In the course of doing your good works discussed in this book, you will open numerous doors to home Bible studies.
Now wait before you panic.  Through the years we have developed these terrible monster pictures in our minds of what
home Bible studies are like.  Let's see now.  How does it go....  

        In order to get a study, I have to wear a helmet and shield to protect myself from the cutting remarks, tongue lashings,
and stabbing replies.  I'm just a poor lowly soldier of the cross and they think I'm their enemy.  There's an army of them out
there and I'm just one person.  Even if I do happen to get a Bible study with one without being slaughtered, the slaughter is
just postponed.  I arrive, Bible in hand, and they greet me at the door leering.  Of course I already knew before they
answered the door that they hate me.  They've already set the trap, and are ready to watch me fall into it.  You see, they all
have their little pet topics that no one can talk them out of. They immediately pounce on me with that, and I have no idea
what they're talking about.  At first we smile, but it never lasts long.  We start slashing at each other with the sword of the
Lord, end up enemies, and I leave.  We may as well have declared ourselves enemies to start with like everyone else does
and saved the torture and trouble.  

        Okay, let's start over.  Let's get that monster out of our minds right now.  It's terrible!  In its place let us consider a
quick remedy for that suspicion and fear.  John explained it simply and to the point:  "PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OUT FEAR"
(1 John 4:18b).  If you love them, you won't be afraid of them.  The fear will be gone.  

         The first Christians certainly considered home Bible studies a pleasure, and you couldn't stop them.  Acts 5:42
reports, "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the
good news that Jesus is the Christ."  It seems this was a spontaneous thing with them.  Let's see if such spontaneity will
work with us.  

         You've selected some type of good work out of this book that appealed to you.  You're giving it a try.  You have
shown God's love by letting your hands be God's hands.  People have really responded to that love.  Now they're curious
about that love, that concern you have shown them which seems so uncommon in our fast-paced and suspicious world
today.  What makes you tick?  They're beginning to want to be like you.  They see a joy in you and an openness with you
they want.  So one day they will ask you a question.  (If they've already asked and you missed it, don't worry; they'll ask
again.)  

        The question will be either indirect or direct.  "What makes you concern yourself with someone like me?"  "You didn't
even know me.  That's God's love.  How do you get that?"  "Why has God blessed me with a friend like you?"  If this is the
type question they ask, simply reply with, "I'd really like to share with you my own search for that.  I think I'd like to continue
that search with you.  Let's get together in a couple days."  Their likely reply will be, "Would you really?  I'd like that.  Could
my sister come too?"  

        The other type opening question will be like this.  "I wonder what the Bible says about abortion."  "What is heaven
like?"  "I wonder what God thinks about all this organized religion."  "Why does God allow suffering?"  Look there!  They are
asking you outright for a Bible study!  

        Your simple reply can be something like this:  "You know, I often think about that too.  I've looked it up some, but don't
know if I've learned enough about it.  Let's get together some day this week and look it up every place we can find it
mentioned in the Bible."  Again, their likely reply will be, "Oh, I've been looking for so long for someone to help me find out
about that.  I get different answers from everyone," or "Can I ask my next door neighbor?  We've been talking about it a lot
lately."  

        Are you beginning to see the difference in this and the old stereotype?  You're not doing battle with one another.  For
some reason we have this mindset that a Bible study means people are going to try to prove how wrong someone is.  
That's not it at all.  You're studying to find out everything you have in common.  That is a foundation for differences that will
be discovered later, but isn't the entire structure.  You will agree with each other probably 90% of the time, so need to
establish this first.    

      After all, you are mutual friends mutually seeking God.  This is why you do not have to be a Bible expert to study with
someone.  Learn together.  In fact, if you consider yourself a pretty good expert in the Bible, try to back off and take a fresh
look at everything you thought you knew.  You haven't learned it all yet.  Never reply with, "Oh, I know all about that.  I'll
come over and tell you where all the scriptures are on it."  "Dear me, yes; I wrote my master's thesis on that very subject."  
"Our Sunday school class spent all last winter on that and must have made experts out of us all.  I'll bring my Sunday school
lesson sheets and I'll show you what we decided."  Stay away from condescending comments like this.  

