By Benjamin Favel
Have you ever been frustrated while teaching a Home Bible Study? You started out teaching the lesson exactly as it was laid out, and you found yourself thinking, “This is not working.” You got to the end of the study and nothing had happened. You had not met your goal of winning souls. Now your confidence in the effectiveness of Home Bible study has been shaken. Someone should have told you what to teach in your study.
A lot of the teachers that I talk to are confused about what to teach in a Bible study. They have not realized what the major themes of the Bible are. So they stumble through their study, and wonder why nothing happened. Even if you set goals, you must have a plan for reaching those goals. This chapter is devoted to what you should teach, in order to reach the goal of winning souls.
There are some major themes in scripture that you should always bring out in every lesson. These concepts are easy to spot, and also easy to teach. If you will incorporate these themes into every lesson, you will be one step closer to your goal of soul winning. These themes will help you mention salvation in every lesson of your study. If you teach these six concepts then you should increase the effectiveness of your study
Point # 1 God Has Always Had A Plan!
God has always had a plan to save mankind is the most important theme of the Bible. You will find this concept throughout all of the scriptures. Even when we make mistakes and mess things up God has a plan to fix things and make it alright again. Be assured that no matter what happens in life God has it all under control. We will find this idea in every one of the lessons in a Bible Study.
From the very beginning of creation, God wanted someone to commune with. God created mankind, so that we could have a relationship with Him. We know this is true because God used to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cod of the day: Of course we also know that mankind fell into sin. Sin broke the relationship between God and man. God is holy and therefore His holiness will not allow sinful man into His presence.
But because God desired so much to have communion with man, He made a way in which sinful man could at least cover his sin, through animal sacrifice. Even from the very beginning, God killed an animal to use the skins to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skin, and clothed them. It was God that bridged the gap between mans’ sin, and His holiness. It was God that made it possible for mankind to come to Him.
The plan of God is to make a way for sinful man to have fellowship with Him. Even back in the garden He told Adam and Eve, that in His final plan they would be able to be holy once more. Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between her seed and thy seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. God eventually came in the flesh Himself to be our final sacrifice for sin. Now, we can come to the throne of God, washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.
You should emphasize the point that God has always had a plan to save mankind, in every lesson. If you emphasize the plan early, then when you get to later lessons about Jesus it will be easy to show that Jesus is the final step in the plan of God. Every lesson should be about the plan, and how the plan does not change. The plan is for us to have a real relationship with God. The only way that we can have a relationship is because Jesus sacrificed His life for us.
It should also be taught that God is the One that creates the way. In the Old Testament it was God that created the practice of animal sacrifice. It was God that gave Noah the plans for the ark. It was God that caused the miraculous birth of Isaac. It was God that brought Joseph to power in Egypt. It was God that told Moses about the Passover. It was God that gave the designs of the Tabernacle to the Israelites. And it was God that came in the flesh to die for our sins. God always creates a way for mankind to have a relationship with Him.
Point # 2 The Power of Choice
The power of choice is extremely important to teach in every lesson. Our choices determine whether we will have that relationship with God or not. It is our choices in life that will decide our ultimate destination. Just because God makes a way for us to have communion with Him does not mean that everybody will choose to accept that way. The Bible is full of examples of people that chose to reject the plan of God.
When you teach about Adam and Eve, make sure and bring out the point that they had a choice whether to eat that fruit or not. They chose to eat the forbidden fruit and in doing so they rejected the plan of God. Whether they were lied to or not does not matter. They made a conscious decision to step outside the plan of God. It is not important why they made the decision, it is only important that they made the wrong decision. It was the power of their choice that had them banished from the Garden of Eden.
This theme continues on with Adam’s children, Cain and Abel. Genesis 4:3-5 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Able and unto his offering: But unto Cain and unto his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. Both of them brought sacrifices to the Lord. But only Abel’s sacrifice was accepted, because it was what God asked for. Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted because he chose to reject God’s plan for animal sacrifice. When Cain realized that his sacrifice was not going to be accepted, rather than change it, he killed his brother. Again, this was a decision made by Cain. Everything in life revolves around mankind’s power to choose.
There are many more examples in scripture of the power of choice. Enoch chose to walk with God, Noah chose to build the ark, Abraham chose to leave his home, Moses chose to return to Egypt, the Jews chose to sacrifice the Passover lamb, and the list goes on. Every time that God makes a way, then it becomes the responsibility of mankind to follow that way. We have a decision to make whether we are going to accept or reject the plan of God.
