1) The Pre-Eminence Of ScriptureFor the most part, the Scripture should speak for itself to make every major point. Whereas comments by others or ourselves illuminate the subject, they can be used for either setup or expansion.
All major points should be supported directly with Scripture, where comments should be used for clarification, application, or parable. We do not want to be accused of false advertising--and these are billed as "Bible Studies".
2) Derived From ScriptureA fundamental requirement of each study is that it must accurately depict what Scripture teaches on the subject, as opposed to what is currently popular or would tickle the ears. This means that many of the studies may come in direct conflict (2 Tim 3:16-17) with popular religious notions. Notwithstanding, the sword of truth (2 Cor 10:3-5) should not be dulled in any way.
3) Exhaustive Or RepresentativeOn issues where it is possible, studies should be exhaustive--every text on the subject should be used. On broader topics where this is impossible, the texts selected should be representative of the teaching of the Bible as a whole, encapsulating what Scripture teaches in general. Translations should be found that summarize issues faithfully, with clarity and force.
4) Correctly Handling The Word Of TruthIf there is a particular aspect of an issue that is to be emphasized because of the preponderance of Scripture, then other texts that would seem to conflict or, in fact, do conflict with the emphasis should be noted. If these text are misunderstood, then it is a great service to the participant to have them explained. Even if they cannot be explained, texts on the subject that do not "fit" with the emphasis should be included in the study for the reader to consider as well as the main emphasis. The rule here is that "problem" texts are not to be avoided, but included to avoid bias and for discussion and reflection.
5) PreparationExperience has shown that each study takes about 20 hours to prepare, which can be shared by two or three participants. First, there is the basic word/concept study combined with a time for prayer and seeking God. Then a search for further Scripture that the Spirit quickens to us, as well as quotations from books, commentaries, or personal insights. This takes roughly half of the preparation time. The rest is spent searching various translations for the most effective rendering, typing in the text, quotes, and comments. These are grouped into subpoints as the topic comes into focus. Then comes proofreading and asking for review and critical analysis from those who will serve in this way. Some studies have been completed in as few as 10 hours, some have taken 60-80 hours over several months to complete. But most take about 20 hours.
6) Topic SelectionMuch prayer and discernment should go into the selection and timing of each topic. Each should seem good to the Holy Spirit and be based on a particular need of the Body of Christ. Sometimes this means "cramming". But more often than not God spreads out our interest to 10-20 topics which are all being prepared simultaneously... Then one becomes "hot" and we are able to finish it during the week. But participating teachers need to be prepared for "watching" late into the night, because often the Spirit gives us the passion and the power to do so. Topics that do not come with a brooding presence of the Holy Spirit are quickly dropped.
7) Reliance On The Holy SpiritPoints should not be over-proved. Room should be left for the Holy Spirit, especially where tradition or popular interpretation goes against the meaning of Scripture. God's glory should always be in view, and our glory expendable. As was the style of Jesus, we should put forth the truth for those who have ears to hear with clarity and verve, without trying to mentally strong-arm those who are spiritually dull. They may come to understand and agree later, if not put on the defensive now.
8) SeasoningTopics should be meaty and salted--making the "chewing" more pleasant. Every attempt should be made to properly season the meat of the word, so that participants will move from milk to enjoying solid food. The goal is to nourish spiritual life and, also, to create a refined appetite for Scripture and the things of God. To this end we pray and labor.
2Cor 5:11 (Wey) Therefore, because we realize how greatly the Lord is to be feared, we are endeavouring to win men over, and God recognizes what our motives are, and I hope that you, in your hearts, recognize them too.
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