By Reuben Archer Torrey
PREPARATION AND DELIVERY OF BIBLE READINGS
I. DIFFERENT KINDS OF BIBLE READINGS.
There are many different kinds of Bible readings, and it is well to bear in mind the distinctions between them.
1. THE WHOLE BIBLE TOPICAL BIBLE READING. By this we mean the Bible reading that takes up some topic and goes through the whole Bible to find its texts for the study of the topic. For example, if the Bible reading is on the subject, "The Power of Prayer," passages for the illustration and exposition of the subject are taken from any book in the Bible where they are found.
2. THE BOOK TOPICAL BIBLE READING. By this we mean the taking up of a topic as it is treated in a single book in the Bible; for example, the Holy Spirit in John's Gospel, or the Believer's Certainties in the First Epistle of John. These subjects are handled simply as they are treated in these individual books.
3. THE CHAPTER TOPICAL BIBLE READING. In this the subject is handled simply as it is found in a single chapter in the Bible; for example, the Freedom of the Believer in Romans 8; or, the Priceless Possessions of the Believer in Philippians 4; or, the Glory of the Believer in 1 John 5; or, Christ as seen in 1 John 2.
4. THE GENERAL SURVEY OF A BOOK BIBLE READING. In this form of Bible reading there is a rapid survey of the salient facts or great truths of some book in the Bible.
5. THE GENERAL SURVEY OF A CHAPTER BIBLE READING. This varies from the preceding one, in that a single chapter is considered instead of an entire book.
6. THE RUNNING COMMENTARY BIBLE READING.
7. THE MUTUAL HELP BIBLE READING.
II. THE CHOICE OF SUBJECTS.
The first matter of importance in the construction of Bible readings is the choice of subjects. The following suggestions will help in this choice of subjects:
1. There are some great subjects that every pastor and teacher and evangelist should take up, such as the following:
(1) The Power of the Blood of Christ.
(2) The Power of the Word of God.
(3) The Power of the Holy Spirit.
(4) The Power of Prayer.
(5) How to Pray Effectually.
(7) The New Birth.
(9) God's Plan for Every Believer's Life.
(16) Future Destiny of Believers.
(17) Future Destiny of Impenitent Sinners.
(18) The Second Coming of Christ.
(19) Fulfilled Prophecies.
2. Go through Bible Text Books and Concordances, noting subjects for Bible Readings.
3. GET SUGGESTIONS FROM SUGGESTIVE BOOKS OF BIBLE READINGS. For example, Inglis' "Pegs for Preachers and Points for Christian Workers." Do not adopt these plans outright, but simply get suggestions.
4. Keep a blank book and note down such subjects as occur to you from time to time.
5. Get your subject for the meeting immediately in hand by prayer.
III. THE GETTING TOGETHER OF MATERIAL FOR BIBLE READINGS.
Having chosen your subject, the next thing to do is to get your material. This can be done in the following way:
1. LOOK UP IN THE CONCORDANCE THE PASSAGES HAVING THE WORD OR SYNONYMOUS WORDS IN IT. Suppose, for example, that the subject is "The Power of Prayer"; look up passages in the concordance under the words pray, prayer, intercession, supplication, ask, cry, call, and synonymous words. Some of these passages you will reject at once; many will not relate to prayer at all; others will relate to prayer, but not to the power of prayer; other passages you will note, to be used or rejected later. It will save time, if, instead of writing the passages down on first going through the concordance, you mark them by some sign on the margin of the concordance.
2. LOOK UP THE SUBJECT AND RELATED SUBJECTS IN YOUR TOPICAL TEXT BOOK. Suppose, for example, the subject in hand is "The Power of the Blood"; look up passages under the following subjects: Reconciliation, Atonement, Redemption, Death of Christ.
3. Look up the subject and related subjects in the book, "What the Bible Teaches."
4. In your general Bible study be always on the watch for passages bearing on the subjects upon which you intend to teach. There are many passages which bear upon a subject which you will find neither in a concordance nor a text book; but if you study your Bible with an alert mind, these passages will be noticed by you and can be jotted down as you come to them.
5. PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAP AND SEE IF YOU CANNOT CALL TO MIND PASSAGES ON THE SUBJECT IN HAND. Sometimes it is well to construct a Bible reading absolutely without reference to concordance or text book. Of course this will be impossible for one who has not a good general knowledge of the Bible, but a Christian worker should always be growing into a walking concordance and Bible text book.
IV. THE SELECTION AND ARRANGEMENT OF MATERIAL.
1. Having gotten your material together, see what you can dispense with, and strike it out at once. The following four points will be helpful in the exclusion of material:
(1) Substantially the same material in different forms.
(2) Comparatively unimportant material.
(3) Material not adapted to the needs of the congregation for which you are preparing.
(4) Material about which you are uncertain.
2. FORM YOUR PRINCIPAL DIVISIONS AND ARRANGE YOUR REMAINING MATERIAL UNDER THEM. When you have excluded all the material that you can dispense with, look carefully at the material remaining. As you look at it, it will begin to classify itself. Some of it will fall under one division and some under another. When you have obtained your main divisions, look at the material in each division, and this oftentimes will begin to arrange itself in subdivisions.
3. Get your divisions in the best possible order, and the subdivisions under them also in the best order. The following suggestions will help in this:
(1) Bring together points that naturally go together.
(2) As far as possible have each point lead naturally up to the next point.
(3) When possible, have a climax of thought with the strongest point last.
(4) Put the points that lead naturally to decision and action last.
V. THE DELIVERY OF THE BIBLE READING.
1. SOMETIMES GIVE THE PASSAGES OUT TO OTHERS TO READ.
(1) Write them out on slips of paper and hand them out. In such a case, be sure that those who take the passages will really find them and read them in a clear tone. Have them stand up to do it unless the audience is very small.
(2) OFTENTIMES READ THE PASSAGES YOURSELF. In order to do this you will have to acquire facility in the use of your Bible, but this comes readily with practice. Some find it helpful to write in red ink in their Bible at the close of the first passage where the next one is to be found, and at the close of the second where the third is to be found, etc. If this is done, an index should be made on the fly-leaf of the Bible of subjects, and of the first text under a subject. When the same text comes in a number of Bible readings, use various colored inks, or number the marginal text that follows it, so that you will know which applies to the particular subject in hand.