressed, the circumstances under which it was written, its purpose, and its main teachings.

Chapter and Passage Study

Get to know the gems of biblical literature.

Verse Study

Memorize the great verses of the Bible. The memorized verse is both a defensive and offensive weapon for the Christian, readily available for the spiritual emergencies of life.

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