First and Foremost: More than a quarter–26 percent–of American adults admit to not having read even part of a book within the last year.
J. Sidlow Baxter (1903-1999) said:
What is our right approach to [the Gospel according to Matthew]? Ought we first to browse over the latest discussions on its authorship, or gather the available data concerning Matthew himself?
No; the first thing, as with all the other New Testament oracles, is to read it just as it lies before us, and read it until we are thoroughly familiar with its contents. Even at first reading, especially if read right through at one sitting, it will yield much; but if we read it three or four, or seven or eight, or a dozen times, it becomes more revealing and rewarding each time.
So is it with all parts of the Holy Writ, for behind the human penmen is the directive activity of the Divine Spirit.
After reading so many books and articles written by unbelieving “Christian” scholars, it's refreshing to go back to a solid, classic: J. Sidlow Baxter's Explore the Book.
I guarantee you'll learn more Bible from him than you ever would in seminary (and I've been to seminary… three of them, as a matter of fact…).
Reading books is great. Reading and MARKING your books is even better. Like Mom always said, “Practice makes okay.” So, grab a pencil and a book worth reading (not a brain-candy novel) and start working out a system of marginalia.
The Key to remembering, organizing, and using everything you read.
References for using 4×6 notecards as a didactic tool. Ryan Holiday seems to have the easiest system to grasp at first and put into practice. The following is from him (tweaked only a little by me).
[p.4-5] There are no Bible teachers alive today who can produce Bible believers unless they themselves believe “the Book” to be the Bible. Infidelity produces infidels. Doubt produces doubters. Egotism produces fools. To pretend that you are a Bible believer because you are loyal to a pile of lost scraps of paper that no one has ever seen is not only cowardly, it is moronic.
[p.6] If you sit in judgment on the Book, then YOU are the final judge. You are superior to the Book, and that is the message you will convey to every young man who sits in front of you.
[p.7] The first fundamental was to believe the Book that was to be taught… If he does not believe it, he does not have any business teaching it.
[p.8] Rule Two: Use any material you can get your hands on to teach the Book. Any material is legitimate… They often contain valuable information you can USE while teaching a Book that you never USE. The Book you are teaching YOU ARE IN SUBJECTION TO, for it is the living word of the living God, and it is the highest visible authority on this earth.
[p.9] You use books on archaeology to establish the historicity of the AV text. Where they deviate–as for example ALL of them do when drawing a map on the route of the Exodus–you simply correct the scholars with the Book and redraw their maps for them, assuming that they erred because they were stupid. The more educated and “godly” they are, the more stupid they will probably be.
[p.9-10] Use Greek and Hebrew lexicons not only to amplify a word in the Authorized Version, but to teach it. For example, use the Hebrew for “Cain” to point out the place that spears and IRON have in the Bible. The word means “an iron spear.” You do not alter or correct the English; you TEACH THE ENGLISH. That is what you are supposed to be: a Bible teacher. If “leviathan” in Hebrew can mean “coiled,” “twisted,” or “water monster,” then show the connection with Isaiah 27.1-2 and Revelation 12.1-8 in the ENGLISH. Do not correct any English with “the Hebrew.”
[p.10-11] I use twenty-six English translations, a German version… a Spanish version… a Latin version… three Greet Testaments… a Hebrew edition of the Old Testament… I use books written by unsaved liberals, and these include Greek texts published by the worst pro-Catholic apostates… I do not BELIEVE any of them. I believe the Book that I am called to teach.
[p.11] Sometimes even the “Living Bible” will word a clause so that it will help you expound the AV text to your congregation.
[p.11] Use whatever you need to explain and expound the AV text. You do not have to alter one word in the text, you do not have to add words to the text or subtract words from the text… Preach it. Teach it. If you need some background on a Pauline epistle, you will find ten unsaved historians and five backslidden, apostate Fundamentalists who can give you all of the necessary information. “Use” them. They are useful. But you are not teaching them; you are teaching THE BOOK… go by the rule of thumb. Correct him with the Book.
