- PRACTICAL INSTRUCTION ON — THOROUGH PLANNING AND PREPARATION
- Collect your Material
- Construct your Study
- Presenting the Bible Study
- The Order & Selection of Bible Study Topics (Spirit of Prophecy Counsel)
PRACTICAL INSTRUCTION ON — THOROUGH PLANNING AND PREPARATION
Choose your topic. This will be determined by factors such as:
- The immediate point of interest of your prospects, as indicated by their conversation or question; (eg, World conditions. Questions about the existence of God. Life after death. Doubts about the truth of the Bible. Problem of suffering, etc.) Philip, in his first Bible study with the Ethiopian eunuch, “Began at the same scripture” that his prospect was puzzled about (Acts 8:35). A good cue for us!
- The special needs or circumstances of your prospects; (eg, A recently bereaved family would need comfort, assurance and hope from the Bible. A man battling with the drink habit and longing for freedom would need the positive gospel assurance: “Christ can break the grip of this evil habit!”)
- The stage your prospects have reached in hearing the Advent message; (eg, We are instructed to “melt” the prospects’ hearts with “the love of God”, to teach them the gospel and lead them to surrender their hearts to Jesus, before confronting them with testing truths, such as the Sabbath, the Tithe, or the Mark of the Beast. This procedure is always best. Otherwise, we put the cart before the horse! See “Evangelism pp 230-231”)
- The Church connections or religious background of your prospects. (Obviously there would be somewhat different approaches for Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, Johovah’s Witnesses, Adventists, etc.)
Note: Do not be stereotyped in your selection of topics. There is no one set order or pattern of Bible studies, to be followed rigidly in all cases. Adapt your approach to the individual circumstances of your prospects. Advanced doctrines (or testing truths) should not come before their time!
Seek for, and leave room for the Holy Spirit to direct.
Collect your Material
- Be full of your subject. To be convincing you must have conviction.
- It is a good thing to read a Scripture or Spirit of Prophecy passage before the study of your own inspiration.
- Pray yourself Teachable! Maintain a constant attitude of dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
- Think yourself empty! Exhaust your own knowledge of the Bible first and, when you have done this, go to other sources.
- Read yourself full! Consult church study guides, Spirit of Prophecy, printed Bible study outlines, your concordance. In extremity, get help from other workers.
Construct your Study
- Have a definite AIM in view (ie, concerning what you want your prospects to understand, believe, or do)
- Analyse your Subject by asking Questions about it, such as: “How”, “When” Where?”, “Why”, “What”, “Who”. What are the common opinions about this subject? What are the common objections? What is my responsibility concerning it? Etc.
- Prepare your main steps, headings, or divisions
- Avoid rambling or disconnectedness. Strive for a logical sequence or order of arrangement, so that your study grows naturally and persuasively, like a plant: “First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” The above-mentioned questions will help greatly in achieving this logical development.
Note! Prepared Bible Studies should be designed as a model of simplicity, coherence and orderly arrangement. Each should consist of three main parts (a) Introduction, (b) Discussion (c) Conclusion. These are not intended to bind users to slavish conformity, but they illustrate how to build an orderly, logical, well-connected Bible Study.
- Avoid using too many texts. Three or four plain, pertinent texts under each heading are usually sufficient.
Note! More texts may be listed in some cases than may be required for a particular Bible Study. This may be necessary, not to encourage the use of too many texts to prove a point, but to provide a reserve fund of pertinent Bible references to be used as needed.
- Avoid long Bible Studies. As a general rule about 45 minutes is sufficient for the average Bible study.
The Mind cannot concentrate longer.
Close while the mind’s interest is still fresh and eager for more.
- Plan introduction and conclusion. Think out some novel, interesting or timely introduction. The reading of the newspaper, or close observation of the happenings of daily life can often provide this. A summary of the main points provides a good conclusion. Be sure to ask, “Is it all clear?” Make personal application of the truth explained and, when appropriate, make a direct appeal.
Example of a personal application: At the close of Bible study, ask, “Why do you think God has given US a chance to hear these things, Mrs Brown?”
Example of a direct appeal: After a full presentation of studies on the Sabbath truth, say: “Well, Bill, I suppose the day is not far distant when you will be keeping your first Sabbath! … Am I right?”
- Master your subject thoroughly. If possible, do this in such a way that your notes can be discarded.
- Make every Bible study Christ-centred. Help your prospects to see the face of Christ in every doctrine and prophecy. Use your Bible, irrespective of notes.
