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How and In What Order Should A Pastor Read the Books of Holy Scripture So That He Is Rightly Adept for His Office?

How and In What Order Should A Pastor Read the Books of Holy Scripture So That He Is Rightly Adept for His Office?

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Published by David Juhl
By Rev. C. Steege. Translated by Rev. David M. Juhl from "Magazin für ev.-luth. Homiletik", the 1911 Volume
By Rev. C. Steege. Translated by Rev. David M. Juhl from "Magazin für ev.-luth. Homiletik", the 1911 Volume

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Published by: David Juhl on Jan 19, 2013
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How and in what order should a pastor read the books of HolyScripture, so that he is rightly adept for his office?
(A conference paper, submitted by resolution of the concerned conference.)Since Scripture is the only means that can instruct a person unto salvation through faithin Christ Jesus, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction inrighteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every sent good work,then this means should be used diligently and constantly by all mankind. Therefore it is writtenin Colossians 3[:16]: "Let the Word of Christ dwell among you richly in all wisdom." This is saidto all Christians, even to craftsmen and laborers. God's Word should not be unknown amongChristians, not be a strange guest, no, it should
dwell 
among them and therefore be well knownto all; everyone should handle it daily, read it, to hear or contemplate, let it be read aloud orread it to others or teach it or preach it. God says to His children Israel in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:"These words that I give you, you should take to heart. Impress them on your children. Talkabout them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down andwhen you get up." It is impressed upon Joshua: "Do not let this Book of the Law depart fromyour mouth; meditate on it day and night." And it says in Psalm 1:2: "Blessed is he who has hisdelight in the Law of the Lord, and speaks about His Law day and night!"What is so necessary in this regard for every Christian is certainly doubly necessary forevery servant of Christ, for a public preacher of the Word. He should be adept not only by theconstant use of the Word of God to walk the path of life blamelessly, but also to teach othersthis way. Therefore the holy apostle Paul calls out to [Timothy]: "Persist with reading!"
1
 Therefore he should persistently read Holy Scripture. The question now is:
How 
should apreacher read the Scriptures? Where should he begin? But which part of Scripture should heread above all others or at first? Or how the question was really asked:
How and in what order should a preacher read and study the books or parts of Holy Scripturein order to be rightly adept for his Office?
The conference has instructed me with the answer to this question and wished that atthe same time Dr. James M. Gray's "Method How to Master the English Bible" be used.But much of the answer depends upon what purpose or what specific goal the pastorhas in mind.If one has set the goal to be a true
Bible scholar 
who can master Scripture, "
to master theBible
", as Dr. Gray calls it, then there is hardly a better way that which he advises: to read HolyScripture from beginning to end, and indeed often, to read very often, and to read in such away that one always takes a book in front of him and not go on any farther until one entirelypossesses the book in question. For whomever this way is possible, it will be worthwhile forhim. But I was afraid that there are not many even among pastors who can take this approachwith success. A memory, as not everyone has it, would be required for that. Dr. Gray says on
1
1 Timothy 4:13.
 
