|Volume 19 Number 4 April 2017||
Are Bible classes a waste of time? Some people think Bible classes are not important and may consider them to be just “a waste of time.” What should our attitude be toward Bible classes? Why do we have Bible classes? Do we have them just because others do? Do we have them just so we can say we are doing something? Until we come to understand the significance of Bible classes, we will not appreciate them. If we appreciate them, attitudes and attendance will change for the better.
Bible classes are significant because (1) they help promote the work of the church, (2) they help provide a way “to feed” the flock, (3) they help produce tomorrow’s elders, deacons, preachers and teachers, (4) they help prevent unfaithfulness in the church and (5) they help prepare one for eternity (Jerry Joseph). I appreciate brother Joseph’s comments on Bible classes, and the article brought other things to mind. Often Bible class attendance is faltering, and I encourage each one to make every effort to be present for those classes. Bible classes not only help us to grow spiritually, but they also encourage us in our daily living and the way we deal with life and its problems. Mid-week Bible class is like “a shot in the arm” to help one get through the rest of the week. When we have Bible classes, we are with others who want to know God’s will so they can more capably do His will.
Bible classes help us stay focused on what is important in our lives. We all get bogged down with daily living and, sometimes, it just seems to overwhelm us to the point that there’s not much time and energy left for things other than what overwhelms us. It’s my finding that there’s nothing more important than studying, knowing and doing God’s will. Remember the words of the Psalmist: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Like it says, when one knows God’s Word and His promises and relies on them for strength and guidance, he can handle everything else. The darkness disappears, and you can see the goal clearly.
Annually, I encourage all members of the congregation to participate in reading through the Bible in the course of the year. This can become a reality, and study guides help reach that goal through suggested daily readings. If you didn’t get started at the beginning of the year, you can start now. Just alter the dates to make the reading complete by this same time next year. It doesn’t matter whether you read the Bible as an individual, as a couple or as a family—just read the Word! Further, not only read it, but study to know what it means, and then, apply it to your life. Remember Paul’s exhortation to young Timothy. “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). To rightly divide, one must study.
There is nothing one can do in this life that is more important than studying God’s Word. Knowing and doing His Word is what gives one hope of eternal life after this earthly life is over. Just reading and turning the pages won’t accomplish that. One must read with the desire to understand what the message is and then make application in one’s daily life. One can only do that when he knows what the will of God is. That’s what Paul told the Ephesian brethren in Ephesians 5:17 when he wrote, “Don’t be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is.” How can one know God’s will without opening the pages of the Bible, whether in Bible classes or in private?
The Word or Words?
T. Pierce Brown
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” He had said in Chapter 1:17, “not with wisdom of words, that the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”
I have come very near envying those preachers who apparently have a special gift of eloquence. (I expect most “special gifts” have been developed by long arduous hours of study and work.) When I come to some grand theme of the Bible and my heart is almost bursting with the desire to express more adequately the inexpressible love and grandeur of God, I feel like a tongue-tied moron. Then, I wish the Spirit would do for my preaching what He does for my praying (Romans 8:26).
However, as I was musing about my weaknesses and shortcomings in this and other areas, I thought of what Paul said, and the language of Jesus and the apostles as they taught. Then, I remembered hearing an eloquent elderly evangelist engaging in earnest entreaty to the Eternal One. He began something like this: “Our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and ever-to-be-adored heavenly Father.” He continued in that style for several minutes, capturing (or at least intriguing) my mind with adjectives I had almost forgotten. He closed with something like this, “And when we come to the end of the way and hang our battle-scarred armor on the shining walls of jasper, and sheath the shining, sharp sword of the Spirit forever, it will be well with us.” (Aren’t all these attention-getting alliterations almost always alarming when they call attention to the author instead of the Almighty?) Though it was but in the middle of the afternoon, the expression, “When the ebony fingers of night enfold us in their tender embrace” still sounded like something I wish I had thought of.
However, as I contrasted that with “Our Father, who art in heaven” my disappointment that I can’t pray in that fashion lessened somewhat. I remembered many years ago when I was a student in college, a fellow-student (he must have been a drama major with outstanding ability) was asked to preach for a big congregation in the town. I think he was preaching on the crucifixion of Christ. As he got to the place where his well-chosen words and dramatic delivery made the audience writhe in empathy with the sinless, suffering Savior, the lights dimmed and turned blood red as our minds were called to think of the blood that flowed from His hands, head and side.
There is no question that he got attention. He could have done likewise by firing a .45 pistol. Yet, I could not help but contrast it with Peter in Acts 2:23-24. He simply and powerfully said, “Him, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” He did not try to dramatize the scene by a vivid description of the cat-o-nine tails, laying bare His bones and the crunch of the spikes as they pierced His tender flesh, as I might have done. “He died for you” was apparently sufficient, and I confess is enough to make me weep, both for shame and for joy.
Is it not possible that those of us who have no natural dramatic or oratorical ability may try too hard to mimic those who do, and as a result lean toward a dependence on words rather than upon The Word?
Is it not an ever present danger that as men get more highly trained in both philosophies and techniques of men that it is an easy thing to glory in smooth expressions and eloquent and stirring presentations rather than in the simplicity of the Gospel? Is there any among us who has not gone to some lecture program and seen those who felt like standing and cheering at the apt and marvelous way some wonderful speaker made us feel a certain way about something? Do you suppose that they were more impressed by the style than they were by the Savior who was supposedly being glorified?
Surely, I tell myself, this does not negate the desirability of continuously searching for better and more powerful ways to express the Truth of God. However, it may suggest how prone man is to fall in love with the wrapper and let the Bread of Life go to waste. We may admire the pretty goblet and leave the Water of Life untasted!
So, I suppose if I had the ability to eloquently dramatize some biblical scene, I should use that ability the best I can to glorify God. Yet, I must not forget that a person who waves a big flashlight around may get people looking at the light rather than at the object on which he is trying to shine it!