Presenting the Bible Study
2 Cor 5:11 “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; …”
- Be Punctual. Show that you are on the King of Glory’s business. This is important. Failure to be on time shows you do not regard others time.
- Be guarded and prudent in your preliminary conversation. Let your conduct show that you have come to study God’s Word, not just for a social visit.
- Commence and close with a brief, simple, sincere prayer. Have prayer with the people and pray for them personally.
- Avoid formality, and sustain interest by employing novelty, variety, surprise features, suspense (not dramatic or sensational). Do not let your prospects know all that is coming next. “Satisfy curiosity and you kill interest.”
- The wise use of visual aids, music (recorded or live), tape-recorded talks, film-strips or slides, can add stimulus and variety to your visits.
- Keep to the subject, avoid being sidetracked. (Make a note of questions which divert from the topic and assure them you will answer the question in another study. Make sure that you DO follow up with answers or they will loose confidence in you.)
Emphasise that part of the verse most important to the subject.
Do not attempt to explain every point.
Many side questions may be answered briefly, and then back to subject. Remember Satan tries to side track the mind.
- In manner and deportment be as friendly, human and approachable as possible. Be relaxed and natural. Avoid stiffness, starchiness, or austerity. Never underestimate the value of a chuckle. It relaxes tension; it disarms prejudice; it dispels hostility; it wins trust.
- Adopt conversational rather than lecturing manner. Talk with, not at your prospects. Be a friend, not a superior.
- Let the Bible speak. Make it a settled practice to offer the Bible’s answer to questions asked. Keep the Bible central in your whole program of indoctrination.
Aim at clarity.
Suggest where the text is located. (ie: Psalms – middle of the Bible, Job – the book before Psalms)
Say, “Let us see what God says.” NOT, “I will show you what the Bible says.”
- Encourage your prospects to participate by taking their turn at reading texts from the Bible; by asking questions and entering into discussion, and, as you gain their confidence, by learning to offer short prayers for themselves.
Get the reader to USE the Bible.
Seeing what is written makes a greater impression.
Using their Bible helps them get to know their Bible.
It teaches the reader to receive God’s Word, instead of man’s word.
- After the study, do not linger. Avoid exerting an influence that may detract from your message. Aim always to leave the message paramount in your prospects minds.
Leave as soon as possible after the study.
Leave while the lesson is still in the hearer’s mind.
- Remember the hearer does not always see as you do.
- Leave material on the subject for their reading after you leave.
- Lending library, (books, audio’s, video’s to loan) is of value.
- Confirm arrangements for the next visit.
- Main points should be gone over and over again.
- Remember much is entirely new to the listener.
- A study on special subjects is often necessary.
- Seek to avoid opposition, but be prepared to meet it.
- Avoid argument – 2 Tim 2:23-26. Arguments dishonour God.
- Do not get excited (or angry), which is not of God.
- Avoid direct contradiction.
Seek One Soul Audience
- Whenever possible deal with a person individually.
- Allow freedom of expression.
- Able to appeal more directly.
- Let the Bible do the answering.
- Do not speculate
2 Tim 2:16 “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”
Deu 29:29 “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
- Generally speaking, work for those of your own sex. Otherwise, ensure another person is present.
- Avoid slang.
- “No sooner is the name of Jesus mentioned in love and tenderness than the angels of God draw near.” Manual to Can. p37.
The Order & Selection of Bible Study Topics (Spirit of Prophecy Counsel)
Ev 164, 200
- Speak first on points of doctrine on which you can agree. Give “milk” before ‘strong meat” to babes!
Ev 164, 165
- Win prospect’s confidence before presenting unfamiliar, advanced, or testing truth (see also pp 246, 485)
- Best plan is to present subjects that arouse the conscience; that teach practical godliness …. ie, How to come to Jesus. How to pray. How to receive the assurance of sins forgiven. How to take hold of God’s help.
- The very first and most important thing is to melt and subdue the soul by presenting our Lord jesus Christ as the Sin-bearer.
Ev 228, 442
- Do not feel it your duty to present the Sabbath question immediately you meet people. Tell them this is not your burden now. Reserve the Sabbath truth till they have surrendered heart and mind and will to God.
- Do not present the Law of God as a test until prospects have been warmed, melted and subdued with the presentation of Christ, and have given themselves to the Lord.
- If the heart of the unbeliever is not softened, to try to impress him is “like striking upon cold iron.”