Another aspect of the power of choice to remember is that only by following the plan of God exactly can we be accepted by Him. Cain did bring a sacrifice, but it was not what God had requested. The fact of the sacrifice did not matter to God, unless it was specifically what He asked for. Just because we think we are doing what God wants, does not necessarily mean that we are. Even if we do part of what God says, we still will not be accepted by God. We must follow His plan exactly if we want to be accepted by Him.
If you are bringing these points out in every lesson, then it should not be too hard to talk about God’s plan for today. You should have no trouble talking about Repentance, Baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. If you show that God has always had a plan to have a relationship with man, then your students should begin asking questions about what the plan is for today on their own. Then all you have to do is take them to Acts 2:38, tell them the way, and watch them exercise their power of choice.
Point # 3 Grace Equals Opportunity
There is a great misconception in our world today about just what it is that the word “grace” means. According to popular tradition grace means, “unmerited favor”, or in other words there is nothing you have done to deserve this favor. However, this creates the misconception that people will receive grace, no matter what they do. This is the reason that so many churches are preaching a doctrine of “grace over everything.” They have the idea that grace is some sort of blanket that covers every sin, no matter what.
This is the wrong idea about grace. I prefer to look at grace as an opportunity. Grace is an opportunity to accept the plan that God has laid out. God did not have to create a way for us to have a relationship with Him. It was His love for us and His longing for a relationship with us that caused Him to create these different ways for man to shed his sins. However, this is merely an opportunity. God’s grace creates an opportunity for us to be accepted by God, but it is up to us whether we will take advantage of that opportunity or not.
We can find a simple illustration of this concept of grace in the story of Noah. Genesis 6:7-8 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. God had determined to destroy all of mankind. But the Bible says that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. That grace led God to give Noah the plans for an ark to save him and his family from the coming flood, Genesis 6:13-18. The grace that God gave to Noah was merely time and plans to build an ark. God did not build the ark, but He did provide the opportunity for Noah to build one. Grace was the opportunity for Noah and his family to be saved.
In the same way today, God provides the opportunity for us to be saved. Jesus was the one that went to the cross to die for the sins of humanity. You and I do not have to pay the price for our sins, because He already has. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has created the opportunity for us to be saved. It was His great grace that caused Him to suffer and die for our sins. Jesus has made the way to escape from sin, for the entire world. Grace has given us this opportunity to be saved.
Point # 4 Faith Equals Obedience
While I do agree that there is nothing that we have done to deserve grace, there is something that we can do to take advantage of grace. We can have faith. Faith is a word that some people view as a type of mystical energy. It seems to be something intangible. Everyone knows that it is necessary but nobody really knows what it is. But faith does not have to be confusing at all. Faith is as simple as obedience to what God said.
Scripture is very clear about what faith is. There is a whole chapter devoted to the subject of faith in the book of Hebrews, Hebrews 11:1-40. This chapter is sometimes called the “Hall of Heroes” because it lists so many of the people in the Bible that are noted for great accomplishments. Names like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others are mentioned as heroes of faith. However, when you examine each of these individuals you will find that each of them is noted because of something that they did. Hebrews 11:4 Abel offered… 11:5 Enoch pleased God… 11:7 Noah prepared an ark… 11:8-9 Abraham obeyed… and sojourned, and there are many more examples in this chapter of what faith is.
In each of these examples, the people listed did exactly what God told them to and that is why they are said to have faith. We can find other scriptures that illustrate this same point. James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my work. James is telling us that faith without works is really nothing at all. Belief without some sort of action is not real belief at all.
I always illustrate this point with this example. I ask the students “do you believe me?” The students will respond “Yes we believe you.” Then I say, “The building is on fire.” Of course the students just sit there and do not respond to my statement. Then I can make the point that if they believed me, they would have tried to leave the building. But they really did not believe me so they just sat there. If we truly believe God then we will obey what He says. If Noah did not believe the Lord he would not have built the ark, but because Noah believed God, he built the ark. The people of Noah’s day did not believe what God said, so they did not get on board the ark and perished in the flood. See how simple it is?
So how can we explain, Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved though faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God? With our definitions of grace as an opportunity and faith as obedience it is quite simple. In order to be saved, God has given you the opportunity to obey Him. The grace is the gift of God and the faith is our obedience to Him. We must obey God’s plan exactly as He laid it out if we want to be saved. What is the plan that God has laid out for today? Turn to Acts 2:38… Showing that faith is obedience will help your students see that if they do not obey the plan of God then they really do not have faith in His Word.