page 21: "The plan was to read and reread each book by itself and in its order, as though therewere no other in existence, until it has become a part of the very being."
2
And previously hehad said how he did it: "I read Genesis through in the English at a single reading, and thenrepeated the process again and again until the book in its great outlines had practically becomemine."That sounds very nice. I will gladly believe that Dr. Gray is honest and does notexaggerate; but for the small amount of my comprehension what he says is still almost toomuch. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, but the exceptions really should notbe established as a rule. I will say that there are heroes who can achieve more than otherordinary children of men. But those who cannot ask, also did not expect that these choose tofollow them. Dr. Gray, as far as his reading, must be such a hero, to which not many canemulate. I speak from my humble experience. I have read through Genesis, as the OldTestament, more than fifty times (the New Testament certainly much more often), but havenever managed the single reading through of Genesis in
one
sitting, but in the process stoppedand started again probably five or six times. How one can read five or six hours withoutinterruption, without tiring, is not clear to me. I have always needed five or six days for that, inorder to read through Genesis only once, i.e. about a week. And if I had read through it fourtimes, according to Dr. Gray's method, i.e. after the end of a month, I would still not hold it asDr. Gray himself claims it and I also gladly believe that he has also really accomplished it. Butnow one considers that Genesis is
one
book of 65 canonical books of Holy Scripture.
3
Whilesome books are quite small, others are even bigger and more difficult than the first book of Moses, for example the third and the fifth book of Moses and other books. Anyway, it requiresthree to four years to read through all of Holy Scripture in the manner as specified, providedthat one can use no more than one hour a day on it. But suppose one also adds that one mustrepeat what they read from time to time in order not to forget it. But what has been said issufficient in order to show that the Bible is a fountain that cannot be exhausted overnight, notto mention by a deeper entering into the sense of Holy Scripture.Far be it from me to want to take courage and boldness from someone by the properlyaccomplished description to read diligently Holy Scripture. This also has no danger to those whohave diligently and persistently already begun to read Holy Scripture. For Holy Scripture is abook that the more one reads it, the better it reads again, a true honeysuckle. The saying:"Those who eat me will hunger for more"
4
applies to Scripture. I wanted to seek to prevent bymy argument only this: that, on the one hand, one does not build castles in the air and, on theother hand, is not despondent when one sees that one simply cannot do that which anotherboasts. Whoever can be able to do it can perhaps amount to something. But I consider that factthat when the Savior says in Matthew 13:52: "Every teacher of the law who has been instructedabout the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom newtreasures as well as old" He must not have thought it necessary only to those teachers of thelaw who are teachers of the Law according to Dr. Gray's method. Not everything fits preciselyfor everyone. Even Scripture itself does not claim that one must do the same, but only claims
2
All quotes from Dr. Gray are in English in the original. DMJ
3
Evidently the presenter must not hold that Revelation or another book is canonical Scripture. DMJ
4
Sirach 24:21 (v. 28 in German).
 
that we read and study it in the fear of God with prayer, devotion, and diligence, and therebycalling on God for enlightenment through the Holy Spirit.The phrase: "how to master the Bible"
5
sounds a bit strange, but is surely meant well.He certainly will not say that people would be allowed to behave as masters of Scripture and toset themselves over Scripture, as the higher and, for that matter, the highest critics do, who cutHoly Scripture, as the tailor cuts a piece of cloth in order to make it a tuxedo, then a man cancover his nakedness with it. Dr. Gray will surely say only this: We should thus acquaint andfamiliarize ourselves with Holy Scripture that we are quite at home with it and always have itclose at hand whenever a serious and difficult question comes to us.The equally serious question comes to an upright preacher: How am I adept toadminister my Office so beneficially as it is only ever possible?
How do I learn the most fromHoly Scripture
? What book of the Bible should I read first, and then what? One cannot give ananswer to this question that would be fit for everyone. For we do not all have the same needsin equal measure, not all have the same knowledge. One lacks more in one respect, the other inanother.But again we presume it the case that one memorizes and wants to make his own assoon as possible the chief characteristics of upright preachers and pastors
6
. He makes abeginning with the letters of St. Paul to Timothy. He reads and studies it with devotion, andindeed often, until the contents are his own. He also at the same time underlines the mostimportant words or sections, for example, 1 Timothy 1:12 for his consolation and also as awarning, and 1 Timothy 1:14-16, where the main content of a good sermon is given, 1 Timothy2:1, from which one sees that one has to begin first of all with prayer if one wants to haveblessing on his work. He should memorize well the third chapter from the first verse to the last.He should then underline chapter 4:11-16; 5:19-21; 6:11-14, 20; 2 Timothy 1:7-14; 2:1-4, 7-8,14-16, 24; 3:14-17; 4:1-2, 5, 7.Note for Chapter 2:1. A preacher who does not exercise himself in prayer above allthings, will be either a reckless boy or a wretched man, he should study what and how much healways would. A true preacher must above all things and first of all
 pray 
, first for himself, whenhe reads and studies the Scriptures, when he prepares his sermon, when he ascends the pulpitand opens his mouth, when he practices private pastoral care or otherwise wants to perform anofficial act. But he should also pray for other people, in particular for those who are under hispastoral care, whether they are high or low, old or young. If he does not pray, then he is notsurprised when he, despite his ongoing reading, does not have much success. A preacherwatched a man who knocked stones with astonishment and then said to his companion: "Howeasily the man smashes the hard stones that they are suitable, as I often with the greatestdifficulty can smash a heart." "Yes", said the companion, "but the man also does his work on hisknees." The preacher understood the hint and took it to heart.Now if one has completely appropriated the two epistles to Timothy and now wants tolearn in particular the art to extol God's grace rather sweetly and lovely, then he should readand study further the epistle to Titus in the same way. And in order to be able rightly to comfort
5
In English in the original. DMJ
6
 
Seelsorgers
.

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