…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Teach & lead Bible study group: effective disciple making, how to?

If we attend church for the next 10 years,
we would have heard more than 500 sermons.
What would be the effect of 500 sermons on us?

This very much depends on what’s taught,
and how’s it being taught.

In any single week in a year, tens of thousands of people attend bible study groups, in a quest to understand the Bible better … spawning a vast library of bible study guidebooks and online resources.

What’s a constructive approach for delivery?

Is the first question to ask,
what do you think .. this verse/passage means to .. you?

“how would you apply .. this verse/passage to .. your life?”

What’s discipling?
How’s discipling achieved?
Is bible study group = discipling?

Do we meet for discussion? .. information sharing?
… what are desired learning outcomes & review?

What’s really important for discipling to occur?
found an important key from a brother from China (see second part of post), as he learned about his new-found faith in Jesus.

Also, … some thoughts about the future possibilities for bible study group learning.

By the way, … Jesus teaching was far from boring,

37 … And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.
Mark 12:37 (NASB)

“In teaching,
the greatest sin is to be boring.” 

– J.F. Herbert

Some years ago, for a period participated in a Bible study group program with an intensive methodology.  This involved:

  • Reading the passage
  • Prepare the answers to a series of questions
  • Meet to discuss the questions in a group
  • Listen to a lecture on the passage with other groups
  • Read a set of notes written on the passage, distributed after the session
  • A quick review in the following session.  Members share points they’ve learnt in the previous session.

Having attended various forms of Bible study groups previously (structured/unstructured, planned/unplanned formats)
the methodical approach taken by this program was helpful,i.e.

  • Systematic, structured book study from the beginning to the end of each book in the Bible.
    Verses are read with respect to the context and situation in which it was written.
  • Bible study is framed within a bible passage, which helps keep everyone focused on this passage during the week.
  • Preparation by everyone, not just the leader — at least a week of reading the text, meditating and answering the given discussion questions.   Reading and gaining familiarity with the Bible passage during the week helps one grasp the main points of the passage, and enhances discussion.
    Meaningful discussions require preparation from everyone, … else the discussions may get detoured, when answers are created ‘on the fly’.
  • The group leader facilitates and invites discussion of the questions.
  • The study is reinforced through multiple channels — questionaire, discussion, lecture, hardcopy notes are distributed at the end of session; that is – self-learning, peer-learning, teacher-led, and further explanatory notes.
  • A short feedback the following week on personal reflections/applications on what was learned in the previous week.

Thoroughly agree,
… no particular Bible study group method is perfect
… as none of us are perfect.

For this methodology described earlier, …

  • The Bible study discussion was ‘compass’, GPS  guided by the discussion questions, for the participants to prepare.  To some extent, the quality of the bible study depended on the quality of the questions.
    ( when driving with a GPS, .. sometimes one misses details, landmarks, sense of direction, neighborhood characteristics along the path to the destination, … and without the GPS, .. returning back to the destination is not easy )
  • As the questions directed the study and discussion, … sometimes the Bible study may be framed by the questions, … rather than the Bible passage.
  • Also, due to the limited time scheduled for discussions, … additional questions or alternate interpretations raised by others, … or sincere doubts posed by others or new believers were usually deferred.
    Undoubtedly, there are portions of scripture that are more challenging to grasp or obey, and … perhaps more time may be required.
  • Some books of the Bible was covered over a lengthy time (many weeks/months, 1 chapter a week), while others were covered in a very short time (a few chapters in one week) ;  i.e. the pace varied.
  • As with any group, especially when folks come from different types of churches (and some may be new believers), … its not easy for the leader and the study to cater to everyone’s needs.

Further observations & thoughts:

During our personal time with the Lord, generally, this is how the Bible is read.

* Pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us.
Begin with reading the whole Bible passage,

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all the truth. ..
John 16:13 (NIV)

* Through further personal readings, gain an understanding of the passage  of what it
meant to those present at that time (the original hearers),

i.e. context, time/events in history, literary form, meaning of words in the original language, personalities in the story, little details in the text, what happened before and after the passage, etc.

Gain an understanding of this first,

we form our views or
personal opinions or thoughts about the passage.

This avoids us putting our own meanings to scripture,
… and interpreting scripture through contemporary eyes;
thereby introducing un-intended meanings and interpretations to scripture.

Thus, first understand the Bible in the original context of the Bible,
and then, how to live the Bible in our own present context in honoring the Lord.

The best explanation of the Bible is the Bible itself.  Let scripture explain scripture.

“Its amazing how much light the Bible sheds on commentaries” 
— Howard Hendricks

Let God’s Word speak for itself.
Let understanding be reasoned out of God’s word by the Holy Spirit.

* What’s God’s view?
How is the Lord revealed through this passage?

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you:
Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me
in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Luke 24:44 (NIV)

Jesus said,
39 You study the Scriptures diligently
because you think that in them you have eternal life. 

These are the very Scriptures that testify about me

46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me,
for he wrote about me.

John 5:39, 46 (NIV)

Can we see the Lord in this passage?
What can we learn about the Lord?
Can we see His hand in the situation?

* Then, based on our earlier observations of the text & what it meant to the original hearers, … then,  .. understand what the passage means to us, personally, corporately in our times.

* And, (finally) possible application/reflection of the text,
& prayer and praise response to God’s word.

10 What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”  …
Luke 3:10, 12, 14 (NIV)

Moving on,

“A text cannot mean what it could never have meant
for its original readers/hearers”
— Gordon Fee

When we read any book or watch any movie, we start at the beginning of a book/act and read/watch to the end.
Seldom do we just catch random tiny snippets from here and there,
and over time, (hopefully?) understand the plot and the characters.
(a ‘movie trailer‘ method of reading or presenting the Bible)

Should the Bible be read or taught any differently
from any other book we read,
if we genuinely desire to understand and treasure it fully?

The Psalmist attitude to God’s word,
161 … my heart stands in awe of Your word.
162 I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.
Psalms 119:161, 162 (NKJV)

More on how to read and interprete the Bible confidently,
please click here.

On another note, … if a friend were to ask you to recall a message you’ve heard recently,
how memorable was it?
… see if you can  reason from  the scriptures quoted, … then, explain from these scriptures the points made by the speaker.

Its preferable that bible study resources reinforce a structured approach, i.e.

Always start in the Bible, … anchored on Jesus,

… rather than start with the premise of an application or conclusion in mind, … or some introductory notes/story, … or a video,
and then later add snippets of Bible verses to  backup or ‘legitmize’ the point.

And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths

reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 
explaining and giving evidence

that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying,

“This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 
Acts 17:2, 3 (NASB)

When Ezra taught the Scriptures,
3… And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

They read from the Book of the Law of God,
making it clear
and giving the meaning

so that the people understood what was being read.

12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate
with great joy
because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
Nehemiah 8:8 (NIV)

The teacher has not taught
until the student has learned.”

Howard Hendricks

As with any area of learning,
whenever one can understand the content,
and have personally experienced the thought and reason process,
then, … one can clearly explain/share it to another person
directly from the Scriptures;
i.e. disciple another person on those truths.

27 Then Jesus took them

through the writings of Moses and all the prophets,

explaining from all the Scriptures
the things concerning himself.

32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us
while He was speaking to us on the road,
while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:27, 32 (NLT)

took them through the Word of God, … explaining the Scriptures,
concerning Jesus

result:  our hearts burning within us

By  facilitating others through conversational, interactive leading questions, and dialogue
… to self-discover the truths in the passage, … with ‘Aha moments‘, …
to know God and His ways better,
supports understanding and learning.

Loving God’s word.
Bringing  people personally to the Word of God, Jesus,
and the word of God, Bible.

