Notes and quotes from How to Master the English Bible by James Gray.
1. A “How To” book from a man who knew his Bible. The method is very ordinary. It is simply to read a book of the Bible, and then read it again, and again, and again until you have mastered it.
2. You don’t need Hebrew and Greek to hear God speak! “One is grateful to have studied Hebrew and Greek, just to be able to tell others who have not that they do not require either to hearken to our Heavenly Father’s voice.”
3. To master book after book is to fill the mind with the great thoughts of God.
4. Gray “read Genesis through in the English at a single reading, and then repeated the process again and again until the book in its great outlines had practically become mine. Then I took up Exodus in the same way, Leviticus, Numbers, and practically all the other books of the Old and New Testaments to Revelation, with the exception of Proverbs, the Psalms and one or two others which do not lend themselves readily to that plan of reading, and indeed do not require it to their understanding and mastery.”
5. The plan was to read and reread each book by itself and in its order, as though there were no other in existence, until it had become a part of the very being. Was the task tedious and long? No more than was Jacob’s when he served Laban for his daughter Rachel.
6. The synthetic study of the Bible, it may be said in a word, is an attempt to put it together rather than to take it apart.
7. Give people to see for themselves what the Bible is in the large, and then they will have a desire to see it in detail.
8. Six rules for mastering the Bible: i) Read the book where God began to write it (at the book of Genesis); ii) Read the book; iii) Read the book continuously; iv) Read the book repeatedly; v) Read the book independently; vi) Read the book prayerfully.
9. Christians will read books about the Bible almost without limit, but to read the books of the Bible itself is another matter.
10. Pastors should make expository preaching the staple of their pulpit ministrations. That is a close interpretation, or running commentary on the text, followed by a practical application.
11. John Chrysostom said that “If any one assiduously attend public worship, even without reading the Bible at home, but carefully hearkening here, he will find a single year sufficient to give him an intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures.”
12. Every church should be more or less truly a Bible Training school, and the pastor the head of it. “I, myself, have seen large congregations held from week to week in city churches, where the chief attraction was the exposition of the Bible text.”
13. It is especially confusing and wearisome to a congregation to be turning pages backward, and then forward, and then backward again, and will not be relished as an innovation. Row with the tide.