By Harris Franklin Rall
At the close of each chapter the student will find Directions for Study. Look at these before beginning the reading of the chapter. A few general suggestions are here given.
First, get a clear idea of the purpose of the book. Back of it lies a twofold conviction: that Jesus had a message for men, clear and definite, and answering the great questions of life; and that this message of Jesus has been one of the great forces in human history that has wrought for the coming of the kingdom of God. This suggests the double interest of this book: What did Jesus teach, and what has his teaching meant for human faith and life?
In order to understand the teachings of Jesus, they must first of all be closely related to his life and times. Read and refer to the Life of Jesus issued as a companion to this volume.
While the individual subjects are separately studied, remember that the teachings of Jesus are not a string of opinions or a collection of doctrines. His words have a living source and a common center: his life with God and his conception of God.
As you begin the study of a chapter, read carefully the introductory paragraph which usually makes the connection with what precedes and gives the new theme. Then read the chapter through at a sitting and grasp its outline as a whole, joining it to what has gone before.
Now go over it again more carefully. Read the Bible references in the Directions for Study and in the text. These form the real subject for study. Form your own conclusions on the basis of the Gospels themselves.
Answer carefully the questions raised in the Directions for Study, writing the answers out if possible.
Write, and write constantly. Keep a special notebook for this study. Write in it the answers to all questions. A most helpful plan is to write an outline of each chapter, or to sum up its argument in your own words. Write out the ideas suggested to you by the Gospels or by the discussion. Nothing is more helpful to the student than constant writing, especially if studying alone. It compels more thorough work, it clarifies the thought and tests our knowledge, and it fixes in mind what we have learned.
Ask yourself constantly what this all means for yourself and for the life of the world about you. To do so will not only bring profit to yourself, but meaning and zest to all your study.