As they self-discover the truths in God’s word, with the help of the Holy Spirit,
they gain confidence to read the Bible regularly on their own, … and enjoy reading the Bible daily.

This skill helps others to confidently read and interpret Bible passages on their own, … during their daily quiet time  (without commentaries), … listening to the Holy Spirit,

… and also discern information they receive from others or from social media
— a thinking, discerning, praying believer … loving God’s word.

“… the most pressing task is to teach people
how to learn.”

— Peter Drucker

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day;
but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity,
he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”

— Clay P. Bedford

“Curiosity is the wick
in the candle of learning.”

— William A. Ward

“But if you find yourself experiencing
a desire to seek God,

we have great news for you:
God is already at work in you.”

― Henry T. Blackaby

Thus, the focus shifts to the participant
and their learning, their skill, their progress, their interests/curiosity,
rather than the delivery or completion of the ‘syllabus’ or study guide,

and, … cultivate lifelong learning.

This skill also helps one navigate life’s unexpected dilemmas, challenges and opportunities in life
to confidently reason out from the Bible, … ‘what would Jesus do’ (WWJD) 

For the word of God is alive and powerful.
It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword,
cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.
It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)

Such that, … whenever we hear or receive something, … or face with something in our lives,

we’ll reach out to check God’s word first,
“is this  in God’s word?”
or “What does God’s word say about this?”

…. they listened eagerly to Paul’s message.
They searched the Scriptures    day after day
to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
Acts 17:11 (NLT)

Paul wrote to Timothy about discipling,
The things which you have heard from me
in the presence of many witnesses,

entrust these to faithful men
who will be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2:2 (NASB)

Paul -> Timothy  ->  faithful men (without Paul & Timothy present) -> others

If one (eg Timothy) were to share to another person,
what was shared by the speaker (eg Paul), or  what they heard at a meeting,
… rather than try to recall the points,

its far easier to open the unchanging Bible
to the passage from which the study was drawn from,
… and from there,
… clearly reason out the truths embedded in  the passage verses,
making the words on the page come alive to their listener.

passion in loving God’s word … is infectious
passion in loving God, .. loving others,
and it starts with us … having that passion.

“… the simplest man with passion
will be more persuasive
than the most eloquent without.”

— François de La Rochefoucauld

.. understanding the lesson, … helps the participant to think about the lesson, … long after the lesson is over.

So then faith comes by hearing,
and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

passion in loving God, .. loving others

We live in an age … where we search for pills of instant answers, .. fast relief formulas, quick 3-step recipes, self-help resources,

rather than the pearl of great price,
and nurturing a tree of wisdom, … that takes  time  to bear fruit, … from the seed of God’s word.

What’s our thoughts about googled answers to the questions on the Bible study guide?

Topical Bible studies are useful.
However, sometimes, it seemed verses are cherry-picked from various places to fit the application;
causing the Bible to appear as disjointed snippets taken here and there (especially to a new believer),
… and sometimes verses may be quoted without the context
or worse, out of context.

To draft a good topical Bible study also requires the writer or leader have a thorough and balanced grasp of the topic as presented in the Bible.

It would also be great … if both New and Old Testament passages are referred to or cross-referenced, so that we can see that both testaments are consistent and complement one another … i.e., the Bible is one book, and read as one book.

The best interpretation is when the Bible explains itself,
and reasoned out from bible verses,
not man’s thoughts.

As obvious as this may sound, its worthwhile saying,
a Bible study is … a study of the Bible,
(66 books in total)
not a study of a guide book or video series of some famous author or ministry.

The 66 books should not be  replaced  by the  lens
of another set of books or videos
or some well-known ministry or author.

2 Timothy 2:15 (AMP)
Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved,
a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed,
accurately handling
and skillfully teaching the word of truth.

