"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
One of the works the local church is to do is that of teaching the word of God (cf. Acts 2:42; 11:26; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11-16). This work of teaching can be accomplished by using any number of arrangements: separated classes (Mk. 9:2-13), “pulpit” preaching (Acts 20:7), public teaching and private instruction (Acts 20:20), the printed page, the internet, etc.
The work of teaching people the word of God challenges and rewards both the teacher and the student - when both are fulfilling their respective roles. Otherwise, the lofty goals of conveying the meaning of divine truth, of encouraging obedience to truth, and of growth in Bible knowledge will not be attained.
The elders appreciate the good work being done by those who teach our Bible classes. Thank you for your contribution to the strength of the church. While we are grateful for the abundance of teachers we have, we must not become negligent of our responsibilities. It is only right to take inventory of the teaching that occurs in our Bible classes: “Is truth being taught? How can I be more effective as a teacher? Why should I care? Am I learning as much as I could be in my Bible class?” These are just some of the questions we should be asking and honestly answering so that improvements, where needed, can be made. Whether you are a teacher, a student, or both, you need to make the most of the opportunity which your Bible classes afford you. By doing so, you will be adding to the strength and stability of the whole congregation (Eph. 4:15-16)
In this limited space we will explore what the Bible says about the purpose and importance of teaching His word. Then, we will look specifically at the work of the teacher, and finally the work of the student. I hope in this way to help us remember how vital our Bible classes are to the spiritual well-being of every person here, including our children.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BIBLE CLASSES
The primary purpose of the Bible class is to instruct students in such a way that they will know what God’s word says, and that they will want to do what it says. As Bible classes meet these fundamental purposes, they help us keep God’s word in our heart so that we can obey it in our life. Israel was directed by Moses:
“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren…” (Deut. 4:9).
Children as well as adults need the benefit of Bible training so that God’s word will be in their heart. With God’s word in their heart they will be equipped to use it in their lives (cf. Prov. 22:6). This is why Israel was told to diligently teach God’s word to their children (Deut. 6:6-9; 11:18-21).
When Bible classes fail to be just that – classes in which the Bible is taught – their purpose is compromised. Children’s (or adults’) Bible classes are not a time for entertainment. We do not provide Bible classes so that our children can play with their friends or so they can eat treats. While there are certain learning “games” that the teacher may use to enhance learning, that is not the same as turning the Bible class period into little more than a child-care facility.
Some of the most important questions we can ask about our Bible classes are “What is being taught?” and “What is going on in the classes?” We must be sure that God’s word is being read, discussed and learned. Otherwise, they cease to be Bible classes.
THE BIBLE CLASS TEACHER
Yours is a tremendous responsibility which must not be taken lightly.
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)
The work of teachers should be approached from at least two aspects; before the class occurs, and when the class is in session.
Before one teaches, he must be prepared to teach. This is why we expect school teachers to have a certain amount of education and certification before we allow them to teach our children. Bible class teacher, you must take time to make adequate preparations to teach before you enter the classroom. Otherwise, your lack of preparation will certainly affect the quality of your teaching. And that will have an effect upon your students. To have the best Bible class you possibly can, you must take time beforehand to get ready to teach! Follow the example of Ezra who “had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
Once your class begins you will call upon the preparations you have made. This is why one should have a certain degree of spiritual maturity before trying to teach a Bible class. You must be prepared to “give an answer” from the Bible to address your students’ questions and needs. This principle of maturity in teachers was implied by Paul when he told Timothy to commit the gospel to “faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
As you take inventory of your work as a teacher of a Bible class, please think on these things: “Do I prepare adequately to teach my class?” “Do I convey my commitment to the word of God to my students like Ezra did?” “Am I maturing in my own faith so that I can most effective in teaching it to others?”
THE BIBLE CLASS STUDENT
Students also have important responsibilities in the Bible class. The Bible tells us what kind of students God wants us to be: “Apply your heart to instruction, And your ears to words of knowledge” (Prov. 23:12). Young people are reminded to “remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, I have no pleasure in them” (Eccl. 12:1).
The student does not go to Bible class to be entertained. As a student, you are there to participate in a learning experience. Children need to understand that they are not to be disruptive and disorderly in Bible class. It is not play time. It is time set aside to help them learn more of God’s word so that they will do more of God’s will in their lives. To be a good student and to get the most out of Bible class you must prepare ahead for class just like your teacher does. Take time to study your lesson before class and complete the assignments you have been given. This will help you be ready to learn more during your Bible class.
As you think about what kind of Bible student you are, ask yourself questions like, “Do I get ready for class by studying my lesson ahead of time?” “Do I pay attention in class?” “Do I want to know and do God’s will in my life?”
We have tried to touch on some of the most important things about our Bible classes. We need to be good teachers. We need to be good students. We are blessed with both, but there is always room for improvement. We must never neglect this important work (cf. Heb. 6:10-12).
No man can be without his god. If he have not the true God to bless and
sustain him, he will have some false god to delude and to betray him. The
Psalmist knew this, and therefore he joined so closely forgetting the name
of our God and holding up our hands to some strange god. For every man has
something in which he hopes, on which he leans, to which he retreats and
retires, with which he fills up his thoughts in empty space of time; when he
is alone, when he lies sleepless on his bed, when he is not pressed with
other thoughts; to which he betakes himself in sorrow or trouble, as that
from which he shall draw comfort and strength -- his fortress, his citadel,
his defence; and has not this god the right to be called his god? Man was
made to lean on the Creator; but if not on Him, then he leans on the
creature in one shape or another. The ivy cannot grow alone; it must twine
round some support or other; round any dead stick whatever, rather than have
no stay nor support at all. It is even so with the heart and affections of
man; if they do not twine around God, they must twine around some meaner
of Gold, Trench)
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA