Vol. 8, No. 10
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Bible classes scheduled at church came about under the idea of expediency, a license used by church leaders. Scheduled Bible study classes are a good key function of the church to increase knowledge of God's Word, for growth of the members into more mature Christians, to train teachers, preachers and to train for evangelistic work for Christ, all of which is good for individual Christians and for the church as a group.
God wants, godly, alert and dedicated elders who function as shepherds for the church. Bible classes are a good function to achieve that responsibility. It is a good place to bring members into knowing who it is that they believe, what they believe, namely God and his Word, and to come to love God and serve him. Thus Bible classes are a good place to more thoroughly teach God's Word.
Bible classes are also a good place to reveal false teachings, where teachers who do not fully support what they are teaching from the Bible, or who distort God's Word, can be stopped. It is also a good place to show that such things as instant change, effortless change, tapping the subconscious, eliminating all fear and others like things are false. Of a salesman such idea would be called snake oil. Paul stated, "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do" (1 Timothy 1:4). Surely The DaVinci Code and the Left Behind series, and other like books of our time, are described by Paul. Such books should not have any rule or instruction in the church.
Bible class is a good place to show the difference between social fellowship and spiritual fellowship. In Luke 10:38-42 the difference is sharply drawn. Jesus, and likely some or all of the twelve, had come to Martha's house and Mary sat down at Jesus feet wanting to hear his every word, while Martha began rattling her pots and pans to prepare a meal, and seeing Mary she complained to Jesus to have Mary go and help her. Jesus said "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall never be taken from her" (verses 41-42). Here are seen two things helpful for us: one, Martha put her good hostess actions ahead of the spiritual, and two, Jesus states that the more needful is the spiritual. Jesus did not condemn Martha's efforts but did clearly show that the social and spiritual are different, and that the spiritual should take precedence. Thus the social should not distract from the spiritual. We need to put first things first. Thus social things can occur whenever, but never to distract or deter the spiritual.
The apostle Paul made it clear that the Scriptures or the Bible is complete for the Christian, saying, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Good works refers to the works that God and Christ have given us through the Bible by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Good works include acts of brotherly love for fellow Christians and for all people, to void ourselves of bias and prejudice (Galatians 2:11-14) among fellow Christians and anyone who would be interested in Christ and his Word, in a word, righteous works.
Jesus also had things to say about God's Word. He said, "...but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28b). "...the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48b). Jesus added: "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak" (John 12:49-50).
Quickly we see the importance of God's Word, the Bible. It is the words of eternal life. Failure to know God's Word and understand it can lead to an eternity in hell.
Isn't the Word of God needed for study, and for understanding? Is the Bible all that is needed for church Bible classes? Surely study of the whole Bible would be glory and praise for God through Christ.
We are to study at home also. Paul instructed Timothy to "Study to show thyself approved unto God..." (2 Timothy 2:15). And Luke tells us that the Bereans "...received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things [heard] were so" (Act 17:11). So Bible study is not confined to a schedule at church services, yet study of the Bible is important at home and at church.
There are good study manuals available, yet manuals seem to make some teachers lazy. Such teachers tend to avoid preparation and during class merely follow along in the manual without any depth to the study. They follow the words printed in the manual without digging into the depth of knowledge contained in and referenced by those words.
But there are many who teach from the Bible in the same manner as done with manuals. Some teachers "hopscotch" through the Bible omitting much of the Bible. Then there are those who study such books as the DaVinci Code which has publicly been described as 80% fiction with the remaining 20% being questionable. Let the scholars who look into such things, determine what these books are, and good for. Why waste class time unless the teachers and the leadership want to distract, divert, confuse and dumb down the members so they are more easily manipulated.
Still other teachers assume that class members know some things, yet they may not. Assumptions can be dangerous. And some class members will ask questions about certain Bible items they would like to know, and the questions should be permitted and answered.
A further action of denying the understanding that God would have us have are those teachers who are so conceited that they become upset and refuse questions that may strain the thinking of what they are saying. These are saying not in words but in their actions "you don't question what I am saying for I am the authority." The apostle Paul said, "that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another" (1 Corinthians 4:6b). The apostle John described one Diotrephes as being such a person (3 John 9).
The apostle Paul had a harsh description of some teachers and class members, saying that "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:5). These could speak the words, but they had no understanding of what the words said, nor how they relate to the remainder of the Bible.
The best soul food, the best mind food, and the best church food, is the Word of God, whole truth, even in detailed explanation.
Jesus said, "No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). God draws people to Christ today through his Word, the Bible. All teachers and Christians need to learn that this is the way for church growth in numbers. And that necessarily incurs having a knowledge and understanding of his Word, and teaching it, all of it.
A congregation, a church, the members, that have a deep knowledge and understanding of God's Word will be a strong and dynamic group, retaining its members and gaining new ones. That means whole study of the Bible.