        Too much emphasis cannot be placed on your approach.  No matter how much you may know on a subject, you must
emphasize to your friend that this is a mutual searching as equals.  With this atmosphere there will be no fear of one
another.  But before we go any further into what to do when you're studying with someone, let's explore some more
possibilities for finding people to study with.  They are everywhere.  

        Believe it or not, today's American society is more and more curious about the Bible.  This is an educated society that
wants to find out things for itself.  And the Bible is up there just as high on the list as scientific discoveries, computers,
nutrition, inter-relationships, world peace, the environment.  Nearly everyone in our society will ask you a Bible question if
you do a good work for them or bring up God's love to them.  People overall are not hostile when they ask, especially
people who do not attend church anywhere.  

        Many people have dropped out of their religion because of confusion.  They felt as though they were just spinning
their wheels and isolating themselves from other points of view, so decided to stand back and watch the religious world and
the people in it.  People are searching.  Searching for just simple Christianity without all the formalism and national
organization and titles and creed books.  They want to know what's in the Bible itself.  But as yet most believe they cannot
understand it because they haven't been shown how to find things in it.  Don't just stand there.  Open the door for them!  
They're knocking.  Open it!  

         Besides finding these people through your daily good works, you can find them in other places.  Do your neighbors
ever get together?  Do they even know each other's names?  Get out there with some homemade jelly in your hand and
meet them.  It won't be long before someone starts talking about their problems - the perfect opportunity to bring up God.  
Tell them, "You know, I've been wondering about that type of problem too.  How do you handle it?"  Before you know it,
you're going to decide to get your Bibles out and look it up.  

        Depending on whether you want to keep it one-on-one or expand it, you might say, "Do you think Debbie across the
street would like to get together with us?  She was talking about that very thing the other day.  Let's call her."  So it can
expand until half the neighborhood is gathered around kitchen tables looking things up in the Bible.  

        Another source:  People with special problems in common.  Singles again.  Ex-convicts.  Wheel-chair-bound people.  
Military "widows."  If you know of several people such as this, you might approach the most outgoing one and say
something like, "I wish we could get together sometimes and talk about these things.  I've been wondering what all the Bible
says about this type problem.  Have you?"  Always find out if they share the curiosity before going on.  If they don't, drop it
and go to someone else.  They're just not quite ready yet.  If they say they are curious, add, "I really feel a need to learn
more about this.  I think it would really help me."  Get another commitment from them.  If they still agree, say, "Hey, let's get
together over coffee and look it up in the Bible.  Okay?  And we can invite the others."  

        Or you could buy or make some invitations or note cards, and inside say that you're inviting all your friends with
such-and-such in common for a little get-together with coffee and ice tea.  Then you can look that problem up to see what
everyone can find in the Bible that applies.  Tell them you'll call them in a couple days so you can make enough donuts or
whatever.  The follow-up phone conversation should be friendly and casual.  "Did you get my note?  What do you think of
the idea?  Do you think we'd get anything out of it?  Do you need a ride?  I'm really looking forward to it.  It's going to be just
what the doctor ordered!"  

        Are there new Christians in your congregation?  There's an old expression that we "convert 'em and forget 'em."  How
about meeting these new Christians whenever they make their commitment and say, "A friend and myself get together and
look up different things in the Bible.  Would you like to join us?"  They are ripe for wanting to learn new things.  They just
learned an important new thing and that's what converted them.  Now they want to know what other exciting things there are
in the Bible just waiting to be discovered.  

        Or are you one of those who loves to meet strangers?  You could find out who is new in your town or part of town and
get acquainted with them.  Tell them you have a friend they'd really like, and you are looking up things in the Bible together,
and would they like to join you.  This could build up to almost any size and be a form of Welcome Wagon through which to
meet new friends.  