Only His word has authority, life, power, and leads us to personally know Him and walk in His ways.
Study, … accurately handling, … skillfully teaching the word of truth

John 6:63,68 (NIV)
63 … The words I have spoken to you
—they are full of the Spirit and life.

68 Simon Peter answered him,
“Lord, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.

69 We have come to believe and
to know that
you are the Holy One of God.”

believe, … and know … that you are the Holy One of God
faith comes by …  hearing … the word of God

Near the end of John’s Gospel, John wrote the reason for his book,

John 20:31 (NASB)
but these have been written so that you may believe that 
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; 
and that believing you may have life in His name.

Interestingly, John wrote that you may believe Jesus,
a step beyond just … knowing … about Jesus,
or knowing about doctrines or facts of the Bible.

(in John’s gospel,  the word believe appears 81 times in NASB)

believing faith in Jesus.
Not just a knowledge of scriptures,
or having right answers to a study sheet,
… rather, …
, trust, believe, .. depend upon Jesus

… believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
A believing faith response from the heart to God’s word,
and developing a loving relationship with Jesus and others.

Bring people personally to the Word of God, Jesus, and the word of God, Bible.

Do we know Jesus more?
Does it build & strengthen faith and belief in Jesus?
Does it help us trust Jesus in our daily lives and challenges?

… how does knowing this, .. inspire & guide me to love God, and others more? .. draw me closer to Jesus?

“When our faith is based primarily on the wisdom of men
and not on the power of God,
we’ve just nullified most of what God intended for our lives.

When our faith is built only on a collection of doctrines,
we miss out on the Person who wants to be our life.”

― Henry T. Blackaby

On a further note, … through the ups and downs of life,
there are times, life takes unexpected turns,
when our clever answers at Bible study group
are put to the testing crucible of life,

When we don’t understand,
when our minds are full of questions,

and in spite of this, …
rising up, … and facing each day,
faithfully trusting in Jesus and His word,
… believing & trusting Jesus our good Shepherd
to lead us through.
i.e. faith.

In the parable of the sower & seed,
13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it,
but they have no root.
They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
Luke 8:13 (NIV)

Moving along, …
do bear in mind the group demographics,

children? young adults? seniors?
new believers?
people with no judeo-christian background, limited English?

For each session, it’ll be good to articulate the desired learning outcomes, … rather than just finish answering a series of questions.

Also, … with increased education in most countries,
and freely available powerful Internet search tools, and online Bible resources, apps & ebooks,
… in the midst of a well-informed group, … with instant tools to a vast library of knowledge on their fingertips,

there’ll be occasions when participants
explain things far better than the study guide,
or provide out-of-the-box scriptural answers
and interesting questions, or fresh insights/angles,
or even point out inconsistencies in the study guide.

thus, … we can learn from anyone and everyone,
even from a little child  (the emperor’s new clothes);
… information asymmetry is fading.

More on Bible study group: can technology engage & improve learning?  (click here)

Whatever outcomes & methods, … let’s continue to be faithful, diligent and thorough with His Word, … believing the Holy Spirit will move people’s hearts.

On a further note, we live in the most well-informed era in human history, … with 24/7 information feeds right on our fingertips.

Want to know something? … just google, bing, alexa, siri, cortana, echo, baidu … it;
petabytes of knowledge, data are neatly processed & summarised, .. to a list of ranked search results, .. in a blink of an eye, … anytime, anywhere.

Social media is also increasingly replacing traditional sources of information & news; .. shaping opinions, attitudes, perspectives, mindsets.

… the world is shifting …

Is knowing more, … more knowledge
… synonymous with … wisdom ?

what’s the missing link?

In our work in the marketplace,
… there’s certainly a world of difference

between :
clever analyses of case studies in the classroom,
knowing the right answers in an examinations or interviews,  … model-answers, etc
and saying the right technical jargon or buzzwords or taglines,

to :
… effectively applying our know-how and qualifications
in the heat and stress of the unexpected, unscripted changes in our workday;
thinking on our feet, … resolving issues, problems in a timely & effective way.

i.e. whether the fundamental principles of our field or expertise
have been   understood,   internalized,
and spontaneously, instinctively applied,
just mere theories in class taught by academics,
& achieving good test scores.

