Teaching People to Be Bible First
As a church we are walking through a preaching series on the book of Hebrews. It has been fun to take a deep dive into a book with such an emphasis on the supremacy of Jesus Christ. However, Hebrews at times can be very technical and dense. It contains many references to Old Testament truths. The writer of the book, who is unknown to us, was certainly an Old Testament scholar. There is a lot of robust theology in the book of Hebrews: An understanding of the Levitical priesthood is necessary for interpretation. An understanding of the Old Covenant as it compares to the New Covenant is essential. There is also a sprinkling of the study of angels in Hebrews. Then, of course, those infamous warning passages that make us wrestle with eternal security in light of the dangers of apostasy.
To borrow language from the writer, Hebrews is certainly not theological milk, but rather solid food. (Hebrews 5:11-14) When discipling someone in theological understanding, it's important to help them grasp what the whole of the Bible has to say about a topic before particular theologians or books. Books aren't bad, but they should always be supplements to the main course of scripture. Many times we teach people theology from a linear system of thought with Bible verses sprinkled in, rather than teaching the Bible and allowing the text to form theology.
When my discipler started teaching me dense doctrines like "election" and "salvation" it was in the context of walking verse by verse through the book of Romans. The doctrine of the church was unpacked as we studied Acts, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, and Titus. I was having to wrestle with what the Bible actually says before being introduced to the thoughts of a systematic theology book. Here's where I believe that helps us: Take Hebrews 6 for example. One of the sticking points of the warning passages is that they don't seem to fit a theological box. If I'm trained to interpret the Bible from a particular theological framework or "system", more than likely my interpretation of passages that clearly say one thing will be influenced to try and make them say another. Instead we should "do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15 paraphrased) Instead of allowing our "system" to interpret a text, we should allow the context and other scriptures of the Bible interpret the text. Many times what I think we will find is the Bible is super complex, some things are fluid and mysterious, and we should hold our views humbly. The Holy Spirit inspired men to write a living and active word from God that isn't always meant to be put in neat categories, but always meant to teach, reprove, correct, and train in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) Any theology we study or believe should make us love Jesus more and change as we follow him.
Charles Spurgeon has a great quote concerning his grasp of the book of Hebrews. "I have been called an Arminian Calvinist or a Calvinistic Arminian, and I am quite content so long as I keep close to my Bible." I love that. Before any theological label or system or logic we should want to be Bible first people. Let's be creatures of the Word of God. Let's disciple people by opening the scriptures with them and walking through it together. Let's let the Bible be our curriculum for discipleship. Pick a Bible reading plan or even just one book of the Bible at a time and read through it verse by verse with your d-group. Journal your thoughts, compare them to other passages. Meditate on them deeply, and always ask yourself in application, "What am I supposed to do about this?" Memorize the Bible, pray the Bible, counsel from the Bible, answer questions from the Bible. Teach people to be Bible first. This causes us to not be debaters, but those who are growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)
Here is a simple way to teach people to read their Bibles. Some of the best discipleship strategy is reading the same Bible reading plan each day and doing a journaling method each day. Sit down with your Bible, a pen, and a notebook. Pray for God to open your heart and mind to understand his word. Read the passage 2-3 times slowly and carefully. In your notebook use the following guide to understand what God is saying in the text, and what God is saying to you, that you can apply to your life.
S.O.A.P Journal bible reading method
As you read scripture, write down what God is showing you in the following categories.
S - Scripture - Write out a verse or passage that stands out to you.
O - Observation - Write what the passage says in context: Highlight key phrases, themes, questions, audiences, compare/contrasts.
Write what the passage means: What truths do you find about God, yourself, Jesus, the world. Think deeply on how these truths impact your heart and mind. Ask questions like
-What can I worship God for?
-How does Jesus help me become this?
-What would change if I believed and obeyed this?
A - Application - Write out what you plan to do about this passage:
-is there a sin to forsake?
-is there a promise to claim?
-is there an example to follow?
-is there a command to obey?
-is there something to share with others?
P - Prayer talk to God about what He has shown you. Pray the scriptures over your life, others, and your prayer list.
KB Shares on The Importance of Discipleship
Christian Hip Hop artist KB shares the importance of discipleship and how it plays out practically in his own life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTtQ5qbyAVk
Grace & Peace, Scott
Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash