How to Avoid Chasing Rabbits
By Doug Joseph
/rab bit/ (n. 1. a small, burrowing rodent, mammal, like the hare but smaller. 2. Unnecessary questions on subjects of untoward dissertation during domicile bibliology.)
I. What Are “Rabbits?”
A. Any subject brought up during a H.B.S. other than the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel and our necessary initial response to the Gospel. Unless you are involved in a long-term, series-style Home Bible Study, you must not let the discussion wander off of these truths:
1. The Gospel: Jesus’
2. Our Response of Obedient Faith by:
ii. Water Baptism in Jesus’ Name
iii. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost
B. Examples of “Rabbit Chasing”
1. Discussing issues of holiness with someone who isn’t yet fully born again into the kingdom of God. (Especially, if they don’t have the Holy Ghost, then they won’t understand Holiness.)
2. Discussing hair, hair length, “to cut or not to cut” with unregenerated people during a H.B.S.
3. Discussing standards of dress (modest apparel, etc.) with unsaved people.
4. Trying to teach tithing or giving in offerings to people who haven’t yet been born again.
5. Questions like:
i. “Where did God come from?”
a. By the way, “Teman” is not the answer. (“God came from Teman and the Holy One from mount Paran” [Habakkuk 3:3].)
ii. “Can God make a rock so big He can’t pick it up?”
iii. “How far is it from East Egypt to the Land of Canaan?”
iv. “Doesn’t the Bible say….”
a. This one is a real doozy because it is easy to feel like your credibility, respect and image of “knowing the Bible” is at stake if you don’t answer it. Don’t be fooled by this clever Rabbit!! Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked just because you know the answer!
b. The most respected answer is an honest answer! If you don’t know, say so! You are hereby granted permission to say, “I don’t know, but give me until our next study, and I will find out for you!” Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked just because you don’t know the answer!!
II. Theology: Scriptural Explanation of Why We Must Limit the Topics of Discussion in Home Bible Studies
A. God gave the Law that was to be obeyed only after He had already redeemed Israel from Egypt and brought them to Himself (Exodus I 9:3-6). God doesn’t require obedience to His “Rules for Living” until He redeems the person making them able to keep the rules. They weren’t even told the rules until after redemption from Egypt (sin). In other words…
B. God puts salvation first, before the laying down of rules and regulations on how to live. Take the hint.
C. This basic doctrine can be simply stated like this: “You don’t get good to get God; you get God to get good.”
1. If a person learns all the rules before coming to God, his carnal nature will cause him to see only the sacrifice not the reward.
2. If the person does manage to keep some or even most of the rules (no one but Jesus could keep them all), then they may feel they don’t need to come to the truth after all.
3. If a person wants to learn all the rules and obey in every way before they come to God, it will be demonstrated in statements like this: “I’ve got some problems to work out.” “I want to get my life straightened out first.” “If I couldn’t come to God when my life was good, I don’t think I should run to Him now.” Etc. Notice the use of the word I. Think. If a person doesn’t come to God until they have straightened out their own life, will they ever come? If a person could straighten out their own life (though none can), who would get the glory? God?
D. The Apostle Paul didn’t preach rules first; he preached only the gospel, then he taught the “rules” after the converts were baptized, filled and living for God! (Even including some very stinging rebukes in the form of letters – the epistles) “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).
III. Ways to Avoid “Chasing Rabbits”
A. We must keep the H.B.S. focused on the right issues.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
-T. F. Tenney
B. Staying focused on salvation, the Gospel and our response of obedient faith means success. Not staying focused means failure. Some ways to avoid wasting time on unnecessary discussion:
1. Prevent Rabbits
i. Let them know at the beginning of the H.B.S. that the Bible is all-conclusive and covers many topics, including everything from how to live, work, eat, raise a family, make it to heaven, be Christ-like – even how to dress, talk. etc. “but for today, we don’t have time to cover everything, so we are going to purposely limit our field of study today to only salvation.”
ii. Remind them later of this decision if they try to get you to chase a rabbit.
Teach them early on in the H.B.S. that there are Heaven and Hell issues, and then there are issues that are not Heaven and Hell, and that it is necessary to cover these topics in order of priority, from most important to least important.
iv. Remind them of this decision later, as well, if necessary.
2. Tell them, “That is a good question, but let’s finish this first, and then we’ll discuss that later.” Then write down their question!
3. If someone asks you a question to which you don’t know the answer, say, “I don’t know, but I will find out for you and get back to you.” Then write down their question and keep your word!
Don’t ruin your Home Bible Study by chasing “rabbits”!
Article “How to Avoid Chasing Rabbits” excerpted from “Home Bible Study Success”. By Doug Joseph.