And by doing, putting things we learned into practice in the field,
we gain a greater understanding of what we’ve learned.
Furthermore, its often when things don’t work or go wrong in the field, that we learn the most.

Thus, whatever Bible study group method we use,
its good for us to bear in mind,
that at the end of His sermon on the mount,

Jesus said,
Therefore everyone who

hears these words of mine
and puts them into practice

is like a wise man
who built his house on the rock.

The rain came down,
the streams rose,
and the winds blew and beat against that house;

facing the unexpected, unscripted changes in real daily life,
the word of God our guide, from where we draw strength, etc

yet it did not fall,
because it had its foundation on the rock.
(Matthew 7:24,25 NIV)

 Jesus replied,
Anyone who loves me
will obey my teaching
My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
John 4:23 (NIV)

The house unwaveringly stood firm
in challenging real-life circumstances
built on the foundation of applying, living out  God’s word daily in everyday life,
trusting God

Knowing = Doing + Living,   inspired by God’s love.

Satan could quote the Bible as well as anyone else, 
but his trouble is that he doesn’t live it 
– Marion E Wade

By applying, living out God’s word daily, trusting God,
we are transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12 2)
and sanctified, made holy by God’s truth,
obeying God’s word  (John 17:17)

The fruit of Bible study is, … us being transformed
by the renewing of our mind

unlearn, .. re-learn, … paradigm shifts,
life change, … lifestyle change

.. have the same mindset as Christ Jesus(Philippians 2:5 NIV)

Interestingly, the word ‘repent‘ in the original Greek is  μετανοέω, metanoeō,   which means:
to change one’s mind of (on account of) something,   
to change one’s mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins  (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)

The goal is not to make you a smarter sinner 
but to make you like the Savior.”
— Howard Hendricks

Paul described the fruit of his discipling and mentoring ministry,

The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves.
Your lives are a letter written in our hearts;
everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.

Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:2,3 (NLT)

His disciples, like Paul, were also living, shining examples for Jesus in the community…
a letter from Christ …. everyone can read it and recognize
… written with the Spirit of the living God, carved on human hearts.

“You teach what you know, 
but you reproduce what you are.”
— Howard Hendricks

“Only a disciple can make a disciple.”
— A. W. Tozer

Jesus said,
A disciple is not above his teacher,
but everyone who is perfectly trained
will be like his teacher.
Luke 6:40 (NKJV)

perfectly trained = Like his teacher, Jesus.

a heart change,
a lifestyle change

John wrote,
but whoever keeps His word,
in him the love of God has truly been perfected

By this we know that we are in Him: 
the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to
walk in the same manner as He walked.
1 John 2:5, 6 (NASB)

keep His word –> the love of God has been perfected

John notes that the fruit of keeping God’s word is
the love of God

Obeying God’s word, … abiding in Jesus,
… results in the perfecting fullness of God’s love in our lives,
walking in a similar manner as Jesus

At a personal level, … sometimes, in the quest to know the Bible well, and due to limited time
… groups may be activity oriented
and lose sight of sharing one’s life, knowing, supporting, encouraging one another personally;

praying for one another,
a loving supportive community
at the meeting and outside the meeting;

… rather than  preferring to just only interact ‘spiritually’
in the quest for the right answers to the study guide.

activity … or community?

Yes its true,… some folks are private; uncomfortable in opening up & share one’s personal life, walk.
Should we remain this way?

.. everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another
John 13:35 (NIV)

We thank God for you always. And that’s what we should do, because you give us good reason to be thankful:
Your faith is growing more and more.
And the love that every one of you has for each other is also growing.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 (ERV)

A bible study of God’s word speaks beyond just our mind,
and by the Holy Spirit, … illumines, inspires our soul,
and moves our heart,
to love the Lord and love others.