Ev 248, 272
- There is always perfect safety in talking of the hope of eternal life. And when the heart is melted and subdued, the enquiry will be: “What must I do to be saved?” (see also pp 125-126, 142-143, 163)
Teaching the Word —God’s Way
1 Cor 2:13 “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
The Holy Ghost’s method of teaching is by comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
John 5:39 “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
Christ commands us to search the Scriptures.
DA 390 “The life of Christ that gives life to the world is in His word. It was by His word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons; by His word He stilled the sea, and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that His word was with power. He spoke the word of God, as He had spoken through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament. The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ, and the Saviour desired to fix the faith of His followers on the word. When His visible presence should be withdrawn, the word must be their source of power. Like their Master, they were to live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matt.4:4.”
Luke 24:25-27 “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Luke 24:44-45 “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,”
He appeals to the Scriptures to prove His resurrection.
John 10:34-36 “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”
Jesus teaches that the omission of one letter, making the word singular when the prophet had used the plural form, would break the Scriptures.
Gal 3:16 “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”
The apostle Paul holds the same view of the Scriptures.
2 Sam 23:2 “The spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.”
David says that the Lord’s `word was in my tongue.’
Dan 10:17 “For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.”
Dan 10:19 “And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.”
Inspiration is God’s breath, using the vocal organs of the prophet.
2 Tim 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
All Scripture is thus inspired that man may know the way of life.
Rom 4:16-22 “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.”
Because Abraham believed the word of God, it was counted unto him for righteousness.
PP 152 “The father lifts the knife to slay his son, when suddenly his arm is stayed. An angel of God calls to the patriarch out of heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” He quickly answers, “Here am I.” And again the voice is heard, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me.”
PP 153 “Abraham’s great act of faith stands like a pillar of light, illuminating the pathway of God’s servants in all succeeding ages. Abraham did not seek to excuse himself from doing the will of God. During that three days’ journey he had sufficient time to reason, and to doubt God, if he was disposed to doubt. … But the patriarch did not take refuge in any of these excuses. Abraham was human; his passions and attachments were like ours; but he did not stop to question how the promise could be fulfilled if Isaac should be slain. He did not stay to reason with his aching heart. He knew that God is just and righteous in all His requirements, and he obeyed the command to the very letter.
“”Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God.” James 2:23. … But Abraham’s faith was made manifest by his works.”
1 Sam 15:2-3 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
1 Sam 15:26-29 “And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.”
Because Saul did not believe the word of God, he lost his kingdom.
PP 634-636 ““To obey is better than sacrifice.” The sacrificial offerings were in themselves of no value in the sight of God. They were designed to express on the part of the offerer penitence for sin and faith in Christ and to pledge future obedience to the law of God. But without penitence, faith, and an obedient heart, the offerings were worthless. When, in direct violation of God’s command, Saul proposed to present a sacrifice of that which God had devoted to destruction, open contempt was shown for the divine authority. The service would have been an insult to Heaven. Yet with the sin of Saul and its result before us, how many are pursuing a similar course. While they refuse to believe and obey some requirement of the Lord, they persevere in offering up to God their formal services of religion. There is no response of the Spirit of God to such service. No matter how zealous men may be in their observance of religious ceremonies, the Lord cannot accept them if they persist in wilful violation of one of His commands.
“”Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” Rebellion originated with Satan, and all rebellion against God is directly due to satanic influence. Those who set themselves against the government of God have entered into an alliance with the archapostate, and he will exercise his power and cunning to captivate the senses and mislead the understanding. ….
“No stronger evidence can be given of Satan’s delusive power than that many who are thus led by him deceive themselves with the belief that they are in the service of God. … But in rejecting God’s chosen instrument they rejected Christ; they insulted the Spirit of God. … The same spirit still exists in the hearts of those who set themselves to follow their own will in opposition to the will of God.”
1 Sam 15:22-23 “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
It is as the sin of witchcraft to think that God’s words can be changed. The entire fifteenth chapter of 1 Samuel should be studied carefully.
PP 680 “When Samuel was living, Saul had despised his counsel and had resented his reproofs. But now, in the hour of his distress and calamity, he felt that the prophet’s guidance was his only hope, and in order to communicate with Heaven’s ambassador he vainly had recourse to the messenger of hell! Saul had placed himself fully in the power of Satan; and now he whose only delight is in causing misery and destruction, made the most of his advantage, to work the ruin of the unhappy king. In answer to Saul’s agonized entreaty came the terrible message, professedly from the lips of Samuel:”
PP 682 “Thus the first king of Israel perished, with the guilt of self-murder upon his soul. His life had been a failure, and he went down in dishonor and despair, because he had set up his own perverse will against the will of God.”