I’ve been reading through Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones collection of sermons on the book of Romans. The good Dr. had a way of seeing and explaining the Scriptures that both warms the heart and instructs the mind. In his exposition on chapter one, I discovered a few paragraphs that I trust will help anyone who wants to learn to study the Bible more faithfully.
“I am going to give you a bird’s-eye view of [Romans] before we come back to look at it in detail. Now, Bible students, let me commend to you the wisdom of doing that always.
First of all, with any verse or any portion of Scripture any paragraph or any longer portion, first of all take a bird’s-eye view of it—see the whole first, then come back and take it bit by bit and in detail. That, as I understand it, is the true way of approaching Scripture and of studying Scripture.
Some people, of course, stop at the bird’s-eye view, and never come to the details, and they never really grasp the Scripture. They just rush through it, and are content with having skimmed the surface. Others, again, come right to the details and never get from them, thus losing the general view; and, as I suggested at the beginning, they end in utter confusion, and fail to see the woods because of the trees.
The right method is to do the two things—first, the general conception, and then the working out in detail, with a final synthesis again of all that has emerged in the detailed analysis. In other words, I suggest to you that the Scripture is remarkably like a symphony; the themes are stated, the themes are worked out in detail; and then, they are all gathered up together again in a final triumph…” (Exposition of Chapter 1 – The Gospel of God, pg. 318)