What we talk about matters, especially during worship times. The things we announce helps the church understand priorities in general. Any testimonies we include signals strategic directions to be affirmed. Sermons more so than anything else defines direction for the congregation. One way of reinforcing the importance of Bible study groups is preaching on the subject. (See the Guide for Reengagement for more thoughts on fostering a culture for Bible study groups.)
Several passages are possibilities (more on that later) but we were looking for four that were related in some way. After creating a list of possible passages, we noticed four that came from Paul’s two letters to his protege, Timothy. We began to focus on these four passages and here are the sermon ideas that emerged.
Sermon 1: 1 Timothy 1:3-11
The focus of this sermon is verse 5, where Paul wrote that the goal of instruction was to be love produced by a pure heart.
- Instruction is part of church life
- Instruction’s goal is love
- Instruction’s proof is a pure heart
Jesus set the standard, demonstrating love and purity of heart. We have an opportunity to demonstrate Jesus’ love and purity through our Bible study groups since they are founded on instruction.
Sermon Two: 1 Timothy 4:13-16
Paul directed Timothy to pay attention to Scripture reading, exhortation, and doctrine, being careful to use his giftedness in the doing of these activities.
- Attention to the Scriptures (focus of Bible study groups)
- Seeking to exhort each other (encouragement found in Bible study groups)
- Examining our doctrine (shaping our beliefs as we dialogue in our groups)
- Expressing our giftedness (Bible study groups give everyone the opportunity to use their gifts for the kingdom)
Sermon Three: 2 Timothy 2:2
Timothy was commanded by Paul to pass on what he had been taught to others.
- We are all learners in this life
- We grow by sharing what we know
- Other generations depend on our passing on what we know
These three actions ought to define our church and by extension, our Bible study groups.
Sermon Four: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Paul reminded Timothy that God’s Word was given to teach, reprove, correct, and train so that God’s people can be prepared for every good work.
- Profitable: Through regularly studying God’s Word, we discover truth that keeps us in line with God’s purposes.
- Perfect: God desires His people to be a holy people, being sanctified for His honor.
- Prepared: We gain opportunities to share the gospel through serving others so we need to be prepared for those opportunities.
These three actions are fostered in Bible study groups as we examine the truth of God’s Word and hold each other accountable for honoring God with our lives.
We mentioned earlier that we created a list of several potential passages before choosing the four above. Some may be wondering what other passages were considered. Here is the short list:
- Ezra 7:10: Ezra’s three actions of studying, observing, and then teaching. Ezra had a purpose, process, and passion.
- Nehemiah 8:5-8: the people coming together to hear the law with teachers explaining it along the way.
- Proverbs 27:17. God’s people assist each other in growing, sharpening through sharing.
- Acts 2:42-47: The early church gathered after Pentecost and were focused on understanding the apostle’s teachings and living out their faith in community with each other.
- Acts 16: Lydia was a God-fearing woman who met for prayer with a group of women. She did so not knowing about Jesus, just like some in our Bible study groups. Paul joined them and she heard the gospel. Her house would be where Paul went after being released from jail and there he would encourage the believers now gathered in Lydia’s home. She was devout but lost, listening with willingness, and then committed to Jesus.
- Hebrews 10: 22-25: Believers are directed to regularly gather for the purpose of exhorting one another in the faith and encouraging each other in good works.
- Hebrews 13:7: Bible teachers should be worthy of imitation. The best way to imitate someone is to be in their group with others seeking to do the same thing.
What other passages can serve as the text for encouraging people to be involved in an ongoing Bible study group?