Sunday, March 20, 2011


By Pastor Bruce Oyen

The Bible is composed of what are now presented in our Bible translations as 66 separate writings. However, originally some of the books of the Old Testament were one book, not two books. For example, 1 and 2 Samuel started out as just one writing.

Though we often refer to all of them as books, that is not a strictly accurate description of them all. Some of them, such as Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, might properly be called "books." But not others, for they are personal "epistles"( letters) sent to individuals and churches. Examples of these would be Paul's letter to the preacher Titus, and his letter to the church at Ephesus.

But how are we who teach and preach these writings that make up the Bible to master their contents? Here is one answer to that question: repeated readings of one of the Bible's 66 books is a fundamental in Bible teaching and preaching. Here are some reasons why this is true:

1) It fixes the entire individual book or letter in the mind, so it is seen as a whole. There is nothing like being thoroughly familiar with the Biblical book or letter one plans to teach or preach through, even if it is not completely understood.

2) The more familiar one becomes with a given book or letter, the more readily it begins to be understood. It seems to open itself up to us through our mastering its contents.

3) Repeated readings actually helps one memorize it without trying to do so, and we know how valuable it is when teaching and preaching to have it memorized.

4) By repeated readings of a Biblical book or letter, one learns more and more of that book's or that letter's details, so that the reader not only grasps the big picture, but its parts. And knowing the parts is crucial to its interpretation.

5) Repeated readings of a Biblical book or letter gets one into the "feel," the emotion, of it, if that element is present. That, then, allows the teacher to, hopefully, teach it with the same feeling as its author had when writing it.

G. C. Morgan. in his short but valuable book on preaching, said there are 3 essentials to preaching, which I want to apply to both preaching and teaching: 1)truth, 2)clarity, 3)passion. Our passion is partly derived from absorbing the pathos of the Biblical book or letter with which we are working.

Yes, repeated readings of a Biblical book is a fundamental in Bible teaching and preaching. Maybe that is why the famous Donald Barnhouse would read a given Biblical book 50 times before he began to teach through it.

But it is equally true that anyone, not just teachers and preachers, will be helped in understanding a Biblical book by repeated readings of it.

But let's all give ourselves to repeated readings of the entire Bible, not just to some of its contents.

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