Consider the  fruit  of the early believers,

Acts 2:42-45 (ESV)
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

The teaching of God’s word or discipling/mentoring, …

43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

Bears fruit   in God’s presence and power manifested in their midst, …

44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Bears fruit   in God’s love for one another,
through generous sharing and caring …

46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Bears fruit    in a daily worship lifestyle,
and others coming to know Jesus.

Growing in love for God, fellow believers, and others who have yet to know Jesus.

Besides preparing & sharing,
… prayer is essential and indispensable.

In Paul’s epistles, he often mentions his tender personal prayers for the churches and individuals.
He and his friends certainly cared a lot for the people they led, shepherded, cared,
as they constantly remember them in their prayers.
For them, …out of sight (or side) … is not out of mind.

Romans 1:9,10 (NIV) 
God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness
how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; …

Ephesians 1:16 (NIV)
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Philippians 1:14 (NIV)
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy

1 Thessalonians 1:2 (NIV)
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

2 Timothy 1:3 (NIV) for Timothy
… night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

Philemon 1:4 (NIV) for Philemon
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers,

Paul prayed regularly for those he discipled with joy giving thanks for them.
He often thought about them.

We must talk to God about men
before we talk to men about God
 – Bill Bright

An important key

Back to the methodical Bible study program mentioned earlier.

Curious … I wondered which step or steps in the methodology were most useful or impactful to those who participated.  So, … I  asked some brethren who attended the program about their thoughts and insights.

Also, was wondering,
what’s beyond finding or knowing the  right answers  to the Bible study guide questions?

… what’s the goal, the objective ?

What does being  ‘well-versed‘  with the Bible really mean?

Does .. Bible study group = discipling ?

Bible study group 2

Of all the answers shared … the most interesting one …  which I’ll never forget … came from a Chinese man.

He said, ” None of the steps !”

I was intrigued.

He continued, “For me, what’s most important is the Bible study group leader.”

“In the last 4-5 years of attending this program, I’ve had a different Bible study group leader each year.  Some leaders were more effective than others.”

Curious,  I asked why was the leader so crucial ?
What did the more effective leaders do that made the difference ?

He explained, “I grew up in a communist country, … I have never met a Christian before, … until I moved over to this country.”

“So, … I have no clue or idea what a Christian looks like. “

He continued, “Some Bible study group leaders just go through the Bible study process, … until we see them again … at the next Bible study group session.  Sometimes, during the week they’ll give a friendly call””

“Those whom I have benefited the most from, … are the ones who open up … and share their life with me … their ups and downs, … their prayers … at work,  … in their family  … and how the Bible and faith in Jesus helped them through.  These sharings helped me understand how the Bible and Jesus is real, relevant in real life .. in life’s situations.”

“These leaders were also interested about my life, … and they compassionately supported me, … prayed with me, …  through my walk with the Lord.”

Paul wrote:

1:5 … You know how we lived among you …

2:8 so we cared for you.
Because we loved you so much,

we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God
but our lives as well. 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 2:8  (NIV)

4:9 The things you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me,

practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you.
 1 Philippians 4:9 (NASB)

Gleaning from my friend’s sharing, and some personal observations  …

One shared knowledge, … while the other shared life

One was friendly, … while the other, … a friend

One taught, facilitated, … while the other walked alongside … guide, coach, cared, prayed.

Mass one-size-fits-all approach… or personalised, contextualised, .. in love

The Bible in a classroom, … or the Bible in everyday life — testimonies & experiences.

Knowing about the Bible, … or living out the Bible.

A study, … or effective disciple making ?

Clay pot 2

Know the text/passage, .. know the right answer on the study sheet,
… or know the Author ?

Analysis, reasoning, catchphrases,
right answers, spiritual jargon,
… or a living example ?

