by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Psalms 92
I. Jesus made a comment in Matthew 16:18 that we are all familiar with
A. Notice something that many overlook: What does Jesus mean that the “gates of hell will not overcome it?”
1. Many talk about how Satan’s army cannot overcome the church.
2. But read this again. Which side is attacking and which side is defending?
3. It is Satan and his dominion that is behind the gates! It is the church that is attacking! In other words, Satan can’t keep the Lord’s church out of his domain.
B. The reason that Satan is gaining ground is not because his superior strength
1. He is gaining because the Lord’s church - you and I - are not attacking!
2. We have become lackadaisical, indifferent, and timid.
3. Is anyone here willing to prove me wrong? What have you done recently as the Lord’s solider in the battle for the hearts and minds of this world?
II. The example of Ezra 7:10
A. Ezra did three things
1. He prepared (studied)
2. He practiced (applied his knowledge to his own life)
3. He taught
B. Many Christians, when they are newborn, are full of fire - telling everyone they come in contact with about the blessed news that saves people’s souls.
C. Too often, the fire dies down. Why?
1. They never learn how to teach
a. Learn? All you have to do is open your mouth!
b. Sure. Ask our school teachers in this congregation if that is true!
c. We need to learn how to teach.
2. They have no set goals
a. Just what is it that you are trying to accomplish?
b. Are you trying to show off how much you know?
c. Are you trying to put false teachers and their doctrine in their place?
d. Are you trying to lead lost souls to Christ?
3. They have unreasonable expectation
a. They are disappointed to learn that every person is not interested in the gospel.
b. They expect people to respond quickly. If we don’t baptize someone in two or three lessons, it just isn’t worth the effort.
(1) We are a society of instant gratification.
(2) You can drive down to McDonalds and have a meal in minutes. Yet, if there are two or three cars ahead of us in the drive-thru, we fume over the delay!
III. It starts with knowledge
A. Colossians 3:16 - Let the word dwell in you richly.
B. Many false doctrines come from an imperfect knowledge of God’s will
1. Romans 10:2-3 - Israel’s zeal was not according to knowledge
2. Hebrews 5:12 - Instead of becoming teachers, we need to be taught all over again.
C. The simple solution is to let God’s Word do its own teaching
1. Avoid injecting your own thoughts and opinions - I Corinthians 3:5-11
2. No one can teach better than God!
3. Direct people to the passages that answer their questions, the passages that teach them what they need to do to correct their lives.
4. You don’t need to be a great orator, but it does mean you need to know your Bible.
a. In recent times, when the church was the fast growing religion in the U.S., its members were known as walking Bibles.
b. Would anyone accuse you of that today? Is this an improvement?
IV. Teaching takes time
A. Even the apostles could not absorb everything at once - John 16:12-13
B. Start with easy things and let the student grow
1. I Peter 2:1-3 - Too many people are choking the babies on meat!
2. Hebrew 5:13-14 - Lessons need to be tailored to the maturity of the student
C. The biggest problem I have seen is the lack of foundation
1. We want to jump from baptism to expecting people to understand the details of marriage, divorce, and remarriage with no grounding in the Word.
D. Psalms 92 - It takes time!
1. The wicked spring up like weeds and wither just as quickly - Psalms 92:7
2. The righteous grow like palm and cedar trees - Psalms 92;12
a. Trees become a lot mightier than grass, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
b. Strong trees take time to develop. They don’t appear overnight!
E. Plan each study with the idea of spending at least six months
1. Don’t rush it. Some will respond quickly, but most will need to contemplate what they have learned.
2. Feed a little bit at a time. Consider Jesus; he spent three years teaching the Jewish people.
3. You don’t have to teach everything at once. Save some points for later.
V. Lead, don’t push
A. Jesus was a shepherd - John 10:2-4 - Shepherds lead their flocks
B. Gently teach - II Timothy 2:24-26
C. It may be gentle, but our weapon is so mighty! - II Corinthians 10:4-6. Let the weapon do its purpose
VI. Use questions
A. Suppose you are teaching a Jehovah Witness, who do not believe in the deity of Jesus
1. Instead of “Look at this verse. See, it says Jesus is God!”
2. Say, “Whom do you think this verse is speaking of? What does it say of this person.”
B. Help a person discover the truth for himself.
C. Jesus was very effectively use questions to convict the Jews. How often did Jesus answered a question or an accusation with another question?
D. Often as you question your student, you will not get the correct answer, but as you poke into their line of reasoning, it is gratifying to see understanding dawning on their faces.
VII. Be empathetic
A. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
B. Matthew 7:12 - Treat others as you want to be treated
C. Look at Paul’s example - Acts 17:16, 22-23
1. He was provoked by the rampant idolatry
2. But he approached them gently - “I see you are a religious people.”
3. They did know better, no one has taught them of the Lord, yet.
VIII. We barely scratched the surface
A. But as a good teacher, I will learn from my own lesson - we will save some for later.
A story is told of a man making his way across a mountain in a terrible blizzard. He became colder and weaker with each step. His body ached and became numb. He staggered and almost fell, but he plunged on in a daze. Again he stumbled, and failing to stop his fall this time, he said, “This is the end.” But in falling, his hand struck the prostrate form of another man who had fallen in the storm. He arose to his knees and began to chafe the hands of the unconscious man and to rub his face until he revived.
He saved another’s life, but in doing so, he saved his own. The exercise kept life in his own body and both survived. How many Christians are there who are freezing to death spiritually? How many who could save themselves by saving others?
We are indeed saved to save others, and in doing that we save ourselves, or keep ourselves saved. We are ministered to that we might minster to others, and in ministering to others we are benefitted as much as they -- perhaps more so. Unless we have a desire to share the joy of salvation with others, it is doubtful that we have truly received that joy. Unless we are truly concerned about the lost and want them to have forgiveness, peace, and hope, there is every reason to question our won condition. As Christians, we should go out into the “streets and lanes of the city” and out into the “highways and hedges” and constrain lost souls to come to the feast of God’s kingdom. Christians are those who come to Christ and learn of Him, and who then go and tell others of the Lamb of God.
Jesus said to Peter, “and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32) Paul told Timothy, “for in so doing, thou shalt save thyself and them that hear thee.” (I Timothy 4:16).