Point # 5 God Does Judge
As we look through moden religion, we will find very little about the judgments of God. Televangelists are obsessed with talking about the grace and love of God. Our Christian radio stations are full of songs about mercy and another chance. Very few times will you hear something mentioned about the judgment of God. In spite of all of that, it is a fact of Scripture that God does judge, both the righteous and the unrighteous.
It should be easy to point out from lesson one, that God judged mankind’s disobedience. Man was kicked out of the Garden of Eden by God. Later, God judged Cain and Abel. Abel was accepted but Cain was not. God judged Noah’s day. Noah and his family were saved. The rest of the world was destroyed. God judged all of mankind at the Tower of Babel and confused the languages. God judged Egypt, and punished them for their treatment of Israel. God judged Israel in the wilderness and punished them for their disobedience. All through the Bible there are examples of God judging.
Today, just like in the past, God judges whether we are obedient or disobedient to His Word. Obedience is rewarded with a relationship with Him and disobedience is rewarded with exile from His presence. Jesus gave us an example of judgment in scripture, Luke 16:19-31. In this parable the rich man and Lazarus both died and went to separate places. Lazarus went to a place of comfort and rest, but the rich man went into a place of eternal torment. It is obvious from Scripture that unfortunately, not everyone will be saved.
Remember to point out, when teaching this fact that this is what Scripture says. This is not your opinion or just what you think, but this is what the Bible says. Whether, they personally choose to accept what the Bible says or not, do not change the facts of the Word. It is your job to present this fact to them, but it is up to the students to decide for themselves if they believe what the Bible says or not. There is coming a judgment on the world. Jesus will return and take those that have obeyed His Word to Heaven. Then His wrath will come down on the rest of those that did not obey. This will happen, whether they believe it or not. If they really do believe, then they will try to find out what they need to do to obey what God has said.
Point # 6 The Bible is Relevant Today
I have had some people ask me why we need to study a book that is thousands of years old. This is an excellent question to ask. The reason that we should study the Bible is that it still applies to our lives today. The Bible is full of things that we can directly apply to our own lives to make them better and to obey what God has said. If your students do not see how the Bible applies to their lives then they will quickly lose interest in the study.
It is your job as the teacher, to make sure that the students see that the Bible is relevant to today. Your students need to see how they can apply the things that they have learned to their own lives. An example of this would be Exodus 2:23-24 And it came to pass in the process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groanings, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. From this passage of scripture we can learn that God hears when people pray. When you tell the students, “God hears when you pray”, that makes it relevant to them. In this way the students will learn that the things they are learning about are important for them today.
The most relevant thing that you will teach about it, in a Bible Study, is God’s plan for today. When you are showing that all of these various stories help us learn something that we can apply to our lives, it should be easy to point out that there is a plan for today. Just like God gave Noah the plans for the ark, He has also given us the plan for our salvation. So the story of Noah becomes important to learn about because of the salvation of Noah.
Another way to make the study relevant is to use examples from modern sources. Be on the lookout for newspaper stories, magazines articles, or books that might make a good illustration of your point. Watch for stories of Biblical archeology, current events, and inspiration then add these into your study. You might read about an excavation in Egypt, be sure and see if there are any Biblical references. Maybe there is a book that describes just how big ancient Egypt was, and you can use these figures to map out ancient Egypt on the United States today. How many states would it cover? This helps the student get the whole picture of what you are talking about. Always be looking for some new story or illustration that you can add to your study.
A final way that you can make your study relevant is with your own personal testimony. Pull stories from your own past, and use those to illustrate your points. Share with your students your own salvation experience. Describe your own Bible study, or how you came to the Lord yourself. Let them know how you felt before you were saved and how you felt afterward. By using personal examples and stories, you are letting your students know that what you arc teaching them is what changed you, and it can change them too.
If you will add these teaching points to each study you will accomplish several things. First you will let the students know God has a plan. Second you will help them understand concepts such as faith and grace in an easy way. Third, you will show them that they have to use their power of choice, whether they will accept or reject that plan. Fourth, they will know that there are consequences for their choices. Finally, they should understand that the concepts of the Bible are still relevant to their life today. If you will add these teaching points to your Bible Studies then you should see students beginning to decide to obey God and that is the most important thing!
“Teaching Points” By Benjamin D. Favel.