        Keep in the back of your mind your alternatives for when and where to meet.  Don't wait until the opportunity arises.  
Probably your first suggestion should be for a one-time study only.  Let's face it.  As anxious as all these people are to
learn, they sure don't want to get caught up in some"weird ideas" or arguments or a "trap" to get them to think some other
person's way.  You don't either.  So make it casual and friendly and spontaneous.  

        Decide to get together to look up only one topic.  Do your best to make it a topic that is easy for everyone to agree
on.  Even Jesus didn't bring up the meat of the Word until long after he'd fed people with milk.  Show people with your one
get-together that this is a warm, pleasant, reassuring experience.  Discover God's love together.  Then, after the first time,
talk about how much you have enjoyed it, and the chances are very good they'll just naturally reply, "Let's get together and
do it again."  By going on a week-to-week basis instead of, "We're going to do this for three months," the spontaneity will be
maintained without tension.  

        As to where to have your study, make it casual.  The kitchen table is wonderful.  At a park picnic table is another
possibility.  In the backyard on lawn chairs.  At the coffee table in front of the fireplace.  Sitting on the front steps.  

        How much time should you set aside?  With this type of study, people are usually just getting into the subject after
one hour.  Two hours is a comfortable length of time and will go by fast.  If there is the temptation to push it to three, try not
to give in, despite how much you're learning.  Otherwise you may get too worn out, not realize it until later, then hesitate to
go back.  

        What method should you use to "teach"?  None.  You are going to learn together.  All you will be is a "facilitator" to
kind of keep things moving.  You are going to discover together.  You cannot say you know everything there is to know.  
Approaching your study this way, you will remain equals, and whenever an idea that is new to either of you comes up,
neither will feel threatened.  After all, you're discovering together.  You're reaching for God together.  

        For your first Bible study, take only a Bible with a good concordance in it.  If you don't have one, then get a small
paperback concordance to take along.  Don't show up looking like some kind of scholar.  If you do not feel after an hour or
two that you have found everything there is to know about your topic, bring more books next time, but not the first time.  Do
what you can as simply as possible the first time.  

        The discovery method is best to use for selecting a word that most represents the topic, such as heaven, death, joy,
priests.  Each of you should have a tablet of paper.  Begin looking up from your concordance each scripture listed with your
chosen topic.  It doesn't matter if you've done this before; you can rediscover them.  Both of you write down the
scriptures,and next to it the basic point or points.  Then go on to the next until you think you've found them all.  

         Then sit there and look through your notes, talk about them so you understand them the same (99% of the time you
will).  Then ask, "Well, what conclusion should we draw from this?"  "So what point do you think God was trying to get
across in all these verses?"  "I wonder how we can apply all this the next time the problem comes up?"  Then share
personal experiences such as, "I wish I'd known this when...." or "The next time I'll understand what is happening...." or "This
is really an encouragement to me.  I'm so glad we found these scriptures."  

        When you are done, if you feel comfortable doing so, hold each other's hands, thank God for giving us his word as a
daily guide in our lives, and thank him for your friend and friendship.  

        Will this method work?  Won't people come to different conclusions?  Nobody ever agrees.  What am I to do if we
don't come to the same conclusion?  Don't believe that propaganda.  Have faith in God's ability to explain things clearly,
and your friend's ability to understand things logically.  Believe it or not, 99% of the time you are going to agree!  God
would not be very smart if he gave us a Bible we could not understand, would he?  Religious unity is easier than most
people think if we'll just let the Bible do its work, simply and clearly.  

        Just remember to start out on easy topics (the milk) in order to show each other that it definitely is possible for people
to agree on the Bible, and it is possible to remain friends, and it is possible to grow closer as a result.  Then later when you
hit on topics less easy to understand, you will have enough love for each other to overcome any fear of each other you
might otherwise have had.  

        What should you do on those rare occasions when contradicting conclusions are drawn?  Remember, this will seldom
happen.  But, when it does, remember that above all else, you are both searching for God's will with just as sincere a heart
as anyone.  Have this faith in each other.  Then as you make the discovery that you are looking at things differently, you
can say something like, "Perhaps we just haven't found enough scriptures on this to clarify it yet."  or "I wonder if we're
saying the same thing but just from different points of view." or "Maybe we're both looking at the same elephant, but
emphasizing different parts of it." or "Well, I think we've gone about as far as we can on this for now; what do you want to
bet it falls together for us later after we've learned some other things?"  

