Regular and frequent Bible studies, led by various ministers, were a staple of my diet as a young Christian. And, for decades, they have been a significant part of the ministry the Lord has given me unto others.
The day I came to meet the Lord demonstrates the power of good teaching, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. As I have described elsewhere, at the time, I believed that Jesus Christ and Him crucified was the least likely thing to be true in the world, so while Richard’s preaching that Sunday morning may have piqued my interest, I was yet full of questions (or objections). Richard patiently answered them all with a simplicity and homely wisdom that was unlike anyone I had ever come into contact with. That foundation was central to my receiving the Lord.
To this day, I still remember what I was thinking when Richard asked me if I wanted to receive Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.
“This man is not at all what I expected a man of God to be, but I cannot deny that what he is telling me is true,” I thought.
That foundation meant that I only had to reflect for a moment before answering “yes”. Richard then prayed with me to receive the Lord.
Thankfully, our Bible Study did not end with my acceptance of Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Rather, our Bible Study resumed, but now we moved through the Scripture at what seemed like warp factor speed as the Lord had Richard take me through the Scripture in chronological order. As he hit the highlights, God’s plan for man was revealed to me. Nine hours later, I knew God’s plan and wanted more than anything to be a part of it, but I did not know what to do and thus exclaimed, somewhat exasperated:
“What do I do now?”
Richard replied, “What do you want to do?”
“I want to be a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ,” I told him.
Richard says he laid out two options – attend seminary or stay and disciple under him – and I believe he did, but the only thing I recall hearing was his invitation to stay and disciple under him. That was what I wanted to do and so I did, much to the dismay of all who knew me at the time.
At the time I came to the Lord we had three Bible Studies each week in Richard’s home. Richard ran the Sunday night discipleship meeting, which was a free-wheeling event as he ministered to those who were in training to be ministers. Frequently, it began with a discussion of the messages from the morning services, but it soon moved wherever the Spirit led to address whatever issues the Lord wanted addressed. We also had a Tuesday night discipleship meeting, led by another minister, that generally involved studying a particular text (e.g. a chapter by chapter study of Timothy over the course of several weeks or even months). Friday night was the Bible study for beginners that was taught by yet another minister. I attended all and was mightily blessed by the instruction in God’s Word, but I cannot overstate how important my own study of the Word was to my growth as well.
As a newborn babe in Christ, I hungered for the sincere milk of the Gospel. I must have read the four Gospels aloud to myself at least four times during those first few months. Moreover, as I grew in the Lord, so did my diet. By the end of my first year as a Christian, I had read the entire Bible out loud to myself at least once and possibly twice, and the entire New Testament many times. I read the Word aloud to myself, speaking into a corner as Richard had instructed me so that the Word rebound into my ears, for the Word says “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”. Romans 10:17.
This exercise got the Word of God into me, even though I did not always understand the meaning of the passages as I read them. The Lord would work with me, taking passages I had read, and highlighting them to me in the context of my daily life. Moreover, it meant that during Bible Studies led by others, the Lord would quicken to me passages that related to what was being taught from my own reading, opening up my understanding of His Word.
Those first couple of years of my walk were a very joyous time for me, even though simultaneously I was being rejected by just about everyone who knew me before I became a Christian, including my parents, siblings, colleagues and friends. The truth is that while I embraced the fact that receiving Christ represented a repudiation of everything I had previously believed and lived for, those who had loved me were horrified at this turn of events. God’s grace, coupled with sound teaching backed by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, and a willingness on my part to do that which was completely contrary to what I would formerly have done (no matter what the cost), is what brought me through
Out of that crucible of persecution for my faith and affliction, a mighty faith in Christ was forged, though largely unconsciously to me. (Frankly, I thought what happened to me was what happened to all believers. It did not enter my mind, for quite some time, that there was anything unusual about my experience.) In any case, those experiences provided rich fodder to draw upon in ministering unto others. As a result, the Lord gave me opportunities to teach others very early on in my walk.
Frequently what would happen is that Richard would call me over to his office to join him in a meeting he was about to have with someone. On my way over, I would pray and ask the Lord to search the individual’s heart and guide and direct my spirit in prayer and in battle on his/her behalf, and move through me to minister to him/her in accordance with His will. The Lord honored my prayers and Richard would often allow me to minister to the person coming over to see him, only intervening as led of the Lord. Through that process I learned to minister in the Lord by faith and teach others God’s ways in practical manners that ministered to the needs of individuals’ hearts.
Over time, however, the Lord opened up opportunities for me to lead Bible studies where I taught others the Word of God as I had been taught. A seminal event in my walk occurred in the late 1990s, when the Lord opened the opportunity for me to lead a Bible Study in New Hampshire at Scott and Gail Stevens’ house. In that Bible study, I had the opportunity to preach the Gospel and lead others to Christ as Richard had led me. Those free-wheeling Bible studies mirrored my own experience of receiving Christ closely. Often a Bible study that began at 1 p.m. would continue past midnight as people from the neighborhood came in shifts to hear the Word of God. Jesus, as He had done to me, confirmed His Word to those I ministered to and many came to know Him as a consequence.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to lead innumerable Bible Studies and teach many people the Word of God. It has always been a great joy to me to do so. Sometimes those Bible Studies have been topical, such as the teaching I did on diligence many years ago. Others have been a verse by verse study of a particular Book or Epistle in the Scripture as I did for many years in our online Men’s Tuesday Night Bible Study. At other times, they have been highly interactive events in which I have met with a group and worked with them, as led of the Lord, to answer questions and/or otherwise minister to their needs on a wide variety of topics.
Just as I learned how to teach by observing Richard and others do so to myself and others, I have come, over time, to do the same. If you are interested in learning to do likewise, please do not hesitate to contact me.