Teaching Those We Already Know—Keypoints In Getting Started

Dempsey Collins

1. Seek a Common Foundation.

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, we see the importance of beginning our study with a common foundation. Paul tells us he “became all things to all men that I may by all means save some.” Notice that Paul never expected to win all men but he did expect to win “more” by “becoming all things to all men.”

Paul is not condoning compromise with error; rather, he is teaching us to improvise. We must seek a common foundation of teaching with all whom we study. An examination of the book of Acts shows that when the disciples taught Jews or Jewish proselytes, they began with the foundation of the Old Testament. The primary emphasis was upon Jesus as the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. On the other hand, when the disciples taught the Gentiles, they did not begin with the Old Testament but rather with the basic belief in God as the creator, sustainer, and power over all.

This is an example of what Paul means by becoming “all things to all men.”  In each instance, no matter the audience, the disciples started at the place where those who were listening could relate (compare Acts 2 with Acts 17). To accomplish this goal we must properly evaluate our student and learn what topic and method best suits his needs. If we do not start where they truly are then it will be much more difficult to show them the way.

2.Where Not to Start.

Do not start in the middle. Often a study will have question regarding various issues such as difficulties in the book of Revelation, how and when Christ will return again, God’s providential working, etc. These issues are of course important, however we must keep drawing their attention initially to the one matter which far outweighs the others, i.e. the salvation of their soul. As difficult as it may be at times, we must always get back to this central message. Offer to deal with such questions at the end of your lesson. Be as brief as possible and never lose sight of your main objective—the salvation of their soul.

Neither should we start at the end. At times there is a tendency to get to baptism right away. This may be exciting to both student and teaching, but we must never teach baptism without first teaching repentance. The person being baptized must understand the conversion process and the commitment he is making to Jesus Christ before being baptized. You will not help your student by rushing to the baptistery. He can take a bath at home without your aid. Work hard to teach your student the importance of “dying to sin” and being “crucified with Jesus Christ.”

3. Be Prepared to Work Hard.

Leading the lost to Christ is no easy task. It involves much time, patience, and hard work. We must be prepared to leave our comfort zones (whatever they may be) and become a servant to our fellow man as well as God. Laziness is one of, if not the greatest, deterrent to saving the lost. Christians bemoan the plight of a lost world, but are unwilling to put forth the effort necessary to change this condition. Such Christians are lazy and unfruitful branches. Jesus gives a stern warning to lazy servants in Matthew 25:26-30. According to Revelation 3:16, lukewarm servants are sickening to God.

The material in this study can help prepare to teach the lost but the real learning comes by doing. Regardless of how much we learn about this subject or any other it is of no value until we put it into practice.

4. Prepare Your Heart.

Paul taught Timothy the true goal of our instruction. “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). Our teaching must be from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. This means that I must first work on my own relationship with God, prior to teaching others. Those with whom we study will automatically evaluate our relationship with Christ. If it is not what it should be or if we are not teaching with the proper spirit, then we may hinder them from coming to God. If we are going to convert others we need to be converted ourselves.

Having prepared our hearts, let’s get started now brethren seeking and saving the lost. There is not a more noble or important task given to man than the eternal salvation of his fellow man.

“He that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).

(Part of this lesson was adapted from material by Olin Hudson)

Truth Magazine Vol. LIII: 11 November 2009