Directing Attention to the Bible
1, 2. Why should we direct our hearers to the Bible?
1 Our desire in the ministry is to direct the attention of everyone to God’s Word, the Bible. It contains the message that we preach, and we want the people to realize that what we say is not of our own originality but from God. People who love God have confidence in the Bible. When it is read to them, they listen and take its counsel to heart. But when they get out their own copy of the Bible and read it for themselves, the impression is considerably deepened. So, in the field ministry, when circumstances make it possible, it is wise to encourage the householder to get out his own copy of the Bible and look up the scriptures with you. Likewise, at congregation meetings, if all are encouraged to use their Bible, newer ones will more readily recognize that it is the source of our beliefs, and all will benefit from the added emphasis of visual impression.
2 Therefore, you will have a decided advantage in fulfilling your purpose in speaking if those in your audience, wherever it is practical, follow your reading of Scripture texts in their own Bibles. Whether they do or not will depend to a great extent on whether you give them the proper encouragement. This is what is referred to on your Speech Counsel slip as “Audience encouraged to use the Bible.”
3, 4. How can we do this effectively?
3 By suggestion. One of the best ways is to extend a direct invitation to the audience to use the Bible; this method is frequently used. At times the same results can be had simply by saying where the texts are located before you read them; perhaps like this: “Now as we read 2 Timothy 3:1-5, think about the conditions in this very neighborhood.” Then, as you turn to the text yourself, glance around to see if the audience is taking advantage of the suggestion. Usually they will begin to look up the text too.
4 It is up to the speaker to decide which, if any, texts he wants to emphasize by having the audience look them up. Watch your audience. Be interested to see if they are following you. Even if for some reason you are required to give a manuscript talk, you can often handle key texts in such a way that the audience will follow you in their Bibles.
5, 6. Explain why it is beneficial to allow time for the audience to find scriptures we plan to read.
5 By allowing time to find the text. Merely citing a scripture is not sufficient. If you read it and then pass on to another before the audience has time to find it, they will eventually become discouraged and desist. Observe your audience, and when the majority have located the text, then it can be read.
6 It is usually advisable to make your citation of the text sufficiently in advance of your planned reading so that valuable time is not lost through frequent long pauses or unnecessary “fill in” while the audience is finding the text. Yet appropriate pausing here is proper. On the other hand, if the citation is made early in your introduction to the text, you must have in mind that some of the things you say will not be as closely followed. So in such a case those things that are pertinent to the advance argument would have to be stated before the citation was given.
7-18. What methods can be used to introduce Scripture texts effectively?
7 The scriptures that are used in a talk are ordinarily the focal points of the talk. Arguments center around these texts. How much they will contribute to the talk, then, depends upon how effectively they are used. So the matter of “Scriptures properly introduced,” which is noted on your Speech Counsel slip, is an important one for consideration.
8 There is a great variety of ways in which a Scripture text can be introduced, read and applied. Sometimes, for instance, the introduction of the text not only leads into the reading but also makes the application, so that the reading itself only emphasizes or clinches the point. On the other hand, some texts are used with telling effect when no word of introduction is spoken, as, for instance, in the very opening of a talk.
9 To learn how to introduce scriptures effectively, analyze what experienced speakers do. Try to identify different ways that scriptures are introduced. Consider their effectiveness. In preparing your own talks give advance consideration to what the text is to accomplish, especially if it is a key text to a main point. Plan its introduction carefully so that it will be used with the most telling effect. Here are a few suggestions:
10 A question. Questions demand answers. They stimulate thinking. Allow the text and its application to supply the answer. For instance, in discussing blood transfusion, you may be introducing Acts 15:28, 29, after having established the prohibition according to the Hebrew Scriptures. You could introduce the text by asking, “But is this same prohibition binding upon Christians? Note this authoritative ruling of the governing body of the early congregation as they were moved by the holy spirit.”
11 A statement or principle, to be supported by the text introduced. For example, in a talk on delinquency you might say: “Even our choice of companions is an important factor in what our attitude might be toward right and wrong.” Then you could read Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 15:33 as support for your statement.
12 Citing the Bible as authority. Especially for secondary texts you might simply say: “Note what God’s Word states on this point.” This is cause enough to look with expectation to the text and it provides a clear reason for using it.
14 Multiple choice. If a direct question or problem might be too difficult for a particular audience, present several possibilities and allow the text and its application to provide the answer. In talking to a Catholic you might want to use Matthew 6:9 to show to whom prayer should properly be directed. A direct question or problem might turn your householder’s mind in the wrong direction, so you might say: “There are many views on the matter of to whom we should pray. Some say Mary, others say to one of the ‘saints,’ but some say we should pray only to God. Here is what Jesus said.”
15 Historical background. If you were to use Hebrews 9:12 in a talk on the ransom to show that Jesus, by offering his own blood, “obtained an everlasting deliverance for us,” you might find it necessary to preface your reading of the text with a brief explanation of the “holy place” in the tabernacle, which, Paul indicates, pictured the place Jesus entered.
16 Context. Sometimes the setting of a text as explained in the surrounding verses is helpful in introducing a scripture. For instance, in your use of the scripture at Luke 20:25 to show what it means to “pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar,” you may find an advantage in explaining Jesus’ use of a coin with Caesar’s inscription, as the account is related in the context.
17 Combination. Of course, combinations of these methods are also possible and often profitable.
18 The introduction to a scripture should arouse sufficient anticipation to command attention when the text is read and it should focus attention on your reason for using the text.
19, 20. How can we determine if we have aroused anticipation for the text cited?
19 Anticipation for scriptures aroused. How can you know when you have aroused anticipation for a text? By audience reaction primarily, but also by the way in which you introduce the text. If the audience would be left up in the air because you failed to read the text after introducing it, or if you left a question unanswered in your introduction, then you can be sure you have aroused interest in the text. Of course, the introduction must be in keeping with the subject and with the text to be introduced. And either the text itself or the application that follows must answer the question that the introduction has left open.
20 The introduction to the text might be likened to the bugle sound that precedes a proclamation. The herald does not present himself to play an entire concert. Rather, the rousing notes of his bugle center all interest and attention on the proclamation. Introduced in this way, your selected text will be heard with keen enjoyment and benefit.
21. Why should we focus attention on our reason for using a text?
21 Attention focused on reason for using text. While an introduction to a text may leave a question unanswered, still it should at least provide some reason to show why the text is appropriate and worthy of full attention. For example, in a discussion of the earth as man’s permanent home you might be preparing to use Revelation 21:3, 4. Along with your preliminary argument you might say: “Now in this next scripture, Revelation 21:3, 4, look for the place where the tent of God will be when suffering and death are no more.” Not only have you aroused anticipation by leaving something for the text to reveal, but you have also focused attention on the significant part of your text, which you can easily apply to your argument after reading the text. By thus directing attention to the actual content of the scripture, you emphasize the importance of God’s Word.