[p.12] Study the commentaries; where they make a comment that can be used without altering the AV text, use it; that is what they are there for… If they cross the AV text, deny the AV text, attack the AV text, omit the AV text, or add to the AV text, just discard them like a used dish rag… “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” “Every man” means anyone whose name might come to your mind where that man messed with the BOOK.
[p.13] The third basic fundamental of the Bible teacher is this: always pray for wisdom and understanding as you prepare to teach, and never trust your own wisdom or understanding as being sufficient to the task. Assume that you are WICKED and IGNORANT and CARELESS when it comes to the Holy Bible. Assume that it is HOLY and you still have an ungodly Adamic nature which resents, resists, and objects to some things God is going to say (Gen 3.1-4). Ask the Holy Ghost to teach the class, to open the eyes of the students to His revelation, englighten their understanding of His teachings, and illuminate their minds with His precepts, according to His understanding of the Book. He is the interpreter (Luke 24.45; Gen 40.8; Dan 2.28, 30), not you or ANY SCHOLAR YOU READ ANYWHERE, especially the “good, godly ones”–they are the worst in the lot, for their profession is deceptive; it catches you “off guard.”
See the last comment.
[p.15-16] Get in the habit of seeking divine wisdom and understanding for every “problem text,” “variant reading,” and “apparently discrepancy” that shows up. Concentrate on IGNORING COMPLETELY the opinions of any scholar or source that has to alter the God-honored text to “explain” the problem… Never Use Ruckman's teachings or Ruckman's beliefs as the standard; THE BOOK IS THE STANDARD. Never use Nestle's Greek text to judge anything; the Book is the judge. Never use the Textus Receptus to settle anything; THE BOOK will settle it. Those who use the Textus Receptus (NKJV) to “settle things”… settle nothing… Follow this procedure:
That is the only way to teach the Bible. There is no other honest way to do it.
[p.21-22] Personally, I believe (and I could be wrong) that the best way to teach the Bible is to take a basic Book in it (like Genesis, John, Romans, or 1Thessalonians) and teach the student verse by verse, expounding each word in each verse. That way it is possible to teach about ten courses at one time. As you expound the passage, you discuss the history of the verse (Bible history), what the verse means doctrinally (Biblical Theology), how it was used by theologians (Systematic and Dogmatic Theology), how it is constructed (Grammatical Exegesis), where it fits into the whole Bible (Biblical Exegesis and Biblical Hermeneutics), and what Bible critics have said about it (Higher and Lower Criticism). You can apply the verse spiritually when you get through with it and by so doing cover Practical Exegesis and Practical Theology. To do this you must be acquainted with a vast spectrum of knowledge that would include the major systematic theologians, church history, the teaching of the major cults and heresies, Greek and Hebrew texts, Bible commentators and expositors, and practical experience in the ministry.
[p.22] If the verse-by-verse method is not used, then a basic systematic theology (using some textbook like Evan's Great Doctrines of the Bible) is the next best thing.
[p.22-23] No matter what approach is used, seven rules must be observed:
[p.24-25] Early in teaching the Bible, the student should be shown the eight major DIVISIONS of the Book. You do not have to call them “dispensations” or anything else… Any student who grasps that simple, fundamental, Biblical outline will start his Bible studies AHEAD of the faculties, staffs, and graduates of every major conservative university, college, or seminary in the world.
[p.60-61] When you hit an apparently discrepancy… use either my book on The “Errors” in the King James Bible or Halley's Alleged Discrepancies or both. Always try to explain the apparently contradiction using the English text only, comparing Scripture with Scripture. The Greek and Hebrew may be used to reinforce these matters at times, but be very careful in using them, never forgetting that “running to the Greek and the Hebrew” is SOP in the Alexandrian Cult and is designed to accomplish three things in addition to “clearing up the discrepancy”:
[p.75] I believe the best way to teach the Book verse by verse, beginning in Genesis in the Old Testament and possibly 1Thessalonians or Romans in the New Testament.