Information to the mind,
… or transformation of the heart?

Maybe …
that’s why,
… God did not just send us … a teaching manual to read,
or a workbook to fill with right answers,

… but a man, … an example to follow,
His Son, … to live among us,
the living Word  🙂

a living relationship, fellowship with Him.

And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, … (Matthew 4:19 NIV)

And may be, that’s why the Bible is filled with stories of people who personally experienced the Lord through their everyday lives and challenges.

This is eternal life,
that they may know You, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  (John 17:3 NIV)

Perhaps … the question is:
How real is Jesus in our lives?
Can others see Jesus in us?

On a side note
high tech tools like facebook posts and whatsapp/wechat/snapchat messages
are still imperfect substitutes for
time spent in face-to-face contact with someone,
attentively giving time to truly listen to one another, .. (not distracted by other messages)
compassionately listen to one another’s heart
i.e. face time, high touch

 The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.
John 1:14 (MSG)

Interestingly, my Chinese friend’s observation wisely echoes Paul’s

4:15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers,
for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.

16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of
my way of life in Christ Jesus, which
agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

11:1 Follow my example,
as I follow the example of Christ

1 Corinthians 4:15,16, 17, 11:1 (NIV)

By the way, the first leaders chosen in Acts were described as
men of good reputation,
full of the Spirit and of wisdom
… full of faith and of the Holy Spirit …  full of grace and power ..

Acts 6:3, 5, 8 (NASB)

Character, good deeds, service, … Holy Spirit, wisdom, faith, grace, power,
leaders whose lives point to Jesus, … who we can imitate their examples.

Is the quest for more and more knowledge ?
… more of what ?
or just more ?

Paul wrote:

My goal is to know Him
and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death
Philippians 3:10 (HCSB)

 If I … know all mysteries and all knowledge;
… but do not have love,
I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2 (NASB)

… knowledge puffs up while
love builds up.
1 Corinthians 8:1

and Peter wrote:

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NKJV)
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence,
add to your faith
virtue, to virtue knowledge,
to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance,
to perseverance godliness,
to godliness brotherly kindness,
and to
brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are yours and abound,
you will be neither barren nor unfruitful
in the knowledge   of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James wrote:

James 1:22 (NIV)
Do not merely listen to the word,

and so deceive yourselves.

Do what it says.

Its interesting here, that James mentions that its possible to
be self-deceived,
… even when doing the right activities
and hanging out with the right crowd.

Jesus said:

.. everyone will know
that you are my disciples,

if you
love one another

John 13:35 (NIV)

A disciple is not above his teacher,
but everyone who is perfectly trained
will be like his teacher.
Luke 6:40 (NKJV)

In summary,

“Out of 100 men,
one will read the Bible,
the other 99 will read the Christian”
D. L Moody

The goal is not to make you a smarter sinner
but to make you like the Savior.

You cannot impart what you do not possess.

You can impress from a distance,
but you can only impact up close.

You teach what you know,
but you reproduce what you are.

Jesus never asks people to memorise
and repeat answers back to Him.
He was content to trust the Holy Spirit
to guide them into all truth (John 16:13)

It’s a sin to bore people with the Bible.

The teacher has not taught
until the student has learned.”

– Howard Hendricks

“Historically, the church has understood the nature of Scriptures
much the same as it has understood the person of Christ
— the Bible is at the same time both human and divine”
— Gordon Fee

How about Jesus.  What method did He used ?

Jesus’ teaching method … inspiring, life changing, real (Click here)

(for the continuation of this article)

When folks of diverse ethnic and cultural background come together to Bible study, sometimes we get interesting observations,
here’ a post on How social media, cultural perspectives & values influence our Bible reading (click here)

What’s a disciple of Jesus, & example: the disciple who baptised Paul (click here)

Teaching |  Discipling | Serving Quietly

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
June 20, 2015

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License




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