        Also keep in mind that some people are predisposed to understand some thing quicker than others.  Remember
Peter not eating with Gentiles, and this after God told him personally that they were equal with the Jews?  Or remember
when Paul and Barnabas argued over who to take on a missionary journey and ended up going different ways with their
own choices and both accomplishing such good in their own way?  Remember when King Saul was ordered to slaughter all
the enemy's flocks and he decided God didn't really mean it because they'd make good sacrifices?    

        Sometimes we are not ready or able to accept a truth yet.  Believe in each other as you study together that eventually
you will probably come to the same conclusion - a week later or twenty years later.  Emphasizing our differences develops
denominationalism.  Let's emphasize what we have found in common and keep faith in each other and God's word to
convict people of truth.  

        What Bible helps can you use after a couple times using just the Bible and a concordance?  If you know the topic
ahead of time, you can bring whatever is appropriate.  Do not be the only one to bring these helps.  They are probably in
the public library, and would give others a chance to bring them too.  Suggestions include an unabridged concordance,
Nave's Topical Bible, Bibles of different translations, a Bible dictionary, an encyclopedia (for looking up histories of Bible
cities,scientific discoveries, etc.) and maybe a small survey of the Bible.  Stay away from commentaries.  You want to create
your own "commentary" through your studies.  

        As you progress in your study, watch closely for new comments from the other person as well as yourself.  Comments
each week to abide by the new-found truths is non-threatening if done by both and is essential to successful Bible study.  
God wants inside more than our minds; he wants in our hearts and lives also.    

        After your first few discussion times, you are likely to snowball in your ideas of what to look up (study) next.  For in the
process of looking up heaven, you may wonder about angels and babies.  In the process of looking up marriage, you may
wonder about abortion and celibacy.  So keep a little pad handy for whenever you start to get off the subject.  Stop yourself
and say, "We'll never find out about this old subject if we get off on a new one; let's write it down and look it up next.  What
do you think?"  Possibly for every session you will think of thee other topics to look up.  Great!  

        However, if you are extremely self-controlled, you may not get off the subject.  In that case, listed below are several
topics you and your friends may be curious about:  

        Abortion                                            Angels  

        Antichrist                                           Astrology  

        Babies                                               Baptism  

        Bible Survey                                      Birth Control  

        Blood                                                 Cain's Mark  

        Cain's Wife                                        Celibacy  

        Church Organization                         Communion  

        Conscience                                       Cooking Sacrifices  

        Death                                                Debts  

        Devil/Demons                                    Divorce  

        Enemies                                            Faith  

        False Teachers                                 Fasting  

        Fathers                                             Glory  

        God                                                  Gospel  

        Governments                                    Hades and Hell  

        Happiness                                         Hate  

        Health Laws                                      Heaven/Paradise  

        Holiness                                            Holy Spirit  

        Hope                                                 Husbands  

        Idleness                                            Idolatry  

        Ignorance                                         Immortality  

        Influence                                           Jerusalem  

        Joy                                                    Judging  

        Love                                                 Marriage  

        Meekness                                         Meteorology  

        Mothers                                            Murder  

        Music                                                Number Symbols  

        Obedience                                        Paul's Life  

        Peace                                               Priscilla's Life  

        Resurrection                                     Sex  

        Sin                                                    Soul  

        Suicide                                              Sunday/Sabbath  

        Temperance/Gluttony                       Tithing  

        Welfare in O.T.                                 Wisdom  

        Witches/Occult                                  Wives  

        So you see that you do not have to know a lot about things in the Bible to have a Bible study in your home.  You can
look things up together as mutual seekers after God's truths.  And there are so many people out there looking for someone
to do this with.  Just remember, when they ask you an indirect or direct question about the Bible, they are asking you to
search the scriptures with them.  So why not smile and say, "Let's do it!"
APPLIED CHRISTIANITY

Home Bible Studies
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