Help Me Learn
It has been nearly seven years since I worked as a supervisor of Study Skills and Strategies. To those of us who graduated sometime in the last century, my job was supervising a study hall. Yet, as one might consider, I had to know something about the curriculum of both seventh and eighth grade s0 I could help these students complete their assignments. In the process, it wasn’t uncommon for some of these students to teach me! (I would continue to find someone else to help them with math. It’s NOT my expertise!) My main task was to find ways by which the student could comprehend the materials within the various subjects and retain that information enough to utilize it as he increased his knowledge throughout the school year. That’s not always an easy task either to teach or to learn!
The same is true of Bible Study. The simple matter of STUDY is difficult for some; thus LEARNING is difficult, retention even more difficult and thus growth and maturity in God’s Word are discouraging! IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE SO!
First, LEARN TO READ! At least twenty-nine times in the N.T. the word “read,” or its derivative appears. Reading is important! But not everyone reads well, and fewer still comprehend what they read. For these souls, someone needs to help them. It is no accident that teaching, exhortation, admonishment all requires someone who KNOWS how to help those who know less if they know anything at all! This is why Jesus commanded the apostles to teach those they had taught and immersed to teach others to teach and immerse that they might teach and immerse, ad infinitum. (Matthew 28:29-20)
Second, good students need to be TESTED on what they have learned. This is how teachers establish two things: 1) HOW WELL THEIR STUDENTS HAVE LEARNED THE SUBJECT and 2) HOW WELL THEY AS A TEACHER TAUGHT THE SUBJECT. Good bible class teachers and preachers should give great preparation time and attention to their presentations. Even teaching the youngest is NOT a “free babysitting service.” Those teachers are very conscientious about those little ones learning and need time to prepare; not a few hours (or minutes) notice of someone being in their charge. Good bible teaching at any level requires diligence. So does learning! How can one know what is learned without testing? While it is uncommon among most churches of Christ to have “test days” in their bible studies, may I suggest it is NOT uncommon to find such requirements in the Scriptures? Examine for example James 1:3; 1:12; 1 Peter 1:7; Revelation 2:10.
Third, DISCUSS THE SUBJECT. Every honest reader of the Scriptures will quickly note the frequency with which the earliest brethren assembled. Acts 2 shows they did so daily. Acts 17:11 shows the Bereans studying daily. The Hebrew writer encourages us to gather “so much the more” (Hebrews 10:25). One of the purposes of these assemblies is to discuss God’s Word! These should be open, honest, serious, deep, and conclusive. Because we so typically place ourselves on a “time schedule” (where do the Scriptures tell us our assemblies have to begin and end within an hour?) our discussions (including the sermons!) are too brief to completely discuss the subject! We seemingly think we need to finish a set amount of material in a given amount of time! Would you want a surgeon to stop his surgery after a given period of time? Is study, discussion, and understanding of God’s Word more or less important to the saving of your eternal soul than a surgery to the saving of your life? Which is the greater use of time?
Fourth, TAKE NOTES!!! I’ve never known a teacher at any level of education that discouraged the taking of copious notes! Why should it be less in our study of God’s Word, unless of course, you don’t wish to learn it? Taking notes helps us remember. If we record both the passage and the comments learned regarding the passage, you’ve doubled your exposure to the subject! Then, instead of leaving them and your bible in the pew until you return to the next service, take the notes and your bible home and re-read them ALOUD. You thus incorporate the most of your abilities to learn: your eyes see it, your ears hear it, your mouth speaks it, and your brain comprehends it!
Finally, DEMONSTRATE WHAT YOU LEARN. Yes, this can be done through “taking tests” as we generally consider the demonstration of learning. But for the Christian, this demonstration requires LIVING WHAT WE LEARNED! We must understand we are NOT members of a social club, but we comprise the living body of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12). Therefore, what we SAY and what we DO manifests what we KNOW regarding God, His Word (who is Christ Jesus – John 1:1-4; 1:14; 17:17), and the church which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Colossians 3:17 says it plainly: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Now, let’s learn, and let’s demonstrate that knowledge to all around us!